Mystical Jewish Sociology

Philip Wexler


The paper begins by engaging Mircea Eliade s undervaluation of the importance of classical sociology of religion, namely, Durkheim and Weber, and goes on to show how much they share with him, particularly with regard to a critique of modern European civilization, and of the foundational importance of religion in society. This other, non-positivist, non-reductionist face of Durkheim and Weber is elaborated by showing their religious, even primordial approaches to the religious bases of society and culture. Eliade s criticism of sociology is further misplaced, given the decline of the sociological regime of knowledge, and the accuracy of Eliade s prescient expectation of a cosmic rather than historical orientation, and the current importance of religion and spirituality for socio-cultural life, generally. The displacement of secular social theory by social and psychological understanding explicitly based in religious thought is explored in several domains and religious traditions. The paper emphasizes, however, a sociology created from within the streams of Jewish mysticism, and examples are offered. The line of Romanian scholars of religion, including Eliade, Idel and Culiano, is seen as less than apparently dissonant with both the sociology of religious experience, and the post-sociological turn to creating social theory from within religious, and particularly, mystical traditions.


Sociology, mysticism, Jewish, Eliade, Idel, Durkheim, religious experience, Weber, Mystical Society, Mystical Interactions

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