1640s (implied in theosophical), "knowledge of divine things obtained through mystic study," from Medieval Latin theosophia (c.880), from Late Greek theosophia (c.500) "wisdom concerning God or things divine," from Greek theosophos "one wise about God," from theos "god" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + sophia "skill, knowledge of, acquaintance with; philosophy," from sophos "wise, learned" (see sophist).
Applied variously over the years, including to the followers of Swedenborg. Taken as the name of a modern philosophical system (sometimes called Esoteric Buddhism), founded in New York 1875 as "Theosophical Society" by Madame Blavatsky and others, which has elements of Hinduism and Buddhism and claims supernatural knowledge of the divinity and his words deeper than that obtained from empiricism. Related: Theosophist.
updated on May 05, 2017