Origins of the Paradigm

It is of some interest to note that the word “paradigm”, so much bandying about these days, was first used in relation to the study of grammar by the Alexandrian Greeks (so did the word “technology”. It was originally applied to language or grammar as “reasoning about the means” or “art” — the logos of the techne). Para + digma — or draw or sketch beside — described the familiar organisation into two columns of the persons of grammar into the familiar tripartite singular and tripartite plural forms — I, you, he (she, it) in one perpendicular column and then we, you, they in a second perpendicular column.

This was literally the first “paradigm”, and set the keystone, Rosenstock-Huessy has argued, for that triangulating form of logic that made for “the Greek Mind” or “euclidean mind” later to be resurrected in the Renaissance as perspectivist consciousness. The trouble is, that this paradigm of grammar — or grammatical and speech relations — is wrong. And herein lies the essential deficiency of the perspective consciousness and the flaw of the “Greek Mind”. It is also the essential flaw of Ken Wilber’s misunderstanding of the integral “paradigm” too, as organised in his AQAL (All Quadrants, All Level) paradigm. It simply replicates the same error committed by the Alexandrian Greeks.

Research into “universal linguistics” and universal grammar have demonstrated that no language can do without a four-person system. The simplest arrangement is, apparently, Korean with a fundamental four-person system of You, I, We, He. Some languages can have even up multiple forms for the same person, though. Some tribal societies, for example, have multiple forms for “we”. Average Standard European, on the other hand, has multiple forms of the third person — He, She, It, They — where other languages apparently get by with just one, but are extremely discerning and sensitive to the “we” form.

What this means is that the Alexandrian paradigm is wrong. The organisation of the person system of grammar is not tripartite but quadratic. “We” is not the plural form of “I”. It is a completely distinct and separate person — the holonic person.

Here is, I think, where the mind became unhinged and unmoored in its seemingly perpetual confusion of the whole and the totality. By casting the “We” form as merely the plural of “I”, we became a mere aggregation or sum total of egos rather than the form in which the self-interest and the ego-nature is submerged. “We” is the fellowship — holonic rather than totalising, and singular rather than plural.

Now, here we come to the root of the problem, it seems to me. We have been drilled in the Alexandrian paradigm practically from birth as “the common sense” whereas contemporary researches into universal linguistics and universal grammar seems to indicate that this “common sense” — a triangulating and tripartite logic rooted in a wrong understanding of the paradigm of grammar — is quite aberrant.

Recognising this fundamental error of the Greek Mind and its grammatical paradigm, Rosenstock-Huessy therefore proposed a new, more appropriate logic — a literal “paradigm shift” — reflecting the actual patterns we find in human grammars, no longer the triadic “pyramid” of first, second, and third persons, but a reorganisation illustrated by his “cross of reality”

Rosenstock-Huessy's new grammatical paradigm

Rosenstock-Huessy’s new grammatical paradigm

It is, in this sense, quite appropriate to think of these four persons of the quadrilateral as corresponding to “the Guardians of the Four Directions” as they appear in various cultural contexts, and as discussed in previous posts. And, as you can see, this paradigm very much also reflects the “Medicine Wheel” or “Sacred Hoop” of indigenous (largely oral) cultures,

Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel

Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel

Bearing in mind, too, that (as some of my indigenous friends say) “the Sacred Hoop is in language” and “to speak from the centre of the voice” is to speak then from the centre of the Sacred Hoop — the place of integration and integrity called “wisdom” — this new quadratic paradigm of the persons and tenses of grammar (the spaces and the times) can be said to be truly universal in a way that the old Alexandrian paradigm is not.

This reorganisation of the grammatical relationship of the persons has very far-reaching implications, perhaps not at first evident. First, it denies that the singular and plural forms of the persons are the most salient feature of the relationship. Not only does it restore to the “we” form its holonic character, but reveals that there is an “ecodynamic” relationship between the grammatical persons. By implication, it signifies that what we call “identity” is not contained in the “I” form alone (or even the “We” form) but is fourfold. Grammar, in those terms, establishes a social matrix for the realisation and expression of identity. And in those terms, a “crisis of identity” develops whenever there is a blockage in the circulation of identity through the four forms.

This is precisely the problem of the “point-of-view” consciousness structure, as opposed rather to the “overview” or integral. A fuller description of this quadrilateral logic or “grammatical method” is contained in some of Rosenstock-Huessy’s writings, such as Speech and Reality or The Origins of Speech. In effect, grammar is also a “field” — an environment or matrix of symbolic forms and their relationships and ecodynamics in which we move daily, and that matrix is fourfold in character.

For me, the most salient feature of this new paradigm is how it reflects the shift from the cosmic number “3” to the cosmic number “4”. This is shift is happening in all kinds of human thinking and activities — not least Gebser’s “four structures of consciousness” and the four fundamental cosmic forces in physics as well as the inclusion of time as the “fourth dimension” of spacetime. Yet our thinking and our logic is still grounded in what is an obsolete paradigm inherited from the Greek Mind.

In many ways, the incipient havoc and chaos emerging in the present is related to disruptions in the flow of social energies through the grammatical field or matrix — a “tower of babel” as it were. What we sense as “post-rational” or “post-truth” is, in effect, a crisis of speech and language. The spice does not flow, to draw an analogy with Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

If the “Sacred Hoop is in language”, and we are all inside this “Sacred Hoop”, and if the Sacred Hoop is indeed “broken”, it is because of the “disturbance in the force”, as it were, of the grammatical field and the corruption of the symbolic environment which the ecodynamic laws of the grammatical relations forms. And its quite apparent that speech and language are being corrupted and devalued on a completely unprecedented scale today, and in which I see the fingerprints of an impending havoc.


34 responses to “Origins of the Paradigm”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Giving what I read today in the Washington Post about scientists scrambling to secure and relocate their data in the event of a Trump presidency, David Ehrenfeld’s older essay on “The Coming Collapse” looks prescient, because there he described just such a scenario

    The Washington Post story is here

    It’s very eerie.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    I think we can probably anticipate, given how things are shaping up, that Trump is going to go after the environmentalists, and he’s going to go after the data and the science that supports the work of environmentalists, much like Canada’s Harper attempted to do (and few had any problem calling it “fascism”, except of course, those who backed Harper).

    You can probably expect it.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      U.S. Energy Department balks at Trump request for names on climate change

      I suppose I’ll have to gather up all the links I’ve shared to date to prove the point that Trump and Co. face not just “pockets” of resistance here and there but a veritable tsunami of it.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Yes, but as noted earlier, the strategy of making the country ungovernable by Trump comes with its own consequences, not least the convenience of blaming his failures (which are certain) on liberal obstructionism and sabotage.

        I don’t see any responses presently that don’t come with grave political risks, except perhaps the practice of “glocalism”.

        I feel badly for the Standing Rock protestors. It appears defeat is about to be grasped from the jaws of victory, with the appointment of Perry to Energy. They are right then to be suspicious that it was a “trick”, as it very well might have been.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Yes. Calls of “resist” and “fight” do, indeed, more or less play into the political power-mongering that brought us to a standstill in the first place as (dare I say) do efforts simply to battle disinformation.

          I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy…and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and we scientists don’t know how to do that. – Gus Speth

          As also noted earlier, this “battle” won’t be “fought” with mere facts when what’s required is re-connection of hearts and minds. Isn’t that really what the “subjective-objective dichotomy” is all about?

          Not to worry. “There’s an app for that,” among many others beyond counting.

          Come on guys. Let’s not forget to look beyond the ideologues and “halls of power” to gauge what’s actually happening in the world.

          • donsalmon says :

            Great point, IW. I had a long discussion yesterday about whether to do some kind of “activist” thing to spread the word about the need to get more information about Russian interference before the electors vote. I eventually did send a letter, but my inclination is always to take the “inner route.”

            we expect after our e-course on mindfulness and the brain comes out, we’ll put together an app for it also.

            So, there will be an app for that!

          • Scott Preston says :

            Here is a the perfect opportunity to excerise that strategy that Gebser commended: knowing when to let happen and knowing when to make happen.

            There will be circumstances that will call for resistance and for civil disobedience, and there will be circumstances in which we should allow the logic to follow its own course, as it will discredit itself. Attempts to harm others should be stiffly resisted through civil disobedience, but policies should not be — they need to be seen to fail.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          BTB, they’re not “protestors.” They’ve gone out their way to get the message across that they’re “protectors.” Big difference, and how/why Standing Rock managed to pierce through the “official narrative” (ntm, old-school “protest” tactics) and inspire widespread, peaceful, prayerful, non-violent response as the ultimate “tactic” to employ.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Makes no difference to me whether we call it “protest” or “protection”. The very word “protest” means to “pro-testify” or “bear witness” otherwise referred to as “speaking truth to power”.

            Protest and protection are simply two aspects of the same thing — asserting a truth and defending a truth.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Good point. Let’s put it this way, then: they’ve placed more emphasis on “protection” (which is normally severely neglected) than “protest-ion” and shown up the futility of old-school methods, some of which — let’s face it — have been employed by some on site and on occasion only to be roundly disapproved of by Archimbault, et al).

              Alrighty then, protest-ion and protection it is.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              While we’re at it, let’s talk about asserting and defending truth. Where is truth actually to be found? Hint: it’s not in words or even perceptible through words.

              Let’s go back to Anodea Judith’s video for a moment. “[T]he truths we hold within and the truths we find without.”

              “With-out?” What “without?” Truth is an aspect of being.

            • Scott Preston says :

              But, as Rumi put it, “the whole universe is a form of truth”.

              If truth is not “perceptible in words” or in the patterns of speech, then is Rumi being truthful or not in saying that “the whole universe is a form of truth”?

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I think Rumi was well aware of the “finger pointing at the moon” analogy. Here’s a time-honored idiom for our consideration: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

      • donsalmon says :

        that would be nice to see.

        The problem is the media and many officials still think Trump is calculating from a larger perspective.

        If you’ve ever had direct, day to day interactions with an intelligent pathological narcissist, you know they are actually scheming, but it’s always only with one thing in mind – “what’s in it for me?”

        Like spouses of an abusive husband, pro trump folks keep thinking his scheming will in some way benefit them. “Maybe if I get supper ready sooner, he won’t hit me and he’ll make peace with China.”

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Also from Tom Dispatch today — via a link to the “Pop culture. Satire. News.” site, Fusion — comes this: Latin American revolutionaries have some urgent advice for dealing with Trump.

          Among the absolutely horrible “advice” for dealing with Trump supporters is this:

          [T]oday’s Trump supporters could become valuable …allies in the near future…. So remain vigilant, but don’t write them off as the enemy.

          Or stupid or ignorant or (themselves) pathological liars or pathologically narcissistic or any one of a plethora of other dehumanizations mindlessly cast their way on a daily basis.

          They’re already “allies” — friends, neighbors and family — who just so happen to be in the same boat as every other being in existence.

          Perhaps the worst “advice” is number two: “tailor messages for different groups.” I have a bit of personal experience with this one, so bear with me. Try to speak to people in their “own language” and you’ve straight away lost the “center of your voice.” This part goes back to the article about “Zen Math.”

          Every time we try to say something, we are making a big mistake — we are pointing away from truth.

          That probably doesn’t make much sense to many, but it’s true. It’s true because as soon as speak (or write), we are pointing away both from ourselves and the addressee. We’re pointing “over there,” when Truth is One and what we’ve effectively just done is divide Truth into the “truth that resides in me” and “the truth that resides in you” — grammatically.

          Under any other circumstances, one would think that speaking or writing “the truth that resides within” would reverberate or “ring true” with the truth that (supposedly) resides “without.” (I think of it as “palpable” moreso than merely “perceptible” for obvious reasons.) As we’re well aware by now, however, it doesn’t — at least not always or, even, usually — for whatever reason.

          But none of that changes the fact that the “Truth that sets free” isn’t mine or yours or theirs or even ours. It just is. Personally, I think it’s enough to just to put it “out there” (wherever “out there” is) and let true human nature take its course.

  3. donsalmon says :

    Where is Martin Neimoller?
    Posted on December 14, 2016 by Don Salmon

    Televangelist Pat Robertson said Trump was a “harbinger of the Apocalypse” and the return of Jesus was imminent.

    “Now we have a man of God back in the White House, Jesus Christ will soon return,” said Robertson. “Sure, he’ll massacre all the atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, yoga practitioners, witches, psychologists, Scientologists and alien worshippers, but once that’s done we will have 1,000 years of peace on Earth.”


    I grew up an atheist. I was a Sufi (Muslim) for 2 years. My background is Jewish. I have “practiced” within Hindu traditions. I have been a yoga practitioner for over 40 years. I know people who are devoted Wiccans, and I am a psychologist (don’t have much contact with Scientologists and alien worshippers, though).


    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Neimoller

  4. Scott Preston says :

    This is shaping up to be the worst case of pure “crony capitalism” I think we’ve seen since the bad old days of the Latin American juntas.

  5. mikemackd says :

    Hi Scott,

    I wonder if you could elucidate on this sentence: “We” is not the plural form of “I”. It is a completely distinct and separate person — the holonic person.”

    I think I know what you mean there, but I want to be sure.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Simplest example would be the marriage unit. As “husband” and “wife” both are so because they form a “we”, and in that relation are both something less and something more than they are as individuals.

      I have heard say, for example, that some tribal groups have multiple forms of the “we” person — a “we” for a married couple, a “we” for the family unit, and a “we” for the clan unit or the tribe as a whole. In these “we” forms, the individuality is toned down, as it were, for the time that the individual is participant in these particular “we” forms — the identity circulates through these various “we” forms — individual but also (and even perhaps more importantly) as husband, family, clan, or tribe, and so on.

      In those terms, then, “we” is not simply an aggregation of individuals or egos, but a “collective person” in its own right (also for example, we know that people acting as individuals can be quite different from people acting in the “mass” — there have been a number of studies of this dating back to Gustav Le Bon’s The Crowd, or later Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd).

  6. andrewmarkmusic says :

    Hey, a little off topic but would you consider covering the roots of mon-sters – demon-strate, etc…..Maybe you have already but if not these words may be relevent to the theme of your blog. Cheers!

    • Scott Preston says :

      Nothing too mysterious there. Comes from “monere” — to warn or to show; a “monstrum” was a warning from the gods, usually in the way of some supernatural being or object (usually dreadful). So from there “de-monstrate” or “re-monstration”.

  7. Scott Preston says :

    Probably some of you caught Michael Klare’s recent article on (The Nation Institute) on Trump and “the path to hell”.'s_energy_nostalgia_and_the_path_to_hell/

    Worth a read, and probably worth bookmarking or printing out for future reference — at least to see how accurate Klare’s predictions were about this.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    Trudeau: “Globalisation isn’t working for ordinary people”. A (bizarre) interview with the Guardian published today.

    The interview reveals the double-bind that Trudeau (in fact everyone) finds themselves in today, and it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. We’re going to resolve the problems with globalisation by expanding free trade (CETA). We’re going to address the climate change crisis by expanding the pipelines.

    “We had to destroy the village in order to save it, sir”. That’s basically what Trudeau’s responses remind me of.

    Is Trudeau even aware of his self-contradictions? Hard to imagine that he’s not, but many people in fact aren’t aware of their self-contradictions. It’s just how “chaotic transition” and predicament is insinuating itself into our very thought processes that it manifests as duplicity and self-contradiction.

  9. Scott Preston says :

    Though The Hunger Games was too far-fetched to be taken seriously as a dystopian future? Apparently not…

  10. andrewmarkmusic says :

    Hey, thanks for the info:)
    Yeah, the genre goes as far back as Bruce Lee and there have been many films based on the idea .
    I think, perhaps, the interpretation for this blog would be the melting of boundaries between reality and fiction .
    I know you won’t like this put it’s evidence to me of the archon hypothesis ……
    We are their entertainment !

  11. andrewmarkmusic says :

    Indeed! I don’t see how this is anything but a mafia ethos! What a monstrous thing to do to what must be an incredible part of the natural world.

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