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.
Haven't looked at the paper yet. (we will take that to Science)
"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?"
Yes. N and Z are spacelike separated (N "time" has Z after N) so another person may see Z and N at the same time, or a person may see Z first with N at a later time (reversed in temporal order).
To see this takes another diagram. note: N's view belongs to N (Hari should like that, I think?).
The whole volume outside the two cones can't be ordered w.r.t. N's time.
All three are valid:
N before Z; N same time as Z; N after Z.
Thanks for the post, Joe. While both science and esotericism provide knowledge, the way to arrive at knowledge varies greatly. Science seems so rigid in following a method to find proof. I have a dear friend (in her '30's and trained as biologist) who follows the scientific method and is trying to find proof of consciousness that fits with her science mind.
She seems to be focused on the brain and mind to locate consciousness. A recent question to her asked: Do you think consciousness is energy?. She agreed that consciousness was energy. Yipee!!
Human beliefs about the conflict between Science and Esotericism is at best ambiguous. Esotericism as you pointed out is not tangible; nonetheless, it is an IRREFUTABLE science. In fact I just wrote a paper
ESOTERICISM IN RELIGIOUS LITERATURE:
A Scientific and Irrefutable System of Thought
and sent it to a new Esoteric Journal. It has yet to be peer review but I should hear word in a few months.
All I did was demonstrate the Esoteric Science from the first chapter of Genesis and show example of symbols in both their microcosmic and mascrosmic states.
The Science (the objective: knowledge not belief) that was used by the ancients to write the sacred texts had to be perfectly understood. Nothing could be used 'scientifically' that could later to be challenged and updated. The science used in the sacred scriptures had to endure the test of millennia. It had to be recognized by all cultures in all times and climes. The reason for this is because SCIENCE was not used, by the ancient scribes, for a scientific purpose it was used as a catpaw.not something of intrinic value in and of itself.
Whereas, history and/or religious traditions and dogmas (the subjecive: belief not knowledge) was also used as a catpaw and these histories and religious traditions and dogmas were not of any intrinic value in and of themselves.
The ancients solved the dillemma of merging the two in heiroglyphic writings: merging the alphabet (symbolicallly the powers of creation) alphanumerically creating each word as a symbol and then wrote the sacred texts with grand patterns that enlarged upon these single word symbols.
With all this above as preliminary esotericism does not even enter the fray. Esotericism come to the fore when the initiate attempts to understand what all of this material is about and he is led to indeputable conclusions. The understanding of letter and word structure and how the text was written takes reason and logic; however, Esotericism is a 'divine gift' because here are elements that cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
Yes, the techniques of how letters and words are structured and how the texts are written to display grand graphic images of symbols already codified into words can be transmitted to an initiate in the classroom; however, Esotericism is ethereal. There is an Esoteric Science, which if followed as if being led by the proverbial nose, can be ascertained. The entire system was structured that way. REASON, LOGIC, INDUCTIVE AND DEDUCTIVE REASONING and all such tricks of the mind to ferret out knowledge has nothing whatsoever to do with the 'intuitiveness' that allows the initiate to understand ESOTERICISM.. It would be as if you were describing color to a blind man or music to the deaf. Yes, the blind and the deaf may be able to put your terms into patterns but they will never know the rapture that these things bring to the soul/psyche; thus. the agony that one goes through trying to understand ESOTERICISM.
I do not believe that true spirituality gives the initiate any special powers other than a spiritual 'mental' radiance, which allows the initiate an ability to discern much more quickly than the uninitiated what the texts of the sacred literature, monuments and artworks around the world are saying.
I do understand that the if psyche is strained or taxed in one or another areas mental aberrations may occur allowing some people to do extraordinary things: such as walk on hot coals; however, it has been demonstrated that such people that can accomplish such feats may or may not be on the spiritual path. I agree with you wholeheartedly that the acquisition of these psychic powers are basically a fruitless endeavor. They may be good for parlor tricks and/or carnivals but for the true study of one's religious roots they have no place because they prove ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF INTRINSIC VALUE TO THE SOUL.
This is why I try to prove everything demonstrably in my writings relating to my researches. There is no advancing in Theosophy or any other spiritual system if there are no systems demonstrably proving what the writer is saying.
I believe that this is why the Ancient Mystery Schools were geared to the aristocracy because they were educated into the mathematical sciences, which were prerequisites for entrance into the cult of Pythagoreans or the Plato's Academy or the Eleusinian or Mithra mysteries. People that were educated in these mathematical sciences were not prone to gullibility. If one is easily fooled by someone waving a wane and saying "presto chango" and viola the rabbit appears or any other such nonsense that person has no business being in a Mystery School.
What I truly believe is remarkable about the past is the monasteries that work on producing the sacred scriptures. The enormity of the work on a purely Esoteric level is beyond imagining. None of these people took any credit for what they accomplished and they left behind no evidence that they even did it. I would have loved to have been in the room (maybe just a fly on the wall) just to hear the dialectical arguments putting this esoteric science together. The nuances that would have had to be argued and considered would have been conducted with hairsplitting logic. And that was just setting the system up so that the text would exude the Esotericism it was programmed to convey.
Modernity tends to think of monastery scribal schools as just copying other manuscripts word for word but that would have been the work of the lower cadre of monks not the one's that were inventing the system that would codify the teachings of the MONAD.
Hear ! Hear - I love it , there is nothing more inspirational than the picture of a person bent over a scroll and busy illuminating it in candle light with the extreme devotion and faith , living the life of a monk and expecting nothing in return ,so many manuscripts have been produced just on the bedrock of faith and love and wishing well for others .It is good to remember these lovers of the written word and the knowledge they conferred on these unsung warriors of the soul . There is nothing more sublime than these picture for they give hope to a world steeped in misery .
Thee are two roads to spirituality. This is why the Hermetic science cannot deny the other: "The Animal Envoi": meaning objective science or emotional subjectivity. It depends upon how the individual wants to live his life. Whatever way the individual wishes to live out his life then so be it; however, those of us that go the route of the Hermetic way are sick and tire of the hoaxes and frauds of emotionalism. We want concrete facts about spirituality and not some flight of fancy. We draw the line in the sand and say "heretoforth shalt thou come but no further: Job 38:11" as was used in the Da Vinci Code.
The way of the Animal Envoi is the way that the newspapers describe the order of the day. People having no direction in their lives just doing as they please as if it was one gigantic Jerry Springer show.
The Hermetic Way is a difficult way because man has lost the ancient arts when they were so simple they were literally laid out for all to see. I am beginning to look at the Serpent Mound in Ohio again. Some thirty years ago I look at it and not much was known; however, the research that has been conducted on it since shows it to be probably the earliest monuments to hermeticism on earth. All the legends from Egypt concerning the serpent in Giza Plateau caves, the Hindu legends of the Chakra system and Kundalini and the legends of Greece and the Judeao Christian scriptures all laid out mathematical and geometrically in this Serpent Mound. All the research I have been doing on the first four chapters of Genesis is there.Thus, there is scientific evidence that the more we intellectualize emotionalism the further we drive the Hermetical teachings underground. If it was not for the scientific researches of many people I would not have been able to put the pieces together. Merely, believing what another say when he or she doesn't even know if they are right or wrong does not work for me.
Science is merely a way of holding up an objective fact to see if others understand it and can independently replicate the theses on their own. If the propose theses cannot be autonomously reproduce then it is not a valid scientific idea.
As I said, Paul, there is the Hermetic Way and the Way of the Animal Envoi. Within those two are the infinite ways to God; however, according to scripture one the materialistic god and the other is the spiritual. There is nothing wrong in choosing either one. If you enjoy life through sensualism and emotionalism then more power to you. If on the other hand you are sick and tire of the sensual and emotionalism of the world then the objective way may be an option.
Hermeticism uses science as a tool. It is not the end all and be all of spirituality. As you said it has to be experience and through scientific means only brings the initiate to the edge of the precipice so to speak. A Hermeticist learns from those that have come before him. Those before him left scientific evidence that eludes to spirituality and it is up to the initiate to follow that material. The ancient left behind this material to lead the initiate by the proverbial nose which leads him to only one conclusion, which gives him the knowledge of God. This does mean that all along the way the initiate has to extrapolate on the material he is given and if he doesn't he will not progress.
Those having intuition, or psychic experiences can transmit their knowledge through the ages. The Way of the Animal Envoi is an individual experience not a collective one like the Hermetic way. There is no way to transmit the knowledge of the Animal Envoi. Hermeticism is all about intuition based upon the scientific data left behind to meditate on. I understand Hermeticism as taking the best of both world. Do you know what the Vesica Piscis: it is two circles meeting each other at their centers creating and oval shape in between. Hermeticism would be the center because it takes both the Animal Envoi and the science of mathematics and fuses them as one. Whereas, the Animal Envoi is the unconscious mind compensating for the psyche in the world by giving it a way to live in the world. This would be similar to Black Elk. There god may be the Salmon, or the Buffalo or whatever. In modern times it could be the gang as group, movie stars, sport players, the dollar bill.
All religion have both ways of teaching their members. There is the inner esoteric teachings (Hermetic Way) and there is the outer way (The Animal Envoi) for the masses. we all begin with the outer teachings and it is only a very few that will learn the inner teachings. The Church has to maintain a status quo so it can sail through history.
No matter what a person does in the world it really cannot be criticized because that is how he is enjoying his life. Each person has a right to work out his or her own salvation.