The conflict between Israel and Iran has forgotten the way in which monotheism came into existence in a dynamic hybrid of Israelite and Zoroastrian strains, blended during the Exile (some make the Persian contribution critical), and yet, sadly, becoming a closed ethnic cult of post-Exilic nationalism.
One of the reasons for Islam, surely, was the attempt to reset the balance and free monotheism from its Isrealite covenentalism.
Both parties at this point should ask if they will burn out these religions and leave them as toxic remains. The core of monotheism was supposed to be universal, but this simple achievement was, and still is, unachieved.
The Axial Age: Religion, macro and micro
The phenomenon of the Axial Age shows us the solution to the riddle of evolution, but instead has produced a whole series of false interpretations. The only way out of the morass is to consider our frequency hypothesis taking the data as a set of discontinuities in a timed sequence. Then we must carefully study the differentiation of effects in different cultures. It is not a ‘common philosophy’ applied in different ways, but parallel transforms of source areas. To try and find a common denominator as an ‘Axial Age’ philosophy won’t work. We see contrasting opposites and a balance of diversities, increasing the future potential of the system. The ‘evolution’ of religion is powerfully illustrated in the way a ‘macro’ effect takes up the streams of religious culture and amplifies them, in two cases, India and Israel/Persia, into what will become materials for world religions. The Indian case is especially significant because a tradition of great antiquity, the so-called Jain, remorphs on schedule into Buddhism, in the wake of the terminating sequence of teertankers, concluding with Mahavir! The sudden coalescence of Persian and Israelite monotheisms at the conclusion of the Axial interval (by our measure) is a spectacular effect, leaving sociological casusation theory far behind. As the Isreaelites well knew there was a higher dimension to what befell them.
It nonetheless remains the case that Archaic Greece, our putative source of modern secularism (but in a flowering of polytheism as ‘art religion’), is the clearest exemplar of the Axial effect. Its massive cluster of innovations coming in and going out with a spookily exact schedule is far more ‘miraculous’ that anything portrayed in the primitive Old Testment. The riddle of Christianity and Islam show a beautiful resolution as Axial Age seeds come to full bloom in the ‘middle period’ of our sequential series.
Catch 22: Bennett’s ties with reactionary Gurdjieffianity
This post on Bennett tried to make a point, but here I must caution that the world Bennett moved in is a problem for any leftist. Everything about the Gurdjieff circles he moved in was reactionary. And Bennett seems to have compromised with it.
But the point here is that his The Dramatic Universe is public domain, despite a few marginal references to Gurdjieff ideas, which play no part in his core systematics, with one exception: the ideas of reciprocal maintenance, which spoil his work with a corrupt sufi idea, are painted onto the treatment. The reciprocal maintenance is a dangerous idea justifying spiritual exploitation, and got passed into Bennett’s system in the confusion of his double allegiance.
This hybrid makes it unlikely the left would ever go near such a figure.
As my original review notes, Bennett’s work was spoiled by his associations, but, as I realized later, it makes no difference. Hegel was a reactionary, but his Logic is a resource. Same for Bennett. Or Schopenhauer, for that matter, who, despite the brilliance of his work, better than Hegel’s, was an absolute schmuck in the 48 revolutions.
Anyway, Bennett quietly handed the baton to the left, and some of the ideas, which don’t even have to be taken up, can help to exercise the frozen Hegelian spiderweb in which Marxists have been embalmed.
This exercise might help some leftists to move in religious, Xtian, or sufi circles, to see the way reaction is corrupting religion. Armed with a left version of Bennett, they might be better able to help, than with stale historical materialism.
The previous post in a nutshell
The question of the hyparchic future is simply that of the virtual future (with the difference that the virtual future, being the causal future of the past, would be single-valued, while the hyparchic future might show, for some reason, a series of potential outcomes, prior to manifestation). Forget all that, except to consider what Bennett suggests as a hint: a sudden sense of the hyparchic future of communism and its birth in the period of 1848, the dawn of a new epoch in his system. But he was writing in the fifties and sixties, and the sense of the hyparchic future crept upon him in a vision of demiurge(s) in the hyparchic future.
Crackpot? At a bare minimum such futures are the staple of sci/fi. And the basic idea makes sense, if you have a model of space-time to go with it, which Bennett did, however shaky that model (which includes hyparxis, time, and eternity, plus three dimensions of space, as a six-dimensional model). No mystery here, really, the early socialists began to sense the different future of capitalism, and in Marxists this became a hyparchic heebeegeebee feeling it was ‘inevitable’. The idea seems to restate the obvious, but in Bennett it has a different dimension, because he asserts theoretically that the ‘hyparchic future’ is real in some sense.
It is too uncanny to reject completely, for a simple reason: there are few things more crackpot than the neo-classical economics used to buttress theories of economies now out of control and about to destroy a planet. Jumping out of the causal track here into a ‘hyparchic’ parallel track requires the ‘freedom’ to intervene, via a revolution, I guess, an awful lot of jargon for a simple idea, one that Marx agonized over, as a materialist by the book: systems don’t jump tracks, and ‘freedom’ in a deterministic system is a problem. Anyway, the idea that a truly real hyparchic future exists, with demiurgic powers truly alarmed by the crisis path of a dimwitted hominid species on a capitalist joyride starts to sound, to me, like more that science fiction. I would be worried. The point, in any case is clear: changing the massive momentum of the capitalist track is very hard, and now inevitable. The hyparchic future shock is here, the present of decision.
So people like Bennett, a buttoned down scion of the haute bourgeoisie, British secret agent, brilliant mathematician, and hobnobber of the capitalist class, began to pick up hyparchic psychic noise about the coming of communism, sensed in the hyparchic future, the handwriting on the wall. He was too tight-lipped to quite spell it out, and clammed up a bit.
You figure it out.
Are you content to go over the cliff with capitalism?
Review of Bennett’s DU
A question about Bennett’s Dramatic Universe as a resource for the left
I am being asked a question, from various sources, re: the status of Bennett’s systematics. and his sense late in life of the virtual future. This is a subject that should be discussed at The Gurdjieff Con, but I will do it here, to create a bridge between several discussions. My review of his book is misleading: I have frequently thought highly of Bennett’s book, which I first read in 1977 or so (about the time Star Wars came out, btw. That movie, again, btw, is about the hyparchic past, or virtual past: unusual among scifi myths in being about the past) and reading the first volume flipped into what can only be called a higher state of consciousness. I read VOL I almost stunned, with a sense of dimensionality of objects, very brief, and then began to ‘come down’ from a strange ‘high’, as the model in book ceased to seem as clear as before. So, we can only get to step two and a half in the twelve step series (which can go on and on beyond that). OK, now, his categories make sense because they aren’t serious, yet: they project a future logic.
I think the book covers too much ground to be clear, and, as the other sole reviewer noted, the first three volumes make no sense, while Vol 4 was a revelation about human evolution. Well, maybe. In fact, the other volumes are relatively clear, but they depend on a controversial move by Bennett, to construct a new set of categories to replace those of Kant. A risky move, that doesn’t work, with the result that his dodecad remains on shaky foundations. None of this has anything to do with Gurdjieff or Sufism, and its source in Bennett’s life is still enigmatic. He was influenced by Whitehead’s book Process and Reality which created a stir in the twenties in British intellectual culture.
There is more to say here, and we will continue at The Gurdjieff Con.
He never understood what Kant was up to, with his transcendental deduction. But the attempt to critique Kant here began with Hegel, and Bennett, who is no match for Kant, may be right in another way. In any case, the whole issue was swept away by Schopenhauer, who reduced all the categories to one set of issues, the one category of causality, in relation to representation and thing-in-itself. Much clearer, and actually a better approach to the spiritual without trying (Schopenhauer, usefully, did all this with something like an atheist’s scorn of religion, stumbling on the spiritual walking backwards without the word ‘spiritual’). You can simply take Bennett’s system as something else, and leave Kant alone.
But the battle between the Kantians and the realists and/or Hegelians is a stalemate. I just think it an accident of British intellectual culture that Bennett jumped on the Whitehead bandwagon in the thirties. His book is practically the ghost of Schopenhauer in a box, forced to live among the realists (those ‘stiff upper brits’, so stuck on Darwin, but brilliant in most other respects).
Anyway, what to do: Bennett’s immense corpus is built on these foundations, which are shaky, what is left? Most metaphysical systems crash, as indeed Kant pointed out. But here, in a way, it doesn’t matter, because his exercise works just as well as an exploration into something this is undiscovered country. His ‘categories’ are twelve in number, reflect numerical sequences, are called systems, and begin as wholeness, polarity, relatedness (three term), tetrads (four term), potentiality (five term), six-term, seven term, etc, to twelve term. The issue is simple: a problem is defined beautifully, without the solution. So we can proceed in piecemeal research up the scale he foresees. A simple defense against crackpot thinking here. I was confused for a long time by this exercise until I realized, that, as Bennett hints, you can’t go any further than step two unless you can transcend the pairs of opposites, and trancend contraditions in your head as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, in one thought. Which means that almost noone could get past the second category, and therefore the whole remaining series is simply up in the air. So, the true comes out, we are in the foothills of a truly Himalayan question, nicely laid out by Bennett, and summarized with a toy model.
So it a good mirror of our thinking, stuck in polarity, trying to get beyond that, and using dialectic as a substitute that never quite reaches the third term system stage. Complete confuson reigns here, and many who claim to transcend duality are confusing us further.
Thus, if you take it that way it becomes very useful: as a toy model. If you take in on provision as a gedanken experiment, you can suddenly understand a lot of things. We have discussed one idea here many times, the three fold version of the hyponomic, autonomic, and hypernomic realms (falsely oversimplified and called the material, life aand spiritual realms): here we see that man’s confusion over consciousness and self-consciousness arises because he is on the boundary of the autonomic and hypernomic realms. Out of the blue a complete mystery of human consciousness pops out of Bennett’s system of categories. So we are left non-plussed in the end as to the status of his systematics.
This is getting long and we can adjourn to the other blog for more on this another time.
But this issue here is that Bennett’s systematics, given his sense of the hyparchic future shock of feeling the coming of communism, that his systematics, like Hegel’s book on logic, is too much to inflict on the left, but that it could make a useful source of a larger study, among other things showing the marxist left where it is getting stuck on the dialectic. In Bennett’s system the dialectic is a two term system trying to be three term system, and rarely succeeding. A good example of the power of Bennett’s system, even in its toy model version.
Once you see that the toy model is only that, the use made of the dodecad can be taken lightly as you breeze through the rest of Bennett’s remarkable book.
This is like science fiction, that a future science will find prophetic. Further research could improve this start, so, OK.
The left should keep an eye on this system, and take it the way some Marxists take Hegel’s Logic, as an exercise in research. And its use as some kind of theological propaganda on the Gurdjieff right can be exposed easily with a little study. Bennett’s history has a lot of problems, so the question of the overall argument as to evolution remains dubious, but of remaning interest.
The previous posts show the significance of Bennett’s basic model in The Dramatic Universe, but unfortunately the overall corpus is a confusing mixture of (at least) two things: his outline of the dodecad, and the Gurdjieff ideas of the law of three and law of seven. \
It took me a long time to realize that the two models are different, not really compatible and yet overlaid in most of his books, especially Deeper Man. The law of seven he was never able to explicate, noone else either.
That makes me reluctant to use any of his material. I just don’t want to see Gurdjieff thugs strong arm their way into a usage of Bennet by claiming that is Gurdjieff material, and attacking independent thinkers as outsiders. As we can see much of Bennett’s thinking springs from Whitehead, and from the independent spiritual experience he appears to have had in the late thirties, which led to a conflict with Ouspensky. I am not sure of this part of the history, but it is clear that much of The Dramatic Universe is original material that is not in any of Gurdjieff’s work. And dropped hints about ‘demiurgic powers’ and the birth of communism (and Bahai) in the new age ca. 1848 jolts him totally out of the Sufi/Gurdjieff stream. \\
The material in DU is still not out of the woods, and the attempted use of his own variant of the law of three creates a hybrid, that is very insightful but perhpas logically unsound. Anyway, the way is clear to a better usage of Bennett outside of the Gurdjieff framework, whose usage, like Faust with Mephistopheles, is dangerous, and subject to ‘sufi copyright violation’, i.e. psychic murder.
Maybe just say goodbye to all of it, and reconstruct Bennett’s material outside of his systematics.
Looking at: http://www.amazon.com/Science-Set-Free-Paths-Discovery/dp/0770436706/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348161875&sr=1-1&keywords=science+set+free+by+rupert+sheldrake this book is brand new, and I managed to get a copy from a relative: I am pleasantly surprised by its critique of materialism. I think that a lot of thinking here has tended to overdo the ‘matter is conscious’ theme, but Sheldrake’s overall take is convincing. I was surprised to discover the lineage of my own thinking, which was influenced by J.G. Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe, which had a number of problems, but, more, a heavy strain of Whitehead’s Process and Reality, which I never got around to reading. I sort of knew that, Whitehead’s influence on Bennett, but hadn’t realized that certain key ideas in Bennett make better sense in Whitehead’s version, and, maybe, even better sense, potentially (the book is short) in Sheldrake’s version. A good example was Bennett’s idea of the ‘hyparchic future’, a variant of the idea of a ‘virtual future’ of somekind. I was a fascinated by that idea as I was unable finally to really make use of it: it seemed too much of a fringe notion. But, lo and behold, the idea sources in Whitehead. In a way, that was right: I created the ‘eonic model’ under terms of strict ‘succession and/or causal’ logic, but the result was straining to become teleological, leaving the question of how that could be reconciled with standard science. The only idea I could figure was the asides in some books on electronics, to wit, that causality from the future is logical, but ‘unrealizable’. Etc… But Sheldrake’s book resolves my puzzlement: answers have been right under one’s nose all the time, and his remarks on ‘attractors’, gravity, and the systems clearly visible in nature, but always muddled by texts promoting the standard views.
So Sheldrake’s treatment seems to show the fog lifting a bit, in the process leaving me with a better understanding of Bennett’s seminal model of space-time: space, time, eternity, and hyparxis. This model won’t work, because we can’t handle thinking about ‘timeless’ entities. And yet his mock-up model somehow suggests the reality, perhaps first considered by Kant, and more clearly perhaps by Schopenhauer, of the thinkable realm that is beyond time and space. The point is that we see our endless debates between science and religion are really squabbles in the absence of sensible information about such things. \
In any case, the idea of an attractor (standard in many systems model) applied to purposeful systems, as action from the future, is in fact already built into the solutions to the equations of electromagnetism: the answer has been sitting there on the shelf, unused, the days of Maxwell and Faraday.
We once had a discussion here about the stuff of the previous post when ‘Sillykitty’ was commenting, and explicitly chargin EJ Gold with doing occult work for the American Intelligence agencies. I scotched the idea at the time, but for such a person to be an asset for a CIA agency, and operating from the right, would be a calamity. \Silly Kitty may have been righter than he/she knew.
This is hard to understand for people in ordinary left, but in the context of Gurdjieff, black sufism, Crowley idiots, Tibetan Buddhists, the black ops aspect, with the attendant efforts at telepathic hypnosis/suggestion, are practically, but not quite, public knowledge.
These spiritual rights don’t suspect the existence of an occult left, and are themselves caught with their pants down.
One of the strange ironies in Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe is the way he produced a model of the rise of modernity, and concluded with a reflection on the ‘new age’ of the modern, complete with a reference to communism in the year 1848. This concealed radical8ism may well have taken even Bennett by surprise, but, at least, he must have felt uncomfortable with the reactionary character of the Gurdjieff groups, e.g. Ouspensky. A close look at the history shows the way that some hidden spiritual group initiated his drift away from Ouspensky in the later thirties, beginning the gestation of DU. I think that this is the first sign of some radical spiritual entity trying to correct the drift of the Gurdjieff movement toward the right. The whole game staged by Gurdjieff was an attempt to upstage the left (with its own hidden spirituality) and to try and use magical and esoteric mystique to create a reactionary spirituality and anti-modernism. The postmodern is one of the tactics in the wake of that.
In any case, the hidden spiritual left is clearly at work with Bennett, who may or may not have understood what was happening. His work, sadly, is compromised by its association with Gurdjieff, who is not the source of the DU materials.