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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Analogy, Law of

Theosophical teachings place a high degree of importance to the law of analogy in understanding the deeper mysteries of nature.

Analogy, in logic, compares two similar objects, structures or systems in order to draw an inference about one (called the primary subject) on the basis on the known properties of another (called the analogue). In science, for example, analogical reasoning, sometimes referred to as a model, is used for explanation (e.g., chemical valence on analogy with a solar system) or prediction of properties of certain structures or systems for one reason or another not directly perceivable (e.g., dinosaur behavior on analogy with similar skeletal or musculature structure of present- day animals).

In traditional philosophy, analogy has been used to argue for the existence of God (the so-called “teleological” argument) or the existence of consciousness in other beings (the so-called “other minds” argument). In politics, analogy has been used to point out a claimed disparity in treatment of two similar things (e.g., treating wealthy or white people who break a law differently from poor or black people)—usually called “fairness” or “moral” analogy — or to expose a flaw in an argument (e.g., refuting the claim that price increases are the cause of inflation by pointing out that eating meals is not the cause of hunger) —usually called a “reductio ad absurdum” analogy. Analogy is also used in law in the form of “legal precedent.” The logical force of such arguments depends on how similar the two subjects are in those structures relevant to the point of the argument.

Analogies must have some irrelevant features or else the reasoning would be based on comparison, not analogy. To focus criticism on irrelevant features is to miss the point of the analogy. Valid criticism of an analogy points out significant disanalogies between relevant structures (e.g., if atoms had a structure like a miniature solar system, the electron “planets” traveling at the speed of light would emit energy and all matter would glow — which it obviously does not). To attempt to claim more than the analogy logically infers is to force the analogy.

Analogy in Theosophy. Theosophical literature regards analogy not simply as an argument but as a law. “Analogy is the surest guide to the comprehension of the Occult teachings,” wrote Helena P. BLAVATSKY (SD I:173). “From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being — the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other” (SD I:604).

This law underlies the ancient hermetic axiom, “As above, so below.” The structure, dynamics and cycles in the microcosm will similarly hold true for the macrocosm, and vice versa. For example, the septenary principles in a human being are analogous to the septenary system of globes or the septenary hierarchy of Dhy€ni-Chohans.

This leads to a knowledge of correspondences among multifarious structures, states, and processes in nature: colors, numbers, notes in a musical scale, chakras, planets, temperaments, qualities, etc.

In The Secret Doctrine, Helena P. Blavatsky gave various examples by which we can understand cosmic processes and cycles by studying human processes and cycles. For instance, a human being goes through a life cycle, dies, enters Devachan, and is reincarnated. This process corresponds to the process undergone by a planetary chain, which similarly enters into a death state where its “higher principles” enter into nirv€Ša in between two chain periods. Just as the transient principles in a human being gets disintegrated after death and are used for other bodies, so the lower globes of a planetary chain disintegrate and the materials used for the formation of other globes (SD I:173).

The MAHATMA LETTERS TO A. P. SINNETT state: “As you may infer by analogy every globe before it reaches its adult period, has to pass through a formation period—also septenary. Law in Nature is uniform and the conception, formation, birth, progress and development of the child differs from those of the globe only in magnitude” (ML, p. 184).

As an illustration, Blavatsky poses the question of why a baby is born only after nine months in the womb when it is already completely developed in seven months. Using this natural phenomenon, she explains, “so man, having perfected his evolution during seven Rounds, remains two periods more in the womb of mother-Nature before he is born, or rather reborn a Dhyani, still more perfect than he was before he launched forth as a Monad on the newly built chain of worlds. Let the student ponder over this mystery, and then he will easily convince himself that, as there are also physical links between many classes, so there are precise domains wherein the astral merges into physical evolution” (SD II:257).

Analogy is considered a law apparently because the manifestation of planes, systems or objects in the cosmos follows universal principles and laws. Whether in the spiritual plane or in the material plane, the same principles apply, such as the septenary nature of things. The law is considered the first and most important key to cosmic physics, but that it has “‘to be turned seven times’ before one comes to understand it” (SD I:150-1). It is “the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne’s thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries” (SD II:153).

V.H.C./R.W.B.

 

 

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