The Broken Chain

Ralph Abraham

With the advent of modern science, the spiritual side of the pre-modern paradigm was cast aside. The cosmology of the great chain of being, our heritage of 5000 years from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, was broken. The main advantage of the great chain is its vision of the interconnection of all things in the universe, and the intelligence manifest in the evolution and animation of all beings on the great stage of life.

Image Source: http://mactex.blogspot.comThe harmony gained from a conscious experience of the cosmic movie is derived from this higher intelligence. The spirituality of all pre-modern philosophic and religious traditions concurred in this vision.

From the seventeenth century to the present, the intelligence of the cosmic play has been relegated to physical force fields: electric and magnetic, gravitational, and more recently nuclear. These are all mathematical fictions and likewise are their mathematical models such as Newton’s law of motion. This is the materialist world view.

Today, as the modern view gives way to a new paradigm of interspirituality — the common spiritual aspect shared by all world traditions — many of us would like to recover what was lost, in some form. I propose a theory for the demise of the World Soul in the seventeenth century with the hope that it may strengthen the interspiritual movement currently underway and show a return to an integral view of the world, a restored great chain of being. Our story focuses on one day in 1605 when Johann Kepler corrected the manuscript for his book, Astronomia Nova, by changing the word “soul” to the word “force”.

In his classic study of the Italian Renaissance of 1860, the Swiss historian Jakob Christoph Burckhardt (d. 1897) introduced the notion of cultural plateaus punctuated by catastrophic shifts in the context of European cultural history. Later in 1935, a sociological model for these shifts was described by the Polish physician and philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck (d. 1961). He analyzed the beginning of the biological theory of disease in terms of the social dynamics of a community of medical scientists. Fleck’s ideas on thought-collectives, thought-styles or paradigms, and paradigm shifts, have been popularized by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 classic on the sociology of science. In Kuhn’s model, a paradigm is stable for a time, and as paradoxes accumulate — scientific observations in conflict with the paradigm — a tipping point is reached, and the old paradigm gives way to a new one. Fleck was careful to point out that certain ideas that are foreign to a thought-style may actually be invisible to the members of a thought-collective.

Drawing upon the mathematical theories of chaos and complexity, I have adopted the metaphor of bifurcation for these major cultural shifts. In Chaos, Gaia, Eros, I parsed world cultural history into three large chunks — the epochs of Chaos, Gaia, and Eros — demarcated by bifurcations in agriculture, the wheel, and our current chaos revolution. At the present moment we are grinding in the gears of a major shift.

Let us return to the original context of Burckhardt’s thesis — the Italian Renaissance — to analyze and understand the replacement of the Neoplatonic cosmology of the World Soul by the modern cosmology of physical forces around the year 1600. In doing so we are confronted by two conflicting threads of Western philosophy before the Renaissance. These are the parallel traditions of Plato and of Aristotle. The Neoplatonic cosmology was summarized by an early fifth century Christian Neoplatonist named Macrobius as follows:

Since, from the Supreme God Mind arises, and from Mind, Soul, and since this in turn creates all subsequent things and fills them all with life, and since this single radiance illumines all and is reflected in each, as a single face might be reflected in many mirrors placed in a series; and since all things follow in continuous succession, degenerating in sequence to the very bottom of the series, the attentive observer will discover a connection of parts, from the Supreme God down to the last dregs of things, mutually linked together and without a break. And this is Homer’s golden chain, which God, he says, bade hang down from heaven to earth.

According to historian Arthur Lovejoy, this passage is one of the chief vehicles for the transmission of the wisdom tradition from ancient Greece to the Latin Middle Ages. Of course, the Good of Plato became the One of Plotinus, and then the God of Macrobius and of Christianity.

During the Renaissance, Platonic cosmology was understood in the system developed by the Christian Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino in mid-15th century Florence. Its chief features were:

* the One, or God,
* the Intellectual Sphere, or Mind
* the World Soul,
* the Spirit, and
* Nature.

The many kinds of angels were aspects of the World Soul, as were the individual souls of all living things, rocks, planets, animals, etc. It is worth noting that Ficino placed Spirit between the Soul and Nature. He perceived Spirit as a field of emanation that facilitated the interface between Soul and Nature. For an individual human, Spirit intermediates between the individual soul and the body. For Kepler, on the other hand, the Neoplatonic cosmology was compressed into the Christian Trinity visualized as a three-dimensional ball with God at the center, Christ at the bounding sphere, and the Holy Spirit in between. The World Soul and the souls of the planets played crucial roles in Kepler’s astronomy.

Aristotle’s writings were canonized during the Middle Ages, while Plato’s were lost in temporary oblivion. By the time of Kepler’s birth in 1571, the following dogmas, among others, were carved in stone: celestial matter moves in circles; the planetary orbs are physical shells made of this matter; there is nothing but God outside the celestial sphere; and everything outside the lunar sphere is changeless.

In the Western mind, which is by now global, the entire Neoplatonic cosmology of Ficino has vanished, save God and Nature. This has left a rent in the fabric of the cosmos. The Great Chain of Being was broken and preparations were to unfold for the big paradigm shift.

Cracks in the cosmic egg

One aspect of an established paradigm is dogmatic blindness. Recently I heard on the radio that when Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas on his first voyage in 1492, the natives could not see his ships because large sailing vessels did not exist in their reality. Prior to hearing that radio program, I heard this story versioned as Captain Cook’s first reaching the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. The popularity of these myths shows the appeal of an idea with merit, true or not. But here is a version that we may fully document.

Cassiopeia is a constellation of stars in the north polar region of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Shaped like the letter M or W, it is one of the oldest and most popular figures in the sky. Hipparchus, who cataloged 1022 stars, listed 68 stars in Cassiopeia. That was the situation until 1572, when Tycho Brahe saw a new star, or nova, appear in Cassiopeia. Then there were 69. Shortly after this, Kepler observed a nova in the tail of the Serpent constellation, and another in Cygnus. Suddenly there were new stars everywhere. New stars, which appear irregularly throughout all times, suddenly became visible. Perhaps astronomers and lay people were blinded, like the natives that could not see a large sailing ship, by their faith in the theory of Aristotle that the heavens where changeless.

Modern astronomers have learned that a nova is a burst of light from the explosion of an existing star. There are two types of novas: ordinary novas (mild stellar explosions) and supernovas (cataclysmic stellar explosions). An ordinary nova is observed as an increase of brightness by a factor of 50,000 or more in just several days. The nova’s peak lasts just a few hours then gradually fades over a period of four or five months. There are about 100 novas per year in the Milky Way. A supernova is about 100,000 times brighter than a nova. The brightness develops rapidly, and declines very little over an initial period of several weeks. In the Milky Way, only six supernovas are known to have occurred in recorded history. Comets are also a kind of new star but very badly behaved; Aristotle believed comets were in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The table below shows the acknowledged supernova events in the Milky Way in two categories: those observed in Europe, and those observed in the East.

TABLE 1. Observed Super Novas

Year, Europe, Asia
369,      —        x
386,      —        x
393,      —        x
1006,    —        x
1054,    —        x
1181,    —        x
1572,     x         x        Tycho
1604,     x         x        Kepler

Six brilliant new stars, visible everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere from the year one up until 1200 CE. Score: Asia, 6; Europe, 0. We have to conclude that the astronomers of medieval Europe were effectively blinded by their faith in the Aristotelian dogma.

We can understand that the dogma of Aristotle blinded the astronomers of the European Middle Ages. But what we need to understand is this: how did it come about that finally a European astronomer, Tycho Brahe, was able to see a supernova in 1572? The paradigm shift models of Ludwik Fleck and Thomas Kuhn propose a gradual weakening of the grip of a paradigm as paradoxes accumulate. In the mathematical theory of bifurcation, this is but one type of bifurcation called a subtle bifurcation. The other two categories of bifurcation are called explosions and catastrophes. The event of 1572 seems to fit better the catastrophic model, as Tycho was able not only to see the new star but also, because of his revolutionary observational instruments and skill, to establish that it was outside the lunar orb. Tycho believed the new star was genuinely new; that is, the star was formed by the condensation of matter from the Milky Way.

Even though no paradoxes (i.e., new stars) were observed in the European Middle Ages, the hold of Aristotelian dogma on the Western Mind weakened during the Renaissance. Three crucial factors led to this weakening. First was the reintroduction of the Neoplatonic corpus by Ficino in 1482 that restored the classical balance of Platonic and Aristotelian ideas.

Second was the development of a new paradigm in the field of medical science around 1520. This paradigm concerned Paracelsus’ use of metallic medicines along with physician’s rejection of the classical medicine of Galen.

And third, the Copernican model of the solar system published in 1543. Although this publication did not immediately precipitate a catastrophic bifurcation, we may regard it as an exemplary subtle bifurcation. The related and gradual paradigm shift became apparent after the works of Kepler and Galileo.

Each of these factors was a paradigm shift or bifurcation. However, Aristotle’s dogma was finally broken by the publication of Tycho’s book, De Stella Nova, in 1573: This was Crack #1.

Tycho Brahe’s paradigm shift — the observation of the new star in 1572 — was prepared by earlier shifts associated with Ficino, Paracelsus, and Copernicus. The larger paradigm shift of Johann Kepler, in turn, was prepared by the shifts of Tycho, Giordano Bruno, and William Gilbert. The story of Kepler’s shift follows a sequence of four epiphanies that occurred during the astronomer’s life.

The First Epiphany: The Great Comet of 1577

Johann Kepler was born on December 27, 1571 in Weil, a small town southwest of Stuttgart, Germany. When Tycho observed the new star in late autumn of 1572, Kepler had not yet celebrated his first birthday. However, a huge comet spread its tail over the skies of Europe from November 1577 to January 1578. Around Kepler’s sixth birthday, his mother Katharina took him by the hand to the top of a hill outside of Leonberg to witness this fabulous spectacle. Kepler retained a pleasant memory of this special moment.

Aristotle, in his Meteorologica of 350 BCE, opined that comets and meteors were atmospheric phenomena and, therefore, within the corruptible sublunary world. But Tycho was able to measure the parallax of the Great Comet and thus establish that it was superlunary; that is, the comet was above the orb of the moon. In his book De Mundi Aetherei of 1588, Tycho provided the evidence and stated his opinion that the comet moved in the superlunary realm between the Moon and Venus. This was Crack #2 in Aristotle’s dogma and appeared 15 years after the first crack.

In Tycho’s model of the solar system, the orbs, or spherical shells, of the Sun, Moon, and stars were centered in the Earth, and the five planetary orbs had centers in the Sun. The radius of the lunar orb is about 0.4 million kilometers, while the modern distance between the lunar orb and that of Venus is about 42 million kilometers. So Tycho had placed the Great Comet in a thick superlunary shell. In addition, Tycho concluded that, because of the comet’s motion, it must pierce the orbs of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Thus the orbs disappeared into the cosmic fluid and gave rise to Crack #3 in Aristotle’s cosmic egg. This work was published in 1588.

So what we discover is: first, a new star outside the moon appeared in 1572; second, a comet appeared outside the moon in 1577; and third, the orbs are not solid. Kepler, now studying with Michael Maestlin at Tübingen, came to understand that Aristotle had erred in thinking the superlunary cosmos was unchangeable and that the orbs were actual structures.

The Second Epiphany: At the Graz Gymnasium in 1595

Medicine and astronomy/astrology comprised a substantial part of medieval science and continued to do so for most of the Renaissance. Tycho Brahe was employed in Prague as Imperial Mathematician, or court astrologer, to Rudolph the Second of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperor. Although Kepler aspired to be a Lutheran minister during his Tübingen years, he eventually succeeded Tycho in this position. One obstacle Kepler faced in seeking a church position was that, though a devout Lutheran, he could not accept the official Lutheran doctrine regarding the Communion.

Thomas Aquinas held the doctrine of transubstantiation: the substance of the bread and wine are transformed during the Mass into the Body and Blood of Christ. Martin Luther held the doctrine of ubiquity: the substance of the bread and wine are not changed. Instead the Body and Blood of Christ were ubiquitous and everywhere. John Calvin held that the bread and wine are not changed, but that Christ in heaven visits the communicant during Communion. Kepler preferred the Calvinist doctrine. Perhaps the reason Kepler was denied the ministry is because he held this heretical view. Instead, at age 22, he was dispatched to Graz, southwest of Vienna to teach mathematics in the Lutheran Stiftschule, or gymnasium.

Towards the end of his first year of teaching, on July 19, 1595, while lecturing on the Great Conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter, a geometric diagram of successive conjunctions suggested to Kepler a mathematical blueprint for the solar system. This was a diagram of Euclidean plane geometry, which he later discarded. But this epiphany inspired his idea that God was a geometer, and this in turn led to his three-dimensional model for the solar system that became the essence of his first book, the Mysterium Cosmographicum, in 1596.

The Third Epiphany: From the Holy Spirit to the Cosmic Clock in 1605

Our story of Kepler’s third epiphany spans the period from 1600 to 1609. In 1600, three influential events had taken place: Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Inquisition for his heretical views; Kepler was expelled from Graz by the Catholic rulers, along with all other Lutherans; and William Gilbert’s book on magnetism was published.

In this same year, Kepler and his family moved to Prague where Kepler could work with Tycho. Then in 1601, Tycho died of an abdominal problem, exacerbated by an overdose of medicinal mercury. Kepler was awarded Tycho’s position as Imperial Mathematician and inherited his observational data. Thus began Kepler’s war with Mars that concluded with the publication of Astronomia Nova in 1609. This work contains Kepler’s first and second laws: planetary orbits are ellipses with the Sun at one focus, and equal areas are swept in equal times by the vector from the Sun to the planet. The so-called second law was the first to be derived by Kepler; it is one of the first ordinary differential equations in the history of mathematics. It marked the beginning of celestial mechanics and also dynamical systems theory, better known as chaos theory today. It models the speeding up of a planet at its perihelion (closest point to the Sun) and slowing down at its aphelion (farthest point from the Sun).

The third epiphany occurred while Kepler struggled to understand the trajectory of Mars. Coming to grips with Tycho’s data on Mars, Kepler concluded that the planet’s orbit is an oval. Already this clashed with the then conventional circular dogma, and Kepler invented a new model to understand the planet’s movement along an oval pattern. This model, known as libration theory, pictures the planet guided along a circle, while at the same time librating — moving linearly to and fro along the line connecting the planet to the Sun — so as to trace out an oval path. For both of these two movements, circular and linear, Kepler believed there must be physical causes behind them.

Kepler proposed in several compositions (letters to Fabricius in 1603 and 1607, and in chapter 33 of Astronomia Nova) an immaterial field, the solar species, emanating from the Sun and functioning like a circular river that carries the planet around a circle. In this radical proposal he was probably inspired by the Neoplatonic Soul, the Holy Spirit of the Christian Trinity, by light, and by William Gilbert’s recently published theory of the magnetic field of forces. This latter theory suggests strongly the solar species idea, because Gilbert’s experiments and many illustrations support the idea of an immaterial field as a distant cause behind physical forces. Gilbert also described the magnetic field of the planet Earth.

At the same time, Kepler proposed a smaller force — magnetic virtue or individual mover — from within the planet, which provides the linear motion. The solar species and the internal planetary force combined to maintain the oval trajectory, the oval orbit or path, and also the timing of the motion according to Kepler’s timing of the motion according to Kepler’s second law.

Kepler’s theory of the solar species and its corollary force presaged the universal gravitational field of Newton. Initially Kepler interpreted this as a manifestation of the Neoplatonic Soul of the Sun. Later he demoted the solar species to a purely physical field. In the Introduction to the Astronomia Nova, probably written in 1609 at the end of his quest, he writes:

... the body of the sun is the source of the power that drives the planets around ... the sun, although it stays in one place, rotates as if on a lathe, and out of itself sends into the space of the world an immaterial species of its body, analogous to the immaterial species of its light ...1

The Stoic idea that a planet is impelled along by its own intelligence or spirit (mens) had been reinforced by the Italian scholar J. C. Scaliger in 1557. But regarding the individual planetary movers of the reciprocal motion along the straight line, which were originally aspects of the planetary soul, intelligence, or spirit, Kepler wrote in the Introduction to the Astronomia Nova:

... it is in the order of things for such a reciprocation to be the result of a magnetic corporal faculty ... properties of the planetary bodies themselves, like the magnet’s property of seeking the pole and catching up iron ...2

Both solar and planetary fields or forces became secularized, desacralized, or physicalized, by 1609. The full title of the Astronomia Nova is “New Astronomy, dealt with aetiologically, or Celestial Physics.” Etiology is the science of causes. Indeed, in his Introduction to the Astronomia Nova, Kepler writes that the circular motion of a planet is due to the solar species, and the linear motion is due to a magnetic field, not the Soul of the planet.

In a letter to Herwart von Hohenburg on February 10, 1605, Kepler wrote:

My aim in this is to show that the celestial machine is to be likened not to a divine organism but rather to a clockwork ..., insofar as nearly all of the manifold movements are carried out by means of a single, quite simple magnetic force, as in the case of a clockwork all motions [are caused] by a simple weight.3

And in the second edition of the Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1621, he wrote:

If the word soul (anima) is replaced by force (vis), we have the very principle on which the celestial physics in the Mars-commentaries (i.e. the Astronomia Nova) is based ... Formerly I believed that the cause of the planetary motion is a soul, fascinated as I was by the teachings of J. C. Scaliger on the motor intelligences. But when I realized that these motive causes attenuate with the distance from the sun, I came to the conclusion that this force is something corporeal, if not so properly, at least in a certain sense.4

The original word, anima, is Latin for “soul”, as in Aristotle’s book, De anima. The substituting word, vis, is Latin for “strength” or “force”. Consequently Kepler’s epiphany of the oval, ellipse, and the libration model led to a mechanization, or modernization, of Copernicus’ model of the solar system. While Kepler still held faith in the Holy Spirit, its work load and job description had been reduced to a supervisory role. New fields — immaterial and inanimate — were now to carry the burden of maintaining the universe.

The Fourth Epiphany: Reading Vincenzo in the Carriage in 1617

In the years 1615 to1629, thirty-eight women were burned as witches in Kepler’s birthplace, Weil-der-Stadt. Six were burned in nearby Leonberg where Kepler’s mother, Katharina, was residing. In 1616 she was accused of witchcraft. She fled to Linz, where Kepler was then living, and then on to her daughter in Heumaden. A year later, Kepler left Linz for Leonburg to try to resolve the case against his mother. He chose to travel via Regensberg to visit his step-daughter, Regina, only to discover, when he got there, that she had died. Finally he arrived in Leonberg on October 30.

It was on this dreadful journey, with the Thirty Years War in its early stages, that Kepler was reading a book by Galileo’s father, Vincenzo, about musical harmony. This reinforced his idea of God as a cosmic harmonizer and a geometer, and the cosmos as a manifestation of numerical harmony similar to musical harmony. His work on this idea, published as his third cosmological treatise, the Harmonice Mundi in 1618, contained his third law of planetary motion — the period-distance relation — and is regarded by some as Kepler’s best work.


Now comes the hard part. So far, outside of a small quibble with the paradigm shift scenario of Fleck and Kuhn — I prefer catastrophic to subtle bifurcations as models for paradigm shifts — I have done nothing but make a collage of fragments from the history of science. Now I claim that the crux of the shift from the pre-modern to the modern paradigm is none other than this microscopic event in the great work of Kepler, the change of a single word from soul to force. You may ask, are you serious? Well, as a bifurcation theorist, yes. And others, who are natives among the history of science thought-collective, may agree. For example:

Kepler, then, replaced soul by force. Does this really involve a considerable change? In one sense of course it does not. Soul is an unknown agens, the existence of which is assumed in order to explain a particular behavior of animate bodies. Force is an unknown agens, the existence of which is assumed in order to explain a particular behavior of inanimate bodies. The only thing which is established with certainty in both cases is the behavior. One does not gain a deeper understanding if one gives a name to the unknown cause of this behavior.

In another sense the change is very great indeed. When one proceeds to attribute the motions of the planets to a force instead of to a soul, this implies that one wishes to consider them as inanimate bodies, so that they are subject to the laws of mechanics which apply to such bodies.5

So which is it, a large or small change? And here is where mathematics comes to our rescue. The defining characteristic of a catastrophic bifurcation is this: an infinitesimal cause may trigger a very rapid, major transformation. This is counterintuitive because our normal intuition is based on subtle bifurcations, or processes of gradual change.

In fact, the new paradigm of physical forces and inanimate bodies was compatible with the cosmology of the old paradigm, with the Soul and the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, unintentionally, the baby (soul) was thrown out with the bathwater (motive virtues) of astronomy, and eventually, the entire worldview followed suit. Kepler himself upheld his Neoplatonic worldview until the end of his life, as we may observe in his publication of the second edition of the Mysterium Cosmographicum in 1621, nine years before his death. It seems that soul and force could have coexisted indefinitely, and yet they did not. Why not? This is a crucial question with a lengthy answer.

A brilliant account of the slide from Kepler to the secular science of today has been given by Eric Voegelin in a publication entitled The Origins of Scientism. Here he identifies scientism as a creed in which the soul and spirit are denied existence, and science claims hegemony over all. The recovery of philosophy and paradigm from this creed is the goal of the interspiritual movement, and our path to a sustainable, spiritual, and worthwhile future.

In addition, in his magisterial essay, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science written in 1927, E.A. Burtt traces the paradigm shift through five stages: Copernicus and Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Gilbert and Boyle, and Newton. It was Rene Descartes (d. 1650) who delivered the fatal blow to the World Soul. Of the triple soul of Aristotle (vegetative, animal, and rational) Descartes threw out all except that of the individual human, based on his famous dream of November 10, 1619. For humans, Descartes withdrew the first two kinds of soul, and diminished the third to the size of a pea contained in a corner of the brain. The flavor of Descartes’ place of the soul in the scheme of things shows in his own words:

Thus this self — that is, the soul by which I am what I am — is completely distinct from the body and is even easier to know than it, and even if the body did not exist the soul would still be everything that it is.

From the perspective of bifurcation theory, this is a second catastrophic bifurcation, First came the change from soul to force in 1605 (published in Kepler’s Astronomia Nova in 1609), and second, the demotion of soul in 1619 (published in Descartes’ Discourse on Method in 1637). Before 1605 there was just a single paradigm, the pre-modern one. From 1609 to 1637, there were two attractors (paradigms) in competition, the pre-modern and the modern, with a gradual shift in weight from the former to the latter. And after 1637 only one attractor (the modern paradigm) remained. In bifurcation theory, this scenario is known as the double-fold catastrophe.

Our story of this paradigm shift may be summarized in these three steps:

* Preparation: three cracks in the cosmic egg (Tycho Brahe, 1573, 1588)
* Beginning of the regime of two paradigms (Kepler, 1605)
* End of the dual paradigm regime (Descartes, 1637)

And thus the Great Chain of Being was broken.

The great appeal of the great chain is the interconnection of all existing things in an abstract animation of enormous intelligence and harmony. After Pythagoras, Kepler was the greatest champion of this cosmic vision. With its demise in the seventeenth century, the space-time play of events became atomized, and the divine harmony was replaced by the force fields of modern physics.

To regain the integrity of the pre-modern worldview, we might imagine playing our story of this paradigm shift in reverse. Already, in the intrusion of Eastern metaphysical views into the Western mind from the East and Middle East (Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, Sufism, and so on) since 1800 or so, we have the onset of another two-paradigm regime. What we may wish, then, is a gradual shift of weight from the modern to the postmodern paradigm, until a tipping point is reached and cosmic integrity prevails.


This article was previously published in Elixir Magazine, Issue 2 on Omnipolent Nature, Spring 2006.

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Ralph Abraham has been Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1968, and has held teaching posts at Berkeley, Columbia, Princeton, and many visiting positions in Europe and Asia. He is the author of more than 20 texts, with eight books currently in print.  He has been a consultant on chaos theory and its applications in numerous fields (medical physiology, ecology, mathematical economics, psychotherapy, etc.) and is an active editor for the technical journals World Futures, and the International Journal of Bifurcations and Chaos.

Read more about Ralph Abraham


1 Translated by William H. Donahue in James Voelkel, The Composition of Kepler’s Astronomia Nova (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2001), p. 230.
2 Ibid.,  p. 231
3 Gerald Holton, Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler to Einstein (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1973), p. 72.
4 Max Jammer, Concepts of Force; A Study in the Foundations of Dynamics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), p. 90.
5 E.J. Duiksterhuis, The Mechanization of the World Picture, Trans. C. Dikshoorn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), p. 312.

Comments (3)
  • We have sought so long as a people to look for differences and not the bridges that connect us.

    — Jay Bender on June 20, 2011

  • A neat theory but could be challenged by the rise and rise pragmatic rationality exemplified by the increasing intensity and scale of military power and conflict and its relentless capacity to hand supremacy to whoever is the best at rational pragmatic social organisation. One could posit that the emergence of nuclear weapons initiated the paradigm shift towards humanism and the failures of capitalism to revive an interest in higher forms of motivation.

    — duncan on August 2, 2011

  • What a beautiful succinct analysis of how the modern world lost its soul and how the post-modern world is beginning to find it again.

    With James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis and the systems theory proposed by people like Joanna Macy, Gregory Bateson and Ervin Laszlo there is a shift to understanding the interconnectedness (Joanna Macy) or of interbeing (Thich Nhat Hanh).

    With the influence of Buddhism, Sufism, Yoga, Shamanism, Kabbalah and Hermeticism we are discovering that the Great Chain of Being was only broken in our minds. As in reality, Being itself cannot be divided - there can only be One Being.

    Hazrat Inayat Khan uses the term the ‘Only Being’ in his prayers and invocation - are these practices then a way to reconnect with the chain of Being?

    — Arjuna Ben-Zion Weiss on August 2, 2011

7 April 2011

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