Re: Tim Maroney's Remarks on Daniel Caldwell's
Dec 15, 1996 09:09 AM
by Tim Maroney
>Mr. Maroney is entitled to his opinion of my HOUSE OF CARDS.
>But I find it interesting to compare his estimation of my paper with
>letters I have received in the last 2 or 3 weeks from (for example) 8 or
>9 individuals who all have PhDs. Most of these individuals are not in
>any way proponents of Theosophy and yet they have complimented me
>for writing my paper. One said that he was impressed with my
>"analysis" of Johnson's thesis. Another PhD said he read the entire
>paper with great interest.
This is an argument from authority, a classic fallacy that adds nothing
to the debate. It is Caldwell's resort to this kind of fallacious
argument that has made it impossible for me to take his paper seriously.
>I am somewhat surprised that Mr. Maroney says he could not read
>the entire HOUSE OF CARDS. The paper is only 41 pages long!!
I can't listen to a whole Rush Limbaugh show either, and that's only an
>Even some reviewers have written that Johnson's three books
>were not that easy to read. Johnson sometimes goes into what may seem
>like needless side issues or spends pages on details not really that
>relevant to his main themes. Some people may find such things
>distracting, boring, etc. I don't and I believe such criticisms
>are really of minor importance since they relate
>to matters of "form" and not of substance.
Here we see an example of the most irritating feature of Caldwell's
writing -- rather than simply answering Johnson's points, he is
constantly comparing himself to Johnson. "Well, if you think _my_ writing
is boring, you should see Johnson's! You must think he's _really_
boring!" This is a non sequitur. Forget the personal conflict and focus
on the issues.
>No doubt, my paper could have been improved and the arguments might
>have been more concisely stated. Criticize the "outer form" of my paper all
>you want. Nevertheless, I believe that I deal with a number of CRUCIAL
>issues of SUBSTANCE and provide ample evidence as well as detailed
>reasoning for rejecting many of Johnson's statements.
And here, through the use of ALL CAPITALS, we see a further descent into
emotionalism. It is impossible for me to take such emotional writing,
which descends alternately into extremes of aggrandizement of self and
derogation of another, as serious scholarship. Is it possible that you
could try to take your paper, extract these tidbits of "CRUCIAL issues of
SUBSTANCE", express them concisely, and re-repesent it in that form?
>*Unfortunately, Mr. Maroney does NOT deal with any of my substantive
>He is apparently not interested in addressing directly
>the criticisms and issues I have raised. But if he changes
>his mind and wants to write something on THE ISSUES covered in my paper, I
>will be more than happy to post his comments on the World Wide Web with
>my HOUSE OF CARDS.
I saw one point in the long-winded initial section, before giving up. It
was that a single diary account of Olcott's about a personage who is not
specifically named as Morya would be difficult to reconcile with
Johnson's theory of Morya's identity, because a Maharajah would not
travel without an entourage. This person is identified by Caldwell as
Morya on the basis of later statements by Olcott that his master had been
Morya. Exactly no time is spent considering the possibility that this
person was not thought by Olcott to be Morya -- remember that Hume
changed masters at least once. No time is spent considering that Olcott
was a suggestible and fantasy-prone individual who could easily have been
led to believe any kind of explanation, including the idea that someone
he'd never seen before was somehow mystically consubstantial with someone
else through guru-chela telepathy, or that despite the difference in
faces it was actually the same person who was possessed of mystical
powers of disguise, or simply that he had a new Master for the evening. I
am not saying that any of these speculations is necessarily correct, I am
simply pointing out that alternatives are not explored by Caldwell at
all. He knows where he's going and doesn't bother with any signs pointing
in other directions. Again this creates the image of a preconceived and
personally motivated piece of writing, not one from which I expect to be
able to learn anything on a scholarly level.
>Yes, I have been plain spoken in my criticisms of Johnson's thesis and
>research BUT I have also tried to show the reader my reasoning, etc.
>for making such frank assessments of Johnson's research.
I would be glad to see a criticism of Johnson's thesis and reasoning.
This I have not seen in your paper. I have seen plenty of criticism that
seems targeted at Johnson's ethics and personality, however.
>I am glad that Mr. Maroney mentions William Kingsland's WAS SHE [BLAVATSKY] A
>CHARLATAN? This 60 page analysis of the Hodgson Report points out many of
>the inconsistencies and misstatements, etc in Richard Hodgson's attack on
>Madame Blavatsky. Maroney characterizes Kingsland's analysis as
>"Theosophical polemics" but he fails to mention any of the excellent
>points Kingsland makes about Hodgson's Report. Anyone who is interested
>in reading Kingsland's analysis can e-mail me for more details on how
>to obtain his paper.
Kingsland makes exactly one point of any substance in dozens of pages.
That is that Hodgson committed an eroor in attributing the holding of the
keys in spring to Damodar rather than to the Coulombs. Kingsland
surrounds this observation with some much froth and spew that I was
almost unable to pick it out from the background noise. He then proceeds
to blow it up into one of his many hateful attacks on Hodgson's
character, making an absurd accusation that Hodgson must have known this
was false and was every sort of liar, cheat and swindler for committing
one error about facts he was forced to deduce at second hand. For asll
this, it is a point of almost no importance to Hodgson's overall case. I
am not surprised to find that Caldwell considers Kingsland's writing
What kind of Theosophist can't put aside his hatred?
I am sad to say, from my experience of Theosophical writing, that it
seems to be a very normal kind.
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