LIVING IN FIVE DIMENSIONS
Article from World Review Periodical, September 1949
J. G. Bennett, the author of the recently published The Crisis in Human Affairs, is a mathematical physicist, and well known in the scientific world for his studies in the production and utilization of energies. In our article he tries to show how a bridge can be built between the physical world of force and the world of conscious experience. His theory is based on the system of the Russian thinker, G. Gurdjieff, according to whose ideas man is a self-creating being whose true destiny is to become free from the mechanicalness of ordinary existence and to prepare himself to serve a higher cosmic purpose. J. G. Bennett interprets this doctrine of the unification of all reality in terms of a five-dimensional world of space, time and eternity. The first book by Gurdjieff, who is now living in Paris, is to be published in England shortly.
“But man’s consciousness is relative. There are moments when he is not a machine, moments when his power of choice is real, and when the course of events depends upon his own decision. At such moments, he has a real power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to alternative possibilities which confront him. For those who cannot accept the idea that man is a machine, this seems quite natural and easy, and they explain it by saying that in some way the future is not determined by the past, but that there is only a kind of general predisposition towards a particular sequence of events. The general pattern of the future exists already in the present, but it is not a fixed, unalterable pattern, which cannot be changed by a free decision. This is muddled and confused, if not actually dishonest, thinking. Mechanical causality could not have loopholes. The situation is in no way altered by substituting statistical or probability laws for exact calculations. It has always been clear to me that free-will is impossible in a four-dimensional world, unless the best-established data of physical science are fundamentally inaccurate.”
In this diagram, the whole of space at any given moment is represented by a single point. This is because we have on the paper only two dimensions, and these are already used up in representing time and the fifth dimension, to which it is convenient to give the name of eternity. Any point along any of the lines of time represents the whole universe at a given moment. The bottom line A is the mechanistic universe in which there is no freedom. Everything that happens is determined by the past, and everything that will happen is determined by the present. Whatever exists on this line is a machine, the whole of whose activity is determined by its own construction and its relations to its environment. It is embedded in a causal nexus from which there is no escape.