Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 771 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ESOTERIC, having an inner or secret meaning. This term, and its correlative " exoteric," were first applied in the ancient Greek mysteries to those who were initiated (kw, within) and to those who were not (Ew, outside), respectively. It was then transferred to a supposed distinction drawn by certain philosophers between the teaching given to the whole circle of their pupils and that containing a higher and secret philosophy which was reserved for a select number of specially advanced or privileged disciples. This distinction was ascribed by Lucian (Vit. Auct. 26) to Aristotle (q.v.), who, however, uses EEWTEpuKOi X6yyoe (Nic. Ethics) merely of " popular treatises." It was probably adopted by the Pythagoreans and was also attributed to Plato. In the sense of mystic it is used of a secret doctrine of theosophy, supposed to have been traditional among certain disciples of Buddhism.
End of Article: ESOTERIC

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