Talk:Involution (esoterism)

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Involution is the opposite of Evolution. Evolution rolls out. Involution rolls in. Bobkiger 18:48, 7 May 2006 (UTC)BobKiger

That's fine etymologically, but the trouble is that everyone has their own definition of Involution and Evolution. e.g. Meher Baba's definition is the inverse to the Theosophical one! (he calls Involution what they call evolution) M Alan Kazlev 02:55, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Brand new to the article and term, responding to the RFC: It seems that there are several mutually contradictory concepts which are each labeled "involution." If this is accurate, shouldn't there really be a disambiguation page which would link to the Involution section for each of the philosophers/religions that use the term? VisitorTalk 05:49, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Requested Move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


This seems clear to me. The subject matter is religion not philosophy. Perhaps I'd go along with 'Philosophy of Religion' but that doesn't seem right either. Gregbard 02:58, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

I have to disagree. Neither Sri Aurobindo, Blavatsky (Theosophy), nor Ken Wilber (Integral Theory), are religious thinkers. In fact they each strongly criticise established religion as limiting. Although it is true that involution is not philosophy as defined in present day secular academia, it is much more misleading to define it as "religion". For sake of a better label I would categorise it as "spiritual philosophy" (as opposed to academic philosophy). But if "Involution (spiritual philosophy)" is too unwieldly, it should just be left under the present heading. M Alan Kazlev 11:51, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
reply I notice you consider yourself an "integeral philosopher." Perhaps we can get some outside opinions on the matter? The article is about Involution particularly, so it doesn't really matter these guys are not "religious thinkers" (in your opinion or anyone else's). They could be as non-religious as possible, and that still wouldn't change the nature of this subject at all. Their criticism of <key>other</key> religious thought is irrelevant also. It is very very clearly a religious subject not a philosophical one. Furthermore, labeling Involution as "Involution (religion)" does not imply that Involution itself is a religion, but rather is a term from the subject of religion. I notice you refer to "secular academia." Well quite frankly that's who you listen to for an objective definition on any given religion, NOT IT'S ADHERENTS. There is no "spiritual philosophy" as opposed to "academic philosophy" there is religion and there is philosophy. Hey listen, creation scientists are out there claiming that it's not religion it's science! They can say it all day long, but that doesn't make it true. Gregbard 20:17, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
P.S. I just looked into Aurobindo, Blavatsky and Ken Wilber. All three are clearly religious thinkers and specifically not philosophical thinkers. Philosophy means something. Not just anybody with an idea is a philosopher. Furthermore, there is no end to religious thinkers who desperately try to portray themselves as something other than religion. It's sad really. If you believe in this religious belief (which is just fine!), why don't you just admit that it is a religion and not try to portray it as something else? The whole thing loses credibility, and now I am thinking that a review of all of these articles from a secular, legitimately philosophical, and objective perspective will be necessary. My goodness! Gregbard 20:54, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
hi Greg
actually, the fact that this is a subject which I have expertise in should surely qualify me to be able to comment on it. What if there is a page on some sub-topic in physics, for example. Would you then claim that people with university degrees in physics shouldn't comment or contribute, but only those who don't have qualifications? Or that someone who has spnt years studying Renaissance Art should not contribute to pages on the subject? (And it is true that unfortunately Wikipedia does sometimes work this way). Surely not! Well, the same should also apply here.
Now I can see where you are coming from. Our problem is really one of semantics, regarding the definition of religion. For some people anything not materialistic or secular must automatically be a religion. But that is actually a very naive and limited definition. You may be interested in the work of Gilles Quispel, Wouter Hanegraaff and others who distingush between Faith, Reason, and Gnosis. Faith corresponds to religion, reason to science, and gnosis to esotericism. See for example Wouter J Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture, SUNY, 1998, pp.518-20 for an excellent summary, and Arthur Versluis, What is Esoteric? - Methods in the Study of Western Esotericism, in Esoterica v. IV (2000), for the argument I am using here. These are guys who are respectible academics.
You claim that Sri Aurobindo is "clearly a religious thinker". Have you read any of his material? If not, on what grounds do you define his philosophy as "religious". Here incidentally is Sri Aurobindo and his co-worker The Mother's 's rejection of religion. They are saying exactly what Hanegraaff and Versluis are, just using different langauge; e.g. saying "spiritual" or "yoga" instead of gnosis. The fact that devotees tend to turn them into a religion does not mean that their teaching is a religion. It is spiritual (=gnosis, based on inner experience), but not religious.
Similarily, in what way do you define Wilber's work as religious? Have you studied his books, or engaged in debate with followers or even critics of his work? Do you have any independent scholarly references that assert that Wilber is a religious thinker?
Also, the fact that you refer to a "secular, legitimately philosophical, and objective perspective", does indicate to me that you are trying to impose your own POV, which is either the same as, or strongly sympathetic to, secular modernity and positivism. Are you saying that only secular philosophy is legitimate? Would you consider Hegel a legitimate philosopher? Or Whitehead?
What I'm trying to show is that everyone thinks their own view is special, and they have some privelaged position by which they can judge others. Religious people think that, and positivists think that as well. Surely the goal of Wikipedia should be to present all povs, without bias abnd without claiming that one is the "special" or "correct" one. M Alan Kazlev 11:49, 27 June 2007 (UTC)


The fact that you have expertise in a religion does not qualify you to call it a philosophy. I appreciate your contribution very much. However, I would like to see it put in it's encyclopedic context correctly. You are not qualified to do that alone as an adherent of this belief. If that was the case the Rastafarians would insist that they are not a religion either because they say they KNOW that Hallie Sallesie is the messiah. Do you see my point here? Your "expertise" is not the same as academic scholarly study. Since you have studied from the "confessional" perspective rather than from the "scholarly" perspective, your conclusions are rightly to be subject of further analysis. Autodidacticism only goes so far.
The fact that these people you mention criticize religion does not mean that their own beliefs are not themselves religion. All they are really doing is criticizing OTHER religions. Your gurus can criticize religion all day long if they want.
You say yourself "involution is not philosophy as defined in present day secular academia." That really is all the justification we need to move this thing. I'm glad you could admit this embarrassing detail. (That's good faith!)
Unfortunately you also say "it is much more misleading to define it as 'religion'." I'm sorry but it is not misleading at all. It is leading us to the appropriate way to classify these things. Just what about it is misleading exactly?
There is no such thing as "spiritual philosophy." It is a term used exclusively by adherents of religious beliefs who wish to portray their beliefs with more credibility than they deserve. You say it's spiritual and not religious. Well thanks for admitting that as well. All beliefs that presume a spiritual level of existence are religion.
Your statement on defining religion is telling. No it's not about materialism, or any other -ism. It's about methods. Philosophers use methods. You are trying to split out Gnosis from religion, but I'm sorry they are the same. There isn't something extra, or more compelling, or more legitimate that makes beliefs that are the result of "gnosis" anymore credible than religious beliefs. Gnosis sure does appeal to the existence of the supernatural doesn't it?? That's religion.
Interestingly, it's not about positivism either. Science doesn't have all the answers, but the answers it does have are scientific. The answers religion has are religious. I'm just asking that we call a spade a spade. I'm not saying that only "secular philosophy" is legitimate. I'm saying that only "secular philosophy" is philosophy, other wise it's "religion" or "philosophy of religion."
I guess I could just say AMEN to that last paragraph, but upon reflection, I don't really think there is anything "privileged" about my POV. The truths of philosophy are accessible to all humans equally, no "gnosis" is necessary. In fact, upon further reflection, I'm not sure I want all POVs on here either. Should we have the Nazi POV on the holocaust represented here? Or should we at some point say no that is not a legitimate POV? Be well,
Gregbard 00:36, 28 June 2007 (UTC)


P.S. If it really belonged at "Involution (philosophy)" there wouldn't be a particular "philosophy's" navigation box there would there? Don't other "philosophies" also use this term? Gregbard 00:52, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
You are trying to split out Gnosis from religion, but I'm sorry they are the same.
Read the references I gave. Otherwise it's just your pov. By the way, a quick google scholar seach for Hegel + involution turned up
  • Sri Aurobindo and Hegel on the Involution-Evolution of Absolute Spirit - Steve Odin - Philosophy East and West, Vol. 31, No. 2, 179-191. Apr., 1981.
Also, do you consider Plato a "legitimate philosopher"? What do you think of his metaphysics? M Alan Kazlev 02:37, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

It was requested that this article be renamed but there was no consensus for it be moved. --Stemonitis 05:54, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Move proposal[edit]

I only just became aware of this article, and the proposed move. I too find the name problematic. Perhaps it could be re-named Involution (spirituality) or Involution (new age). Banno 00:13, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

I think the problem is not with the name of the article, but in the writing of the article which is poor. Someone like Sri Aurobindo is not new age, but Ken Wilbur probably could be categorized that way. Aurobindo and Meher Baba are solidly in the tradition of eastern philosophy, namely advaita vedanta, which is as old as 8th century philosophy in India. But even "eastern philosophy" as a title would not be sufficient to cover the topic since "involution" appears in the writing of Nietzsche as well, but doesn't appear in the article which is a shame. It's true that none of this is analytic philosophy, but the concept is definitely in the realm of philosophy at large (if only German idealism, existential, and eastern). It inevitably falls under 'cosmology.' This is not the only example of a cosmological concept that has a different meaning in certain philosophies but can't be found in analytic philosophy. For another example, see Evolution (philosophy) for a precedent. Abronkeeler 13:33, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Came here via rfc
Involution new age doesn't work... neither Wilber, Auribino or Meher Baba are "new age" thinkers!
Personally, philosophy works for me.... philosophy is a big word... if we wanted to be pedantic we could move it to "involution philosophical concept."
[[1]] "Meaning of life (Philosophy)." There is some precedent for this structure anyway. Sethie 17:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Appealing to some empirical evidence: I've attended two graduate schools for philosophy in my life, and there is no way this would ever be brought up at either of them. That isn't to say German idealism or existentialism came up a lot, but they are discussed. This involution stuff would not. I think both of Banno's suggestions are good ones. - Atfyfe 00:43, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

What's 'brought up' in a philosophy graduate program at Evergreen State College, University of Miami, and the University of Washington doesn't exhaust the topics and branches of what is classified as philosophy. How much eastern philosophy have you studied? See this site for a sense of the breadth of the term 'philosophy:' [[2]] Cott12 01:18, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I think any ideas about "the divine" really do not belong under "philosophy" AT ALL. However, "religion," "new age," "eastern philosophy," or "philosophy of religion." Would be palatable. Attempts to place this stuff under philosophy are misleading. Gregbard 01:33, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I think some here are confusing the term philosophy with one of its subsets. Philosophy is a broad term and includes analytic, continental, and eastern. Each of these again has sub-branches. Nowhere is "Involution" part of the creed of any religion. Nor is Ken Wilbur, who was born in Oklahoma, an eastern philosopher. Aurobindo, who went to Cambridge and wrote in the very eary 20th century wasn't 'new age.' Cott12 09:41, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
One possible precedent to consider is Cosmology (metaphysics). Perhaps the title of this page could be moved to "Involution (metaphysics)." That would at least be more accurate than religion or new age. Cott12 14:42, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
You see that's just the thing. NO it would not be more accurate. It's not metaphysics. Metaphysics means something. (Just like philosophy means something.) Not just any mumbo-jumbo is metaphysics. This article is talking about the Divine. That's religion. That's it. No controversy. No better term out there. Why run away from the religion label AT ALL?!? It just makes me find this article and these gurus less and less credible. I may even agree with some of the religious belief expressed here for cryin' out loud. At least I can call it what it is. Gregbard 21:33, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Please check out these philosophy related articles for mention of God, divinity, soul, spirit, etc.: Philosophy of religion, George Berkeley, Søren Kierkegaard, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Thomas Aquinas, Alfred North Whitehead, Adi Shankara, Anselm of Canterbury, Advaita Vedanta, Plotinus, Alvin Plantinga, Indian philosophy, Philosophy in Iran, Philosophy. Please also read the Wikipedia article on Metaphysics. Note that Religion and spirituality falls in the middle of the list of subjects that fall under the heading Central questions of metaphysics. Also check out what Wikipedia has to say about Wikipedia:Neutral point of view while considering using descriptors like "mumbo jumbo" when referring to cited published works. Abronkeeler 13:16, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I also think that the name of the article is problematic. Involution (spirituality) would be my slight preference, but any of the three proposed names would be better than the current one. Does someone want to reopen this?


CRGreathouse (t | c) 17:28, 28 July 2007 (UTC)



(RFC response) Involution (metaphysics) seems to most accurately capture the topic of the article (i.e., meta=beyond, beyond the physical or material plane). A close second (though it's more value-laden) would be Involution (spirituality). Renee --Renee 17:22, 31 July 2007 (UTC)


I mean we have:

~Aribindo- who originally was a Hindu then created his own unique philosophy

~Meher Baba- reasonably a traditionaly Hindu.... except he taught about Involution which is contrary to the funamentals of Hindu philosophy!

~Theosophy- a philosophical/spiritual/religious/historical/mythological set of ideas

~Ken Wilber- a guy who actively seeks to include all branches of knowing into his ideas (pyschology, spirituality, science, philosophy, art, to name a few)


Given that there are four vastly different areas coverd, it's going to be hard to find a perfect label for this page.

New Age is absurd, we don't even need to waste time considering it.

Religion is problematic, since there is no religion based on these ideas.

Spirituality is a possibility... feels kinda weak to me.

Philosophy is accurate, given that philsophy covers every speculative branch of human attempts at knowledge.

However, some people have the interesting ugggghhhh..... philosophy :), that philosophy = Western People's Atheistic-only Ponderings. So I doubt we'll ever get concensus for that page as it is.

Metaphysics is accurate. This idea is not based around scientific ideas and it is about the nature of "ultimate reality." In terms of western metaphysics, I don't think any of these thinkers/traditions are taken seriously there. I mean A Course in Miracles is metaphysical, but you don't see that label applied to it.

So the simplest is

involution (philosophy)

If people can't get over the idea that philosophy=only-western-academic-atheist-thinkers bias then I say we call it:

involution (idea) or involutoin (concept)Sethie 18:47, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Restored page[edit]

Deleting this important page because of controversy over the Integral movement is ridiculous. Involution is a common esoteric and metaphysical theme, and very often as nothing to do with Integralism. Moreover, the word, and ideas such as emanation, were around long before Wilber became a popular writer and made "integarl" intoa buzz-word.

For example, according to Google book search there are

o 652 hits on involution Steiner
o 645 hits on involution Theosophy.
o 636 hits on involution and metaphysics; 634 without the word integral
o 437 hits on involution Aurobindo
o 306 hits on involution Blavatsky.
o 123 hits on involution Plotinus
o 91 hits on involution Kabbalah
o 79 hits on involution Wilber
o 64 hits on involution Sufism
o 38 hits on involution and esotericism. Without the word integral there are 37.
o 24 hits on involution Meher Baba.

The fact that Wilber scores more than Sufism simply refers to the bias involved in use of English. There is a voluminous amount of information on involution in Sufism and Kabbalah, but this is usually defined in specific technical terms. Note that Steiner, Theosophy, and Aurobindo score many times higher than Wilber. I'm not saying that Wilber's contribution isn't important, but only that to reduce the whole topic of involution to the contemporary Integral Movement, and then delete a page on that basis, is ludicrious M Alan Kazlev 22:48, 23 October 2007 (UTC)