The Occult in Western Civilization will answer these questions and others. It will also argue that the occult sciences--especially alchemy, astrology, and natural magic--were originally predicated on quite reasonable bases consistent with the best science and philosophy of their time; however, they may have been altered in late twentieth-century culture. By thinking carefully about the relationships among science, philosophy, and those disciplines traditionally classified as "occult," students will learn about the nature of scientific knowledge more generally.
The basic goals of the course, then, will be to instill a historical understanding of the occult while at the same time stimulating philosophical reflection on the nature of scientific knowledge in general. The student assignments will be based on material used for the class, such as demonstrations, experiments, and discussions. In the weekly discussion sessions, students will be responsible for answering a set number of questions handed out in advance and based closely on the readings and lectures. Three major exams will be given during the course relating to the questions discussed during the sessions. In addition, a set number of other assignments will be handed out, such as the interpretation of astrological horoscopes.