Methodological foundations of Theosophy

The key to understand, contemplate and find a purport, and for application of theosophical ideas, is reconsideration of methodological principles of knowledge that imply overcoming of absolutistic ratio-empirical approach to uptake the world. 

As a result of this cognitive revision can be development of holonomic methodology in which subject and object of understanding are represented as mutually-to-defined structures of entirety of the world.

The difficulty of comprehension of philosophical ideas, in particular, represented by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, is in its discrepancy of approaches of understanding to subject of cognition. Theosophy ‒ since it has positioned itself in the framework of ancient neoplatonism up to contemporary theosophical teachings based on the works of Helena Blavatsky ‒ represents ultimately whole and universal picture of the world which cannot be comprehended in full by rational and empirical methods. The wholeness of onto-epistemological foundations of theosophy does not suppose fragmentary viewpoints of its mastering. A scientific methodology of experimental and mathematical natural knowledge, emerged in 18th century, has limited the subject of its mastering by regularities of physical world, which are formulated in empirical or rational and theoretical demonstrations. European science successfully coped with its purpose for the three centuries, describing regularities of the fragment of entire world which is accessible to our reason. In so doing, a man was fulfilling its instrumental task as a subject of knowledge. The 21st century, in its turn, preoccupied by the problem of self-survival, tries to move on to evolutional orbit of widening of methodology that can afford evolutionary advance of individual and civilization's angles of teleology. However, it is impossible to grasp the integral, "higher" truth by "lower" forms of knowledge. So, aspiring for the truth one has to develop "the lower", that is to say, to improve the tool of knowledge in accordance to more perfect object. This means consciousness that has developed instruments of integral vision that enable to approach properly to theosophical comprehension.

The basis for methodology in theosophy is intentionality of learning entire world that evolutionary widens notions of both object and subject of cognition. Theosophical methodology can be characterized as the next:

Consubstantional ontology, based on the idea of universal source of integrity and implicitly performed in all sub-systems of creation. This view has been expressed in theosophical thesis 'all in all' [1, p. 55]. In this way the principle of entire interconnectedness of all substantial commencements is evolved. At the same time the connection between all subjects happens exactly through that whole in relation to which they are parts. The whole as the all is considered as an open integrity.

Epistemological realism issues from the consubstantial ontology and realises owing to change from rational and empirical absolutisation to intuitive, based on uniqueness of subjective insights. Epistemological realism maintains transsubjective character of cognition due to metalogical principles which aspire for recreation of integral knowledge. Theosophical methodology is based on ternary of epistemological approach as subrational, rational, and superrational principles given in their unity of metahistorical experience in comparison to habitual elements of understanding as non-rational and rational forms.

Metahistoricity is one of defining traits of theosophical methodology. Metahistory is a characteristic of totality of processes of supermaterial nature. History, in its turn, is a particular manifestation of metahistorical purports. According to Sergey Bulgakov, metahistory is a "…noumenal side of that universal process which reveals itself to us by one of its sides as history" [2, p. 103]. Method that helps to realize metahistorical approach is a process of cognition which realises by means of three conseсutive stages:

First stage is an instant internal act committed by cognisant subject as a maximal casting off the question and simultaneous enlightenment by information from metahistorical sphere. An intuition is not a spontaneous process but is based on definite regularities as: ontological determinant of metahistorical content; aspiration for ultimate truth (persistent interest); high level of value guidelines of the subject of cognition (transcendent identity) and it puts into effect through the spiritual centre of man ‒ the heart. The result of this act is non-formalized experience that preserves unity of cognizant subject and the object to be understood. The second stage of metahistorical method is a certain ability to "peer at" the content of received experience, a contemplation on it. When the first stage, as an inclusion of the subject of cognition into new metahistorical event, is a passive for the cognizant subject, the second stage demands an activisation, an effort of the guided activity of the person. A will, as an effort and aspiration for perception, is crucial here. The third stage is a kind of bereavement of fullness of experience due to its concretization, formalization, conceptual definition. This is a sphere of reason which transfers the information contemplated on to discoursive language of knowledge. This stage is dangerous because of possible distortions provoked by formalized scientific stereotypes and subjective interpretations. The fullness of content of speculative conclusions of cognizant subject depends on degree of the width of consciousness conditioned by utmost integral ontological picture.

Thus, metahistorical method is realized owing to intuition and the instrument if it is heart; to will, which is called to overcome sensitive extremes by means of development of ethics of cosmic order; to reason as a systematic description of the fullness of the Universe.

Esoterism, in this regard, is a core of theosophical methodology, it secures the integrity of sacral knowledge from the distortion of it by layman's consciousness. Its mission is to preserve implicit core of theosophy for the high level of moral awareness that is capable to apply theosophical ideas to evolutionary picture of man's and societal development.

Antroposophisity is a trait that expresses the wholeness or wisdom of comprehension and which opens intention to epistemological synthesis. The main condition is implementation of this principle is a correspondence of subject of cognition to transcendent object of understanding.

Interdisciplinarity is called to overcome the separation of the spheres of cognition and it aspires to recreate transdisciplinar synthesis as a new integral and universal knowledge.

Ethical transpersonalism is a moral dominant of theosophical methodology which is a benchmark of its development. Thus, the accentuation on the subject of cognition as on a spiritual man which radically changed subject, method, and the goal of understanding lies in the heart of realization of theosophical methodology. These three can be interpreted as the next: subject is a con-substantional self-knowledge; method is an intuitive enlightenment; goal is a co-evolution of man and the Universe. At the same time methodology of theosophy is not based upon a total, but on individual path progression of self-development and evolution in accordance to universal laws of evolving universe. A day-to-day creativity in building and recreation of the Self and purports of the self-statement is a feature of knowledge in theosophy that is called to enrich the process of understanding of values by dominant of self-development of the person who understands. P.D. Uspensky, Russian writer, thinker, a member of Theosophical Society reckoned that theosophy "has opened the doors… to new big world" [3, p. 36]. By this he considered "a discovery of potential inherent in everyone" [3, p. 21].

Considering theosophy as a "science on entity and secret of all things" [4, p. 37] H.P. Blavatsky thinks that understanding of theosophy requires  from the researcher the Truth on how to subdue to "its control his own person", to develop a capability to "manage all their physical and mental feelings by means of 'systemic sense' which can only provide man with true wisdom of gods, the teo-sophy" [5, p. 77].




1.       Блаватская Е. П. Тайная доктрина. – М.: Прогресс-Культура, 1992.Т. 1.

2.       Булгаков С. Два града. – М.: Т-во тип. А. И. Мамонтова, 1911.

3.       Успенский П.Д. Новая модель Вселенной. – СПб. Изд-во Чернышёва, 1993.

4.       Блаватская Е.П. Ключ к теософии. – М.: Эксмо, 2009.

5.       Блаватская Е.П. Путеводный свет Неведомого // Тайная доктрина теософии. Сб.статей. – М.: Сфера. 2006.


Julia Shabanova,

Professor, Dr. Sc. (philosophy), Head of Department of Philosophy and Pedagogy, National Mining University, Dnipro.

Vice-President of H.P. Blavatsky Branch in Dnipro.


Head of Science Group of the Theosophical Society in Ukraine

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