Chapter 5 is a very interesting chapter; chapters 5-10 are more akin to a basic theosophical textbook like Key or Ocean. Before we tackle those, let us recap what has been covered so far. Hopefully the following gives an indication of the very ambitious, progressive nature of Blavatsky’s project; each chapter has specific elements that contribute to a manifold argument (i.e. each chapter seems to try to blend the first four elements):
1- Comparing, critiquing and contrasting ancient and modern science (and rehabilitating the former);
2- Comparing ancient western knowledge with ancient eastern (Indian Knowledge) and positing the primordiality of the latter;
3- Using the first two points (with wider comparative research) to posit the existence of a universal, perennial wisdom;
4- Using the first 3 points to introduce notions of esoteric philosophy;
5- Using these notions of esoteric philosophy to build a new synthesis of (a)ancient and modern science; (b) eastern and western knowledge; (c) science and religion:
Preface – (v-viii)
Before the Veil (x-xlv) Basic notions of ancient western philosophy, the importance of Platonism and its connection with Indian philosophy.
1- The conflict between Science and Religion: x
2- The importance of a certain sceptical and critical outlook: xi
3- Finding a middle way between ancient and modern and re-uniting science and religion: xii
4- A critique of materialism and a plea for spiritual freedom: xiv
5- Esoteric glossary (xxv-xlv)
Chapter 1 (Old Things with New Names) Magic, Sacred Mathematics and the Doctrine of Cycles
1- Concepts of Esoteric Evolution – The Myth of the Fall symbolizes an evolutionary process (p. 1)
2- Sacred Mathematics are key in understand the evolutionary process (8).
3- The ancient Hindus scientific knowledge (10).
4- The need to study the spiritual aspect of evolution (13)
5- Magic as a spiritual science (15)
6- The esoteric concept of cycles,the Great Year,the traditional Hindu concept of the Four Yugas, and evolution (31)
7- There is a primitive divine universal revelation that gradually became dispersed and hidden. (37)
Chapter 2 (Phenomena and Forces)– Spiritualistic phenomena, scientific investigation and occult explanations
1- Problems in dogmatism in religion and science with investigations of spiritualist phenomena. (p. 39)
2- W. Crookes investigations; the Katie King case. (44)
3- Accomplishments of ancient science; malleable glass; occult aspects of matter. (50)
4- The nature of forces or intelligences behind spiritualist phenomena and the dangers of spiritualism. (52)
5- Schopenhauer’s metaphysics comparable to ancient metaphysics. (55)
6- Scientific investigations on the nature of force and occult explanations of spiritualist phenomena; elementals and elementaries. (62)
7- Critique of spiritualist theory of actors in spiritualist apparitions being disembodied human spirits. Distinction between mediums and occultists.(68)
Chapter 3 (Blind Leaders of the Blind) – History of the reception of scientific discoveries and investigation of spiritual phenomena
- Hindu Magical Feats – (p.73) The magical feats recorded in India cannot be faked or duplicated by western practitioners.
- Science is hurt by avoiding the study of spiritualistic phenomena (75).
- A critique of Positivism (75).
- Scientific Innovations are often met with vigorous resistance; the history of the trustworthiness of human testimony as legal evidence; the value of science as understanding of facts and truth (83).
- Many modern discoveries (in medicine notably) are based on a re-discovery of ancient accounts (88)
- India is an important source of ancient wisdom and magical knowledge; creation myths of India, Egypt and Judea compared; the symbolism of the Lotus (90)
- Giordano Bruno’s ancient perennial philosophy given modern empirical interpretations (93).
Chapter 4 – (Theories Respecting Psychic Phenomena) – Religious and Scientific views regarding spiritualistic phenomena; some ancients myths compared
- The devil as cause of spiritualistic phenomena (Jules de Mirville) (p.99)
- Material causes of spiritualistic phenomena (Jacques Babinet) (104)
- Psychic causes of spiritualistic phenomena (Jean-Marc Antoine Thury) (109)
- The nature of psychic force (113)
- Various sceptical scientific theories regarding spiritualistic phenomena (116)
- Roman Catholics consider the phenomena at Lourdes to be of divine cause (119)
- Ancient myths reveal geological and anthropological truths (121)