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Re: endless series of Seers (and antinomies)

Sep 16, 2004 06:34 PM
by prmoliveira

--- In, "Perry Coles" <perrycoles@y...> 

> Can you elaborate more on antinomy and how it relates to 
> teachings I am interested to see your point of view on this.

G'Day Perry:

This is indeed a fascinating subject and one which students of 
Theosophy may not, necessarily, consider important. Having said 
that, here are my 0.02 pesos.

Will Durant, in his book "The Story of Philosophy", says 
that "antinomies are the insoluble dilemmas born of a science that 
tries to overlap experience". 

In my university days in Brazil, one of the most popular antinomies 
put before us was:

"A Cretan says all Cretans are liars".

Just follow the ensuing logic: if he is a Cretan he may be a liar, 
which means that not all Cretans may be liars. In other words, some 
may speak the truth. But if the statement is true then ALL Cretans 
are liars, which takes us back to the original statement. There 
doesn't seem to be a way out, does it? 

This is the reason why antinomies are declared to be contradictions 
or paradoxes.

"The Encyclopaedia of Religions and Ethics" mentions that Kant, on 
the other hand, held that "knowledge is only of phenomena". We may 
conceive the existence of "noumena" but we cannot KNOW them as 
phenomena. "This gives rise to antinomies: a confusion between 
knowable phenomena and unknowable (but real) noumena".

The same source above quotes Hegel: "Antinomies appear in all 
objects of every kind, in all representations, conceptions, and 
ideas". He also maintained that "every actual thing involves a co-
existence of contrary elements". The Encyclopaedia includes this 
quote from Shelley's "Love's Philosophy":

Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle.

The source text of modern Theosophy is "The Secret Doctrine". Some 
people don't like the word "doctrine" associated with Theosophy, 
probably because the easily link it with "indoctrination". But the 
etymology of the word is also fascinating: it comes from the Latin 
*doctrina*, 'teaching'. And the verb 'to teach', in its root 
meaning, means "to show". So a doctrine or a teaching is something 
that is shown to us for our examination and study. Perhaps it may be 
even a methapor of something which is, ultimately, beyond 
description. The approach "only *this* is Theosophy, nothing else" 
may therefore lead to an antinomy for it would deny, for example, a 
universality that Theosophy claims it embodies. 

I am reminded here of Heraclitus' well-known phrase: "One cannot 
step into the same river twice". Doesn't this also apply to 
Theosophy? What makes it at the same ancient and arcane, and yet 
fresh and ever new? 


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