Predilections: Species of Consciousness

You are now poised, in your terms, upon a threshold from which the race can go many ways. There are species of consciousness. Your species is in a time of change. There are potentials within the body’s mechanisms, in your terms not as yet used. Developed, they can immeasurably enrich the race, and bring it to levels of spiritual and psychic and physical fulfillment. If some changes are not made, the race as such will not endure.Seth

Not always is it possible to change a given mentality [or psychic disposition], but it is possible to oppose it with a stronger one, against which it [the entrenched one] will become increasingly helpless since the opposing mentality is more powerful and freer. — Jean Gebser, quoted in Peter Pogany’s paper on economics and integral consciousness.
The present rancorous election campaign in Canada, which I’ve dubbed “the Theatre of the Absurd”, brought all this to mind this morning. Presently, you have the Liberals, the New Democrats, and the Conservatives in a dead heat, while the Greens have been sidelined in the debates, and struggle to be heard over or within the din of the mainstream parties.
It’s been called a “horse-race”, but really, if we were to be honest with ourselves, it’s just another aspect of what we call “rat-race”, a rat-race through the labrynthine maze of public opinion, which they all hope to capture. To describe it as a “horse-race” lends it an air of nobility which it doesn’t have, much like calling our politicians “the Honourable” or “the Right Honourable”, which they are not. But, the more venal and banal they become, the more they insist upon the dignity of their titles and offices in a perfect reflection of the more general divorce of appearance and reality which is the duplicity of the era — Late Modernity or post-modernity.

It’s not entirely meaningless politicking. The three main parties being challenged by still marginalised but emergent fourth — the Greens — is a perfect reflection in the Canadian context of the state of consciousness in Late Modernity. The three leaders of the mainstream parties are representatives and agents of three distinct psychological types, in the Jungian sense. Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, is emotive. Thomas Mulcair, leader of the social democrats, is intellectual. Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, is willful. And Elizabeth May, who many consider the most effective and sincere politician of the whole bunch, is what I would describe as “intuitive”.

Although all are representative of the “mental-rational consciousness structure” at its “end of history”, these are the various accents within that structure, or what we might call their “predilections”.

Jung's four psychological functionsThe emergent political situation in Canada uncannily reflects that work by Arthur I. Miller that I have repeatedly recommended, Deciphering the Cosmic Number — the quest for reconciling the consciousness structure of the Late Modern type (with its three-term/three-dimensional logic) with the new reality of a four-dimensional universe by the inclusion of Time. Liberalism represents the individual as principle political unit; conservatism represents the family as principal political unit; social democracy represents the commonwealth or community as principal political unit. And latterly, the new political formation, the environmental or Nature, is represented now by the Greens, but in fact “Nature” actually is a reference to the body and its health, which is the model of ecology in itself. The body is Nature.

The political situation not only reflects the need of a divided consciousness to reconcile itself with the cosmic reality of a four-dimensional universe, but to realise and actualise “the four parts of the mind” or fourfold self which are represented by Jung’s “psychological types”, but which are only faculties or aspects of a singular awareness itself, or like facets of a jewel — “the jewel in the Lotus”. The enlightened ego consciousness has often been described as such — “Diamond Mind” or “Ruby” or “Pearl of Great Price” or “Crystal Spirit” and so on. The contentious in politics today is a reflection of the disintegrate nature of that mind, its “speciation”, as it were into specialist and particular functions which then considers itself the only true function and the “one best way”.

Uncanny it is, too, how this situation resembles Blake’s mythology of the Four Zoas. They struggle with each other for domination and power not realising they belong to the same entity and unity of being. But actually, one of the Zoas knows and remembers their primordial unity — the “eternal prophet” called Los. He represents what we would call today “the ecological”. As Urizen, the false god is the rational function, Los is the intuitive function.

The present social and world situation is a mirror reflection of the mind’s struggle with its own disharmony and dissonance — the attempt to come to terms with a fourfold cosmos, and not doing a very good job of it. The mental-rational consciousness is founded upon the presumption of a threefold cosmos, reflecting the dimensions of space, for which reason it has been called “perspectivist” consciousness. The “ratio” of rationality is a proportionality of spaces — length, breadth, width — and that’s what the word “modern” means, i.e, “measure” or mode. And this has been the mode of perception and consciousness since the invention of perspective in the Renaissance.

While the assumption of a threefold cosmos was adequate for its time, and could be expressed as a three term logic in dialectics (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) as a triad, triangle or pyramid, it isn’t adequate for our time. The prevailing “common sense” is only a narrow interpretation of reality and of the human form itself which we are pleased to call “human nature”. Human self-understanding, expressed as “the common sense”, was oriented towards space conceived in three dimensions, not four. The basic, fundamental assumptions, premises, axioms of the mental-rational consciousness structure (or perspectivist consciousness structure) are in fundamental disharmony and dissonance with the new reality.

This compulsive habit of thinking in triads, which we call the “conventional” or “received wisdom” is even reflected in an otherwise very good book on the Wisdom Tradition itself — Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy. Huxley’s is another mind that struggled, albeit unconsciously so, with the new cosmic number — four. Everything comes in triads in the book, including the human types he describes as “somatic” (sensate or physical), intellectual, or emotive. The titles of some of his chapters reflect that triadic structure of the mental-rational, “III. Personality, Sanctity, Divine Incarnation”, “VI. Mortification, Non-Attachment, Right Livelihood”, “XIII. Salvation, Deliverance, Enlightenment”, “XXIV. Ritual, Symbol Sacrament”, “XXVIII. Contemplation, Action, and Social Utility”. This compulsiveness perhaps explains Huxley’s later quest for mystical enlightenment through ingesting psychedelic drugs, just as the quantum physicist and field theorist Wolfgang Pauli sought relief from the disarray and confusion of his mind through psychoanalysis with Carl Jung.

It’s not that the triadic structure is entirely wrong. It’s valid, but only valid as an inclusive aspect of the fourfold, which is the fullness of time.

There are “species of consciousness”, as Seth states. But they aren’t infinite in number. If that were the case, the cosmos would be a total chaos and an insane anarchy indeed. We call such species “predilections” which have become mental habits, but which are valid functions of the entirety of the awareness — the intellect, the sensate, the emotive, the willful. The problem is to “privilege” one as true and the others as false. Together they comprise the ecodynamics of awareness. Repression, in both political and psychological terms, is self-negation, and is self-harm. Ultimately, it is self-destruction.

Narcissism is to be stuck exclusively in one function, to identify with it completely, and to call that one function alone “real” and “true”.

Even the integralists have their predilections: Steiner with ethics, Gebser with aesthetics, Wilber with analytics (cognition). Such predilections are what we call “talents”, as well as tasks. This is as it should be, because the soul is a dynamic ecology, an ecology constantly in search of an equilibrium between the four functions, which we call “integrity”.

The “leap” of which everyone speaks today is really the leap from the three to the four. It’s perhaps even worth stating that one of the more significant events of the current election in Canada was the issuance of “the Leap Manifesto” (and the justification for it published by Martin Lukacs). “Head-in-the-sand politics” is a pretty good description of Gebser’s consciousness structure now stuck in “deficient mode”. Or, as it is said, “none so blind as those who can see”. This stuckness is what we call “myopia” or “tunnel vision” or “blinkered” perception, and that’s pretty much what Gebser means by “deficient perspectivisation”, otherwise what I’ve been calling the trap of “point-of-view-line-of-thought” consciousness.

The way out of the trap of the “point-of-view” is what Blake calls “fourfold vision”.


2 responses to “Predilections: Species of Consciousness”

  1. davidm58 says :

    I noticed this morning the chart on page 269 of Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin, on “Forms of Realization and Thought.” The column on the far right on Valence lists univalent for Magic, ambivalent for Mythical, trivalent for Mental, and multivalent for integral.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Hmmm. For some reason I never received notification of this comment. Some glitch in the system somewhere?

      I think Gebser uses ‘valency” and “dimension” as almost equivalent terms, if I recall. The “multivalent” also corresponds to Rosenstock’s “multiformity”, and probably to Seth’s “multidimensionality” of consciousness, too. And although formally, we have now 4 dimensions, speculation runs that up to 11 dimensions or more, especially in String Theory. So “multivalent” might be a bit indeterminant — anything over trivalent.

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