The Field and the Soul

I haven’t yet finished reading Frank Broucek’s book Regaining Consciousness: Resuscitating the Soul, but his wonderful takedown of Scientism and Scientific Materialism, and the Mechanical Philosophy generally, is paving the way towards his musings on the return of the soul. Regaining Consciousness is a very competent deconstruction of the ever-increasing dogmatism, absurdities, self-contradictions, and strained logic of the mechanical model as it struggles to preserve itself against the challenges of new contradictory evidence casting doubt on its adequacy or veracity.

What we can say, with some degree of confidence I think, is that the “field concept”, or intuition, as it is emerging in the new physics and in some areas of biology and psychology is an incipient awareness of those conditions that are associated with the archaic consciousness structure, and therefore with what Gebser calls the “diaphanon“. Diaphanon is Gebser’s name for the soul and “diaphaneity” the soul’s reality, which is the world’s transparency as symbolic form. This corresponds to William Blake’s own visionary mode of perception — seeing “thro’ the eye” rather than “with the eye”.

Field Theory is, as theory, still at a pretty high stage of mental and conceptual abstraction. But it is very promising. It will become increasingly real to perception as progress is made in cultivating the arational-aperspectival mode of attention that is presently inhibited by the kinds of dogmas attacked by Broucek in Regaining Consciousness — those intellectual commitments and devotions that Gebser identifies as “deficient perspectivisation”. “Deficient perspectivisation” is just another way of saying “egoism” or “narcissism”.

Visualisation is an important part of scientific method. Yet, the new realities with which science conducts its transactions are extremely non-visualisable. “Something unknown is doing we know not what”, as physicist Arthur Eddington put it. This the same Eddington who is quoted as saying “the stuff of the universe is mind-stuff”. Non-visualisability means a shift in the scientific mind towards more intuitive ways of aperception, and this anticipates Gebser’s “aperspectival” or “arational” consciousness. In effect, then, “seeing is believing” becomes increasingly difficult to justify, and the perspective eye, as the dominant organ of knowing, is dethroned.

The visual pyramid or cone is not the best symbolisation for this apprehension of the field. Gebser proposes the sphere — the sur-round, as it were. And the physical sense most adapted to the sur-round is not the eye so much as the ear, although it must be said, I think, that Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the “sensorium” as the engagement of all the senses — a synaesthesia, as it were — in the sur-round is closely associated with Gebser’s integral consciousness, too.

The problem of visualisation, which is related to the “Measurement Problem“, is related to the fact that the Field is not an object in the classical sense of “object”. In that sense it resembles awareness itself, which is also non-visualisable. A consciousness structure has a grammar in the same sense that speech has a grammar, but the grammar isn’t visible. It’s more appropriate to think of consciousness structures as being various “grammars of consciousness” in that sense. Grammar is also a “field”.

For example, the grammar of the mental-rational consciousness structure is the traditional Greek Alexandrian paradigm that we learn in school — the three-person paradigm in single and plural forms. From this is derived the intellectual technology of thinking called dialectics. The tripartite person-system of first, second, and third persons really has cast a spell over the mind. Indeed, the very word “grammar” has old connections with words for magic or a magic spell. (A “glamour”, for example, is a spell or enchantment). In Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical philosophy, grammar is a field — a social field — and in those terms corresponds to Gebser’s structures of consciousness as “civilisational types”. Civilisations have distinct “grammars” because consciousness structures and civilisational types are equivalent. We live and move and have our being, in a sense, within a field of grammatical relations that form a civilisational type.

In those terms, you may be able to appreciate the ludicrousness and sheer myopia of Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society”, which is the dangerous foundational assumption of neo-liberalism generally. Thatcher saw “only individuals and families”. Horrors! And from this nihilistic nonsense Fukuyama framed his “end of history”, which might as well have been titled “end of society”. Society is not something you see. It’s something you hear.

God help us.


4 responses to “The Field and the Soul”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Yes may god the source of knowledge provides us with the right knowledge to help us regain our consciousness. Our senses work in collaboration,once this collaboration is killed by over-using one organ on the expense of excluding the others the problem sits in and the healthy synaesthetic pattern of operation is destroyed. Yes there is something unseen that is doing what we know not , a step that needs to be followed by our actual realization of his effective presence, and that is the whole purpose of the religious experience. The human is a concepts operational apparatus and his problem is resided in being besieged by a sea of potentials, negative and positive and his choice from among these potentials, will decide the outcome. Nothing left without grammar. Thatcher chose the negative potentials so did Fukuyama while Meister Eckhart chose the positive pair,and so goes the river of life. Whitehead said that life is complex in its expression, involving more than percipience namely, desire, emotion, will and feeling. The most expressive role in life is that of duty and reverence.

  2. davidm58 says :

    From my reading of Gebser this morning:

    “…the four-dimensional sphere, or in geometric terms, space curved by time (!), is the only real basis for actualizing a four-dimensional system of coordinates. The simple sphere is merely three-dimensional; only the moving, transparent sphere is four-dimensional. And only the transparency guarantees the aperspectival perception.” (p. 346)

    “…It [the new integral structure of consciousness] is distinguished by a lack of visuality (which is not to be confused with abstractness); it cannot be realized via mere mental conceptualization; and it therefore contains the seeds of a hitherto unknown mode of realization unconnected with the restrictions of three-dimensional conceptualization.

    We have circumscribed this new mode of realization with the term ‘verition’ or ‘a-waring.’ ” (p. 352)

    I agree that the “Field” concept is appropriate here. “Field” is one of the natural patterns existing in all systems that has been identified by PatternDynamics. I have an idea that I’m going to redefine, in Gebserian terms, as many as I can of the 56 patterns identified by PatternDynamics. You’ve provided a good start here with a discussion of the “Field” pattern.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    Attaining integral consciousness as Gebser says can not be reached by mere mental conceptualization but by spiritual exercises through remembering the spiritual dimensions of our world and not to be imprisoned in the human three-dimensional jail as is the state of our present civilization. All traditions started to understand the purpose of life by studying the pattern dynamic of the self and ,through it to understand the other pattern around us. What we did we changed the starting point and thus lost our compass by starting with the big outside, the outside that is so vast and so complicated and despite the warning that the human can not encompass the infinite by his finitude and we forgot to work on ourselves the original purpose of the human existence on this earth and embarked on the road of discovery, exploitation, perversion,distortion, mixing good with bad but giving priority to the bad side through denying self-discipline and everything that is really good and releasing all types of evils, We are relishing the fodder we have made. What is the good of knowing the particles of the universe if I can not be good to my neighbor and honest with myself or as Goethe put it what good all these tall buildings and big streets do to me if I am empty inside myself. I hope I have not misquoted the words of my respected Goethe. Of course we are all broadcasting but naturally at different wavelength. Humanity has never stopped and will never stop broadcasting its songs in different tones and different words until the curtain descends on both oppressed and oppressors.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Oddly enough, abdulmonem, your comment reminded me of something I received in my email yesterday. A friend of a friend, Marc Raboy by name who teaches at McGill in Montreal, has written a book about the social disruption caused by Marconi’s invention of wireless telegraphy. Students of communications, culture and technology will find this book most interesting, I think, for I think the very idea of “inter-subjectivity” as a meme of thought is probably suggested by the “station-to-station” process of wireless telegraphy invented by Marconi.

      The Los Angeles Times carried a review of the book

      As a cultural artifact, it may well prove interesting as suggesting how our tools come to influence the patterns of our consciousness of reality.

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