An Integrative Method


By their very nature, revolutions in thought define themselves against the mode that precedes them. On a large scale, the privileging of rationality in modernity defined itself in relation to the comparatively naïve lack of differentiation between intellect and affect in premodernity. Similarly, whereas teleological thought was a dominant mode in premodernity, modernity has often defined itself by a rejection of teleology. The emerging mode does appear to define itself in relation to the mode that precedes it, the postmodern, which is founded upon the most fundamental premises of modernity taken to their logical conclusion. However, to a greater degree than the previously dominant modes of thought, the novel mode appears to subsume the previous world views in an emergent synthesis that transcends and includes all of these antecedent modes. This incipient world view shares with the postmodern a recognition of the radically constructed quality of lived reality, and even acknowledges the limited validity of the predominant postmodern interpretation of this insight as indicating that, if there is no fixed, transcendent truth, then the world is void of intrinsic meaning.

However, in a paradoxical operation characteristic of the emerging mode’s recursive complexity, this deconstructive interpretation of the world is simultaneously recognized as pragmatically plausible but contradicted by the integrative world view’s affective attitude, which affirms the partial validity of all points of view, and only denies the validity of those elements of developmentally previous world views which in their turn deny the positive beliefs affirmed by other modes of consciousness. Thus, the emerging mode appears to affirm the conditional validity of all positive beliefs, defined as those beliefs that do not explicitly or implicitly contradict another mode’s positive premises. This mode even affirms the temporary, historical necessity of the negative denial of positive beliefs for the forging of novelty. However, the emerging mode ultimately reconciles seemingly irreconcilable world views by discovering the inevitably partial truths in each side of any controversy. By refusing to succumb to the seductive ease of defining oneself in relation to what one is against, including the paradoxical act of defining oneself against being against anything at all, this mode of thought holds the tension between apparently incommensurable oppositions to allow a novel entity, “the reconciling third” as Jung puts it, to emerge from discord. Ultimately, one is not faced with a genuine controversy unless both parties to the disagreement have legitimate claims to some aspect of a larger reality, a multivalence revealed through the confrontation and reconciliation of the opposed perspectives.

[This post is an excerpt from The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View]

[The painting is Untitled Symbiosis by Christian Kurt Ebert]

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