The Sabian Philosophy
The First Axiom
Knowledge already possessed, whether right or wrong, is the sole basis of further knowledge. This is the axiom of necessary prejudice, or of the inbuilt presuppositions on the basis of which behavior and judgment may become automatic.
Philosophy is the history of philosophy, that is, primarily an examination of the ideas by which men have ordered their lives in the past and a consequent determination of what may be expected when they seek to order them by the same or similar ideas in the present. Thus philosophy becomes a study of the mind's assumptions, or an analysis of what an individual may take for granted and thereby either facilitate or impede his progress toward the goals he sets for himself.
Since the mind of necessity is analyzing the content of its thinking with the thought habits and patterns of which it is constituted, that is, within a matrix of its assumptions collectively, it tends to rationalize everything into its own accustomed grooves and thus to defeat any attempt to break through its bondage to its own limiting ideas. The difficulty has been identified as the psychologist's fallacy, or assuming that thinking can be free of personal presuppositions. These are essential, and they must be left unquestioned if thought is to be possible. Consequently a disciplined intelligence must learn to make proper corrections in every conclusion to which it comes. To gain any impartiality the mind must function through the ordering of the thoughts or thinking capacities of minds of greater scope than itself. This ultimately becomes a participation in the community of mind on which modern science depends and of which the Eternal Wisdom consists.
Here is Newton's realization that the giants of understanding in human history are those who stand on the shoulders of giant intelligence before them. Thus philosophy of necessity builds on tradition. The philosopher, however, must be careful not to lose himself in an obsession with the past or with a supposed infinite wisdom of changeless aspect from the beginning, and destroy his competence because he forgets then that knowledge is valid only in its continual verification through experience. He must realize that he always stands at the center he creates for himself in the vast complex of man's ideas, and in this realization he becomes and remains a focus of thought for his fellows. As the thinking animal he is fundamentally a social creature, and he achieves for himself because he is achieving for more than himself. It is because of this that he can break through the ring of his lesser prejudices, and in doing so replace them with the greater ones that release rather than limit his efforts.
The process of breaking through limitation is known in the arcane tradition as initiation, or more simply as an expansion of consciousness, and the Sabian philosophy dramatizes the necessities involved by requiring the seeker to (1) know what he knows, (2) know what he doesn't know and (3) know what he doesn't know he doesn't know. This means that he begins to refine his knowledge by learning to define his terms or his knowing and thus be able to make accurate statement in any account of his outer experience and inner reactions. While doing this consciously and consistently, as he chooses to push his realization in any given direction, he discovers what more or less inevitably must follow in any given sequence of events. This is the way of knowledge through analogy and probability that actually leads to a knowing of the not-known. With this refinement of his reason he finds himself more and more in fellowship with the mind potential beyond his own, and in time he has access to the knowledge of which otherwise he would be totally unaware.
In such fashion he achieves a stage of seership, and he begins to find himself across the portal of the Solar Mysteries.
Here is the Sabian conception of a pure philosophy. It is free, and consistently creative, and though in many respects it may seem beyond all immediate usefulness it yet forever opens limitless new areas of a potential experience.
By its canons all things must be brought to their center of reference at each given point of contemplation or issue. In direct experience the center of reference is self. When there is a manipulation in experience of factors other than the self the centering is in the idea representing them in the thought processes of the self or of other selves similarly, and any idea so used is considered at work and is identified as a concept. The Sabian philosophy is termed the philosophy of concepts, since its principal function is to organize ideas for intelligent employment, and the concepts that have the most important roles in the Sabian project are given the form of keywords.
The Sabian student is expected to recognize the integrity of his own experience, and in time to order each and every detail of it in terms of the concept patterns through which he approaches the Solar Mysteries.