Evolving Intelligence of the Biosphere:

An Essay from DuVersity Newsletter 35 – 2014

The Light and Dark, as Value and Fact, could be viewed as reconciled by an evolved mind, within the biosphere. They could indeed be the cause of the arising of proto-minds, since existential situations in the Biosphere are of value for its beings whilst being factual. As Bennett points out, sex and death are innovations of the biospheric world, and we can now date their arrival during the Cambrian “explosion” (around 542 million years ago) when plants and animals (multicellular life forms) innovated sex to reproduce their organisms as a whole as well as regenerating their cells through cell division. Animals, unlike single-celled algae, are able to express action but must die to benefit from generational improvement by natural selection. Only by such means could the three brains of humans, motive, emotive and cognitive, be selected through their effectiveness in adaptation to living conditions within a variety of different biomes.

But there have been problems for humans in their maintaining a shared cultural harmony towards nature and the biosphere, due to the success of their cognitive brain capacity to solve environmental problems based upon facts. Technologies can arise whose consequences may conflict with social values that are somewhat weakly held to. Arguments can break out over values and the impact of technologies and those that wield them, but the factual benefits generally dominate other human views. The environmental argument is being lost whilst technology becomes an ever stronger threat to the biosphere as we know it. The modern world is simply the latest and greatest in which actions often clearly go against valuing the environment over the wealth it can create, and better-off populations have become used, inured and psychically hardened to human and biospheric tragedy.

The familiar types of religion were identified by John Bennett as worshipping God as Father, Mother, Son, and Spirit. Of these, it is the Spirit culture that best represents Nature and the biosphere, rather than the human need to have god “in the image and likeness” of the generative relationships; of father (authority), mother (nourisher), and male child (saviour). The Spirit culture is now identified with the East because “spiritism” was carefully removed from our world view by modern science, in order to “get at” the physical laws which such beliefs, in spirits behind phenomena, “hid” from being investigated and understood; as being factual and not involving spirits at all.

The norm for spiritism is to explain the biospheric world as due to four or sometimes five elements. The word “element”, then came to be used for our chemical elements, having inherited that word from the precursor of modern chemistry, alchemy. The aim of alchemy was the transformation of material properties and, alongside this, the transformation of human understanding in the form of the philosopher’s stone.

The displacement of four elements by (what would need to be called) the atomic elements, was a descent into the factual nature of what things were actually made of. But in the process of factual discovery the original purpose of the system of four Elements was lost sight of, namely; a workable system for understanding the world as being due to the interaction of but four types of characteristic properties within situations, that is as found within nature.

The Elements enabled the study of nature as a whole through the collation of diverse properties into states of materiality, on the basis of which concrete understandings were possible of interactions within the environment and indeed, within our own bodily and even psychic nature. Without seeing the world as being made up of these Elements, the whole world view, shared by Classical and ancient near eastern cultures, rendered that view ineffective. The chemical elements, whilst factually true, had displaced a form of understanding that was not based purely upon facts.

A similar system to the four Elements can be seen running in parallel within ancient modes of thought, in which three terms create triadic relationships; the gunas of post Vedic India and the trigrams of the Chinese I Ching.

The virtue of a small number of Elements or terms, corresponds with the underlying belief that the world should be knowable by human beings, which is intelligible to us, as if ordained by whatever gave rise to the biosphere or even the universe. Since humanity have evolved in the biosphere perhaps it is quite factually possible for the world we live in to be knowable in a direct and simple way. Associated with the human need for simplicity in order to understand, and the corresponding intelligibility within Nature, is the question of what role the human being has within the biosphere.

The evolution of the present-day human is at least in part some kind of natural selection and if such selection is purely due to successful survival then, no purpose can be attributed to the arising of the human being. The idea that the biosphere has evolved the human would be absurd within a scientific framework and yet, the “climbing of mount impossible” as Richard Dawkins characterised the success of natural selection begs the question of what the impossible is.  Achieving the Impossible is considered Miraculous and Gurdjieff says, in a book called In Search of the Miraculous, that higher levels of super-consciousness exist within human beings, which are fully functional but also hard to access. He called these the higher emotional and higher intellectual centres. It is only this distributed but sub-conscious seat of intelligence within the human population which could form part of an intelligent biosphere which could be purpositive.

The problem with natural selection is that it deals only with the effect of facts upon biological selection; the facts either kill you and you can’t breed or the facts are survivable and you do. However creatures also develop faculties and these are as much to do with factually intangible values, such as skills, experience, communication, persistence, and whilst all these are often now built in to natural selection, they participate in the domain of Value rather than Fact. Values are often held within patterns which, although these can often be recorded, what they mean have to be received by some kind of mind that is not oblivious to them. Such a mind, in other words, has to be sensitive and it is this sensitivity coupled to an appropriate apparatus which we call a mind which is distinguished by recognising values in environmental situations.

This sensitivity is required to perceive and manage the values which can be found in the biosphere including cultural situations. This led Chinese spiritism to propose that “The Supreme Will can only set in motion, It cannot control the things It has made”. Things set in motion, not by us but within Nature, express both facts and values, though the values require a mind for their perception. These minds can imagine states of the world, scenarios which don’t actually exist and such visions can themselves be creative. But minds can also develop concrete understandings which have emerged not from imagining an alternative to what exists but rather from work embracing both knowable facts and perceived values within the present moment, so as to generate new structures of will.

This relationship can be seen in the most powerful symbol of Chinese spiritism, The Tao.

Overlaid are the connectives of a Tetrad, a diagram used with Bennett’s systematics but probably historically originated by Aristotle. It deals with an above and a below which, as a dyad, are unable to interact but do provide the motivation behind a horizontal dyad which provides an operational means to actualisation. Here the motivation is to study an Activity (the systemic attribute Bennett gave it in his systematics) which evidently exists within human beings; to work with the values we perceive in knowable and factual situations.

As we proposed above, we can work with facts in new creative ways by imagining situations which do not yet exist, but might be possible to achieve. This can then have a Cybernetic effect in which what is imagined can become instrumental in achieving something through our human agency within the world.

Learning to achieve something new in the world requires the formation of a concrete understandings which are, in effect, a new structure of our will. Rooted in existence, knowable facts can feed creative imagination which, having perceived a new value, can seek a suitable understanding to make that value a reality in the factual world.

The above led me, by adapting some of Arthur M. Young’s thinking [in his Geometries of Meaning], to recognising the need for something which lies behind  such a power for values within human experience. Within his own four fold systems, he suggests that systems cannot be creatively controlled without recognising their sense of purpose. He traces the causal sequence in which pigs accidentally get burnt and are discovered cooked. The idea of cooking reverses this received ordering by imagining the cooking of a pig by lighting a fire so as to eat the cooked pig, as previously discovered after a natural fire. Causality is reversed by grasping what is required as a whole situation with the purpose (or Will) to cook a pig to eat.

It is in the recognition of wholeness that such structures of will are born, in which the Unity of the whole (system plus environment) can act. Wholeness is grasped by recognising a possible state of affairs and the means of achieving it, all coalesced into a system of balanced terms by intelligence. This can be identified with the directing term of a Tetrad which then stands between Unity and Diversity, the latter being the result of the former in traditional Creational stories. Could it be that Unity is really more basic than value as being its source and Diversity more basic than Fact as being what facts manifest?

The above diagram can then be re-posed as:

The verb INVENT is a term which is directing whilst the instrumental term is ADAPT since the building of fires belongs to the skill development in which Life in general has adapted to the environment. Adaptation is cybernetic in the sense of evolving causal loops to cope with environmental needs and necessities, which Invention breaks out of existing causal loops to form a new act of will, manifesting the intelligence of the Whole (unity) and creating a future structure of will. ADAPT and INVENT are coloured red (“the light [of the sun] seen through darkness”) and blue (“the darkness [of distant hills] seen through [scattered] light”) to express Goethe’s phenomenology, in which a complex or diverse situation is collapsed by Life to invent new ways of containing and hence simplifying the World, as a harmonious Unity of Will.

from Book 5: Harmonic Origins of the World

Intelligent Star Systems

The harmony of the spheres can only be found in our world of time, where it is a strong and compelling phenomenon. Such a harmony was no prescientific fantasy. Pythagoras, who coined the term, probably did so based on the geocentric time world, a view lost to history apart from cryptic references that can no longer be interpreted.

In our age of system science, musical harmony is not thought relevant to the design of dynamic systems such as the planets, yet they appear adapted to just intonation seen from the exclusive perspective of our planet. Why should our planet have a harmonious view of time, and what difference does time’s harmoniousness make to life on Earth? Is there some other purpose to this harmony or none at all? To answer such questions one has to recognize just intonation as being a holistic system that demands human insight into the nature of whole phenomena (a so-called gestalt). Such gestalts flow from the need to see higher-level relationships rather than the raw complexity of their parts. All higher structures of meaning subsume lower levels of meaning.  For example, microclimates are a structuring of meaning higher than  trees, water, weather, and topography, usefully integrating these parts within a newly perceived whole. Such insights reveal a higher idea that indicates new potentials within a system. The new level of conceptual order has not changed in the phenomenon but how we relate to it. This profound faculty is the basis of what we call understanding rather than knowing, and it enlarges our “world.” The world is already structured, and a sensory insight re-creates that structure as a simplifying aspect, already present, to expand the intelligibility of the sensory world and with it, our present moment. Insight and the world’s creation were considered similar acts within ancient cosmologies, in that an insight about the world resembles the structure of the world as it would be conceived by any god in the act of creating it. Such a vision involves a special effort but provides a creative view of the world, in which simplicity and relatedness replace functional complexity with a new appreciation of the sensory world. The celestial behavior in Earth’s skies is a prime example of such an action: the rotation of Earth, its orbit around the sun, the moon’s orbit, and its illumination by the sun complicate the observed orbital periods of the other planets and yet, that added complexity has produced harmonic simplicity between synodic periods!

Chapter 1 showed how Late Stone Age astronomers used geometrical counts of synodic periods to discover this harmony of the spheres, which modern astronomers have not seen because scientific calculation methods deal instead with planetary dynamics modeled by equations. Simplicity has somehow adapted our solar system without breaking physical laws. At the level of gravitational dynamics, many complexities were required to achieve just intonation seen only from Earth, especially the lengthening of the lunar month as an intermediary to the planetary synods seen from Earth. Any demiurgic preference for harmony (seen from Earth) resembles the human gestalt that revealed the harmony of the spheres to human sensory intelligence in the Late Stone Age, and it must be noted, humanity has become demiurgic since the Stone Age, creating man-made worlds.

Demiurgic intelligences are probably part of each star system and, if our star has a demiurgic intelligence, this action seems to have used the moon to establish a justly intoned time world for the third planet. It adapted the unchanging orbital pitches of an n-body planetary system to present harmonic synodic systems that planetary orbital periods alone could never express. Our geocentric system is harmonically founded between 1, the zeroth power of 2 (the Saturn synod) and the fifth power of 60 (YHWH, as 365-day year), which is the smallest numerical resolution to contain just intonation of both inner and outer planets, as in the implied holy mountains of our ancient texts.

Harmonic Origins of the World
Contents (272 pages, 100 b&w illustrations)
Introduction: The Significance of Planetary Harmony (5)
1 Climbing the Harmonic Mountain (20)
2 Heroic Gods of the Tritone (19)
3 YHWH Rejects the Gods (15)
4 Plato’s Dilemma (22)
5 The Quest for Apollo’s Lyre (25)
6 Life on the Mountain (23)
7 Gilgamesh Kills the Stone Men (16)
8 Quetzalcoatl’s Brave New World (31)
9 YHWH’s Matrix of Creation (19)
10 The Abrahamic Incarnation (15)
Postscript: Intelligent Star Systems
APPENDIX 1: Astronomical Periods and Their Matrix Equivalents
APPENDIX 2: Ancient Use of Tone Circles (11)

A Moon that created Life?

Extracted from Precessional Time and the Evolution of Consciousness, Inner Traditions, 2011. There is a long history of speculation concerning the origins of our Moon which is still not fully settled but an early impact seems most likely and a key proponent has been William K Hartmann of the Planetary Institute (also space artist, see below). The Moon has played so many important functions for the development of both the Earth and its Biosphere, that it is worth noting some of these when considering the Moon’s relationships to the synodic periods of the outer planets through its lunar year.

Over 4.5 billion years ago the inner solar system was a jumble of would be planets and planetoids. It is thought that Earth shared its orbital zone with at least one other planet about the size of Mars, similarly composed of a heavy metal core and outer mantle. Both would have been mopping up smaller bodies but eventually the two collided with each other.

Figure 1 The Collision of Earth and Thea (©William K. Hartmann)
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Gurdjieff’s Diagram of Everything Living

first created: 28 October 2017

Gurdjieff first presented his ideas to groups in pre-revolutionary Russia. Amongst his carefully chosen students it was the habit to reconstruct talks and diagrams as much as possible, an endeavour that gave us a textbook of Gurdjieff’s ideas called In Search of the Miraculous (P.D. Ouspensky, 1950). This early form of the teaching was radically revised and extended by Gurdjieff, now as an author, during the 1920s, producing All and Everything whose part one was Beelzebub’sTales to his Grandson (G.I. Gurdjieff, 1950). Prior to drawing this diagram just after February 1917, Gurdjieff had been presenting ideas about transformation of energies, human and cosmic, using the musical theory surrounding the octave of eight notes. The Diagram of Everything Living was “still another system of classification… in an altogether different ratio of octaves… [that] leads us beyond the limits of what we call ‘living beings’ both higher [and lower] than living beings. It deals not with individuals but with classes in a very wide sense.”

Figure 1 The Diagram of Everything Living
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Cosmic Origins of Religion and Death

written October 2014 and published in DuVersity Magazine

In order to think about the cosmic world one has to recognize that it is more than the world of life found on the earth and the living world, or biosphere, is most probably a result of how the cosmic world organised evolution on the earth.

Threefold Manifestation: The light triangle of the Trinity represents God, who remains ‘beyond all things’, entering the black hole of matter (hyle). As a result, three worlds arise: the angelic (empyrean), stellar (ethereal), and elemental. From Robert Fludd by Joscelyn Godwin, Thames & Hudson (Shambhala: Boulder, 1979, page 52)
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Search for Intelligence within the Biosphere

Published in DuVersity Online Magazine “Views” May 2014

John G. Bennett received a very unusual teaching from G.I. Gurdjieff, his early teacher, and from an early student of these ideas, P.D. Ouspensky, who acted as mentor during Bennett’s early development of the ideas then seen in his Dramatic Universe and other books.

The classic form of Gurdjieff’s ideas (c.1916-8) were fortunately reconstructed from student notes from lectures and eventually piblished in Ouspensky’s 1950 book In Search of the Miraculous. What emerged was a vision of everything that existed and how this Whole structure we call the Universe was layered into systems of differing size and how each of these scales of structure had its own type of operation including an intelligence which enables it to do things within its own world and organise its environment.

The commonly held idea of the universe, defined by our scientists, corresponds with structures of distinctive scale, such as galaxies, stars, planets, the Earth’s biosphere and planetary moons. In contrast, human kind used to attribute intelligence and being to celestial objects yet today, there is almost no scientific tolerance for large scale structures having an innate intelligence or being.

Yet it is hard not to attribute an intelligence within large cosmic structures when confronted with the fortuitous structure of the universe in producing life, and life with a degree of intelligence such as ourselves. Also, one has to ask: Why do these structures exist if not to create the conditions within which, at least, human beings can live in such a beautiful and benign environment as our biosphere?

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