Talk:Theosophy/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4

Philosophy

Check out http://www.iep.utm.edu/submit/100-most/ 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.

Proposed outline of article

For a start, now that we're looking at this article as more expansive than just about Blavatsky/TS versions, I think we should modify the opening statement. My proposal is to take all but the first sentence of the opening paragraphs and move them to the beginning of a subsection called "Modern Theosophy" (I'm open to other terminology). Then take what is found under "definitions and etymology" and work it into the opening paragraphs. This way the opening paragraphs give the overall meaning of theosophy (should probably include a sentence with Blavatsky's definition, as well, to be fair).

Then, everything in 2 Overview, 3 Terminology, 4 Basic Tenents, 6 Major Works and 7 Influences should be lumped together under the 'Modern Theosophy' subsection.

So I would envision:

  1. 'Opening Statement' (expansive/multiple definitions)
  2. 'Academic Theosophy' subsection (or something similarly named)
  3. 'Modern/Blavatsky Theosophy' subsection (again, open to alternative naming)
  4. 'History' (modified and linked to Theosophy (history of philosophy), which can be expanded as a more complete history page. Also, 'world teacher project' belongs within the history of the Theosophical Society or exclusively on the Theosophical Society page, and removed from this page altogether).

Lastly, the symbol of the theosophical society belongs on the Theosophical Society page and not on this one. Thoughts on these ideas? JFergus (talk) 19:16, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

I hope you don't mind my move of your proposal (some folks frown on other editors doing that, so feel free to revert me, if you wish). I thought it would make more sense to begin a new thread with your proposal.
I like your outline. Writing the lead so as to be more general makes sense to me. I also agree that it should include a sentence with Blavatsky's definition. I would be inclined to put the History section nearer the beginning--say right after the lead--though I agree that it could be expanded to be its own page with just a summary in this article. Sunray (talk) 02:04, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Sunray. I'll work on something for the lead over the next couple of days, and will see what further definitions I can round up (I have a couple sources in mind). Should I post it here for review prior to on the page? (I am new at this). Following with History sounds appropriate - a summary with link to expanded article seems so as well. I don't think I could do the academic subsection justice, so will leave that to others. JFergus (talk) 02:38, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Putting a draft on the talk page is sometime useful if there is contention or if several editors want to co-edit. On the other hand, when there is no disagreement (such as now) its fine to make the changes directly to the article. Sunray (talk) 08:25, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
I believe creating a draft page is a very good idea. Sunray - Could you set this up? You are much better on these items than I am. Do we want to archive anything and start with a smaller discussion page? This is kinda long, a decade old discussion. JEMead (talk) 12:58, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
We could do a draft page and co-edit the section on academic theosophy, if you'd like. For most of the other edits, I think we can just pick away at little subsections here and there and post our changes here for others to see.
I've just done a very minor formatting edit to prepare for the additions we've been discussing. All relevant subsections are now grouped into Modern Theosophy, leaving room to add the academic subsection, and to fillout/expand the history subsection. I also moved the TS logo to beside the subsection on the Theosophical Society, where it more appropriately belongs. JFergus (talk) 18:51, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
I like the thread addition (thanks sunray). Jon - I like your idea for change as we go.. The TS logo actually should probably just be removed. The societal pieces should be rather brief and some details totally removed. Then add references or links etc. There are a lot of Theosophies that have developed into particular beliefs (or doctrines). Can't go into them all much. JEMead (talk) 14:22, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
I looked at the outlines used in Metaphysics and Theology and merged/pared to the following outline. I was thinking the outline should be somewhat similar to other (similar) Wiki Pages on related topics. I am unsure how people feel about this. Long list. But it needs the areas in place for future growth of the page with time. Some of these may take some time to really fill in.
  1. 'Etymology' (definition(s))
  2. 'Origins and nature of Theosophy'
  3. 'Central Questions' (maybe in/subset Nature of Theosophy)
  4. 'Methods of Theosophy' Esotericism, Theologies, Sciences
  5. 'History and Schools of Theosophy' (up to and including the Information Age i.e. to current date/modern)
  6. 'Future of Theosophy' (possible developments - science, new discoveries/civilizations/religious docs/Consciousness?)
  7. 'Notes and references'
  8. 'Bibliography'
  9. 'External links'
Anyway, I think this is compatible, just a bit of an extension. It just affects placement within the page. The organization may be better for the reader? I am just throwing this out here. Also, the term Modern, when used in front of the topic is often considered redundant. History can include yesterday in my mind. JEMead (talk) 14:22, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm fine with that. What we have on the page currently would all fit within 'Etymology', 'Origins...', and 'History and Schools...'. Although, perhaps it would be best to take the current entries on 'tenets', etc. of the 'doctrine' of modern theosophy and work it into the section on 'central questions' - rewording them in such a way that shows them to be questions theosophers are seeking answers to as opposed to dogmas (which is kind of how it reads now, and is not an accurate representation of modern theosophy). The Metaphysics page certainly looks like a good outline for the Theosophy page. I'd say work what you have on the academic side into these categories. I'll come up with an intro, and will have a few things to work into Etymology. In the near future we (and others) can try working some of the current items under 'modern theosophy' into 'central questions'. JFergus (talk) 16:55, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
Great! reworking things into and formulating them into central questions is good. The societal doctrines are often the hot-button issues, and also only detract from the field as a whole. I am reworking Methods/Methodologies right now. There are several in Esotericism, Metaphysics, and in the Enc Rel. JEMead (talk) 18:13, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

The concensus has been to proceed. We will be implementing this plan. JEMead (talk) 01:00, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

JEMead and I have coordinated our various edits/additions and today have completed the initial changes. The Theosophy page is updated, following outlines of similar pages (see Metaphysics, Philosophy, etc.). Items related to the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky have been moved to her page. This mirrors what we see with Philosophy, where under the main Philosophy page we have the meaning of philosophy in general and under each individual philosopher's page is where we find their specific philosophy - so too with theosophy, we have not a main Theosophy page with the meaning of theosophy (and it's history) and under Blavatsky's page we have her specific theosophy.
Note: there is a need for expansion on the theosophy of Blavastky on her page, if anyone's interested. I've left a few subsections empty, awaiting additional information. JFergus (talk) 19:50, 27 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the Blavatsky page needing review to assure the accuracy. I am glad the material was moved there. Also - I will get the wikiprojects Philosophy to review this article (if they want - probably low-priority).70.16.89.79 (talk) 23:17, 27 December 2011 (UTC)JEMead (talk) 18:31, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
I indicated my agreement with the outline proposed by JFergus, above. However, I don't think that there has been a consensus on changing other related articles. I've started a new section to discuss this further, below. Sunray (talk) 21:31, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Reworking of articles on Theosophy

I like the initiative to improve this article launched by JFergus and JEMead. However, I think we need further discussion here about how the various Theosophy / Theosophism articles will unfold. For example, I note that most of the former content of this article ("Theosophy") has been moved to the Helena Blavatsky article. This doesn't make sense to me. While Blavatsky may have founded this particular form of Theosophy, she was not the only one who developed it. Therefore, the content does not belong in the biographical article about her. Would interested editors be willing to talk further about this? Sunray (talk) 21:21, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

There are many questions to be answered here. One I posed, above, was: what to do with the Theosophy (history of philosophy) article? I think we need to be clear on what the content of that article should be relative to this one. Also does the Theosophy (history of philosophy) article need to be retitled? (It doesn't make sense to me as it is). Then there's the relationship between the Blavatsky article and the Theosophical Society article. These questions should be sorted out before we start moving large amounts of content and renaming things, IMO. Sunray (talk) 21:36, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
The "Theosophy (History of Theosophy)" has never made sense. I would drop it. I have no idea why it is there. JEMead (talk) 23:15, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

The movement/replacement of the (previous) Material into "Helena Blavatsky" was an attempt to keep that information active in a location where it could be sorted through. Rather a compromise -until it got figured out.. Most of it may belong in "Secret Doctrine", "Theosophical Society", "Helena Blavatsky" or other. I believe people active in those pages overlap. I believe almost all of it was basically from the Secret Doctrine. The placement was one of respect for the authors of that material, so they could rework it. note: The original tag line for this material was the theosophy of the Theosophical Society (i.e. Theosophism of the Theosophical Society would be more appropriate). Arguments had been made here that the Theosophical Society wanted their site to only be about the Society, and not so much its teachings/doctrines. JEMead (talk) 23:15, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

The Template for "Theosophy" is wrong. that needs to be fixed. It is under NewReligiousMovements, Occult etc. Nothing to do with Theosophy proper, but has the Theosophisms basically. Also there is the Portal placement "Theosophy" -- that is also confusing. It has the same problem. we need help especially with the Template and Portal. The old material maybe should be placed in "Theosophy (of Theosophical Society)" JEMead (talk) 23:15, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "template." Could you explain? Sunray (talk) 06:15, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
well - look for "Template:Theosophy" (standard search entry). This template has problems. Not sure how to handle that. If we have a series on Theosophy. It should be about all of Theosophy. It is currently a single-minded series on Theosophy/Theosophisms. The easy thing is maybe change its name - somehow JEMead (talk) 14:03, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I have suggested "Theosophism" which is a word not used much. rather like Druid (Theosophist), versus (the various) Druidism/druidisms (Theosophism/Theosophisms). Theosophism comes from the OED. JEMead (talk) 23:15, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
That makes sense. There is a problem, however: "Theosophism" is rare. Many dictionaries do not have it as an entry. This is a problem for us. In the naming of articles, Wikipedia follows usage. Sunray (talk) 06:15, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
It was fair game when I typed "theosophism" in and found that the page "Theosophism" already existed (!) and was redirected to "Theosophy". I altered the redirect for "Theosophism" so it pointed to "Helena Blavatsky" (the page the previous material was placed into). I think the solution is to take the redirect on Theosophism off, and use that previously existing page to start a listing of all the schools with a specific doctrines/belief. That would solve everything. They (schools+Doctrines) could place the doctrine in separate sections. No more arguments - well fewer at least, and all in the right spot. Also Theosophism gets defined (again). Wiktionary should have it too. I understand standards and the concerns, the word has not been used much. However, the precedent was in place, and it is actually what we have going on here. This is really not an attempt to create a new word. just using an existing word because it is needed again. If there is a better word - I am open for suggestions. JEMead (talk) 14:03, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
sunray - you updated the page to add some quotes on words .. I think that was it? JEMead (talk) 23:15, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
It was just a beginning. I used the format for lead sentences. More to come. Sunray (talk) 06:15, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Blavatsky

Hi JEMead and Sunray. Just catching up on your conversation. Sunray: I disagree that the description of Blavatsky's theosophy may not belong on her page, so I'll try to give a good explanation why I see it that way. I've mentioned Plato a few times in order to provide an example. See his page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato) for how it's laid-out and compare to what we're trying to do with Blavatsky's page. The main problem here is that there is a misunderstanding of what Theosophy is. Theosophy is not the doctrine of Blavatsky. Theosophy is a disicpline, just as philosophy is. Within that discipline there are various ideas presented by various individuals, just as in philosophy, and never are any two presentations the same, just as in philosophy. So, what needs to be done, imho, is for various theosophies to be located under the theosopher who gave them, just as various philosophies are located with the philosophers. This step is important in getting wikipedia away from presenting theosophy as a dogmatic new religion, as has thus far been done. Nobody would stand for having one, single individual's ideas presented as "philosophy", as though that is all philosophy is, and the exact same thing goes here. Currently, the description of Theosophy is a muddling of several individual's ideas on certain fundamental questions that theosophers ask, and is presented as dogma, as though this is what all theosopher think. It would be as though someone muddled together the ideas of Plato, Socrates, Kant and Wittgenstein and supplied that as the definition of philosophy. There are already pages for several theosophers, and within each of those pages can be a section on their specific ideas (which will not match one another and thus shouldn't be mixed).

Your note that Blavatsky was not the only one who developed this version of theosophy is valid, but easily compared and clarified as well: neither was Plato the only one to have developed the philosophies of the Platonic Academy, but his philosophy is still located under his page, Aristotle's under his, and the other ancient greek philosophers under theirs. The comparison is identical to our situation here: Blavatsky, Sinnet, W Judge, Besant and many others were all part of the same 'academy' of theosophy (the TS), just as the greek philosophers were part of the same academy of philosophy. It does not mean they all thought the same way or presented the same ideas in their writings. The parallels between the Theosophical Society and the Academy are many. If we can approach our current situation in the same way as one would approach writing the sections on the Academy and its philosophers/philosophies, we'll be on the right track, imho.

I hope these illustrations help in understanding the grandure of the problem we're trying to work through here (it's more than just moving a few things around). This is why there needs to be an effort to re-categorize theosophy away from religion (it is not a religion). Also, the current 'series' called 'Theosophy' (based on the category) should be renamed to a series on "the theosophical society", as it is the society that is the common factor there. It is evident that this series is based on the Theosophical Society, as the first thing mentioned are the "founders of the TS" and everything after is from Theosophical Society members and writings. See this page (right hand side) for the series in question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_de_Purucker.

These are my views, anyway, for consideration. JFergus (talk) 17:23, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Plato is a good example, IMO. When an individual has been been very influential in a particular field, it is often best to summarize their thought in their biography. There seem to me to be two limiting factors. When someone's thought is important and voluminous, it is often best to use summary style and create a new article, or articles, for their contribution to a particular field. The Plato article does this to a limited extent, however, at 97+ Kb, it will probably need more subarticles before it can advance in rating beyoned "C" class. Another example is Aristotle. The article makes extensive use of subarticles. It is 86 kb and is rated "B" class.
The Blavatsky article doubled in length when the material from the former Theosophy article was added. At 98 Kb, it is somewhat large as articles go (she is, after all, not as important as Plato or Aristotle). Another concern I have is that her thought was added to, and developed, by others (Leadbeater, Besant), so that to cover that brand of Theosophy one needs to explain the contributions of several people. Biographies usually avoid this. I should add that much of her thought was taken from other sources (i.e., Vedanta—see the discussion about her having used several sources in The Theosophical Glossary) and, along with other issues, this needs to be discussed in any article about her thought—all of which add up to a very long article if the material is left in the "Helena Blavatsky" article.
I agree with you that there is a major re-categorizing effort here. We need to re-think the content for several articles. I will start a new section for that discussion. Sunray (talk) 19:14, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Stucture of Theosophical articles

Here are some of the current articles on Theosophy related subjects:

No doubt there are others. It seems wise to begin to think about how these articles should interrelate. Some of these may need to be re-written, re-organized, merged, or deleted. New articles may need to be created. Would participants in this discussion be able to give some thought to what content should go in which? Sunray (talk) 19:34, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

I am glad to see these listed. The point that always seems important is keeping it structured so the User finds what they need to know, and in a way to best find the pieces/topic they are after. Theosophy is the scholastic overview of the Philosophy. We have that. Now, the reason for all of the various schools is usually centered around the various Individuals, some of which have differences which create various Theosophy generated Theosophisms but with commonalities as well. etc. JEMead (talk) 21:04, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I do not think the Theosophy page is the best place to list everything for a "jumping point". It will get buried by everything from HPB/CWL/GdeP/Krishnamurti etc. but we really want to have the Philosophical topics as well as the Philosophers listed as the most primary jumping point within this page Theosophy. My attitude, maybe right of wrong, is that if the writer has a defined layout/structure for the inner-realm of their experiences that they believe to be part of the single Truth that every person directly/correctly experiences - it belongs in Theosophism. So the two jumping points is Scholastic Philosophy (In Theosophy), and the more Religion/theosophism oriented people/thinkers have the jumping points out of Theosophism JEMead (talk) 21:04, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with you that "Theosophy" should not be the "jumping off point." However, we have to bear in mind that many people will enter "Theosophy" as a search term for content that may, more properly, be in the "Theosophical Society" article (or some new article that we create). So we will likely need a hatnote at the top of the article explaining this. I also think that we need to cover Blavatsky's version of Theosophy in this article in summary style with a reference to a main article on that subject. I know this brand of Theosophy is more appropriate in the "Theosophism" article, but usage of the terms (or lack thereof) dictates reality and we must respect people's views of the subject. Also, "Theosophists" of the THS persuasion will argue that it is not a religion, that it has a philosophical component... & etc. IMO, we need to head off endless debates, edit wars, and so forth by getting the relationships right. Sunray (talk) 22:32, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Currently the hatnote has the issue covered, after the TSA (?) gets added. The history article in the hatnote can be scrapped (it is a really unused article, and we don't have "Ontology (History of Philosophy)" etc.. As to covering any individual, HPB already has the most said about any one person, with her own link. we could add a link to the TSA if you wanted at that spot as well? The adding more HPB at this point is too early - we have a lot of other people in the academic world that we need to include. That is, the Philosophy side is scant. After that gets filled in, I could go more HPB stuff, since it would be offset appropriately by the other content. I am not saying no, I am just saying not now. If the issue is "Theosophism" as a word (people really cannot live with it), we maybe should try Theosophy (Occultists)? JEMead (talk) 23:12, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
It occurred to me that we are drifting from our focus. The "Theosophy" article is about the Academic topic. This is Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Metaphysics. This has been started, and it has a solid place here. It will expand well, especially if we keep it academic. Hence - the hatnote should probably be "Theosophical Society". Possibly Blavatsky as well (a local hatnote disambiguation). The piece about Blavatsky must be rather small, basically because the Academic stream of Theosophy was not affected by her much. Her contribution - The "Secret Doctrine" is not a text used in Academic circles on either metaphysics nor Phil. of Religion. Her point was the existence of the one founding religion from antiquity which she "revealed" as best as she was allowed by the Mahatmas/White-brotherhood etc. All of those items are not part of this article. JEMead (talk) 01:55, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
The question I have is if the Blavatsky page has no complaints - and no changes were made after Jon deftly placed items correctly, then we seem to be discussing a problem that does not exist. I checked, and the Blavatsky page is quiet with no changes as well. I suggest that we let everything stand on this page (format standard may need tweaking). If the Blavatsky page needs help - we will do whatever needed to help on that page. They are, and have been, silent and accepting. I think no one has a pressing issue with what we have done. JEMead (talk)
My concern is for the educational value of this Page. It has been restored to academic basic (roughly) C-class. More work to do, and more info I want to fill in. The "Theosophy (history of Philosophy)" has been superseded here. This page, "Theosophy", I will be expanding, and hopefully others will add more academic contributions. I actually have a lot more items to add, from more sources in the 20th century etc. So - Perhaps we should not solve non-existent issues. I am looking forward to when http://www.iep.utm.edu/submit/100-most/ gets their high-priority theosophy article up. JEMead (talk) 01:55, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I haven't been active in this discussion for a few days because I wanted to think about the options. I've done that and it keeps coming back to me that we must deal with Blavatsky & Co. in this article. As several people have said, the term would not be on the radar, but for them. If that makes the main article too big, we can create sub-articles. It also occurs to me that we can use the other existing articles (perhaps with changes in title) to deal with the historical and philosophical aspects of theosophy and the various "Theosophisms." So I am proposing to begin that process by bringing the material that was formerly in this article back in a new section (with appropriate editing). Comments? Sunray (talk) 19:03, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

A word of warning

Citation from the Skeptic's dictionary (source):

One might wonder why, if Theosophy is so ancient and universal, it was so unknown until 1875

Theosophia as a word, is a construct meaning "divine wisdom" – many Indoeuropean languages, such as my own Swedish and such as Greek, may create and use words without them being terms. I am very skeptic against the notion of "theosophy" having a coherent meaning, just because it occurs in a few diverse contexts. Theosophia/Böhme and theosophy/Blavatsky might be quite different and unrelated things, that have nothing in common, except the name and the topic of interest. If they are related, then how do this (hypothetically) coherent concept differ from theology? Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 19:42, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Arthur Versluis self defines "theosophy" in his own unusual (aberrant) way as a catch-it-all word for Böhme's theology and all the predecessors that leads up to Böhme. The names he mentions, f.ex. Eckhard and Taule, indicates that Arthur Versluis uses "theosophy" as a term for a certain Christian mysticism. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:04, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
And he also confuses this kind of mysticism with gnosticism! I propose we don't copy the pattern of his confusion. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:08, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

I appreciate the input. The article here is not about Blavatsky but about the Academic stream that flowed throughout history. It is very different in many ways. The actual term "Theosophical Society" was rather a fluke. A last minute grab for a word from a current dictionary - after reading the definition, they went with it. That is so sad.. so much confusion. The HPB side of Theosophy is somewhat of a small footnote, and source of confusion for this Page/article. In any case - I do not want to get sidetracked by HPB. She is not important here. JEMead (talk) 21:34, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

We will be developing this article from the Academic side of the subject. It has undergone a few changes over the centuries. Yes - it was nearly synonymous with Theology at one time. Also nearly synonymous with panosophy, but ideas evolve over centuries - as Academic research does. So - the current article is a start. The Theosophy, as will be developed here, will come from scholarly recognized authors - continuing through the centuries and up to the present (all without HPB). The ideas are the important item, and the flow of thought. Modern Academic Theosophy has greatly advanced by the academic definition of the term Esotericism. That happened over the last several decades. JEMead (talk) 21:34, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Note: Also, a term widely known (famous) within small academic circles, versus a term widely known (famous) among sizable masses is an important key difference. We are in the first realm. JEMead (talk) 21:34, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

I have found Versluis to be an accurate scholar; theosophy was and is used as a term to refer to a series of spiritually minded philosopher-mystics, the most prominent of whom was probably Boehme. (See, e.g. Jacob Boehme, his life and teaching, or, Studies in theosophy, or Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's chapter on "Jacob Boehme and Theosophy" in The Western Esoteric Traditions) There is no direct link with the Theosophical Society, except in the orientation toward spiritual matters in the most general sense.
It may be of interest to compare the German Wikipedia page on Theosophie. This differentiates the "classical theosophy" of Boehme, Swedenborg, and even Luria, and the "modern theosophy" of Blavatsky et al. hgilbert (talk) 00:51, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
OK, sounds good then. I was a little worried that this was a case of POVvy concept invention, which happens now and then on Wikipedia, because of the academy-agnostic policies. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 08:07, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

Updates

I added several authors, Philosophers, academicians that round out the "Traditional" - i.e. Academic, historical figures. I also updated the Future section with the common Internet sources that promote "Traditional" Theosophy, and added the academic institutes that are leading the advancement of Esotericism. I expect more will be added after some time to research these out. JEMead (talk) 17:38, 2 January 2012 (UTC) I have added some references. Jon Fergus is going to add them to the appropriate reference list. JEMead (talk) 17:44, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

The Future of Theosophy section seems important to keep. Without it, theosophy seems like it is dead and done (far from the truth). The problem is that Academics have access to the material, some "lay" books are there also. The "Traditional" Theosophy seem to lack sites that are for common internet users to find people of the "Traditional" theosophy. I was editing, and after a few edits I noticed I inadvertently dropped the last section. Hence - I had added it back in. However - it had been deleted (!) I wanted to bring it up here. I think it has value. JEMead (talk) 18:22, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

Appropriate links can be added to the External links section, but what value does a section of the article devoted to the fact that Theosophy is represented online have? What subject is not represented online these days?
I suggest we replace the Theosophy#Theosophy in the Information Age and 21st Century section with bibliographic references and external links. hgilbert (talk) 18:48, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that makes sense to me. Sunray (talk) 19:04, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Well. Good points. There are two things. One is that the future of Theosophy will follow Science, since it is a major source of external knowledge. ("other" sites all have internal knowledge as superior to Science). Both sides can affect the other. That is part of the future. The second point is - How do you find a Theosophy site for the Common User that is not of a Religion/doctrine of some society? i.e. what sites are seeking/expanding the "Traditional Theosophy"/academic approaches? just a honest question. Adding a Note in with the reference in the link? JEMead (talk) 20:39, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
It is not our task to be a LINKFARM. If there are objective sites out there, we can link to them; objective sources, reference them. We can do no more.
It appears that there is consensus about the removal of the section; I will take it back out. hgilbert (talk) 20:58, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

I was counting Links, and we have way too many to HPB et al. I suggest that the hatnote is sufficient. maybe her name linked in the paragraph about her. the extra link after her paragraph is really odd. JEMead (talk) 01:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I cleaned up the HPB paragraph some. I erased a link at the bottom of the paragraph (too many links to her. She is easily found on the page). The paragraph contained assumptions (rather subliminal) that implied a correctness of her school over the traditional academic current. I think it is still a fair paragraph. JEMead (talk) 01:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I see that Methods has a couple sentences that may be hard for some people to follow. I am examining it for rewording. JEMead (talk) 00:37, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Cheers. IRWolfie- (talk) 00:49, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I Think you removed the flag from the section, and then the bot tagged it back (we're "it" again). Does anyone, other than the bot, have trouble with those two sentences ?? JEMead (talk) 12:07, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I didn't remove the flag. The bot just dated it. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:27, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Can anyone with access to the books add specific quotes so that things are more verifiable as well? The history section also looks like it needs work as it seems to just consist of naming lots of people without really discussing what gives them due weight in the article. It should probably be limited down to those people who are notable; Steiner, Blavatsky, Solovyov and Boehme. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:50, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Blavatsky is not a player in Academic/Traditional Theosophy. Actually, considered a source of confusion. The society picked the name as more or less of a fluke (according to Olcott). She is easily found elsewhere in New Religious Movements etc. This article/page is about Theosophy, the academic topic. There is a continuous thread we are following and it exists in academic circles, not pop-culture. If you look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) the absence of HPB is clear. Also Faivre's esotericism is a very important academic topic to review. I actually did not add lots of quotations, since we would end up with several pages of quotes. I think expanding the 4 major sections of theosophical thought from Boehme forward is probably the next best step. I actually just noticed we had two of HPB's books as references..(!!?) Those do not belong on this page. This is not about her religion ("Secret Doctrine" etc.). We mention her, and have a link for her. A polite recognition, but not more. JEMead (talk) 17:23, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I am in agreement that Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society are not players in Academic/Traditional Theosophy. However, their brand of Theosophy does appear to meet the current definition in the article. What academic discussion is there of the place of Blavatsky & Co. within Theosophy (i.e., would you be able to provide some sources)? Sunray (talk) 19:57, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
That is a good question. I believe I can find an academic reference on Theosophy that should include some aspects of her work, in a validating manner. To include a reference to those would be good. Your point is greatly appreciated. I think I know a source to reference. Let me check it out some more. JEMead (talk) 22:24, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
The link http://esswe.org/uploads/ESSWE_Newsletter_Spring_2011.pdf is a good article/newsletter of areas across many fields of esotericism and Theosophy-related items. One can search the newsletter on Theosophy, Theosophical Society etc., and several academics come up. It is interesting to note some comments there. JEMead (talk) 13:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I plan to expand the methodology/methods section to get a bit more specific. This is a key issue as well. JEMead (talk) 13:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the link to the ESSWE Newsletter. The Theosophical Society's place in Western esotericism is mentioned by several contributors. For example:

"Marco Pasi similarly took a historical approach to the central questions of the panel, but located the idea of the “Western” in “Western esotericism” somewhat later, namely in the internal splits and controversies of (particularly English) occultism during the last quarter of the 19th century. The main protagonists of that story were the dominant, high profile and eastern-oriented Theosophical Society,"

"While studying Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, I became interested in the history of the Theosophical Society and its relationship with modern science, occultism, and Eastern religions. (John L. Crow)

There was previous discussion on this page about how the Theosophical Society served to increase the interest in the field of Theosophy. I see some evidence of that. Would you agree that, we need to find a way to incorporate H.P.B. & Co in this article? Sunray (talk) 08:42, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I think we are better off expanding Methods/methodology. i.e. Explaining uses of Alchemy, Myth, Tarot, etc. and various image and traditions that specifically use the theosophical method for the spiritual/esoteric/mystic experience/knowledge. Native American, Buddhism, Sufism... almost everything. It is present in many religions with any esoteric side to them. At this point that seems more important to expanding the Page. Also - in a sense - Theosophy fared better under the Anthroposophical Society. What I am saying is it may be way too early. We need to get the key subject in better focus. Actually - I think what you may be after already exists somewhere (has a presence elsewhere on wikipedia)? JEMead (talk) 14:54, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I take your point, which I understand as we don't want to overwhelm the article with discussion of H.P.B.. I'm in agreement with that. Sunray (talk) 17:36, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Right. I want to get the topic filled in first. The last 20 years have moved the field forward at an incredible rate. We need to reflect the new "movers and shakers" - Major Universities now have advanced degree programs etc. I really think this is important! It will put the field on a solid framework. People will respect the field. That is a very important task. We all should welcome it. JEMead (talk) 17:57, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
That makes sense to me. Our objective, as I understand it, should be to give an accurate account of the field as it is. We also need to show how it evolved. I have been struck by how many current theosophers say things like "I read this book by Judge" or "I did my masters degree on TSA." Many of our readers will have come to the article in similar ways. Sunray (talk) 18:07, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Methods of Theosophy

Note: I archived about 1/2 the talk page. it is on the link page at the top of this discussion (Archive 1) I am reworking The Methods. I have decided that this is the weakest spot. Even the Bot does not like it. JEMead (talk) 19:37, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Note: added the completion of the general concept/definition within Esotericism and Theosophy, as defined within Academic circles. This should allow the actual development into methodologies within a variety of practices JEMead (talk) 04:05, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Religion-specific wording

I find it hard to understand what this article is talking about, because it uses wording which I assume would only be familiar to those who practice theosophy. What in the world is a "hieroglyph of nature"? Could someone who has the time and knowledge, coming from a neutral perspective, look over this article? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 11:15, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

The point is well taken. I may be able to substitute another word. However, hieroglyph has the right meaning and connotation. The dictionary definitions work here, which is why it is used. Perhaps "symbols of nature" ??. Also, I have a couple terms I have been working on that need to be defined. Primary is "Imagination." That term has a broad usage/meaning that an ordinary dictionary will not cover well. The methodology needs to be expanded, so it becomes concrete. I have argued for that as well, so we are in agreement. Theosophy is a religious philosophy, so it does get "philosophical-sounding". Working on that actual issue. obviously not cpmpleted this yet. JEMead (talk) 15:14, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
The article is on the (academic) definition, and topic, of what "Theosophy" actually is. I am unsure what you mean by neutral? The definitions are those which enabled the study of esotericism and theosophy to become an accepted academic discipline. These are as unbiased as one can get. Theosophy has undergone many expansions and changes since around (after) 1990, mostly due to a definition that actually has meaning and distinguishes it from mysticism, gnosis, etc. All theosophies that I am aware of currently fit the definition. so, if you are looking for a specific theosoophy that does not have a link-out from here, please let us know what that one is, along with the founding theosopher. It would be appreciated. Examining all specific doctrines and schools is as long as the entire list of all authors who ever wrote on the subject. They all disagree at some point. So, covering every belief is best left to the wikipage about that specific belief. JEMead (talk) 15:14, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Note: This article is actively avoiding religion-specific wording. JEMead (talk) 15:14, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

By "religion" I mean "theosophy", as it is obviously a spiritual practice and/or a set of beliefs. I was linked here by the L. Frank Baum article, which basically says he turned to Theosophy as an alternative to traditional religion (if, again, I understood it correctly). Catholicism is also an academic discipline: there are many schools devoted to its teaching. The same with Islam and many other religions. This put aside, I still don't know what is meant by "examining the hieroglyphs of nature", even when one says "symbols of nature". Most people don't have any belief regarding there being signs or meaning in nature, so how could there be detailed signs there? If that's even what the article means. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 01:48, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh, apparently I was right from reading further in the article. The statement "examining the hieroglyphs of nature" is made from the POV that there are signs in nature. Its religion/philosophy specific wording. Assumes the reader already understands what is being discussed. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 01:55, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
This sentence: "Esotericism, and hence theosophy, has six main characteristics: correspondence, living nature, imagination or meditation, experience of transmutation, practice of concordance, and transmission." needs explanation and maybe links to each word. Also, consider whether its really that important for the header. Is it a divergence? Will the reader need to do research on each of these concepts to understand what the article is about? Can these concepts be explained in a manner that a laymen can understand, without looking extensively at other articles?
The link on the Baum page is fixed. He joined the Theosophical Society which has Doctrinal beliefs, whereas Theosophy does not. JEMead (talk) 06:18, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Offending referral to 6 characterics of Esotericism in the definition were removed.JEMead (talk) 06:18, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Hieroglyphs of nature stands. All religions use these. Native Americans (spirit animals), Tarot decks use hieroglyphs of nature (Sun, World, lightening/Towers, Lovers etc.), Christianity (Lamb, Light, water, blood, wine, Word etc.), Celtic (Solstices, Equinoxes etc.), Alchemy (elements, chemical transmutations), Astrology, the list includes any type of Hieroglyph found in Nature (religions, cultures - all assign meanings).JEMead (talk) 06:18, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, best you explain it in that case. Goethe wrote: "Flowers are the beautiful hieroglyphs of Nature, with which She indicates how much She loves us." This statement, frequently repeated on the Internet, seems quite far from the meaning intended by esotericists.
Before we go too far, we need to look at the language and tone of this article. This is not a journal article. The average reader is not likely to be able to penetrate sentences like this: "The goal is to link theogony-anthropogony with eschatology and from investigation of these domains to discover a coherent cosmogony." We need to write prose that is accessible to the broad readership of this encyclopedia. Sunray (talk) 07:41, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Sunray, the example you gave is a very good example of a hieroglyph of nature. The theosophist (may) see a meaning of Heavenly Love expressed in a flower. A flower may also suggest forms of/in a Sacred Geometry. Flowers may also suggest a meaning to an artist through their colors. The actual "use" and "placement" of a flower may have meaning to the individual. That is a very good example. Thank you for that quote! The examples I used above were specific to various religions/myths/practices to illustrate that any specific religion as an inherent POV is absent. Regarding your point about the terms (the "x"-ogonies) I agree with. Those need to be fixed. JEMead (talk) 13:11, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
I like the way you respond to feedback! The only point I was trying to make about hieroglyphs of nature is that it will likely be unfamiliar to most readers, so a bracketed explanation "(meaning...)" or "(that is...)" would be great. Sunray (talk) 18:30, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, I think I have the items straightened out. or, so I hope. Hgilbert removed some items (characteristics of Esotericism). I can live with that change. JEMead (talk) 19:24, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Hgilbert's edit summary was "OR". I'm not sure why he suggests that it is original research. I had thought it was a paraphrase, but am not familiar with the source. Sunray (talk) 20:15, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
That is a paraphrase of Fairve's book, who is one of the world's most respected people in the field. I thought I referenced the page numbers where the 6 items were discussed. The book is a collection of work from other authors as well. no idea where Hgilbert is coming from. JEMead (talk) 00:34, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
It's a great source...for Esotericism. Applying it to Theosophy would be OR; the two are clearly not identical, though there are certainly commonalities. hgilbert (talk) 00:48, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
Faivre uses both in the same book (on Theosophy, Imagination and Tradition). His point is to illustrate that Theosophy and Esotericism are related but also different. Hence he makes the distinction between related terms Theosophy, Esotericsm, Mysticism, Gnosis etc. Without these, the reader looses the respective differences and also the commonalities within the subjects. That is a major hallmark of his empirical research method to define these. The method he uses eliminates issues and conflicts that can occur in either a Comparative Religion approach or a reductionist approach. The point being made (if allowed to continue) is how Theosophy, which overlaps heavily into empiricism, is not entirely within empiricicm. It brings an added element to the table which enriches the field by broadening it into areas that overlap into Philosophy, Epistomology and Ontology. Hence, it is considered a Religious Philosophy, and goes beyond Esotericism. That can be difficult to show without a solid definition of each. JEMead (talk) 03:49, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
Since Faivre is discussing Theosophy in the passage JEMead is referring to I cannot see a problem. Also, since it is a direct paraphrase from Faivre, it doesn't seem to me to be OR. I will restore it now. If I've got something wrong, by all means let's discuss it further. Sunray (talk) 21:09, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Sunray! JEMead (talk) 23:50, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

I removed an edit assigning theosophy as a New Religious Movement. I believe Kitfoxxe mistook the word theosophy as meaning the organization and spinoffs started by HPB. e.g. the Theosophical Society (created by HPB). JEMead (talk) 11:10, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

History of Theosophy - the Academic Divisions

The History of Theosophy is (roughly) broken out into the following: (see: Faivre: Theosophy Imagination and Tradition (2000) and Western Esotericism (2010))

  1. Antiquity and Medieval (up to 14th Century)
  2. Renaissance and Baroque (15th - 17th Century)
  3. Age of Enlightenment (18th Century)
  4. Romantic Era (19th Century)
  5. 20th Century to Present

I also did the regrouping JEMead (talk) 05:20, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

I decided to put in a section on Eastern infusion into the west. Vivekanda and others should go here. I also added HPB here, even though the doctrinal issues (i.e. their primacy for the true perennial theosophy) are a problem to the very non-doctrinal academic theosophy. JEMead (talk) 06:11, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

This page is not being written or edited from a neutral point of view. The definition and history of theosophy given contradicts normally accepted academic usage of the word theosophy. This page appears to be written from the bias of someone who is attempting to read the existence of theosophy as an academic discipline back into history in a revisionist way. Similarly the writer appears to be alleging that theosophy has continued as an accepted discipline into the modern day. These attitudes are opinions that are beyond being contested and are instead rejected by multiple fields of the humanities and sciences. Factseducado (talk) 02:22, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

This article is based upon the works of world-recognized leaders in these academic fields. Please see the references. In particular, please examine academic societies and university degrees in esoteric studies. e.g. University Educational Degrees (Sampling) JEMead (talk) 16:07, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Due the lack of any academic references for the claims made by Factseducato the NPOV dispute should be removed. JEMead (talk) 16:20, 23 April 2012 (UTC)


Since academic disciplines as we know them did not exist in the the 3rd century CE, the corresponding assertion regarding the history of theosophy on this Wikipedia page is false on the face of it. I strongly suspect this was included to promote the agenda of someone who wants to demonstrate that theosophy has a long and distinguished history that is in fact rank historical revisionism.

I do not follow. Academia known today did not exist then and is true. so, we throw out all of philosophy, theology, theosophy etc.?? Also, the 3rd century CE reference mentioned came from an academic source. JEMead (talk) 03:04, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Something written by someone who holds an academic post is not the same thing as an academic source. That book was published by Lindisfarne press which is not a scholarly press. On the website http://lindisfarne-press.com/catalog.html Lindisfarne states, "Lindisfarne Press returns after a three year hiatus," and lists one of its recent publications as "Strange Stars & Alien Shadows by Ann K. Schwader artwork by Steve Jones."Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

The existence of the academic study of Western esotericism does not support the assertions made in this Wikipedia entry. It simply supports the fact that some scholars study Western esotericism.

Universities have been starting and adding these programs precisely because they are academic disciplines. These are not single isolated scholars but academic societies formed internationally among scholars in major Universities. JEMead (talk) 03:04, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • The dispute is not whether these are areas of academic study. Rather the dispute is what the consensus of scholars and scholarship is on the subject of theosophy. The consensus of scholars and scholarship on theosophy discredits most of the assertions on this Wikipedia page on theosophy. Furthermore, most and perhaps all of the assertions on this Wikipedia subject are stated as fact when instead they are opinions or assertions. In fact, what is presented as fact on this page is at least controversial. Furthermore, many if not most of the statements are considered discredited by the consensus of scholars in the field.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

A number of the references listed in the Wikipedia entry are written by theosophists. Without counterbalancing objective scholarship the use of such sources biases the entire subject.

which references? all references I have used were from top level researchers in these precise fields. Names you see as problems/examples would help. when you use the term theosophist, you mean a member of some societal organization or cult? JEMead (talk) 03:04, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Helena Blavatsky is cited twice in the references section. She is a theosophist.
  • Arthur Versluis's book is reviewed on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Theosophia-Dimensions-Christianity-Arthur-Versluis/dp/0940262649 That review states, "'A collection of very precious clues ... pointing to the hidden currents both in history and in our own selves." -- Jacob Needleman, author of Money and the Meaning of Life." This review supports my contention that this is not a book published by an academic press that examines the topic of theosophy from an academic viewpoint. To the contrary, this book of Versluis' has an agenda of promoting a view of theosophy that is beyond being disputed and and is instead rejected by the vast majority of academics.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Academic sources from a neutral point of view are plentiful and support my assertions. I submit two:

  • The theosophical enlightenment / by Joscelyn Godwin.
  • Subjects: Theosophy -- Great Britain -- History ; Occultism -- Great Britain -- History
  • Publisher: Albany : State University of New York Press
  • Related Titles: Series: SUNY series in Western esoteric traditions
  • Creation Date: c1994
  • and
  • Eastern spirituality in America : selected writings / edited by Robert S. Ellwood.
  • Subjects: Hinduism -- Doctrines ; Buddhism -- Doctrines ; Taoism -- Doctrines ; Theosophy ; United States -- Religion -- 19th *century ; United States -- Religion -- 20th century
  • Publisher: New York : Paulist PressFactseducado (talk) 00:05, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
If I understand you correctly, the above two authors do not believe Theosophy is an academic discipline and are therefore examples of a NPOV?? I am trying to understand your points regarding these two authors. JEMead (talk) 03:04, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Nobody that I am aware of is is stating that theosophy is not a subject of academic scholarship.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • JEMead, you wrote, "Due the lack of any academic references for the claims made by Factseducato the NPOV dispute should be removed." I have now submitted two academic references. I could submit a huge number of references that support my assertions but these two suffice. JEMead, you should at least concede that I have submitted the academic references you called for which support the fact that this Wikipedia article violates either all or practically all of the neutral point of view requirement for Wikipedia articles which is referenced at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV.The two books above describe theosophy as it is understood within academia. This contrasts with the presentation of theosophy that is presented in this Wikipedia article.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I note that Factseducado put an neutrality tag on the article and I don't yet understand why. Usually when editors see a problem with an article, they fix them. The applicable policy is WP:NPOV, particularly the section on giving the appropriateweight to various views on the subject. Factseducado, would you be able to present how you would propose to fix the article? Sunray (talk) 06:51, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Sunray, I have not done the editing myself because this is obviously a disputed Wikipedia entry. I suppose I could erase practically everything on this Wikipedia entry, restate the myriad opinions and assertions in evidence so that they are no longer presented as facts, and state the scholarly consensus on the topic of theosophy. However, I imagine another person would then erase everything I wrote and replace it with what is already here. Then I'd repeat my action. Then the other person or person would repeat his/her/their action ad nauseum.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Sunray, the neutrality tag on this article is here appropriately because the policies stated at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV are not in evidence in this Wikipedia entry. The entry is replete with examples of not being written from a neutral point of view. Please review what I have written today and before now on this talk page.Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
  • To list only one violation of the neutral point of view policy, the entry states, "The theosophist inquires into the hieroglyphs of nature..." Perhaps theosophists believe they are inquiring into the "hieroglyphs of nature" (whatever that means or doesn't mean). The more important point is: What do the vast majority of academics who have published in peer-reviewed journals state that theosophists do or do not do? In fact, the description of theosophy offered in this Wikipedia entry bears little to no resemblance to the description of theosophy given by the overwhelming majority of academics. For that reason and a few others, this entry violates the guidelines set by Wikipedia for being written from a neutral point of view which "is one of Wikipedia's three core content policies," according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV. Factseducado (talk) 23:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
A recent collective of academic sources on Esotericism is probably the Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism which was edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Collaborate Editors include: Antoine Faivre Professor Emeritus of History of Esoteric and Mystical Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe at the 5th section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), Paris, France. Roelof van den Broek Professor Emeritus of History of Christianity at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. The contributors to this work is a list of 6 pages of world-wide academic scholars at various universities and colleges around the world and the USA. I believe the article does hold up under serious scrutiny. I hope this helps to address your comments. JEMead (talk) 00:22, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  • The dictionary you cite above is not a reference in the Wikipedia entry on theosophy. None of the editors cited by you of that dictionary have written any of the references in the Wikipedia entry on theosophy. It is less salient that there is a list of academicians in the dictionary you mention than whether or not those academicians are authors of any of the reference works cited in the Wikipedia entry on theosophy. Finally, even if one or more of the academicians on the list were author(s) in the Wikipedia entry on theosophy, the question would still remain whether the view(s) espoused in the Wikipedia entry on theosophy were views that are commonly accepted among academicians and whether the view(s) stated in the Wikipedia entry were from "reliable, published sources that are appropriate for the content in question," as defined at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability.Factseducado (talk) 04:04, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
The academicians in the reference above are the ones I most often used in this article. These are the experts in the academic community regarding this subject. They are the academicians who define usage of these words and terms in Academia. They encompass schools, colleges and universities from the entire world. I can not see how to abandon the concepts in this article without abandoning the clear majority of the worlds leading academic scholars. The reason this article stays so closely to leading academic scholars' works is to precisely obtain a NPOV article. Perhaps Sunray may help, or GreenUniverse. JEMead (talk) 05:00, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  • JEMead, you wrote, "The academicians in the reference above are the ones I most often used in this article." Your references include two books by Blavatsky, a theosophist who is certainly not an "experts in the academic community regarding this subject." Is she a contributor to the "Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism?" A third reference in the article is the Oxford English Dictionary which is also not an "experts in the academic community regarding this subject." Is the Oxford English Dictionary a contributor to the "Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism?" You then employ a reference to a book by Versluis which was published by a non-mainstream, non-academic publisher. Then you use Faivre for two references: a book and an encyclopedia article. As to the footnotes relying on Faivre: the Wikipedia entry text corresponding to footnote 2 is too vague to determine what you are attributing to Faivre, the text referenced by footnoote 6 does not differentiate between esotericism and theosophy, footnote 8 is extraneous to the subject of theosophy (it refers to mysticism instead), footnote 11 does not indicate which person or persons for which you cite Faivre as a source, footnote 18 is fine as long as it accurately states what Faivre has written. A cursory glance of the other footnotes corresponding to your references to Faivre's work do not at first reveal errors which does not mean there are none. The same can be said of the reference to Sellon. Factseducado (talk) 12:09, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  • JEMead, you then wrote, "I can not see how to abandon the concepts in this article without abandoning the clear majority of the worlds leading academic scholars. The reason this article stays so closely to leading academic scholars' works is to precisely obtain a NPOV article." Faivre, Versluis, and Blavatsky are in no way a "clear majority of the worlds [sic] leading academic scholars." I have noted the problem with Versuluis' publisher in an earlier entry on this talk page. Blavatsky is a theosophist. That leaves Faivre. Faivre is one scholar and other scholars are as eminent or more eminent in the field. Also, there are many more scholars of peer-reviewed articles who you have not referenced at all and whose definitions of theosophy reflect the consensus of academics on the topic of theosophy. Factseducado (talk) 12:09, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  • JEMead, your sources do not represent "the clear majority of the worlds leading academic scholars," though that is the claim you make. A NPOV article cannot be obtained by using Blavatsky as two references, the non-peer reviewed writing of Versluis, and some potentially accurate references to Faivre mixed with some problematic attributions to Faivre as I enumerated above. There are many published experts on the topic of theosophy "who define usage of these words and terms in Academia [sic]," more than the people you have referenced. Perhaps you chose these writers because you are unaware of the rest of the great body of publishing on this topic and unaware of the relative weight given to different ideas and publishing houses. Finally, since you wrote, "I most often used in this article" I conclude you are the author of this Wikipedia entry on theosophy. From your selection of and usage of your sources I wonder if you have a pro-Versluis bias without considering or at least making clear in the entry how his ideas fit within the greater scheme of peer-reviewed publications and academic consensus on the topic of theosophy. A NPOV article needs to reference the consensus of opinion by experts who have published in a work considered to be "reliable, published source" as per the standards explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability.Factseducado (talk) 12:09, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Factseducado you talk about peer-reviewed publications and academic consensus on the topic of theosophy, well if that is the case and you have links to these references then you can add them to the article if you think there is a problem. But so far all you have done is put tags on the article, you are not trying to improve it. Start putting up the references you have and making some changes and we can see if you have a valid case or not. As it currently stands I see no problem with the article. GreenUniverse (talk) 14:23, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

The problem with the article is the weight given to types of sources that contravene the standards explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability as well as the biased point of view. This entry states as a fact that there are "hieroglyphs of nature." How is this nonbiased? Do most scientist agree? Do atheists agree? That assertion of fact right there is the tip of the iceberg. It's indefensible to state that hieroglyphs exist in nature. Surely, it is possible that all or some theosophists believe there are hieroglyphs in nature which is a statement of an entirely different sort. If you don't see the problem then you should re-read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV and attempt to re-write the sentence containing "hieroglyphs of nature" in a way all sides can agree on. I'll edit the article if that will satisfy you, but it will be an extremely different article based on peer-reviewed sources. A great deal of what's being stated as fact in this entry will have to go because at best a great deal of the current writing is fringe. If you are not familiar with the currently referenced writers and publishers, you should investigate them. Then you can compare the assertions in this entry with the research of mainstream scholars published in peer-reviewed journals. Only then are you likely to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. If this is not an area you have read about outside of this Wikipedia entry, you are liable to think it all sounds credible. The test comes from what the consensus of experts in the field have to say on the subject of theosophy. If I have time this weekend I'll re-write this with a few peer-reviewed sources. Don't come crabbing at me if the entire entry looks substantially different. The purpose of the NPOV tag is to alert readers and editors to the disputed nature of this material. Absolutely no one has made any effort to address the valid concerns I've raised. I suspect this is going to turn into a ridiculous race between sides and I think that's a useless way to proceed. However, since you want me create an entry that has a neutral point of view with verifiable sources, I'll do it as soon as I have time. In the meantime, I advise you to consult a university library yourself and perhaps an online journal archive so that you are prepared for the huge repository of academic writing that exists on the subject of theosophy. It is the consensus of peer-reviewed authors I will be presenting, not any particular person's favorite writer or publisher.Factseducado (talk) 23:12, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Your energy for improving this article is noted. It might be good to bear in mind that other editors cannot be expected to meet your standards. The question remains: What reliably sourced information do you propose to add to the article to give it the balance you believe it needs? You have said that you intend to "re-write this with a few peer-reviewed sources." I think a proposal here of what you would like to add would be in order. The usual approach to article improvement is to build on, rather than tear down, what other editors have done. That is often how great articles are created. Sunray (talk) 05:09, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Sunray and GreenUniverse - I will be updating some references with some expansions to strengthen the article. JEMead (talk) 14:19, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, please review the reliably sourced references I have already provided. As I wrote in answer to your earlier question and now reapeat: my proposal is that each and every guideline listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV would be followed both in the letter and the spirit of the policy. Furthermore, I have not done the editing myself because this is obviously a disputed Wikipedia entry.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, you wrote, "The usual approach to article improvement is to build on, rather than tear down, what other editors have done. That is often how great articles are created." In contrast, GreenUniverse wrote, "Start putting up the references you have and making some changes and we can see if you have a valid case or not." I earlier wrote, "Sunray, I have not done the editing myself because this is obviously a disputed Wikipedia entry."Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

My question for you, Sunray, is: Why have no improvements to this article been made by you or any of the other existing writers? I have offered a critique with concrete examples as well as links to both http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability. Others on this talk page have offered related concerns yet none have resulted in improvement to the article that would settle the dispute by re-writing problematic passages, assertions, the tone, or the correcting the undue weight given to an uncommon interpretation which has not been published in a peer-reviewed source.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Instead, GreenUniverse has now ordered that I make the changes necessary myself. This is not something I am eager to do. However, the article as it stands violates core principles of Wikipedia. Though others on this talk page have expressed similar concerns, the problems remain.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

So my challenge to you, Sunray, is that if you wish to preserve large parts of this article, then re-write them and source them according to the NPOV and Verifiability criteria set by Wikipedia. This would save me a lot of time and effort. It would also demonstrate that you are able to take on board and act on necessary critiques. As one example, if you feel strongly that the external link to the "European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism" is integral to this subject, then consider how much more balanced it would be to also add a link to http://www.esswe.org/#publications/controversial-new-religions.html. This book turns up when one does a search for theosophy on the "European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism" link. The book is titled "Controversial New Religions." It is edited by James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen and it is published by Oxford University Press which, unlike Lindisfarne, is an actual, respectable, academic publisher. The view of theosophy in this reference work contrasts sharply with what is offered in this Wikipedia entry. Here is the book summary from the "European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism" link: "This volume offers a scholarly, dispassionate look at those groups that have generated the most controversy. The groups covered are: The Family, Unification Church, People's Temple, Branch Davidians, ISKCON (Hare Krishnas), Osho Rajneesh, Soka Gakkai, Aum Shunrikyo, Falun Gong, Aumism, Scientology, Theosophy, Order of the Solar Temple, Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, Heaven's Gate, Raelians, White Racist Religions, and Modern Satanism. Each essay provides not only an overview of the history and beliefs of each organization or movement, but also analysis that makes an original contribution to the field."Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

So Sunray, my task for you is to approach this with an open-mind and search for sources beyond the ones I believe you are inclined to accept without the proper skepticism necessary to write on the topic of theosophy as per the guidelines established by Wikipedia. If you would do that, I could save myself the time expenditure necessary to bring this entry into accordance with Wikipedia policies. I would honestly love to see you do that.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, since no author so far has acted upon the critiques I have offered, I am left with no alternative but to follow GreenUniverse's order to me to "Start putting up the references you have and making some changes..." It's regrettable that every other editor's lack of interest in re-writing the unacceptable sections leaves this task to me. However, as I wrote before, "Don't come crabbing at me if the entire entry looks substantially different." You wrote, "The usual approach to article improvement is to build on, rather than tear down, what other editors have done." The unfortunate problem in this case is that the other editors have constructed an entry that violates both the NPOV and the verifiability policies of Wikipedia stated at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, if you and/or other editors were interested in dispassionately examining the entry for it's adherence and lack of adherence to those two policies, then perhaps the existing entry could be modified to everyone's satisfaction. In order for that to happen, I'd suggest examining and including information from the three reference sources I have cited or locating sources of your own that fit all parts of the verifiability criteria set by Wikipedia. Your refusal or reluctance to begin that process yourself, Sunray, leaves this task to me. If you'd like a different outcome, then begin examining the critique I've offered, the reference sources I submitted, the applicable Wikipedia policies and making changes that will be acceptable to all parties. That's the fairest compromise I can see. In lieu of that I will be following GreenUniverse's order to me.Factseducado (talk) 13:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Factseducato I believe you are of the opinion that theosophy is religious cult, or similar. We have dealt with this aspect before (several times). The Encyclopedia of Religion covers theosophy very well. It is a good place to understand the distinctions. (It also covers various cults etc., which theosophy, itself, is not). The factions that arbitrarily took the name theosophy and developed doctrines and dogmas are not what this article is about. That type of topic is best left on wiki-pages about the specific cult in question etc. I would suggest, Factseducato, that you work within those wiki-pages, or create a page like Theosophy (Cults from) since your direction is in that area. In any case, I will be adding some more references into this article. I perhaps may expand on the early Christian Church fathers and in the Antiquity section first. JEMead (talk) 14:19, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

JEMead, I am of the opinion that the consensus of opinion stated by the vast majority of experts on this subject should be the perspective presented in this Wikipedia entry. This is the policy of Wikipedia. I have never stated that theosophy is a cult. I have never stated that I have any particular opinion about theosophy. I do not have a direction as you allege above. I did point out the issues with Lindisfarne press. I see you have removed citations using Versluis while still listing his book as a reference. The topic of this Wikipedia entry is "Theosophy." Please review the section Due and undue weight at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view#Due_and_undue_weight.Factseducado (talk) 20:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Factseducado would you be willing to be concise in your posts? It is hard to wade through disquisitions on talk pages. Sunray (talk) 18:20, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, I am inclined to agree with Rursus (mbork³) who wrote at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Too_long;_didn't_read: "'Too long; didn't read' can only be defended if the text is larger than 200 kb (or maybe 1 Mb). By nature an encyclopedia contains lots of texts, and so do the talk pages. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 08:06, 3 September 2009 (UTC)."Factseducado (talk) 20:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

So far, Factseducado has presented two sources (in the "History of Theosophy - the Academic Divisions" section). Of the two, The theosophical enlightenment, by Joscelyn Godwin seems to be a reliable source in that it is peer reviewed and published by an academic press. Eastern spirituality in America : selected writings, edited by R.S. Ellwood. does not seem to meet WP:IRS as an academic source. I would be happy to see addition of the Godwin source. Sunray (talk) 18:49, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree. the book by J. Godwin does look like a good book to support several sections of this wiki-page. I will try to find a copy. JEMead (talk) 21:05, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, you indicated that Godwin's book was "peer reviewed." What does peer-review mean to you and how do you apply it to a book in contrast to a journal article?Factseducado (talk) 20:44, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, in point of fact I have provided three sources. You left out the book on theosophy which can be located through a search for the word "theosophy" on the external link to "European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism" provided in this Wikipedia entry. That book is titled "Controversial New Religions." It is edited by James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen and published by Oxford University Press. The link is at http://www.esswe.org/#publications/controversial-new-religions.html. Furthermore, the book "Eastern spirituality in America : selected writings, edited by R.S. Ellwood does explicitly meet the qualifications listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources. Please note the information at http://www.robertellwoodbooks.info/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM3QkMDI8b8, as well as the citation of Ellwood in the text at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Theosophy and the two reference citations of works by Ellwood on that same page. I think your objection to Ellwood as a source on the topic of theosophy and your willingness to embrace Verslius' book published by Lindisfarne demonstrate either an unwillingness or an inability to accept the perspective of legitimate, recognized scholars and to give the proper weight to mainstream versus fringe opinions in this Wikipedia entry.Factseducado (talk) 20:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I find it very unsatisfactory to have JEMead describe uncited sources as being foundational to the article. Where are the cites to the Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism? Rather than giving hollow praise to a fine academic work it should be used to compose the article. Furthermore, the article's tone should not be so much in-universe as it is. It should be couched at arm's length. Factseducado has made several valid points, and if he were better able to change the whole article to make it more critical/academic and less accepting/believing I would support such a change. Binksternet (talk) 16:57, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Binksternet, I take your point about the article being overly in-universe. I can change the article "to make it more critical/academic and less accepting/believing," but it will take time. I want to be cooperative with other collaborators but it is very difficult with the article as it stands now. The first option I have thought of is to track down every current citation, especially the ones without page numbers. My instinct makes me wonder if that may be more effort than it would be worth. The next alternative I've thought of is to find a variety of the best sources I can, certainly including the ones you suggested, then begin a major re-write. This would be a quicker way for me to work but would undoubtedly hurt other people's feelings. I suspect that course would yield so much resistance that it would become both extremely slow and unproductive. The final option I've thought of is one I'm leaning toward (barring deus ex machina in which someone waves a magic wand and all problems are resolved). This final option involves slowly rewriting sentences one by one. I'd aim to do one or two a day because that's all I have time for. This option will not yield a very good article, but I can correct some things. For instance, I can use words like, "Some people believe..." which is not nearly good enough but at least it alerts the reader when an opinion or belief is being presented that it is not a fact. My ideal option would be that problems with the article would be agreed on, a plan for addressing them would be developed, and a number of people would contribute quotes or at least page citations for each sentence. Then a nuanced, scholarly treatment of the subject could be gradually built. I saw there is something called a sandbox. I suppose that means that collaborators can do a mock-up of sections of an article before it becomes part of the real article. That seems worthwhile to me.Factseducado (talk) 23:25, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
My gut feeling is that you should not hold any particular sentence or theme of the current text to be sacrosanct; you should work to rewrite the article anew, building it up from the best available sources. You can do so offline at User:Factseducado/Theosophy or any similar userspace sandbox, pointing talk page discussion at your progress and inviting comment, or you can work entirely in private, then be bold and replace the current article with your summary of the topic. I recommend the first method as it allows interested editors a chance to comment and thus exert an influence on your work, and it prepares interested editors for the big change. Binksternet (talk) 00:00, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Binksternet, I have created http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Factseducado/Theosophy. I expect my progress will be slow as I did not real life book editing today and that can't continue. My first question is: How do I point talk page discussion to my progress and invite comment? Also, I realize I have read your comments and suggested sources. Your ideas have now influenced my conception of the outline and contents of the topic. Obviously, I can't do OR. Obviously, you are not the correct kind of source for citing in an article. I can't steal your conceptions because that's plagiarism. What do I do?Factseducado (talk) 01:19, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
To point to your work you would come to this talk page and say, "Everyone, please look again at User:Factseducado/Theosophy because I have added a section on the racism debate." Something in that vein. People would comment here and you could incorporate any changes suggested.
Regarding the ideas expressed here: anybody can use any idea to flesh out the article. If I expressed a particular idea it belongs to you and everyone. At the bottom of the edit window everyone "irrevocably" agrees to release their contributions to the public domain. More than that, I want everyone to feel perfectly welcome to use any idea I suggested. Binksternet (talk) 03:55, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Binksternet, now I understand. I can use anyone's ideas that they have contributed to Wikipedia article talk pages. It's easy enough to paraphrase rather than copy and paste someone else's talk page text as a quote. That way the ideas are preserved without having an author to site. Wikipedia makes it easy that way.Factseducado (talk) 15:40, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Reference Updates and Changes

The previously referenced book by Versluis has been replaced. The points, however, were also referenced in the (peer-reviewed) Enclopedia of Religion (1987). Other sources are found as well through cross-references in all of the articles, especially by Faivre. JEMead (talk) 15:54, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Added comment on new religious movements confusions with reference to Controversial New Religions, article on the Theosophical Society by James A. Santucci. JEMead (talk) 18:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

JEMead you wrote, "Several organizations developed from the popularization of The Secret Doctrine and are often considered as new religious movements," and cited Santucci. Directly above here in the talk page you refer to "confusions with reference to Controversial New Religions. If this is what you intend to state, please make that more clear in the Wikipedia entry itself with proper accompanying reference citation.Factseducado (talk) 20:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

the section of the book about theosophy is the Santucci chapter/article. It is correctly referenced. JEMead (talk) 20:57, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, I still see no connection between your comment on the talk page regarding, "confusions with reference to Controversial New Religions," and the statement you added to the article: "Several organizations developed from the popularization of The Secret Doctrine and are often considered as new religious movements," because your Wikipedia entry change makes no reference to any confusion. Please make this more clear.Factseducado (talk) 22:37, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Neutrality of the article

Recently, a "NPOV" tag was added to the article by Factseducado. I haven't yet read a rationale that I think supports that tag. Other editors have said that they do not agree that the article lacks neutrality. Therefore, the onus is on Factseducado to present evidence that supports continued display of the tag. I suggest that that tag should remain on the article until April 30. Editors should be able to review evidence of adherence to WP:NPOV presented by then and determine the best course of action. Sunray (talk) 18:47, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray has a good point. I agree with that approach.JEMead (talk) 21:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, I disagree with Sunray's suggested approach. Please see my earlier reply to Sunray directly below and state your reasons for disagreeing with my relevant statements.Factseducado (talk) 22:37, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sunray, please review http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOVD#What_is_an_NPOV_dispute.3F. The neutrality of this article is in dispute. JEMead has now made changes to the article. This is evidence that JEMead has conceded that I rightly pointed out a problem with the entry has attempted remediation. I present this as evidence that the neutrality of this article is in dispute, that the dispute has not been resolved, that the dispute is in the process of being resolved, and that as of yet there is no pre-determined date by which the neutrality dispute will have been resolved. As I stated in response to GreenUniverse, "If I have time this weekend I'll re-write this with a few peer-reviewed sources." In the meantime, please recognize each alteration of the entry and change in the citations necessitates more work on my part to determine whether each citation is appropriate and whether the Wikipedia text accurately portrays the text cited. Academic research is a slow, cumbersome process that requires enormous attention to detail. Furthermore, I will have to obtain books and order unavailable books through inter-library loan which takes time. Until this neutrality dispute has been resolved you can undertake changes to the text as JEMead has done or find and suggest appropriate sources as I have done. If you have nothing else to contribute, I would prefer to direct my time as GreenUniverse commanded rather than respond to your comments to me on this talk page because it only delays the resolution of this neutrality dispute.Factseducado (talk) 20:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Factseducado - The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy very much wants an academic article on Theosophy (in their top 100 most desired academic subjects). It might be really good if you submit one. It a peer-reviewed, online. JEMead (talk) 21:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, have you been invited to submit an academic article on Theosophy to The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy? It seems like a topic you are interested in. Why not put together a submission?Factseducado (talk) 22:37, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Please don't indent your posts (except by using colons). It skews the text in wiki markup language, making part of your message illegible. Sunray (talk) 01:34, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Factseducado, I think you are taking a rather high handed approach. Please realise that you are just one editor here, and that we are all doing our best to improve the article. Please WP:Assume good faith with Sunray in particular as he is patiently trying to help resolve this situation. As Sunray has said, you need to present better evidence that supports continued display of the POV tag, especially given that improvements have already been made by JEMead and others. Personally, I beleieve that a tag on the article as a whole is no longer warranted, but if there is a particular section which is causing a problem, then please tag that section. Johnfos (talk) 14:28, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Johnfos, please state how you believe JEMead has improved this article. The article reads precisely as it did before with the exception of one additional sentence which JEMead explained one way in the Talk section here without a corresponding explanation in the entry itself. Since JEMead is the only person who has made changes, who are the others you refer to as having made improvements?Factseducado (talk) 15:41, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Wiki articles are collaborative and do not change overnight. I am working on additional references and expansions as are other people. The recent change on referencing Versluis was done because I did not add those references and do not have the source. I accepted the stated uncertainty and replaced those with a reference I could justify. However, Versluis (Michigan State University) did write the entries for the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism on Baader; Bourignon; Gichtel; Law; Lead(e); Novalis; Poiret; Pordage; and Ziegler. I expect those to be helpful, and Versluis may again appear as a reference (or someone else may add him back). JEMead (talk) 17:17, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, your clarification that you did not originally include any of the Versluis citations was useful. I am seriously concerned that none of the text of the Wikipedia entry changed when you removed the Versluis citations. If I recall correctly you substituted a Faivre citation for every removed Versluis citation though no text in the Wikipedia entry was correspondingly changed. This seems to indicate that everything which had been attributed to Verluis' work previously is now attributed to Faivre's work. This is theoretically possibly true, but I have serious reservations believing this is true. It would be helpful if you would provide page citations for each attribution you are making to Faivre, especially in those areas of the text which had previously been attributed to Versluis. Would you be willing to add those page citations, please?
JEMead, on somewhat related note I don't contest all of Versluis' scholarship on theosophy but it is important to follow Wikipedia's policy on reliable, verifiable academic sources if or when you choose to add Versluis back in. I will reiterate what I wrote before: "Something written by someone who holds an academic post is not the same thing as an academic source. That book [by Versluis] was published by Lindisfarne press which is not a scholarly press. On the website http://lindisfarne-press.com/catalog.html Lindisfarne states, "Lindisfarne Press returns after a three year hiatus," and lists one of its recent publications as "Strange Stars & Alien Shadows by Ann K. Schwader artwork by Steve Jones."Factseducado (talk) 23:03, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Additionally, Johnfos, please respond to my specific objections to the tag removal on April 30th. I quote them here, "Sunray, please review http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOVD#What_is_an_NPOV_dispute.3F. The neutrality of this article is in dispute. JEMead has now made changes to the article. This is evidence that JEMead has conceded that I rightly pointed out a problem with the entry has attempted remediation. I present this as evidence that the neutrality of this article is in dispute, that the dispute has not been resolved, that the dispute is in the process of being resolved, and that as of yet there is no pre-determined date by which the neutrality dispute will have been resolved. As I stated in response to GreenUniverse, "If I have time this weekend I'll re-write this with a few peer-reviewed sources." In the meantime, please recognize each alteration of the entry and change in the citations necessitates more work on my part to determine whether each citation is appropriate and whether the Wikipedia text accurately portrays the text cited. Academic research is a slow, cumbersome process that requires enormous attention to detail. Furthermore, I will have to obtain books and order unavailable books through inter-library loan which takes time."Factseducado (talk) 15:41, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Factseducado refers to an essay on NPOV disputes. I'm not seeing a dispute here. One editor (Factseducado) has claimed that there is a lack of neutrality. Four other editors have asked him to present evidence of a neutrality problem. I suggested a deadline for resolution of this. Factseducado doesn't accept the deadline. The other course of action would be to remove the "neutrality" tag until such time as a lack of neutrality has been documented. I'm thinking that this latter course may be the best. Sunray (talk) 16:42, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Sunray, you have not replied to my any inquiries here or on your talk page despite those inquiries being pertinent to the discussion. Why do you feel ownership of this Wikipedia entry? Why is the solution arrived at by GreenUniverse and myself unacceptable to you? Why are you creating controversy with me rather than pursuing solutions? What to you hope to achieve by continuing your behavior in this vein? It appears you are attempting to behave like a bully towards me and prolong a dispute rather than working towards a solutions satisfactory to all. I take the time to respond your your comments and questions. You refuse to respond to mine. Below is the pertinent section of the talk page exchange between GreenUniverse and myself.Factseducado (talk) 17:14, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
"Factseducado you talk about peer-reviewed publications and academic consensus on the topic of theosophy, well if that is the case and you have links to these references then you can add them to the article if you think there is a problem. But so far all you have done is put tags on the article, you are not trying to improve it. Start putting up the references you have and making some changes and we can see if you have a valid case or not. As it currently stands I see no problem with the article. GreenUniverse (talk) 14:23, 25 April 2012 (UTC)"Factseducado (talk) 17:14, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
"The problem with the article is the weight given to types of sources that contravene the standards explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability as well as the biased point of view. This entry states as a fact that there are "hieroglyphs of nature." How is this nonbiased? Do most scientist agree? Do atheists agree? That assertion of fact right there is the tip of the iceberg. It's indefensible to state that hieroglyphs exist in nature. Surely, it is possible that all or some theosophists believe there are hieroglyphs in nature which is a statement of an entirely different sort. If you don't see the problem then you should re-read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV and attempt to re-write the sentence containing "hieroglyphs of nature" in a way all sides can agree on. I'll edit the article if that will satisfy you, but it will be an extremely different article based on peer-reviewed sources. A great deal of what's being stated as fact in this entry will have to go because at best a great deal of the current writing is fringe. If you are not familiar with the currently referenced writers and publishers, you should investigate them. Then you can compare the assertions in this entry with the research of mainstream scholars published in peer-reviewed journals. Only then are you likely to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. If this is not an area you have read about outside of this Wikipedia entry, you are liable to think it all sounds credible. The test comes from what the consensus of experts in the field have to say on the subject of theosophy. If I have time this weekend I'll re-write this with a few peer-reviewed sources. Don't come crabbing at me if the entire entry looks substantially different. The purpose of the NPOV tag is to alert readers and editors to the disputed nature of this material. Absolutely no one has made any effort to address the valid concerns I've raised. I suspect this is going to turn into a ridiculous race between sides and I think that's a useless way to proceed. However, since you want me create an entry that has a neutral point of view with verifiable sources, I'll do it as soon as I have time. In the meantime, I advise you to consult a university library yourself and perhaps an online journal archive so that you are prepared for the huge repository of academic writing that exists on the subject of theosophy. It is the consensus of peer-reviewed authors I will be presenting, not any particular person's favorite writer or publisher.Factseducado (talk) 23:12, 25 April 2012 (UTC)"Factseducado (talk) 17:14, 27 April 2012 (UTC)


[edit conflict] Factseducado, I said above that you are taking a rather high handed approach, but now I think you are just ranting and raving and repeating yourself over and over, and not listening to others. You have posted a very long and derogatory post on Sunray's Talk page [1] and have now also posted on the Talk page of many other editors, complaining about how unfairly you are being treated here. Quite extraordinary really. The reality is that we realise you are a newcomer to WP and are trying to be patient with you. You made a basic mistake in placing a POV tag on the article, without an edit summary, and without coming immediately to the Talk page to explain what the POV problems were. And the tag has already been removed once by another editor [2]. Despite the best attempts to discuss things here, it is still not clear as to exactly what the dispute is about. So I am removing the tag. Johnfos (talk) 16:47, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Johnfos, I have made no derogatory comments. I have asked for explanations which have not been given. I have not complained to anyone about unfair treatment but I have raised the issue of the assertions and lack of NPOV with other active members of the WikiProject Rational Skepticism by asking them to look over this Theosophy entry and provide me with feedback on their talk pages. I did immediately come to this talk page to explain some of the POV problems with this page. Then as others discussed the topic with me on here I elaborated on the NPOV problems that were apparent. The deletion of Verlius appears to have been important to JEMead. Many other problems remain. If you are interested in the problems I have pointed out, read the talk page entries I have made. Then if you have questions, ask them.Factseducado (talk) 17:12, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Factseducado's supposedly high-handed approach. He is not taking action within the article space for a valid reason; he is concerned that his changes will be reverted. It is much better to establish consensus here on the talk page before making large-scale changes.
First off, the Blavatsky books should not be used as straight sources! They should only be mentioned, if needed, as primary material upon which academics have made observations. Secondly, better sources should be brought into the article, critical academic ones. They are out there, easily found, and should be employed here. Third, the tone of the article should be more critical. Binksternet (talk) 17:03, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The Blavatsky references were part of collaborative compromises (To not mention Blavatsky at all -- is a bit hard to justify and we yielded a section)JEMead (talk) 17:17, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Blavatsky is obviously a person who should be discussed in detail. However, her works cannot stand alone as references; she is disputed by scholars. Rather, her works should be discussed in light of later scholarship. For instance, we cannot have the following sentence stand on its own without a rebuttal: "This Occult science is said to have been preserved (and practiced) throughout history by carefully selected and trained individuals." A modern scholar should be quoted saying that theosophy was largely fabricated from a patchwork of bits and pieces rather than drawn from any sort of carefully preserved ancient occult practice. Also, "said" by who? Said by Blavatsky, of course, or some other adherent. This example is but one of many instances in which a bare statement of theosophical thought is not (but should be) countered by a statement from later scholars. Other material glaringly absent from the article includes the journals The Path and Lucifer, the influential Annie Besant, and any discussion of William Q. Judge explaining his great popularity in the 1880s-1890s. Why is there nothing about young Krishnamurti's selection by Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater as "World Teacher" followed by his disavowal of Theosophy? (See W. Michael Ashcraft's New Religious Movements: A Documentary Reader, pages 46 to 50.) This article is woefully lacking in hard facts, history and significant people. Binksternet (talk) 19:16, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Binksternet, I note that you have restored the "neutrality" tag. What do you think is the neutrality problem? I agree that better academic sources would improve the article. I am unsure what you mean when you say that "the tone of the article should be more critical." It is not clear to me how either of those points relate to neutrality. It would improve this discussion if editors would present evidence succinctly to justify their points of view. I'm going to open a section on this and I hope we can quickly resolve the matter and get on with collaborative editing. Sunray (talk) 17:27, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The article is not neutral because it does not represent critical scholarly views. NPOV "means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources." I do not think all significant views have been fairly represented. Binksternet (talk) 19:21, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Evidence of a neutrality problem

This section is intended as a space where those who believe that there is a neutrality problem can support this with specific evidence. Please be specific (quoting article text and referring to references from reliable and verifiable sources. Also please be lean of expression (i.e. as brief, and to the point, as possible). Sunray (talk) 17:34, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

I invite anyone to examine the evidence of a neutrality problem I have already stated previously. Anyone interested can collate and list my prior specific complaints about the neutrality of this article. I further move that Binksternet's statement and action of adding the neutrality tag be incorporated into this section that Sunray has set up. I likewise invite anyone to collate and list Binksternet's prior specific feedback here in order to satisfy Sunray's desire to have all evidence previously submitted appear here. Likewise, I invite anyone to collate and list here all issues raised before I first commented. That would then summarize the issues raised to date on this talk page in furtherance of Sunray's goal. I do not have the time to collate and post in this section all material previously submitted by myself and others. I hope someone else has the time and interest to do this out of deference to Sunray's desire and in furtherance of clarifying issue.
As a new issue regarding the non-neutral POV of this Wikipedia entry I submit that the over-reliance on Faivre's writing is problematic. Brill Academic Publishers published Olav Hammer's book Claiming Knowledge : Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age in 2003. Chapters 1 and 3 of that book are salient but are by no means the only parts of Hammer's book that have bearing on this Wikipedia entry. Pages 7, 48, and 49 of Hammer state academic, research-based insights that help anyone begin to form a neutral point of view on the subject of theosophy. I submit that Hammer's book and other similar books which situate the publications and authors on the topic of theosophy in the context of their own points of view, time periods, and disciplines are essential to creating a Wikipedia entry on theosophy that is clear and has a neutral point of view. In other words, writers need to understand the context out of which each particular author is writing. Some authors of academic reference works are apologists either for theosophy or for particular interpretations of theosophy. It is important to understand that fact and the particular background of each writer as described by in reliable reference works by other scholars in order to construct a Wikipedia entry on theosophy that doesn't privilege one school of thought over another unless that is the consensus of reputable scholars on the topic of theosophy. My challenge is for anyone who wishes to write on this topic to examine pages 7, 48, and 49 of then compare Hammer's thoughts to the relevant content of the current Wikipedia entry. Especially note the current extremely heavy reliance on citations of Faivre's work and understand that Faivre's work has been the subject of comment and research by other scholars who have published in reliable academic sources.Factseducado (talk) 18:40, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Comments from Binksternet

  • Over-reliance on Faivre is a problem here. (I've heard it called Freshman Disease: the reader of one book always thinks it is the whole truth but the reader of many books knows otherwise.) Faivre is not the established mainstream writer on Theosophy; Faivre has been challenged.
  • Not enough from other scholars such as:
    • Joscelyn Godwin (1994), The Theosophical Enlightenment, SUNY Press. Godwin's widely cited book starts off early with Richard Payne Knight and phallic worship, then invests heavily in biographies of notable Theosophists but goes light on the Golden Dawn and later groups influenced by Theosophy.
    • Wouter J. Hanegraaff praised Godwin's "landmark study" in his 1998 New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, SUNY Press. Today, Hanegraaff continues in this vein by saying Godwin wrote a "groundbreaking study" back in the 1990s, writing in Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture, Cambridge University Press.
    • Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke writes about the recent historiography of Theosophical scholarship in his paper, "Western Esotericism in the United Kingdom", a chapter within 2009's Hermes in the Academy: Ten Years' Study of Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. Goodrick-Clarke is known for connecting Nazism and Theosophy, a matter that is completely absent from this article likely for ill-considered reasons. See Goodrick-Clarke's Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism, New York University Press, 1998; Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, 2003; and The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults And Their Influence on Nazi Ideology, Tauris Parke, 2004.
    • Jeffrey D. Lavoie's 2012 book The Theosophical Society: The History of a Spiritualist Movement. This accessible and readable new book is by a doctoral student at Exeter.
    • Emmett A. Greenwalt, in his 1978 California Utopia: Point Loma, 1897-1942, traces the Theosophical roots of utopian communities. This book is a reworking of his 1955 The Point Loma Community in California, 1897-1942: A Theosophical Experiment. Both books start out with a "Theosophical Roots" chapter. Right now there is nothing about utopian groups in the article.
    • Racism in Theosophy is currently absent from the article, an astonishing lapse. The idea that Theosophy is racist "is much disputed", of course, but Goodrick-Clarke's work with esoteric Nazi beliefs is one cornerstone. Corinna Treitel writes that "Theosophy aimed, after all, to bring the so-called "sixth root race" into existence", a contrast to Theosophy's otherwise inclusive pan-racial goals (A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern, JHU Press, 2004.) Mattias Gardell writes that Theosophy emphasized "elitism, racism and esoteric knowledge" which made it very suitable to German racial thought. (Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism, Duke University Press, 2003.) On the other hand, Colin Kidd writes "Theosophy is a form of spirituality founded upon an ecumenical and explicitly anti-racist platform. Indeed, Theosophy proclaims itself a religion of global racial and religious reconciliation." (The Forging of Races: Race And Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, Cambridge University Press, 2006.) Besant was one of the prominent Theosphists fighting against racism.
These critical authors, books and concepts are integral to the scholarship of Theosophy, and their absence in this article makes a mockery of NPOV. Binksternet (talk) 20:27, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I consider the above contribution by Binksternet to be the most valuable to date in this talk page. I wholeheartedly endorse all of Binkersternet's sources, insights, and guidance offered in his or her above post. One item I would like to see a consensus on is that theosophy has philosophical aspects to it but that calling it a philosophy and rejecting its strong identity as a religion, a religious movement, or a form of religious thought is not the direction this Wikipedia entry needs to head towards. Scholars seem to be in agreement that theosophy is a form of esotericism and that esotericism is a form of religion or religious thought. In some times and places theosophy has been a religious movement. Because of past developments on this talk page I expect disagreement from some people as to including this book Binksternet recommended: "Jeffrey D. Lavoie's 2012 book The Theosophical Society: The History of a Spiritualist Movement. I disagree with the previously stated perspective on this talk page that The Theosophical Society does not belong on this page. It was an important and notable development in the history of theosophy.Factseducado (talk) 22:03, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Theosophy seems to fit best in Esotericism and Religious Philosophy. With respect to the Theosophical Society, it is on the page (it is hard to not to). The issue is that there are a plethora of types of Theosophy used amongst the various organizations and cults that an entire long article/books could be written. Theosophy is a western word with western roots and they did not evaporate when the eastern mysticism of the Theosophical Society declared itself to be Theosophy. To force all the vernacular confusions into the article creates an article with a single POV of discussing the Cults, Religions, Masters, Gurus etc. JEMead (talk) 22:48, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
This article, with its global title, must be about all of Theosophy—the gamut, including your "plethora of types of Theosophy". All the significant belief systems that have been called "Theosophy" must be represented. This article with its global title cannot only be about one type of (perhaps) idealized Theosophy, to the exclusion of other forms of Theosophy. Binksternet (talk) 23:45, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
It is a huge topic. Why not mention things and then link-out to the wikipage reference that covers various issues. The Theosophists (Theosophy as in TS) have a lot of page space already. Why should anyone duplicate their material when a person can mention Doctrines and supply the links?? where does one actually get a chance to actually discuss theosophy?? JEMead (talk) 01:24, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
  • When someone wants to learn about Theosophy, they will turn to this article. It is okay to have links at the beginning of various sections taking the reader to a more detailed article on the topic. If we have reliable sources that provide information about Theosophy, that information can usually be added, as long as due weight is considered. JEMead, you and a few other editors have been working on this article for some time. Your efforts are to be commended. The article will improve quickly as other editors, newer to the article, enter the editing process. drs (talk) 03:19, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you Donald. I have always wanted assistance here. JEMead (talk) 12:29, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, theosophy has been a word for a long time now. It is normal that over centuries words change in connotation and denotation. Many authors of reliable scholarly works could take the view that what theosophy means has changed over the course time. Not including how the use and meaning of the word changed over time would be not telling the whole story. What theosophy encompasses is predicated on the identity of the people who used the word and the time and culture these people lived in or live in today. Please cite a source and page number for your assertion that, "Theosophy is a western word with western roots." Also, please cite a source and page number that substantiates your claim that The Theosophical Society incorporated Eastern mysticism and incorrectly described their views as theosophy. Finally, words end up meaning what people agree they mean. If you are asserting that using the term theosophy in relationship to The Theosophical Society is "vernacular confusion" please cite your source and page number. As an aside, cult is a disputed term by scholars. Some scholars use the words new religious movement or emergent religion.23:55, 27 April 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Factseducado (talkcontribs)
The fact that the dating of the term theosophy goes back to the 2nd, 3rd century etc. is referenced by Faivre; I believe Santucci and (?) did the exhaustive search. The whole issue with the changes and slight changes in wording and evolution of the word is always true/occurring. Faivre mentions it a lot in describing the theosophical current. The theosophical current continued before, during and after HPB. The effect of HPB on theosophy was noted by Faivre (Encycl.of Rel.): An element of confusion reappeared only in 1875, when H. P. Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, which bears only a distant relationship to traditional theosophy. Unfortunately, one usually thinks of that movement when the word theosophy is used today. [See Theosophical Society and the biography of Btavatsky]. I would guess that this current is the similar current as followed by Jean-Pierre Brach (Professor of History of Esoteric Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe) Also, I realize people do not believe that Faivre can write a 5 page Encyclopedia Article, have it peer-reviewed, and get it right.JEMead (talk) 01:24, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, the page numbers in Faivre's, Santucci's, and (?)'s work on dating the word theosophy would help a great deal. If other scholars have published research that challenges their research in reliable, verifiable sources, that will have to be included in the article as well. On the topic of the theosophical current, if I understand what you wrote in the post above, you are saying that Faivre and possibly Brach state in reliable, verifiable sources that there has been a theosophical current over time and they lament that people now associate the term with Blavatsky. I think a productive step would be to cite idea of Faivre's and possibly Brach's with page numbers in the article. If further research reveals other scholars who dispute this claim of Faivre and possibly Brach and those scholars have published in reliable, verifiable sources, it would then be necessary to that information in the article as well. In that way the full spectrum of views on this topic would be represented in the article. Finally, if you have encountered people who "do not believe that Faivre can write a 5 page Encyclopedia Article, have it peer-reviewed, and get it right," have these people published that assertion in reliable, verifiable sources? If so, please state the source(s) and page number(s). If challenges to Faivre's ideas and interpretations exist and are published in reliable, verifiable sources, these challenges will need to be included in the article to achieve the standards set by Wikipedia's NPOV requirement. Factseducado (talk) 14:45, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Comments from JEMead

This is a startup wikipage. I agree that more sources are needed and should be added. I have never disputed that. Your sources (above) are ones on my list. This is especially true as more is added about historical figures in both theosophy and esotericism are included and expanded upon. The intent, to any influence I have had here, is to examine theosophy within the relatively new academic field of Esotericism. A few of the leading scholars are:
  • Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He has published extensively on modern and contemporary Western esotericism, including a book devoted to the 15th-century Christian Hermetist Lodovico Lazzarelli and a monograph on the New Age movement.
  • Antoine Faivre is Professor Emeritus of History of Esoteric and Mystical Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe at the 5th section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), Paris, France.
  • Roelof van den Broek is Professor Emeritus of History of Christianity at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • Jean-Pierre Brach is Professor of History of Esoteric Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe at the 5th section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), Paris, France.
See: (Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism)
I hope this helps to understand my direction regarding activity on this wikipage. The problem with Faivre is every scholarly Encyclopedia and Dictionary uses him for the articles on Esotericism and Theosophy (nearly all). I had to start somewhere. We had a needs-expansion flag up. Does it then automatically require a disputed NPOV?? just curious. JEMead (talk) 21:19, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
A "needs expansion" template is appropriate when an article contains not enough information. If the existing information is out of balance, though, the NPOV tag comes up. The article as it now stands is woefully lacking in criticism. Binksternet (talk) 21:43, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The use of Theosophy (above) as the Doctrines of the Theosophical Societies and the HPB-like doctrines can certainly be added. However, I would prefer them under Theosophy Cults or an article dealing with HPB. Olcott and the founders of the society found the term theosophy in a dictionary, then stole the word. JEMead (talk) 22:16, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
JEMead, please cite your source and page number when you state, "Olcott and the founders of the society found the term theosophy in a dictionary, then stole the word." Also, consider whether the consensus of experts in this area agree with that particular statement. What proof do you have that a consensus of authors of reliable, academic sources agrees with that assertion?23:38, 27 April 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Factseducado (talkcontribs)
I took Olcott for his own testimony: Henry Olcott explains the choice of names for the Theosophical Society as follows: "The choice of a name for the Society was, of course, a question for grave discussion in Committee. Several were suggested, among them, if I recollect right, the Egyptological, the Hermetic, the Rosicrucian, etc., but none seemed just the thing. At last, in turning over the leaves of the Dictionary, one of us came across the word 'Theosophy,' whereupon, after discussion, we unanimously agreed that was the best of all; since it both expressed the esoteric truth we wished to reach and covered the ground of Felt's methods of scientific research" (H. S. Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, Adyar, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974, 1st ed., 1895, vol. I, p. 112). JEMead (talk) 01:24, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Olcott is an adherent and his quote is published in a primary source that does not meet the Wikipedia requirements for reliable, verifiable sources. Is there a secondary source that is reliable and verifiable which comments on or includes this assertion by Olcott? Then an article writer could include both Olcott's quote and commentary on it which places the quote in the light of further reliable, verifiable scholarship. Unless you can cite a reliable, verifiable source which states "Olcott and the founders of the society found the term theosophy in a dictionary, then stole the word," then that statement is OR which is prohibited. I think it's likely you can find a reliable, published source in which the author laments or criticizes Olcott's group's adoption of the word. Then you could cite the source and page number. Assuming other reliable, verifiable publications take issue with potential scholars who lament or criticize Olcott's group's adoption of the word, their critical view would also have to be presented in the article.Factseducado (talk) 15:03, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

It appears (again) that this wikipage is being overrun by people showing up with copies of the Skeptical Inquirer, Conspiracy Today, or leather-bound and well-worn copies of the Secret Doctrine. If you fit those categories I cannot take any POV argument seriously. At least criticize a reference -- say Faivre's Theosophy, Imagination, Traditions JEMead (talk) 16:10, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

  • JEMead, let's focus on improving the article rather than Ad hominem comments. It can be unsettling to dialogue with skeptics. I have found that my thinking improves as I square off, courteously, with my critics. If an editor challenges an edit as POV, enter into dialogue with that editor and seek to understand their POV. :) DonaldRichardSands (talk) 16:21, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Point well taken. I was frustrated that even free-source pages on a reference (ref online above) were not examined. I forget who asked, but page 1, literally, had sources for western use of he word theosophy very early CE. I will try to contain my enthusiasm. Thanks for a good and timely reminder! JEMead (talk) 17:41, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
This article is of interest to WikiProject Rational Skepticism. I am an active member of that WikiProject. However, I have not and will not reveal my personal feelings on the subject of theosophy. Am I a member of a Theosophical group? Do I do tarot readings? Am I a church member? Am I a scientist? Am I a founding member of an atheist and agnostic club? I'm not telling. Furthermore, my concerns on this article would be the same no matter if the answer all, some, or none of the questions above were "yes" or "no." No matter what my personal views are Wikipedia policies are the policies that are set. I do endorse Wikipedia's three core content policies: ""Neutral point of view" is one of Wikipedia's three core content policies. The other two are "Verifiability" and "No original research"." Factseducado (talk) 04:25, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
[edit conflict] I have to admit that I share many of JEMead's frustrations. This is a start/c-class article, so by definition it has a lot of gaps and faults. But some skeptics have come here and acted as if this is some sort of revelation, and insistently tagged a fledgling article in obvious need of improvement... It is clear that we have some knowledgable people here, and many useful sources are coming to light in this Talk page discussion. The challenge now is to make good use of these in the article. I would suggest that perhaps a Further reading section could initially be added to the article and then, when we get a clearer picture of what useful sources we have, these sources could be used as references to expand the article. Johnfos (talk) 17:51, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
A further reading section in the article is a good idea. We have WP:FURTHER and Wikipedia:Further reading for help. DonaldRichardSands (talk) 18:18, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
John, I gladly accept the title "skeptic". I would be more forgiving of this "fledgling" article if it were balanced in its insufficiencies, but it is not. An analogy would be to begin a new article about the automobile's effects on society, concentrating only on the positive effects such as freedom of mobility and the pleasure of speed, leaving out negative effects such as pollution and traffic. There's nothing wrong with adding a further reading section, but that is only an interim step. Binksternet (talk) 18:31, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure people who are wanting changes to the article are skeptics other than Binksternet who says he or she is a skeptic. I like skeptics and non-skeptics alike in my personal life. The status of someone as a skeptic or a non-skeptic does not seem to be related to the problems that need fixing in this article. "Neutral point of view", "Verifiability", and "No original research" are the onus Wikipedia places on all articles. Any of those three core principles of Wikipedia are far more serious than needing to flesh out some ideas in an article that is under development. Factseducado (talk) 04:38, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

The entire field is broken into basically two major parts. Western Theosophy (Christian/Jewish/Hermitic etc.) and then Eastern Theosophy (starts with the HPB branch-off). We need to focus on both. JEMead (talk) 19:08, 28 April 2012 (UTC)


Comments from Factseducado

Today's edits so far have helped expand and clarify the subject enormously. (April 30, 2012)
I have read pertinent sections of Faivre, Antoine (2000). Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism. Albany, NY: SUNY. Some of the articles cited text will need to be re-written to better reflect Faivre's specific assertions. As it now stands some of the text only partially reflects what Faivre wrote in that book and in so doing it leads to inaccuracy. I will add this to the to-do list.

Can someone create a Request for Comment?

User Factseducado asked me to comment on this Talk page regarding the ongoing neutrality issue. I'd like to help, but I think the best path forward would be for one of the involved editors to create a Request for Comment section on this Talk page. Just follow the process described at WP:RFC. Remember to keep the question short and to the point. Then, go to the page Wikipedia:Feedback request service and ask some uninvolved editors (from the religion/philosophy section) to come here and comment. I'll be happy to provide comment once an RfC is created. --Noleander (talk) 19:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Agree that there are NPOV problems

Based upon the comments above and my own look at the article, it is clear to me that this article needs the NPOV tag on it. As the tag says, "Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved." It does not say "Remove it whenever a small group of people who ignore the problems and refuse to discuss the topic in any meaningful sense set an arbitrary deadline to have it removed by." This article is based almost exclusively on the views a single source, and the small number of times some other source is used it is either a primary source (Blavatsky) or a source related in some way to the single source (same author in another book or different author in the same book). As pointed out above, this is a recipe for disaster. The tag stays until the problem is fixed, period. DreamGuy (talk) 14:35, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

  • I don't see a problem in keeping the tag. The article can still be improved with it there. There are a vast array of sources about Theosophy. DonaldRichardSands (talk) 16:10, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
My understanding accords with DreamGuy's insofar as I think it must be tagged because NPOV is such a fundamental policy at Wikipedia. Unless any article is in compliance with Wikipedia's policies on POV I think it has to be tagged so that the problem is not hidden. Hiding a POV problem would feel deceptive to me even if that's not why someone wants the POV tag taken down. I imagine that a person might want a NPOV tag taken down because they don't see any POV issue even if there is one in a particular article. Other people might see a NPOV tag an an insult. I don't think it has to be perceived as an insult. Factseducado (talk) 04:13, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

There is no need for a request for comment. Several editors have pointed to a lack of balance in the article. I think that there may be a consensus on this point. In any case, the neutrality tag has, evidently, been justified. It has been pointed out that this is a "start class" article and therefore needs considerable work. Several suggestions have been made: more varied sources, a "Further reading" section, summary style with links to subarticles, etc. Time to get to work! Would someone be willing to propose an outline of tasks? Sunray (talk) 17:54, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

regarding better NPOV - the theosophy banner that was added was created by the Societies and only includes items w.r.t. their theosophies. The banner needs to be changed to include the full spectrum, or dropped as it is misleading. JEMead (talk) 23:56, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I added the Theosophy template. I see no benefit to dropping it. But, if the template needs improvement, let's improve it so that it more accurately reflects the world of Theosophy. drs (talk) 04:23, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I really like the template/banner. I believe it provides valuable information in a compact, quick to read format. I also think it can be improved to address JEMead's point that theosophy is a broader article than the banner currently indicates. Factseducado (talk) 04:46, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure how to do this. I considered this once and realized it was basically a Societal banner, and I did not want to muck it up. We actually may need a portal? not sure. JEMead (talk) 00:01, 2 May 2012 (UTC)