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Jan 12, 1994 07:08 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
About terminology-- maybe we could agree on `gnosis' for the universal theosophy? Whatever the convention to adopt, the goal would be the same-- to prevent what analytic philosophers call `category mistakes.' The superiority of theosophy/gnosis gupta vidya/etc. to any specific historical tradition is a priori and a matter of definition. To slide from that into an attitude of "mine's better than yours" in comparing Theosophy to other traditions is unjustified and wouldn't be so easy to do if we weren't using the same word. It's going from a deductive statement based on definitions to an inductive statement without any empirical basis. If we want to assert that HPB's teachings are more complete and authoritative than some particular alternative tradition, that requires careful definitions of terms and evidence for the assertion. To say that Blavatskian Theosophy is somehow on a higher plane than Vedanta, Kabbalah, Sufism, Masonry, and all the other traditions whose adepts taught HPB-- may be justifiable on the basis of its being more synthetic. But to say that it is a closer approximation to gnosis/gupta vidya than anything else would go way beyond what I think any of us is qualified to judge.