The Imaginal Within The Cosmos: Entelechy and Archetypal Information
As a teenager, the spiritual philosopher Jean Houston was privileged to have made the acquaintance of the great Jesuit scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. During one of their walks, Teilhard presented to her the definition of "entelechy." He noted that "it is inside of you, like the butterfly is inside of the caterpillar." Then he asked the young teenager: 'What is the entelechy of Jeanne? A great word *entelechy.* It means the dynamic purpose that is coded in you..."
Years later Houston wrote:
Teilhard's comment to the young Jean Houston, and her later elaboration, about entelechy has set me to pondering about the issue of the archetype as a kind of *inner* psychical "code" or "field of information." As for coding, in juxtaposition, I harken to our contemporary science theories that relate to the modern discoveries of the outer, physical world. From such technologies as the COBE satellite, scientists are beginning to assume the universe was seeded with information at the outset of the Big Bang--and the world has unfolded from such ever since.
Also, the Genome Project suggests that within the genetic structure there are only a certain number of codes that constitute us all--albeit creative, interplaying variations of these codes that serve to produce differentiation on a wondrous scale.
Nowadays science theorists are moving towards a more subjective direction. There are theories regarding human speech, how our brains are hard-wired to understand only certain structures of language, for example. (See Douglas Hofstadter's landmark work, THE GOLDEN ETERNAL BRAID).
And, of course, we are all aware of how coding is present in music. There are just so many notes, but via variation we can produce everything from chopsticks to Chopin. Moving more in the direction of the subjective, historically, the philosopher Immanuel Kant discussed *a priori* knowledge as did Plato with his "Eternal Forms." Mathematical symbolism has oft been used as an example in these theories.
Carl Jung suggested that the archetypes were psychical energies, energies that constellated into patterns of behavior. And it is out of this context that I wonder about archetypes as being coded information--especially in reference to modern science theory, which points towards our cosmos being an informed and information-processing universe.
Alas, we still so often stand between paradigms when it comes to attitudes about our universe--and this particularly rubs off on our attitudes towards science, too. Most still believe science deals only with the "empirical," the outside, physical universe. But lately, during most of this past 20th century--some scientists have come to realize that there is both a Within and a Without to this universe, to borrow terminology from Teilhard. Or there is an Implicate Order as well as an Explicate Order, to employ David Bohm's theory. Or the Yin/Yang world of Niels Bohr. Or the Synchronistic Universe of quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli and psychologist Carl Jung.
Now we are coming to know that the unfoldment of the explicate universe is informed, "bit-by-bit" as the world-class physicist John Wheeler put it. We also know that this information creates and discards. It plays with variations and themes. *Evolution* is its story!
But what about the Inside World, the Within, the Implicate Order of the universe? We can look at ourselves. We are a microcosmos, possessing both subjective and objective realities. We are coming to know how information rules our outside world, from massive astrophysical structures to our very own bodies. So! How does information operate in the subjective realm? That's a big, big question--and it could involve far more than our familiar archetypes. But, for now, let's stick with the archetypes--and how they might be coded, informed energies within our personal and collective psyche.
As we have said, archetypal energies form the familiar constructs or patterns of our behavior. Now patterns are informed--and they play with information, creating a variety of themes. It would seem that upon cursory examination these archetypal patterns seem like psychical genes, similar to our biological genes. We do know from the Genome Project that genetically there are only a small number of biological codes out of which all of biological life in its vast, varied formation has arisen. So why not look at the identified set of archetypes as being a certain number of psychical codes, out of which our psyche has arisen in its vast, varied formation.
Could be the physical and the psychical operate under the same laws of the universe! And upon looking at this prospect, we move our perspective of the archetype as "code" to that of the archetype as a "field of information."
A few years back I read a book by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, entitled THE PHYSICS OF ANGELS. Now what Fox and Sheldrake infer about "angels" is that they are our representations of the intelligence(s) of Universal Law. Upon occasion these authors slip from "angels" to pronouncing these expressions of Universal Law as "forms" or "archetypes."
Sheldrake, who is a famous biologist and science philosopher, wonders
aloud about these Universal Laws:
Moving a little further into this, continuing to relate angels, archetypes,
the Platonic Forms, Sheldrake ponders further on the ancient Greek view
and the conventional modern scientific view:
But Sheldrake differs from this above position. As he puts it:
Now Sheldrake is well known for his work in morphogenetic fields, in
non-local fields, so it's not surprising that he strives to express angels
[archetypes] in terms of a universal field. As he put it:
As for angels [archetypes]--thinking holarchically--Sheldrake believes these mental forms could be considered in terms of "fields." Explaining, "just as photons are a particulate way of thinking about the activity, the energy, carried in electro- magnetic fields...so angelic beings [archetypes], like quantum beings, may well have a double aspect." [Ibid, pp. 40-41.]
Essentially, as the theologian Matthew Fox said: "Somehow we're talking about photon and field coming together in the light..." This leads to the idea that the angel [archetype] is a cosmic *connector* that not only informs, but can also heal and inspire.
But to return to Sheldrake, what is he thinking when he says "holarchically?" To understand this, we need harken back to the Law of the Holomovement, as presented by the late David Bohm--one of the world's great quantum physicists.
At the very depths of the ground of all existence, David Bohm believes that there exists a special energy. For Bohm it is the Plenum of the universe; it is an "immense background of energy." The energy of this Ground is likened to one whole and unbroken movement by Bohm. He calls this the "holomovement." It is the holomovement that unfolds the enfolded information of the Implicate Order, the Within of the universe.
Bohm also refers to a law in the holomovement. He theorizes that the "order in every immediately perceptible aspect of the [explicate] world is to be regarded as coming out of a more comprehensive Implicate Order, in which all aspects ultimately merge in the indefinable and immeasurable holomovement. Holonomy, through a wide range of aspects, can be considered a "movement in which new wholes are emerging." [David Bohm, WHOLENESS AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER, Ark Paperbacks, 1983, pp. 156-167.]
What is it that emerges from this ultimate ground, this "unknown totality of the universal flux?" It is the extension of the Implicate Order into a multidimensional reality. It is the interplay between the implicate and explicate orders--the Within and the Without of our universe. It is the flow of matter, manifested and interdependent, towards consciousness.
And as Sheldrake referred to the particle, so does Bohm who considers the particle the most essential building-block of matter. He considers the particle, fundamentally, to be only an "abstraction that is manifest to our senses." Basically, for Bohm, the whole cosmos is matter; in his own words: "What *is* is always a totality of ensembles, all present together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment, which intermingle and interpenetrate each other in principle throughout the whole of space." [Ibid, pp. 183-184.]
As for the explicate order--the Without of the universe--Bohm says it flows out of the law of the Implicate Order, a law that stresses the relationships between the enfolded structures that interweave each other throughout cosmic space rather than between the "abstracted and separate forms that manifest to the senses." [Ibid, p. 185.]
Bohm also declares that the "implicate order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality." He proceeds: "In principle this reality is one unbroken whole, including the entire universe with all its fields and particles. Thus we have to say that the holomovement enfolds and unfolds in a multidimensional order, the dimensionality of which is effectively infinite. Thus the principle of relative autonomy of sub-totalities...is now seen to extend to a multidimensional order of reality."
Within Bohm's sense of a multidimensional reality, there surely could be those psychical fields we call "archetypes." And if Bohm, himself, had more specifically discussed these psychical fields-- he might have considered them as "coded information" within the structure of the universe--as cosmic psychical fields that interpenetrate our subjective lives.
For Bohm the apparent evolution in the universe is because the different scales or dimensions of reality are already *implicit* in its structure. Bohm uses the analogy of the seed being "informed" to produce a living plant. Here we harken back to "entelechy." The same can be said of all living matter. "Life is enfolded in the totality and--even when it is not manifest, it is somehow implicit."
So following Bohm's logic, the archetypes, those psychical fields of Universal Law, are encoded information and have always been implicit in the universe since its inception. (It is at this point that Bohm follows the modern standard scientific attitude about Universal Law--and differs from Sheldrake.)
Regardless, there's a lot of food-for-thought becoming available to us when pondering on "entelechy" from the perspective of the archetype as a code, or as a field of information.
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