This group discusses the practical applications of the theosophical philosophy and the therapeutics of the wisdom of the ages.
The art of living study group intends to discuss the relevance and connection of theosophical ideas to the challenges and hurdles of daily life. This group will focus on the ethical issues, psychological challenges and artistic applications of theosophy to the daily round and the common task. While the other three groups freely move back and forth between the universal and the particular, the theoretical and the practical, this group will make an attempt to stay focused on the practical side of the art of living equation.
Weekly Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
June 5, 2017 at 8:46 pm #5764
Weekly Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
“The priceless gift of noetic self-awareness can be brought to bear upon each of the different centres of consciousness. ” — Aquarian Almanac
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Weekly Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
ModeratorTN June 5, 2017 at 8:56 pm #5767
June 3, 2017 Weekly Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods. — SOCRATES
Both action and inaction may find room in thee; they body agitated, thy mind
tranquil, thy Soul as limpid as a mountain lake.
— THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE
ModeratorTN June 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm #5769
June 5, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance. — SOCRATES
Pythagoras said that the most divine art was that of healing. And if the healing
art is most divine, it must occupy itself with the soul as well as with the body.
Kirk MarzuloParticipantKirk Marzulo June 6, 2017 at 4:36 pm #5770
“The whole question of phenomena rests on the correct comprehension of old philosophies. Whither, then, should we turn, in our perplexity, but to the ancient sages, since, on the pretext of superstition, we are refused an explanation by the modern? Let us ask them what they know of genuine science and religion; not in the matter of mere details, but in all the broad conception of these twin truths — so strong in their unity, so weak when divided. Besides, we may find our profit in comparing this boasted modern science with ancient ignorance; this improved modern theology with the “Secret doctrines” of the ancient universal religion. Perhaps we may thus discover a neutral ground whence we can reach and profit by both.
It is the Platonic philosophy, the most elaborate compend of the abstruse systems of old India, that can alone afford us this middle ground. Although twenty-two and a quarter centuries have elapsed since the death of Plato, the great minds of the world are still occupied with his writings. He was, in the fullest sense of the word, the world’s interpreter. And the greatest philosopher of the pre-Christian era mirrored faithfully in his works the spiritualism of the Vedic philosophers who lived thousands of years before himself, and its metaphysical expression. Vyasa, Djeminy, Kapila, Vrihaspati, Sumati, and so many others, will be found to have transmitted their indelible imprint through the intervening centuries upon Plato and his school. Thus is warranted the inference that to Plato and the ancient Hindu sages was alike revealed the same wisdom. So surviving the shock of time, what can this wisdom be but divine and eternal?
Plato taught justice as subsisting in the soul of its possessor and his greatest good. “Men, in proportion to their intellect, have admitted his transcendent claims.” Yet his commentators, almost with one consent, shrink from every passage which implies that his metaphysics are based on a solid foundation, and not on ideal conceptions.
But Plato could not accept a philosophy destitute of spiritual aspirations; the two were at one with him. For the old Grecian sage there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered those only to be genuine philosophers, or students of truth, who possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to the mere seeming; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is developed and destroyed alternately. “Beyond all finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas, and principles, there is an INTELLIGENCE or MIND [nous, the spirit], the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded; the Monarch and Lawgiver of the universe; the ultimate substance from which all things derive their being and essence, the first and efficient Cause of all the order, and harmony, and beauty, and excellency, and goodness, which pervades the universe — who is called, by way of preeminence and excellence, the Supreme Good, the God ([[ho theos]]) ‘the God over all’ ([[ho epi pasi theos]]).”* He is not the truth nor the intelligence, but “the father of it.” Though this eternal essence of things may not be perceptible by our physical senses, it may be apprehended by the mind of those who are not willfully obtuse. “To you,” said Jesus to his elect disciples, “it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to them [the [[polloi]] ]it is not given; . . . therefore speak I to them in parables [or allegories]; because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.”**
The philosophy of Plato, we are assured by Porphyry, of the Neoplatonic School was taught and illustrated in the MYSTERIES. Many have questioned and even denied this…
As to the myths, Plato declares in the Gorgias and the Phaedon that they were the vehicles of great truths well worth the seeking. But commentators are so little en rapport with the great philosopher as to be compelled to acknowledge that they are ignorant where “the doctrinal ends, and the mythical begins.” Plato put to flight the popular superstition concerning magic and daemons, and developed the exaggerated notions of the time into rational theories and metaphysical conceptions. Perhaps these would not quite stand the inductive method of reasoning established by Aristotle; nevertheless they are satisfactory in the highest degree to those who apprehend the existence of that higher faculty of insight or intuition, as affording a criterion for ascertaining truth.
Basing all his doctrines upon the presence of the Supreme Mind, Plato taught that the nous, spirit, or rational soul of man, being “generated by the Divine Father,” possessed a nature kindred, or even homogeneous, with the Divinity, and was capable of beholding the eternal realities. This faculty of contemplating reality in a direct and immediate manner belongs to God alone; the aspiration for this knowledge constitutes what is really meant by philosophy — the love of wisdom. The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity, and restores him to the likeness of God. “This flight,” says Plato in the Theaetetus, “consists in becoming like God, and this assimilation is the becoming just and holy with wisdom.”
The basis of this assimilation is always asserted to be the preexistence of the spirit or nous. In the allegory of the chariot and winged steeds, given in the Phaedrus, he represents the psychical nature as composite and two-fold; the thumos, or epithumetic part, formed from the substances of the world of phenomena; and the thumoeides, the essence of which is linked to the eternal world. The present earth-life is a fall and punishment. The soul dwells in “the grave which we call the body,” and in its incorporate state, and previous to the discipline of education, the noetic or spiritual element is “asleep.” Life is thus a dream, rather than a reality. Like the captives in the subterranean cave, described in The Republic, the back is turned to the light, we perceive only the shadows of objects, and think them the actual realities. Is not this the idea of Maya, or the illusion of the senses in physical life, which is so marked a feature in Buddhistical philosophy? But these shadows, if we have not given ourselves up absolutely to the sensuous nature, arouse in us the reminiscence of that higher world that we once inhabited. “The interior spirit has some dim and shadowy recollection of its antenatal state of bliss, and some instinctive and proleptic yearnings for its return.” It is the province of the discipline of philosophy to disinthrall it from the bondage of sense, and raise it into the empyrean of pure thought, to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty. “The soul,” says Plato, in the Theaetetus, “cannot come into the form of a man if it has never seen the truth. This is a recollection of those things which our soul formerly saw when journeying with Deity, despising the things which we now say are, and looking up to that which REALLY IS. Wherefore the nous, or spirit, of the philosopher (or student of the higher truth) alone is furnished with wings; because he, to the best of his ability, keeps these things in mind, of which the contemplation renders even Deity itself divine. By making the right use of these things remembered from the former life, by constantly perfecting himself in the perfect mysteries, a man becomes truly perfect — an initiate into the diviner wisdom.”
-H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, xi-xv
Ramprakash ML June 6, 2017 at 6:10 pm #5771
Excellent passage from Isis. Thanks Kirk.
One of the chief objects of the Theosophical Movement is revival of Western Occultism, which disappeared with the fall of the Mysteries coincident with the end of Neo-platonism. Hypatia was the last of the great Platonic Initiate after whose assassination by the worthy Fathers of the Church, the Sun of Wisdom went down the horizon of Western thought. But it is sure to rise again through the diffusion of the Theosophical Philosophy. America has a crucial role in this revival. The great Founders of the American Republic, who were all Masons, laid the foundation of freedom, democracy and rule of law–conditions necessary for reception by free minds of seeds of Wisdom. It is in America that Theosophy flourishes as no where else, as American mind is free from dogmatic religious beliefs and customs, and open to truth. Says W.Q.J. :
“Now, this is, as I said, an era. I called it that of Western Occultism, but you may give it any name you like. But it is Western. The symbol is the well-intended American Republic, which was seen by Tom Paine before hand as a “new era in the affairs of the world.” It was meant to be, as nearly as possible, a brotherhood of nations, and that it the drift of the Declaration and Constitution. The T.S. is meant to be the same, but has for many years been in a state of friction. It has now, if possible, to come out of that. It cannot be a brotherhood unless each, or some, of its units become a brother in truth. And BROTHER was the name given in 1875 to the Masters. Hence you and I and all of us must cultivate [brotherhood]. we must forgive our enemies and those who assail us, for only thus can the great brothers help by working through us. there seems to be a great deal to forgive, but it is easily done, inasmuch as in fifty years we’ll all be gone and forgot.” (Letters That Have Helped Me, p. 95-96)
It is not so much study of complex Sanskrit scriptures of ancient India–important though it is–as study of Plato, Pythagoras, Neo-Platonists and Gnsotics, which seem to suit the best the western genius in rediscovering her ancient spiritual roots.
Kirk MarzuloParticipantKirk Marzulo June 10, 2017 at 2:39 pm #5784
Thanks for your question Gerry.
“summarizing in a couple of brief sentences the main points you wanted to bring out from this long quotation?”
In my view, the quotation from Isis synthetically touches upon many themes related to the quote attributed to Socrates on Monday, the idea of ‘Noetic Psychology” and to our discussion of previous weeks.
a) The importance of returning to a study of ancient philosophy, myth and cosmology as a means of developing a more noetic conception of science, human nature, human capacities of mind (psychology) and the human purpose.
b) The importance and depth of the Platonic dialogues in particular (as Ramprakash points out), which even some of the greater minds of Western science and philosophy have failed to understand or appreciate fully.
c) That philosophy in the Platonic conception merged with both science and spirituality of the most enobeling kind.
“Basing all his doctrines upon the presence of the Supreme Mind, Plato taught that the nous, spirit, or rational soul of man, being “generated by the Divine Father,” possessed a nature kindred, or even homogeneous, with the Divinity, and was capable of beholding the eternal realities. This faculty of contemplating reality in a direct and immediate manner belongs to God alone; the aspiration for this knowledge constitutes what is really meant by philosophy — the love of wisdom. The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity, and restores him to the likeness of God. “This flight,” says Plato in the Theaetetus, “consists in becoming like God, and this assimilation is the becoming just and holy with wisdom.”
Pavel Axentiev June 7, 2017 at 3:06 am #5772
From Theodore Roszak, The Unfinished Animal: The Aquarian Frontier and the Evolution of Consciousness
At the same historical moment that Freud, Pavlov, and James had begun to formulate the secularized and materialist theory of mind that has so far dominated modern Western thought, HPB and her fellow Theosophists were rescuing from occult tradition and exoteric religion a forgotten psychology of the superconscious and the extrasensory…
As quote in: The Occult World of Madame Blavatsky, comp. and ed. D. Caldwell
ModeratorTN June 7, 2017 at 5:20 pm #5774
June 6, 2017 Weekly Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
For the most part all the trials and disturbances come from
our not understanding ourselves. — TERESA of AVILA
Hold every moment sacred. Give each clarity and meaning, each the weight
of thine awareness, each its true and due fulfillment. — THOMAS MANN
ModeratorTN June 7, 2017 at 5:22 pm #5775
June 7, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: Noetic Psychology
Therefore, O Arjuna, be thou a yogin. — SHRI KRISHNA
Though atman is at all times and in all things, it does not shine in all things. It
shines only in a clear understanding as the reflection in polished surfaces.
Gerry Kiffe June 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm #5781
What is Noetic Psychology? What is psychology, particularly from a theosophical point of view? We know Nous points to the higher man and to the higher mind. We would assume that most of modern psychology focuses upon the lower mind.
What do students think about defining psychology as the human or self-conscious process of identification and all of its ramifications?
JamesParticipantJames June 10, 2017 at 11:24 am #5783
Gerry wrote, What is Noetic Psychology? What is psychology, particularly from a theosophical point of view? We know Nous points to the higher man and to the higher mind..
HPB; Astrology is to exact astronomy, what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit.” KT glossary
There appears to be/is both exoteric and esoteric psychology. The former being as Gerry indicated that most of modern psychology focuses upon the lower mind.
The latter being what HPB refers to as “The science of the Soul” and what she indicates will need to be developed and mastered for the Aquarian Age. Quote; When it enters, in a few years, the sign of Aquarius, psychologists will have some extra work to do, and the psychic idiosyncrasies of humanity will enter on a great change. Cw8 174
I would just add that the best psychologists/councillors I have encountered have been both astrologers and students of the wisdom teachings, as our natal chart contains our negative patterns from past lives plus the key to overcome these negative habits, otherwise known as energy blockages to soul life.
Peter June 11, 2017 at 3:22 pm #5788
Gerry, I think your definition greatly limits the role of psychology.
Psychology is very broad field of knowledge and inquiry with a good number of ‘departments’ and specialisms within the overall field. A general definition of psychology that embraces all those different areas of inquiry would be something like:
Psychology is the study of the mind and its functions along with its influence on behaviour.
The term ‘noetic’ simply means ‘pertaining to the mind or intellect’, thus it comes within our definition of the field of psychological study. Plato and Plotinus viewed the Intellect as that part of our nature or Soul which is capable of grasping the truth of it’s objects all at once – a process of understanding (noēsis) in contrast to propositional or discursive thought (dianoia). Of course, dianoia is also a part of Plato’s Intelligible Ream and plays an important role in removing false ideas and ignorance. When Socrates says ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’ he is referring to the important role of dianoia in examining the validity of our beliefs.
In the days of Plato and Plotinus, psychology, science, ethics, politics, education & so on were all aspects of Philosophy and not separate areas of study. Over the centuries, as various aspects of philosophical inquiry became more developed and specialised they developed into the separate fields of knowledge that we have now.
There was an opportunity at the beginning of the 20th Century for western psychology to embrace the spiritual dimension, notably via the works of the psychiatrist Richard M. Bucke and psychologist William James. (Bucke published his book ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ in 1901 and psychologist William James’ ‘The Variety of Religious Experience’ in 1902.) Both did a very good, though preliminary, job in defining some of the characteristics of mystical experience. Bucke defined four stages of consciousness which psychologists at the time would have done well to explore further: 1) Perceptual Mind 2) Receptual Mind 3) Conceptual Mind and 4) Intuitional or Cosmic Consciousness. However, it was the materialist theories of Freud’s model of Psychoanalysis along with Watson’s and Skinner’s Behaviourism that won the day and became the main areas of psychology at the beginning of the century.
As the 20th century progressed psychologists looked for a wider and deeper understanding of consciousness and human potential. Humanistic psychology, then Transpersonal psychology developed. The former rightly viewed the positive nature of human potential and what makes for ‘well being’ as an important aspect of any psychological model; the latter recognised that there are experiences and unitive states of consciousness, transcendence, altruism, love and compassion that transcend the boundaries of the personal ego. Hence the term ‘trans’ in transpersonal psychology – a psychology that embraces the heights and depths of human experience, eastern and western models of psychology.
Psychology as a profession needs to embrace the heights and depths of our nature, the universal and the particular. They are not mutually exclusive. There’s a lot more that needs to be done. Importantly, each of us acts as psychologist and philosopher in our daily lives to the extent that we try to understand other people, the world around us, and reflect upon our own states of mind and behaviour. It’s not that profession, that body of knowledge or group of people ‘out there’ who have to develop a broader, deeper view of mind and consciousness. It is ourselves – each one of us. It’s too easy to keep finding a lack in our various fields of knowledge whether of psychology, science or philosophy. In any process of change we have to start from where we are.
Peter June 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm #5789
“It’s too easy to keep finding a lack in our various fields of knowledge whether of psychology, science or philosophy. In any process of change we have to start from where we are.”
ps: Gerry – the above wasn’t meant for you personally, but for my theosophical friends in general.
Gerry Kiffe June 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm #5796
I don’t mind your comments directed at me personally at all. I find that when we make an effort to define something we naturally seek to set boundaries around the idea. In truth all things are connected to all other things in theosophy. So definitions are helpful for dialog because it gives us starting points to investigate. But they should be fluid and reconsidered over and over. So your expanding on the idea is very helpful.
It just struck me that one way to delineate psychology from philosophy might be in the arena of self-identification. But I see the trouble with this right away because we often hear this statement: “The central question in philosophy is WHO AM I?” Ultimately there is one science, one philosophy, one religion but it is interesting to me to hear others explain these various concepts from their own points of view.
Psychology as stated in Isis is a radically different concept than what you would read in college textbooks.
Pavel Axentiev June 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm #5790
Great overview of the field of psychology as it now stands, thanks, Peter.
I keep wondering whether the initial meaning of the Intellect – i.e. nous, has been hijacked by what is rather the discursive thinking – the dianoia, as you say.
We, as the Western society, have been largely influenced by the rationalist approach, which praises the intellect above all, the tradition that allegedly dates back to Plato and Aristotle and reaches us through the history of medieval scholasticism and Enlightenment, etc. But it seems that the true meaning of the term Intellect has been substituted in some philosophical legerdemain, so that we have got used to equate it with the activity of the rational mind.
In my own thoughts and conversations with friends, I keep referring to the higher ability of the mind as Intuition, yet I am always dissatisfied with the ambivalence of this term as well: there can be Higher and Lower Intuition, the latter is an aspect of the lower psyche.
This confusion of terms perhaps adds greatly to the confusion in our culture. There is the rational mind, there is the Intellect/Nous (which is not discursive thinking), and there is, perhaps, Intuition (of one or two kinds). We have been taught to call all this the “mind” which now seems to me a great handicap preventing broader understanding of theosophical ideas.
Bardia SoroudiBlockedBardia Soroudi June 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm #5806
Yes, although I wish the person who designed this structured it such that one could simply reply through email and it shows up here.
By transactional reality, and you should ask Greka on this, I mean that actuality, which is to say, that karmic order in which things actually happen, the causal universe so to speak, where substance interacts with substance and with consequences and modifications to the organism etc.
Peter June 14, 2017 at 11:41 am #5823
Pavel – really interesting thoughts and questions. Thanks. I agree with you that the kind of Intellectual vision (noēsis) that Plato and Plotinus taught has largely been lost sight of in Western society, maybe also in the world at large.
I understand it in the following way. The Intellect proper of both Plato and Plotinus is the Divine Mind. This is a universal principle characterised by unity. The individual Soul (or Mind) has its non-corporeal roots in the Divine Mind and also experiences embodiment in the sensible realm of time and differentiation in space. The Soul’s understanding (intellection) is therefore of two kinds.
a) In the sensible realm of differentiation where all things can only approximate to the perfect Forms in the Divine Mind, the understanding of the ‘embodied soul’ operates as discursive thought (dianoia). The differentiation of the sensible realm applies not just to objects and entities but to time itself. We have one moment followed by the next & so on – past, present and future. Discursive thought operates in time. Understanding, knowledge is ‘formed’ over time. While the knowledge gained by dianoia is always imperfect and thus fallible, the extent to which that understanding participates in and approximates to the knowledge that is in the Divine Realm, the more illumined we might say that mind is.
b) When the Soul, freed of the limitations of its embodiment partakes solely in its own nature – which is one with the Divine Mind itself – its understanding of the objects of contemplation (the divine forms) is grasped all at once and is infallible. This is what Plato and Plotinus mean by noēsis. It is true Intuition or spiritual intellect. However, just as the objects and entities of the sensible realm can only approximate their Forms in the Divine Mind and always suffer an imperfection of some kind, so the understanding of the Soul in contemplation (noēsis) when expressed in time and space by the discursive (embodied) mind can only ever approximate the Truth and always falls short of the Reality apprehended directly by the Soul.
I think you’re right, Pavel, about different levels of intuition. I also think we use the term rather loosely and probably only rarely mean by it the kind of intuition (noēsis) that Plato refers to. I’ll share a few more thoughts and questions of my own on this in another post. I’m a bit slow at the moment.
Pavel Axentiev June 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm #5824
Thank you, Peter. If I may try to describe in the mundane words what noēsis is like, I would say that it is:
Thus, so far, I can describe this process only in the negative terms.
I don’t think that Plato et al. meant (or, if he did, that they were right) that “Ideas” really exist as actual forms in some kind of space “out there.” Using the modern language and imagery, we could perhaps say that Ideas exist as probabilities in the quantum realm – which is, by necessity, accessible via meditation. Ultimately, perhaps, it’s not so much the Ideas that matter but our perception of Being (the Self without the self), the underlying unity you speak of, from which, by some mysterious process, the multiplicity of forms evolves.
Perhaps, Jon and Ramprakash and others could add something regarding how Thomas Taylor translated Plato’s passages pertinent to the existence of Ideas.
Peter June 14, 2017 at 5:52 pm #5826
Pavel – just briefly and I may be misinterpreting what you mean by ‘probability.’ Apologies, if so.
It is the other way around for Plato and Plotinus. The Forms (Ideas) existing in the Divine Mind (Intellect or Nous) are Actualities not probabilities. Plotinus follows Aristotle in this respect who argues that Actuality comes before Potentiality. Only something that already IS can bring forth or be the agency for something which has the potential to exist. Plotinus refers to this as ‘the Principle of Prior Possession.’ Thus the Forms are the Actualities, the already existing and perfect ‘things in themselves’, or put another way – what each thing really is. Each Form is a unity and together they are a unity in the Divine Mind. Each Form is the cause, or the Being, of everything of its own kind in the sensible realm. In theosophy we would no doubt link these to gods – the Dhyanis.
The Intellectual realm or Divine Mind is the realm of Being – the reality underlying the phenomenal realm of appearance only, of image. When the Soul on its own plane contemplates any of the Forms it is cognisant of the realm of Being and Unity which is also its own nature.
The Intellectual Realm of true Being comes forth from ‘the One’ or ‘the Good’, which is described as beyond Being and is therefore sometimes referred to as ‘non-being’.
Pavel Axentiev June 18, 2017 at 2:56 am #5850
I should say ‘thank you,’ Peter, for shifting my focus from the material as the starting ground for viewing the reality, to the spiritual (the Ideas). My scientifically trained mind keeps looking for epistemological grounds in our immediate experiences.
Isn’t it confusing, though, to use the term “Forms” as a synonym for “Ideas”? I wonder if this is an original Plato’s use, or one of translators’.
Peter June 21, 2017 at 11:20 am #5868
Hi Pavel – a belated response, again! Re your #5850 on the meaning of Form and Ideas
It appears this was the original use of the words by Plato. According to scholars the Greek terms for Form and Idea are eidos and idéa respectively and have their roots in idein ‘to see’ and are related to eidenai ‘to know’ or see literally. The way they interlink in meaning may have suited Plato very well in what he want to convey, both about the Forms and about intuitive seeing or vision.
Nowadays we would most likely think of the term “form” as equivalent to “shape”. I think at the time of Plato and Aristotle that term meant something more like species or kind. For Aristotle, the Form of ‘Man’ included the essential kinds of things that defines a human being including its functions. A piece of clay can be made into the shape of a human being, but lacks all the other defining characteristics.
I think the scientifically trained mind is valuable. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t look for epistemological grounds in our immediate experience from Plato’s point of view, at least as far as I understand his thought. If we accept that the Ideas/Forms constitute the Archetypal realm on which the visible (sensory, sensible) world is based then it follows that the sensible realm and experience of it has the potentiality to provide us with intimations of its underlying ground of Being. It may only be a question of how we approach that experience. Add to this that Plato, through Socrates’ dialogues, points out in a number of places that all learning is recollection of things forgotten – hinting at reincarnation and also the Soul’s communication with the Forms on its own plane. Our sensory or immediate experience can act, therefore, as a prompt for ‘Recollection’ or ‘Re-cognition’ of the realm of Form or Essence.
Such prompts can be seen in some descriptions of mystical experience and what evoked it. On the other side the potentiality for Recognition, always present, may also be the basis of certain kinds of ‘intuitive knowing’ that may come (seemingly) out of the blue, prompted by experience, study, reflection, stillness & so on. While these might not be the full noēsis we’ve discussed earlier in relation to Plato’s scheme, I wouldn’t regard these forms of intuition as psychic.
Just some thoughts.
Pavel Axentiev June 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm #5881
Peter, I apologize for continuing the discussion, despite having called an end to it myself.
There is another word for “form” in Greek – and that is morphe, much more cognate with the word “form” itself.
If, as you say, whatever the equivalent of “form” was used in Platonic writings, it was meant to denote “kinds” or “varieties” – Varieties of What???
Peter June 25, 2017 at 6:30 am #5889
Hi Pavel (your #5881) – yes, morphe also means form. What I was saying was that the terms Eidos and idéa (Form and Idea) together with their much broader and interlinked meanings which include species, kind, seeing, to know & so on may well have suited Plato’s metaphysical notions of the Intelligible Realm.
Socrates gives us a clue as to how we might begin to understand the universal Forms in the Intelligible realm and their many particular instances in the Sensible realm in Book X of The Republic. He says, ‘we customarily hypothesize a single Form in connection with each of the many things to which we apply that same name.” Socrates goes on to provide an everyday example – ‘there are many beds and tables but only two forms of such furniture, one of bed and one of table.’
The implication seems to be that general terms, such as dog, man, tree, mountain, etc are the names of, or at least refer to, Forms in the Ideal Realm. The same would apply to general terms such as triangle, round, equal, and of Beauty, Justice, Courage, Love & so on. In the sensible world we ‘see’ imperfect varieties, particulars, instances, images of the ‘underlying’ Form.
It’s unclear, though, whether it is literally the case that there is a Form for everything. For example, in ‘Parmenides’ the young Socrates denies there are Forms for such things as mud, dirt or hair and says he’s not sure if there are Forms for ‘man’, fire and water. Parmenides says of the young Socrates, he still has things to learn. But in the Dialogues overall, Socrates is very definite about Forms for Beautiful, Good, Justice & so on. The ‘Parmenides’ dialogue is unusual and raises some key questions about the theory of Forms.
Pierre Wouters June 25, 2017 at 10:04 pm #5892
A few refs from the Secret Doctrine and Transactions may give some interesting food for thought relating to those ‘forms or ‘ideas’:
“The underlying idea in this symbol [the Lotus] is very beautiful, and it shows, furthermore, its identical parentage in all the religious systems. Whether in the lotus or water-lily shape it signifies one and the same philosophical idea—namely, the emanation of the objective from the subjective, divine Ideation passing from the abstract into the concrete or visible form. For, as soon as DARKNESS—or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance—has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent.
At this stage of action, the Demiurge † is not yet the Architect. Born in the twilight of action, he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realise the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation, as the future lotus-leaves, the immaculate petals, are concealed within the seed of that plant. . . . .”
† In Esoteric philosophy the Demiurge or Logos, regarded as the CREATOR, is simply an abstract term, an idea, like “army.” As the latter is the all-embracing term for a body of active forces or working units—soldiers—so is the Demiurge the qualitative compound of a multitude of Creators or Builders. Burnouf, the great Orientalist, has seized the idea perfectly when saying that Brahmâ does not create the earth, any more than the rest of the universe. “Having evolved himself from the soul of the world, once separated from the first cause, he evaporates with, and emanates all nature out of himself. He does not stand above it, but is mixed up with it; Brahmâ and the universe form one Being, each particle of which is in its essence Brahmâ himself, who proceeded out of himself.” SDI:380
“Q. What is really meant by the term “planes of non-being”?
A. In using the term “planes of non-being” it is necessary to remember that these planes are only to us spheres of non-being, but those of being and matter to higher intelligences than ourselves. The highest Dhyan-Chohans of the Solar System can have no conception of that which exists in higher systems, i.e., on the second “septenary” Kosmic plane, which to the Beings of the ever invisible Universe is entirely subjective.” Transactions p.106-107
“Q. But are the planes of “non-being” also Septenary?
A. Most undeniably. That which in the Secret Doctrine is referred to as the unmanifested planes, are unmanifested or planes of non-being only from the point of view of the finite intellect; to higher intelligences they would be manifested planes and so on to infinity, analogy always holding good.” Transactions p.111
I think numbers as an idea fall sort of into this category of ideal forms as well. What is a number per se?
Peter June 26, 2017 at 8:56 pm #5894
Great passages, Pierre (your #5892) I’ve added some more for good measure.
‘Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone has ever been created, and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced “ becoming,” i.e., objectivising into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance.’ (SD I 282)
‘In the ABSOLUTE or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not so exist; but Divine Ideation is limited by the Universal Manvantaras.’ (Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge; February 14th, 1889)
‘The prototypes or ideas of things exist first on the plane of Divine eternal Consciousness and thence become reflected and reversed in the Astral Light, which also reflects on its lower individual plane the life of our Earth, recording it on its “tablets.” Therefore, is the Astral Light called illusion. It is from this that we, in our turn, get our prototypes. Consequently unless the Clairvoyant or SEER can get beyond this plane of illusion, he can never see the Truth, but will be drowned in an ocean of self-deception and hallucinations.’ (Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge; February 14th, 1889)
‘the Lotus plant exists not only as a miniature embryo in its seed (a physical characteristic), but its prototype is present in an ideal form in the Astral Light from “ Dawn ” to “ Night ” during the Manvantaric period, like everything else, as a matter of fact, in this objective Universe ; from man down to mite, from giant trees down to the tiniest blades of grass. All this, teaches the hidden Science, is but the temporary reflection, the shadow of the eternal ideal prototype in Divine Thought.’ (SD I 63)
Pavel Axentiev June 27, 2017 at 6:34 pm #5895
I think it is important in relation to the quoted passages to compare this with the idea of Maya. What are forms, really, in the Ideal world? Surely not the meat and bones. If our idea of spiritual realization, moksha is to move away from the world of forms as we know them in the mundane world, it surely doesn’t mean painting the pictures of animals on the inner walls of our consciousness, with all due regard to the Paleolithic art of the Lascaux caves, etc., or does it?
If we consider that our Self (which is the Self of all) is more akin to light, devoid of form, perhaps because it is free to manifest in any, now where do all these form come in again, please?
Is it some spiritual superstition, based on misunderstanding of original ideas?
I think this theory of Forms is really the most difficult to properly interpret and understand.
Ramprakash ML June 28, 2017 at 6:11 am #5897
Pavel, you wondered :
What are forms, really, in the Ideal world?
where do all these form come in again, please?
All that can be said is that even the exalted Ones who know the Truth cannot make it intelligible to us. All that they can do is to help our mental consciousness to rise higher to the Archetypes by analogies from things relating to our mundane existence.
“In every age there have been Sages who had mastered absolute and yet could teach but relative truths.” (H.P.B.)
Resorting to analogy of an edifice, then, we can ask, how did this edifice arise ?
The idea first arose in the mind of the Architect. He conceived it in his mind. It was not yet form, but only an idea, or, an ideal form conceived in the mental consciousness.
The next step in the chain of causes set in motion towards realising the idea in concrete form is, translation of the mental idea into a blue print of the edifice, containing every detail of what is to be.
The blue print may be sad to be the “Form” of Plato. It seems to be analogous to Archetype–the prototypal model of the edifice to be.
Then come the various classes of specialised builders who work on the prototype and give it concrete shape.
In Platonic language the visible edifice is Sensible, and “Forms” are intelligible. The former are mutable, the latter immutable–true existence.This s Eternal Paradigm.
All that is formed after it, on that eternal model,is a Generated paradigm, necessarily imperfect and subject to time and change.
Quoting Thomas Taylor, from his excellent introduction to Permenides :
“All corporeal natures are continually changed, hence they are neither true, nor have a true existence….they are not the first forms; for whatever ranks as first is perfect and entire; since the whole reason of every nature is established in that which is first. There are therefore certain forms above these, perfect, primary, and entire, and which are nor indigent of a subject.”
There is nothing in the manifested universe, visible and invisible, whose Eternal Paradigm, or Archetype, does not exist in the superior divine world, beyond time and space, entire and perfect. That alone is Truth.
On p. 200 0f SD, vol. I, the diagram of the emanation of the Planetary chain illustrates this truth very well. The three highest of the seven planes are the “Divine formless world of Spirit” In this are the Ideas of Plato.
On the third plane comes the world of First Forms – the Archetypal World. Of this, it is said in the foot note : “The world ‘ Archetype’ must not be taken here in the sense that Platonists gave to it, ie., the world as it existed in the Mind of the Deity; but in that of a world made as a first model, TO BE FOLLOWED AND IMPROVED UPON BY THE WORLDS WHICH SUCCEED IT PHYSICALLY–THOUGH DETERIORATING IN PURITY.”
The perfect “Forms” in Eternity is the model which is realised in manifested forms, first as Asrtral antitypes, and then as physical Types, each downward step is ascension of physical evolution and descent of sprit into matter.
When the turning point comes, wen Spirit begins to evolution on ascending scale the forms are made more and more perfect, to finally culminating in the original Archetype but higher and more perfect than the latter.
A reflection on the above doctrine of emanations may very helpful.
The next great evolution proceeds on the perfected original model.
This progressive cosmic evolutionary perfection is endless.
Ramprakash ML June 10, 2017 at 5:26 pm #5785
That is true, that even the highest minds in the Western intellectual culture have failed to fathom the depth of transcendental wisdom of Plato, except one–whom HPB greatly admires and gives him the full credit for correctly understanding Plato and render his teachings in Greek most faithfully into English. He is the great Platonist, Thomas Taylor. Students can easily corroborate it by reading him and compare it with other translators. Taylor has reverential and devotional approach to Plato, and it is his Higher Manas which comes into full flow in his rendition Plato’s dialogues, while with others it is mere lower intellectuality.
Allegories of Plato can be a very fruitful study. HPB shows that Plato was an Initiate, and, as such, was bound to sacred oath of secrecy which no Initiate ever dare break. Hence we find Plato often talking in vague terms, sometimes evasive, and often in myths. For instance his discourse on origin of Greeks is a veiled reference to the advent of earlier races–perhaps, III or IV Root Races, and his reference to sinking of Posedonis, an Atlantean Island, and an account of the civilization that flourished on it, is again a veiled reference to the mighty civilization of IV Root Race on a mighty continent of what in SD is called Atlantis. His talk of prediluvian Greeks has reference to the Atlantean civilization.
All that is taught in SD, in cosmo- and Anthropogenesis can be discerned in Timaeus.
He purposely confuses chronology of events, as is done in Indian Puranas, as a matter of policy to conceal truth from the uninitiated.
Before every discourse, he shows Socrates invoking gods and goddesses, which is purely Hindu tradition which is followed in India by the devout Hindus to this day.
If one studies Plato, one has studied the Vedas.
Jon FergusModeratorJon Fergus June 13, 2017 at 10:53 pm #5821
I couldn’t agree more with you on Plato and Taylor. I proofed/edited Taylor’s translation of Proclus’ “On the Theology of Plato” earlier this year and am now close to finishing his trans of Proclus’ commentary on the Timaeus. I’m blown away by both works, and am always impressed with Taylors explanations. I believe one could study English translations of Plato all one’s life and not glean the deeper truths, but one afternoon with Taylor and the ideas are likely to sing directly to your heart!
Pavel Axentiev June 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm #5808
“In so far,” says another writer, “is man a seer, that he not only discerns the outward and visible, in which life may die and become extinct, but the inner commencement of the real being, the imperishable fountain of life. He is so far a seer that he does not only perceive the divided and unconnected parts, but the invisible threads of an eternal harmony, in which all apparently dissonant portions explain each other and become a pleasing and harmonious whole. The power of perceiving in the visible world the invisible traces of that which is to be, and of participating in the great unity of creation, exists, although usually dormant, in every man. That power which gives him reason and understanding is the soul.”
– Joseph Ennemoser, History of Magic, vol. i, p. 23 (1854). Transl. W. Howitt.
Ramprakash ML June 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm #5827
Pavel and Peter
As far as I understand Thomas Taylor’s ingenious rendition of Plato’s dialogues, Peter’s rendering of Noetic action as two-fold activity–one on the plane of Ideas, on the one hand, and discursive thought at the level of the mind, on the other–do not seem to me to be correct. (Pardon me, Peter, if I have misunderstood your meaning, in which case, I beg your pardon and would ask you to correct me)
I am afraid, to connect Noetic activity to discursive thought would be philosophically hazardous.
The word discursive has two meanings : 1. Passing aimlessly from one subject to another ; digressive ; rambling ; and, 2. Proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than intuition.
Neither of the two thought processes come anywhere near what is meant in the Dialogues as Nous, as noun, and Noetic, as adjective.
Rather than “Discursive,” the term “dialectic” would seem to me to be more appropriate. Still, Dialectic is not Noetic, the latter being far higher than the former, as, to put it in Theosophical parlance, higher Buddhi-Manasic activity on the divine plane is higher than the higher psychic on the terrestrial plane.
Perhaps, we may better understand the difference between the two poles of perception–spiritual and personal–if we consider Taylor’s discourse on four degrees or modes of knowledge : Opinion, Science, Dialectic, and, lastly, Divine Reason.
By OPINION he says is to “learn that a thing is without knowing the why,” and that Aristotle and Plato called this degree of knowledge as Erudition. It consists in moral education. Perhaps, we can say, all exoteric religious moral instructions, such as, the Sermon on the Mount, practice of which are necessary and incumbent on all people for their happiness here and hereafter, and for which, it is not necessary for them to reason and know the philosophical foundations of the ethical injunctions.
Next is SCIENCE : He says : “By establishing certain principles as hypotheses, we adduce necessary conclusions, and arrive at the knowledge of the why (as in the mathematical sciences) but at the same time we are ignorant with respect to the principles of these conclusions, because they are merely hypothetical.”
The many remarkable conclusions modern science has arrived at, especially in the quantum field theories, which seem to corroborate SOME of the insights of the ancient Sages as to the nature of Reality, may be cited as an example. Modern science has arrived at those conclusions from solely mathematical logic but based on certain hypotheses. They cannot go further than that because they do not admit the Ontological epistemology of ancient Wisdom-Science.
The third mode of knowledge is DIALECTIC. What is dialectic ? Taylor says of it, it is that “in which, by a progression of ideas, we arrive at the FIRST PRINCIPLES OF THINGS, and at that which is no longer hypothetical, and this by dividing somethings and analyzing others, by producing many things from one thing, and one thing from many.” this kind of higher reasoning proceeding from the Universal axioms, it seems to me, is well exemplified in “The Preminides.”
Taylor cautions us against misconstruing Platonic Dialectic with vulgar dialectic.
The latter dialectic may be called discursive thought. Of it, he says, “is produced by the cogitative power of the soul converting itself to opinion, and deriving its reasoning from thence.” This is purely Aristotlean logic, according to Taylor, which our modern science has embraced.
All our “trans-personal psychology” research activities are of this kind or mode of knowledge; they tend to opinion, and will not rise to higher Noetic thought for reason stated in the foregoing.
What is Platonic DIALECTIC ?
Taylor seems to say that it is a method of primary sciences, proceeding from universal principles and descend into particulars, imitating the progressive emanations of Beings from the ONE ; and converting the many particulars back into the ONE, their original CAUSE. He also says that this is not merely theoretical without demonstrable proof, but is followed by irrefutable proof.
The three fundamental propositions of the S.D., on which the whole Wisdom-Science revolves, and the Ten propositions of Oriental psychology, are admirable examples. H.P.B. uses Platonic dialectic method in demonstrating to our higher reason and awakening Intuition (Buddhi) the great truths of cosmo-anthropo genesis. Does she not use divisions and resolutions, definitions and demonstrations, reasoning from Universals to particulars and from particulars to universals–as is done in Dialectic of Plato–in giving us irrefutable
truths of the mysteries of Being ?
This is by no means merely Discursive cogitation.
Says Taylor : “But vulgar dialectic is entirely destitute of irrefragable demonstrations, on account of its being solely derived from opinion.”
Taylor’s introduction to The Permenides is a superb demonstration of this divine science–of the higher Dialectic.
Lastly, DIVINE REASON, or ILLUMINATION. Dialectic must lead to Illumination–awakening of Buddhi–in the Voice it is said, “Buddhi considered as an active instead of passive principle (which it is generally. when regarded as only the vehicle, casket of the Supreme Spirit ATMA)……” Awakening of higher Kundalini, a creative force. Of this last, Divine Reason, Taylor says :
“But the fourth species is still more simple than this; because it no longer uses analyzations or compositions, definitions or demonstrations, but by a simple and self visive energy of intellect, speculates things themselves, and by intuition and contact become one with the object of its perception; and this energy is the divine reason….which far transcends the evidence of the most divine revelation; since this last is at best founded in opinion, while the former surpasses even the indubitable certainty of science.”
In other words, Samadhi, “Epoptia” of the old Greeks.
[Quotations and references are from “Plato, translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor, The Secret Doctrine reference series, Wizard Bookshelf, Minniapolis 1975]
- This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Ramprakash ML.
Peter June 14, 2017 at 8:59 pm #5829
Hello Ram – yes, what you’ve understood was not my intended meaning. I obviously didn’t put it very well. To put it slightly differently (I hope!!) – I said that the Soul in Plato has the capacity for two kinds of understanding – one as embodied soul in the sensible realm, as Plato calls it; the other on its own plane where it has its roots in the Divine Mind. The former type of understanding is called dianoia or discursive thought and is time bound, limited and fallible; the latter is noesis, the truth grasped as a whole and all at once on, and is infallible. While we refer to them both as understanding or intellection they are very distinct from one another.
Noetic simply means relating to the intellect. In theosophical language we would accept that there is the rational intellect employed by what we call the lower mind, and there is the spiritual intellect we attribute to the higher mind (buddhi-manas). They are both noetic, using the normal meaning of that term, but obviously they are very, very different from each other.
I was going to wait and share the following thoughts in a later post, but since you’ve raised it already…. In the universe envisioned by Plato discursive thought (dianoia) has a very important place. We only have to look at the dialogues of Socrates and read Plotinus’ own system of reasoning in The Enneads to see that. Here, discursive thought means uncovering the truth of something or coming to a conclusion through the use of reasoning. When applied to philosophy it is sometimes called ‘the dialectic’. It is used as analytical reasoning to dispel ignorance and uncover underlying principles or truths which become the stepping stones to further truths & so on.
Just as the climber methodically makes her way, step by step, stage by stage to the mountain peak and there rests to take in the surrounding vista all at once and as a whole, so discursive thought when used properly can lead the earnest enquirer onwards to a loftier plane of contemplation where it too must rest at last in order to allow Wisdom to speak for itself to the Soul. Whether or not it does, discursive thought cannot guarantee and has not control. It may be that many and repeated steps up the mountain slope are needed before we arrive one day to find the mist and clouds have lifted and reveal the surrounding panorama. A different analogy gives something of a flavour of this predicament which is, we can do our part in tidying the room and opening the window but the sunlight comes in on its own.
Does any of the above remove your misgivings on what I’ve shared, Ram, or are there areas that still need working on and/or better understanding on my part?
“Believe me, there comes a moment in the life of an adept, when the hardships he has passed through are a thousandfold rewarded. In order to acquire further knowledge, he has no more to go through a minute and slow process of investigation and comparison of various objects, but is accorded an instantaneous, implicit insight into every first truth. . . . the adept sees and feels and lives in the very source of all fundamental truths – the Universal Spiritual Essence of Nature, SHIVA the Creator, the Destroyer, and the Regenerator.”
(The Mahatma KH to A.P.Sinnett, letter no. 31, Barker edition)
Ramprakash ML June 15, 2017 at 5:55 am #5830
Thanks Peter for the clarification. I see that we both are saying the same thing but differing in the way we are putting across our understanding as regards what you call dionia and Noetic thought. Confusion is caused by the use of the word Discursive by you.
However, I have some misgivings about equating discursive thought or dionia with Dialectic of Plato, unless you give your own meaning to the word Discursive apart from the one given in standard English dictionaries. About the latter I have already said in my last post, needing no repetition. It is reasoning in which Intuition or Noetic element does not participate.
You said :
“Here, discursive thought means uncovering the truth of something or coming to a conclusion through the use of reasoning. When applied to philosophy it is sometimes called ‘the dialectic’.”
I am afraid you will have to revisit this opinion in the light of what Taylor calls Higher or superior dialectic. This has already been stated in my last post. No need to repeat.
Proclus, Plotinus use Higher dialectic and not vulgar dialectic.
For instance, take any proposition of Proclus in that beautiful work “Elements of Theology.” Every one of them without exception is based on an Eteral Verity and proceeds with demonstration of it with Higher dialectic reasoning.
For example :
“All multiples participates in a certain respect of the ONE”
Here basic premises is a self-evident universal axiom–the ONE as the ultimate Reality. He then goes on to show how absurdities and impossibilities follow if it were otherwise.
In vulgar dialectic, which I bracket with Dionia or discursive thought, proceeds with hypothesis which is a conceptual construct of the lower mind activity, not based on eternal verity. Taylor shows that that kind of reasoning leads not to Divine reason but to “opinion, ” leading one away from Truth. That is the way of our modern science.
I don’t think you have any dispute with the above. Confusion seems to be in the use of terms and the way of putting across our ideas.
Peter June 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm #5836
Hello Ram – thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I do disagree with some of what you’ve stated, but I’m not in a position to respond today. I’ll try to share a some thoughts tomorrow. In the meantime I have one question for you. You say,
“Taylor cautions us against misconstruing Platonic Dialectic with vulgar dialectic.The latter dialectic may be called discursive thought.”
Does Taylor say the vulgar dialectic is the same as discursive thought or is this what you are adding to Taylor’s views?
Ramprakash ML June 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm #5862
June 15, 2017 at 3:48 pm #5838
Ram, could you please explain what is the source of Eternal Verities (on which higher dialectics is based)?
As far as I understand Plato, Eternal Verity, or Truth, is that which is self-existing, which always IS, the Real Being, without generation, subsists by itself. It is apprehended by intelligence in conjunction with Reason (Theosophically, it means, it is apprehended by Buddhi-Manas)
That which is generated is subject to change, and is non-eternal, in a state of corruption, and is perceived by “opinion” in conjunction with “irrational sense” (In theosophical parlance, by Kama-Manas, for Kama is irrational Soul)
Generated universe is “sensible,” is “generated paradigm, and the Real Being is “Intelligible.”
Peter June 16, 2017 at 9:28 am #5842
(I’ve posted this again, partly because I noticed some small but important mistakes/ommisions in the typing and partly because I find it frustrating that whenever we edit a post here on Nexus it moves it from where it was placed under the message we are replying to and sticks it out of order at the bottom of the page.)
Hello again, Ram – I had a chance last night to read your thoughts over again and I have a better understanding them now. I do see what you are getting at via Thomas Taylor. Where I see it differently is that I understand the dialectic to be a method which uses discursive reasoning as a stepping stone(s) to finally arrive at a direct apprehension (intuition, noēsis) of metaphysical truths – the Forms and the Good . There are various forms or types of dialectical activity throughout Plato’s works all subservient to an overall methodology or dialectic that Socrates describes to Glaucon in The Republic as ‘the only procedure which proceeds by the destruction of assumptions to the very first principle’ (see 533d)
Socrates goes on to tell Glaucon that the dialectic gently pulls the mind up out of ignorance with the help of various branches of knowledge already outlined in an earlier part of their conversation when explaining the Divided Line. These branches are:
A. noesis (intuition, immediate and pure knowledge)
B. dianoia (discursive thought, reason)
C. pistis (belief or confidence)
D. eikasia (image, conjecture, illusion)
Socrates explains that together, pistis and eikasia are classed together as Opinion and relate to the Sensible or Visible realm. While the first two, noēsis and dianoia, are classed together as Knowledge and belong to the Intelligible realm. (see 534a).
There’s a passage from Plotinus which may throw some light on the above and on the dual nature of dianoia (discursive thought, reasoning).
“The scientific notions that the soul forms of sense-objects, by discursive reason, and which should rather be called opinions, are posterior to the objects (they deal with); and consequently, are no more than images of them. But true scientific notions received from intelligence [Intellect, Divine Mind or Nous] by discursive reason do not contain any sense-conceptions. So far as they are scientific notions, they are the very things of which they are the conceptions; they reveal the intimate union of intelligence and thought.” (V.9.7)
Here Plotinus seems to be saying that the scientific notions arising as a result of reasoning from sense objects (i.e. empirical knowledge gained dependent on the senses) give rise to mere opinions – images, not realities. But when discursive reasoning, not relying on the senses and objects of sense, turns towards and is receptive of Intelligence (Nous), the notions (truths) that arise are intimately connected to the things in themselves (the Forms).
Socrates, in a passage leading up to his conversation with Glaucon, above, could very well be explaining Plotinus’s thought, if only the latter was not many hundreds of years later! Relating the method of the dialectic to the Cave Analogy, Socrates says:
“It [the dialectic] is of course an intellectual theme, but can be represented in terms of vision, as we said, by the progress of sight from shadows to the real creatures themselves, and then to the stars themselves, and finally to the sun. So, when one tries to get at what each thing is in itself by the exercise of dialectic, relying on reason [dianoia] without any aid of the senses, and refuses to give up until one has grasped by pure thought [noesis] what the good is in itself, one is at the summit of the intellectual realm, as the man who looked at the sun was of the visual realm.” (532a)
Anyway, this is just how understand it and draw the material together. Thanks again for making me think about it more fully, though still a work in progress.
Ramprakash ML June 18, 2017 at 1:53 pm #5852
June 16, 2017 at 9:28 am #5842
Pardon me for the long delay in responding to your above post. I was preoccupied with other things. I am glad that you got the drift of what I was trying to convey after rereading it.
What you are saying of “discursive” thought, now I understand as ‘Dialectic,” which Taylor explains.
Discursive thought you say is reason in which sense perception does not come into play but higher reason tending to the Intelligible. You have cited a passage from Plotinus to make it clear, closing part of which I have reproduced below :
‘So, when one tries to get at what each thing is in itself by the exercise of dialectic, relying on reason [dianoia] without any aid of the senses, and refuses to give up until one has grasped by pure thought [noesis] what the good is in itself, one is at the summit of the intellectual realm, as the man who looked at the sun was of the visual realm.” (532 A)
“Exercise of dialectic, relying on reason (dianoia) with out the aid of the senses”
It is not different from what Taylor said of dialectic.
My confusion arose when you used the word Discursive thought, because, going by the meaning given to it in English dictionaries, it seems to be way off the kind of reasoning that comes into play in dlalectic. But your citation from Plotinus clears the confusion.
As I understand (I wish to be corrected if I am wrong) the sort of reasoning dialectic uses is essentially and fundamentally based on an Eternal Verity as the basic premises, and also, that which is to be proved through two-fold reasoning : One, in support of the proposition, and the other in opposition to it, in order to demonstrate the validity of the first with greater vigour, by showing the untenability of the latter.
Lower dialectic, as he calls it, though based on reason, inasmuch as it starts with hypothesis, always tend to Opinion ; it is the kind of logic Aristotle uses (and modern science, also) ; whereas, the higher dialectic, begins with premises of Primary sciences in the investigation of causes, leading to illumination.
Proclus says that dialectic reasoning has three progressive energies, or three ascending steps, leading to illumination.
It is very interesting. We can discuss that later.
I don’t see this any different from the the passage you cited from Plotinus and the teachings of Proclus and of Thomas Taylor.
The subject is so profound, abstract, we cannot be sure we have perfectly grasped the whole truth.
I will try to cite some examples from Republic and Perminides sometimes later.
JamesParticipantJames June 20, 2017 at 10:16 am #5867
Hi Peter, Pavel, Ram.
There is some useful information on the Intuition throughout your posts that might perhaps be of value to students if it was all listed together in everyday English., some of these points below plus my own extras.
Rams emphasizing ‘if purified’ is important, as is the antahkarana’s building, partially at least.
Higher Wisdom is beyond personality control, ‘it speaks for itself to the Soul’.
‘A method which uses discursive reasoning as a stepping stones’,… this method is used in some meditation using a seed thought starting from the physical (if it happens to be a physical seed thought) and stepping up with each new idea until ideas run out, this then is laid before Buddhi in Contemplation (C.J.’s Intuition as below) which flash forth as Intuition/illumination/Samadhi
Yoga sutras B3-33, ..All things can be known in the clear light of the Intuition;
Charles Johnston explains this as ……….“This divining power of intuition is the power which lies above and behind the so-called rational mind; the rational mind formulates a question and lays it before the intuition, which gives a real answer, often immediately distorted by the rational mind, yet always embodying a kernel of truth. It is by this process, through which the rational mind brings questions to the intuition for solution, that the truths of science are reached, the flashes of discovery and genius. But this higher power need not work in subordination to the so-called rational mind, it may act directly, as full illumination, ‘the vision and the faculty divine.'”
HPBs CW12. 712 “There comes a moment, in the highest meditation……..” gives a similar great description of the intuition,contemplation or Samadhi stage in meditation.
“The Language of the Ego.” — as colour, sound, picture, symbol, allegory, etc.
I would suggest that this may vary with the type of mind one has, ie. a scientific mind perhaps as symbols, an artistic mind as colour/pictures etc.
‘Synaesthesia‘ could be part of what HPB meant about psychologists having extra work to do in the Aquarian age.
These brains seems wired differently, a multisensory integration of different senses. An example, seeing musical notes in colour as well as sound.
Google; “Painting a Song: Lorde’s Synesthesia Turns Colors into Music” ..any inconsistency between different artist and scientific colour of musical notes maybe due to not having ‘Occultly purified minds’ plus not having started building the antahkarana…..just some thoughts
Pavel’s mentioning of a Higher and Lower Intuition is a good way of explaining to students the different types of psychic and spiritual abilities/powers as often the lower is mistaken for the higher. This could be put into a practical guide for students indicating what is often called spiritual intuition but is actually related to a lower vehicle or worlds of form.
Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness is a good indication of things, and the description of the Bushmen of that time gives a close-up look at early man’s consciousness. Dante’s Beatrice explains certain things as well as the others.
HPB quote about Bible CW8 176; ‘Yet read esoterically, it does contain, if not the whole truth, still, “nothing but the truth,” under whatever allegorical garb’ Therefore, if sufficiently purified, one would expect intuitive flashes when reading.
Pavel Axentiev June 18, 2017 at 3:41 am #5851
Here is on the subject from “Isis Unveiled,” Before the Veil:
Basing all his doctrines upon the presence of the Supreme Mind, Plato taught the nous, spirit, or rational soul of man, being “generated by the Divine Father,” possessed a nature kindred, or even homogeneous, with the Divinity, and was capable of beholding the eternal realities. This faculty of contemplating reality in a direct and immediate manner belongs to God alone; the aspiration for this knowledge constitutes what is really meant by philosophy – the love of wisdom. The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity, and restores him to the likeness of God. “This fight,” says Plato in the Theaetetus, “consists in becoming like God, and this assimilation is the becoming just and holy with wisdom.”
And here again I see the alternate use of the terms spirit and rational soul.
Which begs the question: how much rational is the spirit of man, and what does this actually imply? As for the latter, I suppose, surely, not the equivalence of mere verbal philosophizing with spirit, or the Higher Nature of man. To put it differently, the spirit – though rational – does not think in words.
Ramprakash ML June 18, 2017 at 5:07 pm #5861
June 18, 2017 at 3:41 am #5851
The query raised is :
“And here again I see the alternate use of the terms spirit and rational soul.
Which begs the question: how much rational is the spirit of man, and what does this actually imply? As for the latter, I suppose, surely, not the equivalence of mere verbal philosophizing with spirit, or the Higher Nature of man. To put it differently, the spirit – though rational – does not think in words.”
Perhaps it will be helpful to translate the terms Plato uses into their equivalent Theosophical terms.
It is clarified in the Key to Theosophy (p. 115) that Plato calls Rational Soul that which we call “Buddhi,” adding to it the adjective of “spiritual,” and that that which we call Reincarnating Ego, or Higher Manas, he calls Spirit or Nous. In Theosophical usage Spirit is no Manas but Atma.
If we keep in mind the meaning of the terms used in Plato’s dialogues and Theosophy, it will be helpful.
What is the kind of “thinking” of rational Soul ? is the question.
If the question is reformulated, in Theosophical equivalent, it would be “What is the kind of “thinking” of Higher Manas ?
As rightly said, it is not thinking as we know thought and thinking but something very unknown to us.
It is said in the Key (p. 184) : “In its very essence it is THOUGHT, and is, therefore, called in its plurality Manasa Putra, “the Sons of the (Universal ) mind.”
There is an excellent article by Mr. Judge on “The Language of the Ego.” It will give us some idea. He teaches we have to learn that language. It is always represented to our lower mind– if purified — as colour, sound, picture, symbol, allegory, etc. which we must learn to interpret–if sufficiently purified. Everyone receives them in dreams but we lose it because we have not attuned our heart and mind to the Divine Ego.
Pavel Axentiev June 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm #5865
Ok, so, in this case I have misunderstood the meaning of noetic and noesis, thinking that nous refers to the Buddhi.
Or could it be that what you call dialectics properly refers to the Higher Manas, or Buddhi-Manas, while the discursive thinking/lower dialectics refer to the Lower Manas?
Pavel Axentiev June 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm #5843
My main question to both of you is how can we be sure that discursive thinking does not participate in the realization of propositions which Ramprakash, following Thomas Taylor, called Eternal Verities? That is, where does really noesis end and discursive thinking, whether it be dialectics or not, begin?
Ramprakash ML June 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm #5863
June 15, 2017 at 3:48 pm #5838
Ram, could you please explain what is the source of Eternal Verities (on which higher dialectics is based)?
As far as I understand Plato, Eternal Verity, or Truth, is that which is self-existing, which always IS, the Real Being, without generation, subsists by itself. It is apprehended by intelligence in conjunction with Reason (Theosophically, it means, it is apprehended by Buddhi-Manas) It is the source of of all that is most excellent in divine perfection, like Justice which subsists in Soul.
Generated universe is “sensible,” is “generated paradigm, and the Real Being is “Intelligible.”
- This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Ramprakash ML.