Joe's Esoteric Philosophy homepage

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Joseph Martin

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This confluence of differing opinions about ancient, medieval and modern philosophy in the 'West'—which also includes the impact of Greek thought on Jewish and Islamic theology—and in the 'East'—including the various rational 'points of view' (darshana) elaborated by Buddhist, Jain and Hindu thinkers—is intended to facilitate systematic comparison and to encourage cross-cultural dialogue. Our own focus on 'esoteric' philosophy might hopefully provide a privileged space for a meaningful—even transformative—encounter because it scrutinizes the very nature, motivation, modes, constraints and purpose of 'philosophizing' (especially by the ancients) as well as its roots in non- (including pre- and post-) rational modes of apprehending the world (whether this 'return' be understood as 'nihilism' or 'transcendence' of the human order). Many of these essays are reworkings of previous conversations from Ontological Ethics (and other related forums) and discussions are best pursued there, while Indo-Western encounters should also be posted to the Abhinavagupta forum.

[Classical Indian philosophy—notwithstanding its sophisticated ontology, logic, psychology, dialectics, epistemology, linguistic analysis, aesthetics, etc.—was motivated by a 'spiritual' purpose and often rooted in certain privileged modes of 'mystical' experience. Hence the inclusion here of essays that explore (neo-) Platonic parallels, contribution of Kabala to the birth of modernism, the Muslim annexation of Plato and Aristotle into the service of Zoroastrian illuminationism and theocentric legalism, Talmudic ethics as a resource for the contemporary problem of the Other, implications of lucid dreaming for our notions of the 'subject' and the 'unconscious' in scientific discourse, etc. Though these philosophical constructions often presented themselves as a bulwark or capstone of the ordered human universe, the underlying insights and inspiration could just as well express themselves in antinomian guise even outside and independently of the philosophical domain. Nietzsche's 3 deadly truths—the sovereignty of becoming; the fluidity of all concepts, types, and kinds; and the lack of any cardinal difference between man and animal—has fostered the modern notion of an 'esotericism' predicated on an underlying 'nihilism' that would have been knowingly disguised and suppressed by the ancient (pre-Enlightenment) philosophers beginning with Plato. A confrontation of such 'Dionysian' philosophy with (para-) rational formulations of 'transgressive sacrality' in Eastern traditions might help midwife radically new modes of de/re-constructive thought and expression that could help dissolve the East/West divide — Sunthar]

My interest in philosophy has always swirled around the questions:  What does philosophy do? What are its effects on its readers, on the culture in which those readers live? My main concern with philosophy can perhaps be said to be the ramifications of Plato’s intervention in Socratic philosophy. Socrates always spoke to a few, perhaps in an ironic manner, and questioned them about their beliefs in justice, nobility, etc. This questioning leads to his death. Plato, by deciding to write, speaks to anyone, in the end to everyone, but speaks to all of them in an esoteric/exoteric manner. This leads, eventually, to the city taking philosophy into itself—making philosophy its own. To protect both (philosophy, city) from each other Plato’s innovative use of esotericism has been taken into the heart of philosophy. There may be infinite ways to interpret in an esoteric manner a philosophical text but these can be broken down into two categories -- metaphysical esotericism and political esotericism. The metaphysical esoteric points towards the True-in-Itself—whatever it might be—while the political esoteric points only to man. The first considers the nature of reality, noesis and the essential, and believes that wisdom is (or will be) science, while the latter considers the nature of man, phronesis and circumstance, and believes that ‘psychology is the queen of the sciences’ as Nietzsche said. This does not mean that they are merely enemies. For instance, they both believe that the metaphysical esoteric must rule the political esoteric. The first believes this because it is true, while the latter believes this because it is both useful that people believe this, and it is prudent to say this. It is this split that I would like to explore on this page. The reason is that I suspect that until this split is closed, or mended, philosophy is just another problem among problems. — Joseph Martin


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Mediating the opposites - East Meets West: Philosophy as Cultural Critique & Remedial Dialogue  [counters temporarily disabled]

Historicism - East and West (Problematizing God's interventions in History) - 2003 [counters temporarily disabled]

 Buddha, Shankara and Abhinavagupta: evolution of Indian philosophy (note)  [counters temporarily disabled]

 What is 'rationality'? primitivism, philosophy and semiotics (2001) [counters temporarily disabled]

Catherine Chalier (⇐ click to see individual profile)

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 Treatise on Tears - Introduction (français) - 2003

 The Interdiction of Representations (français) - 2002

 Bibliography of published works - as of February 2003

Christian Bouchet

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Lucid Dream - abstract of state thesis [1994] (français, español)

Jury report on Christian's defense of his state-thesis (français) - 1994

Autobiographical note on development of Christian's research (français)

Table of contents (Table des matières) of state-thesis

Edward Moore (Friends, Christ)

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 Check ot Edward's essays at the Theandros website (note) [external]

 Theandros: An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy (note) [external]

 Origen of Alexandria and St. Maximus the Confessor (2005 - Amazon) [external]

 Dialogues: Transcendence, East meets West; Trinity; Anti-Semitic Cross?

Jonathan Garb

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 Power and Kavannah (Intention) in Kabbalah - Ph.D. abstract (2000) [counters temporarily disabled]

 Kinds of Power: Rabbinic Texts and the Kabbalah (2001)

Joseph Martin (friends)

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 Check out Joe's profile at - insightful reviews of (works on) Western philosophy (note) [external]

Kang Chen

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Visit Kang's Gnothi ('Know Thyself') forum (note) [external]

Purpose of Philosophy ( Jan 2004) - thread from Ontological Ethics [counters temporarily disabled]

Mohammad-Réza Fashahi

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Aristotle of Baghdad: from Greek Reason to Koranic Revelation

Jury report on Mohammad's habilitation to guide research (note) [counters temporarily disabled]

Political Theology and Iranian Messianism (18th - 20th century)

Nandakumar Chandran

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 Consult the compendium of all philosophies - sarva-darshana-sangraha (note) [external - page needs to be fixed]

Sumi Sivaratnam

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 Pleasure and the Plotinian Good (2001) [counters temporarily disabled]

 Assimilation to God as Self-Knowledge in Ennead 1.2 (2001) [counters temporarily disabled]

Sunthar Visuvalingam