The Universal Order - Study Group Paper 6


Integral Science


"For the Lord manifests himself ungrudgingly through all the universe: and you can behold God’s image with your eyes, and lay hold on it with your hands." Hermes


"If we have failed to understand, it is that we have thought of knowledge as a mass of theorems and an accumulation of propositions. But this is not wisdom built up of theorems but one totality, not manifold detail reduced to a unity, but rather a unity working out into detail. The true Wisdom, then, is Real Being, and Real Being is wisdom." Plotinus


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I. Science (from the Latin scire - to know) is knowledge – whether of principles and causes or ascertained truth or facts. It may be contrasted with Art, which is the application of knowledge.


The goal of science is not a particular kind of knowledge, but knowledge of the whole, of the totality of things in their mutual relationships, in their reasons and laws, in their causes and effects. Science, therefore, seeks the knowledge of the universe in which man finds himself, the knowledge of his own nature and the knowledge of the source of both the universe and himself. For neither the universe nor man could exist unless there were some principle behind them which caused them to come into existence, and, therefore, if science is to be truly comprehensive, its sphere must be extended to the knowledge of this first principle or cause. To say that this cause is unknowable is to limit the domain of science and to take a low view of the potentialities of the human intellect. When the sciences which fall under these three headings – those of the universe, of man and of the first principle of both – are fully developed, there is no possible field of human knowledge which is not embraced by them.


II. The purpose of science may therefore be described as the attainment by man of knowledge of himself, of the universe and of the first principle or cause which is the origin of all things. Such a knowledge includes not only the definition of each of these three heads of knowledge, but the complete formulation of the relations of each to the other two.. There are three fundamental first principles that constitute the basis of all knowledge and existence. They are:-

a) God, as the Divine Unity or ONE. The First Principle of all principles

b) The Cosmos or Macrocosm as a manifestation of God

c) Man, who has definite relations with God and with the Cosmos, yet is not identical with either.

The ultimate purpose of science is so to relate and illuminate every possible object or field of human investigation that its intrinsic nature and definite utility in the whole scheme of things become perfectly intelligible. Particular sciences, which select special spheres or aspects of existence and isolate them from all others in order thoroughly to investigate them, cannot, by their very nature, be understood fully until their basic principles are rightly co-ordinated with the whole scheme of things, of which they are necessarily only parts.


III. Where systems of unsound philosophy flourish and become popular, the real and unalterable principles of true philosophy are doubted or ignored. There is then a tendency for the scientist to exclude from his field of research everything that is beyond the contact of physical means and appliances. Science as we know it, therefore, usually starts with particular facts and tries to establish principles and laws based on these: that is, facts are collected and compared, and laws based on observation of phenomena are formulated. This is the inductive method, which tries to ascertain causes from effects. A second method, which tends in our age to be doubted, is the deductive method, which begins from the principle or law itself and by a process of reasoning descends, as it were, to the particular subject of investigation. Just as the senses receive sensible impressions and provide the bases of experiment, so the reasoning mind can cognize and deal with the principles and causes upon which all that is sensible and concrete depends. These abstract principles are as real and as certain as any concrete object, because they are the very laws which enable concrete objects to exist. By confining himself to the inductive method, the scientist excludes himself from a very large portion of his domain. However, the criterion of science is experience or experiment. The results of reasoning and deduction, when not in accord with actual experience, are plainly false, and if the truth and reality of first principles themselves were not proved by experience they would be worthless. Therefore the conclusive test which must be applied to all the findings of science is whether they are borne out by universal experience or not.


IV. Perfect integral science is inductive and deductive, and embraces fields of knowledge not usually termed ‘sciences’. These would include theology and symbology, alongside what we normally take to be sciences, such as biology, astronomy and zoology. For true science is ideal as well as practical. It has a spiritual aspect as well as a material one. It is subjective as well as objective; inner as well as outer; abstract as well as concrete. Practical and material sciences, when divorced from the ideal and spiritual, fail to fulfil their real purpose, tending to lead the mind away from the source from which all things spring, and in which alone is the full revelation of their inherent significance.


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 Quotations:

 "Man has been truly termed a ‘microcosm’, or a little world in himself, and the structure of his body should be studied not only by those who wish to become doctors, but by those who wish to attain to a more intimate knowledge of God." Al-Ghazâlî

"With all their science, those people in Paris are not able to discern what God is in the least of creatures – not even in a fly!" Eckhart

"Traditional learning is basically qualitative and synthetic, concerned with essences, principles and realities behind phenomena; its fruits are integration, composition and unity. Profane academic learning – whether in the arts or sciences – is quantitative and analytical by tendency, concerned with appearances, forces and material properties; its nature is to criticize and decompose; it works by fragmentation." Plato Alcibiades

"God is intelligence occupied with knowing itself." Meister Eckhart

"The soul is capable of knowing all things in her highest power." Meister Eckhart

"One striking effect which true progress in science will produce will be that the universe will seem to become smaller and smaller as man is able to comprehend more and more of it in his consciousness, as a result of the fields of knowledge which science opens for him."


© The Universal Order 2001