Sunday, December 15, 2013

Circularity

 A reader recently complained that some of the statements I made displayed circular logic. He was frustrated by the experience.

I found the complaint interesting, because it's true; yet what's so attractive about linear logic?

A great deal of my writing, after all, makes the point that the universe is self-reflexive, and that the cosmological systems I study are circular in nature: anyone who reads the material at the enneagram resource page ( all of which is soon to be pulled together into a single book called The Universal Enneagram) will know that I both reason and intuit this way in large part, and make no apologies for it. Reason and intuition are not equivalent, by the way; and we will explore that tomorrow.

Linear thinking is an excellent kind of thinking, as far as it goes; yet it presumes that things always go in straight lines. This produces an internally consistent set of rules of logic; and one can make a wide range of deductions from them.  Yet any system of logic, including this one, which builds itself on an internally consistent set of axioms, will always contain statements that contradict the system; so no system is perfect or complete, and there are many alternatives to the ones we currently employ. Linear thinking is a shibboleth of Western society; cyclical myths of earlier civilizations, as well as the esoteric concepts of eternal recurrence, provide a completely different alternative to the idea that A proceeds to B and then to C, and so on Z. This presumes that we live in a world where progressions are inevitable and ordered, and conclusions are predictable. Yet the odd thing about that is that it's clearly untrue; quantum theory, the foundation upon which the universe is based, is inherently unpredictable and based on uncertainty, and human life, as well as planetary biology and astronomy, all appear to be about as unpredictable, circular, and meandering as you can get.

Linear thinking and deductive logic produce great results in many areas, but modern science is deeply confounded by many paradoxes that definitely can't be explained by our standard methods of reasoning. One of the best books I've read on this matter — and I heartily recommend it to every reader, especially the ones who don't like circular logic and expect everything to follow reductionist principles — is Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart A. Kauffman.  Anyone who gets through this rather challenging piece of work in its entirety will understand that there are elements of reality, in particular including agency, that cannot be reduced to formulas. It is simply impossible.

Linear thinking is, in fact, the exact kind of imprisonment that Jeanne de Salzmann exhorts us to transcend. We are trapped, she says, by the way we currently think; it is an elegant prison, which we identify as a luxurious castle in which we enjoy complete freedom. No matter how much we wander around within its walls, however, it is impossible to reach a window from which we can see the verdant landscape that lies outside; we think that the Castle is the whole world.It's an inversion of the world Franz Kafka invented: instead of wandering bewildered through city streets, unable to ever reach the castle, which we can see, we wander bewildered through core doors in the castle, unable to reach the city streets — unable, in fact, to even know that there is a city, or that it has streets.

Well, enough with the analogies. The experience of the inflow of a higher energy will dispense with logical arguments and the dogged belief in their validity. Transcendentalism implies a transcendence; and the logic of linear thinking is transcended along with everything else, because transcendence is comprehensive, not limited to everything but logic. It encompasses transcendence of all the features of today's psychological and spiritual landscape. If it did not, it wouldn't be transcendence.

Hosannah.


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