There are a few key factors that tend to make a subject esoteric:
– Specialized knowledge – The topic requires deep knowledge and expertise that is not widely accessible or understood by the general public. It has a steep learning curve.
– Limited scope – The concepts apply to a narrow or limited domain of interest, rather than having broad applicability. Often very technical or niche subjects.
– Abstract theory – The ideas are highly theoretical and conceptual without direct practical application. They may deal with abstractions, models, and unseen processes.
– Unconventional perspectives – The topic offers unorthodox viewpoints that go against mainstream thought. This includes mystical, fringe, or obscure philosophies.
– Enigmatic language – Discussions involve complex, nuanced terminology that can be difficult for outsiders to grasp. Jargon prevails over plain language.
– Intellectual history – The subject has origins in ancient or esoteric philosophies, and traces a lineage of thinkers not widely studied.
– Interdisciplinary nature – The topic spans disparate disciplines and integrates specialized knowledge from different fields. Hybrid subjects tend to be more esoteric.
– Limited interest – Only a small number of experts worldwide devote themselves to advancing the subject, so few contributions occur.
– Counter-cultural – The ideas challenge dominant cultures, institutions, and power structures rather than being aligned with them.
In general, esoteric subjects are introspective, philosophical, complex, and impenetrable for mainstream audiences. They explore hidden workings through unconventional lenses.