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Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism
Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism
Price: £24.22

5.0 out of 5 stars The Rebirth of the Protean Occult Master, 1 Jun. 2016
The Subject and the Preface

The Delight of the Physical Beauty of the Book

For me, there are few fulfilling experiences that surpass the arrival of a new book into my possession.

Today, I was fortunate to receive a fundamental work that demonstrates the rising recognition of the cultural force represented by the achievement of the occultist, philosopher of religion,man of letters, painter, champion mountaineer and chess master, Aleister Crowley.

Tearing open the packaging demonstrating the exquisite care that marks book posted by Oxford University Press, the book's publishers, I encounter the treasure within.

The face of the Great Beast 666, the Master Therion, as he described himself, gazed at me from middle aged features framed by a lightly coloured square, bordered by four black lines rising from a line constituted by the light thickness of successive dots to lines of thicker constituencies, culminating in a thick square line framing the cover of Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, edited and introduced by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P.Starr. Oxford University Press, 2012.

The bulk of the book at 406 pages promises delights galore as ideas unfold in page after page, its delightful simplicity and refinement of cover design and stout binding making it a feast of ergonomic interaction, as book holder and book, book reader and bound collection of pages of text, interact at the nexus of space and consciousness, where words and understanding swim into new configurations in the human interaction with the manifestation of materiality represented by the printed book, which, even though it is also likely to exist in digital form, delivers a distinctive aesthetic, almost erotic charge in its physical embodiment, in the care with which it is created to delight the eye through its visual patterns and excite the mind through its ideational configurations.

The Achievement of Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley's central achievement may be described as the scope of his actualisation, though his life and works, of the promise of the African, Western and Jewish cultural synthesis represented by the Golden Dawn, the most influential modern Western magical order, as well as the potential of other magical systems, integrating them with the Indian philosophy and practice of Yoga and with Western philosophy, and building upon this framework to develop his own philosophies and practices of magic, culminating in his creation, with the help of his wife, Rose Edith Crowley, of the magical religion, Thelema.

In achieving these distinctions, Crowley actualised a great contribution to the alternative religious orientations developing in the West in the wake of the collapse of widespread public allegiance to Christianity created by the emergence of Western modernity driven by the rapid advances in science and technology.

The Golden Dawn demonstrates both the soaring religious vision of the classics of religious thought, the Hindu Upanishads, the Bible and the Koran, among others, but excels beyond them them in providing a rich and extensive system of exercises of meditation, prayer and ritual directed at training the aspirant to achieve the lofty heights of awareness of the divine that inspires the most sublime religious vision.

It is Crowley's distinction to have demonstrated with particular aggressive devotion the possiblities of this system, even though he cannot be described as saintly.

It was also he, who, breaking his initiatory vows of secrecy, published the teachings of the Golden Dawn, thereby seeding the flourishing of Western esotericism through the inspiration of the knowledge thus made publicly available.

Crowley demonstrated a keen sensitivity to, and a totality of commitment, to the quest for unity of self with ultimate reality represented by mysticism, developing this vision within the context of a balance between imaginative and affective drives and ratiocinative engagement with the principles involved in this work.

In pursuing what he described as the goals of religion and the methods of science, he employed ritual, philosophical analysis and poetry, recording and publishing his experiments over a lifetime at the borders of Western magical practice as it was known in his time, creating and publishing many books on magical theory and practice, developing new magical techniques, co-creating a unique Tarot divination deck, writing and publishing various volumes of poetry, a novel, creating a number of paintings and playing a central role in various magical orders.

In every genre in which Crowley worked, the creation of magical ritual and expositions of magic, poetry, the short story, the novel, autobiography and creation, with Frieda Harris, of a new set of Tarot divination cards, the Thoth Tarot, he achieved something distinctive, his core work in magic being a landmark in the field.

His work in magic is best understood as constituting a cultural encyclopedia that goes beyond its specialized subject to integrate broad areas of Western, and times, Asian cultures, into a prismatic whole fired by his amazing intelligence, breadth of knowledge and restless creativity.

This encyclopedic cultural range is particularly powerfully expressed by his magnum opus, Magick : Book 4, which integrates a scope including magical ritual and philosophy of magic, mainstream Western philosophy and nursery rhymes understood in terms of magical thought.

Like all great religious thought, Crowley’s magical work needs to be read as speaking to both the specific focus of his visionary aspirations and transcending those to resonate in relation to the human drive to engage with possibilities that expand existence beyond the material into realms of ultimate meaning.

His literary work, specifically his short stories, poetry and novel, are able to tantalise with their unique creative universe in a way that marks them as testaments to expressive possibilities at the borderline of experience and imagination, unifying various cultural universes in terms of his distinctive imagistic and verbal musical world.

Ultimately,though, Crowley demonstrates, par excellence, the process, universal even within distinctive expressions, through which individuals are able to distill the knowledge available within a culture, transforming it into a form which they understand as a new message to humanity, a goal Crowley accomplishes in the creation of Thelema.

Engaging Aleister Crowley at the Convergence of Western Esotericism

and the Development of Civilisation

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism is described as the first comprehensive effort to adress this broad a range of the achievements of this protean master.

This is another initiative by Oxford UP in contributing to the growth of the scholarly study of Western esotericism, the publication of Neville Drury’s Stealing Fire from Heaven : The Rise of Modern Western Magic being a relatively recent achievement of the Press, bringing their unfailing standard of quality to bear in relation to the newly growing but well established field.

The field opens out into ancillary streams within and beyond the study of its primary subject matter, represented, for example, by the culturally cognate subject of Jewish esotericism as well as the intersections of Western esotericism and modern science.

Moshe Halbertal’s introduction to his Concealment and Revelation: Esotericism in Jewish Thought and its Philosophical Implications, published by Princeton UP, for example, shares significant parallels with Wouter Haanegraaff’s preface to this volume on Crowley in locating the esoteric within a broader cultural context beyond itself, both Hanegraaff and Halbertal situating their subject in terms of relationships between the esoteric and the exoteric, in relation to modes of navigating the complementary contraries represented by the hidden and unknown, the revealed and known.

Wouter Hanegraaf, one of the foremost writers and institution builders in the study of Western esotericism, describes this broader cultural location in terms of Western society’s self understanding through the binary polarities in which the irrational and the occult represent the antithesis of the rational and scientific cast that is understood as defining modern culture.

This description resonates with Michel Foucault’s explorations of the creation of culture through polarities, particularly Western culture, as in Madness and Civilisation, in terms of schemes of defining self and other, schemes which are best understood as interpretations of history, interpretations that might not always reflect incontrovertible and mutually verifiable historical facts.

The greater complexity beyond such polarities, as demonstrated by historical experience, is dramatised by the intertwining of the occult and the scientific in Western cultural history, as definitively established by Frances Yates' Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition and the Rosicrucian Enlightenment and the work of other scholars, achieving a defining expression in the contemporary consensus in Isaac Newton scholarship, as in the magisterial work of Richard Westfall and other Newton scholars, and the more recent succinct, but comprehensive presentation of Rob Lliffe on Newton, in the Oxford UP Very Short Introductions series, describing the intertwining of occult, Christian and scientific thought in the achievements through which Newton laid foundations central to modern science.

Hanegraaf presents Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism in his preface as representing one stage in the creation of the canvas depicting the development of Western consciousness.

The ongoing process of creating a representation of this consciousness is described by Hanegraaff as continuing with this work in illuminating the areas of darkness, the location of the irrational Other, the antithesis to the rational refinements that define modern Western culture , demonstrating the presence of light and rationality, of coherence and creative value within the heretofore inexplicable dynamism of the occult, exemplified by a figure I describe as its most prominent individual, Aleister Crowley.

The volume explores a broad scope of Crowley’s involvement in various streams that constitute the Western esoteric tradition, demonstrating how his distinction as the most prominent figure of Western esotericism is earned through the character of his life, his massive list of published writings in various genres and his direct role in various occult schools and movements, all these enabling his pervasive influence in Western occultism, even among those who reject the foundations inspirational for Crowley.Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism


Prayer in Islamic Thought and Practice (Themes in Islamic History)
Prayer in Islamic Thought and Practice (Themes in Islamic History)
by Marion Holmes Katz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Nov. 2015
Contains a magnificent summation of Ibn Arabi's philosophy of prayer. Majestic. Luminous.


Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction
Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction
by David P. Feldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 6 Jun. 2015
A Superb Book Even for those With No Knowledge of Maths but Who Wish to Learn


Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art
Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art
Price: £71.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Yoruba Aesthetics at the Confluence of Disciplines, 6 Jun. 2015
Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art in Relation to Yoruba, African and Non-African Philosophies and Art
Rowland Abiodun has arrived at last.

The world is privileged to receive the magnificent production represented by his book Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art, published by Cambridge University Press on 13th November, 2014. ISBN: 9781107047440. Hardback. £75.00.(US$115.00).

From decades of scholarship and a lifetime of immersion in the subject, Rowland Abiodun has put together a comprehensive statement on his research into the intersection of aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics and ethics in classical Yoruba art and thought.
The book is beautifully bound and richly illustrated, its form a sumptuous delight.

It magnificently complements, and with reference to some of its ideas, takes forward the developments represented by landmark publications on Yoruba arts, Yoruba : Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, The Yoruba Artist : New Theoretical Perspectives on African Arts and Yoruba Oral Tradition as well as decades of studies in the field of Yoruba arts, by Abiodun himself, Babatunde Lawal, Henry John Drewal, Margaret Thompson Drewal, Olabiyi Babalola Yai, John Pemberton III, among others, scholarship that has made Yoruba aesthetics perhaps the best studied body of aesthetics in classical African philosophy.

The book demonstrates conclusively that Yoruba philosophy has reached a point of explication in English that enables it stand on its own as a resource for addressing a broad range of philosophical questions.

One may explore any phenomenon, concrete or abstract, artistic or social, from any context, through reflection on central concepts in Yoruba philosophy.
Yoruba philosophy also provides a platform for interaction with cognate philosophies in order to expand the ideational and practical scope shared by these constructs.

Such philosophies include Igbo philosophy, which, according to Annechukwu Umeh in After God is Dibia : Igbo Cosmology, Healing, Divination & Sacred Science in Nigeria also demonstrates an emphasis on the power of visuality similar to the difference and complementarity represented by the Yoruba concepts oju lasan and oju inu, and in terms of Achebe's description of ike in "The Igbo World and its Art", also involves a recognition of a creative power like the Yoruba ase.

Similar ideas of cosmic energy emerge in other African cultures, as summed up by John Mbiti in African Religions and Philosophy and which may be traced to discussions of particular civilizations, as in the nyama concept of the Mande, described by Margit Cronmueller Smith as " a cosmic principle, present in human beings, animals, plants, and things... a sacred quality that can be affected by the ‘word’ ” [ of particular specialists, such as artists of Kora music] in "The Mande Kora : A West African System of Thought", this correlation between cosmic force and the artistic use of language as a means of cultivating and directing this power being also evident in the Yoruba concept of ase as described by Abiodun in “Ase : Verbalising and Visualizing Creative Power through Art” and in other works.

Related ideas are also evident in non-African contexts, such as the Chinese concept of chi, as presented by Paul Wildish in Big Book of Chi: An Exploration of Energy, Form and Spirit, the Indian Shakti as described in Pandit Rajmani Tigunait's Shakti : The Power in Tantra and the Indian concept of the sacred word, Vac, as explored by Andre Padoux in Vac : The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras.

Abiodun's discussion of visuality in Yoruba aesthetics is conducted within the context of epistemology, metaphysics and ethics as developed in Yoruba civilization.

It is complemented by the work of other scholars, such as Babatunde Lawal's summation of the cognitive continuum of visuality in Yoruba thought in his "Àwòrán: Representing the Self and its Metaphysical Other in Yoruba Art", providing a platform for engaging with other philosophies in relation to the role of visuality, in particular, and embodiment, in general, in human cognition.

These include the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle's grounding, in the Metaphysics, of metaphysical inquiry in sensory perception, of which sight is pre-eminent, Indian Tantric epistemology which understands the senses as enablers of insight into the ground of being, and the Western theory of embodied cognition represented by George Lakoff, who analyses language as demonstrating the shaping of human cognition by embodiment.

As understood in the correlative Aristotelian and Tantric formulations, this sensory foundation may be used as a platform for exploring the idea of moving from sensory perception of the multiplicity of phenomena to a grasp of their unifying qualities as these demonstrate the essential character of being, the quest for essential identity, iwa in Yoruba, being also a central goal of Yoruba philosophy.

Yoruba philosophy, as represented by this book, also takes the reader beyond ratiocinative philosophy, philosophy based on reasoning, and even beyond philosophy that foregrounds the conventionally understood range of human cognition in terms of the senses, emotion and imagination.

Yoruba philosophy facilitates exploration of human creative capacities and of the character of nature as demonstrating possibilities beyond conventional human perception, an understanding of the nature of being and of creativity evident, for example, in Indian Yantra theory, yantra being an Indian artistic form, and represented also in other animistic cosmologies that recognize sentience as existing beyond animate beings.

Yoruba philosophy provides a powerful ideational base for the practical exploration of these ideas, placing these cross-cultural constructions, perhaps for the first time in written history, on a foundational ideational structure transcending but recognizing cultural peculiarities, from which platform these ideas may be explored in theoretical and practical terms.

Central Points of Enquiry Demonstrated by this Book

What is a work of art?

What is the relationship between art and the nexus of human and cosmic creativity?

What is the conjunction between art and the intersection of temporality and timelessness, the human aspiration towards infinity in the context of the necessary finitude of material existence, as humans aspire to transcend the constrictions that shape human being?

What does it mean to exist?

What may art and the process through which it is created demonstrate about the essence of being?

What are the various dimensions within which the cosmos is constituted and how may the human being engage with as broad a range of dimensions as possible?

What faculties does the human being possess to enable this multidimensional engagement and what is the significance of aesthetic forms in relation to the stimulation of these capacities?

This is one way of summing up the significance of the expositions of Yoruba aesthetics demonstrated by Abiodun's strategies of approach to the subject, in relation to the work of other scholars on Yoruba thought.

Aiku pari iwa : Existence is consummated in deathlessness

Iwal’ewa : Essential being is an aesthetic configuration

Mo iwafun oniwa : I grant to the existent, their [ distinctive ] existence

are some summative proverbs encapsulating positions on these questions emerging from classical Yoruba philosophy and which Abiodun explores in great depth and delicacy of treatment as he describes the conceptual web woven by this body of ideas communicated through the expressive techniques of the Yoruba language.

Abiodun's Scholarly Career in the Context of Discourse on Yoruba and African Thought and Art

Appreciating this book is assisted by taking stock of Rowland Abiodun's scholarly achievement so far and the contexts in which he has been working.

The book represents an aspect of the primary work of mapping the shape of discourse and describing the content of classical African knowledge systems.

Abiodun’s scholarly career has been dedicated to the demonstration of the aesthetic values of classical Yoruba philosophy as a nexus of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics actualised in the character of Yoruba arts.

This focus demonstrates a correlation of artistic forms and their informing aesthetics outlined as a necessary direction for the study of classical African art in his 1987 essay "The Future of African Art Studies : An African Perspective" in African Art Studies : The State of the Discipline, a crystallisation of research building on the orientation initiated by one of his earliest publications, "Ifa Art Objects : An Interpretation Based on Oral Traditions," in Yoruba Oral Tradition, 1975, and taken forward in subsequent works.

In his programmatic essay on the study of African art, complemented by his other summative essays on aesthetics, he outlines key concepts in Yoruba philosophy.

These concepts may be seen as grounded in the epistemological and metaphysical concept of oju inu, the inward eye, a continuum of cognitive refinement and expansion ranging from corporeal vision to the full spectrum of conventional insight and beyond, a cognitive potential critical for art because of the role of creative perception in both the creation and the appreciation of art.

These ideas also include the ontology of art in terms of iwa, which may be understood as the being of an entity, its characteristic mode of existence, vital to understanding the distinctive character of being/s in general and of art in particular.

Abiodun’s immersion in Yoruba oral literature and visual and performative arts and his magnificent expository capacity come to play in his two essays known to me on ase, which may be understood as the Yoruba conception of a cosmic force that enables being and becoming, vital to an understanding of art as a primary demonstration of human creativity manifesting cosmic creativity.

In "Understanding Yoruba Art and Aesthetics: The Concept of Ase” in African Arts , vol. 27, No. 3 and “Ase: Verbalising and Visualizing Creative Power through Art “ in Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 24, No. 4, he brings alive both the contexts and the semantic rhythms of verbal and visual art in ways that enable a glimpse of the embodiment of this concept of creative transformation, through a density of quotation from Yoruba, carefully translated and articulated in detailed exposition in English.

The picture he creates through quotation and exposition is so vivid his work succeeds as both a scholarly presentation and a recreation of a universe of thought and practice, so that anyone, anywhere, may recreate and even adapt those ideas and practices in other contexts beyond those described by Abiodun’s texts.

I also find his essays on women in Yoruba religious images wonderful for depicting the numinous and practical range of classical Yoruba conceptions of the feminine.

The achievement represented by his essays are further demonstrated in his contributions to central guide posts in the study of Yoruba art, the books The Yoruba Artist: New Theoretical Perspectives on African Arts, Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought and Yoruba Aesthetics.

His latest book, Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art, expands the range of subject and exposition of his essays and book contributions to give a comprehensive and unified depiction of the universe of classical Yoruba aesthetics, in its epistemic, metaphysical and ethical formations, exemplified by a magnificent array of visual and verbal artistic forms, Abiodun’s lyrical and analytically rich commentary on these forms unveiling the souls-the imaginative and ideational essences- of these creations as he understands them.

He begins with the concept of ori, which may be described as the head understood as both the biological centre of the embodied self and a metaphor for the essence of the individual as an immortal entity who constitutes the ultimate potential of the self and exists beyond its material expression, the relationship between these two aspects of the person constituting the self’s orientation to the world and the dynamic of its progress through life, and therefore a fundamental point of orientation for all creative activity, of which perhaps the arts are most prominent.

Beyond the value of educating the world about the contributions of a particular civilization, Yoruba civilization, to aesthetics, what does Abiodun's work bring to the table in terms of answers to central questions in the field?

Are we able to learn anything new in terms of responses to aesthetic questions that are not evident from other cultures or does he demonstrate new ways of presenting already known perspectives?

A thrust of scholarship in Yoruba aesthetics, which Abiodun’s work has been central in developing, may be summed up in terms of an emphasis on the role of the senses as enabling a continuum of perception ranging from the most basic data accessed by sense perception to more inclusive penetrations into the nature of phenomena, culminating in a grasp of the conjunction of the distinctive identities of forms of being and the eternal.

Abiodun's distinctive contribution to this conceptual structure is the elaboration of the relationship between this epistemology and metaphysics with ethics as composing a comprehensive aesthetics.

Abiodun explicates this cultural form through magnificent demonstrations of the intersections of Yoruba visual and verbal arts, thus highlighting the complementarity of the imaginative and the ideational in a manner that includes and yet resonates in value far beyond the basic significatory capacity demonstrated by concepts.

The Global Context

With Yoruba Art and Language, we have a signal contribution to the task of demonstrating the cardinal role of aesthetics in civilization.
Texts are steadily emerging presenting the aesthetic visions developed by various peoples.

The dominant presence in discussions of aesthetics is Western because of the West's particularly vigorous development of the culture of widespread literacy, while other civilizations that may have reached a high level of intellectual culture before the West may not have democratized literacy or advanced education as early as the West.

These advantages are magnified by the massive enablement of printing and the recent information revolution, all pioneered by the West.
The global spread of the achievements of Western civilization has also been aided by Western colonialism, enabling the disruption of local social systems in favour of the Western model.

That picture is changing and Abiodun's book is a giant leap in the direction of that change.

We have entered an era in which anybody, anywhere, can take robust advantage of the cognitive developments of many civilizations without ever living in the social and geographical contexts represented by those civilizations.

You don’t need to have lived in Europe in order to study the ideas of European philosophers and adapt them to your own use.
This development has been facilitated by Western introduction of widespread writing to its colonies at the time of its imperial spread and its pioneering of globally employed technologies of information management and distribution.

With the aid Abiodun's book, taking his sophisticated research and profound and clear expositions beyond the limitations of academic journals to the more public sphere of book publication, print and electronic, one is powerfully enabled to engage with Yoruba philosophy of art in the conversation between discourses.


The Secrets of Kaidara (Tales of Heaven & Earth)
The Secrets of Kaidara (Tales of Heaven & Earth)
by Hyacinthe Vulliez
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 29 Sept. 2012
I found this book so intriguing I have sought out the complete text of which this is an abridged version. It develops the powerfully the archetypal quest motif in terms of characters, incidents and plot that differ from the patterns made famous in the Western tradition, from Homer's Odyssey to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

It has been made memorable for me by the progression of incidents, including an underground descent, confrontations with enigmatic figures, and a suprising, concluding encounter with the old man, who, posing incognito, bestows the culminating secret of knowledge.

Though produced as a children's book, this book is something I treasure even after buying my own copy of the complete, unillustrated text.

The illustrations make the narrative most memorable, as realised particularly in the graphic depiction of Hammadi as he lies prone on the ground in stunned wonder, on encountering the revelation of his being by the old man, who, posing as a nondescript individual, is actually Kaidara, the numinous personage whom Hammadi and his friends sought for many years before this culminating, unanticipated encounter, and never found.


The Witch's Spell Box
The Witch's Spell Box
by Magic Spellbox Company
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars PRICELESS, 15 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Witch's Spell Box (Hardcover)
I have used this for years and value it even more than when I began using it. Compact, portable, powerfully evocative instruments


Auspicious Wisdom (SUNY Series in Medieval Studies): Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India (SUNY Series in Tantric Studies)
Auspicious Wisdom (SUNY Series in Medieval Studies): Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India (SUNY Series in Tantric Studies)
by Douglas Renfrew Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.25

5.0 out of 5 stars POTENT FOR SPIRITUALAND PHILOSOPHICAL STUDY AND PRACTICE, 23 Sept. 2011
Brooks' specialty is the Hindu Srividya schook of Sakta, Hindu Goddess culture. This culture was developed centuries ago to a very high level of ideational, artistic (verbal,visual and dramatic) religious and philosophical power, an achievement preserved and developed further in the present day. Srividya is particularly amazing among religious and philosophical cultures on account of the boldness of its central imaginative form, describing the creator of the universe as a beautiful and erotically attractive woman, and the cosmos as emerging from her coupling with her consort, Siva. This idea is developed in terms of a dazzling wealth of ideas and imagery in poetry, ideational exposition and abstract and figurative visual art.

Brooks' books on this school are deeply informative and inspiring, a gift to spiritual and philosophical learning and practice. This work demonstrates the ideational density and structural and logical rigour of an uncompromising academic work, while distilling the imaginative detail, poetic power and minutiae of ritual. I expect this book, The Secret of the Three Cities: Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantrism, should be as compelling, particularly since it contains a translation of what is described as a sublime work by the central scribal master of the Srividya school, Bhaskararaya.


A Life of Erwin Schrodinger (Canto original series)
A Life of Erwin Schrodinger (Canto original series)
by Walter Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy, Science and Heart of Erwin Schrödinger, 6 Feb. 2011
What are the paths of development through which a creative person, and particularly a scientist, arrives at creations and discoveries that reshape the landscape of human possibility? How do these intertwined paths of possibility interact with the totality of the person's life?

These are the organizing questions of Walter Moore's A Life of Erwin Schrödinger, an iconic figure in understanding the world of the atom and the conditions of scientific knowledge, who also catalyzed the discovery of the helical structure of DNA, Within this book, the domestic and the erotic, the politics of work and the vicissitudes created by national and international politics, within the context of an international European scientific culture, comes alive, The dialogue between Germany, Austria and Denmark, in the pioneering figures in the early and mid twentieth century rethinking of the foundations of physics as a description of the underlying physical structure of the universe, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Weiner Heisenberg, Max Born, and others,against the background of dialogues with Albert Einstein and his work, in the periods during, betweenand shortly after the two World Wars, lives again through the imaginative recreation of Walter Moore, a biographer clearly in love with his subject.

This biography defines itself through elegant prose, through an imaginative and critical sensitivity to the development of Schrödinger's mental universe.Schrödinger's immersion in the Indian monistic philosophy of Vedanta in dialogue with Western philosophers like Arthur Schopenhaur and philosophers of science like Ernst Mach, as these intertwine with the cross-fertilization between scientific ideas, between methods of scientific investigation and the figures who develop them, as these are integrated and transformed in the crucible of Schrödinger's intelligence, are seamlessly described, The reader seems to live in the biographical figure and to experience Berlin, Vienna, Oxford and the United States with Schrödinger, as he moves between these places in the course of his professional development and to experience with him the relationship between his career and personal life and the political forces reshaping Europe at the dawn of the latest stage in Western political history.

Schrödinger emerges as a consummate philosopher scientist, whose seminal impact extends from his primary discipline of physics to his avocation in biology, shaping the thinking of James Watson, one of the discovers of the helical structure of DNA, through his book What is Life?, where the fundamental description of the genetic code is worked out with pregnant clarity.

The Cambridge UP Canto edition provides a smooth, easy read that brings out these sterling qualities but the sheer wealth of the book suggests that reading the unabridged version, Schrödinger: Life and Thought , where these qualities would emerge more fully will be very rewarding .

I read selections of this book in order to explore the question of similarities between methods of scientific modelling and philosophical conceptions described by the Nigerian philosopher Abiola Irele. These similarities emerge from Irele's exposition of the Negritude philosophy of Leopold Sedar Senghor in his The African Experience in Literature and Ideology and The Negritude Moment: Explorations in Francophone African and Caribbean Literature and Thought and of Orisa cosmology in "The African Scholar."

Senghorian philosophical cosmology and Schrödinger's scientific thought are related through the image of waves as demonstrating fundamental relationships between forms of being. What can the similarities between the Senghorian philosophical conception and Schrödinger's scientific concept of wave mechanics as describing the fundamental character and behaviour of sub atomic forms demonstrate about the implications of convergences between philosophical, religious and scientific cosmology?

Niels Bohr and Weiner Heisenberg eventually developed a conception of complementarity in which material forms demonstrate both the qualities of a wave and a particle, the wave-particle duality. This notion of ontological simultaneity may be related to the idea of epistemological mutuality in quantum mechanics in the idea that the observer of these forms influences their behaviour, making impossible an understanding of these forms as independent of the influence of the observer. What illumination could this provide in suggesting a cohesive picture of the universe in dialogue with philosophical and religious cosmologies that emphasise plurality of being and cognitive dynamism where observer and observed shape each other's responses? This question is suggested by Irele's description in "The African Scholar" of a possible correlation between mythic, philosophical and scientific cosmologies that foreground ambiguity, plurality and dynamism as embodied in the ambiguity and dynamism of the mythic figure of the Orisa tradition Esu who demonstrates temporal, material and cognitive ambiguities, transformations and liminalities.

"He throws a stone today and hits a bird yesterday. If he was not so tall, his head might not have been visible above the path. House, verandah and field are constricting for him, but in a groundnut shell, at last he can stretch himself! ".


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