The Council of Pursuivence arose as an attempt to overcome the fragmenting of the arts and sciences characteristic of a high-technology culture dispersed across interstellar distances, and to harness the powers of the most dynamic of these intellectual efforts in the service of the Panarchy. It consists of a number of Colleges, each concerned with one broad branch of human knowledge.
Full members of a College are known as Gnostors: the corresponding title is Gn*, where * denotes the particular College. So, for instance, Dr. Omilov, in a document where it was appropriate, would be referred to as Sebastian Omilov Gn.X. (Gnostor of Xenology). Alternatively, he might be referred to as Gn. Sebastian Omilov, where Gn. is the abbreviation of Gnostor. The ancient appellation Doctor has been retained as an honorific for those who have a degree from one of the Schools of a given College. Thus, Omilov was Dr. Sebastian Omilov before his election to the College of Xenology, since he had a doctorate from the School of Xenoarchaeology.
The sciences of the Panarchy tend to be complexes of more basic sciences, for the paradigm of Panarchic knowledge is a holistic one. To our eyes, the Panarchic approach to knowledge is reminiscent of medieval times, when the distinction between philosophy, religion, and science was less rigid. This holistic attitude can be seen in the fact that the High Phanist of Desrien is the ex officio Nunciator (spokesperson) of the Council, and by the disproportionate number of magisters and oblates in the various Colleges that comprise the college.
The Council serves not only as a advisory body to the Panarch and his government, but as an attempt to synergize the advances in human knowledge and maintain the balance, or Tao, of humanity and its apperceptions of reality in its manifold complexity. The perspective of the Council, as informed by the influence of the Desrien Magisters, is strongly Teilhardian, with the overall goal of increasing man's participation in the processes of creation.
As is characteristic of Panarchic governance, the relationship between the Council and government bureaus is complex and not easily explicated. It is strictly an advisory body; however, its members have a great deal of influence on any government bureau in which they serve. There are thousands of members of the Council, which never meets as an entire body, but only as committees comprised of members of various colleges, which are formed on an ad hoc basis in response to the exigencies of a given situation. The recommendations of these committees have the force of law if endorsed by the Panarch; but even if not formally endorsed (which only a fraction of them are), it is a foolish bureaucrat who ignores a Council recommendation.
The College of Archetypes and Ritual is charged with maintaining the sacramental aspects of politics and rulership, and with identifying, explicating, and when possible, guiding, the subtle shifts in the archetypes of the collective unconscious (known to the Panarchic psychic sciences as the Nous) occasioned by humanity's experiences. The Exile, the Cybernetic Horror, and the two new Overcultures (Highdwellers and Rifters) are some of the dominant forces in the ongoing evolution of the archetypes. The College subsumes much of what we know as psychology.
In its concern with the sacramental aspects of governance, the College of Archetypes and Ritual attempts to adapt the rituals of power to the psychic needs of the manifold subcultures of the Thousand Suns. In the past, their task has been made somewhat easier by the fact that all of those subcultures were human—although some of the splinter cultures, such as those of Barca, Dol'jhar, Shazzar bet Hillel, and the Blossom of God, emphasize the plasticity and adaptibility of humankind. With the expansion of the Thousand Suns attendant on the waning of the Shiidra, and the consequent contact with non-human cultures such as the Eeyaa, the Arigent, and the Kelly, this aspect of the College's work has increased in difficulty, to the point where its ability to adapt the rituals of power is in doubt.
The College of Theophanic Genetics is concerned with preserving the essential nature of humanity in the face of the numerous techniques that exist for modifying the germ plasm of the race. It also monitors the changes in humanity occasioned by its interstellar dispersion. It is an extremely conservative body, deeply suspicious of conscious attempts to direct the evolution of the human race in any one direction. At root, its worldview is almost schizoid, combining the Panarchic zeitgeist of Teilhardian faith in spiritual and physical evolution with a deep and abiding suspicion of man's ability to consciously guide that evolution.
One aspect of the effect of interstellar dispersion on mankind that most concerns the College is the "rarefaction" and "fragmentation" of the noosphere: ie. what is the effect on the total noosphere (if it has even restablished itself after the shattering effect of the Exile) of mankind when there are so many isolated subspheres—planets, O'Neills, and Rifter enclaves? How do noospheres separated by interstellar, or even substellar, distances, interact? There is also a long-standing joint project with the College of Xenology and the College of Archetypes and Ritual concerning the noology of First Contacts, for there are some fascinating indications that the sentients involved in First Contacts come to embody, or are in some measure "possessed by" their racial Archetypes, and that the integration of "alien" noospheres is in some measure a "meeting of the god"—a confrontation of archetypes. Along these lines there is much research ongoing in the relationship between the Undersoul and the Noosphere, and (at the time of the Great Paliach) there was pressure from at least one Centripetal Gnostic (see below) to create a new College to consider these matters.
Perhaps the most visible function of the College of Theophanic Genetics is its participation in the Anointing of the Panarch at his coronation. In combination with the laying on of hands by the High Magister, this sacramental rite is held to ensure the continuation of the Arkad dynasty, which has, indeed, endured for over 1000 years.
The College of Xenology includes Dr. Omilov's specialty, xenoarchaeology. It is responsible for the Quarantine Regulations. Membership in this college is a necessity for advancement in the Concilium Exterioris, the government bureau concerned with the frontiers.
The College of Ontological Physics subsumes cosmology.
The College of Applied Epistemology and Rationetics subsumes much of what we would call the information sciences, including It is responsible for the design of the DataNet.
The College of Practical Energetics is what we would call engineering.
The College of Phenomenological Hypostatics. This is the science predicted by Teilhard that unites the within and the without of things. It views consciousness as a continuum in which all levels of reality participate, from subatomic essences to sentient beings—similar to Whitehead's Occasions of Experience. In essence, it views material interactions as forms of the subject-object relationship and emphasizes the importance of the observer-observed interaction. There is a great deal of overlap with the College of Synchronistic Perception and Practice (see below).
The College of Monadic and Collative Ecology subsumes most of the biological sciences. There is some overlap with Theophanic Genetics.
The College of Synchronistic Perception and Practice is what we would call parapsychology. It was on their recommendation that the nameless planet referred to by Dr. Omilov was placed under Quarantine Null, when the matter was referred to them by Xenic Relations after Omilov's report.
The College of Teleics is concerned with history, and views it as goal-oriented behavior, both individual and collective.
The College of Commensics is what we would call political science, with an emphasis on the interdependence of organizations and individuals.
The College of Nomic Universals studies law and its proper derivation from the nature of the individual or polity concerned. The College of Mathematical Gnosis is concerned with mathematical theory. Practical mathematics tends to be the province of Energetics.
The College of Centripetal Gnosis is the smallest of the Colleges, for it is concerned with the transmission of knowledge across scientific boundaries; thus, its members must be generalists of the highest order, of whom there are only a few in every generation. Centripetal Gnostics are the most highly honored of scholars: planets vie for the honor of hosting them, and they lack for nothing. At the time of the Great Paliach, this College consists of only 17 full Fellows. Unlike the other Colleges, it has no central facility.