The Two Worlds: Enantiodromia Against Dualism
The greatest fundamental change in human awareness would occur when perception shifted from dualistic perception to the comprehension of enantiodromia. This would be foundational to any notion of a “New Age”.
This very notion of “two worlds”, which is even still persistent in Descartes’ metaphysical dualism or the “mind-body problem”, and in C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures, or even as Heaven and Hell or nirvana and samsara, and so on — or as the nagual and tonal in Castaneda too — is very much tied in with the distinction between enantiodromia and dualism. And these also pertain to the “two different worlds” as perceived by the divided brain according to Iain McGilchrist, as the two attentions or two cognitive minds.
The two worlds are, nonetheless, one and the same. This is what William Blake was attempting to communicate.
It may seem that there are “two worlds” governed by different rules and unfolding according to different principles and logic. But there is, in fact, only one world of energy in various states of actuality or potentiality, constantly metamorphising, but which we have falsely separated into static extremities of spirit and matter (dualism). The “two worlds” reflect the divided brain and its two distinct modes of attention/modes of being only. One world is governed and regulated by the rules of enantiodromia, while the “other” is governed and regulated by the rule of contradiction, division or dualism. They couldn’t appear more different, and yet they are the same world.
To put it in Castaneda’s terms, we might say that the nagual (or noumenal world) is the world of the rule of enantiodromia, while the tonal (or phenomenal world) is the world of the rule of duality. In those terms, one world is the world of the fluxion of energy and so is characterised by dynamis, while the other is the world of fixity, characterised by stasis.
The polymorph and the metamorph characterises the world of enantiodromia, and is a world of polarities, and this is the mode of perception of the first attention (the right hemisphere), while the second attention seeks to fix or “reify” the dynamic into fixed or static categories in a set of oppositions — dualism. This tendency towards stasis is the predilection of the second attention, or left-hemisphere mode of attention. As such, two different modes of attention intend two apparently different worlds — one of energy, another of matter.
So, in those terms, Einstein’s insight that matter and energy are mutually convertible points towards a reconciliation of the two worlds or two modes of attention.
Enantiodromia and the flux or dynamis is what characterises the philosophy of Heraclitus, while stasis and duality is what characterises the thought of Parmenides and has been the most influential down to our day. It was, after all, Parmenides who first said “thinking and being are the same”, which also informs Descartes “I think, therefore I am” with its presumption that by thinking, I become. This is not entirely wrong, for even as the New Testament puts it, “as a man thinks, so is he” (Heraclitus “character is fate”). It pertains to the manner of that “thinking”. In fact, McGilchrist’s research on the divided brain and its different modes of attention could be considered an extended meditation of the principle “as a man thinks, so is he”.
And so such “thinking” in terms of enantiodromia or thinking in terms of dualisms are very, very different affairs. One is in terms of processes and paradoxes (coincidentia oppositorum) , while the other, dualism, is in terms of objects and mutually exclusive contradictions. From two different ways of “thinking” — the two cognitive minds — arise two different worlds. But the “Jekyll-and-Hyde” problem, or Nietzsche’s Dionysian-Apollonian division, or modern man’s “schizophrenia” as McGilchrist also attests, since the late 19th century, suggests that the dissociation of the “two worlds” has become extreme, and has reached the breaking point, and is now undergoing a correction according to the rules of enantiodromia — metamorphosis or reversal at the extremity of action.
Heraclitus’s paradox that “the road up and the road down are the same” (or “Hades and Dionysus are the same”) could very well be taken not only as a statement about enantiodromia, but also about the “two worlds” — “same but different”. Thus the ultimate paradox of Buddhism, too, that “Nirvana and samsara are the same. Nirvana and samsara are not the same” becomes completely intelligible in terms of the two attentions according to enantiodromia or dualism respectively. Dualism is a description of the world and its rules according to the second attention. Enantiodromia is a description of the world and its rules according to the second attention.
Consciousness generates form, and the structure of that consciousness intends different worlds. This is what Blake calls “the Imagination” as distinct from “the Ratio” or rationality.
Enantiodromia is also implied in the meaning of “synchronicity”, which is also coincidentia oppositorum, and which was always preserved in the Hermetic maxim: “as above, so below”. In fact, the peculiar identity of enantiodromia with dualism is itself an example of “as above, so below”, inasmuch as dualism is actually a distorted interpretation or “reflection” of what is really enantiodromia simply because the mode of attention of the brain’s left-hemisphere needs to fix reality into specific permanent forms, and thus tends towards the ritualistic, the formulaic, the specific, the definite, and so on. So this mode of attention, the second attention of the left-brain, is inherently conservative in orientation, for which reason it is quite hostile to the first attention, which is associated with the “spontaneous” and spontaneity (and therefore also the anomalous, or even “the occult”) and therewith with “chaos”. But the danger of the left-hemisphere mode of attention, in its innate conservatism and “preference for the familiar” over the unknown and strange is the problem of decadence. And decadence is just another term for what Gebser calls “deficiency”.
In those terms, when Gebser comments on the strange “double-movement of our times”, it is because enantiodromia and dualism have now become “coincident” themselves, so that the disintegrative tendency of the second attention, which is dualism run amok, and the re-integrative tendency identified with enantiodromia are both co-present, even in the form of “culture war”.
It is simply a self-evident truth that, as Seth put it, “unconscious knowledge is become more and more apparent”, and that in the form of the “spontaneous”, the irruption of the spontaneous, but which the second attention considers threatening to its world and its identity. “The stone that the builders rejected is now become the keystone” is simply just another way of saying “enantiodromia”, in fact. And this applies today especially to the Hermetic Philosophy in relation to the Mechanical Philosophy, and their two distinction but related principles of enantiodromia and dualism.
I’ll address that further in later posts. It really is, in some ways, an amazing time we live in.