Dynamics of Opposites: Hyperdialectic
What we call hyperdialectic is a thought…that is capable of reaching truth because it envisages without restriction the plurality of the relationships and what has been called ambiguity. The bad dialectic is that which thinks it recomposes being by a thetic thought, by an assemblage of statements, by thesis, antithesis, and synthesis; the good dialectic is that which is conscious of the fact that every thesis is an idealization, that Being is not made up of idealizations or of things said, as the old logic believed, but of bound wholes where signification never is except in tendency*, where the inertia of the content never permits the defining of one term as positive, another term as negative, and still less a third term as absolute suppression of the negative by itself. (Merleau-Ponty The Visible and Invisible)
If you happened to notice, I use, in my posts and tags, the word ‘dialectic’ between two ‘seeming’ opposites’ ( sensu amplo, need to make distinctions), I posit an ‘apparent’ duality between 2 terms of inquiry or distinctions (you could find versus abbreviated vs separating the 2 terms, for the distinctions): dialectic of old and new; of myth and rite; of content and container, of immanent and transcendent, theory and practice, of self and other etc… There exists a long philosophical tradition of dialectics with many nuances informing and delineating the different theories building on previous ones [if this can ever be uttered in this way about phenomenological hyperdialectic, especially Merleau-Ponty’s ]. However, it is not needful to expand on these theories here. For the purpose of this relatively short post, suffice to say that I use the concept hyperdialectic as one heuristic structural modality during the coaching dialogue, to make emerge (dialectic of emergence, convergence or resurgence) novel and liberating ideas, which only constitute some ‘insight’; which may be ‘transcended’ in their turn in the open-ended process of becoming (dialectic journey/destination):
The point to be noticed is this: that the dialectic without synthesis of which we speak is not therefore skepticism, vulgar relativism, or the reign of the ineffable. What we reject or deny is not the idea of a surpassing that reassembles, it is the idea that it results in a new positive, a new position*. … What we seek is a dialectical definition of being that can be neither the being for itself nor the being in it self—rapid, fragile, labile definitions…”
* insights, on the surface, seem to ‘posit’ ‘a new positive, new position’ what Merleau-Ponty rejects. However, in a future post about ‘enlightenment insight by insight’, I shall present a model of reality (a heuristic !!!) that embraces the idea of ‘bound wholes in dialectic with ‘the idealization of things said (Truth)’ as…well… ‘only insights’, by which ‘signification never is except in tendency’. Insights are overrated!
Process: From an Either/Or Stance to a Both/And Stance
Only connect! E.M. Forster!
As shown throughout this blog, so far, I believe that dynamics of opposites are very useful for self-discovery and ‘becoming the best you can be’. Indeed, I see my work as a coach to guide the coachee:
-to see, seek and find some point of convergence or emergence (or…?, anyway, surprise) between opposites/apparently irreconcilable dichotomies;
-by positing the distinctions s/he seems stuck in (because too mental or memories too far back in the life of the subject to be readily available), through intuitive/imaginal heuristic modalities, that seek to break/dissolve our prevalent habits of thought, which may keep us stuck in unproductive/lifeless behaviors (dialectic between intellect and experience);
– to question and change anything that we feel does not serve us anymore.
A Novel Perspective
True discovery consists not in finding
new landscapes, but in seeing the same
landscape with new eyes.”
Marcel Proust (1871–1922), French novelist.
I went through such a process, a heuristic inquiry, in the previous post What’s in a Birthday? to ‘come to terms with’ a very old issue, that I’d never thought had anything to do with my reluctance to celebrate birthdays -and really it does not matter if it does or not after all (who really knows?), because through this experience, true to me, this process, I got back a great deal of aliveness (with forgiveness and gratitude).
This process, this heuristic inquiry, from mental to imaginal [and, alas, return to mental: will develop on this in another post] may be summed up as an “either/or” unconscious stance (perception/perspective/thought made apparent through a specific area of discomfort), brought up by a situation, a story or a theory, to a both/and experience: ecstasy, peak experience, perceptude etc…, constituting a major ‘experience’ in the process, but, still, only one part of it.
I call this somewhat brief, again alas, experience of dynamics of opposites, “dynamite point”, less for lack of a suitable term for it (they abound, like peak experience), but rather in an attempt to evoke a personal unsayable experience, except through metaphor if poetically inclined, that, I believe, everyone has experienced at least once in their life, in their own way, if they’ve ever learned or discovered something new about their own identity [concept of hiddush] and the nature of reality. Can be an everyday experience, is it not? It would be really nice. It is incumbent upon each according to her own rhythm, her own level of evolution (capacity, capability, passage, strengths and weaknesses etc…) to calibrate (with the help of the coach, in a coaching situation) the next learning phase that sprung from the experience, proxy by proxy, insight by insight, thus realizing that, in learning, the process is the goal (dialectic of journey/process and destination/product; dialectic of the causal and a-causal).
Dialectic of the immanent and the transcendent
If in the infinite you want to stride, just walk in the finite to every side.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I’ve been interested in dynamics of opposites for some time now and I am always glad to find posts that are concerned with these dynamics for self-development, self-knowledge, though under different terms from the ones I use, through different theories that I resonate with, like the ones of Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics and other ‘phenomenologists’,like merleau-ponty (also a bit of Assagioli’s psychosynthesis). One such post, The Dialectical Relationship Between the Conscious and the Unconscious Mind , by Jenna Lilla, somewhat, shows for me, that whatever the area of research, if pushed far enough, here Jungian theories (dialectic of theory and practice), one can find some points of convergence (dialectic of the universal and the particular, the finite and the infinite, visible/invisible etc…) in other areas of knowledge…and maybe a great deal of ‘originality’ of thought resides more in form (or rather many forms as heuristics) than ideas, as in the dialectic of form and content. In what way does this dialectic (and others) relate and “dynamize” (not an English word, I know) the dialectic of the immanent and the transcendent is one fascinating (and mind boggling blogging paradox) venue of research (both practical and theoretical) that greatly occupies me, especially as regards the field of holistic health, in general, and coaching, in particular. What’s the result of the dynamic, the ‘dynamite point’, the in-between of a very special experience (ecstasy/ peak experience, perceptude), beyond mere insight and away from enlightenment as only an end, fascinates me and will be the object of further posts. Indeed, this page is really a broad summary of ideas and even concepts that need further development and clarification.