Archive | September 2020

A Meditation on Jakob Boehme’s Fourfold Vision

To your minds there is such a thing as news,
whereas to the inner knowing, it’s all
in the middle of its happening.

Rumi, “Green Ears
Jacob Boehme

Let’s continue today with the theme of the earlier post on “Waring the Whole”, which we can begin to understand through contemplating Jakob Boehme’s famous illustration of what Blake calls “fourfold vision” also. What Rumi means by “it’s all in the middle of its happening” is the view from the centre of this structure, which Rumi calls “the inner knowing” and this is coincident with what Jean Gebser calls “the vital centre”. From this illustration we begin to gain a glimpse, too, of what Gebser means by “time-freedom” and a “pre-existing pattern” in the various transforms of consciousness structures.

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Gebser’s Leap

The British Conservative Michael Oakeshott defined conservatism simply and fundamentally as “preference for the familiar”. Seconding this mood, the American Conservative William F. Buckley Jr. described conservatism as standing athwart the railroad track of history yelling “Stop!”, a desire that Francis Fukuyama attempted to satisfy then with his limping “End of History” hypothesis.

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” is another way of describing this mood of “preference for the familiar”. Of course, that makes certain ungrounded moral assumptions about what is to be considered devilish and sinful. It’s a cliche, a commonplace, that could have just as well have been uttered as justification by the men who put Jesus to death for the crime of blasphemy, as well as those who put Socrates to death.

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Waring the Whole

Gebser employs the terms “a-waring” for attending or the attention, where the “a-” prefix signifies “towards”, and “waring” for what he calls “verition” or “being-in-truth”. Actually, these are English translations of the German equivalents which would correspond to bewähren and währen, respectively, and are connected with the words “wahr” (true) and “Wahrheit” (Truth).

For Gebser, then, (as for Rosenstock-Huessy) the truth of the whole is already implicit in the languages we speak. We just never pay much attention to the how and the what and the why of the languages we speak. So Rosenstock-Huessy, fittingly, calls his new science of “metanomics” and grammatical method — the “self-awareness of language”.

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