This essay addresses the claim that behind the use of esoteric writing lies an opposition between philosophy and politics. I suggest that esoteric writing, on the reading of it proposed by Melzer, would reveal philosophy to be engaged in its own form of politics, making esoteric writing analogous to the doctrine of "secrets of state." Similarly, my comments question the claim that behind esoteric writing there needs to be an opposition between philosophy and religion; I here highlight the idea of esotericism found in Goethe, an idea that might support an "Oriental" understanding of "ancient theology" in which religion does not oppose philosophy. Finally, I propose that we should distinguish between truthful and sophistical uses of esoteric writing, where the latter corresponds to philosophy as a political project based on distinguishing between the few wise and the many unwise, while the former corresponds to philosophy's posture as an endless pursuit of truth open to everyone.
- ancient theology
- secrets of state