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Reveals the Hermetic underpinnings of modern scientific theories
• Offers a full reconsideration of the history of science from Newton to the present day as well as a Platonic-Hermetic perspective on modern technology
• Examines Hermetic resonances among the ideas of Gurdjieff, Robert Fludd, Marsilio Ficino, and cybernetics; Einstein and the Tibetan Bardo; Neoplatonism and artificial intelligence; and Rosicrucianism and the internet
• Shows how Hermetic doctrine is at the heart of what modern physics is now rediscovering: that consciousness permeates everything
Contemporary scientific disciplines such as chaos and complexity theory, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science treat themselves as new fields of inquiry, but many of these ideas can be traced back to Hermeticism, the European intellectual tradition sparked by the rediscovery of the Corpus Hermeticum and Platonic texts in the 15th century.
Building a map of the progression of scientific thought across centuries and continents, Leon Marvell examines the ancient roots of Hermeticism, its rise during the Renaissance, and its suppression during the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment. He reveals how three main Hermetic ideas--the divine spark within each individual, the subtle body, and the anima mundi or world soul--have continually emerged at the cutting edge of science and philosophy throughout the ages because these ideas represent universal truths recognized by each era of human civilization.
Marvell examines Hermetic resonances among the ideas of Gurdjieff, Robert Fludd, Marsilio Ficino, and cybernetic theory; Einstein and the Tibetan Bardo; and Neoplatonism and the work of AI scientist Christopher Langton. He reveals how the Rosicrucian description of the Invisible College also describes the instant availability of knowledge via the Internet, and he shows how Hermetic thought is at the heart of what modern physics is rediscovering: that consciousness permeates everything and the universe cannot be reduced to the random play of matter.
Offering a full reconsideration of the history of science from Newton to the present day as well as a Platonic-Hermetic perspective on modern technology, Marvell reveals the pattern that connects the sciences, philosophy, and ancient knowledge and opens a potentially rich field of inquiry for 21st-century science.
Leon Marvell, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Deakin University in Australia. For more than 30 years he has researched European and Eastern esotericism and the history of science. He lives in Victoria, Australia.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Arthur Versluis, Ph.D.
Preface to the New Edition
1 Ideal Objects and Their Forebears
2 Spirit of the Beehive: Hermetic Resonances in Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence, and Cyberspace
3 Body Doubles
4 Metaphysical Geometry, Alien Attractors, and the Shape of the World Soul
5 The Gnostic Alchemy of Robert Fludd
6 The Gnostic Leibniz, or What Is It Like to Be an Atom?