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First of all, the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky are not identical. Ouspensky became acquainted with Gurdjieff and his ideas as a well-known author and lecturer, so his early works are quite independent.
Among Ouspensky's early works, the most interesting, in my opinion, is the book “Tertium Organum”, dedicated to an attempt to rethink the scientific picture of the world under the influence of Kant's philosophy. A significant part of this work is directly devoted to the analysis of Kantian philosophy, and what Ouspensky is trying to do is to offer a view of the world that would follow from an honest, consistent and comprehensive acceptance of Kant's idea of the difference between phenomenal (given to us in perception) and noumenal (authentic) reality. According to Ouspensky, the natural sciences did not take Kant seriously, because they remained true to the belief that through the use of the scientific method, a scientist achieves a comprehension of true reality, while in reality science rather creates models that are more or less close to reality, but does not describe true reality in itself.
The title of Ouspensky's work is very significant in this sense: “Tertium Organum” is the “Third Organon”, and the first two ” Organons “are Aristotle's” Organon “and F. Bacon's” New Organon”. Both of these works defined the development of science for centuries: In Aristotle's Organon, the laws of classical logic were formulated and the model of science that humanity used from Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages was given, and in Bacon's work, the concept of modern experimental natural science was formulated. Thus, one can imagine the scale to which Ouspensky aimed: he claimed that his work should form a new paradigm of natural science and generally offer a new view of the universe.
As for Gurdjieff's teaching, it is based on the doctrine of man as an “automaton”, a mechanism, which Ouspensky later adopted. Gurdjieff argued that all our actions are unconscious, automatic, and that in this sense people are not people, but only mechanisms, as today would say, robots. In other words, people do not act independently, but only respond to stimuli from the external environment, and you need to make a huge effort to do a truly independent act. It is the realization of such an effort on oneself that is the central idea of Gurdjieff's teaching.
Gurdjieff's ideas, like those of Ouspensky, were in tune with the philosophy and psychology of the early twentieth century. In particular, the theory of the machine-man has clear parallels with psychoanalysis, which also emphasizes that a person does what he does, mainly under the influence of unconscious reasons, but external to him. Rudnev in his book” Gurdjieff and modern Psychology “expressed a good idea about the similarity and difference between Gurdjieff's ideas and psychoanalysis: they perceive the psyche in a similar way, but psychoanalysis set as its goal to get a normal, “average” person, and Gurdjieff's teaching-to get, so to speak, a “superman”.