09.13.09

Bennett vs Jaynes

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 4:57 pm

In spite of what he has previously said, Bennett leaves open the possibility that consciousness is also changing in historical times (by the nature of the case that might be true, also Think of a jungle jim: inventing one and using it are two different things. The emergence of consciousness and its development can be separate aspects).
The point here is that Jaynes’ view, while cockeyed, perhaps points to something real: man is undergoing an accelerated transformation of his consciousness in historical times.
Nevertheless, despite my reserve about Bennett’s overall system it makes sense to say, as he does, that man’s ‘consciousness’ is a species characteristic that appears at the threshold of hominization.

Let us here anticipate conclusions to be reached later and set down
the stages which man has covered in his progress up to the present time.
Starting with Australopithecus, we can distinguish the following main steps.
First step. Some hominoid stock selected for organization of sensitivity corresponding to characteristics of man. Development of biped habit and increasing use of fore-paws for rudimentary
skills. Leads to Australopithecus 3-4 million years B.P.

2nd step Australopithecus endowed with consciousness. Appearance of
first true men 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 million years B.P. leads to Homo erectus.

3rd step Homo erectus produces many sub-species and varieties. Con-
structs tools and has a basic speech. Development of sapiens
with full cranial capacity 150,000-180,000 years B.P.

4th step.The appearance of Homo sapiens sapiens with individual
creativity. 37,000-42,000 years B.P.

5th step. Homo sapiens sapiens develops social consciousness, agri-
culture, settlements, and a complex language structure.
11 ,000 years B.P.

6th step. ‘Modern Man’ comes forward during the time of the great
Revelations. 2,000 years B.P.

Consciousness and evolution in Bennett

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 4:44 pm

It might be of interest to compare/contrast Bennett and Julian Jaynes on consciousness.
It might help to look at the basic framework for Bennett’s views, which are not anywhere near standard science at this point: he brings in a mythology of cosmic beings (demiurge, cosmic individuality, …) that put him in the realm of science fiction, and he also considers ‘consciousness’ to be a ‘cosmic energy’ in a domanin behind life, consciousness being the lowest in a tetrad: consciousness, creativity, being the two lowest. His scheme remains of interest, despite its outlandish character, if only because it ought to be possible to translate his thinking into what might at least theoretically be a coherent ‘upside down scientism’. Whatever the case, it is a reminder that the evolution of consciousness is REALLY hard, and beyond out current understanding, even in principle.
The stage of hominization, then, is the stage of consciousness being injected into man by demiurgic cosmos, followed by soul formation in relation to the creative energy….
Weird stuff. I don’t believe a word of it, and it is a highly schematic set of concepts, but it is a provocative to standard views, including those of the Intelligent Design movement, who refuse to answer to questions about who these designers are. Bennett has a whole zoo of them.
The point here is that consciousness appears at the point of hominization, and is different from what Bennett calls ‘sensitivity’, which is what we normally call, wrongly according to Bennett, ‘consciousnesss’.
This is a challenge to Jaynes who thinks that consciousness appears very late, almost within the last few millennia. Clearly that is problematical, but as we will see even Bennett has a take on this after his own fashion.

The place of mind is at one of the two great discontinuities of the
Natural Order-the other being the transition from inert matter to
living forms. Historically, the appearance of mind is an event equal in
significance to the appearance of life. This is generally agreed, but its
importance is obscured by the tendency to regard evolution as a con-
tinuous process in which each new development emerges out of those
that came before. Read the rest of this entry »

08.27.09

The hyperzoic era

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 1:53 pm

As noted I am going to accelerate the look at Bennett, by jumping toward the end of volume four, for his views on evolution, at which point we can wrap up our consideration of his work.
——————–
Bennett’s views on evolution are highly exotic, speculative, and open at any given point to the charge of pseudo-science. At the same time he is one of the most devastating critics of Darwin, despite some serious goofs of his own, because he attempts to do what Alfred Wallace suspected was needed, which is to explicate the nature of human potential (consciousness, creativity, will, etc..) that can never evolve by natural selection.
The result is something that I must say that I can’t easily accept, but which is interesting anyway because it states what others are too timid to declare, which is that human evolution is about the mind, ‘soul’, and consciousness, and these appear suddenly, as biologists now acknowledge, in a coordiination that is visible in the notable ‘great explosion’ of homo sapiens sapiens sometime after 100k years ago.
Read at your own risk, then, but at the same time it is important to examine these views, whether for the provocation, or their rejection in a critique.

I have cut to the end, with a short quote on the hyperzoic era.

Note that Bennett finds that human evolution straddles two eras: the era of life, and the onset of real man, as the ‘third chimpanzee’ enters the hyperzoic era.
This passage will explain this point, a bit.
I will note the reference to the ‘hyparxic future’, one of Bennett’s most exotic ideas, which might be thought of as the ‘virtual future’.
If you have a project for the future, say, writing a book, that lingers in your mind prior to any action, then the project exists in the virtual future.
Bennett’s thinking on the hyparchic future here is speculative science fiction, but the point he is making is that much of what we see is the realization of a teleological system.

Despite the objectionable formulation, the notion of the hyperzoic era remains for consideration. We tend to see mind and consciousness as the fruits of ‘life evolution’. Bennett is claiming that a new stage is reached with man, as significant as the origin of life: the hyperzoic era.
Note that for Bennett ‘conciousness’ is a cosmic energy, while what we normally call ‘consciousness’ he calls ‘sensitivity’, a life energy.

Chapter 17. THE HYPERZOIC ERA
Our first task must be to explain what we mean by the ‘Hyperzoic Era’. In Vol. I we divided existence into the Hyponomic, Autonomic and Hypernomic realms. Life lies entirely within the second; In Vol. II we similarly distinguished three tetrads of Energies: Material, Vital and Cosmic. Consciousness (E 4) is the coarsest of the four cosmic energies. Sensitivity (E 5) is the finest energy of life, so that the separa¬tion, organization and refinement of sensitivity all fall within the Auto¬nomic Realm. When, however, consciousness is added we enter the Hypernomic realm, and for that reason the stage of evolution in which consciousness appears will be called the Hyperzoic Era-not because it leaves life behind, but because it adds something that goes beyond life. We retain the form ‘-zoic’ to indicate that we are concerned with a stage in the evolution of life; but from henceforward, the emphasis will be upon mind leading to soul. The immense significance of the penetra¬tion of consciousness into the sensitivity of living organisms is not only that this makes possible the arising of selves, but that it is an awakening of the Mind of the Biosphere. Through the human mind, we see that the Biosphere begins to acquire the faculty of reflection, so that the earth becomes related to itself in a new way that goes beyond life alone.
The study of the Hyperzoic Era presents us with a new problem inasmuch as we are in the midst of it, and therefore cannot study the totality of this stage of evolution through its traces, as we have done with the others. We have adopted the view that the part cannot be under¬stood without reference to the whole. We must, therefore, make at least some attempt to construct a picture of the whole Era, even though we cannot say how events will turn out.
We have a few elements to help us:
I. The concepts of hyparchic plan and eternal pattern.
2. The notion of Demiurgic Intelligences working in the Hyparchic Future.
3• The traces of earthly life during the last few million years.

end of page scanned….
etc, etc,….

James, Bennett, and Pali Buddhism

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 1:39 pm

I was amused, and pleased in fact, that in trying to discuss Bennett’s thinking in The Dramatic Universe, James appears to have ‘counterattacked’ with some material on Pali Buddhism. An apt rejoinder, and welcome here.
I can tip my hat to James, and recommend Pali Buddhism myself (although I don’t endorse anything at this point anymore), and proceed to an abbreviated look at Bennett.

So we can also continue with a brief look at Bennett, taken critically. It might help to jump to vol 4 and critique his views on evolution, which are quite exotic.
The question of Bennett’s system is a controversial one, and since this is The Gurdjieff Con blog, it is appropriate to include a critique of Bennett’s systematics, which was our declared intent from the beginning.
Bennett is not a con man, but a kind of superintelligent geek who was spotted by some hidden sufis and dosed with a kind of ‘speed’ that made his mind race at a hundred miles per hour for a thousand pages of what is finally, well, junky. But a few fragments stand out as questions, and ideas of possible value. A total rejection of his work would not be credible, and it is by acknowledging some value in his effort that a critique comes into being.

But Bennett, as MBFM pointed out, was really a victim of the Gurdjieff Con, and an immensely intelligent whiz kid who nearly succeeded in rewriting the ancient Samkhya for modern times. In the process the project got melded, and quite ruined, by its assoication with Gurdjieff. Contact with Gurdjieff turned his brain into mush, and it is hard to sort out the whole thing.

The result in his masterwork is a combination of pure crap with brilliant insights. The result is also, ironically, a way to challenge Gurdjieff on his own ground, since it is not clear from what Gurdjieff said just what he meant, or whether he was telling the truth or telling lies.
Thus Bennett unwittingly upstaged him, and you can defend yourself quite handily using Bennett against Gurdjieff.
Gurdjieff and most sufis are too stupide to produce a spiritual psychology of any value, and Bennett’s work, despite is incorrect foundations and almost drunken rationality on speed, voids most previous efforts.

Except, most amusingly, the realm of Pali Buddhism!

There is something depressing about this failed project: we could have had a clarification of a Samkhya spirituality for modern man: instead we got a Gurdjieff cannibal racket grafted onto a fourth way myth, reprocessed by Bennett as a scholarly book that starts to turn into science fiction.

Anyway, a look at his ‘being function will’ matrix of human psychology, and some of his evolutionary discussions in vol 4 can round out our discussion here and provide critics of Gurdjieff with some solid ground and an amusing way to pull rank on these mystifiers.

08.03.09

Bennett, the will, and the power of attention

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 2:40 pm

My original idea for a commentary on Bennett isn’t going to happen, as I suspected all along, but it is not necessary in fact to go through the whole thing. A few key ideas for discussion are enough.
One thing that I had wished to indicate is that the core samkhya language taken up by Bennett allows the possibility of a secular ‘spiritual’ psychology, and in general a reminder of the superficiality of most psychological discourse, including that given by most religions.
This material, please note, is not sufistic, or the intellectual property of Gurdjieff. Note that this ‘sufi’ had to appropriate an Indian system, the sufistic being barren, and in the process graft theism onto it. Gurdjieff hid his source, and like a child playing hide and go seek didn’t conceal anything very well, although his followers have tended not to see his game and are set on the wild goose chase of ‘ancient esotericism’ when the core Gurdjieff idea was a concoction of nothing more remarkable than Indic Samkhya.
Bennett sees the game but does something different, and more honest.

Bennett performed a great experiment, but the result has failed to estabish itself as a useful resource of psychological understanding and enquiry. That’s not too surprising given the complexity of his formulation.
In any case, it might help if more secular thinkers were aware of the vastness of the human so-called spiritual tradition and of the way in which a post-reductionist psychology can simply bypass the science/religion divide for the noise that it is.
Bennett enters into the spirit of Samkhya to the degree that he doesn’t indulge in speculative theism, referring only to the ‘transfinite’, and in fact he quietly redefines ‘god’ as the third reconciling impulse in every triad, an ingenious way to escape from theological disputes.
There is hardly anything more ingenious than Bennett’s grand cascade of the triads of the will and the relationship of this to man’s all too limited capacities for self-understanding.
The question is, can we truly trust the result here at the fringes of the Gurdjieff/sufi world of dangerous authoritarian figures who would/will attempt to take over this kind of system for their own purposes.
In fact, with a little experience you can use Bennett’s system even better as a skeptic who has graduated from belief in his concoctions: the general drift of his meaning and intent stands out.
Furthermore you will discover that virtually all gurus, sufis, and Gurdjieff types are far too unintelligent to understand any of this, having made up more limited ‘systems’ they can handle, and use to deceive others.
Bennett has stumbled on the general case, the system of systems (where not crap) and this is beyond the capacities of almost everyone. So have fun pulling rank on even the Buddhas, for what it is worth. The point is only that this system of Bennett almost made it: it almost free of the Gurdjieff system. The reason is that Bennett was wide ranging in his studies, and appropriated the Samkhya in his own way. The result is an audacious and interesting experiment.

The key to the whole thing is the triad of Beiing, Function, Will, and the introduction of the factor of ‘will’ into psychologies that usually get no further than ‘function’ with occasional notions of being thrown in, and will taken as some kind of functional element.
Bennett’s approach (which resembles that of Schopenhauer, and of course Kant more distantly) grafts the idea of ‘will’ onto the gunas of Samkhya, a brilliant and audacious line of attack.
The result, in volume II, is the magnificent system of cascading triads in the series 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96.
We cannot be sure this is ‘the’ right interpretation of the Samkhya set of cosmic laws, but it is certainly a brilliant suggestion, and far better it seems than the decayed thinking about the ‘three gunas’ that we find as the last remains of Samkhya in Indian thought.

There is a lot to consider here, but here is a passage from Volume II on attention as a ‘power of the will’./

The point here is the complexity of man’s spiritual (that dumb word again) psychology, and the way in which this transcends the usual debates between religionists and secularists in the raging conflict of science and religion.
Scientific reductionists need a warning of the vast complexity and subtlety of ancient spiritual thought and a sense of the futility of tilting at windmills called the ‘god debate’ etc….

This section on the attention rings true in our experience of the most ordinary kind, yet reminds us of the depth behind the simplest of our psychological manifestations.
From The Dramatic Universe, Vol II, page 74-77

To find our way through the bewildering maze of theories of the Will, we must turn again to the basic connection between Will and Related¬ness. If Will is the source of all relationships within and beyond Existence, we should be able to discover elements of our experience that have wholly the character of relatedness. Such elements should be neither the terms of a relationship nor the events in which rela¬tionships are manifested; but the very relationship itself. We do not have to seek far, for we find the first such element in the power of attention. It is easy to see that attention is not the doer of our actions. We can act without attention and, when we have the sense of making a voluntary action, we can readily observe that our attention is detached both from the source of the initiative and from the action itself. More¬over, attention is never an action. There is no function of attention. Attention cannot be accounted for in terms of nerve-impulses, although it is undoubtedly a determining factor in deciding how the impulses shall be transmitted. Going further, we can readily establish that attention is not the same as Being. Being cannot fluctuate from moment to moment. It is what it is-the measure of the potentialities latent in a given whole. Even if we ascribe changes in total state to Being and regard their character and range of variation as a test of the quality of Being, we still find that they are not the same as attention. Of all the elements of our experience, attention is pre-eminently that which is evidence in favour of the distinction between voluntary and involuntary
action. Indeed, there are no means of deciding whether a given action is voluntary or involuntary except by observing the attention that precedes and accompanies it. Whatever significance we may attach to the word ‘will’, we can scarcely help associating it with the notion of voluntary as ‘distinct from involuntary actions; and so, here at last, we have found a strong argument for concluding that through the study of attention we coukllearn about the nature of Will.
There arises, however, an obvious question as to the connection between attention and consciousness. We connect consciousness with Being, and we might very well argue that attention is no more than the focussing of consciousness. But focussing a lens is a different act from the passing of light through it. We can, moreover, readily verify from observation that the laws that govern attention are quite different from those that apply to the states of consciousness. For example, attention relates, but consciousness is what it is, in and for itself. Attention can be directed, but consciousness has neither direction nor place. Conscious¬ness is never experienced as voluntary or intentional. Consciousness is a quality of existence. Attention does not exist; it is neither an extensive nor an intensive magnitude. Moreover, it is not rel!lted to sensitivity. In other words, it IS not one of the three states of hyle nor any com¬bination of them.• There is no such thing as ‘energy of attention’. Attention can direct energies, but it is not itself an energy. Conscious¬ness, in all its manifestations, is a form of energy. There are as many levels of consciousness as there are levels of energy. The liberation of energy of a given quality is accompanied by a corresponding state of consciousness, even without the intervention of attention-which often follows rather than precedes the change of consciousness.
Consciousness fluctuates-sometimes under the direction of atten¬tion, sometimes quite independently of it. On the other hand, attention does not necessarily depend upon consciousness. We can readily find examples of unconscious attention-when we perform a series of con¬nected actions that depend upon attention, but where neither the actions themselves nor the attention directing them are in the sphere of our consciousness. – In short, we may say that attention appears to be a power that is neither an activity nor an energy. The word ‘power’ is here to be understood as that which directs energy and activity, but is different (rom either. We have to distinguish between powers that establish relationship-i.e., triads-and forces that pro¬duce action, i.e., dyads. Also a power must be distinguished from a state of being-tetrad-that carries its own form of order and organi-
zation. A power is more abstract than a state of being, but more concrete than a force. These powers are properties of the Will.
The power of choice and the power of decision are. two furt.her properties of the Will that, although closely connected With att~ntlon, are nevertheless distinct from it. These powers are connected with the property we have ~alled ableness-to-be, and we might be tempted to refer all such powers to the hyparchic regulator and, hence, to regard choice as a functional activity. This would strike at the root of any doctrine of Value, for evidently choice and decision would be no more than reflex mechanisms unless they derived from a discrimination of values. We choose that which at the given moment appears to us to be the most ‘worth while’, the most ‘interesting’, the most ‘desirable’; in a word, the most ‘valuable’ course of action. It is precisely because choice and decision are properties of the Will that they can relate us to a system of values. If they were functional only, they could do no more than bind us to facts. This is the argument of Plato’s Gorgias, and it has not been bettered.
Here it is necessary to observe that the powers of attention, choice
and decision are exercised by men far more rarely than might be sup¬posed from the frequency with which they appear i~ discussi?n~ about human behaviour. We do attend, choose and deCide: but It IS very seldom that our choice and our decision are voluntary. On the con¬trary, we have the paradox-contrary to Kant’s supposition-that the Will in man is scarcely ever free, and that the evil state of man results not from choice but from failure to choose. Nearly all that man does is the result of the operation of laws over which he has no control. This is so.mainly because he does not understand them. Only seldom, and then nearly always in trivial situations, do a man’s actions stem from the exercise of his will-power.
The connection between Will as Power and Will as the Principle of Relatedness is not hard to establish. Attention is a relationship, and so are decision and choice. Attention cannot be described as a dyad of ‘observer and observed’, for it is an element that is independent of both and yet relevant to both. The considerations put forwar? in the Introduction regarding the nature of relatedness are exemplIfied in every manifestation of Will.
It remains to consider the connection, traced in Chapter 4, between Will and Understanding. First, we may note that understanding is a relationship, and not an activity nor a state of cons~iousness. Secondly, understanding is effectual only through the exercise of the powers of attention, choice and decision. Unless related by the power of attention, a man’s understanding is useless to him. Unconscious choice is nothing but a change in the direction of functional activity. A decision that is not based upon understanding cannot be ascribed to the Will. These assertions are not self-evident, but they can be verified if we observe that all activity is the operation of laws. It very seldom happens that all the forces at work are contained within a given whole or system. In the case of human activity, a man is acted upon and reacts. Will is then only the operation of laws external to the man’s own conscious¬ness and being. When he understands what is happening in these regions of his being, he acquires the possibility of voluntary action; that is, of bringing the operation of the laws, at least in part, within the sphere of his own will. Thus the powers are present, but the exercise of the powers is possible only if there is understanding. Hence we may conclude-and very naturally-that the subjective aspect of Will con¬sists in the exercise of powers, and that their exercise derives from Understanding.

07.30.09

Man, evolution, and magic

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 2:07 pm

From Volume IV of The Dramatic Universe

Since we have commented today on Robert Wright’s debunking of shamans I thought it would be amusing to cite Bennett’s take on shamans, and the early appearance of ‘magic’ in primitive human species (not so primitive, a lot like us).
Bennett adopts an exotic and extreme version of the ‘design’ argument: much of the task of evolution is assisted by ‘demiurgic intelligences’, beings of pure ‘will’ with no physical bodies. This notion, which comes off as science fiction, is actually a derivative of Bennett powerful schema of ‘being function will’.
Whatever the case, I don’t endorse Bennett’s view here, but as a Darwin critic he is one of the most devastating because he adopts a constructive approach to human evolution and the question of consciousness. The idea of the spontaneous evolution of human consciousness (which Darwinists have never demonstrated, to say the least) thus becomes problematical.
In any case, I cannot say I endorse these views at all, but I do find them a challenge in the sense that the current regime of scientism is simply in an imaginary universe.
Bennett’s take on ‘magic’ could be wrong, but it still reminds us that there is something hard to explain about the outstanding traditions of magid, so-called.

Before we leave the childhood of mind, we must try to picture the way the Demiurgic Intelligences operated. They could not communicate with men except through the channel of mind and body. We have already decided that in the previous stage, when teaching was by Example and Imitation, the Demiurges had, first of all, to enter the newly created minds and teach them how to work. The same procedure at the second stage, where we now are, would not succeed unless means were found of impressing new ideas upon the already humanized minds. This was the origin of Magic.

All authorities agree that magic was the earliest cultural agent in human life: but no one can explain how magic started. It is simply ridiculous to suggest that the thought of claiming magical powers popped into the mind of some gifted Neanderthal youngster. One must make a determined effort to visualize the situation. Hunters are notoriously superstitious: why not Neanderthal hunters? Why should they not have had, spontaneously, notions of sympathetic magic and only later have looked among themselves for a suitable operator to perform the rites. Again, this is obvious nonsense. It is totally impossible to picture the origin of magic except through some deliberate action of a man who knew what he was doing and why. This does not mean that we are forced ~o believe in magic-it may all be infantile superstition-but the point IS that no Neanderthal man, or any other man, could have stumbled on the idea unaided. ‘*’ Those who think otherwise merely project their own mentality on to that of men who had no antecedent experience remotely 5embling our own. The evidence, which seems conclusive, that magic )peared before modern man, is as clear a proof as we can hope to find lat some higher intelligence intervened. The continuity of history hat we have observed all through our studies, requires that this inter¬lention should not have been made arbitrarily at one point only. It must have accompanied man throughout his slow march to the attain¬ment of Individuality. So far, then, from appearing as an inexplicable aberration, Magic is seen to be a necessary means for action by the Demiurgic Intelligence.
The technique is almost obvious. Demiurgic Intelligences took pos¬session of selected youths; and, by demonstrating magical powers¬such as predicting the weather and the movements of the herds on which the tribes depended for their food-were able to gain an ascendancy over the tribe. We have to this day, distant memories of this social structure in the Shamans of Siberia. There is good reason to believe that all stages of past history are reflected into the present. * The shaman and his followers believe that, by certain ritual practices, he can open himself to possession by a Great Spirit whose mouthpiece he becomes for so long as the state of possession persists. Most probably, shamanism has for centuries, if not millennia, become no more than the empty shell of a once authentic mode of action of the Demiurgic Power: though it is also likely that it has been grossly misunderstood by anthropologists.

The first magicians were authentic wonder-workers. They were men like the other men among whom they lived; but they were conscious of their Demiurgic Nature. Here we must recall that the nature of man is three-fold: the higher nature being on the level of the Demiurgic Essence. When the Demiurgic Intelligences entered men-whose minds his own nature and his situation in the world. He must certainly have been deeply conscious of his loneliness and apparent insignificance in a hostile or, at best, indifferent environment, where wit and cunning were his only weapons against the savage forces that sought to destroy him. To placate the wild beasts on which he preyed, and to help him overcome the panic which must often have assailed him when he contem¬plated his own precarious position, it is not surprising that he sought refuge in the supernatural.’ This passage makes no sense at all as an explanation of how it all started It is simply not permissible to say that Neanderthal man was ‘already quite capable of reflecting’ when the problem is to explain how the reflective faculty arose. It is not permissible to use terms like ‘deeply conscious’ or ‘supernatural’ without explaining how man could ever have formed the concept of the natural order, let alone the super¬natural. We do not wish to belittle the admirable achievement of Mr. Carrington in giving an account of man’s arising and development in a single volume. His approach to the subject of the human mind is not better or worse than that of other authorities: all equally miss the central point of explaining the genesis of mind.

07.29.09

Logic, dialectic, and triadic thinking…

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 2:25 pm

A passage, page 24, from Volume I of The Dramatic Universe.

I tried to consider how to summarize and/or leapfrog the methodology constructed by Bennett.
It is a very problematical set of ideas, for reasons that suddenly become obvious if we consider the following passage:

Logical Thinking
When a measure of discipline is introduced into the associative process, thinking tends to become logical. Since ancient times, logic has come to be identified with the rules according to which we make judgments as to the truth or falsity of propositions. These latter are the verbal forms in which ideas are confronted in pairs, whereas in ordinary associative processes there is no effectual confrontation. Logical thinking therefore represents an important step forward from automatic association. A special effort, requiring either an unusual stimulus or a long training is needed before a man is able effectually to entertain two complete in- dependent ideas at once and to see their mutual bearing. The result goes beyond the content of the ideas as they are immediately presented and can be called polar thinking. Two ideas, in so far as they are in¬dependent and ri-J.utually exclusive, form a dipole with its own field of force. Through the ability to experience this force-field, the trained logical thinker can make synthetic judgments within the limits of the ideas he is able to formulate. The difference between synthetic judg¬ments and automatic association consists in the presence of polar experience. For example, the words ‘being’ and ‘nothing’ stand for two independent concepts that, when entertained as one single act of con¬sciousness, appear at once both compatible and incompatible. The mental process whereby the two give ~ise to a third idea that harmonizes them without destroying their separate significance is called the dialectic. Hegel, for example, sees in ‘becoming’ a concept that reconciles ‘being’ and ‘nothing’.”” Any pair of independent ideas can be treated as a polar dyad. Thus ‘kingship’ and ‘liberty’ can be reconciled through the idea of ‘responsibility’, which can apply to both and yet is different from either.
Dialectical thinking is certainly of a different order from that which consists in the automatic association and comparison of ideas. Though difficult in its exercise, this form of thought is, nevertheless, extremely limited in its scope. Experience has shown that it is inadequate for finding answers to the practical problems of life, and, indeed, the great exponents of the dialectic-from Plato to Hegel and Marx-have proved unsatisfactory guides to practical life, whether private or public. The dialectic leads also to a defective linguistic form. Our usual language, though full of inconsistencies and ambiguities, can be adapted to the description of two-term systems. When the meanings of words and sentences are defined with special care, a logic is constructed that turns out to be the law of two-term systems. The procedure by which language is made to conform to these rules is, however, an unavoidable im¬poverishment. The ambiguities and inconsistencies of our ordinary speech are not a defect, and recognition of them is a reminder that experience has more dimensions than logic. Analytical and sceptical philosophers have, during a hundred generations, exposed the barrenness of two-term thinking, and it becomes necessary to examine the possi¬bilities latent in higher modes of thought. In seeking tb go beyond logic, we run the risk of falling from serious inquiry into fantastical speculation; but it is more profitable to make the attempt than to remain condemned to the sterility that has overcome philosophy through using forms of
• Cf. Hegel, Logic, trans. Wm. Wallace (Oxford, 1892), pp. 158-64.
thought that are inherently incapable of discovering anything that is new.
( c) Supra-logical Thinking
Supra-logical thinking is both relative and transcendental. It therefore requires more categories than the simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ of logic-. The need to go beyond the ‘pairs of opposites’ is a recurrent theme of Eastern scriptures. P. D. Ouspensky, in his remarkable book Tertium Organum, called supra-logical thinking the ‘third canon of thought’, which, in the next epoch, was to supersede the logical dualism of the preceding age. The dialectic is at best a halfway-house to creative thought, for which at least three independent ideas must be entertained. Such triadic think¬ing, however, is beyond the ordinary power of the instrument with
<;which man has been endowed by nature. '*' . Contemplation of the triad is not merely recognizing a third idea as the reconciliation of two contradictories,-but rather seeing in the union of the three an exemplification of the fu.ndamental relationship by which all experience is governed. So long as nothing more is at work than the primitive associating mechanism, to speak of the 'unity of the triad' conveys little meaning. In order to perceive this unity directly, a power _ of attention is required that comes only with a change of consciousness. . :;;.;.- Such a change occurs so rarely, and in so few people, that, in the usual studies of man and his nature, it is not taken into account. Through failure to recognize either the extreme rarity or the extra..: ordinary power of triadic thinking, the usual histories of human thought cannot account for the authentic innovations that do, from time to time, occur in human understanding of the universal order.

Bennett unwittingly exposes one the deepest problems that haunts most spiritual movements and their concept structures.
By being systematic and thinking in terms of numerical systems (based on ordinal series) he constructs an interesting, if implicit, historical narrative, and shows why everyone is stymied by the result.
Human spirituality suffers a dilemma: man can only deal with logical thinking, while he is constantly being induced to transcend that for something larger. The results are invariably confusion.

Bennett constructs a complete numerology of ordinal series number, from the monad to the dodecad.
The result is intriguing, but never quite seems to work.
Bennett has actually made clear why: he speaks of three-term, four-term, etc, systems, but even the triadic level is vexed. Even the dialectic, pace Hegel, is confused. The distinction between the dialectic and the triadic, however, shows the cogency of Bennett’s attempt to be systematic. Students of Gurdjieff’s ‘law of three’ or Hegel’s dialectic are all confused, the reason being clear from Bennett’s misleading discussion.

The point here is that by the time Bennett reaches the dodecad, given the shaky foundations of the dialectic, or triadic, the results are mythological fantasy in a kind of science fiction.

07.17.09

No readers for DU??

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 6:39 pm

Mr. Bennett on The Dramatic Universe

You have clarified the situation, thank you. I hope this is correct.

I think more people have read this book than you might think. It is, after all, resident in many major libraries. I have seen the stamped dates in the withdrawal count in several cases, over thirty years.
I am not sure what you mean by …nobody would read it would could understand it…
I read it in the seventies, when it made a considerable impression. I finished the whole text in a matter of days.
I have since felt the strangeness of that initial experience.
I have learned a few things from it that, as I can see, I won’t be able to explicate to anyone else.
The point here is that, had Bennett not rigged his work to match Gurdjieff’s system, it would have been a great breakthrough in the modern interpretation of Samkhya, to stand next to Shopenhauer. But sadly that opportunity got lost somewhere.
I think an opportunity has been lost here. The whole thing should have been beyond reproach, but instead the text suffers from careless errors of judgment in performing major tasks, e.g. the confusion over the Kantian categories. And much else.

But it is unusual in that it affirms the value of modernity, and its freedoms, at the end of the fourth volume. That alone made Bennett an object of enmity in sufistic circles. So, on those grounds, et al., despite my criticisms, I have often defended Bennett.

I have to throw up my hands here, I was embarking on a brief commentary, but I can see that would not work out as I had thought.

Clarification on recent edition of The Dramatic Universe

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 6:38 pm

http://www.gurdjieff-con.net/2009/07/12/the-dramatic-universe-page-one/comment-page-1/#comment-35082
Mr. Bennett clarifies his position on The Dramatic Universe.

Ben Bennett said,
17.07.09 at 5:54 pm ·
Dear John
I sent you those copies of DU as I was happy that you had read even enough of the book to write a review of it on Amazon.com. I am sorry if this has caused offence. As for any intentions of making money – you probably realize that this is absurd. We re-printed in 1997 1000 copies, for which we raised the entire cost by private subscription. (This was a facsimile of the original typesetting which unfortunately perpetuated some errors which technical readers discover from time to time.) I watched my father working on this book through most of my childhood, and I knew that his prediction had been fulfilled that nobody would read it who could undertand it. In 12 years we have sold about 400 copies, so nobody is getting rich or ever expects to do so. Stigmatizing my father as a crook was a popular pastime in many quarters throughout his life and while I knew him it never bothered him, and neither does it concern us. If you do succeed in posting DU online in violation of copyright, I don’t expect very much harm will come of it, or interest be taken.

So good wishes to you and all you readers

Ben Bennett

07.15.09

Mr. Bennett blew it

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 2:36 pm

Andrew comment

Mr Bennett blew it completely. He sent me a free set of The Dramatic Universe, and now I see why: he is the copyright holder, and hopes to increase sales by sending copies to anyone who might comment favorably on the book.

I have news for Mr. Bennett: he blew his cover, and reminded me of the danger of treating Bennett’s book in such a way as to promote its hidden agendas.
I can see no way to proceed, and have to thank Mr. Bennett for warning me once again of all the vultures who want to use Gurdjieff and Bennett to exploit people.

To Mr. Bennett I would say: look impartially at you father: he was a gangster’s apprentice, and his great book is totally spoiled by its contact with Gurdjieff.

The fuss over copyright was revealing. I hadn’t the foggiest notion of putting the text on line, a thousand pages to scan??
But now I will see some way to do that and deprive the Bennett gang of the money they obviously want to make from sales of this book. I will do everything I can to prevent that.
The book should be abandoned to public domain. As soon as possible.

07.14.09

Bennett a crook along with Gurdjieff

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 12:35 pm

Bennett’s son tries censorship

I find it amusing and somewhat incredible anyone would try to prevent citation of Bennett’s work online, as a form of censorship.
We will certainly cite Bennett as much as possible and ignore this presumption of copyright.
But putting Bennett online was not our purpose, and the publicity given to that crook is a problem in itself.

So to Mr. Bennett, we should say, you are out of line. We mean to expose the whole Gurdjieff game, and Bennett won’t be spared in that.

Your father was a crook, and a crook’s disciple. And the use of his Dramatic Universe to bamboozle students of spirituality needs to be exposed completely.

07.13.09

Bennett’s dishonest game

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 3:26 pm

Ben Bennett’s comment on The DU page one…
To mr. Ben Bennett:
I have not idea what you think you will accomplish with these copyright tactics. You have guaranteed that our treatment of Bennett will have any last trace of ‘human affection’ stripped away, with the resulting negative portrayal, which is what should have been the case from the beginning.

Fair use quotes, in any case, are not illegal along the lines of commentary, and are in any case completely unnecessary to the discussion.
But they can assist clarification.

As with the last post, chicanery is the atmosphere of the Gurdjieff world. And Bennett fell into that. Anyone who thinks he can replace the Kantian categories with his own set is both a boob, a cheat, and a bamboozler.

So it would be a hundred times more intelligent to allow brief quotes from DU. Again, who cares, we have accomplished our mission here, and certainly don’t need to bother with a lot of citations.

07.12.09

The Dramatic Universe, page one…

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 1:19 pm

DU1a

I have been ambivalent about doing some commentary on Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe, and, having put up a whole matrix of chapters at http://eonic-effect.net/DU/, I have failed to get started on it, perhaps just as well. Since I am not a proponent, the question lingers, why?
Because in setting up and tearing down a Samkhya scheme one can learn something.
Thus, if one can manage to review the history here, it is possible to create a new kind of Gurdjieff critique, and maybe in the process challenge those who will inevitably turn Bennett’s work into a kind of dogmatism to be used to exploit people.
Such a critique is not so simple as total rejection in the name of scientific reductionism.
Bennett is typical of the ‘puppy dog’ disciples who foolishly worship a teacher, and, here, Bennett ends by ascribing all his creative initiative to that source. In the process he became dishonest, and having stared into considerable horror, ended by sugar coating it.
Fortunately, most of The Dramatic Universe is free of that.

Bennett could have produced something very useful, but instead validated Gurdjieff’s plunder of Samkhya (even as he mystified many ‘ancient teachings’). In many ways Bennett’s version is better than the jumping jelly bean baraka bullshit that Gurdjieff inflicts on us in All and Everything.

Gurdjieff’s thinking on the subject would be one thing if he were honest, but he has wiseacred the whole genre. Samkhya is poorly understood by Indian scholars and students of yoga and the guru worship extended puppy dog style from a guru to a sufi black magician, in all innocence, will probably destroy the last verstige of credibility for that teaching.
No matter. We can learn from it, then bury it with the other ‘plutononium’, and proceed to a new understanding along those lines.
With Bennett, a study of Kant’s critique of metaphysics is essential. Bennett is afraid of Kant, as he starts his venture, and tries to concoct a way to bypass him, which is highly questionable.
The passage below is the first page of The Dramatic Universe, cited for that reason only. It already shows a characteristic Bennett theme, his distinction of sensitivity and consciousness, instead of the more usual distinction in yoga of consciousness and self-consciousness.
It would be nice if we could independently verify this rather interesting distinction in Bennett’s formulation, where ‘awareness’ is a life energy, while ‘consciousness’ is a cosmic energy that man can bring to that awareness.
People who write books often enter a realm of self-created linguistic ‘verbiage’ that can go on forever, making little sense to anyone but the author. That problem hits Bennett in a bad way, and it is important to be aware of that, so that the endless passages that sound profound, but then don’t make sense, can be grappled with and rendered comprehensible (or not). He has synthesized an immense amount of material, and the result is often a kind of facile stream of consciousness in his writings. Don’t be intimidated.

To exist means to be what one is. It
Bennett’s son complains about a quote. So we can delete it. Not needed, really.
It is hard to believe the cowardice of this Bennett group that they would cite copyright to prevent any critique.

06.07.09

Garbled samkhya

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 1:48 pm

I am still considering some work on a DU commentary
despite reservations about the idea:
http://www.gurdjieff-con.net/2009/05/23/du-commentary-aborteddu-commentary-aborted/

The reason to proceed is to liberate the classic Samkhya from the distortions that it undergoes with Gurdjieff and then Bennett.
It is a pity to lose the use of that ancient discourse as the wiseacred version gets promoted as some kind of authoritative form of spiritual psychology.

One of the suspicious oddities of Gurdjieff’s deceptive ‘teaching’ is the way he constantly cites ‘ancient teachings’, which he never explains to any degree, and which are impossible for anyone to use, while he never mentions one teaching very close to home, and with historical documentation, the classical Samkhya, which he disguises behind a hocus pocus terminology and a garbled set of concepts.
The issue suddenly clarifies slightly in Bennett’s Dramatic Universe, where an interesting version appears, although one with flawed foundations (who could hope to do it right).
In Gurdjieff, the constand concealment, or ‘bullshitter’s’ version of one thing or another in unusuable pieces, teachings designed to fail and go nowhere, one is left almost headscratching about what this game is.
It seems as if the ensnaring of innocent dupes given a pseudo-teaching is the object of the exercise, these people the ‘lambs’ or patsies behind the ripoff.

05.23.09

The labyrinth of self

Posted in Dramatic Universe at 1:55 pm

The reason Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe is interesting to me is that it shows a way to reinterpret the ancient Samkhya psychology, whose key has been long lost. Once you see how Bennett sets up the whole system of human spiritual psychology in terms of ‘being, function, will’, and then shows how the different selves manifest the descending triads of will in more and more mechanical fashion the point is brought home about the original intent of Samkhya as an aid to meditation and self-knowledge.
But now the whole thing is mixed up with the system of Gurdjieff and I fear it will never be straightened out.