[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Theos-World RE: Rich Taylor's accusations against HPB

Nov 17, 1999 04:56 AM
by Peter Merriott

Very well said JRC, and very thought provoking.


Subject: Re: Some Responses
From: "JRC" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:40:52 -0800
X-Message-Number: 15

> It is one thing to find examples of apparent plagarism, and
> quite another to jump to the conclusion that it was deliberate.
> I found that I had done much the same thing in my own PhD
> dissertation. I included some quotes without references, with
> the expectation that I would add the references later -- and
> then I completely forgot.  I had my hands slapped by the
> university, which picked up on it when they read the draft.
> We are all human after all, and she admitted to making
> mistakes. I have to give her the benefit
> of any doubt on this, because she wrote so much and read so
> much, it is humanly impossible to keep it all completely
> straight.

But (IMO) there's something much bigger here: Thought, at its core,
moves in *streams* through the subtle worlds ... its like the huge
currents in the ocean that maintain their own characters depending upon
temperature and salinity. I remember when I was first reading Kant - I
had read one book ... and was writing a long paper about it. Well, *in*
that paper, on two separate occasions, I wrote paragraphs that so
closely resembled Kant (in fact one varied only by a single word) that
my professor accused me of plagiarism ... thing is, the paragraph in
question *wasn't* from the book I had read, it was in *another* one that
I *hadn't* yet even *picked up*. I don't know how many times this has
happened over the years ... a deep immersion into some field, that winds
up causing entrance into its "thought-current", that results in
thinking, or even writing things that only later do I discover others
have also written - i.e., I'm not talking about books I had actually
picked up, and perhaps subconsciously remembered and later
unintentionally copied in my own writing (which is what Jerry is
speaking of - and also happens often), but of the phenomena - that
possibly every serious writer has experienced - of dwelling deeply on
subject matter, conceiving what I believed to be completely original
thoughts, and only later stumbling across another author that has
already fully fleshed those thoughts out.

The TS model is, I think, useful here ... the 7 subplanes of the manasic
plane. At its most dense level, thoughts are "things", almost solid
objects. It is *here* where the whole concept of "plagiarism" even has
any meaning at all ... here where the idiotic notion that someone can
actually "own" a thought arises, where thought "currents" have become
crystallized into "ice cubes", discrete objects separate from the stream
from whence they came, and capable of being "possessed" by a single
individual. The more subtle levels of thought, however, are currents,
not cubes ... waves, not particles ... and people working in these
layers very commonly pick up things very similar to others also swimming
in the same stream (its why, for instance, the history of science has
seen so many instances of the identical discovery being made at the
almost identical time by people living worlds apart, and having no
contact with one another). While the people *capable* of reaching this
state of intellectual refinement may well often appear to "plagiarize"
one another at least partially, they are also those who would not have
the slightest interest in intentionally doing so, and in fact probably
would care little if others "plagiarized" them ... because they simply
could never *feel* as though a thought was something that they owned in
the first place.

HPB, for all the weirdness surrounding her, never tried to make a cent
off her work, never even attempted to claim personal credit ... and
considering the scope of her work, the sheer magnitude of subjects she
wrote about, and the depth of her immersion in her subject matter, it
would almost be a miracle if her work *wasn't* scattered with striking
similarities to the work of others.

In my opinion, the sort of people that want to argue endlessly about
whether she "stole" ideas from this person or that (and they've been
around since she first published), and want to busy themselves with
compiling all sorts of delightful evidence to support their clever
theories, aren't saying as much about HPB as they are about
*themselves*. (And I'm personally hoping that they all eventually
collapse into a big puddle of ironic plagiarism ... i.e., wouldn't it
just be the coolest thing if someone was studying Rich's thesis next
year, and discovered that *he* had inadvertently plagiarized an
accusation of HPB's plagiarism from another, earlier HPB critic? har har
har har har ...). These folks are simply never going to *get* Theosophy.
Thing is, people will probably still be reading HPB a century from now.
They probably *won't* be reading Rich Taylor. -JRC

-- THEOSOPHY WORLD -- Theosophical Talk --

Letters to the Editor, and discussion of theosophical ideas and
teachings. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message consisting of
"subscribe" or "unsubscribe" to

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application