Non-Newtonian Knowledge

Outside the Box Two Forms of Knowledge Information Fragments
Non-Newtonian Knowledge Recognition Knowledge Awareness



Saint Isaac of Nineveh had a prayer that began:

"O Lord, make me worthy to know you and love you,

not in the knowledge arising from mental exercise

and the dispersion of the mind,

but make me worthy of that knowledge

whereby the mind, in beholding you,

glorifies your nature in this vision

which steals from the mind the awareness of the world."

We will recognise in this Christian prayer from seventh century Syria certain basics in the ideas we have already been considering;

1.      The idea of two levels of knowledge, the worldly, and the spiritual or esoteric, which is Gnosis.

2.      The idea that it is awareness of the latter that steals from the mind the awareness of the world.

All I have said on previous pages means that the theoretical thinking of Newtonian physics is not knowledge unless it is exactly understood.  Whether it is written, thought, or spoken, it becomes knowledge only when it thre is more to it than words and numbers: when, indeed, it is 'non-Newtonian'; when it adds - to the verbal or symbolic thoughts of which it is composed - a clear memory of what those thoughts represent.  This is why German philosopher Heidegger once said, in perhaps his greatest insight; 'thinking is not merely to have thoughts'.  The thoughts we learn from others simply are merely information.  They can describe things that we know, but also can name things whose nature, or even their very existence are unknown to us, so that thoughts we have not understood can easily be made to lie to us.  In this way we trick ourselves!

This I think is why, some half a century after Heidegger made that comment, London physics professor David Bohm spoke - at a conference in California - about this little-known problem concerning the information that exists is our ordinary thinking.  What he said, in a book called ‘Thought as a System’, was: “We do not control information, the information within us runs us.  Our thoughts mislead us by telling us we are in control of them, and so they control us.  In this way, ‘assumptions become reflexes’” - (David Bohm - Thought as a System p90-91 - RKP, London and New York) ALMOST DUPE OF PREV PAGE!

 This means that there are two kinds of knowledge.  The first is obtained by the senses and interpreted by intellectual description - and that description is subject to all the limitations of coded information.  The second, long ago defined by the early saints, is non-Newtonian and hence indescribable.  It simply cannot be described in sensory terms.  This makes it difficult to fit it into the Newtonian ways in which we compartmentalise all our modern knowledge, and this difficulty is the reason why there are so many rigid boundaries of modern thought.  The impermeable boundaries form a veil or barrier between intellectual knowledge and objective knowledge.  

Even Socrates’ philosophy was verbal, and the limited ability of verbal intellect to receive and express certain forms of knowledge is demonstrated by Socrates’ discovery expressed in the idea that ‘he did not know anything’.  This was his most important observation about the limitation of reason, so that it cannot know anything for certain; this means that it cannot know God.  This is symbolised by Boris Mouravieff in the idea that the ‘higher centres’ of the psyche can only be reached from the emotional part, not from the intellectual.  This was also why Saint Paul could say: "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstititous.  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  He whom you worship in ignorance, I will now tell you about."  (Acts  17:22-23.)

He could say that because we can speak about something either from knowledge or from ignorance, and those who speak from other than knowledge often do not realise their ignorance.   In this situation we commonly believe that intellectual classifications help us to distinguish true observation from false, yet in fact in some ways classification has the opposite effect.  For example, when we classify experience as ‘subjective’, this causes us to ignore what we observe, especially if we discover it within our own organisms.  This prevents us from viewing our human psyche as a unity and blinds us to a ‘forgotten world‘ - forgotten only because of this attitude to the subjective.  Because the varied noumena of the forgotten aspect of reality are defined in many different ways, all of them non-Newtonian: we view them as the messages of the ‘unconscious’, as ‘mystical experiences’, as ‘inspired intuition’, and as the actions of the ‘other side of the brain’; the same thing appearing to be different depending on the label we attach to it.

All these facets of reality, sensory and non-sensory, are more effectively integrated into our lives if we classify them according to an ancient formula which distinguishes between scientific and religious knowledge without forgetting that both are true forms of knowledge.  This method was first distinguished by Saint Paul, then developed in the ‘Ecumenical Councils’ of the fifth century Church as a 1500 year old non-Newtonian basis of what might now called ‘noetic science’.  This ancient method provides means of distinguishing what is learned directly in a state of ‘noetic integration’ from descriptions formulated and agreed in a process of conceptual definition.  Learning to make this distinction is the key to understanding the relation between the two different sciences.  It distinguishes precisely how modern Newtonian science, based on disciplines of theory and observation that ensure accuracy of description, differs from the ancient noetic science, based on changes in human feelings and awareness.  These can still be observed today, but usually only after the observer has been specially trained.

The correlations between recognisable observations and theoretical descriptions are never entirely clear.  It is this which causes mental fragmentation.  Knowledge formed by rationally processing information according to computer-like rules, is both less reliable and less easily integrated than the knowledge produced by the nous in the natural process of recognition by the purified nous.  The way to escape from the self-hypnotism of everyday thought begins with the point where we begin to act differently in some particular situation.  What do I mean, ‘to act differently’; I mean that in one situation, in one task, in one kind of company, we begin to act consistently; we begin to act without responding to our continually changing thoughts, because instead we know something about which our thoughts are no longer changeable, or over which our continually changing thought no longer has any authority.  At this point, in a special way, we begin to become an individual.

I.          “He who does not know, but does not know that he does not know, is ignorant.  Avoid him.

II.       “He who does not know, but knows that he does not know, is simple.  Teach him.

III.    “He who knows, but does not know that he knows, is sleeping.  Wake him.

IV.      “He who knows and knows that he knows is wise, follow him.”                                                                                                  (Ancient Chinese proverb.)

Think of what you really know enough to trust your life to it.  Thoughts which are based on knowledge are to be trusted, but knowledge derived from thought or modified as a result of thought is false knowledge, so we must learn to know what we know.