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Introduction


The human being may be said to try to approach Truth in three different ways, in harmony with three aspects of the human Mind which, when combined, will bear the greatest fruit. These three approaches are 1) science: perception, collection and classification of data concerning Nature/the Universe in the widest sense of the word, and formation of hypothesis and theories in an inductive way; this requires and develops the faculty of a discursive, analytic and synthetic mind; science recognizes distinctions. Science tries to know facts as infallible and perfect as is possible by means of sense-perception (and their instrumental extensions); 2) philosophy: a) to acquire insight – by the use of the mind and mentally handling accepted empirical facts without questioning these in themselves – in the essential, connective truth to which the facts answer, thus recognizing and penetrating into the deeper side of Nature of which the perceived facts are manifestations. The faculty of logic helps to recognize order and law and protects against aberrations of the fickle mind. This side of philosophy is inductive as well, but reaches out to philosophy: b), which by the use of the higher mental potentials, compares logically, and recognizes intuitively, the unity of facts and theories with universal truths. The comparison may be done by relating them logically to the axioms on which the thought system is based: phenomenon and axiom must be logically compatible. The highest practice of philosophy is to intuitively, i.e. directly, perceive universal truth. It is direct, infallible knowing of the origin and essence of phenomena. This direct knowledge is free from inconsistencies, doubt, separateness, and is non-dualistic. The first type of philosophy may be called speculative, i.e. compares ‘mirrored’ or reflected images. The second type of philosophy is ‘transcendental’ from a mental point of view. It uses and develops the buddhic faculty of the human being- the very purpose of our present existence. This possibility is now only in possession of the highest and purest yogi-philosophers. To acquire this requires the involvement of the complete human being, including absolute freedom from emotional mental and physical distraction and mental fallacy. A true philosopher, as suggested by Plato, lives in continuous awareness of the existence of universal truth, universal goodness and beauty and never allows himself to deviate from these; 3 religion: in the higher sense religion is the conscious recognition and knowledge of and becoming one with the ‘divine’ or ‘absolute’ or the indivisible essence and oneness. It has been called ātma vidyā, i.e. the knowledge of the Self and its oneness with all Selves. In its secondary sense it is the pursuit of this final knowledge, just as science is the pursuit of knowledge of the phenomenal world, and philosophy is the pursuit of the wisdom which enables a man to understand and see the connection and non-separateness of the phenomenal and the absolute world.

Definitions of Science

Searching encyclopedias and the Internet one comes across a variety of definitions of science, some of which are, despite the scientist’s claim for exactness, incompatible. A general definition is found in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary: “Knowledge attained through study or practice,” or “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.” Like this one, most definitions limit science to ‘the physical world.’ And the effort to ‘recognize general truths of the operation of general laws’ is concerned with physically verifiable or falsifiable facts. Science also refers to the system or method of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. In early science – in western culture before Archimedes, experimentation was not always included, nor physical analysis and direct verification when this was impossible and was confined to observation and reasoning. This, of course – this absence of experimental knowledge, did not apply to sciences like medicine and technical sciences, but it did apply to fields of investigation where direct perception was impossible. It has been said (by Schopenhauer) that science “has for its province the world of phenomena, and deals exclusively with their relations, consequences, or sequences. It can never tell us what a thing really and intrinsically is, but only why it has become so; it can only, in other words, refer us to one inscrutable as the ground and explanation of another inscrutable.” (italics mine) Schopenhauer here clearly expressed the limitation of scientific inquiry when standing alone.

“Knowledge attained through study or practice,” indicates that in this definition the term ‘science’ is not limited to the physical sciences alone, nor to the pursuit of the academic world alone. Nevertheless science is the field of activity of those among us who seek to use and train their intellect and intelligence to the utmost in their search for truth, and the practice of real (not pseudo-) science is usually the exclusive area of the most intellectually educated in our society.

Nowadays science is usually divided in two main categories: natural sciences and social sciences. The last category studies human behavior and societies. The social sciences can not easily be approached with the same methods of perception, measurement, or claim the same measure of exactitude and can not be approached from an exclusively physical angle as in the natural sciences. It recognizes tendencies rather than indisputable facts. In human behavior a complexity of emotions, mind and will influences behavior rather than natural (physical) law. Social behavior is also dependent on individual or dominant opinions, religious believes, and unpredictable (or unpredicted) changes due to conceivable or inconceivable external influences. Being less exact and unable to grasp ‘absolute truths’ concerning its subjects of attention, the results of such scientific inquiry is more apt to be influenced by preconceived opinions, values or viewpoints. Because of such influences these sciences may have a direct impact on society, human behavior and well-being and happiness in general, and are therefore of utmost importance for society and the world. This is why we have included an important section on social sciences on this page. Our aim is to present alternative approaches which can influence the very way of looking at things.

Also on this webpage we make a distinction between natural sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry and social sciences, under which we have (so far) included the included subsections of economy, society, health, education, psychology.

 

In Wikipedia we find: Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning (found, for example, in Aristotle), “science” refers to the body of reliable knowledge itself, of the type that can be logically and rationally explained. In modern use, “science” more often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself.

This definition is wider than most definitions, because it does not limit itself a priori to the physical universe. But it adds that “It is ‘often treated as synonymous with ‘natural and physical science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, …’”

If we consult the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (ETG) we find the following criticism: “Modern science suffers from its failure to see the necessity of postulating an astral or formative world behind the physical, this astral world being in itself but one stage in a rising scale or ladder of invisible worlds. To ascertain the facts upon which to build a true inductive system, we must admit the existence in man of means of direct perception other than those afforded by the physical senses.”

A major mistake by our culture is that we think that the way we approach things – our scientific approach – is the only legitimate approach. It is a mistake to think that science was first invented by the Greeks. Often we regard our intellectual accomplishments as the acme and summum bonum of a linear process of evolution of the mind (and even of ethics), and our sense organs with its technological extensions as a benefit humanity never possessed before. This has led to extreme arrogance towards ancient, occult and non-occidental teachings in general. Though we may have these technical helps, there is no reason to suppose that the human mind has recently evolved in a big jump; more probably the process of development of the brain and of intellectual capacity has taken millions of years, and the difference between now and some thousands of years in the past or the future can only be marginal. Moreover many cultures have stressed that evolution is cyclic and repetitive, purposeful and goal-oriented. This would imply that our present culture and state of evolution represents only one particular phase in the complex cyclic processes through which the soul acquires the essence of knowledge and wisdom from each “corner” of the universe, each element of space and time, both physically and occult, i.e. hidden for the narrow-minded.

Genuine philosophers and scientists of other cultures were at least equally serious and truth-oriented as we are today. We should do everything, firstly to completely respect, and secondly to try to understand their conclusions and teachings through their eyes, through their purity of mind.

Almost all cultures have believed – or rather knew – that humankind has always been, and still is, guided by greater souls who openly taught or gave hints to guide our thought, our mental and our spiritually intuitive evolution. The result was that deductive knowledge (i.e. from the general to the particular, from teacher to pupil) for them was at least as important and reliable as our (would-be) exclusively inductive approach, which is but trial-and-error through thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

Therefore, in our modern approaches towards archeology, anthropology, chemistry, and medical sciences and so on, in fact towards every discipline we recognize in modern science, it will prove very useful to study all ancient ideas in depth, even if they seem “weird” at our first look.

In India and other cultures concepts like space and its characteristics, multiple universes, atoms, molecules, micro-organisms, cosmic distances and speeds even surpassing ‘our’ speed of light, world-wide geological knowledge and knowledge of astronomy and astronomy, evolution, history and prehistory were highly developed, next to medical science, biology, but also of psychology and the ‘biology’ and ‘psychology’ of life and life-forms after physical death had been studied in detail. In some fields knowledge of the remote past seems to surpass modern scientific knowledge. Particular is that physical matter was generally regarded as but one of various phases of matter – which are however elusive for our physical senses, but not for the ‘inner’ senses we can develop. If modern science wants the be complete, these facts should be taken into consideration, even though the development of such senses can be done to relatively few, and the faculties thus gained have their own problems and insecurities – all of which science can learn to know. Faculties are, in our culture, mainly represented by distant or vague and deceptive terms, such as ‘omniscience,’ ‘astral senses,’ ‘clairvoyance,’ telepathy,’ ‘intuition’ etc. Nevertheless it belongs to the birthright of humanity to know these things genuinely and to build our insights on the facts which can become available for science and humanity in general.

The Theosophical Movement has done considerable efforts since her founding in 1875 to indicate the existence of ‘the unseen,’ and its potentialities and forces, but the results of such efforts seem to have largely gone into obscuration – until the moment they will be rediscovered.

Occult and natural sciences, their relation and complementariness.

The natural sciences study the physical phenomena of nature; the occult sciences study the hidden side, the causal side of nature, for example what actually (i.e. scientifically) happens after we die; what the causes are behind physical manifestation; what the “soul” (jīva, monad) in reality is and what are its properties; what subtler forms of matter exist apart from physical matter and what are their properties; what the actually existing force of life is; how mind influences matter; how the soul of a being influences its physical expression (i.e. what forces and energies are involved and how they work); where and how the influence of the jīva (i.e. superphysical entity, the life essence) of a human being, a plant, or a cell etc. enters into its body; what our inner levels of being really are; what is the qualitative and energetic connection between spiritual intuitions, the mind, the emotions and the physical constitution; whether and how DNA in its constitution and/or its (temporary) specific activity is directly influenced by the jīva and the superphysical aspects of the human being.

Occult science can not be separated from occult philosophy, because mind itself is part of the hidden side of Nature. Very much can be found, often as hints, in ancient oriental literature and modern theosophical literature. Deep study of such literature is of paramount importance as a basis for such studies.

In the section on Natural Sciences we collect articles showing interesting modern developments in the field of science as well as articles based on modern clairvoyant investigation, as well as expressions of ancient scientific knowledge.

In the section on Social Sciences we present alternative approaches, including those of non-western and ancient cultures that are interesting from a theosophical point of view and which can influence the very way of looking at things.

 

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