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.

Perspectivism: The Dialectical Consciousness

Perspectivism: The Dialectical Consciousness

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“)

Dialectics Illustrated

Dialectics Illustrated


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“)

Spiral Dynamics and Dialectics

Spiral Dynamics and Dialectics

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.

Zig Zag path

Zig Zag path

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”.

Jacob Boehme

Jacob Boehme

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.

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”

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”.



14 responses to “Dialectic and the Cross of Reality”

  1. davidm58 says :

    Related: Bonnitta Roy’s youtube presentation on Gebser, Dialectical Reasoning, and the Mental Structure of Consciousness:

    • Scott Preston says :

      That’s pretty good! Thanks for bringing that to our attention. My only criticism of it might be that it’s a little too sketchy at describing the deficient phase of the mental-rational. She doesn’t ground it in social reality or “socioeconomic culture”. As such, her presentation remains, itself, at a pretty high level of abstraction. My concern, on the other hand, is to reveal that dysfunctionality of the mental-rational in the “psychopathology of everyday life”, so to speak.

      I’m looking forward, though, to hearing the other parts of her presentation.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        I love the hand-drawn diagrams that Bonnitta Roy drew in her presentation. Especially, the diagrams she drew on the dialectical reasoning helped me very much. Thanks to Davidm58 for this.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I had a bit of a problem with the presentation. The video feed seized up about 25 minutes into the presentation, but the audio feed continued. That was odd. I could hear her scratching away at the screen with her marking pen, but nothing was changing in the video.

          • LittleBigMan says :

            The video and audio feeds were fine on my end. But when I watch a movie on my laptop, sometimes, the display driver crashes and my entire screen becomes totally dark. When this happens, I have to reboot.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’ll be wanting to address in the next post that whole issue of the “latency” of the new consciousness structure as discussed in Roy’s talk. As mentioned, I found it in Pogany’s Rethinking the World and in some other surprising places while I was looking up good illustrations for dialectical mind. (Latency meaning an implicit fourfoldness that is not yet fully self-conscious or explicit). The “irruption” that Gebser speaks of (and which Seth calls the “emergence of unconscious knowledge” in our time) is the fourfold Self attempting to make itself known and actual, but is coming up against resistance in the form of the ego-consciousness which is still triadic, perspectival, and dialectical.

      This “fourfold Self” is the reintegration of those consciousness structures identified by Gebser as the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental. It is also that “pre-existent pattern” that Gebser detected in evolution, but which he didn’t have a methodology robust enough to unwrap.

      The result of this “irruption” is mental confusion and perplexity and anxiety.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    I have copied and pasted this essay in its entirety in my “longsword” file 🙂

    Thank you for this most enlightening essay in response to my question. Your rich statement that:

    “Dialectical logic is the self-consciousness of Reason. Rosenstock-Huessy’s quadrilateral “grammatical method”, on the other hand, is the self-consciousness of grammar.”

    helped break a new dawn in my understanding of the whole thing, I think.

    It’s really all about dimensionality, isn’t it?

    Dialectical logic speaks to the three dimensional consciousness of the mental-rational. Integral consciousness speaks to the four dimensional consciousness of the integral – albeit when the fourth dimension is time, specifically. And the fifth element, or Blake’s Albion, is “the wisdom of the soul” that owns the fourfold vision within this physical plane of existence in much the same fashion that “the eye of the observer” has owned the perspective beginning with the Renaissance.

    In light of all of this, I was looking for something else in Seth Speaks when, by a fortunate accident, I stumbled upon some other statement by Seth that I think would be very befitting here:

    “I will tell the reader how he sees what he sees, or hears what he hears, and why. I hope to show through the entire book that the reader himself is independent of his physical image, and I hope, myself, to give him some methods that will prove my thesis to him.

    “The next chapter will relate what experience I have had in all my existences with those “pyramid gestalts” of which I speak in the material……..” (Seth Speaks, p. x of Introduction)

    Here, then, Seth admits to having a perspectival vision (i.e. mental-rational consciousness) in his existences within the “pyramid gestalts.” That is, it seems to me, a different perspective within each existential episode.

    It is becoming rather scary, too, all this.

    Some time ago I read in some online magazine that mathematics has proved the “existence” of fifth, sixth, seventh, ……., all the way up to 11 dimensional worlds. Then, each of these multidimensional worlds will necessitate its own multi-dimensional vision and unique Albion (wisdom).

    If I’m correct in my understanding of all of this, the fourfold vision and Albion are the ultimate evolution of consciousness in this particular plane of existence. That is to say that, within higher dimensions of existence, even the fourfold vision, becomes deficient.

    • Scott Preston says :

      There has been some speculation about what “comes after integral consciousness”. I don’t consider that very useful speculation, although you have hints of it in Rumi’s poem “When have I become less by dying”

      I died as a mineral and became a plant,
      I died as plant and rose to animal,
      I died as animal and I was Man.
      Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
      Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
      With angels blest; but even from angel hood
      I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
      When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
      I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
      Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
      Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’

      The “pyramidal”, as noted, has it’s place. It’s not invalid. Nor is perspective invalid. The “aperspectival” doesn’t exclude the perspectival. It is a component of it. Dialectics is also valid in terms of integral consciousness. It’s just not mistaken for the whole picture.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Yes, yes, especially this part of Rumi’s poem is that hint you are referring to:

        “With angels blest; but even from angel hood
        I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
        When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
        I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.”

        In other words, once fourfold vision and integral consciousness have been achieved, there is no reason for the soul to continue its experimentation within our plane of existence. That seems to be what Seth has become, moving on and experimenting within other planes of existence and other possible worlds.

        When you point out that dialectics and the perspectival are valid in terms of integral consciousness is an excellent point. My thoughts flew toward the teachings of don Juan Matus and how don Juan, as a teacher, needed to have a perspective toward his pupil, Castaneda, in order to know what he was doing and how he had to modify his methods to generate a desired learning outcome. So, that is an excellent point you are making in more ways than one.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Gebser uses the term “plus mutation” for this. Nothing is lost with the gain. A “minus mutation” would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

          • LittleBigMan says :

            Excellent. The phrase “plus mutation” is a clean and concise way of referring to that understanding. If integral consciousness is a plus mutation to archaic, mythical, and mental-rational structures within this plane of existence, then, very likely, it is conceivable that some other forms of consciousness would be a plus mutation of the integral consciousness within another multidimensional plane.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    And He throws humanity in complete commotion regarding his essence and the way He conducts his cosmos,everything perishes but his face. The four basic energies, the main divine energy, the human energy the angel energy and the devil energy and their interacting to produce what is divinely intended. He who has no divine light is blind. Self-discourse is a continual movement, only to avoid landing in the the single hole, through being aware of the integral consciousness and work hard to enter its realm, It is the language of the heart only to be understood by tne intellect in order to retrieve oneself from the abyss.

    • Scott Preston says :

      The four basic energies, the main divine energy, the human energy the angel energy and the devil energy and their interacting to produce what is divinely intended.

      That’s a very interesting way of putting it, abdulmonem. It brought to mind Rumi’s “four nafs” and some passages from William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell, too. I think I’ll reflect on that for a bit.

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