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Re: Theos-World what did Richard Taylor said?

Feb 17, 2002 04:08 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

At 07:23 PM 2/10/02 -0800, you wrote:

If you have Rich's current e-mail address, may I
suggest writing him and inviting him to join our list?
He is far and away the most intelligent and learned
of all the Theosophists, and to my mind also the most

I also enjoyed his contributions. I haven't heard
from him in a while, but my last impression was that
he was far too busy to get involved in the discussions
on a mailing list.

He dropped off one of the other lists
some time ago because the Fundamentalists accused him
of leading a conspiracy to destroy Theosophy, of being
"a sexually perverted black magician," and all sorts
of truly hilarious "charges." Some Fundamentalists,
noticing correctly that he was not as ignorant as they
were (or they as learned as he) called him "arrogant."
I thought it was hysterically funny, but Rich became
highly peeved and left, much to the detriment of all
future discussions.
When he had more time, he was active on various lists,
including theos-l and arcana-l. Later, when theos-talk
was started because, in part, to avoid the high quantity
of personal attacks on theos-l at the time, he also
participated on this list. He also had his own ULT magazine
for a while, called Ergates.

I think the term "Fundamentalist" is too narrow to
accurate describe the spectrum of beliefs and reactions
that people have shown.

In any discipline, there are those who choose to be
the conservative supporters of the orthodox status quo.
These are the guardians. There are also those who function
as gatekeepers, seeking to bar passage to outsiders or
those of unapproved views.

These functions are necessary to preserve the purity
and accuracy of a body of thought. Science has its
barriers to new thought, designed to keep out quackery.
Medicine has similar barriers to claims by would-be
medical practitioners outside the fold of accepted belief.
The same is true of any orthodoxy, any body of established
truth or knowledge.

When there is an attempt to preserve that knowledge
against degradation, sometimes errors are made. These
are "type one" and "type two" errors. Sometimes garbage
is accepted into science. (Consider the paper written a
few years ago as a mockery of the "Politically Correct"
outlook that was taken seriously and published in an
academic journal.) Also, at times valid truth is excluded
as garbage, when it should have been embraced with open
arms. We hear of this years later, when the scorned truth
is finally accepted as brilliant and the fools who
resisted it are held to ridicule.

The same is true of any system of thought, including
the modern day theosophical philosophy. There are people
seeking to teach it as a distinct body of thought,
others seeking to protect it against the introduction
of alien ideas that they consider quackery, and yet
others as gatekeepers seeking to hold the barbarians
at bay.

All this means that there are limits to how quickly
the ideas may change, grow, or evolve over time. Anything
considered a new insight would need to be validated as
internally consistent with the philosophy and externally
consistent with the world (as theosophists see it).

If one is seen as presenting ideas that are too radically
different, and not providing any philosophical justification
as to how they might fit in with established though, they'd
be seen as "barbarians at the gate" and turned aside.
But this is not unique to a theosophical organization, but
is true of any established system of thought.

Rich's contributions are useful because of his established
theosophical learning, combined with his knowledge of
languages and advanced religious studies. It is also of
further value because of his personal contacts with people
in the theosophical movement, and his understanding of
how theosophical organizations work.

Incidentally, in response to your post about
"absolutism," I remain stubbornly convinced that it
was the Fundamentalists who drove him away who were
wrong, and not Rich. Call me an "absolutist" if you
will, but I value learning and intelligence over
ignorance, stupidity, and obscurantism any day.
He was working to introduce certain new ideas. To do
so, he needed to make a philosophical argument as to
how they fit in with other theosophical ideas. What
he was doing was a combination of presenting new ideas
and educating or training people to appreciate them.

The struggle, as I see it, wasn't between ignorance,
stupidity, and obscurantism and learning and intelligence.
It was between the orthodoxy of the status quo and a
challenge to innovate and see things differently.

Rich has a great deal to contribute. But then values
cannot be defended rationally, being as they are
formed prior to the development of rational thought.
If he ever decides to rejoin us, we will all benefit
from his knowledge. If he shows up again on some
other list, pls let me know so I can lurk there.
Writing on the lists is "play time" or recess between
doing substantial things like writing books or earning
advanced degrees in challenging academic programs.
What I'm looking forward to is seeing books that he
may someday write.

-- Eldon

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