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It is now said that Yates founded a paradigm, or gave out a grand narrative. In those terms, a so-called Yates paradigm (sometimes Yates Thesis), her work is contested freely. This is a view that Wouter Hanegraaff has put forth, starting with Yates as the scholar first to treat Renaissance hermeticism, integrated with Rosicrucianism, as a coherent aspect of European culture. He has stated it as an attractive paradox, the autonomous esotericism helping give birth to the scientific mentality that will be dismissive of its parent. But, it is now said, there was no unitary esoteric tradition and that view is only tenable on a selective reading of the evidence. The arguments surrounding this questioning of Yates include Lodovico Lazzarelli as not included; and the rival views of Antoine Faivre, who has proposed a clearer definition of esotericism.
Hanegraaff has further argued that the reception of the work of Yates was coloured by the Zeitgeist. An extra assumption, that the magus had a point of view that could be recovered, was fashionably added. Further he argues that essentialist rather than nominalist use of the very term "esotericism" has vitiated succeeding work. The "Yates paradigm", in his view, dominated in the 1970s but fell by the wayside in the 1980s, for scholars. Hints on the "Yates thesis" were left as sketches in works of Yates herself (Francis Bacon in relation to hermeticism, and the Hartlib circle, in particular). These related to paths, and how actual influence on science was effected.
Such theories were developed by others, and then later largely rejected by scholars. Brian Vickers identifies Rattansi, A. G. Debus and Peter J. French as on the side of the Yates thesis, with M. B. Hesse, Edward Rosen, Paolo Rossi, and Charles Trinkhaus on the other side. He notes that the debate (up to 1984) was not conducted by close reading of texts and evidence; he himself is entirely unconvinced by the thesis.