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The New Dialectics
The Dialectical Phenomenology of Michael Kosok

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Phenomenological Dialectics of Science

Michael Kosok


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Paradox. Paradox lost. Paradox regained. A transition from paradox to paradox through the negation of
paradox, the entire cycle itself being a paradox! What can all this have to do with science, which we all know tries its best to resolve all ambiguity into sharp and clear formulations? Does not the existence of a paradox mean the introduction of contradictory predicates, and does not this mean the necessity to discard what has been formulated?

Quite to the contrary! Paradox comes from the Greek, “para-doxos”, which means “to appear beside”. Thus, any immediate and as yet unformed element — for example, a non-defined term, or a non-measured effect — becomes a specified element upon formation by reflection or measurement. However, the appearance of such a formed element implies not only the existence of that element, but also its existence within a field or context, relative to which it stands out as a type of contratext, where both the context and the contratext form a texture of reciprocal relation. Before reflection, the immediacy of awareness might include a complex of sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, and movements which are not yet localized or formed. But after definition or measurement, i.e., after a reflective act of objectification, a certain object called a tree might appear polarized against a particular background (e.g., not-tree). Both the posited and the counter-posited elements are self-differentiations out of the original precategorical state of immediacy. Enter paradox. The tree and its field or the field and its tree, are not two independently defined dictions or identities, but are rather two elements immediately appearing along side of each other, each being a function of the other, and each being a function of itself through its relation to the other, Thus, a paradoxical situation arises whenever any immediate situation exhibits, upon reflection, inseparable distinctions where neither distinction has any reality or independent existence by itself, while at the same time their inseparability is not capable of being viewed as a simple, abstract unity or oneness. In paradox, two elements appear as one, but the unity in turn appears as a mutuality of two. But this very situation expresses at the same time what in scientific theory is referred to as a truly non-linear relation. This is a relation in which no distinction or element can be separated from its context of co-distinctions relative to which it is defined and relative to which it functions, without thereby introducing a perturbation and distortion, which on another level is but a higher order non-linearity, this time between system and perturbation — or between object and subject, observed and observer. In a non-linear paradoxical field, all formation is at once transformation — for each is what it is only through its relation to what it is not yet: in non-linear paradoxical awareness there is neither observer nor observed as such, but only the dynamic state of observing.

However, for the sake of simplification, this mutuality between any initially unformed element appearing determined as a plus A in contrast to a minus A — where both plus A and minus A are originally a function of a pre-formed A — can be regarded as a simple juxtaposition of two independently conceived or defined elements — called simply “A” and “not A”, the A taken as diction, and the not A as its contra-diction. In this way one linearizes an organic situation into component parts, the whole now being but a sum of its independently regarded constituents. By separating the variables “plus A” and “minus A”, one achieves a clarity of vision, but at the expense of the depth of relation. Alienation sets in. Thus, man and the world, man and man, feelings and thoughts, subjectivity and objectivity, all tend to take on the form of diction versus contra-diction. Once embedded within this mode of formulation, having lost sight of the immediate precategorical ground out of which both oppositions arose as mutual polarities, man faces ontological sin, i.e., the separation of aspects into conflicting objects, forgetting their relation as contrasting elements within the original state of paradox. Here we face the impossible task of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Enter, Goedel’s Theorem.

If any A as diction or identity is seen as a well formed identity, and not A is in turn grasped as an independently defined contra-identity, A being designated by one truth-function “t”, and not-A by a separate truth-function “f”, and furthermore, if both are said to function within a common space, then either that space must be incomplete or else it is inconsistent. For A and not A, each being independently closed regions, can either overlap at a common point, which produces a contradiction and inconsistency, or they will leave a gap between them, which produces incompleteness, there now being something other than either of them. If we simply place another well defined element between A and not A — or a whole bunch of well defined middle values — all will once again either overlap or underlap. A many valued logic does not cure the disease of alienation, but only multiplies its visibility. No matter what is done, any original state of displaying a condition of combined inseparable distinctions cannot be reproduced. One either expresses inseparability and completeness — with the result that indistinctions and ambiguities arise — or one expresses distinctions and consistency — with the result that separations and incompleteness appear.

Thus, we wind up with the rather peculiar insight that once we leave the blessed ground of paradox we must inevitably face contradiction, if we want to expand any given structure to express the continuity of interrelation absent in a purely algebraic and linear composition. And when dealing with infinite systems, or systems which are open and not simply defined, contradiction is inevitable if we attempt to express the completeness of that system. Continuity of relation and completeness cannot be constructed from a non-continuous collection of atoms. An inverse insight also follows. Only within a state of paradox and non-linearity is it possible to prevent contradiction in the first place, for, precisely because nothing is independently dicted as a separate identity, no contradiction to that non-existent diction can arise. Furthermore, no incompleteness exists either: in a paradox plus A and minus A are two aspects or sides of a singular boundary relation. The boundary does not exist as a third element between the two elements, but rather expresses the relatedness of the elements involved. Paradox, being at once complete and consistent, transcends the limitations of Goedel’s theorem, for it transcends the categorical logic of given identity upon which it is based. (Thus, in Goedel’s theorems, all expressions are put in a one to one correspondence with the separated integers 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . — i.e., a denumerable, linear set of separated categories.) A paradoxical field of relations, on the other hand, describes the logic of creation, or forms being formed, and is a logic of the continuum, for a continuum is present whenever any demarcation point in a field produces a cleavage which acts as a transition or limit point relating the left (or “positive”) and right (or “negative”) sides of the field to each other — the left and right sides now being inseparable characteristics of a singular transitive and trans-categorical element. Indeed, the word “cleave” expresses the nature of the continuum and the paradox, for “to cleave” can mean to distinguish something into two parts, and, at the same time, “to cleave” can mean to fuse together into a singular totality. Furthermore, the sharper or finer the cleavage surface between two sides (when considering a physical cleavage), the more direct and immediate will be the cleavage or co-relation of interaction between the two surfaces. Finally, the richer the states of distinction between any two systems, the deeper the modality of interrelation that can be expressed — and, therefore, the more extensive the differentiation, the more intensive the state of interrelatedness and coordination. Two blobs without individuality and uniqueness of distinction have nothing to say to each other — and the more indistinct one is (e.g., merely simple and boring), the greater the separation and unrelatedness. In the limit, unqualified simplicity leads to a mass of totally identical atoms of indistinctness, completely separated from each other within a void. This is the Herd Man in human relations, mechanism in physics, and unqualified linearity in logic or mathematics. Alienation can take many forms!

However, unity and diversity, inseparability and distinctness — far from opposing each other, mutually condition and heighten each other within a state of paradox. These not only describe paradox, but are themselves aspects which are also in a paradoxical relation: inseparability and distinctness are also distinct and inseparable. As an example, in the limit of infinite distinction, in the case of the indenumerable infinity of points on a line, we find that this radical diversity is also at once a singular state of inseparable continuity. Simple, linear, categorical thought simply cannot express genuine relation at all.

If we now call any initial state of pre-categorical immediacy a state of paradox (indicating that all possible elements of distinction contained therein are in a non-linear state of immediate mutual co-relation — like all the points or monads on a continuum appear before they are singled out), and if we call the negation of paradox contradiction (productive of a state of explicit categorization in which any one form or point is seen in some kind of sustained opposition to an anti-form or neighboring point), then the relation between the initial state of paradox and the second state of paradox-lost can itself be seen as a higher-order paradoxical relation between paradox and non-paradox regarded as two mutually comprehended oppositions. Unlike categorical logic, paradoxical logic is intrinsically self-negating, i.e., once any position is formed as an explicit state, it is immediately con-ditioned with its anti-state. And what could be more natural and more fair than to require that paradox express itself precisely when it itself is no longer seen as paradox! Paradox, upon reflection, must refer to non-paradox in order for the immediate and unreflected state now present to still be expressing itself as paradox. And all of this without contradiction, for nothing is set down as an absolute diction to begin with. Thus, if one can recognize that all distinctions which appear as contradictions are self-contradictions, and not contradictions imposed from without, i.e., that any alienation is self-alienation imposed by an awareness in order to highlight distinctions into view, and eventually out of context, then we can regard the oppositional world of blind facticity as intrinsically expressive of a mutuality of relations. This mutuality is not something which is imposed from without as a mechanical synthesis, but expresses the very manner in which all distinctions appear to and become formed in awareness. To experience contradiction is to become blind to the origin and then, to experience self-contradiction means a reawakening of the source, i.e., awareness, which originally set up and formed paradox into contradiction. This is paradox-regained. The cycle moves from paradox to contradiction (or paradox lost) to self-contradiction (paradox regained), all of which is but an explication and expression of paradox itself.

There are no contradictions except those which we need in order to cope with the sheer flux and fluidity of precategorical immediacy and paradox. One only contradicts to be secure. Take away a man’s pet hatreds, and, naked, he will flee from love and paradise. To transcend, one must first and without self-hatred learn why he doesn’t want to transcend.

The essence of the dynamics of paradox is now evident. To transcend the trap of identity versus contra-identity or, to live one’s life without contradiction, means to experience all distinctions (be they logical, physical, or human), within an ever-present state of non-linear immediacy. This immediacy is precategorical and paradoxical such that any distinctions or negations that occur are always grasped as mutual distinctions and mutual negations within the original state of paradox. Hence, this original state never becomes externally negated, but only self-negated into richer and more complex forms of paradox. In symbolic form, we have three phases. The original immediacy called “A”; its explicit distinction into itself as “+A” and its other as “-A” its reintegration as a mutual boundary condition, “+-A”, which is a return to the initial symmetry of the unformed A (with positive and negative aspects now explicitly developed).

The movement from paradox to paradox-lost to paradox-regained is, phenomenologically, a dialectic which takes us from the pre-categorical state of pre-conscious or pre-reflective immediacy, through the categorical state of mediation and conscious-proper (which is productive of the existence of category versus anti-category, e.g., good versus evil, etc.) to the transcategorical self-mediated state of self-consciousness, in which the explicated and sharply defined distinctions set up in consciousness do not simply vanish into the former state of pre-consciousness, but appear self-integrated into a higher ordered state of non-linearity. (Self-consciousness means consciousness or contradiction appearing as self contradiction and hence self-consciousness.) Paradox re-gained is self-consciousness and the realization that all consciousness is a mutuality of subjectivity and objectification, neither of which exists as an independent reality in abstraction. Original pre-conscious subjectivity is the as-yet-non-existential essence of paradox and immediacy, which becomes negated, formed, and defined into an existential and conscious state of paradox. This reveals non-paradox, and hence objectivity, in the form of contradiction, pain, separation, and alienation. (One could say that what exists is, by definition, by definition!) However, self-consciousness reveals the paradoxical base of contradiction. Now objectivity appears as but the means and challenge through which subjectivity and immediacy enriches itself… Self-consciousness is the reality or self-determination and self-dependency of paradox, which returns existential consciousness back to its roots and origins in the immediacy of the pre-conscious essence of paradox. By so doing, it sets into motion the conditions for a new cycle of existence. Without existence and consciousness, essence cannot become real. But once a particular ring or cycle is closed, all existence and objectivity is once again reseen to be mutual co-existence and co-objectivity within the non-categorical field of subjectivity, immediacy, and paradox. This is a field which is continuously expressing and enriching itself through the dynamics of mutual self-differentiation. Thus, we arrive at a paradoxical version of Nietzsche’s eternal re-occurrence (the ring of rings), all motion being from immediacy to immediacy.

The dynamics of paradox is thus a dialectical phenomenology which generates its own ontology in the form of a cycle moving from essence to existence to reality, where all three are inseparably distinct, but are not categories of being. Furthermore, this cycling is a continual cycling and re-cycling (involving sub-cycling) which produces self-relations, and is capable of being expanded in the form of a matrix of mutual oppositions.[1] Thus, reality is always essence being redefined through existence, there not being any intrinsic given essence or identity. As reality, it can be conceived as the continual redefining and coming to be of essence through existence — each cycle or end being but a new beginning. Since there is not an ultimate essence of reality, the dynamics of paradox does not have a fixed, absolute goal or identity, but rather expresses all movement as self-movement and self-determination.

We shall now turn to the specific sciences and indicate how this cycle of essence, existence and reality manifests itself within its ontological structures. Being concerned primarily with measure and definition, science centers its ontology within the domain of categorical existence and regards the three sub-distinctions of being (called Essence, Existence and Reality), as relative to the categorical mode of existence. Essence becomes the category of pure mind or Nous which deals with universals or, more prosaically, the world of syntactics as studied by logic, mathematics, and pure linguistics. Existence is the domain of pure matter in space and time, while Reality is the domain of the mind-matter co-relation which manifests itself most visibly in the study of the psyche, i.e., what is simultaneously material and mental. We shall therefore investigate Logic, Physics, and Psychology from the perspective of paradox in order to reveal the particular way in which these three domains manifest the dynamics of paradox.[2]

Historically, the foundations of logic, physics, and psychology in the Western world were set down, respectively, by Aristotle, Newton, and Freud. In each case, a set of three axioms, in the form of principles or laws, appeared in a certain order. By analyzing the coherent system which each set of three axioms produced, we can reveal the characteristic modality of paradox involved at the root of each science. Furthermore, the limitations involved in expressing the essential paradox in categorical form will reveal the scope and nature of what the modern problems are for each of the sciences analyzed. Starting with Aristotle, we have the law of identity, the law of contradiction, and the law of the excluded middle; with Newton, the first law of inertia, the second law of force, and the third law of action — reaction; and with Freud, the pleasure principle of the Id, the so-called reality principle of the Ego, and the sublimation activity of the Super-Ego.

In each case, the first axiom is a declaration of identity, i.e., a statement as to just what kind of element will be considered present within the domain of that particular science. It is thus a statement of essence, as we shall see, and sets up the stage for the other two axioms that follow. In logic, Aristotle’s law of identity, that A is A, is not an empty tautology but serves to fix any one symbol or term “A” as a term capable of being referred to in some way as the same element, all reflection on the element leaving it unaltered. “A is A” means that A is, upon reflection, a referral back to its self-same identity, and thus A appears as an isolated and singularly defined element. All other elements are repressed and stipulated as not affecting that intrinsic quality or A-ness which constitutes A as A. Thus A is A, B is B, C is C, etc., sets up the universe of discourse as an empty set or space whose individual members’ identity is only individually determined. Now, such a law is essential in any linear symbolic system and takes the form of the law of substitution. Thus, the A in “A plus B is C”, and the A in “A plus D is E”, if self-identified and not contextually-identified, can be substituted, one for the other, to connect the two sentences. If we had a non-linear construction, the very context within which A appeared would co-define A, and hence make complete substitution impossible. Thus, “A is A” is a delimitation of A into self-identity as distinguished from other-identity dependency, and, as a result, the law of identity is a “conservation of identity” statement, in effect making each element by itself a state of unchanging and static equilibrium with regard to its essence or meaning.

With Newton, we obtain the fundamental law of inertia, or the physical equilibrium of an isolated particle. This is the statement that every object in space will have a constant momentum unless acted upon by an external force or contact relation. As a result, one has to visualize space as an empty set or vacuum within which isolated self-bounded elements or atoms are present, each one by itself possessing an intrinsic given property which is constant and conserved, i.e., momentum or motion. Each element, in isolation, is thus said to be in equilibrium. Finally, with Freud, each psyche or individual is regarded as possessing a certain given identity, i.e., an equilibrium system. This equilibrium constitutes its organic identity within the world, and is therefore independent of the counter-equilibrium influences of the world which may later induce changes within the system, but not insofar as the psyche’s identity is concerned, which is still bound up with the condition-of-or-towards equilibrium. This is the Id, and its associated pleasure principle involves a type of blind restoring force, i.e., a force which sets immediate needs into motion to restore into balance and equilibrium any tension which results from environmental perturbations. Here pleasure functions as the experience of maintaining one’s identity as a balance of tensions and opposing forces such as hot versus cold temperature, hard versus soft pressure, large versus small quantities of input energy, etc., etc. Thus, this kind of immediate self-relation is an autistic system, and is taken to be the gut-identity of the psyche, such that the world of individuals as looked upon as a world of primary Ids is basically an a-moral collection of individual atoms, each, as it were, constituting itself as a microcosm or monad individually defined and independent of the needs of other such monads. (This kind of monad, however, not only has no windows: it has walls and is not a genuine monad of a universal space in the fashion of Leibnitz’ points on a continuum.)

Notice, now, that in each case, for the “symbolic term”, the “atom” and the “Id”, the first principle carefully lifts out of the texture of mutuality a certain identity which is declared to be self-same. Hence, the first law in each case is not an existential principle, for it is purposefully constructed in such a way as to nullify the influence of existence among and within a state of other identities in so far as its essence or meaning is concerned. The first principle in each case is a declaration of ideal essence for, indeed, the defined identity of each individual term, “atom” or “Id”, cannot be confronted without introducing by the very activity of observation or interaction through reflection, physical contact or organic disturbance, an interrelation and modification due to its co-relation with other elements. Thus, in all three cases, no indeterminacy principle exists as in modern science, which states that the very activity of A’s observing or interacting with B changes both A and B. Terms, “atoms” and “Ids” are linear identities whose essence or self-same being is predetermined and static.

We now turn to the three second principles: the axioms of existence. In the case of Aristotle, having now declared the separate identity of an element “A”, or any recognizable element, to be its essence, and to be that which is immediately present, it becomes necessary to define the existential operation of mediation. Thus, Negation enters as the modality of mediation, for the negation of A is regarded as an operator which refers to all that which is other than A. If we call the result of negation “not A”, and if not A is a recognizable element which obeys the law of identity, then it follows that A and not A, being separately defined, cannot overlap. Thus, the law of contradiction, that something cannot be both A and not A, follows from the law of fixed identity. In the case of Newton, the existential operation is force. Force is always a contact relation. Thus, a force on an object which is originally in equilibrium must be due to another object, system, or what-have-you, as long as that other element has inertia, in the form of either mass or energy. Newton’s second law states that, should an object A which is originally in equilibrium by itself come into contact with another object, let us call it B, then B will cause A to lose its equilibrium and change its state of momentum. Negation and Force, therefore, are existential operations of mediation and relation from a given element to another element. Finally, in the case of Freud, the Id, in its blessed state of infinite, or rather, infantile, pleasure within a pre-conscious suspension, is rudely confronted by the world which up to now was functioning as its womb — as an external world only when an unbalance of tensions is sustained sufficiently long to begin the development of an Ego, which is therefore the expression of the Id in its confrontation with an existing world and not with its integration as part of the essence of the world as its womb. Thus, Negation, Force, and Ego are, respectively, the three operations of mediation for each of the key sciences. In each case it is a mediation between two separately conceived elements. Thus, Ego is due to a disequilibrium condition on the Id, and the world appears as Force and Negation.

The Ego is Freud’s so-called Reality Principle. But, as indicated, it is, ontologically, an existential principle. To call it a Reality principle only indicates that the formulation of the Ego principle has taken place within a state of consciousness that assigns independent reality to separately conceived distinctions, such as Ego and world, instead of regarding the Ego as an operator which relates the Id to the world in a mode of unbalanced dependency. The Ego itself always operates from ex-istence and unbalance, and not from essence and balance or reality and re-balance (a higher order balance).

We now come to the three reality principles. In Aristotle, the Law of Contradiction involved us with a one-sided relation from term to term, or from A to not A. However, the notion of negation was so constructed that the implicit mutuality involved in their definitions (viz. that of “not A” being all that was not “A”) necessitated its explication in the form of a mutual-negation principle. Thus, the first negation brings us from “A” to “not A”, and now a second negation (or not-not-A) is a return negation turning us back to A. Therefore, the law of the excluded middle simply states that “A” and “not A” are a complete division of space, for no third term exists between A and not A, all negation being mutual. We wind up with a system that is both consistent and complete if we ignore the fact that the “non-linear” space or “field” within which or through which the terms appear has not been considered. We also obtain what in logic is called a well formed system-identity, for A and not A, or A and B (calling not A, “B”), together form a new singular identity, A plus B, or A1 that has no under-or-overlappings. Thus, the third law is a return to the first law on a higher level, in that the very mutuality of negation cancels the effect of negation for the entire system, and a higher order identity, called the system-identity, has been produced. We can now talk about the unambiguous identity of the whole, and not only the identity of the parts. The whole is the real, i.e., that which has genuine independent being, as long as it is not a part of another whole, and the parts are those which exist in the sense that they appear essentially through negation or mediation, and not simply through apprehension. This finishes the cycle of immediacy, mediation, and self-mediation for Aristotle, and it is a perfect and complete representation of the cycle of paradox in classical categorical form. That accounts for both its strength and its limitations. Its essential limitation is not with the second or third laws (to which most analyses turn, for they are more visible, dealing with existence and reality), but with the way in which the first law reveals the identity of any one element to have a boundary which is self-determined and not also other-determined in context. Therefore, not only the identity of the first law, but also the system identity of the third law is put into question, for now the internal boundary between any two elements such as A and not A must be reconsidered. And this is, basically, where Goedel’s undecidability theorems come into play, for they illustrate the fact that categorically defined terms such as “A” and “not A” will, in effect, always exhibit boundary values between them which are ambiguous. What this means is that a relation such as “A implying and being implied by not A”, which is expressive of such a boundary coupling between “A” and “not A”, can be validly constructed, but must of necessity lead either to inconsistency if accepted into the system, or incompleteness if rejected. Only by redefining “A” and “not A” in terms of a singular boundary value between them, will the coupling between “A” and “not A” express a paradoxically complete and consistent relation. But in this case, the boundary between “A” and “not A” is no longer a mere category, but is a trans-category transition element, +-A, between +A and -A of a precategory A. This means that one can call +-A a new pre-category such as A', and thus generating new levels of categorical assertion called +A', and categorical negation called –A', etc. As I have indicated elsewhere[3], this permits one not only to regard the presence of A and not A but, because of the boundary through which A and not-A non-linearly co-define each other, new forms of assertion and negation such as “A-sub-not-A” and “not-A-sub-A” also appear. Thus, “A” generates “A'” which generates “A''”etc., where each is a new dimension of cyclic-triadic mutuality... without end and, indeed, without a specific beginning, for A itself is pre-categorical.

In physics, Newton’s third law likewise completes the triad, for it must be recognized that not only is the initial A by itself in equilibrium, and not only does a force of contact on A by B make A out of equilibrium, but that every contact is a mutual contact, with the result that every action on A due to B will also have a reaction of B back on A. Now, however, we have a new system, A + B, called A1 which, as a system, is as isolated as the original A was before contact with B. This means that the system A1 must now be in equilibrium and immediacy just as A was, and from this we can conclude that the action of B on A must be equal and opposite to the reaction of A on B in order for them to cancel out as mediations on the system “A + B”. As in Aristotle, we have a return to the first law on a higher level, namely, the law of equilibrium but one which holds now for a system of parts — each one of which might be out of equilibrium as long as it is only a part. If this system is a part of a larger system, then it is that system of systems which must now be in equilibrium. Thus, we have the fundamental intuition of all three laws if we can conceive of equilibrium in isolation to be the overall immediacy which is always present (i.e., no mediating forces in external space), and if we conceive all forces, just like all negations in logic, as being mutual forces which are continually re-establishing equilibrium for the system as a whole should disequilibrium appear. This is the reality principle of independent being for physics. Within this systemic totality, energy and power as forms of internal motion (reflective of action-reaction interaction) come to characterize the reality or totality, instead of force and external motion, as was the case for parts or particles considered in a state of external contact and existence. Indeed, mass or inertia (a scalar) is basically an ideal essence, while force with its externally produced motion (a vector) is an existential operator, and energy (again a scalar) is a reality principle in physics, descriptive of the basic patterns of possible and actual motion that characterize the overall nature of a system regarded as an integrated whole.

Once again, however, the same kind of limitations are visible in this classical formulation. And the counterpart to Goedel’s undecidability theorem in logic is the indeterminacy principles of physics which declare the impossibility of clearly defining the boundary of any one object to begin with, let alone the nature of internal boundaries. In addition, precisely because of this actual boundary indeterminacy, a non-linear mechanics going beyond Newton’s three laws is now in the process of evolution in physics, retaining, however, Newton’s three laws as the ideal form for a simple cycle of relation. Thus, all objects are now regarded in terms of fields which extend through all of space, and one cannot therefore clearly indicate where one element ends and another begins. This is the paradox of physical boundedness, and the wave-particle paradox in physics is but one such example, for each element is both unlocalized and a wave-effect while also being localized or a particle-effect. Furthermore, within any one material system, no clear-cut conservation of energy (or even momentum) follows from the presence of indeterminacies involving internal boundaries. Only with the presence of well defined particles and well defined elastic collisions (setting aside the additional difficulties involved when talking about photon-photon interrelation) does a well determined system having all the classical theorems of conservation of energy and momentum exist.

Finally, it must be pointed out that in modern physics, the space, universe or whole within which particles exist is not abstract or absolute, and neither are the particles or parts making up the whole. Thus, whole and part — just as unity and diversity — mutually condition each other, and we have a non-linear physical universe in which each particle reflects the whole space-time structure within which it exists relative to its own conditions. This gives us the theory of relativity, and conversely, the whole of space is in turn a function of each of the particles that appear within it — which gives us the theory of quantum mechanics. In relativity, no absolute whole exists, for the whole is mirrored into every part in its own way, while in quantum mechanics no absolute part exists, for each part is mirrored out into the entire universe. What makes these two theories difficult to understand in themselves is their basic paradoxical non-linearity. What makes it difficult to conceive of the unity of the deterministic and whole-oriented relativity and the indeterministic and part-oriented quantum mechanics, is the fact that they are opposite aspects of the same paradoxical non-linearity. Moreover, one can even state that relativity and quantum mechanics as presently set up still suffer from un-necessary classical linear assumptions. Thus, relativity bases its determinate geometry of relativity on the absolute nature of the speed of a particular element, the photon of light, which is not defined in context with the rest of the relative universe; while quantum mechanics bases its indeterminacy relations for the universe on the determined properties of the same element, i.e., light, and thus limits the type of indeterminacies capable of being present to a fixed structure. Classical physics had its absolute atom, and modern physics is still quite attached to the photon as an absolute. God may have said “let there be light”, but the modern physicist definitely says “let there be photons” . . . and too often rests the whole week long instead of only on Sunday. It is because of this categorical barrier of the photon (taken out of context from the rest of the universe) that the complete non-linear and complementary natures between relativity and quantum mechanics — which do not have to be photon based — are masked. (Once freed of such limitation, present day relativity can be derived from electro-magnetism, and, present day quantum mechanics then appears as a necessary co-relative aspect to the dynamics of the electromagnetic field. This leaves room for the development of relativity and quantum mechanics in terms of particles or energies not dependent upon the speed of electro-magnetic light, e.g., for sub-electronic or sub-photonic interactions.) The categorical limitations of Goedel’s theorems in logic, and the categorical confusions which quantum mechanics and relativity give to physics, can only be definitively resolved within a context of paradox and genuine non-linearity, i.e., a dialectical phenomenology of the sciences, such that no contradiction can appear to any unnecessarily fixed diction or identity, since no such abstractions will be made in the first place. The same will also be true for the classical categories in psychology, to which we now turn.

Looking at Freud’s third and last axiom, the presence of a genuine reality principle is set into motion, but not fully carried out, in the form of the sublimation activity involving the Super-Ego. Now, not only does the Id confront the world in the form of an Ego, but the Ego indicates the force of relation to be from the subjectively constituted Id to the objectively perceived world. But, conversely, the world as an external subjectivity and family womb counter-confronts the Id, now appearing as an “internal” object for that external subjectivity. This means that the world within which an Id becomes human is a human world, or a world that is an interactional system of Ids (or Id-like states — such as animals, trees, and, for that matter, any interacting system of energy), each one being capable of being regarded to some degree as a subject to the other as an object, or itself as object and the other as subject. Hence, for every Ego action there is an anti-Ego reaction, and this creates a Super-Ego structure within the Id of the individual which is thus being regarded as an object by an external force or counter-Ego system. It is actually the external Id or subjectivity which is relating through a mutual Ego structure, to the recipient Id or subjectivity, such that now an intersubjectivity or inter-Id system is created and mirrored within the Ids or the pre-conscious subjectivities of the participating Egos. The degree of Ego awareness this inter-Id subjectivity displays “within” any one Id-structure is a function of the level of consciousness each particular Id identity can muster up. Thus, we enter into the phenomenon of sublimation, morality, culture, and the problem of interpersonal definition. With sublimation and a redirection of Id energy due to an inter-Id interaction, the basic unity of subjectivity or reality is no longer an isolated Id in balance, but an Ego-anti-Ego system of mutual egoism necessitating the construction of a rebalance of subjectivity (that rebalance now being the culture of man) and Big Daddy Super-Ego stands for the morality necessary to achieve this rebalance. Thus, as in logic and physics, the third axiom produces a return to a higher level of the first axiom by means of a mutuality of the existential operators introduced by the second axiom.

However, once again we find the same problem: the boundary problem! As long as Id and Id are independently defined, then any inter-ld, Ego-anti-Ego system will always be of the form: consciousness versus counter-consciousness, looking and being looked at, but never a mutual consciousness, never a non-linear looking which is conditioned by the looking it is looking at. In other words, no genuine I and Thou resonance can appear. But we must look at the first principle for the basic error. It is the Id which must be seen to be in a genuine non-linear relation with the entire world of energy — all energy partaking, through balance and unbalance, of the nature of all Ids. The problem of the Id and subjective ambiguity in modern psychology is the counter-part of the indeterminacy principles in physics, and Goedel’s undecidability theorems in logic. Its solution is the same. Thus, any original Id must be regarded as a precategorical state of immediacy and subjectivity, and not determined as an object with fixed boundaries and drives. Only in this way will all objectifications appear as a mutual objectification creating both a particular body and its particular world as co-polarizations when consciousness occurs, such that this very mutuality between body and world is original subjectivity now manifesting itself as inter-subjectivity. Naturally, the intersubjectivity which is present, like the relativistic whole, is a whole and universal Thou only relative to each of its particular subjective centers of uniqueness, and not all centers need have the same degree of explicit ego-object awareness in order to exhibit intersubjectivity. But, as in quantum mechanics, each subjective uniqueness (or I) is only a uniqueness insofar as it extends itself into the entire universality of inter subjectivity. Subjectivity is automatically intersubjectivity the instant subjectivity attains any form of explicit consciousness or objectivity for the same reason that immediacy and original paradox automatically self-negates itself into a state of self-mediated immediacy — all mediations, reflections, objectifications, and negations always being mutual and self-reflective. Thus, there is no existential looking which is not also to some degree experienced as a being-looked upon and vice versa. Fundamentally, however, the experience of subjectivity is not conditioned by the presence of ego-identity. Only in a non-linear paradoxical logic (dialectical logic), can one see that true subjectivity is immediacy, is paradoxical precategorical experience, which is the ever-present field of inseparable distinctions — all Ego and object localizations (and these of varying intensity) serving as focal points of expressed mutuality. The resultant state of enriched paradoxicality and self-mediated immediacy that occurs is the appearance of subjectivity in the form of intersubjectivity: the history and culture of consciousness. Intersubjectivity is the reality of the essence of subjectivity, gained through its existence in objectivity! Thus, consciousness becomes self-consciousness through self-mediation and intersubjectivity with the world. In this way, the mutuality of inter-Id interaction can appear as the fulfillment of any one subjectivity and is not a repression, compromise, or devitalization. Sublimation in the sense of a Nietzschian sublimation, where Logos, objectivity, existence, negation, and form are the Apollonian means by which Eros, subjectivity, essence, and the pre-categorical immediacy of primal Dionysian Id energy realizes itself, is the only way in which negation can be seen to have positive value. One then seeks challenge, confrontation, control, discipline, and a heightening of tension and, therefore, also pain, and a deepening of opposition, not to negate any original pleasure principle of balanced tensions, but to bring about newer, richer, and more potent mutuality, interrelation, and balance, and thus convert a passive pleasure principle into an active Joy principle that transcends pleasure and pain into a singular experience of vitality. Realizing that all negation and force is fundamentally mutual, i.e., paradoxical, it is impossible to genuinely put a self-conscious person into disequilibrium. To such an individual, the world is the eternal womb of creation and immediacy within which all opposition, being mutual, is never a threat but the challenge which calls forth re-definition, self-determination, and transcendence.


From Telos, No 5, Spring 1970.


[1] See my “Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic”, in International Philosophical Quarterly, vol. IV, no. 4, 1966.

[2] What follows is part of a proposed re-evaluation of values and categories. It is a project whose preliminary results will be published in a volume entitled Absolute Paradox and the Transcendence of Identity, which utilizes the non-linear field of paradox in order to integrate the categories of present-day philosophy and science. As a project, this work has a resemblance in Logos to Hegel’s Encyclopedia where Essence, Existence, and Reality appear as Logic, Nature, and Spirit and a resemblance in Eros in Nietzsche’s Will to Power, which was to be a re-examination of values. Here, no totally rational absolute appears in any paradoxical dialectic, the only absolute being the paradoxically absoluteless absolute of non-identity or non-givenness as such. Thus, all motion is always self-motion and is never localized into an absolute pattern which supervenes over what is in motion.


[3] Cf. My “Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic”, op.cit., p.10