J. G. Bennett on Systematics

A System is a Set of Independent but Mutually Relevant Terms.

JG Bennett: We do not know structures, but we know because of structures.
Carl Jung: We cannot know the archetypes, only the images we have of them.

I have the distinct feeling that number is a key to the mystery, since it is as much discovered as it is invented. It is quantity as well as meaning. - Carl Jung

Genius ... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one, and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art. - Ezra Pound

"Together" presupposes the notions “creativity”, “many”, “one”, “identity” and “diversity”. The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the “many” which it finds, and is also one among the disjunctive “many” which it leaves … The many become one, and are increased by one. In their natures, entities are disjunctively “many” in process of passage into conjunctive unity. - A. N. Whitehead

Perhaps I might begin by noticing how different numbers have found their champions. Two was extolled by Peter Ramus, Four by Pythagoras, Five by Sir Thomas Browne, and so on. For my part, I am a determined foe of no innocent number; I respect and esteem them all in their several ways; but I am forced to confess to a leaning to the number Three in philosophy. In fact, I make so much use of threefold divisions in my speculations, that it seems best to commence by making a slight preliminary study of the conceptions upon which all such divisions must rest. I mean no more than the ideas of first, second, third — ideas so broad that they may be looked upon rather as moods or tones of thought, than as definite notions, but which have great significance for all that. Viewed as numerals, to be applied to what objects we like, they are indeed thin skeletons of thought, if not mere words. If we only wanted to make enumerations, it would be out of place to ask for the significations of the numbers we should have to use; but then the distinctions of philosophy are supposed to attempt something far more than that; they are intended to go down to the very essence of things, and if we are to make one single threefold philosophical distinction, it behooves us to ask beforehand what are the kinds of objects that are first, second, and third, not as being so counted, but in their own true characters. That there are such ideas of the really first, second, and third, we shall presently find reason to admit. - C.S. Peirce

Henri Poincare, for instance, says: "Every whole [natural] number is detached from the others, it possesses its own individuality, so to speak; each one of them forms a kind of exception, for which reason also general theorems of number theory are but seldom forthcoming." Nevertheless, this individual aspect of number appears to contain the mysterious factor that enables it to organize psyche and matter jointly."

- M.L. von Franz, Number and Time

Principles of Systematics

abstracted by Anthony Blake from the writings of John Bennett

Systematics is the understanding of experience by use of number-term systems.

Experience is regarded as organized complexity.
Experience is regarded as fundamentally beyond the distinction of subjective and objective, or of mind and matter.

Organized complexity can be grasped as structure.
Structures are forms of understanding.

Systematics is the study of structures as simplified totalities.
Structure can be progressively approximated by systems.

Systems show how we can understand reality.
Understanding is quite different from knowledge.

The progression of understanding is from abstract to concrete.
Higher order systems are more 'concrete' than lower ones.

A number-term system of order N is an organized complexity of N terms.


Systematics was developed by John Bennett in the 60's working with a variety of people over many years, including Anthony Blake. Through the help of managers such as Saul Kuchinsky (In Search of Miraculous Management), he introduced systematics to the business world, but only on a very small scale. Given the present turmoil of new thinking systematics assumes a new significance as a way of understanding complexity in flux and uncertainty. This introduction is to give an overview, not going into any details. But even from this brief statement, it should be possible to make a start. Practitioners of systematics are formed into a loose association called 'UNIS' that may grow into The Guild of Workers with Systems - a 'guild' because it is more a craft than a science. We welcome connection with other workers in systems, no matter how divergent they may be from the principles of systematics.

A good overview of John Bennett's work and many of his connections is available at the DuVersity in the "History of the Institute For The Comparitive Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences, Ltd."


Bibliography on Systematics

An Introduction to Systematics taken from The Dramatic Universe by J. G. Bennett

Systematics: A New Technique In Thinking by J.G. Bennett and Anthony Blake, 1966

Compendium of meaningful links with independent historical and contemporary sources as available on the web compiled by Anthony Blake

The Origin of Systematics in Gurdjieff's Talks


You can participate in personal systematics by joining us at Yahoo Groups in the forum deeper_d.