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Exoteric refers to knowledge that is outside of and independent from anyone's experience and can be ascertained by anyone. It is distinguished by esoteric knowledge. Exoteric relates to "external reality" as opposed to one's own thoughts or feelings. It is knowledge that is public as opposed to secretive or cabalistic. It is not required that exoteric knowledge come easily or automatically, but it should be referencable or reproducable.
Philosophical context[edit | edit source]
Most philosophical and religious belief systems presume that reality must be independent of what an individual makes of it. However, even before the days of Plato, a prominent alternate theory of knowledge insisted that the perceived outside reality is merely an internal fabrication of the observer and that it has no existence or substance outside the imagination of the observer. Thus, the reality we interact with is therefore merely a consensus we have reached; if we choose to imagine it otherwise, it will change. From this, one may conclude that anything labeled as "exoteric" is in fact "esoteric". When taken to its logical extremes, the result is solipsism, the notion that it's "all in our heads".
Religious context[edit | edit source]
The term exoteric is mostly used in conjunction with religions, such as Judaism and Islam, in which the teachings shift the believer's focus of away from the exploration of the inner self and towards the adherence to rules and laws.
Other contexts[edit | edit source]
Exoteric also refers to knowledge that is outside the human perspective. For instance, "exoterically speaking, the human organism is highly organized matter, actively engaged in a fight against entropy. The human mind is a quality of the brain."
Etymology[edit | edit source]
The prefix 'exo' has Greek roots and means "outer".
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Esoteric and Exoteric An article on the use of these terms in mystic and occult literature
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