ISAAC NEWTON AND HARRY POTTER
It came as an unwelcome surprise to the scientific
establishment when in 1936, the descendants of Sir Isaac Newton offered 121 lots of his
unpublished, suppressed and long-forgotten works for auction at Southeby's. These
works, which in their quantity far exceeded the sum of his well known scientific
treatise, concerned not science as we now know it, but what has since been shown to have
been Newton's greatest love, his lifelong study of the Hermetic traditions, of
occultism, magic and especially of alchemy.
John Maynard Keynes, after studying
many of these works, called Newton not the first man of science, but rather the last
of the magicians, and commented as follows:
Why do I call him a
magician? because he took the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle,
as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence,
certain mystic clues which God had laid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher's
treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood. He believed that these were to be found
partly in the evidence of the heavens and in the constitution of elements ...but also
partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken
chain back to the original cryptic revelation in Babylonia. He regarded the universe
as a cryptogram set by the Almighty ... By pure thought, by concentration of mind,
the riddle he believed, would be revealed to the initiate.
picture of Newton is totally at odds with that which has been taught in the academies of
science since his death in 1727, and today it remains a great embarrassment that
these works are becoming common knowledge at a time when science's materialistic theory
of origins finds itself struggling as never before to discredit the seeming
irrationality of biblical Creationism, which seeks to overturn not just Darwin's explanation
but the idea of evolution itself. What is also noteworthy is that the occult
traditions so intensely pursued by Newton, are as much of an anathema to contemporary
religious thought (especially to Creationists), as they are to modern science. A position
therefore exists between these two waring camps, but at present rejected by them
both. A position that takes the best from both worlds, i.e. is non-materialistic but
What lies behind this conundrum? Why should both of the
protagonists in what has become the modern equivalent of a 'holy war' over evolution,
find themselves on the same side where Newton's lifelong preoccupation with the
occult is concerned? Herein lies a great riddle, and in pursuing it matters of startling
and profound import may arise.
A Man of Logic
Newton in his
lifetime sought to reconcile the irreconcilable. The two aspects of his own thought and
experience had left him painfully divided. Newton the 'philosopher' in the ancient
sense of a 'lover of wisdom,' was at odds with Newton the 'natural philosopher' or
scientist. Natural philosophy in his day was held to be 'mechanical philosophy' which
took its primary impulse from the lower half of the Mind/matter dualism proposed by
Rene Descartes, who had postulated the notion of a totally mechanistic universe,
designed by God. Here cause and effect, as in clockwork, were always the result of
physical contact between material objects. This 'mechanistic' view, and the
rationalistic premises which it had fostered, were later to survive science's connivance at the
'death of God,' which was an attempt to turn Descartes' dualism into a monism of
matter, into scientific materialism or 'Godless science'.
But now it is clear that Newton the philosopher lived also in a world of reverse logic, of spiritual causes, of magic and of alchemy, and from his long suppressed works it becomes apparent that this was for him by far the most important of the two worlds he inhabited. He embodied within himself, and in his work, as perhaps no other individual has done before or since, the painful split between the two irreconcilable directions in causal logic which were soon to divide the entire world. Just as two centuries later Friedrich Nietzsche was driven to despair, and then to madness, by the unavoidable notion of eternal repetition (reoccurrence) created by materialism's combination of chance and atomic particles, so might we see Newton as bearing in his inner life the anguish of a conflict between the two irreconcilable causal logics, 'up' out of matter, and 'down' out of spirit, though it is doubtful that he would ever have seen the conflict in quite that manner.
Newton's distress arose from the realization that his concept of gravity (of action at a distance) had introduced an "occult" element into the mechanical philosophy of science, thereby depriving that philosophy of final epistemic validity. The concept of gravity may have been a part of Newton's attempt to reconcile science and occultism, but it led, as Noam Chomsky describes it, to a discrediting of the notion of material causation, which was later to underlie materialist philosophy's failure to produce a credible theory of knowledge. Chomsky.puts it this way: 'Newton was greatly disturbed by what he called the "absurdity" of his discovery that the mechanical philosophy is false -- something he refused to believe and worked to the end of his life to disprove.' This suggests that in his scientific strivings Newton was reluctant to entertain the direction of causal logic traditionally implicit in magic and occultism, and might even have sought for materialistic causes to account for these same traditions. What he accomplished, however, was the exact opposite. He stood at the beginning of the age of scientific materialism, and his concept of gravity was to be its first major set-back. With the advent of Quantum Physics, science now finds itself confronted with a yet deeper version of Newton's dilemma. Bell's Theorem, for example, wherein the instantaneous spin-reversal of twin particles (Mesons) showed that something in nature moved much faster than the speed of light, which contradicted Albert Einstein's relativity theory. Expanding on Newton's phrase, Einstein called this finding "spooky action at a distance." So it seems that another "occult" element has appeared, this time in the very heart of matter. An immaterial Consciousness might well travel faster than light, which strongly suggests that Consciousness may in fact be the primal cause of matter itself. Bell's finding supports the view that opposing concepts of causal logic in nature are indeed possible, but ultimately only one of them will prove to be true.
A Man of Magic
What has all this to do with Harry Potter? It has been estimated that already in the four years since the first of J.K. Rowling's children's novels, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' appeared on the bookshelves, some fifty million copies of these delightful works have been sold. Four novels have now been published, describing the humorous and magical antics of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and three more are planned, taking Harry to his graduation from Hogwarts. In the realm of publishing a phenomenon of this magnitude is very rare indeed. But does it have any deeper meaning?
This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that
when these children grow up, a truly New Age may dawn in science and philosophy. It is
now more than sixty years since the suppressed works of Sir Isaac Newton were
auctioned, and the man who had been falsely presented to the world as paragon of
materialistic rationality, now stands revealed not merely as a closet magician, but as the
last of the great sorcerers. Which aspect of Newton's dual nature is most likely to
appeal to a generation raised on Harry Potter? and what will the effect of this
exposure mean thirty years from now?
To effectively answer this question we must ask ourselves which of the two directions of causal logic manifest in the works of Newton will finally prove to be the true one? They are completely irreconcilable, which means that only one of them can be true, and as we have seen the one with which science is preoccupied, materialism, had one strike against it while Newton still lived: the concept of gravity. Many consider Quantum Physics to be a second. The third
strike will come, I think, when it begins to be widely realized that Darwin's great theory ('great' in its historical significance) is in its entirety a logically false construction; because from the outset it embodied, in an unconscious manner the same causal contradiction which we find in the totality of Newton's work, albeit in a different form. The contradiction I refer to, and to which I have drawn attention in several papers, is that Darwin's theory cannot be made even sightly plausible without the language of human creativity (mechanistic imagery and intentional idioms), in which it is couched.1 This objection must include everything now being claimed concerning the role of DNA, the genetic code,
because even the idea of a 'code' implies, without explicitly stating it, the idea of a mind. And as Rupert Sheldrake has acutely observed, and as others are beginning now to realize, it is the human mind and human creativity that has been unconsciously substituted, by Darwin and his successors, for the divine creativity which the theory seeks to deny, thereby creating a hidden but profound contradiction in causal logic, a rampant dualism within science.2
Science must be monist, its causal logic working in one direction
only, this is the simple and undeniable truth which lay at the root of Newton's anguish,
and Darwin simply overlooked the fact that his theory's reliance on human creativity
made him a dualist, because without that reliance the theory would simply not have
been possible. Causal logic, however, cannot be trifled with without leading to the
most serious of consequences.
A Man of Science
Newton's dilemma science is now our birthright. Largely because of him science as we know
it became a reality; but it now carries a burden of profound irrationality,
especially in the life sciences, resulting from an error in the use of language that had
inadvertently universalized human intelligence. Human intelligence is a wonderful thing,
but it did not create nature, which is what the Darwinian theory's use of
intentional idioms and mechanistic imagery has unconsciously implied. With this burden of
false logic science cannot go very far into the third millennium without facing an
extreme crisis. Where causal logic is concerned Quantum Physics already begins to suggest
a reversal, but in the life sciences, because the above error has unconsciously
introduced a dualism, we still cling to a false materialism. Science must find a way to
transform itself back into an uncompromised monism, which today, I suggest, can only
mean a Monism of Mind, a critical Science of the Spirit with which Newton's other
side could have lived, and which he would have cherished; but for developmental
reasons materialism had to come first. There is therefore a serious side to the antics of
Harry Potter and his friends, because the children now being charmed by them may
well be the one's to help science make that difficult transformation, which, among
other things, will help us begin to better understand the fascinating work of Rupert
Sheldrake, and the long neglected significance for science of the epistemic thought of
the great Austrian seer/scientist Rudolf Steiner, who in his doctoral thesis
Truth and Science, presented at the University of Rostock in 1892, gave to science
what Chomsky has described as unattainable, a critical theory of knowledge to support
its future strivings.3
1 See 'Design in Nature
and Purpose in Language' in Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, Vol 71, 1999, 2nd
part, and 'Evolution as a Property of Mind' in the Southern Cross Review #9.
2 See 'Post-Cartesian Dualism,' to be presented in June, 2001 at the Chicago
conference of the Michael Polanyi Society.
3 See 'Bridges to Spiritual Science,' Nick Thomas,Trans-Intelligence
Issue #10, 2001, email@example.com
© 2001 Don Cruse
Don Cruse was born in England in 1933, emmigrated to Alberta, Canada in 1955, where he has lived ever since. He spent his working life in electronics and is now semi-retired on a farm where he runs a business manufacturing a new version of the Schatz Inversion Mixer.
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