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Pluralism and Perennialism: A Historical Investigation of Two Key Concepts

15th June 2017
The Institute of Ismaili Studies
210 Euston Road
United Kingdom
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Approaches to the plurality of religions vary from exclusivist monism to all-inclusive universalism. Mark Sedgwick will examine these approaches from a historical perspective, starting with classic positions in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He will then turn to perennialism, an approach that has its origins in the Renaissance concept of the prisca theologia, an ancient universal revelation. Sedgwick will follow the development of perennialism alongside other approaches such as Deism and Pantheism during the Enlightenment, through the nineteenth-century, to the modern perennialism of René Guénon and Aldous Huxley. He will close with a comparison between these two forms of perennialism, classic approaches, and contemporary universalism.​


Prof. Mark Sedgwick

Mark Sedgwick is professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. Born in London and educated at the Universities of Oxford and Bergen, he taught for many years at the American University in Cairo before moving to Denmark in 2007. Trained as a historian, he works on modern and contemporary Islam, with a focus on Sufisminfo-icon and on modernism, in both the Arab world and the West. His books include Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) and Western Sufism: From the Abbasidsinfo-icon to the New Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).