Chapter 8, “The Dilemma and the Pearl,” begins with Preston Harold asking us what type of outlook we bring to the world around us – are we a “three” or a “four?”
Wolfgang Pauli says that two types of minds have battled through history: first, the thinking type that considers the quantitative relations of the parts to be essential – and secondly, the intuitive type that senses the qualitative indivisibility of the whole.
The first type mind is posed on the side of three. This type took its stand with Euclid, resting upon his well-known axiom: the whole is equal to the sum of the parts. This axiom, along with the rest of Euclidian geometry, dominated Western thought until the late 19th century. One might say that Euclidian geometry still dominates, for the revolution in mathematics that tumbled it from sacred pre-eminence has not yet seeped down to the layman’s level, and many students will learn first, by rote, Euclid’s axioms, imbedding in the subconscious mind these fallible statements which have been presented as unquestionable truth…
One might say that the three represents Rene Guenon’s “reign of quantity,” the historical manifestation of the descent from form (quality) toward matter (quantity), and the “nothing but-ness” of stark materialism. Tradition calls this period the Kali Yuga, the age of the demon, Kali, or the iron age.
Today, the second type of mind, posed on the side of four, insisting upon the qualitative indivisibility of the whole, regains much of the standing lost in recent centuries. As regards the sum of the parts in relation to whole being, scientists, dealing with one whole atom and the sum of its parts, have found that in the formation of a nucleus from protons and neutrons some of the mass of the particles apparently is converted to energy. The chemist sees that the combined action of several elements taken together is greater than the sum of them taken separately. Mathematicians working with transfinite number theory confront the concept that the whole can equal one of its parts. In short, one is forced to alter his concept that a discrete whole within the universe can be divided and its parts regathered to equal the sum of the whole…
Anyone wishing to look further into the “qualitative indivisibility of the whole” would do well to search out the works of the Goethean scientist Henri Bortoft. You can thank me later ;-).
Of course both the three and the four have their place in our world but how do we go about regaining the balance between the two? This is what we will continue to explore in Chapter 8. Until next time, peace.