Civilization: Abstraction, Art & Math – Human links becoming more evident to the general public.

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The creation of the universe is a mystery. But in Egypt this was regarded as the only ineluctable mystery — beyond the Primordial Scission, all is in principle comprehensible. And if it is objected that a philosophy founded upon a mystery is unsatisfactory, it must be remembered that modern science is rife not only with mysteries, but with abstractions corresponding to no possible experience in reality: the zero, which is a negation; infinity, which is an abstraction; and the square root of minus one, which is both a negation and an abstraction. Egypt carefully avoided the abstract. In our terms unity, the Absolute or unpolarized energy, in becoming conscious of itself, creates polarized energy.

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One becomes simultaneously Two and Three. Two, regarded by itself, is divisive by nature. Two represents the principle of multiplicity; Two, unchecked, is the call to chaos. Two is the Fall. But Two is reconciled to unity, included within unity, by the simultaneous creation of Three. Three represents the principle of reconciliation, of relationship. (This threeinone is of course the Christian trinity, the same trinity that is described in innumerable mythologies throughout the world.) Numbers are neither abstractions nor entities in themselves. Numbers are names applied to the functions and principles upon which the universe is created and maintained.

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Through the study of number — perhaps only through the study of number — these functions and principles can be understood. Generally speaking, we take these functions and principles for granted; we do not even realise they underlie all our experience and that, at the same time, we are largely ignorant of them. We can only measure results, which provide us with quantitative data but not with understanding.

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What is today called Pythagorean number mysticism is Egyptian in origin (if not older still) and corresponds to the underlying philosophy behind all the arts and sciences of Egypt. In effect, what Pythagoras did was to undramatized myth — a strategy that had the advantage of talking directly to those capable of thinking along these lines.

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Egyptology, along with all modern disciplines devoted to past or alien cultures (anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, etc.), is based upon certain assumptions considered so self-evident they are never stated explicitly, never questioned. Generally speaking, ‘authorities’ within these fields are unaware that their disciplines are based upon these assumptions:

1 That man has ‘progressed’: There has been an ‘evolution’ in human affairs.

2 That civilization implies progress and that the height of civilization is in direct proportion to the rate of progress.

3 That progress, hence civilization, began with the Greeks, who invented speculative philosophy and rational science.

4 That science and science-based disciplines are the only valid instruments for arriving at ‘objective truth’

5 That without rational science and speculative philosophy there is no real civilization.

6 That there is nothing the ancients knew that we do not know, or understand better.

These assumptions (the selected quotes typify the attitude) have been accepted by almost every scientist and scholar for the last two hundred years. They percolate in to every aspect of education. No reader of this book will have been taught otherwise at school or university. Yet each of these assumptions is false, or represents a half truth more insidious than outright falsehood. To demonstrate this according to prevailing academic ground rules is simple enough but time consuming, and would take us too far from Egypt. The reader interested in pursuing the subject is referred to the Bibliography.* (Bl, 3, 9, C 11.)

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Modern society is what it is, not because the masses are uneducated, but precisely because of the understanding, beliefs and goals of our leaders — not politicians, but scientists, educators and intellectuals — all of whom are highly educated. Society is shaped by those who control its head and heart. Real physical needs are easily satisfied. It is our desires and beliefs that make the world what it is. Darwin wields a greater influence than Stalin. The world is what it is because of progress, not in spite of it. Progress is neither a corollary of civilization nor vice versa. ‘Civilization’, like ‘love’ or ‘freedom’, is a word that means something different to everyone. By ‘civilization’ I mean a society organized upon the conviction that mankind is on earth for a purpose. In a civilization, men are concerned with the quality of the inner life rather than with the conditions of day to day existence. Though there is no commanding logical or rational reason why ‘concern with quality’ should depend upon ‘sense of purpose’, human nature is such that without the sense of purpose, it is in practice impossible to maintain that essential unwavering concern — a concern which involves the personal determination to master greed, ambition, envy, jealousy, avarice and so on, all those aspects of ourselves that make the world what it is.

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History is there to bear grim witness: even with the sense of purpose man usually fails; without it there is no compelling reason why he should even try. In a true civilization, men try and succeed. ‘Progress’ is a parody of civilization, understood in this sense. Knowledge is a parody of understanding. Information is a parody of knowledge. We live in an age of information, and if we swallow whole the bait of modern education, the thought, art and literature of civilized men is, to us, incomprehensible. Egypt was a civilization, and the academic Egyptologist stands helpless in the face of its accomplishment. It is for this reason that, in all our schools, we are presented with an obvious paradox. We are taught that the ancient Egyptians were a people capable of producing artistic and architectural masterpieces unequalled in recorded history, yet that at the same time they were priestbound necrophiles, an intellectually infantile race obsessed with purely materialistic concerns for a mythical hereafter; a people slavishly worshipping a grotesque pantheon of animal-headed gods; a people devoid of real mathematics, science, astronomy or medicine, and devoid of any desire to acquire such knowledge; a people so conservative, so opposed to change, that their artistic, political, social and religious institutions remained rigid for four millennia. Philippe Derchain Mythes et Dieux Lunaires en Egypte: La Lune, Mythes, et Rites Source Orientates, 1962, p. 28 It is also remarkable that the exact explanation of the light of the moon was almost found by the Egyptians: ‘Khonsu Io, light of the night, image of the left eye of Amon, rising in the Bahkt (East) while Aton (the Sun) is in the Ankhet (West). Thebes is flooded with their light, for the left eye receives the light of the right eye when they are reunited on the day when the two bulls meet.’ The only reservation to be made is that this short text appears to refer to the reflection of the solar light by the moon at the moment of opposition. Whatever it may be, the two latter citations show a clear scientific tendency in the modern sense of the word.

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