Table of Contents – PART II – (PRE)HISTORY
The Alchemist and the Spirit of Nature
The importance of personal character and moral standards in the search for truth
For thy honor and thy glory and maintenance of thy truth
The book of nature … is written by the finger of God
Religion – Theology – Monasticism – University – Science
The Spirit of science
Increased individuality and brotherhood
The Silk Roads – an emergent socio-physical network
Ancient knowledge of exothermic reactants to keep and transport the perpetual fire?
Universal standard conduct
Notes – Part II
Bibliography – Part II
PART II – (PRE)HISTORY
The Alchemist and the Spirit of Nature
Durkheim suggested that “between the magician and the individuals who consult him, there are no durable ties that make them members of a single moral body … the magician has a clientele [who] may have no mutual relations, and may even be unknown to one another. [The relations between a client and magician are] transient, analogous to those of a sick man with his doctor … Magic societies … encompass only the magicians [whereas] a Church is not simply a priestly brotherhood; it is a moral community made up of all the faithful, both laity and priests.” And centrally, “to practice his art, the magician has no need whatever to congregate with his peers. He is more often a loner. In general, far from seeking company, he flees it. He stands aloof even from his colleagues.” This describes very well the character of a number of men viewed in modernity as being possessed of genius. Examples may be made of Einstein, Dirac, Tesla and Newton.
According to White (1997) , “biographers … have produced inaccurate and sometimes totally false accounts of [Newton’s life].” Society has selectively and to some extent unknowingly upheld and propagated beliefs about Newton, elevating him above or beyond mundane aspects of the human condition. He was the “pure, distilled essence of scientific inquiry – genius unsullied.” Even in modernity Newton is cloaked by a myth of omnipotence and perceived as a kind of mythical ancestor. His humanness completely overwhelmed, Newton was and still is akin to a “demigod, almost immortal and utterly without fault.”
Even as a child, Isaac is reported to have been “detached from the world, and for long periods … secluded from the everyday current of affairs.” During adulthood he is reported to have believed in a heresy of Christianity – Arianism, a word which itself probably had a double and half-hidden Aryan meaning for Newton – spending the majority of his life in intense studies of alchemy and biblical chronology. In retrospect, society has valued and propagated only those aspects and works of Newton which conform to our modern understanding of science. For Newton, an erudite, neurotic and obsessive, driven mystic, the ‘science’ he performed appears to have been an offshoot from his greater study of whole nature, which comprised what during his time were referred to as natural philosophy and natural theology. It is perhaps surprising, but important to note that this pair of subjects were apprehended as a single, holistic study of natural creation – the study of nature and natural phenomena was simultaneously a study of divine creation.
Though the title of his book refers to Newton as a sorcerer (a word linked to oracular prophesy and wizardry), White told that Newton was what we now call a polymath – “a genius who sought knowledge in everything he came across.” The eminent philosopher and economist J.M. Keynes, who in 1936 purchased a collection of Newton’s original papers, previously deemed “unfit for reading” (see NOTE C), may have been closer to the truth about Newton – writing that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.”
Francis Bacon was among other things, an essayist and moral philosopher, propagating the methods by which science should be conducted. He “criticized the blind pursuit of Aristotelian philosophy, and the rote-learning system of the universities.” Bacon formulated the inductive experimental method and argued that “scientific discipline should be guided and inspired by religious motivations.” Scientific ideas, he opined, “should not be driven solely by deductive reasoning” – strangely, this concept was to become the driving force behind the scientific revolution. Puritanism offered Newton a world with strict emotional and sensual limits – an inner world revolving about god and knowledge. He upheld the principles of hard work and dedication to learning as the highest hopes of humanity, and believed that “the acquisition of knowledge and the unraveling of nature’s truths were to the greater glory of god.”
“Amicus Plato, amicus Aristoteles magis amica veritas”
(I am a friend of Plato, I am a friend of Aristotle but truth is my greater friend).
– Isaac Newton
The natural philosopher and mystic Henry More was a leading member of the Cambridge Platonists – dualists, holding the belief that the mind is ontologically prior to matter and that the truths of the mind are superior to sense-knowledge. The pre-Newtonian Platonists at Cambridge accepted post-Galilean science, supporting an atomistic theory of matter and rejecting mechanistic natural philosophy in favor of the view that spirit is the fundamental causal principle in the operations of nature. Plato himself held and taught the notion of spirit, as an essence within all things, a divine extension – a force at work in nature, guiding matter. 
Appropriately, the Cambridge Platonists believed that the universe is permeated by spirit, which More termed ‘the spirit of nature’ – “a force mediating between the control of all actions, all purpose, all outcomes, and the mundane, mechanical world in which we live.” More is said to have greatly influenced Newton’s spiritual view of the universe, and his pursuit of knowledge as a means of exulting god and upholding the scholastic edict: “understand so that you may believe, believe so that you may understand.” In astonishing similarity to the opinions of the sociologist A. Comte and theoretical biologist R. Rosen, Newton wrote: “The nature of things is more securely and naturally deduced from their operations one upon another than upon the senses.”
Newton was a sympathizer of the Rosicrucian movement, which had ties to Hermeticism and ultimately, it would seem, to the Zurvanist heresy of Zoroastrianism. The Rosicrucians, like the alchemists, “believed that secret ancient knowledge could be tapped only by the virtuous, and that the mystical knowledge, the priscia sapientia, was fundamental to human enlightenment” – a set of beliefs that Newton held dear.
Newton proposed that more may be going on than we are able to apprehend from sensual information, saying “scientists cannot simply trust what they observe with their senses.” His fascination with alchemy, and particularly the alchemical understanding of an active principle – also called the multiplicative or reproductive principle, the vegetative principle (vegetation), spun by Newton himself as “vegetable action” – seems to have been a major influence in the development of his ideas about gravity. It also seems clear that he was interested in the synthesis of all knowledge. Indeed, White has called him “a devout seeker of some form of unified theory of the principles of the universe” – holding the belief that the prisca scipentia had once been possessed by humankind; thus posing that the first religion was the most rational of all others, until the nations corrupted it. “For there is no way (without revelation) to come to the knowledge of a deity but by the frame of nature” – it was this ‘frame of nature’ and ‘first religion’ which Newton was driven to rediscover.
In his imaginative formulations of gravitation, Newton placed importance upon the ancient alchemical concept of an active principle, which is documented, if not rooted, in the Hermetic tradition. It is said that some alchemists held the iconoclastic belief that matter and spirit are interchangeable, and imagined a “universal spirit” – a concept that is fascinatingly similar in meaning to relativity theory, which states that matter and energy are equivalent and interchangeable.
More depicted of a “spirit of nature”, which could act upon matter without interacting with it – another concept with surprising similarity to the modern theoretical conception of dark energy. More described the ‘spirit of nature’ as being of “great influence and activity in the nascency and coalescence of things”, thus attributing a single force or active principle to a diverse collection of phenomena. A core tenet of More’s thesis seems to have been that life itself is created and sustained by this mysterious, singular power – a spirit – which in some way acts upon matter. Not unlike More’s concept, which was surely derived from the Aristotelian conception of the anima, the active principle intuited by alchemists and the ancient thinkers preceding them, was also supposed as a spirit at work in nature. Newton wrote of “vegetable action” or vegetation, as being the active principle responsible for and allowing the changes to material in his crucible, as well as among his furnace flames.
Mazdaism, the Magi priestly caste and Zoroastrianism, revealed by the prophet Zoroaster approximately 1500 B.C., appear to have stemmed from the Aryan (“noble”) nation, rooted in prehistory, of which the Median empire, from approximately 1100 B.C., is reported as the earliest attempt to found a great conquering monarchy on the Levant of the Middle East [10, 11]. Pre-historic (pre-Vedic) Aryans were animists, totemic nomads who worshiped the many spirits dwelling in stones, animals, rivers, trees, mountains, stars, etc. They lived upon a “sea of grass” – the levant of the eastern Mediterranean – and began to migrate from central Asia around 1500 B.C., to the east, likely across the Eurasian steppe, and to the south-east, giving rise to the Vedas compiled in India sometime between 1500 and 1000 B.C. . Vedic literature reflects the worldview of the Brahman and the concept of a hereditary priestly order – a priestly caste – introduced to the Indus culture by the Aryan nation, which is said to have comprised six castes, one of which were the priestly caste called Magi (singular: Maguš, Magus and Mage; from which are derived the words magic, magician, magistrate and magister).
Xenophon (ca. 370 B.C.) related that the Magi “were priests at the court of the Persian kings, [entrusted with] the ceremonies of libations, incantations, and sacrifices. The kings also followed their instructions in religious matters. [The Magi were] tutors and teachers of the sons of the Persian kings and took part in the coronation ceremonies of each new king” .
The Magi were not kings, but knowledgeable and respected men who collected, held and transferred knowledge via long-standing oratory traditions predating the earliest forms of writing. They were “a profoundly conservative class of hereditary priests who believed in the efficacy of the oral word as a union of sound and sense. All the forms of writing that they came across, from the Sumerian cuneiform to the alphabet of the Aramaic, were not thought to be adequate to represent the sounds of the [Aryan] language … several centuries were to pass before the Avestan language – based on Aramaic, but with an alphabet of 44 characters [was] carefully designed to render the sounds of the ancient holy tongue.” 
Reading the first chapter of the Yasna (Zoroastrian holy scripture) , it is clear that the Magi were not worshiping fire, though the Atar (holy fire) was sacred. The Magi fire-keepers (athravan) revered fire as the symbol (totem) of the one true and wise god – “Ahura Mazda”. Fire was kept in perpetuity atop a hill or mound, in order to worship Mazda under the open sky. The construction of altars and temples was a later development, possibly derived from the Babylonians.
Common householders would visit the fire temple (atashgah) in order to light their home hearths. Unlike a monarch who would mediate between clans and tribes, a Maguš would come to know and understood the lives of individual local community households and their members, allowing for the development of their knowledgeable activities into that of physicians and general problem solvers. A role that was greatly facilitated by their immersion into the quest for knowledge and goodness, with the motto “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” – it might be said that the Magi held (in memory), developed (via oratory tradition) and enacted a pre-Aristotelian political epistemy – “Indeed, the Magi were renowned for their wisdom beyond the borders of Iran, and were unsurpassed in their knowledge of philosophy, history, geography, plants, medicine and the heavens. The efficacy of their beliefs and faith was demonstrated in their actions. Their high moral standing, wisdom, ability to heal the sick, and their years of learning made them legendary throughout the Middle East. 
Alchemy – “the dark art” – seems to have been a development of the Magian knowledge that took place in ancient Egypt. Albeit sharing several aspects, most alchemists and alchemical practices appear to have been distortions of the Magian moral. Whether intentionally or not, alchemy, and from it modern magic, was to become a form of social engineering, essentially a conn, with practitioners conning themselves as well as their patrons.
The distortion and fragmentation of the Magian moral must have occurred very early during the history of the Indus culture, with ideas and practices diverging and diversifying throughout the Aryan migrations, as well as those of the Romani people who seem to have emigrated from the Indian subcontinent and from Egypt (the term Gypsy is derived from the now obsolete Gyptian, which meant Egyptian; ”from Egypt”). Even now, many Indian and Romani cultures are rife with cunning schemes of various sorts, directed at extracting value from virtually nothing, or from substances of low value. Perhaps similar may be said of modern corporations? However, for the Magi and for Newton, money or gold for their own sake were not as important as the unearthing of universal truth. Newton was convinced the ancients had once held the key (“Clavis”) to all knowledge and that this had been dissipated into the arcane philosophies. One might interpret this as saying that Newton apprehended a distorted, fragmented and kaleidoscopic view of a putative key to the prisca sapientia.
Multiplication – the core concept of alchemy. The word alchemy is itself derived from the ancient Egyptian word khem (“black”) and kemet (“black land” or “the land of the black soil”), from which is also derived the concept of the “dark art” and possibly also of “black magic” – alchemical knowledge has always been hidden.
The Spirit of Science
In his presidential address to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), Lefkowitz (1988)  emphasized “lineages of moral force” (soft kin selection) as driving the continuation of science. Lefkowitz related the five constitutional objectives of the ASCI, the last of these – “the diffusion of a scientific spirit among [the Society’s] members” – he believed was the most important, and suggested that the ASCI founders thought so too, as they listed “only two obligations of membership: to attend the annual meeting at least every other year and to further the objectives of the society in the diffusion of the scientific spirit, particularly among his or her students and professional associates.” His address was intended to discuss “the highest ideals of the scientific spirit to which we all aspire by considering … what is the scientific spirit? How do we get it? How do we foster it and keep it alive? And how do we diffuse it to our students and colleagues?”
He sensed “a confusion about the nature and importance of what constitutes the scientific method and what constitutes the true spirit of science”, and described the former as “the practical aspects of how to pursue valid scientific questions according to a relatively well-defined set of rules of investigation.” However, the spirit of science was apprehended by Lefkowitz as “a much broader, all-encompassing approach to science”, and as concerning “an attitude or approach to scientific investigations that inspires, pervades, and permeates the entire enterprise.”
Three elements of the spirit of science – enthusiasm, creativity, integrity:
Enthusiasm – Of the various misconceptions people have about scientists, a popular one is that of a rather dull lot: dry, pedantic, aloof, and largely devoid of temperament or emotion. Quite a contrast with popular stereotypes of … artists of various kinds who may be perceived as much livelier, more colorful, and certainly more high spirited. However, science derives from much the same source as art. Simply stated, “it is a keenly felt sense of wonder and curiosity that translates into a genuine enthusiasm for even the faintest glimpses of new understanding – the word enthusiasm is derived from the Greek and literally means a god within.”
Creativity – The spontaneously occurring intuitive flashes of insight or knowledge, that we all experience from time to time, are independent of any obvious reasoning or learning process. The cultivation of our intuitive nature and of a receptivity or openness to the occasional gifts of discovery that go under the heading of serendipity or luck. “Scientists are often unfairly stereotyped as polar opposites of those in the creative arts. Whereas they are thought to highly prize intuition, scientists presumably have little use for it and rely only on the rigorous application of the scientific method and cool, clear-headed logic … Intuitions can importantly contribute to our science. When it comes to making creative scientific discoveries, imagination is perhaps more important than knowledge.”
“Most of our institutions, granting agencies, educational processes, and the like are highly skewed toward the rational ideal and the role of intuition is rarely even acknowledged. But an easy and comfortable relationship with those irrational or creative intuitions that we all occasionally have can greatly expand our scientific horizons. We need to acknowledge them as they occur and shape our daily practice of science. We need to encourage their expression … It is, in fact, from the fresh minds of our least experienced students and fellows, those unencumbered by the dogmas and paradigms of particular fields, that the most innovative and intuitive ideas are likely to spring, for it is they who are most likely to question assumptions that we have long ago accepted.” In regard to serendipity, Lefkowitz told that “the ‘failed’ experiment or the completely unexpected finding, viewed in the right light, often provides the key clue to an important discovery. But how often is it just cast aside because it doesn’t agree with our expectations, or isn’t what we think we wanted?” – “A frequently exercised sense of humor favors the kind of wild, occasionally illogical or offbeat leaps that are part and parcel of the creative process. Seeing a joke often requires shifting one’s frame of reference, which is also an important aspect of intuition. Playfulness and a sense of not taking ourselves too seriously also favor a certain freedom of the imagination that encourages conceptual innovation.”
Integrity – “If intuition and serendipity are the sparks that ignite the fire of scientific discovery, and enthusiasm fans the blaze, then it is integrity that provides the bricks that keep the fire from burning out of control and focus the resultant energy in a productive manner. By integrity, most of us mean an unswerving commitment to what we perceive as true and right [moral], and to a set of consistent, personally realized principles of action.”
How do we get the scientific spirit in the first place, and how do we keep it alive?
Attributes of the scientific spirit, such as the “feeling of expectancy and optimism in the lab or exhilaration when playing out some intuitive or imaginative scientific fantasy, [as well as the taking of] difficult scientific decisions about authorship, inclusion of data, or whether to persist with a refractory problem, [and] the integrated functioning of the scientific method and spirit in the day-to-day practice of science” – are all transferred socially, in many cases passed from mentor to student, or via wider collaborative lineages. With respect to the latter, Lefkowitz pointed out that “many members of [the ASCI] spent fellowships in laboratories of other members, who in turn were students or fellows with other members.”
“Evidence of such lineages, which can be found throughout our scientific program, highlights the role of traditions in keeping the scientific spirit alive.”
– Lefkowitz (1988)
Traditions provide an anchor of stability and a touchstone for important values. What goes on in meeting rooms defines just a part of what is meaningful at our gatherings – we share much more than just our latest scientific findings. “For it is in the innumerable encounters of old friends and colleagues … that perhaps something even more important transpires. It is a subtle process of reaffirmation and rededication to a shared commitment to the pursuit of lofty goals, in the true spirit of science … These elements are not unique in their relevance to the scientific process. In this sense, the spirit of science is very much part of the spirit of life. If we allow it to pervade all aspects of our personal and professional activities we can reap rich rewards, not the least of which is sharing the experience and the approach with those around us.”
With respect to the defining criteria of the spirit of science, Goran (1972)  reported that the Educational Policies Commission specified “longing to know and to understand, questioning of all things, search for data and their meaning, demand for verification, respect for logic, consideration of premises, and consideration of consequences.” In context of how to acquire the spirit of science, and specifically, how to pass the moral of science to students and thus to the next generation, Goran told that “no one really expects philosophers, scientists and commissions to concern themselves with the mundane.”
“The brotherly spirit of science … unites into one family all its votaries of whatever grade, and however widely dispersed…”
– Thomas Jefferson, (1802) 
Goran identified various means by which the spirit of science may be passed from generation to generation, he hypothesized a distant future in which genetic engineering might facilitate spiritual transfer – an idea that is laden with the mishaps of the eugenics movement during the early 20th century. Another supposed easy solution to the problem of acquiring the spirit of science was to ensure that “individuals have physical, psychic, political, economic, and social well-being”. The meanings here seem similar to the caste system of the Magi and later Indian culture, and to Aristotelian political epistemy.
As an immediate solution to the problem of how to acquire and transfer the scientific spirit, Goran proposed the complete immersion of society into the sciences, and control of college curricula. He told that “inculcation, brain washing, massive repetition, and the use of reward and punishment have been available to early 20th century educators”, and suggested that the natural sciences and mathematics should form the foundation of all higher education, and that all the professions should stem from a scientific background. He added however, that “science curricula are not designed to promote the spirit of science; they emphasize hard core scientific material and spurn the associated material of scientific attitude.”
Goran asked, how do educators compete with indoctrination by parents, society, and self-pressures, that social polish, aggressiveness, deceit, and chicanery are all that one needs for success? He proposed “demonstrations and living examples of the effectiveness of the scientific spirit for daily living”, commenting that “the mass media … need to be brought into the educational enterprise to show the scientific spirit … It is important to be wary of the specialist … who insists that the spirit of science is had by doing science [and] to avoid those who see the educational experience as nothing more than analyzing data, developing empirical laws, hypothesizing theories to account for these laws, and modifying the theories as new evidence becomes available. Science is too important to be left to those scientists. Left to them, [laboratory experience would become] a replica of the manipulations done by a great majority of neophyte science students. They confuse the ceremonials of acquiring [and] using glassware with the real work of testing ideas.”
“Laboratory experiences must be planned to encompass … objectives related to acquiring the scientific spirit.”
– Goran (1972)
Increased Individuality and Brotherhood
Corey et al (1966) , reported that no current society is “composed predominately of individuals who are guided in most of their behavior by scientific modes of thought or action. Other bases, conscious or unconscious, seem to guide most persons” – “[people] have been attracted to science and technology for the resulting benefits in power, prestige, standard of living, education, and health. Science and technology can provide those benefits; but the spirit underlying science and technology promises two less tangible but equally profound benefits: increased individuality and increased brotherhood of men.”
“The promise of increased individuality derives from the very essence of the spirit of science. This spirit can enable each person to free himself from blind obedience to the dictates of his emotions, of propaganda, of group pressures, of the authority of others. It can enable him to be aware of the influences which play on him. It can enable him to sift through the forces which act upon him and, to some degree, to determine and to become his own ideal self.”
“The deeper workings of the spirit of science are creating, even where this end is not consciously sought, a general commonalty of values, a sort of spiritual unity among men.”
– The National Education Association (1966)
“Spiritual unity among nations and men has long been a prime goal among thinkers and dreamers. In the past, this goal has usually been sought through some community of values peculiar to a small group, but hopefully to be universalized. Characteristically, each community of values was founded upon a belief in a religious revelation or philosophical orientation which also was peculiar to a minority of mankind. The pursuit of unity along these lines has been perpetually frustrated, in part by the absence of a universally accepted system of values which transcended religious, philosophical, and cultural limitations.” The National Education Association portrayed science as a relatively new contender in the struggle for human spiritual unity. However, as has been the case with totemic spirits throughout human history, and pre-history, the spirit of science is held sacred by a “particular small group” – a tribe; a totmeic kinship. It is both fascinating and telling that the NEA nominated the spirit of science as the long sought “universally accepted system of values” And further suggested that the spirit of science will succeed where other spiritual systems have failed, to “produce a new kind of community among the world’s peoples [and] a deeper feeling of mankind’s oneness.”
A beautiful example may be made of the Human Genome Project (HGP), which is itself represented by a particular small group – a sub-kinship (sub-tribe) identifying with its own totem – a sub-totem within the science tribe. The HGP has rendered much technical knowledge and a specific genomic data set representing hard kinship, but little understanding about what it is to be human, and no clear understanding about how to ethically make use of our collective genomic data set. Furthermore, the HGP has confirmed both, Darwinian theory and so-called primitive understandings – humans and kangaroos are kin – not in a metaphorical sense, but in accordance with the science of comparative genomics – quantitative genetic kinship analyses.
Wakefield & Marshall Graves (2003) , have revealed that “the kangaroo genome is a treasure trove of comparative genomics data. [90% of the human genome is contained in the introns of overlapping genes.] The analysis of individual genes, and of gene arrangement, has … contributed significantly to our understanding of human biology”. Oddly, similar language is not used with respect to kangaroos, though the Leaps and bounds study also contributed significantly to our understanding of marsupial biology, specifically that of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Paradoxically, what has been shown by this study, and many like it, is that ‘the oneness of humankind’ (i.e. humanity) in a very real sense stretches far beyond what it is to be human. Molecular biology has enabled direct comparisons between various genetic kinships, as well as allowing precise quantification of specific kinships – for example, the human genome is reported to be 15% homologous to the rice genome, and 65% homologous to the Fugu genome .
I am not convinced that primitive peoples experienced a less profound feeling of humanity due to a lack of knowledge about their physical genome, or to a lack of scientific knowledge. All humans are equivalently human, and so must have equivalently human sensations. Similarly, neither the social minority comprising modern global culture, nor the vast majority of the peoples of the world can be assumed to sense humanity more profoundly than pre-scientific peoples, as a result of the HGP and comparative genomics. Indeed, with specific regard to the kangaroo totem, it seems that the modern western scientific spirit echoes and confirms the ancient aboriginal totemic spirit. The feeling of humanness aroused by modern genetics is one of universal kinship among all lifeforms on Earth. The modern scientifically endorsed feeling, to the extent that it exists, is not different from the primitive totemically endorsed feeling. Modern scientific knowledge, to the extent that it is understood, differs in rational quantity, not irrational quality, of kinship.
For thy honor and thy glory and maintenance of thy truth
White (1997) told that “the spiritual element of the experiment was in fact the key to the true alchemists philosophy”, suggesting that “for many alchemists, it was the practical process [the rite] that was in fact allegory and their search was really for the elixir or philosopher’s stone within them: that by conducting a seemingly mundane set of tasks, they were following a path to enlightenment – allowing themselves to be transmuted into ‘gold’. This is why the alchemist placed such importance on purity of spirit.”
Carl Jung is credited with having driven this idea into nineteenth century thinking. Fascinated by the psychology of alchemy, he came to the conclusion that alchemical emblems bore a close relationship to dream imagery – an observation which lead him to the concept of a collective unconscious. At a deep level, or perhaps at an emergent supervening level, the psyche of an individual merges with the collective psyche of humankind, thus all individuals share a common heritage of symbols and images, which Jung called ‘archetypes’. He argued that alchemists were inadvertently tapping into the collective unconscious, and this idea lead him to believe that they were following a spiritual path to enlightenment when they were actually liberating their subconscious, or superconscious, by use of ritual.
To the alchemists, the most important aspect of the art was the participation of the individual practitioner. There was an absolute and firm belief that the emotional and spiritual, moral state of the individual, was intimately involved with the outcome of the experiment. White tells that “it is this concept, more than any other, which distinguishes alchemy from the orthodox chemistry that superseded it”, pushing the subject beyond the bounds of science, into the modern understanding of magic. To be a successful alchemist, it was believed, one had to be pure of spirit, in order to receive understanding by divine transmission. In comparison, chemistry was considered a rather vulgar and gross, even unsuitable pursuit. Alchemists considered themselves to be superior to chemists, as alchemy required a spiritual interaction between experiment and experimenter.
Interestingly, since quantum physics does seem to recognize, if not fully accept, the intimate involvement of the experimenter and/or observer, I have to wonder why we continue to choose to call quantum physics ‘science’, rather than ‘magic’? White also points this out, but is very careful to make clear that quantum theory is a precise, mathematical science based upon fundamental concepts, rigorous consistency and cohesive relation to other sciences. That quantum mechanical experiments are repeatable, and that though the language of science may be indecipherable to the uninitiated, it is common, strict, consistent and communicable. Physicists, White tells, do not hide behind a facade of mystical code, and they work independently of religious feeling or emotional character.
I would argue against the latter – physicists are after all human. They may not exactly hide behind a facade, but then what they do is not deemed illegal or heretical, and surely is not punishable by death. Further, I very much doubt that upon reflection, a deep sense of mysticism and wonder escapes any quantum physicist, indeed any scientist. And to assume that any human can leave their emotional character at the threshold of the laboratory, is utter nonsense; presumably, the same may be said for religious feeling – one cannot simply leave feeling at the door. These aspects are part of the individual human personality who believes and carries them, and they surely do influence, whether consciously or not, their every thought and act.
Newton, in any case, stated the importance of virtue and purpose in his work, as “for thy honor and thy glory and maintenance of thy truth…”, thus displaying a profound veneration of god and creation. In his unique manner, Newton was correlating traditional wisdom with his own findings. White gives as a specific example of this, a paper titled Clavis (‘The Key’), in which Newton mixed alchemical works with his own experiments. Always critical, Newton was able to sort out the good quality information from the bad, all the while gaining an instinctive awareness of possible forces at work in the universe, for which conventional mechanics, at that time dominated by Descarte’s notion of matter and spirit, had no explanation.
Newton had come to understand that the religious edifices of ancient civilizations were more than mere places of worship. His intuition was that the ancients had not expended such enormous effort simply to preserve their culture and worldview, but that their temples and monuments were earthly representations of the universe. For example, the dimensions and geometry of king Solomon’s temple, of which Newton drafted a floor-plan based upon scriptural texts, represent the time-scales and pronouncements of great biblical prophets. In such exercises, which, along with alchemical studies, took up the majority of his working life, Newton was attempting to produce a biblical chronology, of both, past and future events. Additionally, the configuration of Solomon’s temple influenced the development of Newton’s imagination of gravitation – the heart of the temple was a prytaneum, housing the sacred and perpetual fire (sun), around which disciples (orbiting bodies) assembled.
The book of nature … is written by the finger of God
Hutchinson (1996)  told that as with Newton, religious faith strongly influenced the practice of science by Faraday. Both, through the philosophical framework in which he approached the study of nature, and the social (ethical) principles which he believed should underlie the pursuit of the scientific enterprise. Like Newton, Faraday believed that scientific researches revealed an essential nature, which pointed to its creator: “for the book of nature, which we have to read is written by the finger of God.”
That Nature is driven by consistent and simple laws, was not only a conclusion that Faraday drew from his scientific work but a metaphysical presupposition that directed his research. Like Newton, he sought the unifying laws relating the forces of nature. “Faraday was not so naive as to be oblivious to the factional interests that so readily govern the practice of science – and of religion … He saw factionalism, patronage, and politics within science as essentially an aberration, to be avoided whenever possible. His ideal of the pursuit of science was that scientists were to be members of a true fraternity, and if differences of scientific opinion should arise, they were to be resolved in a spirit of friendship and brotherhood.”
Despite his self-avowed separation of religious and scientific vocations, there was no absolute barrier for Faraday, between the religious and scientific facets of his character. “While rejecting natural theology as a route to spiritual truth, he nevertheless saw the hand of God in nature and allowed his spiritual perception of the lawful, intelligent, creation to guide his deepest and most influential theorizing. Within the restraining structure imposed by the experimental facts of creation and the teachings of scripture he permitted his active imagination and his joyful heart their productive freedoms. And in his scientific endeavors as much as his spiritual service he understood and lived out the importance of personal character and moral standards in the search for truth.”
Developing from the monastic schools, the medieval universities “coincided with the widespread reintroduction of Aristotle from Byzantine and Arab scholars.“ In fact, the European university put Aristotelian and other natural science texts at the center of its curriculum, with the result that the “medieval university laid far greater emphasis on science than does its modern counterpart and descendent.” Although it has been assumed that the universities went into decline during the Renaissance due to a reduced emphasis upon scholastic and Aristotelian curriculum, in favor of the cultural studies of Renaissance humanism, the continued importance of the European universities had been established. Focused on scientific and philosophical texts, they played a crucial role in the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. “Copernicus, Galileo, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Newton were all extraordinary products of the apparently procrustean and allegedly Scholastic universities of Europe… Sociological and historical accounts of the role of the university as an institutional locus for science and as an incubator of scientific thought and arguments have been vastly understated.” 
The Silk Roads – an emergent socio-physical network
Though he was motivated by the radical belief that alchemical wisdom extended to ancient times, Newton understood that the body of alchemical knowledge known in Europe during his lifetime was called Hermeticism, and that it was believed to have been given to humanity by superhuman agency – by Hermes – the messenger, the god of travelers and adventurers, of boundaries, of wide interests, of cunning and clever tricksters, the patron of thieves – and by Hermes Trismegistus – “Hermes Thrice-great”. It was said of the latter that he saw the totality of things, having seen he understood, and having understood he had the power to reveal. What he knew he wrote down, and what he wrote he hid away, so that each generation had to seek for themselves. Thence the secret society and encoded knowledge of the hermetically sealed culture associated with the European understanding of alchemy.
Map of Silk Roads
White has suggested that most of the texts and techniques used by the alchemists in Europe did not predate the Old Testament, but originated in Alexandria around 200 to 300 A.D. This form of the arts, known as Hellenic alchemy, resulted from the cross-fertilization of ancient Greek, Syrian, Persian and Egyptian cultures, which are said to have co-habited the cultural milieu of Alexandria – a centralized, sedentary multi-cultural hub of the ancient world, located adjacent to the Levant on the eastern Mediterranean. Though it was and is still known for the ancient library of Alexandria, the city certainly was not the only cultural crucible of the ancient world. It is important to note the presence of nomadic tribes, greatly predating the first sedentary civilizations. Christian (2000)  tells of migratory peoples who lived on the Levant of the eastern Mediterranean, throughout northern Africa, and across the Eurasian steppe. The nomadic pastoralists (connectors), along with the sedentary agrarians (attractors) of the Oxus civilization that would develop, comprised a set of geographical and “trans-ecological” co-cultures, through which emerged the set of routes mapped as the Silk Roads.
Christian told that “the many trans-ecological exchanges mediated by the Silk Roads linked all regions of the Afro-Eurasian landmass, from its agrarian civilizations to its many stateless communities of woodland foragers and steppe pastoralists, into a single system of exchanges that is several millennia old … the entire Afro-Eurasian region belonged to a single world-system from perhaps as early as 2000 B.C.E.” Furthermore, he opined that “the plural form is important because the Silk Roads consisted of a constantly shifting network of pathways for types of exchanges. Silk was one of the most important goods carried on the Silk Roads because it combined great beauty, light weight, and high value. But they also carried many other goods, including ceramics, glass, precious metals, gems, and livestock. Material goods … were just one element in the varied traffic of the Silk Roads … [which] also transported disease vectors, languages, technologies, styles, religions, and genes.” Arguably, disease vectors and genes may be categorized as materials, albeit information-laden.
The Silk Roads are defined as “the long- and middle-distance land routes by which goods, ideas, and people were exchanged between major regions of Afro-Eurasia.” Christian emphasized regions rather than civilizations, and exchanges rather that trade:
Region “holds open the possibility that exchanges with or between nonagrarian communities may have been as significant as exchanges between the major agrarian civilizations” – Exchange suggests that a “variety of exchanges that took place along the Silk Roads.”
Conventional chronologies report trade between major agrarian civilizations, which Christian termed “trans-civilizational exchanges”, telling that these “flourished particularly during three or four main periods: at the end of the first millennium B.C.E. and again early in the first millennium C.E.; between the sixth and eighth centuries C.E.; and in the era of the Mongol empire … Though standard accounts concede that there may have been sporadic exchanges along the Silk Roads before the end of the first millennium B.C.E., they insist that the Silk Roads proper flourished for the first time only in the last century B.C.E.”
“According to Dio Cassius, Romans saw high-quality silk for the first time in 53 B.C.E., in the terrifying form of the Parthian banners unfurled before the Roman defeat at the battle of Carrhae. From this time on, it is possible to trace in the written sources several arterial routes leading from China to the West. They passed through modern Xinjiang (by at least three major routes), through central Asia, then either through Afghanistan to Kashmir and northern India, or to the Mediterranean, which they reached by sea from India, or by land through Iran, through the Caucasus, or even by routes passing north of the Caspian and Black Seas … Between about 200 B.C. and the beginning of the common era, regular overland trade came into existence across central Asia from China to the eastern Mediterranean.”
”The importance of the Silk Roads waxed and waned, partly as a function of the degree of stability to be found in the borderlands between the steppes and the agrarian civilizations of China, India, Iran, and Mesopotamia, and partly as a result of economic and political conditions in the major regions of agrarian civilization. When agrarian civilizations or pastoralist empires dominated large sections of the Silk Roads, merchants traveled more freely, protection costs were lower, and traffic was brisk”.
“There is plenty of written and archeological evidence about the many trans-ecological routes that crossed the arterial trans-civilizational routes from China to the Mediterranean and linked regions of pastoralism with regions of agriculture. This evidence shows that the transverse routes were not just tacked onto the arterial routes. They were older than the arterial routes, and were always integral to the functioning of the Silk Roads. Evidence for the significance and extent of such trans-ecological exchanges is abundant for all periods of Silk Roads history, and reaches deep into prehistory.”
“Archeological evidence from the steppelands of Inner Eurasia shows that widespread systems of exchange were very old indeed in this region. The reason is simple. The Inner Eurasian steppelands were occupied, probably since the fourth millennium B.C.E., and certainly by 3000 B.C.E., by communities practicing extensive and mobile forms of horse pastoralism, which ensured that contacts and influence would extend over large areas. Indeed, emergence of mobile pastoralist lifeways should probably be regarded as the real explanation for the origin of the trans-Eurasian network of exchanges that the Silk Roads came to symbolize.”
“Indo-European languages [spread] from somewhere north of the Pontic steppes to Xinjiang, by 2000 B.C.E. In the second millennium B.C.E. Indo-European languages spread, also, into Persia, Mesopotamia, and northern India. Languages were spread mainly by migrations of pastoralist peoples. Before the first millennium the current of these movements was from west to east. But counter-currents became increasingly important from 1000 B.C.E., and by 1 B.C.E. westward movements dominated large-scale migrations within the Inner Eurasian steppes … By 2000 B.C.E., then, and perhaps even earlier, languages, genes, technologies, styles, and lifeways were being exchanged through the steppes of Inner Eurasia with an intensity unmatched in the less mobile communities of Eurasia’s agrarian civilizations … Goods were probably transported between Mesopotamia and central Asia during the third millennium … China had contact with the Tarim basin from as early as the second millennium B.C.E.”
The Oxus civilization comprised well-fortified urban centers called “qala”, and likely depended on “systems of middle- and long-distance trade” though which ideas and even religious notions were exchanged with the steppes. The use of … substances similar to Vedic ‘soma’ or Zoroastrian ‘haoma’ in the temples of the Oxus qala can … be interpreted as evidence of shamanistic influences from the steppes.”
The Haoma plant is reported to be a possibly extinct member of the Ephedra genus, and is said to have been the base of the baresman bundle – a tied bundle of twigs and leaves comprising various medicinal plants. The baresman bundle may be the origin of the magician’s wand, which in modernity has been understood as a kind of personal amulet. This totemic form of the Magian barseman bundle, likely emerged in Indian Zoroastrianism where metal rods were used during the practice of rites, due to the lack of endemic Ephedra.
“Steppe invasions of India in the second millennium [B.C.E.] were merely the precursor to invasions of Iran at the beginning of the first millennium [B.C.E.]. By the eighth century [B.C.E.] Assyria was subjected to periodic invasions from the steppes, and eventually dynasties of invaders established the local ruling elites that were to create the Median and Persian empires.”
As a result, “Afro-Eurasian societies shared … elements of the secondary products revolution and the technologies associated with it, including livestock power in agriculture, for transportation, and in use of hides and wool. In later periods new technologies, use of compound bows and crossbows, the use of armor in cavalry warfare, the stirrup, and techniques of siege warfare, as well as gunpowder, printing, and papermaking, all diffused throughout Afro-Eurasia. Different parts of Afro-Eurasia also shared religious motifs, including elements of shamanism, which can be detected within Zoroastrianism, Daoism, Sufism, Manicheism, Buddhism, and within some forms of Christianity … [and] there were also more direct exchanges of religions, including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Nestorianism, Manicheism, and Islam.”
There is a rather beautiful metaphor to be found in the emergent topologies of slime molds and the Silk roads. Not only does the Silk roads map appear somewhat recognizable with respect to a growth of slime mold, but both topologies develop and grow principally as a result of local economy – both developmental topologies (complex and dynamic organismal states) may be said to ‘eat’, to trade and consume, to diversify, to transport and exchange necessary and valuable materials and information.
Ancient knowledge of exothermic reactants to keep and transport the perpetual fire?
Generations of European alchemists refined equipment, developed and improved distillation techniques based upon the methods practiced and documented by the Magi of Alexandria. The alchemists’ laboratory fire was never allowed to extinguish – likely a vestige of the habit of keeping a perpetual fire, ascribed to Zoroastrianism and the Magi. After distillation, alchemical texts called for an oxidizing agent (potassium nitrate) to be combined with sulfur from the metal ore and carbon from the organic acid, to produce a volatile concoction. The myth of the mad scientist who blows up the laboratory may well originate with these ancient protocols. It did not come as a surprise to learn that Newton’s first laboratory, located in his rooms at Trinity College, suffered an “uncontrolled fire.”
The earliest reports of gunpowder are said to have been made during the 10th and 11th centuries, in China. However, K. Chase (2003)  (NOTE D) is said to have reported a Chinese alchemical text, dated 492 A.D., with reference to gunpowder – which is within the 226-651 A.D. range documented as the first royal sanction of the Zurvanist Magi , allowing some 500 years (approximately 10 generations of Magi) before the delivery of orated Magian knowledge to China in the 10th century A.D. Chase further noted that “saltpeter burnt with a purple flame, providing a practical and reliable means of distinguishing it from other inorganic salts, thus enabling alchemists to evaluate and compare purification techniques.”
Researching the history and possible origin of gunpowder, Ling (1974)  reported that Robert Norton (ca. 1635) fixed an earlier “date for the invention of gunpowder in China as the year A.D. 85”, that the invention was “attributed to an enchanter”, and that “a miraculous story is connected with it.” Ling commented that “the whole statement lacks basis, and need not be further dealt with.” He placed a greater weight of truth upon a book by Ko Hung – better known by his sobriquet Pao P’u Tzu – of the Chin Dynasty (265-3I7 A.D., early to mid-way between the 226-651 A.D. range documented as the first royal sanction of the Zurvanist Magi). According to Pao P’u Tzu, “saltpetre and sulphur played a part in Taoist Alchemy.” Ling also mentioned the T’ai P’ing Kuang Chi, which relates that “the T’ang emperor Tang Wu-Tsung who so highly favored Taoism, wanting silver for some alchemical purpose, set many labourers to dig for it in the mountain. When the search proved unsuccessful, an old man appeared and offered his help. During the night a thunderclap was heard, whereupon the mountain broke open, and the silver could be won.” Another story relates the alchemical practices of a Taoist monk, and the production of “purple flames, which became the cause of a terrible fire.”
Ling told that “reports of explosions occur quite frequently in early Taoist books”, and that a text named Wu Ching Tsung Yao, written in the year 1040 A.D., was the first to document protocols for the production and use of gunpowder. “The publication was meant to serve military purposes, and not only points out a detailed and perfected method for preparing and keeping gunpowder, but also explains its use for different kinds of arms. It is surely necessary to suppose that a considerable period of experimentation, communication and trials had taken place beforehand, and thus the invention of gunpowder and its qualities must be fixed at a somewhat earlier date than the [10th century compilation of the Wu Ching Tsung Yao].” Apparently, all the constituents of gunpowder were known in China by the first century B.C. and the Taoist alchemists of the third century A.D. knew the explosive properties of “the mixture.”
The “Wu Yuan ascribes to the time of the emperor Yang Ti (A.D. 605-6I6) of the Sui Dynasty the invention of the Huo Yao Tsa Hsi or “fire drug play” – a kind of theatrical performance. Ling reported that emperor Yang Ti “spent a large amount of money on all kinds of amusements. At the New Year festival “Fire Mountains” were burnt, and it is quite plausible that fireworks in the modern sense were invented [or presented] to satisfy the extravagance of this emperor.” A poem written by Yang Ti himself, contains the following passage:
“Trees of lamps shine with a thousand lights, flames and sparks shoot forth from the seven branches”, Ling notes that the character ‘hua’ appears, as well as ‘kai’ meaning “spark” and “to break out” respectively, indicative of a sparkling fire. Another poetic expression – “Flames of fire move round the wheel” – alludes to a firework, perhaps like the present-day Catherine wheel.
Ling concluded that “fireworks in China … made their first appearance during the seventh century A.D.”, and reported that ’huo yao’ (“fire-drug“) is the name eventually given to gunpowder.
Greek Fire – also known as Wet Fire or Sea Fire – which did not contain potassium nitrate, was “applied in warfare during the early European middle ages, especially in the two sieges of Constantinople (668-675 A.D. and 716-718 A.D.)” Greek Fire is said to have consisted of a mixture of sulfur, naphtha, and quick-lime, and that the heat of quenching the quick-lime presumably raised the temperature of the mixture sufficiently to ignite the naphtha. Also, “inflammable compositions of destructive power and liquid fires have been known in the Near East since the time of the Assyrians.”
That various forms of chemical fire have been used in war is not surprising. Perhaps more interesting, is the suggestion that various compositions of thermochemical reactants were used during migration, in order to transport the perpetual fire. Here then is a putative link between the knowledge and practice of chemical fires, a fire-keeping epistemy known in Europe as “Gunpowder” and “Fireworks”, in ancient times as “Greek fire”, and the ancient totemic perpetual fire of the Levant, aspects of which existed well before the 25th century B.C., and were to give rise to the ritualistic keepers of knowledge and fire – the Aryan Magi.
2500 – 2000 BC – Mesopotamia
Assyirian knowledge of inflammable compositions & liquid fire
1500 BC – Levant & Eurasian Steppe
Eastward Aryan migration via the Eurasian Steppe – Zoroaster
1500 – 1000 BC – India
1100 BC – Levant
500 BC – China
250 BC – Egypt
Ancient library of Alexandria
50 BC – China
Constituents of Gunpowder known – Gunpowder itself unknown
250 AD – China
Taoist alchemical knowledge – explosive properties of mixture
226 AD – Levant
Zurvanist magi – first royal decree
265 AD – China
Taoist alchemy – use of sulfur and potassium nitrate (saltpetre)
492 AD – China
Alchemical text – reference to Gunpowder
605 AD – China
Fire drug play
668 AD – Turkey
Greek fire use in sieges of Constantinople
1040 AD – China
First protocol for the production and military use of Gunpowder
Universal standard conduct
In striking agreement with the mechanisms of cellular communication (e.g. bacterial quorum sensing), of which Malinowski could not have been aware, he told that public display of “dogma and collective enunciation of moral truths” are necessary for three reasons:
i) Co-operation is needed for performance of rites that create “the atmosphere of homogeneous belief” (analogs of this milieu are: intercellular medium, worldview, mysticism, morale). “In this collective action, those who at the moment least need the comfort of belief, the affirmation of the truth, help along those who are in need of it. The evil, disintegrating forces of destiny [entropic forcing] are thus distributed by a system of mutual insurance – religion standardizes the right way of thinking and acting [morale] and society takes up the verdict and repeats it in unison.”
ii) “Public performance of religious dogma is indispensable for the maintenance of morals.” Moral valuation (signal-reception-response, regulation and feedback) and the carriers of morale (signals, messaging molecules) are universal (horizontal as well as vertical, and possibly a-causal information transfer). “The endurance of social ties, the mutuality of services and obligations, the possibility of co-operation, are based in any society on … a universal standard of conduct.”
iii) Transmission (signaling, reception, feedback) and conservation of tradition (knowledge, intercellular medium) necessarily entail collective performance.
“It is essential to every religion that its dogma should be considered and treated as absolutely inalterable and inviolable.” This is surely true of cellular signaling, in which unregulated corruption of signals, carrier molecules or their receptors, quickly leads to increased systemic entropy. Fascinatingly, extant scientific theories are often viewed as “inviolable”, particularly in cases where a theory has outlasted several generations of humans – until of course, the theory is altered or outright de-valued, from which time on the old theoretic edifice and/or its components are seen as incorrect corruptions; a new edifice and components are developed and eventually accepted universally within the current knowledge medium.
“The believer must be firmly convinced that what he is led to accept as truth is held in safe keeping, handed on exactly as it has been received, placed above any possibility of falsification or alteration. Every religion must have its tangible, reliable safeguards by which the authenticity of its tradition is guaranteed.” The validity of falsification continues to be an issue of debate among philosophers of science. Unfalsifiable theories, set beyond the scope of empirical observation, certainly do exist in science, as do inductive (intuitive) modes of thought – imagined experiments – so called, “thought experiments”. [28,29,30]
Likely unaware of Newton’s mindset and the supreme importance alchemists placed on spiritual purity, Malinowski confirmed “the extreme importance of the authenticity of holy writings” and “the supreme concern about the purity of the text and the truth of interpretation.” Reminiscent of the oral transmission of knowledge conducted by prehistoric Magi, Malinowski reported that “native races have to rely on human memory … without books or inscriptions, without bodies of theologians, they are not less concerned about the purity of their texts, not less well safeguarded against alteration and misstatement. There is only one factor which can prevent the constant breaking of the sacred thread: the participation of a number of people in the safekeeping of tradition. The public enactment of myth among certain tribes, the official recitals of sacred stories on certain occasions, the embodiment of parts of belief in sacred ceremonies, the guardianship of parts of tradition given to special bodies of men: secret societies, totemic clans, highest-age grades … we find the conviction that only by an absolutely unmodified immaculate transmission does magic retain its efficiency. The slightest alteration from the original pattern would be fatal. There is, then, the idea that between the object and its magic there exists an essential nexus. Magic is the quality of the thing, or rather, of the relation between man and the thing, for though never man-made it is always made for man. In all tradition, in all mythology, magic is always found in the possession of man and through the knowledge of man or man-like being. It implies the performing magician quite as much the thing to be charmed and the means of charming. It is part of the original endowment of primeval humanity … of the people of the magical Golden Age all the world over.”
Absolutely pure transmission of the original pattern, and relation between man (the practitioner) and the thing or process, is essential. This mirrors what has been learned of Newton’s alchemy – the spirit of the practitioner must be pure in order to render truth and goodness from alchemical practices.
“Magic is akin to science in that it always has a definite aim intimately associated with human instincts, needs, and pursuits. The magic art is directed towards the attainment of practical aims. Like the other arts and crafts, it is also governed by a theory, by a system of principles which dictate the manner in which the act has to be performed in order to be effective … [and like science, magic is a] specific art for specific ends … handed over in direct filiation from generation to generation. Hence it remains from the earliest times in the hands of specialists, and the first profession of mankind is that of a wizard or witch. Religion, on the other hand, in primitive conditions is an affair of all, in which everyone takes an active and equivalent part. Every member of the tribe has to go through initiation, and then himself initiates others.”
“The elemental categories in which we think – time, space, number, cause, class, person, totality – have their origins in religious life.”
The seemingly disparate paths of meaning presented in this essay are difficult to connect into a body of conclusive knowledge, from which we may derive clear and concise scientific statements. Any scientific concluding statements, would necessarily take into account empirical and theoretical observations. The former have been supplied to this study by ethnographic and archeological reporters. The latter (theoretic), which necessitates unempirical imaginings – insights – anschauung, as well as empiricism, has been argued by all referenced contributors. Nevertheless, the core question and subject of this essay hang as loosely upon the hinges of science, as do Big Bang theory, dark matter and dark energy theory – Quintescence – and what has come to be called Social science. It is both fascinating and beautiful to observe that the Nudge theory has been decorated and recognized by a true totem of modern science – the Nobel prize. The name “Nudge theory”, itself a nudge, is fitting and comical – a more correct terminology to describe this body of knowledge might be Social Influence theory.
From the materials presented, we can infer that human nature is built upon and part of the organismal biosphere and the physical codes of biology, which stand upon the laws of nature, which we (post)modern humans assume as representing or at least reflecting aspects and forms of natural forcing. The word force is important, suggesting that nothing ever stands still – the whole system (universe) is at all times and locations in a dynamic state. Electromagnetic, entropic and gravitational forces are assumed to be ubiquitous universal flow(s) of force – either mass-energy or scientifically unknown.
It is very curious indeed that even though languages continually develop and adapt, while many of us no longer believe in ghosts, spirits and deities, we nevertheless speak of them. “Ghost in the Shell” and “Spirit of Science” are modern usages, as are the more frequently expressed “thank God!”, “god-damn it!” and more recently as the acronym “OMG” – (Oh my god!). What do we mean by use of these terms and phrases? The former two examples, of Ghost and Spirit refer to a science fiction imagining of a human consciousness (mind) technologically embedded within an artificial machine system (body), and to traditional kinship lineages of knowledge, respectively. By the latter – calls to deities – do we refer fundamentally to nature or to a supposed supernatural realm? A reasoned argument has been rendered for the assumption of the inexistence of supernature, thus defining the supernatural concept as a misnomer, and categorizing it as an emergent property of human social nature – kin with magic, religion and science – the idea of supernature is a natural nudge.
Human nature is adaptive, both influenced by the physical-social (sociophysical) environment, and influencing the sociophysical environment. Social engineering is a modern term used to describe intended influences (manipulations) of human social behaviors – social forcing – thus altering, if not directing the mindful focus (attention) of human perceptions, for the ultimate purpose of collective enactment of social and physical phenomena. Our current understandings of social engineering and magic share a negative connotation, as should Nudge theory – all are forms of anthropic social forcing, and thus represent an identical meaning – the causal, albeit probabilistic manipulation of a population of human minds. Social engineering is a craft (a science, body of knowledge) – it may be used to promote good, and indeed promotes itself as a common good.
It is conceivable that Magian knowledge and acts (good thoughts, good words, good acts) incorporated some understanding of what we now name Social engineering. The Magi were magistrates (city managers) and magisters (learned masters), as well as religious (pre- and post-Zoroastrians), by and from whom were derived many of the myths of classical antiquity, nearly all of the religious doctrines and ideologies extant in the world, as well as the mysterious beliefs and practices of alchemy (natural philosophy in combination with natural theology), which have propagated (vegetated) and developed into the modern sciences.
May we thus assume to construct, by social engineering, a DIY (“do it yourself”) god or religion? Likely not, at least Comte failed in doing so. Durkheim would have agreed, with the proviso of an anthropic moral collective – a Church. Malinowski argued that religious feeling can emerge individually, during the performance of mundane tasks – religious feeling perhaps, though it seems likely that anthropic gods and religions require a DIO (“do it ourselves”) mind-frame – worldview, indoctrination, mysticism.
Attempts to construct Artificial Intelligence and Synthetic Biology seem fitting examples of modern attempts at the task of deiogenesis (god-making) and moralogenesis (worldview-making), though these activities have so far produced neither artificial intelligences nor purely synthetic cells – let alone collectives (ecosystems) of either. Does the social engineering of a god and/or religion necessarily involve some unknown, or once known but now forgotten (prisca sapientia) property or force? Ancient magic and the Magian tradition, referred to one whole rationally intuitive and empirically observable natural force. Is this force recognized in modernity empirically, as the separate forces of electromagnetism, entropy, gravitation, and unempirically, as the big bang, dark matter, dark energy (Quintessence)? Are these aspects of what was once collectively named mana by primitive peoples, vegetation in classical history, and multiplication in alchemical texts?
A timeline for a multigenerational and multicultural, anthropo-sociophysical set of connections (Silk roads network, complex system) has been derived from reports of historical and archeological studies, theoretically allowing an ancient human knowledge-set to propagate, disperse and adapt. The fields of deep ecology, plant intelligence and comparative genetics, recognize that ancient knowledge systems (organismal intelligences) predate the evolution of Homo sapiens.
The question “where does magic come from?” implies a dynamic stable state – a force – a constant flow of magic, mana, vegetation, entropy-gravitation-electromagnetism… – but renders no definition of the materials, energies or signals this proposed flow might be comprised of, nor why such a flow appears or appeared to exist at all, even though magical thinking is both specialized and ubiquitous in primitive as well as advanced human cultures. Is there some unseen or un-seeable, but nevertheless necessarily real and naturally influential universal vegetative force? One chapel of modern physics uses the term Quintessence in reference to the seemingly mysterious natural force, which has been intuitively recognized and theoretically created to explain the physical necessity of an unobserved and mysterious 98% of the universe – comprising and driving the theoretical expansion of an assumed vast majority of the universe – cosmological dark matter and dark energy.
Are the calls of the Deep ecology movement, for a new religion recognizing the spirit of nature, relevant? It seems ever clearer that the industrialization and exponential growth of the human population on Earth, leading from sedentary agrarianism some 10,000 years ago, is reaching climax and will likely settle into a dynamic stationary phase, near the theoretical carrying capacity of the planet. Whether or not human cultures deeply recognize a spirit of nature, the human population is necessarily faced with either colonization/dispersal (aspects of vegetation), or extinction. Let us favor the former, positive multiplicative principle, recognize that all is force, and that forces dyne as lineages of flux.
Notes – Part II
C) “The appraisers, Comyns and Ward, felt that only the papers later published as Newton’s Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended were fit to be published, and they valued the work at £250. Between 20 and 26 May 1727, Thomas Pellet drew up an inventory listing 81 items of which he considered only five fit to be printed, namely no. 33 (’de Motu Corporum or the liber secundus, in 56 half sheets in folio’); no. 38 (‘31 half sheets in folio being paradoxical questions concerning Athanasius’); no. 61 (‘an imperfect mathematical tract’); no. 80 (‘an abstract of the Chronology being 12 half sheets in folio & the Chronology being 92 half sheets in folio’), and no. 81 (‘40 half sheets in folio being the History of the Prophecies in 10 chapters & part of the 11th unfinished’).
As is evident from a number of manuscripts adorned with Conduitt’s notes and corrections – for example the manuscript of ‘An historical account of two notable corruptions of Scripture in a Letter to a Friend’ (New College, Oxford, Ms. 361.4) – White tells that Conduitt took a serious scholarly interest in the papers, and saw towards the possibility of publication. Given Newton’s unique eminence, as well as his known religiosity, a substantial number of contemporaries (with varying degrees of knowledge of their real content) continued to speculate about the theological views expressed in his manuscript legacy. In 1740 Conduitt’s collection came into the possession of the Portsmouth. In 1755, a batch of theological and chronological papers was sent to Arthur Ashley Sykes, who compiled a ‘digest’ of them, directing that the executor “should lay all the Tracts relating to Divinity before Dr Sykes … all of them I ordain shall be printed and published, so they be done with care and exactness”. Except for the ‘Two notable corruptions’ manuscript, however – a version of which had appeared in 1754 – Sykes considered almost none of the papers suitable for publication. The papers passed to the Reverend Jeffrey Ekins, whose family in turn passed them on to New College, Oxford in 1872.
Aside from well-founded rumors of his unorthodox theological interests, and the publication of theological material, a number of Newton’s philosophical, optical and mathematical papers, as well as a large number of his letters, had for some time been circulating among the cognoscenti, though the alchemical material remained almost wholly unknown except to a very few intimates, such as John Locke and Fatio de Duillier. In particular, the mathematician William Jones (who had published a collection of Newton’s mathematical works) had access to many of Newton’s papers as well as to the transcripts made by John Collins of Newton’s early work. In light of the ‘Queries’ to the successive editions of Opticks, natural philosophers were keen to divine Newton’s private views on the nature of matter, the aether and the cause of gravitation. Significant material appeared in Birch’s edition of Bayle’s Dictionary in the late 1730s, in his first edition of the Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle in 1744, in his History of the Royal Society in 1757, and in Four Letters from Sir Isaac Newton to Doctor Bentley containing some arguments in proof of a Deity (London, 1756), which for the first time printed the now famous correspondence of the early 1690s concerning gravitation and natural theology.
In response to this fascination with things Newtonian, Bishop Samuel Horsley edited a supposedly Complete Works (1779-85), reported to have “conveyed the most influential impression of Newton’s astonishingly broad intellectual achievements”. In preparation for this a manuscript catalogue was prepared of Newton’s papers, “marking certain items with a star”, to indicate fitness for publication. In particular, Horsley seems to have shied away from publishing Newton’s alchemical interests and sensored texts (such as the ‘third letter’ to Locke which supplemented the ‘Two notable corruptions’) which betrayed the heretical nature of many of Newton’s religious beliefs. Nevertheless, despite the somewhat wishful thinking of the title,
the work largely satisfied the demands of his readership and prompted Edward Gibbon, for instance, to seek out various manuscripts relating to early Church history in preparation for his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
R. Iliffe, “The Newton Project”, (2017), available: http://www.newtonproject.ox.ac.uk/introduction-to-the-newton-manuscripts-catalogue
D) I have been unable to independently confirm this source:
K. Chase, “Firearms: A Global History to 1700”, (2003), Cambridge University Press, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpowder#China
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