I think of the Peterson-McGilchrist encounter as one of the seminal debates (if debate it was) of our time, so I’ld like to continue my discussion of that which I began with the previous post on the subject (“Peterson versus McGilchrist I“). It was, in fact, more akin to a Socratic dialogue, and given my preference for McGilchrist, I, of course, see McGilchrist in the role of a new Socrates. I think he fits that role very well.
So, it we re-imagine the “Peterson versus McGilchrist” debate as a Socratic dialogue, some things about it become very revealing also about the difference between dialogical process and dialectics, as well as being an encounter between the perspectival and the aperspectival.
Just following up on my previous comments on the Peterson-McGilchrist encounter, I’ld also like to touch once again upon a recurring theme in The Chrysalis in respect of that encounter — that is, the proper relationship between “the facts of the matter” and “the truth that sets free”. That relationship also strikes me as an umderlying issue in the “Peterson versus McGilchrist” issue.
I woke up this morning to find that someone had linked from an article in Medium on the Jordan Peterson–Iain McGilchrist dialogue/debate to The Chrysalis, although I find no evident link to The Chrysalis anywhere in the Medium article. Perhaps someone wanted to flag the article for my attention, given that I’ve been quite critical of Jordan Peterson in previous posts.
Well, if so, I’ll rise to the bait.
When I worked in tech, the typical pitch to get people comfortable with computer technology was that it was unlike conventional machinery that required you to adapt to them and their tempo, like the assembly line or having to respond to them as “the cog in the machine”. No sirree! The computer would patiently wait for you, and you would reclaim your time and your rhythm from the machine. It was liberation! It was often the favoured pitch of the pitchmen in the marketing departments. You are in control. No doubt, many even believed this guff.
At individual scale, this is no doubt plausible. I can take my blessed time responding to an email or other matters. The computer will wait while I pace the floor or decide to wash the dishes first. But at scale, it is a different matter altogether, and I learned soon enough that the pitch to get ahead of the curve and computerise now was bullshit.
“Sensate consciousness” is a term used by the sociologist Pitrim Sorokin (in The Crisis of Our Age) to describe what Jean Gebser refers to as “the mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness structure. Sensate consciousness is a form of consciousness beholden for its sense of reality and order to the empirical senses (the physical senses), and the evidence of the empirical senses. Sorokin’s “sensate consciousness” is, in those terms, an optional name for what Iain McGilchrist calls “the Emissary” (in The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World). “Seeing is believing” might be taken as even the motto of sensate consciousness, although it must be pointed out that “seeing” is quite ambiguous, since the Seer — the man or woman of insight and visionary experience — also sees, but in a quite different sense than understood by the sensate consciousness. There is a difference between sightedness and insight, after all.
But for sensate consciousness, there is no other reality than that disclosed and revealed via the empirical senses, and this is usually the only understanding of the word “perception”. In other words, what we call “materialism” and “sensate consciousness” are interchangeable terms, and this is what Blake means in saying that “man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. In other words, too, “sensate consciousness” is equivalent to Christopher Lasch’s “culture of narcissism”.
“Our concern iw with a new reality — a reality functioning and effectual integrally, in which intensity and action, the effective and the effect co-exist; one where origin, by virtue of ‘presentiation,’ blossoms forth anew; and one in which the present is all-encompassing and entire. Integral reality is the world’s transparency, a perceiving of the world as truth; a mutual perceiving and imparting of truth of the world and of man and of all that transluces both.” — Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin.
The whole universe is a form of truth — Rumi.
As is my custom when there has been a surge of subscribers to The Chrysalis (now at 334 subscribers), I do a retrospective and summation of the road that has been travelled thus far. This has become a little unwieldy after all these years. So, instead of yet another review and retrospective, I would like to direct you to the sources of the original inspiration for The Chrysalis. And why they really, really matter.
For some reason I awoke this morning reflecting on the fact that, unlike many other nation states today, Canada does not have a national “persona”. Britain has it’s John Bull (or Britannia); France has Marianne; the United States has Uncle Sam; Germany has Germannia; Russia has Mother Russia, and so on. Past attempts by Canadian nationalists or conservatives to create a collective national identity for Canada in the same way (images like “Johnny Canuck” or “Mother Canada”) have been met with suspicion, or outright mockery and derision. That’s probably owing to Canada’s pluralistic and multi-cultural constitution. If there were a national icon, it would have to be a mosaic rather than a persona.
These national personae are collectivist and collectivising icons, and in some ways also major or minor secular deities in their own right, symbolisations of the national “wego” — the corporate personhood as the national identity and values. And they are often depicted in finger-pointing and accusatory poses because they are supposed to be the image and model of right conduct and right thinking. In that respect, they are the visible images of what I refer to as “the foreign installation” governing the mind, or what Freud called “the superego”.