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Intellectual Warfare: Ancient Kemetic Thought, Cosmology and the Chaos Theory

By Dr. Josef Ben Levi

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University 



When I first read the material on “chaos theory,” it struck me that I had, in fact, read the same ideas in ancient Kemetic, i.e.,”Egyptian” literature. However, they were not called “chaos theory.” Therefore, I think  it's necessary to preface this discourse with a little information about one of my academic specialties. 


For over 30 years, I have been studying, writing, and teaching courses in ancient “Egyptian”/Kemetic language, culture, and literature. For 15 years of those years, this  occurred in the academy. In addition, I have made several trips to “Egypt,” now known as the  “United Arab Republic” (UAR) thanks to the Arab invasion of Africa starting in 639 C.E. (Butler, 1992). 


What is unfortunate about this perception of the UAR is that the world has been given the misguided perception that the ruling class in this country- as well as many of the people they see on TV- are descendants of the ancient people of Kemet, aka, the “Egyptians.” This is far from the truth. Yet, I realize that it is a reflection of the linear thinking imposed on us by western colonial pseudo-intellectual hegemony .


Let us begin by clarifying some fundamental concepts as they are reflected in the worldview of the ancient Kemetians/”Egyptians.” The first of these is the very idea of “Egypt.” This name was unknown to the ancients until after the invasion of Alexander, in 332 BCE, and the ultimate imposition of the Hellenistic worldview by the Greek armies.


The ancient world, which  became  known as “Egypt,” consisted of the Nile Valley. The growth of civilization, that flowed up the Nile, was known as Kemet which literally means “Black Community” or “Black Town,” Therefore, instead of using the misnomer, “Egypt,” I will continue the use of its authentic, original name which is Kemet. (Allen, 2001). Many books have falsely described Kemet as “the Black Land” referring to  the overflow of the Nile and the depositing of its alluvial rich black soil along its banks. Unfortunately, this is an example of the colonization of knowledge and the imposition of colonial thinking on academia as well as the world community (Jankowski, 2000). 

 

According to the worldview of ancient Kemet, the organization of the universe- which included all animate and inanimate reality- was what is now called “Nonlinear Chaos Theory.” This will be illustrated through the use of an ancient Kemetic text commonly called the “Bremner-Rhind Papyrus” which is located in the British Museum in London (there are other similar ones). The real name of the text is a long set of glyphs  It is transliterated as, mdjat net rek khperw new Ra skr aapp or “The Book of Knowing Ra’s Ways of Being and the Overthrow of the Plans of Apep.” 


It demonstrates how interdependent all things are which manifest themselves in the universe through the very act of creation. In this worldview, all things are complimentary and harmonious. There are no oppositions and nothing is alienated from its reflection. There is unity in all phases of creation and one aspect of creation cannot exist without its equal. Hence, in Kemetic cosmology and cosmogony, there are ,in the earliest phases of conceptualization within the uncreated mass of Nun, the primeval waters, the watery abyss, absolute in essence, containing all the primary matter that could be used by the Demiurge- a sort of latent consciousness within the same liquid abyss. At the origin of the universe, then, the ancient people of Kemet posited matter in the form of an abyss of water (Obenga, 2004). It appears that Thales of Melitus, a pre-Socrates philosopher, learned this idea, along with geometry, as a student in Kemet.


In time, this matter would gain consciousness of Itself and then manifest Itself in creation, a multiform figure of all that was, is, and will be.

This view is still maintained -to some extent in the West- through the Biblical idea of creation. In the book known as בראשית, Beresheet, mis-named “Genesis,” creation starts in water mayim מים. And all creation flows out of it שמים. That is shemayim, “that which comes from water” (Cohen, 1983).


The ancient Kemetic view shows how the ancients viewed the notion of proportionality. It determined whether or not two things mutually affected each other or whether or not the two are functions of one another. This can be seen in their idea of the Eight Infinite Ones. Each one was uncreated and, yet, the act of creation could not exist without every part working in harmony or balance. They were Nunu and Nunet (wateriness), Heku and Hekut (infinity), Keku and Kekut (darkness), and Imen and Imenet (unknownness, concealness) (Hornung, 1982). 


They are complimentary and they are male and female since no act of concrescence or novel togetherness could happen without the natural agreement of both entities. In the ancient text cited herein, these aspects are known as, netcheru pawtyw, and are the most ancient deities who existed from the beginning. They were in existence from the beginning of time  , pa wet tepet. They were here in the beginning, on the first occasion, the very first time, the creation, m sep tepy. Each of these was necessary to establish a harmonious creation above and below. This initiative was called, Maat, which was the highest value inherent in Kemetic thought. It was justice, order, universal balance, cosmic regulation, truth, truth-in-justice, rectitude, and moral uprightness. This was the permanent basis of Pharaonic civilization. Balanced order brings peace. 


Classical physics and traditional linear theory have failed to understand these concepts of harmony, reciprocity, and inter-connectedness within the universe. Consequently, the linear paradigm has been more disruptive to harmony than the classical/ancient version. This has caused, fundamentally, Western “Egyptologists” to falter in their analyses of ancient Kemetic thought because they brought to the Nile Valley, a linear worldview which they then attempted to impose upon  concepts that were quite the opposite. 


That is why they had difficulty understanding  several regions called “Nomes” by the Greeks while  the people of Kemet  called them a “spat” or a district- which is similar to our concept of a neighborhood. In these spats, there could be -and often times were- different names for concepts of divinity which have been misnamed theological or religious. Since these concepts of divinity were different from those perceived by Christianity, they were viewed as idolatrous and polytheistic when, in fact, they were henotheistic, if any similar term could be used. Essentially, henotheism” is all about honoring One deity in particular while not excluding the others in that "family." For example: Amun as supreme in its many manifestations while not excluding Ausar(Osiris), Aset(Isis); Oludumare as supreme without excluding the significance of the other Orishas. El-Elyon, El Shaddai, etc. are all manifestations and. representations of Elohim.  


Classical physics and traditional linear theory also failed to realize that ,in Kemet, contrary to misrepresented views of some early authors on this subject like E. A. Wallis Budge; there was no notion of polytheism, or honoring many deities. There was only ONE supreme deity who remained hidden and unknown (the actual meaning of Amun). Amun is/was manifest in all and everything. They merely expressed them in ways that suited their particular communities along the Nile Valley.


In the years that followed the colonization of knowledge- especially after the Napoleonic invasion in 1798 when he brought in two armies: one it seems to conquer the land and another to triumph over the monuments. Notions of ancient Kemetic primitiveness, savagery, or even their Western or Asian origins, etc., developed simply because it was assumed that there was only one way to look at the world and that was the Western way. Any other paradigms, no matter how ancient, were considered anathema.


The ancient Kemetic view also demonstrates an opposition to the Newtonian image by revealing the unpredictability and the complete mystery of reality. It is an endless mystery because, as units of the creative mass who are finite, we are incapable of knowing the infinite. Our notion of order is really an “illness” or “illusion.” Each term posits “ill”  at its etymological foundation. We are out of order with the universe and consequently everything that is done seems to be in such a state of flux that we seem unable to shake loose from its debilitating grasp. Once we return to the source, which may be a difficult task at this point for some of us, we can then appreciate the power given to us through the rules of energy flow. The original Greek word ενεργια means mental exercise, mental force. This evolving ecological universe is always moving to higher levels of complexity provided we allow ourselves to hitch a ride.


European ideas have imprisoned us in such a way that we only see the world- especially in this particular region- in terms of what we think its reality has always been. It has locked us up in quantification -or how we think- It has intellectually incarcerated us in order to predetermine how we organize our thoughts, and it has confined us through various mechanisms which decide the way in which we ought to think.


They have caused us to be vulnerable to ideas of environmental and biological determinism which have their intellectual antecedents in the likes of Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin. These ideas have imprisoned our psyche behind bars so thick that the light of the outside has been obscured (Kottler, 2001). 


These thinkers have, as their foundations, Plato and Aristotle. They also include, ”Airs, Waters, Places” ,the late fifth-century work of Hippocrates.The motivation for this imprisonment has been Western society’s need to conquer and control the “state of nature.” This also echoed in the work of Frances Bacon. This addiction has fed into colonial thinking about mastery of the world - not just through the conquest of territories -as it is displayed in the “Doctrine of Manifest Destiny” during President William McKinley’s administration- but, to the subjugation of knowledge about the world.

 

Arthur Schopenhauer was a firm believer in the idea that the world was a representation of himself, that is to say, Western man . This is also in Immanuel Kant’s notion of worldly objectification in which the Western view of the world  is the perception  of  Western man as constructing orderliness out of the chaos of experience (Kant, 2007).


Thus, the idea that some benevolent or malevolent deity- depending on how one perceives the idea of deity- has granted divine right to Western man to have dominion over all that he can touch- has pervaded all that has been reflected in the current worldview. It does not matter whether or not this is accomplished by violent means so long as a sense of fundamental alienation is created.The hyperbole implicit in the notion of “fundamental alienation” is challenged by “chaos theory” because it confronts this linear notion with a new paradigm. Or, is it so new??


In ancient Kemet/”Egypt,” these ideas had already been worked out. They had a concept of non-linearity long before the West - as we know it- came into existence. There are many examples of this in the literature that they produced over several thousands of years. This kind of thinking may even be called a “circular theory” since it is cyclical in nature and never allows us to come to an end point in the same way that reality is projected by linear theory. 


The ancient people of the Nile Valley understood this concept quite well. A couple of ideas are addressed, in the text, that are reflected in the notion of the “active creative” that is capable of producing both order and disorder and, at the same time, is lawful and patterned. One of these concepts is defined as, akh ikr or excellent spirit. Excellent spirits are capable of appreciating harmonious relationships. They appreciate the beauty and good, nefer, that embodies all of the universal love, meri, which is necessary within the universal holistically interconnected unity of the universe.


 Aristotle may have said it best in his “Metaphysics:” “Prime causes have this in common, they are the basis of being, of becoming, or of knowledge.” This sense of order- building is fundamental to appreciating how things work. But, it cannot be done if there is a lack of peace, harmony, justice,and equality as well as equity along with having excellent spirits. It is only then that we are able to challenge linear theory on its face since it is- by design- incapable of reflective metaphysical thinking. 


The interrelationship between us and the universe was established at least as far back as the vision-makers in the Nile Valley. They understood the notion of bifurcation within a single system: a system that was not multifaceted by one system as in the case of many ones. 


This means that it was a "singularity" that to the eyes of westerners who thrive on taxonomies find hard to comprehend. There were no layers to this harmonious collection. There was no "opposition." There was only "complementarionism.” In other words, for Ma'at to be achieved, everything had to be ONE! Even the notion of the multiverse still has to be summarized as ONE! In fact, it is the only functional organism that has retained perfect and perpetual harmony. This is what Plato understood by the idea that the "heavens" had musical notations and was harmonious. It had multiple attractors, but it was one equation with each one having a stable mutual-effect organization. This was necessary to produce, Maat. Without it, their view of the world -as a constant, organized happening which ensured life and happiness- was impossible.


This view also is a challenge to those linear thinkers who find it hard to step outside of the box, i.e., the western paradigm which, even though it has been ineffective, is comfortable and controllable. The linear model has created such things as fundamental alienation, the notion of cosmic disorder, conflict between two forces perceived as diametrically opposed- such as males and females in western society. This perception of conflict is at the root of every issue -current or past- in western civilization. Whether we look at the view of “Pandora” in Hesiod’s “Works and Days” -or the concept that strife was set by Zeus- the belief in disorder and disruption are inherent in western linear thinking. In order for that to change- and change it must if we are to survive- there is a need, not a demand, for us to start thinking along new lines (Lombardo, 1993). 


We have to champion new thoughts and fresh perceptions. Perhaps the ancient people of the Nile Valley were on to something that we are not since they maintained a harmonious and peaceful co-existence with the universe for almost 3000 years before they were invaded by people who had views that were the opposite of their own.


A luta continua: “ The Struggle  Continues.”


Recommended Reading:

Ancestor Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers.  Intellectual Warfare. 


Charles Grantham. The Battle for Kemet


Recommended Viewing:

Ancient  KMT: The Light of the World”, Featuring  Dr. Josef Ben Levi and Charles Grantham



40th Ancient Kemetic (Egyptian)  Studies Conference 




References:

Allen, J. (2001). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of           Hieroglyphs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Bowman, A.K. (1996). Egypt after the Pharaohs 332 BC – AD 642: Form Alexander to the Arab Conquest. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Butler, A. (1992). The Arab Invasion of Egypt and the last 30 years of the Roman Dominion.  Brooklyn: A&B Publishing Group.


Cohen, A. Ed. The Soncino Chumash: The Five Books of Moses with Haphtaroth. London: The Soncino Press.


Hesiod. (800 BC). Works and Days and Theogony. Translated by Stanley Lombardo.        Indianapolis: Hackett publishing Company.


Hornung, E. (1982). Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many.           Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


Issac, B. (2004). The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. Princeton: Princeton       University Press.


Jackson, Jr., J. P. Ed. ( 2002). Science, Race, and Ethnicity: Readings from Isis and           Osiris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Jankowski, J. (2000). Egypt: A Short History. Oxford: One World.


Jardine. D, Friesen.S, Clifford, P.  (2006). Curriculum in Abundance. Mahwah: Lawrence             Erlbaum Associates.


Kant, I. (2007). Critique of Pure Reason. Translated and edited by Marcus Weigelt.          London. Penguin Books.


Kottler, M.J. (2001). Alfred Russell Wallace, the Origin of Man, and Spiritualism. In Obenga, T. (2004). African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period 2780-330 BC. Paris:     L’Harmattan.


Painter, N.I.  (2010). The History of White People. New York: W.W. Norton &     Company.

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