Paul's deconstruction of Eldon's comments - another approach
Aug 01, 1996 05:45 PM
Let me try to give an alternative way of phrasing the controverse between
Paul Johnson and Eldon Tucker:
In my view Eldon seems to operate from the following premise (P):
(P): Theosophy as given by HPB, Judge and G de P is true (or at least is
a sound, profound & worthwile philosophy that contains many, many truths
and maybe just a couple of slight errors)
Let us denote Theosophy with the letter T.
In Aristotelian logic Eldon's thinking can be expressed thus: T is true.
Hence follows: ~T (not T) is not true, hence: false.
So, everyone who formulates an idea that is not in direct agreement
with Theosophical teachings has a wrong idea! (ie, in this scheme of logic).
Interestingly, there are other schemes of logic in which the above conclusions
do not hold true. I'm not a student of logic, so I will phrase my point
in common terms: In non-Aristotelian logic one views things in a very nuanced
way, because there are so many facets, aspects, characteristics to people,
things, nature, etc., that to single out some of these and take these to be
descriptive of the *whole* thing, human being, etc. is to make an enormous
My conclusion is this: even if (P) holds, even then there can be many
teachings, maybe phrased in different jargon, that are complementary
to Theosophy, rather than contradictory (or maybe there is even a large
overlap of ideas with Theosophy in these other teachings).
I will quote a small part of Vitvan's writings on semantics and comment
a little bit on that. (Note that I didn't copy the section on semantic blockage,
semantic response, intensionality, extensionality, etc, although these are
equally relevant to this discussion.
It would make this posting too long. Interested persons can look the material
up at the Vitvan URL I mentioned in another posting just before or after
Remember: (1) There are infinite numbers of gradations, or degrees,
respecting any given quality, property, etc. "
Indeed. Regarding Theosophical teachings one can say that these
are very fragmentary, and rather non-detailed. This is important to keep
in mind because that would encourage us to open our minds to see different,
complementary aspects or qualities of reality and take points of view from
others seriously. These other views may contain aspects about reality not
taken into account by Theosophy.
"(2) We never can know all about any given event, fact,
factor, etc. "
A humble approach which leaves plenty of room for syntheses,
new discoveries, new insights, etc.
"(3) When a statement sets forth that any 'thing' is
so, or so, it is not. "
A particular good reminder not to think that one knows things for sure,
for once and for all. I'm beginning to like this one :)
"These three statements might be referred to as the trilogy in the
Non-Aristotelian discipline, or three tenets of extensionality. "
<some more text follows on which I don't need to comment now [Martin]>
"We live by the registry of energy frequencies; that is, every amount of our
existence we live in what we describe as a world of energy. The limited
registry of those wave-lengths and frequencies of photons, electrons, etc.,
gives us the consciousness of a quality such as 'cold,' 'red,' 'sour,' etc.
Relative to each individual's limited range of registering these frequencies
there could be said to be an infinite range of wave-lengths and frequencies
not registered. Many many lines of force are operative in every event or
experience which we do not comprehend as 'part' of the event, experience, etc."
"Owing to the structure of our sense organs, nervous systems, etc., it is
impossible for any individual to register all of these frequencies. So it is
that when we observe a given 'thing' or 'object' we never can see,
understand or grasp all of the characteristics pertaining or ascribed
thereto. More characteristics are left out of consideration than are
considered. The same is true respecting the factors of any given event. A
multiplicity of influences culminate or focalize in that which we label an
event. It is impossible for a person to be conscious of all of these
influences. That is why a great teacher said, "Your judgements are not
true." "Judge no man," etc. To properly evaluate a given event we would have
to know all of the influences so culminating. "
"Those who have studied General Semantics under the personal teaching of
Count Alfred Korzybski will remember him saying, "Whenever you are asked a
question, invariably say, 'I do not know, let us ascertain the facts.'"
"Concerning the third tenet listed above, we quote from Language in Action
by Irving J. Lee. "Have you ever sought to find what anything or anyone
really was? Were you able to settle the question? Or did the discussion end
in futility, with no answer the decisive one? That such a question cannot be
answered finally one way or another, except by the intervention of some
authority or by arbitrary agreement, will be clear once we have analyzed
what is asked by the question. We shall locate the source of the difficulty
in the forms of the verb 'to be.' The assumptions underlying the uses of the
little 'is' and 'was' will be found at the heart of the confusion. "
"At least two uses of the verb (to be) are fundamental and necessary in
"1. As an auxiliary in the formation of tenses in English. Thus, 'he is
reading;' 'we are studying;' 'they have been fighting;' etc. "
"2. As a synonym for existence. When someone says, 'I am here,' or 'The
Capitol of the U.S. is at Washington, D.C.,' the verb in each case acts as a
substitute for 'exist,' which may in turn replace it, preserving or even
emphasizing the original sense. "
"At least two other uses of the verb we find false-to-fact and instrumental
in making for confusions and misevaluations. "
"3. When the 'is' leads to the identification of different levels of
abstraction, implying in the utterance that one 'thing' can exist as
another. The use has this form. 'Man is an animal.' 'Joe is a radical.'
'Having done that she is a sinner.' The 'is' of identity serves to link two
nouns, obscuring the differences between silent and verbal levels. This 'is'
serves as a synonym for 'may be called or classified as.'
"4. When the 'is' leads to the predication of 'qualities.' Here we make the
assumption that characteristics exist in 'things,' whereas they are to be
found only in the relation of an observer to what is observed. This 'is'
covers up the fact that impressions arise in us, although we project our
impressions on the 'things' whenever we say, 'The sergeant was heroic to the
last.' 'The music was beautiful.' 'He is more charitable.' The 'is' of
predication brings together nouns with adjectives, implying that the
'heroic,' 'beautiful,' 'charitable' are somehow in the sergeant, the music
and the man. This 'is' serves as a synonym for 'appears' - to me, him, them,
Practice: In any given circumstance, context of situation, happening, etc.,
remember the above trilogy pertaining to extensionality; and whenever you
are asked a question, remember to say, "I do not know, let us ascertain the
End of quoted material
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