What Is Often Wrongly Understood About Occult?
Summary: Occult knowledge is a taboo in scientific domain, having disreputable
association with knowledge of Supernatural (unreal). But it is hardly realized by
the majority that much of scientific knowledge is also occult knowledge even if it
strictly pertains to nature and its phenomena. Therefore, the desired course of
action is to evolve mental faculty to differentiate occult knowledge about natural
phenomena from occult knowledge about supernatural (unreal) phenomena
rather than wrongly rejecting any piece of knowledge by labeling it as ‘occult’.
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret),
referring to "knowledge of the hidden". The terms esoteric and arcane can have a
very similar meaning, and the three terms are often interchangeable. The word
has many uses in the English language, popularly meaning "knowledge of the
paranormal", as opposed to "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to
as science. By the eighteenth century unorthodox religious, scientific and
philosophical concerns were well defined as 'occult', inasmuch as they lay on the
outermost fringe of accepted forms of knowledge and discourse." This position
holds good even today.
In accordance with literal meaning of the word ‘occult’, all knowledge that is not
amenable to direct sensory perception is classifiable as ‘occult’. But by this
yardstick the word ‘occult’ has wide connotations. It embraces not only
knowledge of the ‘supernatural’ or unreal but also knowledge of the ‘natural’
provided it is not amenable to direct sensory perception. Therefore it embraces
not only direct or perceivable truth about natural phenomena but also indirect or
non-perceivable truth about natural phenomena and truth about natural
phenomena perceivable only with the help of instruments.
Each and every thing and event in nature has indirect truth or occult associated
with it. Gross description of natural things and events is often insufficient. Almost
nothing can be completely known by mere gross narration and description. Quite
often, it is the hidden knowledge that carries much greater significance than the
knowledge gained by direct sensory perception.
In information technology, back end of each and every web page carries much
more significance than the front end. So, undoubtedly front end is significant but
it is the back end that is vital. Similarly invisible Meta tags and Meta descriptions
are vital to the purpose of a web page. But all this hidden knowledge that is vital
to functioning of IT based products is nothing but ‘occult’.
Likewise, in the domain of natural sciences, all the knowledge that can be
perceived only with help of instruments and all the theoretical knowledge about
scientific principles and scientific theories is nothing but ‘occult’ knowledge.
Therefore it is not surprising that in the Middle Ages, magnetism was sometimes
called an occult quality. Newton was even accused of introducing occult agencies
into natural science when he postulated gravity as a force capable of acting over
vast distances. Newton's contemporaries severely critiqued his theory that gravity
was affected through "action at a distance" as occult. Likewise, in the
contemporary world, scientific theories such as Big Bang theory, String Theory, M-
Theory, Darwinism are nothing but examples of ‘occult’ scientific theories.
Keeping all above in view, it is clear that in pursuit of knowledge, dealing with
‘occult’ or hidden knowledge is inevitable.
The real cause of concern is the ease with which knowledge of ‘supernatural’
creeps into knowledge of ‘natural’ which leads us astray into a universe which is
just not there. Such knowledge is of no use except for the purpose of writing
science fiction, for example, time machine etc. Such knowledge only builds castles
in air. Therefore scientific community must strictly guard against polluting of
scientific knowledge by knowledge of supernatural.
Hence, over the past few centuries definition of Science has evolved from
knowledge of measurable to the definition given below:-
“Science is comprehensive, consistent, coherent natural explanation of natural
Therefore, in pursuit of scientific knowledge, conducting isolated experiments and
drawing mathematically-logically perfect conclusions is not enough. These
conclusions have to be comprehensive and consistent with rest of scientific
knowledge. Therefore conclusions drawn have to meet tests of ‘rationality’ and
‘plausibility’ in order to be scientifically valid. This is the only way to prevent
creeping of knowledge of supernatural into science so that in due course of time
science does not develop a mythology of its own.
Summing up, it must be appreciated that ‘occult’ is unavoidable in scientific
domain but it is valid only so long as it is consistent with natural phenomena,
directly or collaterally.
Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the
book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins
with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains
cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life
and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary
concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only
book which deals with origin of nature and universe from null or Zero or nothing.
Second chapter of the book is about ‘Truth’. I have used excerpts from Wikipedia
for writing this article.