The emergent nature of intelligence on the biological scale, according to the enneagram





by Lee van Laer


From the Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff Blog, July 25, 2012, "The Octaves of Intelligence, Part II"


The Octave of Biological Intelligence represents the development of intelligence within the context of life on earth. It helps to have a basic understanding of biology in order to see how this works, but it's not absolutely necessary.

Roughly speaking, it can be charted out like this:

Do = Matter.

Re = Viruses, mechanical intelligence.This is the intelligence of crystalline substances, which represent, by and large, what Castaneda called inorganic consciousnesses. (RNA and DNA are, in strictly technical terms, crystalline structures.) These differentiate themselves from self replicating molecules without the intelligence made inherent to this particular octave by the presence of agency. Atoms and molecules in the octave below this do not display the property of agency. All of the organisms within the Earth octave display this property, which is the property we usually use to define the word “life.”

Mi = Cellular intelligence, also mechanical. One level of organization up from viruses, including both prokaryotes and eukaryotes—that is, cells with and without an organized nucleus. This is the point where conventional biology as we generally understand it emerges from inorganic consciousness. (In this regard, viruses form a question mark in the field of biology, although the enneagram clearly illustrates exactly where they fall.) Formed from the building blocks of crystalline substances, cells are an emergent level of interactive awareness, or agency.

---first conscious shock--

Fa = The intelligence of moving Center, one centered creatures. These are highly emergent creatures of an entirely different order with distinctly differentiated organs and neural networks. Represented in part by the phyla Arthropoda (insects, spiders, crustaceans, etc.) and Mollusca (clams, cephalopods.) These creatures can display an unusually high degree of order.

This is the first true "mind" as defined by Gurdjieff, who explained that each center represents a fully formed and independent mind of its own; a mind capable of a complete range of thinking within its own context. These minds, while still "mechanical" from a certain point of view, represent a much higher order of thought than bacterial, single-celled, and simple colonial organisms. What Gurdjieff called "conscious labor" results in the expression of "I am" in organisms formed from multiple interacting communities, referred to as organs in biology.

Sol = The addition of an emotional center. Two-centered creatures. Represented, in general, by all chordate organisms.*

La = The addition of a thinking center. Three-centered creatures. Represented by man, and potentially cetaceans.

Si = A three-centered creature who has developed to what Gurdjieff would have called "Man number Four." This is the necessary step before the implementation of the second shock, which involves surrender.

--second conscious shock--

Do = A higher level of consciousness.

* It should be noted that each note contains a whole octave within itself, leading to divisions of sophistication, intelligence, and consciousness within each class of creatures itself, so that the note "Sol," for example, representing the introduction of emotional intelligence in chordate animals, displays a range of emotive capacity ranging from very nearly none (most fish, for example) up through two-centered animals forming very complex social communities, such as birds and elephants. In another example, bees and ants represent the highest level of development for the octave under the note "Fa."

Basically, with a right understanding of the enneagram, this type of analysis can be applied to multiple systems in order to understand how complexity develops and, through the naturally emergent properties of matter, expresses itself as consciousness. The octave we're examining here happens, of course, to form a particular note in the development of an octave above us in the cosmic scale. It is lawful that information about the octave we are in contains much information about the octave above us, and even the nature of the note we occupy. Hence Gurdjieff's third obligolian striving.

There are further implications here regarding the incorrect location of the second shock, and its placement between Sol (moving + emotional creatures) and La (moving + emotional + thing creatures) which deserve further examination.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.