• Pantagruel
    3.2k
    But firstly, I don't believe any intuitive (or propositional for that matter) knowledge is infallible, or context-independent, and secondly such "knowledge" is by its very nature personal, subjective.Janus

    I don't recall where esoteric knowledge became infallibly divine revelation in this discussion. That's a straw man by me, and not reflective of how I view intuitive knowledge.
  • Janus
    15.3k
    I don't recall where esoteric knowledge became infallibly divine revelation in this discussion. That's a straw man by me, and not reflective of how I view intuitive knowledge.Pantagruel

    Esoteric knowledge is usually claimed to be knowledge by revelation or enlightenment, and hence.
    by implication, to be infallible. The very concept of gnosis, direct knowing, exemplifies this character.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    Esoteric knowledge is usually claimed to be knowledge by revelation or enlightenment, and hence.
    by implication, to be infallible.
    Janus

    I don't see any evidence that those extreme forms of esotericism are what is in question here. However I can see this degenerating into a mishmash of historical and critical terminologies and I don't see the benefit of that. Most people would consider loop-quantum gravity to be an esoteric topic. Its very complexity renders it inaccessible. What is esoteric for some is not necessarily for others. Which may be the point.
  • Janus
    15.3k
    I don't see any evidence that those extreme forms of esotericism are what is in question here.Pantagruel

    So, what do you think counts as esoteric knowledge then? Or can you give an example of what you would count as an esoteric tradition?

    Difficult physics and math subjects are not esoteric in my book, they are just difficult.
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    Difficult physics and math subjects are not esoteric in my book, they are just difficult.Janus
  • Chet Hawkins
    82
    As far as forum writing goes, it is so different from so many other forms. The reason why I have used this forum is because I find that the dialogue with so many people throughout the world makes it so good. When I was on academic courses, there was less, or a different kind of intensity. I never really achieved any clarity of thinking. I still find it hard to pin down a particular perspective above all, but I do find that, in conjunction with my own reading, engagement with TPF enables me to analyse my own thinking more critically.Jack Cummins
    Well, yes, that is the hope. The lay or professional-adjacent thinkers interested in a topic are actually more engaging and less ridiculously critical than academia. Academia is really a servant of the elite trends. In that way, academia always fails us all. The academic rebel is much much more likely to be actually helping society. The heavy hand of order and hierarchy is far too typically strangling truth from academia. The thing that helps real groundbreakers is the very new nature of their work. This is an unforeseen problem for elites, because the rolling up the accreditation of new information to academia is a way to cheat truth, not to help its being revealed. Something new gets out of hand too quick for them to cap by its very nature. It's fun and great for everyone when that happens.

    The idea of the imminent may be about the present primarily; it may correspond with Eckart Tolle's argument about time, in which amidst the perception of past, present, and future, it is only possible that perceive in the present 'now' consciousness.substantivalism
    Indeed, but he stops short as far as I am aware of declaring the why of all of that. He does realize the importance of Now.

    Both ideas of past and future may be a potential for both romanticism and fear. The scope of eternity may also be seen as being about a static achievement while a sense of eternity as immanence may involve a contemplative picture of blending in with the endless aspects of life and its flow. It may be a way of seeing beyond desire itself.substantivalism
    I call now, the eternal now. We cannot escape now. If there is a new future, then there is a new now. So even though now seems more finite somehow than the past or the future, it is not.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    So, what do you think counts as esoteric knowledge then? Or can you give an example of what you would count as an esoteric tradition?Janus

    "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest."

    So while you may not agree that a difficult subject matter that is likely to be understood by only a small number of people counts as esoteric knowledge, it fits well with the definition. I believe Heisenberg thought that quantum theory was esoteric, in that it housed inner-mysteries, even for its initiates....

    Knowledge will always retain a unique subjective element because it exists as known by a subject, and nothing in reality lives in a pure abstraction. The meaning of 2+2 might be invariant, but its meaningfulness will always be as unique as every situation of application is.

    As Hanover just mentioned on the Kant thread:

    If we concede there are conditions for our knowledge and our knowledge is subject to those conditions and if those conditions are peculiar to the perceiver, how is our knowledge of anything objective?

    I concur completely with this assessment. Knowledge always exists exactly to the extent that it is enacted...by someone.
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    :sparkle:
    :roll:
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    In a very real sense, the entire progress of human understanding can be seen as the development of knowledge from esotericity to exotericity. What is evident to the eyes can be deceiving. The evident reality of illusions is dispelled by the understanding of "esoteric" perceptual mechanisms. The primitive search for animistic spirits leads to the discovery of "esoteric" concepts like atomic structure. How long did humanity search for the esoteric atom? Millenia.

    Neural networks function precisely by being able to detect and utilize connections which are not trivially evident, but hidden with the complex datasets that are the representations of things. Who is really to say how many "hidden" connections actually exist in the fabric of our reality? Does the fact that we have already discovered so many mean that we should stop looking? Or that we should look even harder?

    What kind of people seek out esoteric knowledge? People who have questions that exoteric (accepted) knowledge does not answer. Esoteric traditions often involve learning detailed rites and detailed normative schemas, suggesting how we ought to react and respond, to live. Who is to say those are incorrect? Freemasonry exhorts values of charity and integrity. Even if the only value of esoteric knowledge is the subjective benefit conferred by the knowledge itself...isn't that enough?
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    Thanks for your reply and the whole issue of the esoteric and academic are an interesting contrast, especially in relation to the development of knowledge. Esotericism, apart from an approach of the 'inner' may involve certain elite groups. This may apply to the academic as well, and there may have been important power allegiances.

    I wonder how all of this stands in the information age. There is more of a demand for transparency and going beyond 'secrecy'. I wonder how this will come into effect, and what will remain 'secret' behind the scenes? Also, the information age gives so much access to knowledge, and how will this affect individuals' understanding? Does it mean that the quest for philosophical knowledge will be about assimilation of knowledge alone? This could be very different from the inner searching for meaning and knowledge.
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    I also wonder how how much of understanding of the esoteric, as opposed to the exoteric, stands in relation to the information age. Knowledge as 'out there ' may be so different. It is so much more about a widest view of knowledge, and it may be so much an exoteric quest, of information. To some extent, there is the issue as to whether the exoteric aspects of knowledge may be viewed witn a complete loss of the esoteric? Also, there is the question as to whether the 'esoteric" is to be understood simply as an aspect of the psychological, or in other ways of philosophy thinking?
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    I think that "esoteric" is a concept that has historically covered a lot of ground, and has been subjected to a lot of abuse, both from within and without. No doubt there have been people who have manipulated esoterica for their own ends. And there are scientists who fake results. But as you point out, we are entering radically new territory and our understanding of the nature of understanding itself is evolving. I think there will always be those who view things as esoteric which others feel they can see clearly.
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    The concept of the 'esoteric ' has indeed covered so much and been used and disbursed in so many ways. Its use probably goes back to Hermeticism and Plato. Here, Plato, spoke of 'forgotten knowledge', as if the ancients may have been aware in a way which was becoming ' lost'.

    So, the idea of the esoteric and esoterica is a question for 'inner' vs 'outer', as well as aspects of archaic and future possibilities. I even wonder about the psychosocial aspects. Those who are marginalised, as well as struggling, may have more interest in the esoteric, as opposed to those thriving in mainstream societies. So, it may even involve socio- political aspects of philosophy.

    Here, I am not wishing to reduce meaning to the socio- political aspects of life experiences. However, ideas come into play in such a complex way, involving the entire psychosocial and political dimensions of thinking.

    The art of philosophy is important but it involves all of these facets of life. The 'esoteric ' may involve the 'rejected', especially ideas of subversity. It is such an area for thinking, and may involve many aspects of critical thinking about religion, politics and so many assumptions which may exist in the nature of human social life.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    In a very real sense, the entire progress of human understanding can be seen as the development of knowledge from esotericity to exotericity.Pantagruel

    Hegel says this:

    Without this development, science has no general intelligibility, and it seems to be the esoteric possession of only a few individuals – an esoteric possession, because at first science is only available in its concept, or in what is internal to it, and it is the possession of a few individuals, since its appearance in this not-yet fully unfurled form makes its existence into something wholly singular.
    (Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, 13)

    But this is only one way in which the term is used and it stands in opposition to others.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    The art of philosophy is important but it involves all of these facets of life. The 'esoteric ' may involve the 'rejected', especially ideas of subversity. It is such an area for thinking, and may involve many aspects of critical thinking about religion, politics and so many assumptions which may exist in the nature of human social life.Jack Cummins

    Yes, this sounds reminiscent of Derrida and Foucault.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    :up:

    PoS is on my to-reread list. Unfortunately my already much re-read copy is falling apart. I'm thinking about duplicating my entire collection of German Idealism on the Kindle. Electronic textual notes are really starting to grow on me.
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    Derrida and Foucault are important as means of perspectives of critical thinking. If anything, what I see as being the worst possibility here, is where ideas are reduced, even beyond the spectrum of the exoteric and esoteric.


    The outer life and its ideas are important, but when it comes down to outer, or conventional. norms of meaning and understanding, so much may become lost. Those who exist on the peripheries of social may be marginalised. The question of the esoteric, may involve so much about the contexts and framing of meaning.
  • javra
    2.4k
    The question of the esoteric, may involve so much about the contexts and framing of meaning.Jack Cummins

    Which is why I find the esoteric can only always be fallacious by default to those who fall back onto the belief that they live in a fundamentally meaningless world. Here is one example to help illustrate the point:

    All the various empirical sciences would unravel into worthlessness, into lack of authority, were the notion of objectivity to be eliminated from their practices—scientific knowledge at that juncture becoming nothing more nor less than yet another person’s or cohort’s purely partial and biased opinion regarding that which is inductive. And yet, the very notion of objectivity—of a complete lack of partiality and bias—is itself an esoteric subject: It is an ideal striven for in the sciences, in journalism, in jurisprudence and the very act of judging cases (this at least in democracy-aspiring societies). Yet what this ideal of a completely objective awareness or of a completely objective judgment (both of which pertain to the inner workings of consciousness rather than to a commonly accessible physicality) is supposed to be—for emphasis, an ideal of objectivity toward which we can then either be closer to or further from—is anything but exoteric knowledge. Yet I don’t see how one can in the same breath uphold in non-contradictory manners that a) objectivity as concept/ideal is a meaningless construct and that b) the empirical sciences are any form of genuine authority regarding the physical world.

    How one frames the meaning of the term “objectivity” will then greatly determine how one discerns good from bad (or pseudo-) science, good from bad journalism, and good from bad judges (etc.).

    Yet, for lack of better terms, the notion of objectivity as here mentioned remains strictly applicable to spiritual rather than physical realms: to the psyche and many of its so far esoteric aspects—to include the potential of ego becoming completely impartial and unbiased awareness and, thus, fully egoless. (As an apropos: which can for example bring to mind esoteric notions such as that of ego-death.)
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    The question of the esoteric and default issues of meaning is a good question. Meaning, or lack of meaning are arbitrary and objective, and esoteric ideas are variable in this sense. The notion of a way may depend on some objective basis of meaning amidst this. The subjective and objective meanings of 'pathways' of the psyche and spirituality are so variable, within different frameworks. Ego death itself is questionable here as well, as to what extent it about going beyond conventional ideas of 'self' and wider frames of reference, as seen in the various transpersonal perspectives.
  • Janus
    15.3k
    "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest."Pantagruel

    The usage of 'esoteric' relevant to this thread is in connection to religious or spiritual teachings and metaphysical claims, not to disciplines like quantum mechanics and relativity; the latter are disciplines that yeild predictions whose obtaining or failure to obtain are observable.

    You seem to be, whether willfully or not, muddying the waters.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    The usage of 'esoteric' relevant to this thread is in connection to religious or spiritual teachings and metaphysical claims, not to disciplines like quantum mechanics and relativity; the latter are disciplines that yeild predictions whose obtaining or failure to obtain are observable.Janus

    Actually, it is in relation to philosophy specifically, which covers a lot of ground. Including I think the general meaning of esotericity and esoterica. The OP and I had no problem establishing a fruitful dialog in the context of my observations. Perhaps it is you who misunderstands.
  • Chet Hawkins
    82
    I wonder how all of this stands in the information age. There is more of a demand for transparency and going beyond 'secrecy'. I wonder how this will come into effect, and what will remain 'secret' behind the scenes? Also, the information age gives so much access to knowledge, and how will this affect individuals' understanding? Does it mean that the quest for philosophical knowledge will be about assimilation of knowledge alone? This could be very different from the inner searching for meaning and knowledge.Jack Cummins
    What I am finding is that the information age, or at least this most modern pulse of it, which includes the key piece, the personal smartphone, makes communication trivial, but a burden at the same time.

    I remember the first time I felt like I was a programmer and a paramedic at the same time. Some idiotic manager dared to call me after hours for something I had warned management about. I told him exactly how I felt about that. I was too skilled at the time, too clutch for them to fire me, but the writing was on the wall. The proximity of everything empowers the sellouts. I had some half rate hack of a developer in a meeting later that year calling me out for disloyalty. He literally said the company owed me nothing and I owed the company solid 9-5 work. I just smiled at him and it wasn't me that humorously asked if he had his iron cross on his Gestapo badge, but I did laugh a little too loud. Double brownnosing points for delivery of foolishness with a straight face. Crosshair believes it! Good soldiers follow orders. {Bad Batch - Star Wars}

    These days I have Gen Z types telling me that I cannot join their facetime groups because I'd just be an old creeper. When all respect for depth is lost, only the trivial versions of success are lauded. Wisdom is easily cast aside as too hard, not for everyone. And today's elites enforce that trend. They have no use for wisdom, or so they think. I guess dog eat dog is fun, until you're long of tooth and tired of fighting younger competition. It never was fun for me. Maybe there is a cycle. Maybe the esoteric mysteries shift in and out of vogue. But I see interest and respect for it diminishing at the same time as almost everyone realizing there is an empty hole right in the center of who they are.

    It seems to me one big thing is true, there is no time left for grace. Right when you get the time, the dog eat dog thing will pop and murder you. I guess there is always a meringue though, a froth of excess in the 'winners' win that yields a kind of eddy in which the new version of wise can flourish for a time. But it's no longer enough time to be a wizard on a hill in his tower. These days being a champion of the esoteric truths is more like capture the flag. You can hide and run fast and maybe even be the one who lucks out and gets cover fire from allies you didn't know you had, and then you ring that bell, once.
  • Jack Cummins
    5k

    I find that life and ideas have become rather shallow and 'trivialised' in the information age, with clicks of smart phone, Wikipedia and links. It seems to be the opposite of esotericism, with so much information readily available, with often little reference to the specifics of ideas and usefulness of the particular significance for understanding. Of course, I am wary of over generalisations, especially as many people on this forum do read widely, and engage on a deeper level as opposed to some social media sites.

    It may be about being able to dip into ideas in the information age, but still being able to pursue ideas in a deeper way, and this may be the potential artistry. It may not be easy though, and I have to admit that I still enjoy time alone with a paper book as a companion, as a way of 'tapping into' the creative mindset of the writer.
  • Chet Hawkins
    82
    I find that life and ideas have become rather shallow and 'trivialised' in the information age, with clicks of smart phone, Wikipedia and links. It seems to be the opposite of esotericism, with so much information readily available, with often little reference to the specifics of ideas and usefulness of the particular significance for understanding. Of course, I am wary of over generalisations, especially as many people on this forum do read widely, and engage on a deeper level as opposed to some social media sites.Jack Cummins
    I agree entirely.

    I have begun in my life to quit games and social circles that despite my insistence on making things harder and thus more meaningful and fun (for me at least), continue to dumb things down and deny the incredible depth required to suffer and grow.

    I think Soren Kierkegaard had a similar sentiment to us both, where he was saying like, 'I don't want to make things easier. I am here to make things harder, by choice.' to paraphrase.

    It may be about being able to dip into ideas in the information age, but still being able to pursue ideas in a deeper way, and this may be the potential artistry. It may not be easy though, and I have to admit that I still enjoy time alone with a paper book as a companion, as a way of 'tapping into' the creative mindset of the writer.Jack Cummins
    I do as well. But is that not a depth of immersion still in keeping with our increasing of nuances? I think it is.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    In a very real sense, the entire progress of human understanding can be seen as the development of knowledge from esotericity to exotericity. What is evident to the eyes can be deceiving. The evident reality of illusions is dispelled by the understanding of "esoteric" perceptual mechanisms. The primitive search for animistic spirits leads to the discovery of "esoteric" concepts like atomic structure. How long did humanity search for the esoteric atom? Millenia.

    Neural networks function precisely by being able to detect and utilize connections which are not trivially evident, but hidden with the complex datasets that are the representations of things. Who is really to say how many "hidden" connections actually exist in the fabric of our reality? Does the fact that we have already discovered so many mean that we should stop looking? Or that we should look even harder?

    What kind of people seek out esoteric knowledge? People who have questions that exoteric (accepted) knowledge does not answer. Esoteric traditions often involve learning detailed rites and detailed normative schemas, suggesting how we ought to react and respond, to live. Who is to say those are incorrect? Freemasonry exhorts values of charity and integrity. Even if the only value of esoteric knowledge is the subjective benefit conferred by the knowledge itself...isn't that enough?
    Pantagruel

    :up: Yes. Thanks for that.

    If someone asks “what is this knowledge you seek?”, does it ALWAYS have to be in the form of information that can be outputted from one brain into packets of words, which are fed into other brains to download exactly the ‘file’ that was in the first brain (if it is to be considered ‘worthwhile’)?

    Some say yes, some say well maybe not…

    What if one is trying to ‘expand one’s consciousness’? (Whatever that means to one).
    Or try to experience pure awareness?
    As useful as concepts are, at that point they might be a drain on the brain battery… always time for that later.
    So maybe ‘knowledge’ might not be the best word? Awareness? Experience? Understanding?

    Electric lights are a necessity, especially at night.
    But if one wants to see the stars very clearly, you have to leave the bright city.
    Searching the mind for a state deeper than the intellect is somewhat like that.

    Words start to fail at these borders of consciousness.
    If a skeptic thinks that is a failure, more words will not convince them that anything spiritual isn’t just fancy relaxation or entertaining fiction, at best.
    But here’s some more words anyway… :grin:
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    @Jack Cummins ( @Pantagruel )

    A. Tell me – a freethinker – what of significance I am missing or fail to understand by dismissing so-called "esoteric" doctrines in order to critically think through and contemplate "exoteric" questions.

    B. Describe concrete differences which "esoteric" ideas make to practicing (non-academic) philosophy.
  • Janus
    15.3k
    These are good questions and for me highlight esoteric ideas' reliance on faith (since you could hardly expect, even just based on definition, esoteric ideas to constitute demonstrable propositions). I think it has to be acknowledged that esoteric ideas just as religious faith and adherence to metaphysical views can change one's worldview and consequently experience.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    I play devil's advocate for the esoteric because I believe that the goal of seeking to expand the understanding beyond the mundane can be a valid one. I don't seek to defend all esoterica, but certainly the goal and motivation of studying them. I wouldn't want to try to persuade someone who hadn't arrived at the conclusion based on his own experiences. Not everyone is suited to every kind of activity. However I do have beliefs concerning the nature of consciousness qua intersubjective and collective, for example, and concerning the relationship between pure mind and pure matter, including the nature of each, that tend to overflow the limitations of current scientific understanding, which might fit in the esoteric category.
  • Pantagruel
    3.2k
    I think it has to be acknowledged that esoteric ideas just as religious faith and adherence to metaphysical views can change one's worldview and consequently experience.Janus

    Yes. Even if it were only this, that would be enough. But the fact is, if you radically alter the nature of your being, the way that you live, you can begin to see patterns of feedback from people, society, and the universe, that you did not before. To that extent, it can be 'scientific'. As I have said and will continue to say, the human mind is very limited, so to presuppose that there are not further dimensions to understanding is just poor reasoning. Evolution documents their emergence.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Yes. Even if it were only this, that would be enough. But the fact is, if you radically alter the nature of your being, the way that you live, you can begin to see patterns of feedback from people, society, and the universe, that you did not before. To that extent, it can be 'scientific'. As I have said and will continue to say, the human mind is very limited, so to presuppose that there are not further dimensions to understanding is just poor reasoning. Evolution documents their emergence.Pantagruel

    :up: Excellent, thanks. I’d only quibble microscopically and change out ‘mind’ (as a whole) for ‘intellect’ (a part of mind, though quite useful of course).

    I play devil's advocate for the esotericPantagruel

    Devil? Esoteric? Careful you don’t slide into… THE OCCULT!! :fire: :death: :eyes:

    (just kidding :wink: )
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