Human consciousness has reached a point at which it must expand, or go under. By “expand” I mean, in the context of these times, that it must come to confidently handle far more variables than it has in the past. The mental-rational consciousness structure, expressed as dialectics, could handle, at most, two variables. This was in terms of “thesis” and the “antithesis” — the duopoly. Those two variables became expressed as antagonistic pairs of opposites — private and public, past and future, subject and object, good and evil, true and false, right and wrong, left and right, conservative and progressive, and so on.
This way of thinking in terms of pairs of opposites, or dualism, has become inadequate to cope with present reality, which is multivariate, multiform, and multidimensional. Perplexity in the face of this new complexity is simply owing to an obsolete logic which has become, as Gebser put it, “deficient”.
“Duplicity is the currency of the day”, Pope Francis recently stated. It is quite true. The Late Modern Mind is schizophrenic, and that is manifestly the case in so many ways, inclusive of the strange “double-movement” of our times identified by Jean Gebser. It’s the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde problem. It’s the “Era of Pretense,” aptly named by Mr. Greer. It’s the radical divorce of rhetoric and reality, of the dissonance between words and deeds. It’s the epidemic of hypocrisy. It’s dilemma and dichotomy and the polarisation of the personality in the sectoralisation and compartmentalisation of the mind illustrated by the phenomenon of “symbolic belief“. It is our own “four riders of the apocalypse” in the form of double-talk, double-think, double-standard, and double-bind. It is, as H.G. Wells once put it also, the Modern Mind now “at the end of its tether”.
The seed-germ of this contemporary schizophrenia was planted by Rene Descartes and “metaphysical dualism” — the untenable proposition that there are two incommensurate principles operative in the universe, mind and matter, or consciousness and body, or subject and object, “Ego and It”. This dichotomisation of Being into two contradictory and antagonistic principles has become untenable, and the duplicity of the day is a reflection of the fact that this mode of thinking has reached, simultaneously, both its zenith and its nadir, both its apotheosis and its final degradation.
The trend over the last six or seven generations has been a, now slower, now faster, expansion of consciousness. It is not a linear expansion, but proceeds by “jumps”, and with much turbulence. That expansion, which I have dubbed a movement from “point-of-view” to “overview”, is reflected also in contemporary politics.
That expansionary trend, as reflected in politics, is the emergence of larger and larger political units. The individual as political unit was formally recognised in liberalism; the family (or clan) as political unit was formally recognised in conservatism; the “public” or commonwealth was formally recognised as a political unit in socialism; and presently, Nature — the Earth itself — is being formally recognised in environmentalism.
Although this expansion is clear, it is not yet an integration.