The Meaningful and the Logical

It is not necessarily true that the logical is also the meaningful. They are not synonyms.

It is not necessarily true that the secure is also the safe. These are, likewise, not synonymous.

It bears repeating. “All higher values devalue themselves,” as Nietzsche’s succinct formula for nihilism, is born out in the debasement of speech. The so-called “grammar police” do have a point, even if they miss the target at which they pretend to shoot.

In earlier posts, I’ve made note of the fact that the words “whole” and “total” are not synonymous either. Yet, they are treated as identical in meaning. If they were, in fact, identical in meaning, there would be no reason to have two distinct terms for the identical value.

They are not identical values because they are actually contrary in meaning. And in this confusion of values — the whole and the totality — we are at the very crux of the whole problem of how higher values devalue themselves. For the “whole” means “health”, in its original significance, while “total” means death.

Likewise, the logical is only the meaningful within a certain horizon of signification. That horizon of signification is what cultural historian Jean Gebser called “the mental-rational structure of consciousness” or “perspectivism”. Rest assured, dear readers, there is no necessary identity between the logical and the meaningful. “The peace that surpasseth understanding” is not logical, but that does not mean it is therefore meaningless, does it?

Therefore, do not believe the poisoners who hypnotise you into believing that only what is “logical” can be meaningful. For what is mistaken today for what is called “logic”, left to itself, has merely come to the conclusion that life, the universe and everything is pointless and meaningless. This is, in fact, nihilism. And the confusion of logical and meaningful parallels the confusion of the whole and the totality, and thus the integral or healthy and what is merely the assimilatory or imperialistic.

Likewise, authority and power are similarly collapsed today and made to mean one and the same thing. The whole process is a grinding down of higher values into lower and more debased or vulgar ones.

When you appreciate the difference in valency — that is, strength or potency — between “whole” and “total”, or “meaningful” and “logical”, or “integral” and “universal”, or “authority” and “power”, and so many other like de-meanings, you will have penetrated to the understanding of Nietzsche’s insight into nihilism and how “all higher values devalue themselves.” And you will also then know that there is a subtle but profound difference between what is called the dichotomy of “spirit” and “matter”, which is, as a dichotomy, a complete misunderstanding and mistake. They are not opposites at all, but relate as quality to quantity.

The confusion of the meaningful with the logical is merely a prejudice of the times. It has no validity. This confusion of the meaningful with the logical (or, rationalism) is what Jean Gebser called “deficient rationality.”

When you come to know the difference between the higher and the lower, however subtle it may be, you will have attained to a great spiritual victory — a genuine achievement of “self-overcoming,” and therefore of self-realisation over narcissism as the all-too-human condition. For coming to know such discernment of things which have become ordinarily confused in the mind, you will also come to know the real secret of life and death as well.

The confusion of life and the death is what Nietzsche ultimately meant by “all higher values devalue themselves”. That is, today, the confusion of the whole and the totality, and correspondingly of the meaningful with the logical.


5 responses to “The Meaningful and the Logical”

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    I gather, then, that “total means death” because in ‘death’ the physical and the non-physical portions of organic beings are once again joined together as one. Even in the realm of inorganic matter, the word “totaled” is sometimes used to mean unrecoverable – or “death” of the original functioning formation. It’s totally understandable given Seth’s remark that “there is consciousness even within a nail.”

    “”The peace that surpasseth understanding” is not logical”

    So true, for peace is often attained from fighting an unyielding fight against — fear — that demon that has a source both from within and from without. This status of fighting ‘fear’ for the right cause, in my opinion, brings with it a measure of peace and peacefulness that defies understanding because it entails a prolonged journey through battles from within and battles from without where “success” or “victory” with captial “V” does not depend on material possessions, annual salary, and other rewards that inflate the ego.

    When fighting ‘fear’ for the right cause — that first enemy of “a Man of Knowledge” as don Juan Matus put it — one begins to direct his/her energy toward attaining spirituality and all the higher values that it entails.

  2. alex jay says :

    Your thoughts?

    “As Goethe once put it, “the world is not logical; it is psycho-logical.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      “As Goethe once put it, “the world is not logical; it is psycho-logical.”

      Yes. That sums up the gist of this post. (I really do have to dive into Goethe sometime. Odd that I haven’t done so yet). I had to order Carl Becker’s Heavenly City right away when I read Berman’s remarks on it, because it sounds much like what I wrote about the origins of today’s “isms” in the schisms and theological controversies of the Reformation.

      In other respects, the postings to The Chrysalis in toto are my thoughts on Berman’s essay in Counterpunch. Like Berman, I also consider John Gray’s False Dawn the best book on neo-liberalism and globalisation that I’ve yet read, and I’ve had occasion to mention some of Berman’s writing in the past, particularly in the former Dark Age Blog.

      And I also, betimes, share Berman’s sense of pessimism — his “Catastrophism”. That, however, is a bit of a conversion for him, it seems, since he had a happier outlook in his earlier book The Re-enchantment of the World (which is, in fact, lying here at hand on my desk. I was intending to re-read it).

      The thing about “catastrophism” and Berman’s pessimism about the near-term human prospect is that it may not be what it seems. Gebser also shares that view of near-term “global catastrophe” in the making, but sees this as “an essential restructuration” of human consciousness, consistent with the paradoxical meaning of “apocalypse” — which is simultaneously shattering and renovating — in a sense, “creative destruction” in human terms. And, as mentioned earlier, that is also the gist of Rumi’s great poem “Green Ears” (Barks’ translation). In fact, it’s part of the very premise of integral theory that catastrophe and renewal coincide, so there is the coincidence of pessimistic and optimistic moods. Besides, many people forget that pessimism or optimism aren’t the only possibile moods one can adopt — an either/or dualism. There is also “meliorism”

      The revolutionary impulse is the transformational imperative as it arises within the secular-political order of things. It is never arbitrary and without it there would indeed by cause for a final despair, cynicism, and pessimism. Revolution is the form that “faith” takes today — the faith in the resurrection. Revolution arises only when an old order has exhausted its meanings and purposes and its originating fund of inspiration. The old order has expired and is a corpse already. This is the problem of lip-service and hypocrisy, which are symptoms of its disintegration, “deconstruction”, decomposition, and decay — the destructive and self-destructive process we call “nihilism”.

      It is very important to recognise, acknowledge, and understand these morbid aspects of decay and disintegration, but without recognition also of the transformational potential in this nihilism, “catastrophism” is very likely to be the ultimate fate as self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Enter the revolutionist who is, in a sense, a “first responder” to the emergency. Berman is not entirely correct to say that the revolutionist only resusitates a dead order or merely replicates or reconstitutes the thought-patterns — the mode of consciousness — of the old. Looking at today’s Egypt, one might be tempted to conclude the same with Berman, for there seems to be little difference between Morsi and Mubarak. Iraq may even revert to dictatorship again, another strongman government — and that would be the ultimate irony of ‘the end of history’ hula hoop.

      The success or failure of any revolution rests upon whether it is driven by love for an unrealised future or merely hatred of the past. This is decisive, and it is entirely an issue of the quality of one’s inner life — the quality of one’s consciousness whether it is truly creative or merely destructive. This is why imagination (call it what you will.. “wish”, “desire”) is such a potent force in human affairs when properly understood. The revolutionist must be both an artist and a doctor first, and an undertaker only last.

      • alex jay says :

        “The thing about “catastrophism” and Berman’s pessimism about the near term human prospect is that it may not be what it seems. Gebser also shares that view of near-term “global catastrophe” in the making, but sees this as “an essential restructuration” of human consciousness, consistent with the paradoxical meaning of “apocalypse”

        Wish I could locate in my archives an interesting perspective of “catastrophism” as it relates to the four Evangalists. When (if) I find it, I’ll share an interesting take on exactly this “near-term” preoccupation with “apocalypse” culminating – of course – in the Book of Revelations.

        It seems to me that there has hardly been an age when “catastrophism” did not hang like the “sword of Damacles” over the head of a particular culture, and by projection global in interpretation.

        Yet, quite correctly (IMO), the flip-side of pessimism is the birth-death-rebirth cycle (through an ascending higher level on the vortex – Jacob’s Ladder – of spiritual evolution), which lends itself to an intuitive vocation towards optimism. That pessimism-optimism paradox remains the most consistent link we share collectively in our human biography, and, like the weather, changes at regular intervals. In a funny sort of way, I think Gaia Sophia is lashing out her anger and frustration through weather extremities to mimic our own mental turbulence and confusion ( the chaos theory with a mental ingredient – like the “Avatar” movie).

        “Plus ca Change” …

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “The success or failure of any revolution rests upon whether it is driven by love for an unrealised future or merely hatred of the past.”

    Outstanding! There are countless number of streets in the developing world where that statement should be plastered on walls so that people going about their business everyday cannot escape its wisdom. They must see it, remember it, and think of it everyday.

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