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The Dissolution of the Sensate Consciousness

“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”.

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The Chrysalis: A Review

“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.

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National Icons, Patron Saints, and Tribal Deities

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”.

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The Fall (and Madness) of Urizen

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” — Leonard Cohen

….also described as “the crack in the cosmic egg” (Joseph Chilton Pearce).

For those unfamiliar with William Blake’s psycho-mythology of the “four Zoas” (who “reside in the Human Brain”),  Urizen is the rational part of the fourfold human. The name “Urizen” is supposed to be a contraction of “Your Reason”. I prefer to think of it as a contraction of the phrase “Universal Reason”. But whether “Your Reason” or “Universal Reason” the name Urizen amounts to the same thing. Urizen is what Jean Gebser calls “the mental-rational structure of consciousness” or “the perspectival” mode of perception. Urizen, for Blake, was a tyrant in the psychic household economy, or what might be described as “the God Emperor” of the soul. But Blake also in his time prophesied the downfall of Urizen (and the onset of a “New Age”) in a number of horrific visions he cast into poetry and myth.

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A Post-Conscious World? Artificial Intelligence and the Fate of Man

The late Stephen Hawking feared it. Elon Musk fears it. The physicist David Bohm feared it. Lewis Mumford feared it.  A great many other people besides fear that full-blown artificial intelligence or “smart machines” will be the doom of man. Some nihilistic “mad scientist” types even welcome it, since they have little regard or respect for human life anyway, and judge that the creature “homo sapiens” is an evolutionary dead end in any case.

And just as many others believe that the fears of a Stephen Hawking, an Elon Musk, or a David Bohm are unfounded, or even irrational or superstitious. But they are wrong for a number of reasons. But most of all, we have to understand why an age of “smart machines” has a reciprocal effect of being a dumbing down of the human. This is the strange paradox or coincidence of opposites that informs Umair Haque’s observations, too, on our Age of Stupid.

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The Masters and Possessors of Nature

The phrase “masters and possessors of Nature” belongs to Rene Descartes. There is a strange ambiguity to the meaning of this phrase, but it did nonetheless serve as the marching orders for the European Enlightenment. The ambiguity of the phrase lies in whether you hold that Nature is living, or merely a soulless machinery. And it’s this ambiguity about the meaning of “Nature” that is represented in the Flammarion woodcut entitled Urbi et Orbi (which I’ve discussed in earlier posts in The Chrysalis). It could be said that the woodcut illustrates the ambiguity about the phrase “masters and possessors of Nature”.

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Chaotic Transition and the Inner Senses


“One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star…” Nietzsche

“If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, & stand still unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again” — William Blake, “There is NO Natural Religion
I’ld like to follow up this morning on a comment I posted to the previous post — that if we are going to survive the present chaos and mayhem (or the “information apocalypse“), we are going to have to resort to those “inner senses” and resources that we have seldom, if ever, deployed. Evolving or unfolding those inner senses (or what we call “the intuitive senses”) isn’t a luxury. It’s become a matter of survival. And if “transition” means anything, it means that — a shift from an exclusive reliance on the physical senses, to an emphasis on these intuitive or inner senses.

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