Mystical Sociology

Toward Cosmic Social Theory

by Philip Wexler (Author)
©2013 Textbook XIV, 219 Pages
Series: After Spirituality, Volume 4


Culture changes historically, and along with it, reflexive disciplinary representations. Without fully abandoning Sociology, especially the classical tradition, and instead aligning it with its own religious origins and inclinations to an emergent socio-religious imaginary, we look elsewhere for a historically more effective hermeneutic. Here we look especially toward Jewish mysticism – particularly its social face in Hasidism – as a source not only for alternative adaptive social practices within a ‘society of excess’, but at the same time show how it offers novel interpretations of social dynamics. «Mystical sociology» is a hybrid term which displays continuing reliance on the sociological tradition, but also an ambition to reach into mysticism for its social hermeneutic and to think socially in a much wider, multi-dimensional space, described by James, Toulmin, Steinbock, Corbin and others, in terms of the cosmic, cosmological, or vertical dimension. Scholarly analyses of mysticism are reviewed and placed in relation to the religious turn, the post-secular and, broadly, to resacralization. Beyond the religious turn, mysticism is seen as at the heart of resacralization. A double-edged sword of remysticization is described; on the one hand, offering social materiel for everyday counter practices to excess, unintentionally reinforcing the hegemonic regime of commodification; but also, providing an opening toward a multidimensional critical theory – one which rides the blurring of the spiritual/material boundary, to offer a new vision of social practice and social theory, beyond resacralization and after spirituality.


XIV, 219
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
hermeneutic Jewish mysticism resacralization spirituality tradition
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 219 pp.

Biographical notes

Philip Wexler (Author)

Philip Wexler is Professor of Sociology of Education and Unterberg Chair in Social and Educational Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was recently Visiting Bronfman Professor at Brandeis University. He serves on the editorial boards of a number of international journals and is the author of books in social theory, society and mysticism, Jewish mysticism, sociology of education and the intersection of social theory, mysticism and education. He received his PhD in Sociology and Anthropology at Princeton University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellow. In 2013-2014, he will be Visiting Professor in Social Pedagogy and Social Politics at Wuppertal University, Germany.


Title: Mystical Sociology