Theosophy

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Theosophy is a doctrine of religious philosophy and mysticism. Theosophy holds that all religions are attempts by the "Spiritual Hierarchy" to help humanity in evolving to greater perfection, and that each religion therefore has a portion of the truth. The founding members, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907), and William Quan Judge (1851–1896), established the Theosophical Society in New York City in 1875.

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Etymology

Blavatsky addressed the name in the beginning of The Key to Theosophy:

It comes to us from the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil "loving," and aletheia "truth." The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system.

Theosophy, literally "god-wisdom" (Greek: θεοσοφία theosophia), designated several bodies of ideas predating Blavatsky:

The term appeared in Neoplatonism. Porphyry De Abstinentia (4.9) mentioned "Greek and Chaldean theosophy", Ἑλληνική, Χαλδαϊκὴ θεοσοφία. The adjective θεόσοφος "wise in divine things" was applied by Iamblichus (De mysteriis 7.1) to the gymnosophists (Γυμνοσοφισταί), i.e. the Indian yogis or sadhus.

The term was used during the Renaissance to refer to the spiritually-oriented thought and works of a number of philosophers, including: Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Robert Fludd, and, especially, Jakob Böhme; the work of these early theosophists influenced the Enlightenment theologian Emanuel Swedenborg and philosopher Franz von Baader.

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