See also:term used to denote those forms of philosophic and religious thought which claim a
See also:special insight into the Divine nature and its constitutive moments or processes . Sometimes this insight is claimed as the result of the operation of some higher
See also:faculty or some supernatural
See also:revelation to the individual; in other instances the theosophical theory is not based upon any special
See also:illumination, but is simply put forward as the deepest speculative wisdom of its author . But in any case it is characteristic of theosophy that it starts with an explication of the Divine essence, and endeavours to deduce the phenomenal universe from the
See also:play of forces within the Divine nature itself . General Theory.—Theosophy is thus differentiated at once from all philosophic systems which attempt to rise from an analysis of phenomena to a knowledge, more or less adequate, of the existence and nature of
See also:God . In all such systems, God is the
See also:terminus ad
See also:quern, a
See also:direct knowledge of whom is not claimed, but who is, as it were, the hypothesis adopted, with varying degrees of certainty in different thinkers, for the ex-planation of the facts before them . The theosophist, on the other
See also:hand, is most at his ease when moving within the circle of the Divine essence, into which he seems to claim absolute insight . This, however, would be insufficient to distinguish theosophy from those systems of philosophy which are some-times called " speculative " and " absolute," and which also in many cases proceed deductively from the idea of God . In a wide sense, the
See also:system of Hegel or the system of
See also:Spinoza may be cited as examples of what is meant . Both thinkers claim to exhibit the universe as the
See also:evolution of the Divine nature . They must believe, therefore, that they have grasped the inmost principles of that nature: so much is involved, indeed, in the construction of an absolute system . But it is to be noted that, though there is much talk of God in such systems, the known universe—the
See also:world that now is—is no-where transcended; God is really no more than the principle of unity immanent in the whole . Hence, while the accusation of
See also:pantheism is frequently brought against these thinkers, the term theosophical is never used in their regard .
A theosophical system may also be pantheistic, in tendency if not in intention; but the transcendentcharacter of its Godhead definitely distinguishes it from the speculative philosophies which might otherwise seem to fall under the same definition . God is regarded as the transcendent source of being and purity, from which the individual in his natural state is alienated and afar off . An
See also:historical survey shows, indeed, that theosophy gene-rally arises in connexion with religious needs, and is the expression of religious convictions or aspirations . Accepting the testimony of religion that the
See also:present world lies in wickedness and imperfection, theosophy faces the problem of speculatively accounting for this state of things from the nature of the God-
See also:head itself . It is thus in some sort a mystical philosophy of the existence of evil; or at least it assumes this
See also:form in some of its most typical representatives . The term Mysticism (q.v.) has properly a
See also:practical rather than a speculative reference; but it is currently applied so as to include the systems of thought on which practical mysticism was based . Thus, to take only one prominent example, the
See also:pro-found speculations of Meister
See also:Eckhart (q.v.) are always treated under the head of Mysticism, but they might with equal right appear under the rubric Theosophy . In other words, while. an emotional and practical mysticism may exist without attempting philosophically to explain itself, speculative mysticism is almost another name for theosophy . There is still a certain difference observable, however, in so far as the speculative mystic remains primarily concerned with the theory of the soul's relation to God, while the theosophist gives his thoughts a wider
See also:scope, and frequently devotes himself to the elaboration of a fantastic philosophy of nature . In the above acceptation of the term, the Neoplatonic
See also:doctrine of emanations from the supra-essential One, the fanciful emanation-doctrine of some of the Gnostics (the aeons of the Valentinian system might be mentioned), and the elaborate
See also:esoteric system of the Kabbalah, to which the two former in all probability largely contributed, are generally included under the head of theosophy . In the two latter instances there may be noted the allegorical
See also:interpretation of traditional doctrines and sacred writings which is a
See also:common characteristic of theosophical writers . Still more typical examples of theosophy are furnished by the mystical system of Meister Eckhart and the doctrine of Jacob Boehme (q.v.), who is known as " the theosophist"
See also:par excellence .
Eckhart's doctrine asserts behind God a predicateless Godhead, which, though unknowable not only toman but also to itself, is, as it were, the essence or potentiality of all things . From it proceed, and in it, as their nature, exist, the three persons of the Trinity, conceived as stadia of an eternal self-revealing profess . The eternal generation of the Son is
See also:equivalent to the eternal creation of the world . But the sensuous and phenomenal, as such, so far as they seem to imply independence of God, are mere privation and nothingness; things exist only through the presence of God in them, and the
See also:goal of creation, like its outset, is the repose of the Godhead . The soul of man, which as a microcosmos resumes the nature of things, strives by self-abnegation or self-annihilation to attain this unspeakable
See also:reunion (which Eckhart calls being buried in God) . Regarding evil simply as privation, Eckhart does not make it the
See also:pivot of his thought, as was afterwards done by Boehme; but his notion of the Godhead as a dark and formless essence is a favourite thesis of theosophy . Besides mystical
See also:theology, Boehme was indebted to the writings of
See also:Paracelsus . This circumstance is not accidental, but points to an
See also:affinity in thought . The nature-philosophers of the
See also:Renaissance, such as Nicolaus Cusanus, Paracelsus, Cardan and others, curiously blend scientific ideas with speculative notions derived from scholastic theology, from
See also:Neoplatonism and even from the Kabbalah . Hence it is customary to speak of their theories as a mixture of theosophy and physics, or theosophy and chemistry, as the case may be . Boehme offers us a natural philosophy of the same sort . As Boehme is the typical theosophist, and as
See also:modern theosophy has nourished itself almost in every case upon the study of his
See also:works, his dominating conceptions supply us with the best
See also:illustration of the general trend of this mode of thought .
See also:speculation turns, as has been said, upon the
See also:necessity of reconciling the existence and the might of evil with the existence of an all-embracing and all-powerful God, without falling into 1VIanichaeanism on the one hand, or, on the other, into a naturalistic pantheism that denies the reality of the distinction between
See also:good and evil . He faces the difficulty boldly, and the eternal conflict between the two may be said to furnish him with the principle of his philosophy . It is in this connexion that he insists on the necessity of the
See also:Nay to the Yea, of the negative to the
See also:positive . Eckhart's Godhead appears in Boehme as the abyss, the eternal nothing, the essenceless quiet (" Ungrund " and " Stille ohne Wesen " are two of Boehme's phrases) . But, if this were all, the Divine Being would remain an abyss dark' even to itself . In God, however, as the
See also:condition of His manifestation, lies, according to Boehme, the " eternal nature" or the mysterium magnum, which is as anger to love, as darkness to
See also:light, and, in general, as the negative to the positive . This principle (which Boehme often calls the evil in God) illuminates both sides of the
See also:anti-thesis, and thus contains the possibility of their real existence . By the " Qual " or torture, as it were, of this diremption, the universe has qualitative existence, and is knowable . Even the three persons of the Trinity, though existing idealiter beforehand, attain reality only through this principle of nature in God, which is hence spoken of as their
See also:matrix . It forms also the
See also:matter, as it were, out of which the world is created; without the dark and fiery principle, we are told, there would be no creature . Hence God is sometimes spoken of as the
See also:father, and the eternal nature as the
See also:mother, of things . Creation (which is conceived as an eternal
See also:process) begins with the creation of the angels .
The subsequent fall ofLucifer is explained as his surrender of himself to the principle of nature, instead of dwelling in the heart of God . He sought to make anger predominate over love; and he had his will, becoming
See also:prince of
See also:hell, the
See also:kingdom of God's anger, which still remains, however, an integral
See also:part of the Divine universe . It is useless to follow Boehme further, for his cosmogony is disfigured by a
See also:wild Paracelsian symbolism, and his constructive efforts in general are full of. the uncouth straining .of an untrained writer . In spite of these defects, his speculations have exercised a remarkable influence . Schelling's Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom (1800) is almost entirely a
See also:reproduction of Boehme's ideas, and forms, along with
See also:Baader's writings, the best modern example of theosophical speculation . In his philosophy of identity Schelling (q.v.) had already defined the Absolute as pure indifference, or the identity of subject and
See also:object, but without advancing further into theogony . He now proceeded to distinguish three moments in God, the first of which is the pure indifference which, in a sense, precedes all existence—the primal basis or abyss, as he calls it, in agreement with Boehme . But, as there is nothing before or besides God, God must have the ground or cause of His existence in Himself . This is the second moment, called nature in God, distinguishable from God, but inseparable from Him . It is that in God which is not God Himself, it is the yearning of the eternal One to give
See also:birth to itself . This yearning is a dumb unintelligent longing, which moves like a heaving
See also:sea in obedience to some dark and in-definite
See also:law, and is powerless to fashion anything in permanence . But in
See also:correspondence to the first stirring of the Divine existence there awakes in GM Himself an inner reflective perception, by means of which—since no object is possible for it but God—God beholds Himself in His.own image .
In this, God is for the first
See also:time as it were realized, although as yet only within Him-self . This perception combines, as understanding, with the primal yearning, which becomes thereby
See also:free creative will, and works formatively in the originally lawless nature or ground . In this wise is created the world as we know it . In wary natural existence there are, therefore, two principles to be distinguished—first, the dark principle, through which this is separated from God, and exists, as it were, in the mere ground; and, secondly, the Divine principle of understanding . The first is the particular will of the creature, the second is the universal will . In irrational creatures the particular will or greed of the individual is controlled by
See also:external forces, and thus used as an instrument of the universal . But in man the two principles are consciously present together, not, however, in inseparable union, as they are in God, but with the possibility of separation . This possibility of separation is the possibility of good and evil . In Boehme's spirit, Schelling defended his idea of God as the only way of vindicating for God the consciousness which
See also:naturalism denies, and which ordinary theism emptily asserts . This theosophical transformation of Schelling's doctrine was largely due to the influence of his contemporary Baader (q.v.) . Baader distinguishes, in a manner which may be paralleled from Boehme, between an immanent or esoteric process of self-production in God, through which He issues from His unrevealed state, and the emanent, exoteric or real process, in which God overcomes and takes up into Himself the eternal " nature " or the principle of selfhood, and appears as a Trinity of persons . The creation of the world is still further to be distinguished from these two processes as an
See also:act of freedom or will; it cannot, therefore, be speculatively constructed, but must be historically accepted .
Baader, who combined his theosophy with the doctrines of
See also:Roman Catholicism, has had many followers . Among thinkers on the same lines, but more or less
See also:independent, Molitor is perhaps the most important . Swedenborg (q.v.) is usually reckoned among the theosophists, and some parts of his theory justify this inclusion; but his system as a whole has little in common with those speculative constructions of the Divine nature which form the essence of theosophy, as strictly understood . Besides the books mentioned under MYSTICISM, and those referred to under individual authors, Baur's Die christliche Gnosis in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung (1835) and Hamberger, Stimmen aus dem Heiligthum der christlichen Mystik and Theosophie (1859), may uo Mentioned ( S .
THEORY OF CAPILLARY
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