History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Samkya, modernity and the left

March 23rd, 2017 · No Comments


I think that it would have been much more elegant for dialectical materialism to have been a version of the ancient samkhya. Actually the work of bennett, which still deserves study, attempted to completely recreate the subject in the context of science but bennett was caught up in a world of rogue sufis who were also dangerous reactionaries. But there is a lesson there: we can proceed to a ‘universal materialism’ that can deal with the spiritual and produce a psychology that is not bound to scientism. Still, bennett’s ultimate failure is a lesson in being wary of using too exotic ‘new age’ legacies. But the fact remains that some group of sufis, seeing the limits of their own thinking, appropriated the samkhya (or else took up the version that entered early xtianity) and made a set of suggestions about its real meaning. The facts of the case are unclear, to say the least, but the sudden appearance of a rightist ‘semi-sufi’, the dark figure Gurdjieff, with a version of samkhya of preposterous yet cogent proportions was a mysterious ‘new age’ development, one i always suspected of being a challenge to the failures of dialectical materialism. This figure was searching for mathematicians who could serve the task of recreating the subject and that figure clearly was bennett whose four volume The Dramatic Universe is an almost fantastic rebirth of samkhya (the term is never used and bennett may not have understood the connction).

I think the left could adopt a historical archaeological study here and attempt to rescue this ancient radical subject from the right and in the process freeing it from the rightist theft of a subject that has produced another new age anti-modernist hype circuit. Bennett was actually secretly sympathetic to the left, up to a point, and his perspective in any case could generate a useful way to universalize both an ancient indic philosophy and modern scientism. It is too much to hope for but there is nothing wrong with a leftist study of the subject with its classic debate (war) between the neo-brahmins and the samkhya materialists.
In any case neither Gurdjieff nor the sufis have any real claim on samkhya.

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