Encountering the Theory
I first heard of Arthur Young in 1973 when I noticed the book Consciousness & Reality in the Redwood City Public Library and checked it out. Arthur was co-author, and its topic was exactly what I had been seeking.
I had grown up as a scientist since sixth grade. I’d accepted Science to be The Truth and it was my religion. I did science fair projects, and had a chemistry lab in my basement from grades seven through twelve. At university, I studied math, physics and chemistry, and earned a BA in chemistry in 1972. Then I worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) as a research chemist. But by 1973 I wanted to relate science with consciousness and inner-experience. I realized that science didn’t really acknowledge that consciousness existed; only atoms (or fermions) existed. So I sought teachers who in some sense had “one foot” in consciousness and one in science.
I soon found G. Spencer-Brown’s book, Laws of Form, which fused logical form with William Blake’s inner experience and neoplatonist vision (Seeing) of The One. I learned Transcendental Meditation, in part because Maharishi emphasized scientific research. I took Erhard Seminar Training (est). Erhard was able to use language, including words from physics, as a tool within consciousness and direct-experience.
In 1974 I bought Jeff Mishlove’s book, Roots of Consciousness, (later learning that the book’s title came from Arthur), which prepublished, in its appendices, the core of Arthur’s Reflexive Universe and Geometry of Meaning. Arthur’s integration of meaning and intentionality with science and evolution in his theory of process was the kind of thing I wanted, the bridging between inner and outer experience.
When Arthur’s books were published in 1976, I read them and soon after visited 2924 Benvenue Ave. in Berkeley CA to meet Arthur in person at his Institute for the Study of Consciousness. After regularly attending ISC events for a few years, I became the first (and only?!) person besides Arthur to teach classes on the theory of process at ISC.
Through ISC, Arthur offered everyone participation in an ongoing quest which had three components: interacting with Arthur himself about his theory and related ideas; hearing the diverse lecturers who presented their own work at ISC; and interacting with others who attended ISC events. I met like-minded people with whom I could and did connect. Some of my best friends came through ISC. Our participation in the ongoing quest at ISC created a kind of “Think Tank” or de facto research institute. It was Arthur’s modus operandi to interact with people at a deep level: he asked real and not merely rhetorical questions that sometimes permanently affected people and changed their lives. I describe Arthur’s influence as “seminal”. He shared his own real queries with others and worked together with them for mutual-discovery. For example he and I worked our way through a difficult technical book by Eddington, Relativity Theory of Protons and Electrons.
Arthur’s own quest had led him back to a time of unity, before Science had split off from and discredited older ways of knowing. He held fast to this unity and put the parts and fragments of knowledge into relation with Unity. (One might rephrase the old adage and say that he “put the horse [life] before Des-carte!”)
It seemed to me that our modern culture was deeply in need of this reordering, and so was I– who had swallowed Science and modernism whole. I realized that I was not likely to find this kind of free search for a truth bridging science and consciousness inside academia with its fragmented departments. And so, I have contented myself with following people like Arthur who made contributions outside academia, feeling that the depths so-plumbed were more profound and more holistic.
Arthur outdoes science; he takes reductionistic science and goes two steps further by reducing Mass, Length, and Time to angles, and reducing (actually integrating) angles to wholeness. And the inner and outer worlds are bridged/united either by correspondences or by subverting or voiding the boundaries separating them. As one example, in physics, Motion concerns outer things but has an experiential counterpart as flux (e.g. as a live electric current flowing through you which is directly felt in your body). More generally, his geometry of meaning applies equally to inner and outer realities; there is psychological Action and spiritual Action as well as physical Action, and similarly with the other twelve measure-formula/zodiacal signs.
Arthur’s theory of process provides the system which allows me to organize and analyze the other systems that have been propounded by both physics and metaphysics. His theory is so well-rounded that I can see what is missing in other systems.
Contributing to a bridge/unification between inner and outer worlds has been and continues to be an intellectual mission of my life.