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The New Dialectics
The Dialectical Phenomenology of Michael Kosok

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man and his non-linear universe


Michael Kosok

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Due to the nature of the subject matter being presented — namely, the “life and science of paradox — I have attempted to weave together two distinct but inseparable threads in the form of a self-developing dialogue. On the one hand, a state of paradox is shown to act as a non-localizable “field-of-presence” manifesting or incarnating itself through its own negations or transformations. However, as the text will show, this state of existence (actually the religious state of the “sacred”), together with its various philosophical conceptualizations (as Tao, the Godhead, Geist, subjectivity, immediacy, etc.) also has an exact non-religious or objective and scientific counter-part: something called non-linearity. Such a self-negation or self-objectification of subjectivity (or self-mediation of immediacy) from the sacred into the profane in which the profane itself reveals the essence of paradox, is demanded by the very nature of paradox. Not only does paradox simply encompass or describe a situation of polar co-ordination of opposites, but paradox itself — i.e., paradox as a totality, can only become visible to the degree to which it also “appears-along side” (i.e., para-doxically) to its own opposition in a state of mutuality — namely that which has location, identity and materialization: the world of space and time.

Thus within the world of the profane, science cannot only meet religion or the sacred (i.e., paradox), but it must serve to complete it (comple-ment it), thereby expressing a full and now concrete circle or Tao of relation: from a non-localizable but all pervasive state of paradox, to its localizations in space and time, and then as a singular movement, reveal through these localizations, the ever-present state of paradox as that which has been present all along as the very condition of its own self-materialization or self-negation.

Now in the state of the profane, the technical act and concept of localization or “linearization” is the most important tool needed in order to define or measure anything. Only by separating out (linearizing) inter-connected distinctions in such a way as to distinguish relatively stabilized objects from their background (matter from space, ego from community, text from context) can one perceive order as opposed to disorder, make decisions, and attain focal awareness. If, however, one forgets, represses, or denies the particular context associated with any identified element or text, these linearizations can lead to contradictions, ambiguities, entanglements, fear, violence, and a pathology of good vs. evil. Such extreme linearization (ideology) is what has characterized much of science, technology, politics, as well as institutionalized philosophy and religion. However, within the past few decades, and recently, to a heightening degree, the elusive nature of what science calls “non-linear” approaches to problems has begun to appear. (For example, although non-linearity as an approach is a recent development still in its early stages, I was able to organize and conduct a two-day symposium for the American Association for the Advancement of Science — AAAS — in Philadelphia two years ago on non-linearity in the sciences and humanities, in which twenty invited specialists from many diverse disciplines presented research papers on this topic — and plans are to hold future meetings, and eventually publish a journal).

This brings us to our “second thread”: paradox not only as an ever-present field-of-presence, or Totality, but paradox revealed through a structure of organically related parts and wholes which appear and become present. This involves an exhibition of the particular ways in which the various forms of our existence hide and reveal the essence of paradox when they form the subject matter of conscious attention — gradually becoming transformed into highly individualized disciplines of study. Not only is there a life of paradox lived in sacred immediacy, but there is a science of paradox within the existence and mediations of the profane, revealing immediacy or the sacred to actualize itself as a self-mediated immediacy through its own creations: the point of this text is to present a dialectic account of the dynamics of paradox — not only as a living totality, but as a science of non-linearity revealed through the specifications of the various disciplines. Each discipline or perspective has its own unique forms of linearizations and hence its own unique states of non-linear paradox within which these forms arise and disappear — a condition essential to each field of study if it is to function in a living and creative way and not degenerate into dehumanized, alienated forms.

Now in order not to linearize these two threads of paradox (the yin and yang of the Tao as it were), the book simultaneously and sequentially brings out the dynamics of their interaction and co-dependency in various ways. Thus, the function of the lengthy Introduction, is to present the essence of paradox as a totality. This includes, therefore, its relation to both the life and science of paradox grasped as a singular movement: the introduction not only reveals the universal and generic nature of paradox, but gives an account of the place each succeeding chapter has as a particular exposition or study of paradox. Moreover, this Introduction as an “alpha point” is co-related to the Addenda of the text as an “omega point” — wherein a short structural and intuitive presentation of the totality of paradox is given, in the form of a project I have been working at throughout the past twenty years called “Absolute Paradox and the Transcendence of Identity.” (The structure appears as a detailed “table of contents”, arranged in a careful pattern so as to reveal the organic-cyclic nature of paradox, and not simply present it as a linear listing of topics. )

Paradox, being what it is however, does not “permit itself” to be contained in any one definitive work — and thus the totality of paradox will only be able to manifest itself as an on-going-process, whose very activity of appearing in continually expanding or recycling forms, is totality. Therefore, this present text (“Man and His Non-Linear Universe”) is the first appearance of an integrated work on the encompassing absoluteness of paradox, as a concrete unity of the religious and the scientific, with the Introduction serving as an initial point of departure, and the Addenda (referred to in the introduction in several places) serving as a directive “telos” or end point. However, paradox being non-linear and self-returning, both points are actually one singular “transitive-point” on a curved circle of paradox — the seven chapters forming the content appearing as the self-transition of that “point.” In fact, no point actually exists other than the various particular manifestations in which the state of “having a beginning and end” appear as their condition of existence, or “field-of-presence.” Thus the particular Addenda of this book, as a culmination point, is a way of localizing out, within our present historical conditions, the way in which paradox appears as a guiding “telos” and as a structuring gestalt of relations. The introduction, in turn, localizes out the way in which paradox serves as an originating power of creation and forms an all-encompassing field of presence. Hence, the journey into the various kinds of localizations to be encountered within the chapters of this particular text already make their presence as one reads the Introduction-Addenda ensemble, for paradox “itself” has no particular beginning or end, but is, instead, the non-localizable condition of beginnings and ends: Paradox “itself” is ungraspable — but not unreal. The trick is to become aware of its presence without reducing it to an object of awareness.

In order to aid the reader in experiencing this imminent and transcending (but not objectified or transcendent) nature of paradox, the Addenda also includes several “mediation diagrams” (which need to be carefully re-drawn, made more succinct and simplified in appearance)… In this way, the singular and non-discursive significance of the structure of paradox — as outlined in the first page of the Addenda as a table of contents — can be absorbed and not mistaken to be simply a gigantic hierarchical system of ordered categories. Such diagrams — as well as the structure outline itself — can not simply be read: they must be pondered over and over, in order that the dozens of simultaneous relations or directions and dimensions of reference contained within them, can be revealed in a dynamic gestalt. Thus, as the various chapters between the Introduction and Addenda are presented — which deal with the specificity of particular disciplines — these diagrams are referred to at several key points, in order that the reader can gradually get acquainted with the essential self-reflective (but not self-enclosing) movement characteristic of paradox. This is a movement which can only be grasped if everything encountered — including one’s second and third thoughts about what is present — is perceived as an integral part of a singular self-movement of unfoldment — like a growing flower. Thus, these diagrams serve to picture as a whole, that which the text will be explaining as a process: no term or no element encountered has any existence or identity “in-itself.” It continually is “becoming itself, through its interweaving with and among its co-defining and co-creating terms and elements — the totality of which at any point is paradox in a state of self-revelation. Paradoxically, there is neither the observer (you), nor the observed (the subject matter), but “only” the process of observing within which distinctions appear giving this process content: the greater the number of distinctions, the deeper and richer the state of paradox, but also the more dangerous and tenuous its existence in non-degenerate forms — forms which could over-linearize these distinctions into separate identities. (But what else could one expect of paradox?… paradox resolves or dissolves nothing!) It takes time for all this to take root: paradox must be absorbed and metabolized — it cannot be externally “followed” or swallowed like a pill. Only then will one’s own “natural” and organic paradoxical processes, reaching all dimensions of one’s over-linearized existence (thinking, feeling, sensing, acting, etc.) come into explicit awareness and fashion a more comprehensive state of paradox which is self-reflective of its self-reflective nature (expressive of so-called ‘’higher’’ orders of self-awareness).

Finally, there will also be various diagrams (and corresponding structures called “matrices”) within the particular chapters between the Introduction and Addenda, which continually re-introduce the reader to different dimensions of grasping self-unfoldment in singular gestalts. The last diagram of the final chapter just before the Addenda serves as a culmination diagram and meditation study on the dialectics of the sacred and the profane.


We now come to the specifics of the seven chapters constituting the path between Introduction and Addenda. In contrast to what is characteristically “German”, the systematic relations and syntactical structures which these chapters present do not form an architecture of categories: they are not purely Apollonian forms, towering like a Gothic cathedral from a well-laid foundation to a pinnacle of spiritual transcendence called utopia, the Absolute or God. These structures grow out of a restless Dionysian blood which is continually creating, destroying, and re-creating in newer forms, the organs or structures of its own existence. Thus, a concrete presentation of paradox cannot be limited to either a formless and aimless series of poetic aphorisms which appear as eternal songs within a sea of unstructured nirvana — or a precisely laid out path of crystallized wisdom serving as a celestial stepladder to ever more glorious categories or techniques of existence. Rather, all movement and its structure is intrinsically circular and self-referential at every instant: the universal (Apollonian form) and unique (the Dionysian breaking of form) are two absolutely distinct but totally inseparable aspects of a movement which neither simply diverges outwards to infinity (always creating something different, newer, and usually higher, larger, both more creative and destructive, but never completely attained… a very restless, Western or “yang” like characteristic), nor simply converges inwards or within itself to what already is (always expressing the same and already present — a very quiet, Eastern or “yin” like modality). Paradox is both — i.e., a singular movement which “trans-verges” to totally different forms of itself. It is an expression of that which has not yet been completely given, since its being is yet to come — but at the same time, it is only this process of its becoming, as it is becoming, which expresses being: all being is being, for there never is any being in-itself to begin or end with! The very temporal processis the eternal: transitivity is transcendence, while identification in either positive or negative form can lead to enslavement (e.g., as a given absolute of pure Being — a God, or as a given absolute of pure nothingness — the Void, or in the sciences as terms ab-stracted and taken out of their spatial-temporal context). Such Identity is the seed which can lead to degeneracy — the seed of possible self-destruction inherent within the freedom of self-creation.

For this reason, each chapter is both a continuation of a “story being told” — namely that of paradox, and at the same time a new beginning, and a new angle, utilizing the same words slightly differently, and different words to mean similar things. One can get lost: indeed, one must get lost, but not abandoned. Each chapter can be regarded as a completely autonomous presentation (which it is) and also as a mere moment within a totality which is yet to reveal itself. To make things simple, I have structured the seven essays or chapters into three parts. The contents of these chapters, as well as their grouping into three distinct sections, have been determined from the twenty years of experience I have had in teaching (at my university, in symposiums, or as an invited lecturer) physics, philosophy, and science in general. Indeed, “non-linearity” (which is a technical term in mathematics and physics) emerged out of these years of teaching as the point of meaningful contact and dialogue between philosophy and religion on the one hand, and science on the other (with psych-ology and the person as a mid-point between them). Non-linearity, I discovered, was a way in which I could bring out from within the very waste-lands of an over-linearized world of the mundane and profane, the reality and meaningfulness of transcendence, paradox, and subjectivity, utilizing the terminology of that world and not attempting to either graft one view upon the other, or create a vague and meaningless compromise between the two. Furthermore, I found that my most receptive and enthusiastic audience was and is precisely those university students and teachers — or open-minded individuals — who have neither integrated themselves within “the techno-logical system” we try to survive in, nor have given up the value and meaning of science and technology — jumping instead into some kind of anti-rationalistic mysticism, or anti-rationalistic politics of action. There are many around to reach, and many who are, in their own ways, trying to make the alienated ends of our existence meet and not just (1) passionately fight themselves to death, (2) impersonally discuss each end into absurdity, or (3) forget the whole damn business altogether. It is to this audience my text is geared — for it is through this audience that my chapters have taken on their specificity. [And it is for this audience that I have actually been using many of these articles as teaching, lecturing and text presentations. I find that they serve to focus the problem of a “re-evaluation of values” in broad terms that have specific relevance to the particular disciplines of human creation. Thus I intend to use this book of co-ordinated articles as a text book on a college level, and expect that it will be so regarded in general, for both advanced undergraduate and graduate students, from the reactions I have already received.]

The first part called “The Beginning, Middle and End of the Life and Science of Paradox” presents the paradoxical foundation of the particular disciplines such as logic, mathematics, language, biology, psychology, and political economy in their most comprehensive manner. An attempt is made, especially in the first two essays, to emphasize the feeling-structure of paradox — and above all its erotic-playful nature, which gives life to what is otherwise a hopeless sea of formal abstractions — especially such items as mathematical logic and quantum physics. The third and last chapter within this section re-constructs the first two essays into a “unified field theory of the sciences” — but one which is trans-rational and non-linear.

At the end of both chapters two and three, there are separate sections called “notes.” The function of these notes is to bring the specifics of the content developed within the chapters into an even more detailed state of presentation; which is essential for the science of paradox if it is to amount to an actual science (having concrete relevance for theory and measurement) and not just an interesting “after-the-fact” philosophy of science which is simply about science. However, I have left these two notes in part one (as well as the two notes at the end of chapter five in part two) as separate sections, for they can be left out for those readers who are not interested in pursuing the more “technical” aspects of a particular science they are not familiar with, into greater detail. In general, the notes deal with the specialized aspects of my own education: physics and logic (leaving aside the study of dialectics as my one major and all-encompassing specialization). In the note on physics, I attempt to present a non-linear field theory which unifies relativity and quantum mechanics — a theory open to experimental testing for it differs from standard formulations at certain crucial points. In the notes on logic, I present the foundations for a non-linear logic (a non-linear syntactics and semantics, related in its structure to what is called non-standard mathematics). I also utilize a matrix form of this non-linear logic to re-present the dialectical movement of Hegel’s logic of categories as a dynamics of paradox. Matrix forms are given for the major categories of Hegel’s three main works: his Phenomenology of the Spirit, Science of Logic, and Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, although I concentrate on his major logical work — the Science of Logic. Once Hegelian logic is transformed into paradoxical logic, vis a vis, what I call the “dialectic matrix”, it is not unsimilar in its levels of cyclic movement to the “Yin and Yang” circular movement of the Tao: instead of an “I Ching” of levels of yin/yang opposition, there is an organic (but not hierarchical) series of levels of matrices with being/non-being opposition.

This brings us to part two of our text. Here the two chapters within this section, take the comprehensive presentation of paradox in the first part, and concentrate out of it, the most essential “tool” of non-linear analysis and the science of paradox: the above mentioned “dialectic matrix.” This matrix as a dynamic structure of transforms (as opposed to a static container of forms) has already appeared in chapters one and three of the first part, but not as a matrix which grows systematically out of a science of logic based upon paradox: it appeared organically within the content of the subject matter being presented. It is the matrix, however, which now becomes the essential “content” for part two, and is presented in two steps: informally in chapter four as a phenomenological and psycho-logical science, and formally in chapter five as a science of logic which transcends the limitations of the non-paradoxical (identity) logics utilized by the sciences and humanities today. Central to this transcendence is the overcoming of the limitations created by Goedel’s theorems on completeness vs. consistency — limitations shown to arise from any logic which is linear… and to date there is no recognized non-linear logic capable of handling the non-linear content gradually emerging into view from within the various sciences. Such a logic is absolutely essential for any meaningful dialogue between the sacred and profane, between religion and science, or between subjectivity and objectivity to appear. Indeed, this logic has as its main “enemy”, precisely that which any authentic religion and science have in common — namely, magic or ‘’gnosticism’’ in the sense of their existing some special technique, secret, knowledge, or objectifiable identity which needs to be made visible in order for a person or group to become enlightened and see “the truth.” If this danger is not eliminated, science and religion degenerate into ideologies (and in political science, into socially dangerous ideologies) changing that which is sacred or meaningful into dogma and ritual. (One can become surprised to the degree to which much of modern science has become transformed into a formalistic, and ritualistic “magic, gnosticism and ideology”, brainwashing both the scientists and the public into thinking the exact opposite!) In the modern world, such dogma, magic, ritual, ideology and linearized identity must be transcended, lest we become transcended by them instead: only a paradoxical unity of science and religion seen as an intrinsic unity (wherein each is a function within the other) can create the revolution which is necessary to transcend such blinding and hypnotic identifications and externalized projections of self-opposition (paradox) into mere external opposition. Hence, the importance of the dialectic matrix as the “logos of paradox”, and as a beginning, hopefully, of a meaningful dialogue both between and within science and religion which transcends the usual outpouring of platitudes and meaningless “syntheses” forced into existence by the heat of an opportunistic moment.

The second part — namely that dealing with the logic of paradox — may be the most difficult section of the book. Thus, I have not assumed any prior knowledge of logic on the part of my readers, or any of its rules: I explain each symbol and symbol combination as it appears, and to the degree to which the reader grasps this logic or form in direct relation to the particular content already gone into, to that degree will this logic be experienced and felt as a living process and organic logic, and not as a mechanical set of forms. It is not that dialectics has to become formalized: rather it is form and logic which needs to be dialecticized — so that it transmits more to the perceiver than the truncation or linearization of reality we think (or are brainwashed to think) so called “abstract symbols” are capable of. (No really creative mathematician, for example, regards his symbols as abstractions: they are dynamically alive and organic…for him.) Chapter four of part two, in a way, serves as a transition from the content oriented section of part one, to the logic or form oriented section of chapter five: it sets down the phenomenological basis of a dialectic non-linear logic, making the dialectic matrix literally the “ology-of-phenomena.”

Turning to the last section, namely part three, we see here a return to a comprehensive presentation of paradox, after having made explicit the logic of paradox in concentrated matrix form. Chapter six presents the totality of paradox — i.e., everything that has been presented in both content and form, but now as a singular theoretical structure of integrated content and for form. Thus, part two “materializes” the inherent form present within the content of part one, and part three presents a self-formalizing content — or a content explicitly in union with its inherent form or structure. Chapter six is now in effect, a concrete presentation of the “telos” or end-state set up by the Introduction as the Addenda called “Absolute Paradox and the Transcendence of Identity.” Not only does the dialectic matrix appear within the chapter — or within the Addenda as the logical movement of paradox, along with all the particulars which “move” —but the entire chapter — the entire work — is itself a dialectic matrix, with each sub-section being a sub-matrix. Chapter six is, thereby, a totally self-reflective presentation of paradox as a state of dynamic immediacy whose fundamental nature is its self-reflective or “circular” nature.

However, this theoretical totality offers no absolute static end, and hence is incomplete without setting it within its appropriate context — namely the life and “praxis” of paradox as one’s whole being. Thus, chapter seven turns to the fundamental problem of our human existence and transformation — i.e., human revolution within the social world of the profane, which is directly tied up with the parallel but intertwined problem of spiritual revelation and transcendence within the domain of the sacred. It is here where the materialism or objectivity inherent within the dynamics of paradox, takes on its greatest task: Marxism as the science of materialism (or the materialism of science) is brought into consideration, for marxism has addressed itself most forcefully to the problem of social-revolution, whether you are “for, it, against it, or indifferent to it.” Already in section one, when the dialectic of nature as a unified field theory of the sciences (chapter three) was presented, a revitalized marxism purged of its ideological limitations, was utilized as a recognizable basis upon which such a science could have objective significance and not just give off “good philosophical vibrations.” Now in chapter seven, we return to the social-materialism of marxism — in both its political-economic form as a science of society, and in its revolutionary form as a transformation of society. Thus, there are two parts to chapter seven. The first part deals with a humanized marxism as the basis for a non-linear paradoxical analysis of political-economic structures — showing how both the capitalist and communist states of present-day society are but complementary forms of capital exploitation. A non-linear cybernetic model of socio-economic organization is presented in which the state of exploitation in any society is correlated with the state of unintegrated “positive feedback” present in its organization…and there are many different forms in which such social-capital or “social-identity” formation can take place. The entire analysis is made specific by analyzing the problems the Chinese “cultural revolution” raised for marxism as a theory of society and revolution: however, China as a specific communistic country is not regarded as a practical model to follow, but rather is taken as a challenge for marxism to come to terms with, since its theory and practice is still filled with contradictions which need to be overcome.

The second part, then, overcomes these limitations or contradictions of marxism by overcoming marxism itself — i. e., overcoming it in the Hegelian sense of “aufhebung”: it is shown that marxism is too limited in its objective and materialistic orientation to offer a complete theory and praxis of revolution or society: it must be subsumed within a larger socio-political approach which concretizes the objective and subjective nature of paradox and the sacred into not only a life of paradox, or a science and logic of paradox, but also into an inter-subjective community and society of paradox, wherein it can liberate the fetters of a narrow marxism. The paradoxical structure of what is called “anarcho-communalism” is presented, both theoretically and practically — showing its historical roots and its status today as a revolutionary force within all forms of society — and within the paradoxical essence of all human beings, even if some are more integrated into a harmful delusionary social structure of identification and exploitation than others.

Of necessity, this will make revolution a bt:\ttle between “good and evil” which is neither hardened into a puritanical fight between separate and contradictory forces or groupings of good and evil, (a state of open warfare) nor liberalized into a pragmatic state in which nothing is really good or evil, and hence ignores the ethical, political, and religious problem of revolution altogether (a state of repressed warfare). Rather, revolution and transcendence become a real fight within each individual and group, for the forces of paradox, and its negation — generation and degeneration — good and evil — are brothers under the same skin, whose external form simply multiplies what is already present.

But to grasp all this, one needs to clarify the essential but often forgotten fact that paradox is not contradiction — that contradiction is not the basis of reality, but that of illusion created through “diction” and is the negation of paradox! Science and religion must return to their concrete roots in paradox, while contradiction — the self-mockery of paradox in the form of ideology and “magic” — is that which must be overcome. Finally, even the relation between paradox and contradiction must be experienced as a paradox, and not another contradiction! As one can see, only a careful, fully attentive study of the dynamics of paradox can clarify the dangerous pitfalls waiting for those not used to encountering such a living, destructive and creative force head-on. But, as this book attempts to show, this is precisely the task most urgently needed: to face and live one’s life as a concrete state of paradox. As the Addenda summarizes it, there is paradox; paradox lost, and paradox regained: most of us, however, have lost contact with the paradoxical roots of our own existence.


New York, 1976