Monday, March 02, 2009
A one, two A one two
The Axial Age according to scholars is aprox. 600 years between 800 BC and 200 BC that showed incredible innovation in religion and philosophy. Of course this is only focused on it from the Western perspective. They don't focus on what was happening in the Americas, in Africa, nor Australia or the Pacific Islands yet I digress. During this period you have major monotheistic religions starting and major non theistic traditions (such as Taoism and Confucianism) starting in the Far East.
The Axial Axioms is sci-fi short story by James Alan Gardener. During the Axial Age there wasn't that much advance in science. In Axial Axioms you have James Gardener reporting on a world where each of the 'prophets' studied math a little more so their religious/spiritual notions were recorded as concepts in math. For instance:
Zoroaster (of Zoroastrianism/Avesta) saw the world in duality, light and dark. That became abstracted in addition and subtraction, positive and negative.
The Buddha worked with notions of emptiness. This became abstracted in zero and fractions.
The Tao became expressed as the set of imaginary numbers.
Aesop's Fables became ways to express the scientific method via math.
Daniel's dream in the Old Testament became about ratio and sines.
Confucius extolled the importance of the superior man graphing himself on two axis and through geometry, algebra.
It really is a great short science fiction story. It shows how smoothly math lines up with thinking. That is something that in the computer age is isolated and examined via artificial intelligence and taking language 'to the root' which is mathematics.
Though we are just looking at the notions of binary in the modern age it actually goes back further. Many have noticed the similarities between binary thought and the I-Ching, the Book of Changes. That's because it is a precursor stupid head. Though the I-Ching is thought to be solely a Chinese invention it actually came from Mesopotamia where it is known as the 'Tablets of Destiny' in the Library of Ashurbanipal (The Principle of Polarity by Wayne Chandler in African Presence in Early Asia). It is estimated that it was constructed by the Black Akkado-Sumerians of Elam-Babylonia circa 2800 B.C.E. The actually foundational genesis of it though may be in the Ifa system of West Africa (or at least they share the same root source) that is also a binary oracle system.42966533_e92c9a9a9f.jpg
Now it is important to rule out the Western concept of Oracle or even the religious system of oracle that has crept into both systems. The systems are not used to 'predict the future'. The systems are used to clear out the clutter of daily living and isolate key points that one has influence over. Thus it allows you to clarify the present in order for YOU to make your future. Ancient Shaman with organic computers. Binary thought spreading from the Nile up into the Fertile crescent along the silk road to China. Is it a wonder now that clockwork machines and toys flourished in the Arabic and Oriental world? How about the ancient clockwork robots in the Sindbad movies (this element isn't usually explored in steampunk stories that focus on Victorian England. Don't worry...we'll eventually talk about steampunk stories)?
Up/down, black/white, solid/broken, zero or one, these are all notations for binary. In effect it is the 'voice of God' because it enables man to examine life and 'create life' in terms of computers and robots.