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This article has a draft used for proposing changes.


This article has a draft used for proposing changes.


This article has a draft used for proposing changes.


  • The draft can be found at Talk:Theosophy/Sources.
  • All categories are commented out at the bottom of the draft.
  • Do not edit the article tab of the draft as this can be found accidentally by Special:random. The draft is to be made in the talk namespace.


DO NOT Archive this section Check out this is a Philosophy subject. Please do not edit the banner to remove these from Philosophy. JEMead (talk) 17:24, 29 December 2011 (UTC) This article has a lot more expansion to come. I set it to Start, not C. JEMead (talk) 21:43, 1 January 2012 (UTC) I expanded items and decided that a C might be ok here now.

Start talk page JEMead (talk) 08:57, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Definitions redux[edit]

The article "Theosophy" in Dagobert D. Runes' 1942 edition of The dictionary of philosophy, was written for the 1902 edition and left unaltered in the 1942 edition, by a modern Theosophist, Fritz Kunz, Charles Webster Leadbeater's companion and later Dora Van Gelder's husband, and displays a syncretism and use of Theosophical Society jargon and structure that is not found in other philosophical reference works. I think it adds insight about what 20th century Theosophists believed, but also think it conflates and equivocates the sense of meaning that many scholarly works convey. The entire article broken down into individual details is:

  • Theosophy "is a term introduced in the third century by Ammonius Saccas, the master of Plotinus, to identify a recurring tendency prompted often by renewed impulses from the Orient, but implicit in mystery schools as that of Eleusis, among the Essenes and elsewhere."
  • "Theosophy differs from speculative philosophy in allowing validity to some classes of mystical experience as regard soul and spirit, and in recognising clairvoyance and telepathy and kindred forms of perception as linking the worlds of psyche and body."
This contradicts the common definition that theosophy is direct knowledge and not mentalism.
"Theosophy differs from speculative philosophy in allowing validity to some classes of mystical experience" is misguided since a metaphysical subject cannot be verified by sensory experience of the world (i.e., empirical evidence) and is by definition speculative. Is there a deviant definition of psyche (psychology) implied? Is there an implication that "some classes of mystical experience" are not speculative? Is there an implication that "clairvoyance and telepathy and kindred forms of perception" are not mentalism?
  • Theosophy's "content describes a transcendental field as the only real (approximating to Brahman, Nous, and Pleroma) from which emerge material universes in series, with properties revealing that supreme Being."
The term "transcendental field" is undefined jargon.
The incomplete phrase "as the only real" what? Was a word left out intentionally (like in the incomplete phrase "the transcendent supreme" found below) to not specify a theistic being or atheistic concept?
  • "Two polarities appear as the first manifesting stage, consciousness or spirit (Brahma, Chaos, Holy Ghost), and matter or energy (Siva, Logos, Father)."
It is unclear if the word "Brahma" means Brahma (Hinduism) or Brahmā (Buddhism).
It is unclear if the word "Chaos" means Chaos (cosmogony) or Chaos (mythology).
It is unclear if the word "Holy Ghost" means Holy Spirit (Christianity), Holy Spirit (Judaism), or Spirit of God (disambiguation) in some other sense such as Paramatman.
I think the word "Siva" means Shiva.
It is unclear if the word "Logos" means Logos or Logos (Christianity).
It is unclear if the word "Father" means God the Father
  • "Simultaneously, life appears clothed in matter and spirit, as form or species (Vishnu, Cosmos, Son)."
It is unclear if the word "Cosmos" means Cosmos (opposite of Chaos) or Universe
It is unclear if the word "Son" means God the Son, Son of God, Sons of God, or Solar Logos (the solar deity of Theosophy).
  • "In a sense, life is the direct reflection of the transcendent supreme, hence biological thinking has a privileged place in Theosophy."
The incomplete phrase "the transcendent supreme" what? Was a word left out intentionally (like in the incomplete phrase "as the only real" found above) to not specify a theistic being or atheistic concept?
The term "biological thinking" is undefined jargon.
  • Thus, cycles of life are perceived in body, psyche, soul and spirit."
  • "The lesser of these is reincarnation of impersonal soul in many personalities."
From reading other works, I understand this is not the Egyptian type reincarnation (which believes in a resurrection of the body) which posits a transmigration of a soul from humans into animals followed by a return into a human. What type of reincarnation is described?
  • "A larger epoch is 'the cycle of necessity', when spirit evolves over vast periods."
This is not the Platonic or Pythagorean "cycle of necessity".

Is this source worth including? Is it just too much of an incoherent mess? —BoBoMisiu (talk) 18:57, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps, BoBoMisiu, you would let us know whether we should read your comment as adverse to one or more of Runes, Kunz or the content of the present version of the article? Qexigator (talk) 14:06, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
No, the comment is not adverse to anyone. I am saying it needs more than just my opinion because it may be just poorly written with inadequate editorial oversight, but still include the details that were considered important in a mid 20th century definition.
The current version of the article is missing much of what that mid 20th century definition, by a prominent Theosophist, describes. These details are not found in the public domain sources that I have been compiling to add to the article. From what I have read so far in public domain sources before reading Kunz's description, I think a good article would answer the following questions:
  • Is Theosophy a type of mystery school?
  • What role does clairvoyance and telepathy have in Theosophy?
  • Is clairvoyance and telepathy described in Theosophy as mentalism or something else?
  • What is the term "transcendental field"?
  • The incomplete phrase "as the only real" what? Defined as "the only real", the subject seems important to describe.
  • The incomplete phrase "the transcendent supreme" what? Defined as "the transcendent supreme", the subject seems important to describe.
  • What is the term "biological thinking"?
  • What type of reincarnation is accepted and what types of reincarnation are rejected?
  • Is the "cycle of necessity" as a unit of time? Does it vary from monad to monad?
Some of public domain sources I have compiled are commentaries by philosophers, about philosophical questions addressed by theosophy and Theosophy, but do not comment about the details included in Kunz's description. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 15:08, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Given that it was not "mid-20c." but stemmed unaltered from 1902, written by a person not considered notable in his own right, and that we have in EB 1911 (see above, "Oriental Theosophy") a better source, what is the purpose of cluttering the article with an "incoherent mess"? Qexigator (talk) 15:59, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
You are right, I am assuming that it remained the description because because it was not changed in the 2nd edition. Even if he lacks notability (he was principle of Ananda College during the first world war), I think what he described is what was being developed at the time. He may not be the source of these details but he was close to a key figure, Leadbeater, and could discern what was being developed by just communicating with Leadbeater. Nevertheless, his article was included in the Runes' 1st and 2nd editions does bring up what I think are interesting details. I wonder if he expounded more about these in his book:
I have the entire EB1911 article compiled on that draft page, but it does not explicitly answer any of the questions I asked above. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 17:01, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
And how, avoiding SYN and OR, can that "incoherent mess" be turned into something that improves the article? Qexigator (talk) 17:13, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
It is not SYN and OR because it was done by Kunz. I think finding other sources that either support or refute Kunz's details is nothing original. It is coming from Leadbeater's secretary. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 17:36, 7 February 2015 (UTC)


A few of the references only exist as a footnote - we have Macmahon 2008, and something by Tolstoy (written in cyrillic). We need full references! Secretlady (talk) 04:09, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

The Macmahon looks like McMahan, David L. (2008) The Making of Buddhist Modernism. Oxford University Press, New York. Secretlady (talk) 04:14, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
I've added McMahan. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:03, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Christian Theosophy[edit]

I propose to use the terminology "Christian theosophy", instead of "traditional theosophy" for theosophers of the 17th to 19th century in the article. The theosophy of Boehme and the theosophers of this period is basically Christian theosophy rooted in Christian thought and most sources name it thus:

  • Faivre, Antoine. "Christian Theosophy." Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism
  • "Thus the less-marked term "theosophy" (lower-case f) or "Christian theosophy" was not infrequently used as a euphemism for gnostic tendencies; the term was certainly applied to Soloviev more than once. "Russian Religious Thought edited by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, Richard F. Gustafson

Traditional theosophy is also a bit of a misnomer: within the Christian tradition, theosophy (in the sense of Christian esotericism) was not really traditional. --Trinity9538 (talk) 21:58, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

That makes sense. Qexigator (talk) 23:39, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
Good!HGilbert (talk) 10:15, 5 April 2015 (UTC)