Starting off with the definition from The Free Dictionary:
n. pl. syn·the·ses (-sz)
a. The combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole.
b. The complex whole so formed.
2. Chemistry Formation of a compound from simpler compounds or elements.
a. Reasoning from the general to the particular; logical deduction.
b. The combination of thesis and antithesis in the Hegelian dialectical process whereby a new and higher level of truth is produced.
[Latin, collection, from Greek sunthesis, from suntithenai, to put together : sun-, syn- + tithenai, to put; see dh- in Indo-European roots.]
I like the practice of defining a term, as it gives a common ground to comment on, versus us coming up with whatever is in our head at the time. Goodness knows it is hard enough when we have the definition in front of us!
For our purposes we will use definitions 1a,b, and 3b. The reasoning in our work involves both inductive and deductive logic.
In this discussion we will ignore, for the time being the next iteration in Hegel's train of thought, courtesy of Karl Marx as it represents a dogmatic view not germane to this conversation. What we will concentrate on is the dialectic.
Now on to a couple basic ideas. First we will look at Science, then Esotericism.
When we use the term science we refer specifically to the scientific method. To get into such fields as philosophy of science, is to walk into the area of the untestable and blind belief. Obviously this should not properly be called science. A better term is speculation.
So let's start with the basis of modern science, the Scientific Method.
There are several elements to the Scientific Method, as listed:
1) Ask a question.
2) Come up with a hypothesis to answer the question.
3) Predict the outcome.
4) Test the prediction.
5) Analyze the outcome.
Robert Heinlein, through his character Lazarus Long described the analysis part best of all when he said: "What are the facts? Again and again and again --- what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell", avoid opinion, Care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" --- what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always in to an unknown future; facts are your only chance. Get the facts!"
Proponents of science, for the most part take this point of view. There is an objectivity which is subject to constant questioning and experimentation and when pursued without bias tends towards a greater understanding of the unknown.
The field of esotericism begins with a different assumption. Esotericism operates within the realm of the mind and holds that the world is a framework of symbols and correspondences operating with a natural framework that serves to transform the aspirant. Wheras science purports to be all about the objective and measurable, esotericism is about the subjective and experiential aspects of being. In addition, esotericism (and by extrapolation, Theosophy) teaches a kind of perennialism, that is there is a common, universal tradition that permeates all cultures and can be transmitted directly from one person to another.
The Theosophist, specifically looks to nature, myth and divinity to formulate their world view. It is, like Esotericism an approach rooted in subjective, personal experience and present in many cultures under many names. In addition, the nature of the Theosophic tradition is based directly on personal experience. It is subjective, and while many people throughout history have had Theosophical insights, it is the personal relationship between the person and reality (or divinity) which gives Theosophy its essence.
It is also through the process of active imagination that the Esotericist/Theosophist builds these connections. It is the imagination which fuels the fires of creativity and allows the discovery of deeper principles and realities.
You have two points of view (a dialectic) which are quite opposite in nature, science based on objective observation, and testable hypothesis, and esotericism which is almost entirely subjective. No wonder there is an apparent conflict. Science holds that esotericism is untestable and therefore unprovable. Esotericism / Theosophy maintains that Science has no "soul" that it depends entirely on the senses, which are merely gateways to consciousness and limited by nature. From these points of view it is easy to understand why those with a scientific bent are at odds with those in the world of esoteric matters. It's like forcing an accountant to teach an art class. I guess it's fine if you paint by numbers (sic).
There is a window for both views to reconcile and it is within the scientific method. Looking at the method above we find that of the five items listed, four are essentially mental processes. One could even make the point that the testing stage requires a good deal of imagination and a clear mental picture of what will produce the best test of one's idea.
Thus we have several processes or modes of thought in common between science and esotericism. First, someone has to have an idea. As in esotericism/theosophy this requires imagination, as does formulating a hypothesis and making a prediction. The first three parts of the Scientific Method are entirely mental in nature. That is important to understand. There is a dependency on symbols (i.e. mathematics) and logic in order to make the connections. However, imagination plays a similarly major role. Where science and esotericism part ways involves primarily the role of the objective and subjective. In science proof is the result of the analysis of an experiment verifying the hypothesis setting up the experiment. In esotericism, proof comes in the access to the higher realities and the direct contact with divinity. In both cases you end up with knowledge, one based on factual verification and the other the result of gnosis or direct experience.
I would argue that the two, rather than being at odds with each other are actually complimentary. Theosophic / Esoteric insights can help inform one in generating ideas, hypothesis and predictions and the same could be said likewise. In addition, scientific endeavor can be a source of new symbols and realities for the esotericist to draw upon and obtain a greater understanding of the world.
Ponder a bit on this and we would love to hear your thoughts.
Dear Joe ,
I am only commenting on the Synthesis part , The two may find reconcilliation and will be complementary in the rarest of rare cases where the scientist is also a man inclined to Philosophy , but not otherwise , for the synthesis between the esoteric to the exoteric must always include oneself which is a pretty difficult thing to achieve . The gap between he exoteric and the esoteric is very very big and it can only be bridged by including the thinker - after all are not both Philosophers and Scientists thinkers ?. There is another catch to this the Scientist is able to think in abstractio but only within the confines of the science or in due course as the science evolves he will be forced to water down the abstractions which have to conform to the results of experiments which would give a more clear cut picture of the ground on which it stands as it evolves from an abstraction to the concrete . The man who is a Philosopher - and I use this word in the sense that it is used more in the Eastern tradition than western - is a man of science but is not a scientist , by virtue of his scientific temperment . Why I use the Eastern view of Philosophy is that , the eastern Philosophies do not start from mere abstractions as is popularly believed - It starts from the one thing that is perfectly concrete ie. oneself .
Scientific experiments and realities are reflected in the esoteric to a large extent , in fact in more measure than people are wont to believe . Again the two disciplines are diametrically opposite in their scope , science has for its subject things that are seen and impermanent , Philosophy has for its scope knowledge alone. None of the the axioms in philosophy is valid in science proper - there is no place for philosophizing in science . It follows a pattern of reduction of the generals into segments and then made universal and then tested for scientific content . As an example Existence which is the subject matter of Philosophy is again reduced to the familiar theme of forms and objects and then classified as the science to which it pertains . Eternity becomes part of religion and is discounted , as it is unseen , or it is again bought into the purview by the word phenomenal , Timelessness is reduced to causation and accepted in science , so really speaking those concepts which are pertinent to Philosophy do not just exist in Science , rather they are restated in terms of finitude and then accepted into the sciences . The outer limit of the sciences are described by Mathematics alone . Again to a layman there will be an overtly obsessive thrill with the sciences since unlike the scientist , he becomes fascinated by the various theories and postulates of science and their spinoffs which may look quite deep to him , but to a scientist these are a necessary part of his vocation . Every science starts from an abstraction which later becomes concrete by virtue of the familiar - no scientist has ever made any abstraction that would not stand scrutiny by the rules of his particular science . Take quantum Physics for example - the assumptions and results may look very provocative and groundbreaking - but in due course as it becomes a settled science and structure comes in , the grounds for abstraction become less and less . It is then that man starts thinking anew and abstraction starts and a new science develops and the whole thing undergoes the same cycle . Esoteric is only that much useful to a scientist where he may be allowed to think temporarily out of the box after which he sinks into the same cycle . Science is helpful not maybe the aspirants and mere students of Philosophy who do not have it in them to think on their own from within and grasp the reality of the matter . The ideas in science may help them to think outside the box initially , but here there is a caveat involved - if the student thinks that science is the answer - than he is doomed as he has missed the point by a mile - it is only a help to him in informing of his capacity to (not dream or imagine ) abstract - for proper abstraction is done with a purpose and by abstracting creatively on what already is available - This is proper science and scientific temperment in Philosophy and Science . In science ultimately abstraction leads to the concrete and for the good of man . In Philosophy abstraction leads to the concrete of the esoteric principles behind the working of Man, Nature and World . Science is knowledge and demonstrable and can be enjoyed by virtue of its results , Philosophy too is knowledge of the working of what we see around us and is knowledge and can be enjoyed and demonstrated , and can be transmitted and just in order to be a man of science some pre requisites are there , so too in Philosophy certain pre requisites are there , just because it is something free and not taught in universities (Practical philosophy ) does not mean that it can be learnt or understood without preliminary training . The balance is where the Philosopher understands the uses of science and the scientist the uses of philosophy . One makes , the other explains . Both are intuitive since purposive abstraction is there and neither are concerned with day dreams, fanatsies or the febrile and imaginary.
You have the right idea.
Some things people should know about Science:
1) Time is NOT linear
2) What (to you) appears as simultaneous events (NOW) are NOT simultaneous, but an interval/volume in time and space both.
3) Matter is vibrations in Fields that exist everywhere in time and space. Physical particles are vibrations and the term particle is used rather loosely, as an unknown something, and is not particulate.
probably enough for now... or, my now :)
The nature around us is non-linear at every level that has been understood so far. The Reality could be like a Super Set in mathematics containing several apparently contradictory sets.
What may gladden the heart of some of the members that even Love and Happiness are found to be non-linear by the mathematicians. Though the mathematics of Love and Happiness is beyond me.
I mistakenly paid my telephone bill in excess last month , and my service provider has raised my credit limit in appreciation . The same used to happen a couple of years before in the matter of Credit cards and I almost ended in jail !!. This is parallel knowledge conferring wisdom . Banks and Telephone companies think alike - I suspect Insurance companies are no different but luckily I have not had any ill luck as to have taken any insurance policy in this life .
Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education so wrote Mark Twain , I guess life is turning me into the more desirable variety of Cauliflower . Why do I write this ?
It is because science and philosophy has found a synthesis in me !!. I have learnt to cherish Commonsense and Prudence more than anything else now.
the point is that ultimately one should know both pieces; they are connected by Intellect/mind/brain or your Intellect can't move your finger. I guess one may proclaim a void/gap between them. However, I believe there is an overlap or point of connection between them.
When you say: "the synthesis between the esoteric to the exoteric must always include oneself"
I would reword it: the synthesis between the esoteric to the exoteric must always include an individual consciousness
In any case, one must understand the external. This site (I'm not implicating you or others on the site) often gets into topics where nonscience has lead to nonsense even when only the external is being discussed. i.e. when the discussion is about the external.
Foundational Physics is a very active pursuit that has a sizable overlap between Physics, Metaphysics i.e. Philosophy proper. Experiments are being done to test philosophical concepts that are in the realm of metaphysics/philosophy. We seem to just disagree on this... Hence - this topic can get difficult.
So, if you do not believe in an experimental fact, how do we proceed? or -- do you trust your cricket ball to fall when you drop it? If you say NO, I am unsure where to proceed.
The points I mentioned in my brief post on a few science facts, relate to a Minkowski Space. That is what we live in. It is where the acronym MIN comes from (FWT).
In order to synthesize external and internal, we need to accept both.
In Taimni's book on the Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras, he states that Yoga is a science.
I agree, it even has its own experiments. It basically follows the scientific method. Yoga theory => specific result => experiment => agree or reject.
Dear John ,
I am sorry if I have infringed on your sensibilities , maybe my presentation was not up to the mark - but I think the following link will clear a lot of issues in perspective - It is quite well written there are some spelling mistakes maybe due to the compiling from different fonts or some such thing but on the whole the link will provide you with a general view of how we are looking from two ends of the telescope . I will not say that the writer is 100% correct but mostly the writer has done what most Indians themselves these days would not do .ie.Learn to swim before jumping into the pond. The idea in approach has been very well grasped by the writers .
I'll take a look at it! I appreciate this.
I sometimes think we may need a Glossary. Maybe someone in the middle <G> could start ? Anand might be good?
Thanks John for your confidence in me. But as Hari is aware, I am extremely poor in matters of Philosophy. I simply do not comprehend it.
I do not know how Microsoft promoted its Windows 8 launch in the US, but here in India the TV advertizement had a jingle saying, "Everything at Once". It has come a long way since the original punchline of "Where do you want to go today?" Implying that where you were yesterday is of no consequence.
A graphic on non-lineraity of time copied from a facebook post:
Hi - Thanks Anand!
that things looks like a detector chamber event-cloud.
In general, one has 3 cases for observers of 2 events. It all depends on the space-time distance (squared).
1) space-like separation: Events can be seen as occurring at the same time.
2) time-like separation: events can be seen as occuring at the same place in space.
2.1) future time-like
2.2) past time-like
3) space-time distance is 0. (light rays are in this category)
The Past is inside the cone opening downwards; The Future is inside the cone opening upward; everything outside the cones is NOW ... to someone.
First Light Cone picture:
The two points, S and Z, actually can be seen to occur at the exact same instant in time by a person.
the points (any will do) within the cones, either Past or Future, are observable as happening at the same location in space, but different times.
The Hyperspace of the Present (second graphic) is the Present for one (only) observer/event. However, the entire space & time outside the two cones of the Past and the Future is basically the Now. Such a large volume of space and time as "Now" bothers some people; the term "meta-Now" is sometimes used.
The whole mess is organized because two events have the same space-time interval between them; That distance is always the same for everyone. The distance may be either positive or negative. The sign of the distance (+ or -) determines the nature (space-like or time-like).
the whole mess really doesn't seem doable, until you start overlaying various light cones, for two observers, on top of each other.
Probably should dump this in a Science-Group posting.
Thanks John for this beautiful explanation.
However, as long as NOW is separated from the PAST or the FUTURE as depicted in both the cones, will the conditions of Non-Linearity be fulfilled?
The attached paper attempts to explore the questions, "What are the natural excitations in higher dimensional systems? Are there other types structures besides solitonic and chaotic structrues?"
I agree that we should discuss these things elsewhere. Thanks again.