In Greek semantics, the traditional goal most associated with philosophy as a discipline is not stated directly, which is not to say that truth is absent in the definition of philosophy, but rather that truth is present in the defining aspect of wisdom. Wisdom relates to truth as knowledge relates to understanding, and the dynamics of this relationship is illustrated in the Greek term ‘Sophia’. In defining philosophy as the “love of wisdom,” the nature of wisdom itself must be analyzed through a comparison to other types of knowledge.
On a fundamental level, traditional philosophy in both the Eastern and Western traditions is gnostic, for these schools assert that truth can be directly experienced and known by human consciousness and that truth is divinely inspired or created by aspects of a divine being. Yet, philosophers themselves may differ in the degree or the manner in which they accord truth to be divine, sacred, holy, or beautiful. Similarly, an agnostic philosophy may be possible, where followers of the teaching believe that truth itself cannot be known absolutely, constructed accurately, or experienced in a valid form by human consciousness, and that truth is not divinely inspired or created by theistic forces. An agnostic belief system or philosophy would appear to be inherently tragic in believing that truth cannot be definitively known to mind, whereas a gnostic or religious system of philosophy can be expected to be liberating through either immanence or transcendence related to mental apprehension of truth. Therefore, in the gnostic aspects of philosophy, the reconciliation of faith and learning becomes possible, where truth is equated with divinity and wisdom with spirituality in the wider context of life and experience related to the existential aspects of being. In comparison, this possibility of reconciling faith and learning is fundamentally cut-off or eliminated from the philosophy of the agnostic type, as God or divinity is inherently rejected as valid reference. The relationship between philosophy and religion is seen traditionally across all cultures, languages, and schools of thought. In the Christian tradition, Max Dashu (2000) writes, “The syncretism of Judaic, Egyptian, Hellenistic and Persian traditions gave rise to Gnosticism, a name which arose directly from an emphasis on inner knowing.” (Dashu, 2000) In defining philosophy through the gnostic methodology of “inner knowing,” a deeper inquiry into the historical dimensions of ‘Sophia’ or wisdom is also required. Wisdom in the age of the Greeks may have been worshipped with the attributes of the Divine Goddess in indigenous religious traditions, though simultaneously operating as an integral aspect of consciousness. Most schools of philosophy are united by the belief that truth can be apprehended by consciousness, but religious philosophy synchronizes divinity with truth experientially through gnostic realization. Gnosticism as a school of Christianity combining elements of Platonism, Pythagoreanism, Buddhism, and Orphism in a syncretic manner is distinct from the ‘direct knowing of truth’