Dialectic and the Cross of Reality
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. I’m going to take advantage of that this morning to distinguish between the mind of the Enlightenment (or Modern mind) and that of the quadriform “Cross of Reality” — the “metanoia” or “new mind”. Dialectical logic is the self-consciousness of Reason. Rosenstock-Huessy’s quadrilateral “grammatical method”, on the other hand, is the self-consciousness of grammar.
Logic is embedded in grammar, is contained by it, and is an aspect of it. In that sense, the “grammatical method” and the “Cross of Reality” has better claim to represent the mysterious Logos than does dialectical reasoning.
Dialectics is the self-consciousness of the reasoning faculty in the human form. It is the image of the reasoning process itself in terms of its tripartite character as thesis-antithesis-synthesis. That’s the significance of the “Illuminati” symbol represented on the American dollar bill, as we have previously discussed this symbol.
Here, the apex of the pyramid represents “synthesis”, while the two sides of the base represent “thesis” and “antithesis” (contradiction). Dialectics is the self-consciousness of reason inasmuch as it is a “refined” abstraction of the Socratic Method of speaker and listener (thesis and antithesis) in debate gradually coming to a shared agreement or consensus (synthesis). For Socrates, dialectics couldn’t be anything else than dialogics. Reasoning was public, not private. It was Rene Descartes who made the one who puts the question and the one who answers the question as being one and the same mind — the method of “radical doubt”.
This process is clearer if we refer to another rather typical image of the dialectical mind as it conceives of itself — ie, the mind’s self-understanding — that I located on the internet (“Dialectic argument defined“)
This is an interesting illustration of the perspectivising or dialectical mind because it tries to contain a fourfold reality within a triadic structure, which it can only do in terms of a hierarchy or “levels”. The fifth level or “quintessential” is the synthesis, ie “wisdom”, which corresponds to the all-seeing eye. This image is a great example, actually, of how the mind lags behind reality. It now recognises, intuitively, a fourfold reality, but tries to massage and knead that fourfold reality into a threefold structure, which I’ve also called “point-of-view-line-of-thought consciousness”.
Marxian dialectical materialism is not different in that respect.
Dialectics is the self-consciousness of Reason, and it is valid to that extent. But a human being is more than “rationality” presumes. Likewise, in certain respects Ken Wilber’s “spiral dynamics” is only another interpretation and representation of dialectical logic (From “Dialectics in the epistemological anarchism of Paul Feyerabend“)
The “spiral” looks novel until you shift perspective and see it from a different angle. It’s really a “zig-zag pathway” now perceived in three-dimensions rather than two-dimensions.
To dialectical reason, there is an implicit presumption of “progression” and of time being progressive time, leading from a base or lower-level to an ultimate final apex in “wisdom”. That was, in effect, Fukuyama’s “end of history”.
The situation of consciousness, however, looks completely different if we place this “triangle” in its proper and fuller context. And I’ll illustrate that with what many consider the “mysticism” of Jacob Boehme (which is “mysticism” only because perceived with the limited horizons of the triadic consciousness structure) and Blake’s “fourfold vision”.
Now, here, as you can see, the eye of consciousness is located at the centre of a cross, and yet also at the apex of four separate triangles or quadrants. Suddenly, the situation of consciousness looks very different than illustrated by the pyramid of perception (perspective perception). In other words, what Jean Gebser means by “compartmentalisation” or “sectoralisation” of the mind is pretty clear. It’s to treat the whole as four separate or discrete “pyramids” or separate “points-of-view” and not as being an implicit whole or unity. The arms of Boehme’s cross, by the way, are symbolisations of the classic elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. It’s the dove, here, that represents the transcendental wisdom or “quintessence”, not the eye per se. The four elements correspond to Blake’s “four Zoas” of the disintegrate human form now “compartmentalised”. The quadrilateral in Boehme’s illustration corresponds to Rosenstock-Huessy’s “Cross of Reality” as model of his “grammatical method”, too.
Here, too, each quadrant of the cruciform model also forms a “triangle” or perspective or “point-of-view” looking from the centre outwards. But when it becomes stuck in that “point-of-view” or perspective, it ceases to be conscious of a full other 3/4s of reality. This “stuckness” in a singular point of view is the all-too human condition of “narcissism”. And that “stuckness” is what William Blake denounced as “Single Vision & Newtons sleep”. To perceive the situation in its wholeness is what Gebser means by “aperspective consciousness” or a “universal way of looking at things”.
It’s also a good illustration of what Khayyam means in saying “only a hair separates the false from the true”. For, indeed, the perspective eye or dialectical reason is valid. It’s just not the whole picture, nor do you get “the whole picture” merely by adding up four pyramids or triangles or dimensions, which is also why we must distinguish between “totality” and “the whole”. The whole is the “fifth element”, not a sum of the four dimensions. The “fifth element” is Blake’s “Albion” who is the presiding integral consciousness. And that is what we call “the wisdom”.