Tag Archives: unity

The Metaphysical Club

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand.

Louis Menand The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club of Menand’s title was a small, fairly short-lived conversation society organized by Chauncey Wright in 1872 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with members including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, and Charles Pierce, among others. Menand represents this coterie as the seedbed of the American philosophical school of pragmatism, and uses it for a point of orientation in tracing the intellectual formation and accomplishments of pragmatists James, Pierce, and John Dewey. Along with Holmes, who despite his distaste for the label “pragmatism,” shared in much of the intellectual innovation of his erstwhile club colleagues, these men were “the first modern thinkers in the United States,” according to Menand’s account. (pp. xi, 432-3) This phase of American thinking germinated during the closing decades of the nineteenth century, flowered in the first decade of the twentieth, and persisted until the middle of the twentieth century—a span punctuated by the Civil War at one end and the Cold War at the other.

The Metaphysical Club offers an imposing tangle of vivid biographies, in order to repeatedly demonstrate how the “modern” perspectives of the pragmatists and their peers differed from their immediate predecessors: the “modernizing” generation of their parents and teachers. Intellectual biographies of the pragmatists’ fathers serve as points of comparison and contrast, rather than contributing causes of their sons’ careers. The Cambridge-based Saturday Club of Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Agassiz and their associates (including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.) helps to make this comparison concrete. The signal event that divided these two generations was the Civil War. And Menand suggests that a driving principle of their thought was “fear of violence,” a fear instilled by the Civil War and activated by economic and social conflict in the 1890s (p. 373).

Menand’s description of the intellectual mode of the pragmatists emphasizes their attention to liberty and tolerance, unity of thought and action, contextualism, and a refutation of natural essences. At the same time, he remarks the extent to which thinkers like Holmes and Dewey were actually quite alien to the standards usually at issue in characterizing “liberal” thought. They were hostile to individualism, scientific instrumentalism, and laissez-faire economics. Their typical tendency was to discuss complex phenomena as differentiated wholes, rather than combinations of reified elements. Menand also shows how the philosophical “pluralism” coined by William James was significantly different than its later mutation as cultural pluralism.

With his chosen cast of characters, Menand is able to explore the expression of the pragmatist viewpoint in the diverse fields of law, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, statistics, and education. At the same time, he provides an account of a key phase in the professionalization of the academy. He details the beginnings of graduate education in the US, the founding of several key universities, the establishment of AUUP and key juridical precedents for the intellectual freedom of academic professionals. [via]


The Hieroglyphic Monad

The Hieroglyphic Monad by Dr John Dee, the 2000 paperback from Weiser Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

John Dee The Hieroglyphic Monad from Weiser Books

“This book, written in thirteen days in 1564 by the renowned Elizabethan magus, Dr. John Dee, explains his discovery of the unity underlying the universe, as expressed in a hieroglyph, or symbol. His monad represents the alchemical process and goal of the Magus who, in partaking of the divine, achieves that gnostic regenerative experience of becoming God, and thus furthers the redemption and transmutation of worlds.

Everything, Dee states, is dependent upon the circle and the straight line, which, in turn, are formed from the point. From this point revolve Sun and Moon, intersected to suggest their conjunction and generative faculty. These rest upon a cross, the ternary and quaternary, and all are mounted upon two connected half circles, the original fire of creation. The key to the glyph is in the meditation and study of it, and all it suggests to the ‘creative memory.’ It is not surprising that Dee’s contemporaries in the universities chose to ignore this valuable treatise on a key to the universe, thus causing him to have engraved upon the frontispiece, ‘Who does not understand should either learn or be silent.’—an admonition as true today as it was then.”

 

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Clavis Journal, Vol 2: The Cloister Perilous

The Cloister Perilous is volume 2 of Clavis: Journal of Occult Arts, Letters and Experience which is a collaboration between Ouroboros Press and Three Hands Press. This issue, due in October, is available for pre-order and will come in a standard as well as a limited to 125 copies deluxe edition, which last is bound in burgundy goat and comes with a lithograph by Carolyn Hamilton-Giles.

Ouroboros Press Three Hands Press Clavis Journal No 2

“CLAVIS Editions announces the second volume of Clavis: A Journal of Occult Arts, Letters, and Experience. Featuring an outstanding grouping of authors and image-makers, its nominative adumbration ‘The Cloister Perilous’ follows the apocryphal eponym ‘Of Keys, Locks, and Doors’ attributed to Volume 1.

Articles in this issue include ‘Our Lady Babalon and Her Cup of Fornications’ by Gordan Djurdjevic, and esoteric astrologer Austin Coppock’s paean to dark and baneful stellar emanation, ‘Death From Above’. Three adepts of the German magical order Fraternitas Saturni bring forth Gold from Lead, giving voice to the magisterial arcanum of Saturn in the article ‘Listening to the Voice of Silence’, accompanied by the artwork of Albin Grau and Hagen von Tulien. We are also pleased to include ‘Rite of the Graal Evolute’, a previously unpublished ritual and art by the late English magus and scholar Andrew D. Chumbley. Traditional witch Gemma Gary invokes Bwcca, the Cornish Witch-God, in arresting image, rite and magical exposition. Esoteric scholar Henrik Bogdan considers the esoteric role of Secrecy, the very flower of the Occult itself, as it relates to secret societies. Lloyd Graham writes of the magical talismans of Arabian magic, and Aaron Picirillo examines magical self-fashioning. Robert Hull examines the Qabalah of Quantum Physics in ‘Unity and Division’. Michael Howard’s essay ‘Masonic Mysteries of Tubal-Cain’ explores the role of the first artificer of metal in several occult orders. In addition, volume 2 includes several rare occult texts relating to cheiromancy, natural magic, witchcraft and the lore and magic of the Mandragora — the Shrieking Root of the sorcerers.

At 216 pages, CLAVIS Journal 2 features haunting and provocative visuals from many contemporary artists imaging the esoteric: by Madeline von Foerster, Richard Kirk, Carolyn Hamilton-Giles, Tom Allen, Jamie Sweetman, Billy Davis, John Kleckner, Carlos Melgoza, Joseph Uccello, Raven Ebner, Brigid Marlin, Timo Ketola, Ilyas Phaizulline, José Luis Rodríguez Guerra, and many more.” [via]

Pathworking and Fairy Tales from Problems on the Path of Return by Mark Stavish, M.A. in Vol 3 No 1 of Caduceus.

“The view of the universe offered in Star Trek is slightly different than Star Wars in that it has yet to answer certain existential question and address the spiritual question sufficiently. Star Wars on the other hand from the beginning offered us ‘the Force’ and introduced two generation to the ideas of spiritual warriorship, our personal and collective Shadow (Dark Side), redemption, and the unity of creation as an experiential reality, and not just an abstraction of quantum physics.” [via]

The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry from The Meaning of Masonry by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst.

“In some Masonic Lodges the candidate makes his first entrance to the Lodge room amid the clash of swords and the sounds of strife, to intimate to him that he is leaving the confusion and jarring of the religious sects of the exterior world, and is passing into a Temple wherein the Brethren dwell together in unity of thought in regard to the basal truths of life, truths which can permit of no difference or schism.” [via]