Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe

The old Darwiniana had a lot of commentary on Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe which despite being a work stuck in the ‘new age’ mindset nonetheless had a very modern cast behind its peculiarities and, in the process, provided an introduction, very indirect, without even mentioning the term, of the classic Indian Samkhya.

The latter is of interest because of its universal materialism, atheism, and the way it distances itself from the overweening spiritual jungle of ‘yogic’ spiritual traditions, seemingly endless in number. This subject anciently passed into the Roman Empire and influenced, amazingly, the development of christian theology. If you ever wondered at the strangeness of the doctrine of the Trinity it is because it is a preposterous version of an Indian atheist subject. That christian theologians would base their theology on such a distant and non-theistic subject shows how little we know about the development of christian thinking and we must suspect that christian theism was, for some of the church fathers, a painted face applied to an indic spiritual deeper layer. The world of Bennett inherits this very indirectly via some unknown sufi or other source, via the faux-sufi Gurdjieff.
With Bennett the whole subject is stripped of its history and recast in terms of modern science, despite its anomalous elements, among them an embrace of triadic thinking, not unrelated to the ‘dialectic’, but far more comprehensive. The work of Bennett accelerates away from the ancient Samkhya, which we can see now, is a decayed version of something still more ancient. This work has many liabilities but it points in principle to a possible spirituality of the future based on a basic scientific foundation. However, what we mean by ‘science’ in the end is not so clear, and the real basis of Bennett’s work is not so ancient, but in reality a version of Schopenhauer’s brilliant idea of the Will in Nature. Bennett’s triad of ‘being, function, will’ is invaluable as a way of breaking out of the sterile material/spiritual dualism. Bennett had a lot of very good ideas, and some really flawed thinking, but unfortunately wrote a lot of secondary works promoting gurdjieff’s teaching, and the result was a set of degenerated versions of his own masterpiece, The Dramatic Universe. Bennett had a useful distinction bypassing the material/spiritual dichotomy of the hyponomic, autonomic, and hypernomic realms of nature, roughly related to the subjects studied by physics, biology, and …we reach a void of what we usually call the spiritual but which in this framework is still ‘material’ but in a different aspect and about which we know almost nothing. Note the universal materialism of the whole range, a most useful innovation. The ‘spiritual’, which might exist beyond the triple materiality of nature, would be something else beyond what we call conventionally the spiritual. The difference can be sensed by distinguishing ‘existence’ and ‘being’: being stands beyond existence in some kind of larger abstraction. In any case, we have the insight, so characteristic of an indic ‘samkhya’ flavor of the universal materiality, or ‘uniformity’ of nature. The hypernomic realm thus remains the undiscovered continent of human knowledge but we have at least mapped out a new continent, hopefully to rescue ourselves from the layered superstitions we have inflicted on ourselves in the name of theology.
We might mention briefly Bennett’s take on ‘evolution’, as one of the early (1950’s) critics of darwinism. For Bennett ‘evolution’ is the aspect of nature that evolves ‘life’ in the autonomic realm as the reconciling force between the hyponomic and hypernomic realms, an ingenious if still a bit new agish resolution of much of the confusion over evolution.
I am not a follower of Bennett and take his thinking critically but he is invaluable as an exit point from much of the confusion of secular/religious conflicts…
Our comments are based on The Dramatic Universe and nothing else. All the other works here are mostly useless attempts at simplification or gurdjieff propaganda based on false claims about the ‘law of three and the law of seven’. Much of Bennett’s work on spiritual psychology is not without interest, but somehow Bennett could never get it right here and was unable to produce a useful version of a ‘spiritual path’, in part because his thinking is so complicated noone can figure out how to apply it in practice. The answer, very simple, which eluded Bennett, is ‘stop thinking about it so much, and meditate’…

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