Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study

Overview

Human enlightenment and liberation, mystics have long advised, require spiritual awakening from the hypnotic sleep of everyday life. This book explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching. The hermeneutic approach captures both the aim for an in-depth textual analysis, and the ...

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Overview

Human enlightenment and liberation, mystics have long advised, require spiritual awakening from the hypnotic sleep of everyday life. This book explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching. The hermeneutic approach captures both the aim for an in-depth textual analysis, and the notion that the intent is to interpret the text using its own symbolic and meaning structures.

Systematically explored for the first time is Gurdjieff’s “objective art” of literary hypnotism intended as a major conduit for the transmission of his teachings on the philosophy, theory, and practice of personal self-knowledge and harmonious human development. In the process, the nature and function of the ‘mystical’ shell hiding the rational kernel of Gurdjieff’s teaching are explained—shedding new light on why his mysticism is “mystical,” and Gurdjieff so “enigmatic,” in the first place.

The book includes a Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, a major bibliographer and scholar of Gurdjieff studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Tamdgidi sets a benchmark for Gurdjieff Studies in relation to two recognized but insufficiently explored areas, his writings as a unified field and his exploitation of hypnosis in its broadest sense. His compact interpretation of Gurdjieff emphasizes—for the first time—a search for meaning based on recognizable keys within about 1,800 pages of Gurdjieff’s four texts as a single body of work, with particular focus on subliminal and subconscious dimensions of impact and interpretation, an approach which might be termed the ‘Hermeneutics of Gurdjieff.’ Thus, Tamdgidi’s work is an important original contribution to the constructive, independent, and critical study of Gurdjieff’s four books. Anyone who has seriously attempted to read Beelzebub’s Tales or Meetings with Remarkable Men can vouch for their intentionally beguiling or ‘hypnotic’ effect. These readers will appreciate Tamdgidi’s interpretive virtuosity and focus—he keeps each tree and the entire forest in sight throughout.”—From the Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, independent scholar and bibliographer; editor and contributing author, Gurdjieff: A Reading Guide, 3rd Ed. (2004); contributing editor, Gurdjieff International Review (1997-2001); co-author, Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography (1985).

“A wondrous odyssey and extraordinary argumentation! Nothing in the corpus of writings on Gurdjieff’s works goes near to matching this masterful reading. Each time one looks back into the text, one finds more gold, no dross.”—Paul Beekman Taylor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Geneva, and author of G. I. Gurdjieff: A New Life; Gurdjieff's Invention of America; The Philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff; Gurdjieff & Orage: Brothers in Elysium; and Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer

“In the ocean of literature on Gurdjieff, the brilliant book of Mohammad Tamdgidi has a very special place. It is the first serious academic attempt at a hermeneutics of Gurdjieff’s texts, taking as key the core of Gurdjieff’s teaching—the enneagram. Of course, Gurdjieff’s teaching cannot be understood apart from its practice. But it is also true that this teaching cannot be understood without a rigorous study of the writings of Gurdjieff himself.”—Basarab Nicolescu, author of Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230615076
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 11/15/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mohammad H. Tamdgidi is Associate Professor of Sociology, teaching social theory at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He has previously authored Advancing Utopistics: The Three Component Parts and Errors of Marxism (2007) and is founding editor of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, a publication of OKCIR: The Omar Khayyam Center for Integrative Research in Utopia, Mysticism, and Science (Utopystics) which serves to frame his research, teaching, and professional initiatives.Tamdgidi has edited various collections on Paulo Freire, Edward Said, Gloria Anzaldúa, Frantz Fanon, and Thich Nhat Hanh, and his writings have appeared in Sociological Spectrum, Review (Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations), Humanity & Society, Contemporary Sociology, and several other edited volumes.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll
• PROLOGUE
• Introduction: GURDJIEFF, HYPNOSIS, AND HERMENEUTICS
• PHILOSOPHY: ONTOLOGY OF THE HARMONIOUS UNIVERSE
• PHILOSOPHY: PSYCHOLOGY OF A “TETARTOCOSMOS”
• PHILOSOPHY: EPISTEMOLOGY OF “THREE-BRAINED BEINGS”
• THE “ORGAN KUNDABUFFER” THEORY OF HUMAN DISHARMONIZATION
• THE PRACTICE OF “HARMONIOUS DEVELOPMENT OF MAN”
• LIFE IS REAL ONLY THEN, WHEN “I AM” NOT HYPNOTIZED
• MEETINGS WITH THE REMARKABLE HYPNOTIST
• BEELZEBUB’S HYPNOTIC TALES TO HIS GRANDSON
• GURDJIEFF’S ROUNDABOUT YEZIDI CIRCLE
• APPENDIX: TEXTUAL CHRONOLOGY OF GURDJIEFF’S LIFE

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Foreword

Tamdgidi sets a benchmark for Gurdjieff Studies in relation to two recognized but insufficiently explored areas, his writings as a unified field and his exploitation of hypnosis in its broadest sense. His compact interpretation of Gurdjieff emphasizes-for the first time-a search for meaning based on recognizable keys within about 1,800 pages of Gurdjieff's four texts as a single body of work, with particular focus on subliminal and subconscious dimensions of impact and interpretation, an approach which might be termed the 'Hermeneutics of Gurdjieff.' Thus, Tamdgidi's work is an important original contribution to the constructive, independent, and critical study of Gurdjieff's four books. Anyone who has seriously attempted to read Beelzebub's Tales or Meetings with Remarkable Men can vouch for their intentionally beguiling or 'hypnotic' effect. These readers will appreciate Tamdgidi's interpretive virtuosity and focus-he keeps each tree and the entire forest in sight throughout."-From the Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, independent scholar and bibliographer; editor and contributing author, Gurdjieff: A Reading Guide, 3rd Ed. (2004); contributing editor, Gurdjieff International Review (1997-2001); co-author, Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography (1985).
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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Hidden Agenda

    In his dense book, Tamdgidi states he is drawn to Work ideas. He sees the need for an understanding that goes beyond mere "knowing." He recognizes that "alone [one] can do little," and yet concludes that one must "maintain distance to avoid being trapped." Tamgdidi applies a theory of interpretation known as hermeneutics to Gurdjieff's texts. Often used with the study of scripture, the intent of hermeneutics is "to conduct an in-depth textual analysis and to interpret the text using its own symbolic and meaning structures." Tamdgidi's main thesis is that Gurdjieff's writings "were conscious, intentional, and systematic efforts in literary hypnotism." However, he misses that similar structures can be found in the Old and New Testaments and Koran. (Tamdgidi should have read Mary Douglas' Thinking in Circles, which examines the ring composition in scripture and classical literature.) Further, he misses Gurdjieff's saying that the ideas in All and Everything have three meanings and seven aspects. Gurdjieff purposely used a "salting technique" throughout the three series of books, by which he "buried the dog," This places demands on the reader to be active toward the material and so, his or her intuition engaged, to suddenly see the connections, to move from the "reason of knowledge" to the "reason of understanding." Despite his stated approach of using hermeneutics, Tamdgidi regularly deviates from its strictures. For example, he references supportive material, such as In Search of The Miraculous, to address concepts such as the enneagram and self-remembering, but more intellectually entrapping, introduces new words and concepts, such as a discussion of food "circuits." Tamdgidi's attempts to summarize the concepts presented in All and Everything. Some of his depictions, such as use of the term "observing self' (as opposed to observing) are simply not accurate. The author also makes extensive use of quotes around individual words. What is the cumulative effect of repeatedly seeing "ancient," "knowledge," and "being" in quotes? Perhaps a questioning of the veracity of these terms? That what Gurdjieff is presenting is not authentic? As a "learned being of new formation," the author places himself at an equal or higher level to the material being presented. Tamdgidi presents himself as a scholar whose sole purpose is to divine the "actual" intention behind Gurdjieff's writings. But as the reader works his way through its factual spins, suppositions, arguments, declarations and counter declarations, the question arises: just where is the author coming from? On the web site for Utopystics, co-founded by Tamdgidi, he writes"...the world's utopian, mystical, and scientific movements have ... failed to bring about the good society." This quote may expose his hidden agenda: the intent is not to give an independent appraisal of Gurdjieff, but rather to present him as a flawed individual and his writings as a failed attempt to waken humanity, and so skew Gurdjieff's Fourth Way teaching. Some 40 years ago, Idries Shah tried similar disinformation with the Teachers of Gurdjieff. At first Teachers caused a great stir until unmasked as fiction. While Tamdgidi's analysis isn't fiction, it is revealed to be hardly independent. Rather it is an intellectual attempt at hypnotic propaganda.

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