Exoteric

Exoteric

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Exoteric refers to knowledge that is outside of and independent from anyone's experience and can be ascertained by anyone. Compare Common sense
Common sense
Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." Thus, "common sense" equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have...

. It is distinguished from internal 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 secret or cabal
Cabal
A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and/or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue...

istic. It is not required that exoteric knowledge come easily or automatically, but it should be referenceable or reproducible.

Philosophical context


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
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, 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. The Buddha quoted as saying "All that we are arises from what we have thought" and Descartes' "I think therefore I am" are reminiscent of this.

The Japanese swordsmaster Miyamoto Musashi
Miyamoto Musashi
, also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age...

, for example, in his The Book of Five Rings
The Book of Five Rings
is a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. There have been various translations made over the years, and it enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists: for instance, some business leaders find its...

, noted that when he teaches people martial arts, "since [he] generally makes them learn such things as have actual relevance to addressing [deeper principles], there is no such thing as a distinction between the esoteric and the exoteric."

Religious context


The term exoteric is mostly used in conjunction with religions and spirituality (as "esoteric" is often associated with esoteric spirituality
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

), in which the teachings shift the believer's focus away from the exploration of the inner self and towards the adherence to rules, laws and an individual God.

The term exoteric may also reflect the notion of a divine identity outside and different from the identity of a human, whereas the esoteric notion claims that the divine is to be discovered within the human identity. One step further, the pantheistic notion suggests that the divine and the material world are one and the same.

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