Archive for April 28th, 2002

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Sunday, April 28th, 2002

After a long delay, I have have finally published Chapter 5 of UnCommon Science. It is available as a separate paper Understanding Order. This paper includes an explanation of the  advanced work of synergic scientist Edward Haskell.


Edward Haskell

Edward Haskell is one of the least known of the synergic scientists whose ideas and works are presented throughout the UnCommon Sense Library. One can find information on the internet and elsewhere on Alfred Korzybski, Buckminster Fuller, Arthur Young and N. Arthur Coulter. But, you will find almost nothing on Edward Haskell. For this reason, I am including some biographical information on Haskell.

Edward Frôhlich Haskell was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on August 24, 1906 into a large family of well educated Swiss missionaries. During his childhood, the family traveled widely throughout Europe. and Haskell learned to speak six languages.

The family eventually immigrated to the United States. Haskell finished his education here graduating from Oberlin College with an A.B. in 1929. He did postgraduate studies at Columbia University for one year 1929-30, then left school to travel and write a book. While waiting to get his book published, he returned to postgraduate studies at Harvard University 1935-37, University of Chicago 1937-40. His book, Lance – A Novel about Multicultural Men, was finally published in 1941. He became a fellow at University of Chicago from 1940-43, but never completed his thesis and was not awarded a Doctorate degree. He left University to teach, and he instructed in sociology (human, animal, plant) and anthropology, at the University of Denver 1944-45, and Brooklyn College, 1946-47. In 1948, he left teaching to devote himself full-time to private research.

Haskell was instrumental in the formation of the Council for Unified Research and Education (C.U.R. E., Inc.). This was a private non-profit research organization of scientists committed to the unification of science and education. Their goal was the synthesis of all knowledge into a single discipline. Haskell served as the Chairman of C.U.R. E., Inc., from its inception in 1948 until it was disbanded in the mid 1980s.

The groups membership varied over the years, but was made up of many notable scientists and thinkers including Harold Cassidy, PhD, Professor of Chemistry at Yale University; Willard V. Quine, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University; Arthur Jensen, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley; and Jere Clark, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Economics at Southern Connecticut University.

The scientists of C. U. R. E., Inc. believed that the present universities were really multi-versities, with specialists from different fields dividing knowlege into separate preserves with specialized languages and almost no communication between them. They were convinced that this division of knowledge played a large role in the division of the modern world.

Over the years this group created a body of work that became known as The Unified Science. The Unified Science was to be nothing less than the Assembly of the Sciences into a Single Discipline with a common language. While many made contributions, it was Haskell that was the guiding force and author of the majority of seminal concepts.

Haskell presented The Unified Science at seminars and short courses at Columbia University, West Virginia University, Southern Connecticut State College, and Drew University New School for Social Research. The Unified Science reached its peak of influence in 1972, which was marked by the publication of FULL CIRCLE: The Moral Force of Unified Science .

I first learned of Edward Haskell while attending a General Semantics Seminar at North Adams State College in Massachussetts in August of 1981. General Semantics is the term chosen by Alfred Korzybski to represent his Non-Aristotelian System of organizing knowledge. The foundation for General Semantics can be found in Korzybski’s book Science and Sanity.

One of the faculty for the General Semantics seminar was a Dr. Donald Washburn, a professor of English at North Adams State College. On the second day of the seminar, he gave lecture on Haskell’s Periodic Coordinate System.

The General Semantics seminars were very special experiences with students and faculty working very closely together, Dr. Washburn and I struck up a quick friendship and towards the end of the seminar he gave me several books, one of which was Haskell’s Full Circle.

A month after the seminar, I successfully tracked down Haskell who was living in New York City, and we began a letter correspondence. Haskell had became aware of synergy and its importance in the late 1930s, and the concept was incorporated deeply into the Unified Science and the Periodic Coordinate System.

In 1982, I was in New York City to attend an unrelated medical seminar, and took the opportunity to visit Haskell in person. He was 76 years old and living alone in a small “student” apartment on the East River near Columbia University. His tiny apartment was filled from floor to ceiling with books and papers. There was no room to even sit down, let alone accommodate guests. Haskell enjoyed being near the active academic community at Columbia University. He met and communicated with students and faculty in the coffee shops and restaurants that surrounded Columbia. He was close friends with several faculty members at Columbia including the internationally respected Chairman of the Department of Anthropology. While Haskell was never on the faculty at Columbia himself, his faculty friends occasionally arranged for him to present classes and short courses at Columbia on his Unified Science.

I next visited Haskell in the spring of 1984. This time I stayed at the home of his friend, the Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, I am sorry to say I don’t recall his name. Over the next two years, Haskell and I would exchange occasional letters.

In early 1986 at age 79, Haskell suffered a stroke. When he was released from the hospital, he could no longer care for himself and had difficulty speaking. His family quickly decided to put him in a nursing home and throw his life’s work including all his papers and books into the city dump.

As you can imagine, this caused him great emotional stress. He knew I was sensitive to the value of his work and so he begged his brother to call me. Fortunately, I was able to intervene and I did. My wife and I invited Ed to come and live at our home in California. He arrived a month later early in the summer of 1986.

A few weeks later, I received a shipment from his brother of forty boxes containing all the scientific papers and books from his apartment. Haskell lived with us for about three months, he rapidly regained his strength and began recovering his ability to speak. And, though he did made significant improvement, he was a shadow of the former master scientist I had visited in New York two years earlier.

In the fall of 1986, he felt well enough to return to New York to spend some time with his friends and those few family members who cared about him. He asked me to keep his papers and books safe until he could find a place for them. He hoped to find a University library willing to accept custody of them. To a large extent this was wishful thinking for Haskell was not well known, and fewer still valued his work. Haskell celebrated his 80 birthday with friends in New York, and shortly after that suffered yet another stroke and died.

By default, I became the final custodian of all of Haskell’s scientific papers. FULL CIRCLE: The Moral Force of Unified Science has been out of print for many years. I have managed to find a few copies. The greater part of The Unified Science remains unpublished.

I believe Haskell’s work is important to synergic science and to humanity.

The systems hierarchy which he presented in his Unified Science has probably been done better in Arthur Young’s Theory of Process. Much of his work that focused on cybernetics and general systems theory has been done elsewhere equally well or better (Bertalanffy, et. al.). But he still made several unique contributions to human knowing:

1) The discovery of the 9 Co-Actions.

2) The discovery of three classes of relationships. Prior to Haskell, Neutrality simply represented the boundary between Adversity and Synergy. Haskell recognized that the Neutral class of relationships, in and of itself, was of equal importance to both the Adverse class of relationships, and the Synergic class of relationships.

In effect, Haskell discovered Neutrality. If we are to build a synergic future, we will not only have to transcend the Adversary Way, we will also have to transcend Neutrality as well. I think this is one of the major difficulties humans face today in understanding three-fold nature of relationships. Because Neutrality is invisible in our paradigm of human relationships, most individuals assume if they are not Adversaries they must be Synergic. The same old Either/Or scientific mistake.

3) The invention of the Co-Action Compass or PCS. This at first appears abstract and mathematical, but once understood is a powerful reflection in one diagram of all three classes of relationship.

Haskell’s focus was on evaluating adversary, neutral, and synergic relationships between all stages of process. Much of his work was on relationships between particles, atoms, molecules, bacteria, plants, and animals. The PCS allowed him to plot the resultants of all three types of relationship on a single geometric grid.

The shape of the PCS was not invented by Haskell. The shape evolved and took form from the real data that was measured extensionally, and plotted from analyzing numerous relationships between particles, atoms, molecules, bacteria, plants, and animals. The term extensional here is borrowed from Korzybski to mean from the real world.

Haskell did not study or analyze human relationships, but he predicted that the PCS would be useful in anlyzing adversary, neutral, and synergic relationships between humans and groups of humans, and finally.

4) The Moral Law of the Unified Science – Much more important than Haskell’s recognition of the importance of the spiritual truth “As you sow, so shall you reap,” was his restatement of this truth as a scientific law of Nature that applied in all seven stages of process—light, particle, atom, molecule, plant, animal and human.


Understanding Order (in PDF Format)

Online Version of FULL CIRCLE: The Moral Force of the Unified Science