Robert Eisler

Alberto da Veiga Guignard, Santa Cecília, 1933, oil on canvas, 60,4 cm x 50,1 cm


Commentary on the intellectual trajectory of the economist and historian of art and religion

In this article, we will seek to extract, through the book Robert Eisler and the Magic of the Combinatory Mind: The Forgotten Life of a 20th-Century Austrian Polymath, by Brian Collins, above all, Robert Eisler's theoretical effort in the most varied fields of knowledge.

In the elementary book, World Cloak and Sky Canopy, Eisler contrasts round-earth and flat-earth cosmologies. We observe that there is the permanence of the hegemonic conception that the earth is flat until the Hellenist Ptolemy adopted the spherical theory. In that regard: "Eisler argues that two distinct and incompatible cosmological systems spread from the Near East into the Hellenic world, one that pictured the vault of heaven held up over the flat earth by a tree or pillar, and another that pictured the cosmos as a spherical shape, like the Hiraṇyagarbha (“Golden Egg”) described in the Sanskrit Matsya Purāṇa. The first of these systems has been dominant for most of history (and has now apparently regained some popularity among conspiracy theorists on the internet), but was eventually supplanted by the spherical model, which gave rise to a scientific picture of the universe".

What stands out is the presentation that in the East both models and the spherical Revolution appear with serfdom. On the other hand, we have that the idea of ​​eternal and unlimited time, of a transcendental god, as in Zoroastrianism, in Greece emerged as the “apeiron” and, in Jewish mystique, while “the sofa”. Both conceptions were mystical, but one gave rise to Greek cosmology, the other an unscientific view.

This theoretical effort comes from the art historian, Alois Riegl, who influenced Walter Benjamin and also Ernst Cassirer in relation to the symbolic forms of myth, in addition to many other thinkers: “In World Cloak and Sky Canopy, Eisler takes on the ideas of a previous generation of major historians of religion like Friedrich Creuzer, William Dupuis, and Karl Otfried Müller. And the method he employs, while indebted to Morelli, Riegl, Cassirer, and Usener, is uniquely his own. Using Henry II's coronation robe as a starting point, he attempts to "reverse-engineer" the Kunstwollen of successive civilizations from Sassanian Persia to the Holy Roman Empire".

Furthermore, Brian Collins presents Eisler's biography, in addition to the changes in intellectual life that took place in XNUMXth century Europe, through the work Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy, by the same author, in which there is a presentation of the thesis that vegetarianism and polyamory were abandoned, so that proto-humans could survive the Ice Age. With regard to this, they began to imitate the hierarchical structures and hunting practices of the packs, from which they incorporated, in the unconscious, the instinct referring to cruelty.

In the chapter "Ladies' Coats and Beach Cabanas in Light of the History of Religion”, Collins analyzes Eisler’s first work, World Cloak and Sky Canopy, in which there is a discussion of two incompatible views regarding the cosmological systems widespread in the Near East, one that portrayed the vault of paradise suspended over the flat earth by a tree (or pillar), another that saw the cosmos as spherical.

Interest also falls on the first work in English Orpheus the Fisher, in which there is the identification of Orphism as a pre-Hellenic religion based on a divine fisherman or, even, a hunter, which was suppressed by the Greeks due to the rites of blood sacrifice. In this work, there is a study of the theory in which the bread shared in the Holy Supper was, in fact, the “afikoman”, bread passed at the end of the paschal meal, so the sharing of this bread would mean an encrypted gesture about the revelation of Christ as Messiah.

It is observed that, from the Slavic manuscripts, by the historian Flavius ​​Josephus, from the XNUMXst century, Eisler, in addition to establishing a controversial physical description about Jesus, points out that he was a political messiah who wanted to expel the Romans.

In addition, Collins brings Robert Eisler's plans regarding the creation of a dual currency system, in which there would be an exchange rate for small payments and another for the unit account. The purpose was to implement, through a central bank, negative interest rates by manipulating the exchange rate between the aforementioned currencies, and penalizing the accumulation of money.

Em Weres, Eisler put forward the theory that the Book of John consists of the narrative written by Lazarus, supplemented by John of Ephesus and Marcion's heterodox interpretations.

Finally, Collins makes reference to Eisler's decadence, in the mid-1940s, a period in which the intellectual came to be seen as an eccentric, rather than a respected academic, despite his vast production in various fields of knowledge (Religion , Economics, Philosophy, History of Art and Philology)

*Ari Marcelo Solon is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among others, of books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the development of justice (Prisms).


Brian Collins. Robert Eisler and the Magic of the Combinatory Mind: The Forgotten Life of a 20th-Century Austrian Polymath. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, 152 pages.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • The melancholic end of Estadãoabandoned cars 17/06/2024 By JULIAN RODRIGUES: Bad news: the almost sesquicentennial daily newspaper in São Paulo (and the best Brazilian newspaper) is rapidly declining