ANALYTIC THOUGHT AND MYTH
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Analytical Thought and Myth: An Exploration of the Eternal Masculine and Eternal Feminine
– Feb. 24, 2023
originally posted to the Adversaria Jan. 24, 2023
This is a redacted version of a conversation on Facebook that I decided to pull out and make a post of. Much of the editing is to take out the other persons leaving only simple prompts, and, of course, to make it sound like a post rather than a Facebook conversation. Though, I have edited and expanded the main body as well.
As regards the idea of the eternal masculine and eternal feminine:
My reading about alchemy, which cannot be separated from Jung, so my readings in Jung, and philosophers like Cassirer either influenced by Jung or of the same mind; and though maybe not explicitly but inherently in Nietzsche and Derrida and the like . . . . . . for my education, as it were, every time I contemplate the idea of "God" to any serious degree I am confronted with the thought "it only makes sense if there are two: the eternal masculine and the eternal feminine," and it doesn't really make sense to try to combine them in a way that eliminates the idea of the difference. Although, then, as the Greeks pointed out in the protogenoi, you really need three: Ananke, Chronos, and Eros between them. That idea also central to alchemy. Any private debate or contemplation on the idea of a god leads me there: the feminine, the masculine, and desire that unifies them and is the means through which they "create," to choose a word.
So you are saying God is a duality not a "unity"?
Hmm. Is that what I am saying (he asks both the asker and himself)?
In answering I first want to take a step backwards. We can look at the universe two ways. The first way is the scientific way, the logical, rational way, and that I call the "universe." But humans are not solely rational creatures, they also have an unconscious. (Indeed, the rational conscious is a part of the irrational unconscious, but that's another discussion.) Thus, we can also look at the universe in a way that includes the unconscious. I am not saying that the universe has an unconscious – that is a mystical statement that might serve a purpose in a given context but not particularly here – but saying, simply, a person has an unconscious, and a person can engage the world in a way that includes the unconscious. The universe seen through the mind including the unconscious I call the "cosmos." (I am neither unique nor clever in making these terminological choices.) As the irrational unconscious + (its included) rational conscious is the totality of the mind, so also then is the "cosmos" the totality of being. Again, the important point is not to say the cosmos has an unconscious, it is to say that people have an unconscious, and to look at the universe through the full self must include that unconscious, in turn creating the idea of and engagement with the cosmos.
Now, my one argumentative assertion: Spirituality is the engagement of the individual with the cosmos; i.e., spirituality is engagement with being that includes the unconscious. Though, in that the cosmos is everything that can be engaged, in that it is a totality, deity is part of that idea of cosmos, and deity also is an engagement through the unconscious. (Here the great issues Christianity has with mysticism, the former preferring to push the latter out and away because Pauline Christianity only wants a religion of rational consciousness, a religion of grammar; it doesn't want any icky unconscious aspects messing up their dogmas and hymns and orderings.) That that engagement with the cosmos is also engagement with deity is not something that can be understood in a rational way as in saying pistons are part of an engine; nor is it to say in some animistic sense that "the universe is god and god is the universe." It is more saying you cannot speak of cosmos without speaking of deity. Risking belaboring the point, cosmos is not universe; I am not speaking here of astronomy. The cosmos is the whole of the individual's engagement with being (including their engagement with theirselves); as such, any idea of deity must be part of that engagement.
And vice versa.
Delve into the human unconscious much at all and you come to the realization of the masculine and feminine natures that exist within the unconscious – the anima and the animus. The yin and the yang. That "duality" is inherent to the human mind. Which then means that that duality is inherent to engagement with the cosmos, which means that that duality is inherent to the engagement with the deific. (Of course, there is a chicken and egg situation there: I could have started with the deific and ended with the human mind; it's both directions simultaneously – all six because I could have started with the cosmos – as with anything with the unconscious.) So you get to my comment above: I cannot contemplate the idea of deity without quite naturally getting to that there is in that idea both the eternal masculine and the eternal feminine. But that does not divide the spiritual into two bodies: again this is not a car engine. The fish in the yin-yang have eyes of the opposing colors. The two both form a whole that cannot be separated. There is only one cosmos, but it has two natures: the masculine and the feminine, each of which carries within itself its opposite. (And each of which is different from the other more in a blurred spectrum than, again, parts of an engine.) And, really, as the alchemists found, I also tend to that there has to be a third: Eros, that which unifies them, the field between the two magnets, the flow of action. As Jung pointed out in different words, it is irrelevant to speak of two states without speaking of the flow of their influence on each other. There is sulfur and there is salt, but there must always be mercury also, or there is no concourse between the two. In the chemical understanding, mercury brings about the concourse; in the spiritual understanding, mercury is inherent to the concourse; in a sense, it is the concourse. So, really, for me, there are the two "opposing" elements of the masculine and the feminine, but there must also be the desire between them of eros. So I am thinking more trinity that duality. Am I then saying god is a trinity? There is one cosmos, and the cosmos is everything, and to engage the cosmos is to engage the deific. So there is in that that deity is still a unity. But, I then say, that unity is most fruitfully understood – once you start on the path of the engagement with the cosmos can only be understood – when it is thought of in the sense of a trinity of the masculine, feminine, and eros. So, like anything having to do with the unconscious, is it possible to say "god is a trinity"? Yes, but that statement only has value for as far as it has value. Which might not be very far when it comes to it. Perhaps I say, rather, "It is nonsense to say god is anything." Within the idea of cosmos, deity and the individual are also like that yin and yang, they have eyes of the opposing color, they cannot be separated. Perhaps I would say, "I engage the deity in my spirituality, and in that engagement the deity has such and such qualities. But those qualities can only be understood in the context of my engagement." Spirituality is most true when it is individual. Arguably, spirituality is only individual. (Again Christian opposition to mysticism, the latter of which is individual, the former of which wants group think.) Thus, you cannot speak of spiritual things without keeping it in the context of that engagement. And I have found that the most natural, intuitive engagement with the cosmos and deity is through the ideas of the masculine and the feminine (and eros uniting). So I think what I am saying is no, got is not a trinity (duality); but that the idea of deity is most naturally thought of and engaged through the thinking of a trinity (duality). Perhaps what I am saying is god is not an anything, it exists only within our active engagement with the cosmos. And in that active engagement, the most natural and productive way of thinking about deity – for me – is through the masculine, feminine, and eros.
My interest is in analytical philosophy. Within that, if God is identified as a masculine and feminine (and eros), it is a duality (trinity).
My problem with the term duality is any degree to which the two parts are considered wholly separate. The difficulty here is analytical philosophy is rational philosophy. I have not read much in it because I don't have much interest in it. I have found Charles Pierce's ideas interesting as regards signs, but I would argue he breaks out of the analytical in his explorations. As well, in graduate school I spent much time in Wittgenstein, but the Tractatus is essentially saying analytical philosophy is rationalist philosophy, and it cannot speak about anything outside the rational. By happenstance I started re-reading that a couple of weeks ago, and want to reread the Investigations as well, but as I remember that book it takes the step even farther in its recognition not that logical philsophy is all there is to talk about, which I think is misreading Wittgenstein, but in saying, logical philosophy can only talk about what logical philosophy can talk about, and there are other things that can be talked about, but they cannot be talked about through analytical, rational philosophy. Of course, if you think analytical philosophy is the end all-be all of philosophy, then there is nothing to talk about outside of the rational and the logical. But, then, you get into the rather pointed critique that Nietzsche makes in saying that such philosophy is nothing more than people saying "I am right, you are wrong, follow me," and it having no real application outside that debate of who is "right." I said that rationality is a subset of irrationality; in the human condition the conscious is a part of the unconscious. Analytical philosophy is only concerned with and can only speak about the rational and the rational consciousness, it cannot speak about irrationality and the unconscious without reducing them to rational terms. (Something funny to read in this nature is the books of Stephen Pinker and the cognitive scientists, for they are analytical, rational in nature, and their writings on the mind have to go through contortions to avoid any mention of or recognition of the unconscious.) You cannot analyze the function of a metaphor within true poetry (I am using terms of art, there, sorry) through analytical philosophy without first reducing the metaphor and the verse into something that analytical philosophy can talk about. And, to our point, you cannot speak about something like the Yin-Yang through analytical philosophy. It requires a different form of language. In essence, it requires true poetry. (The Tao Te Ching is wholly outside the domain of the analytical.) As such, you cannot either speak of the idea of deity/cosmos having a masculine nature, a feminine nature, and an erotic nature – the trinity I speak about – in analytic terms. And, as you use the term in your last two little comments, you can not speak of them as an analytic duality. Which is what lies in my very first response, my opening with the question of "Is that what I meant?" (Did I mean that the masculine/feminine aspects are a duality?) If you mean a dualism as understood within analytical philosophy, then, even though I cannot say what that means, specifically, I can confidently say: No, that is not what I mean, because if it is an analytical approach it is assuredly reducing something metaphoric into something rational, which destroys the very nature of the metaphor.
Analytical philosophy concerns itself with the foundation of rational thinking, how language functions and depicts true propositions. If the essence of God is "unity," whilst at the same time referring to God's masculine and feminine nature, within analytical thought that is a contradiction.
That it is exactly right. Within analytical philosophy it is a contradiction and needs to be cured – or, if we are to go back to Wittgenstein, discarded as that which lies outside of analytical philosophy and thus is that which cannot be talked about (which is a very important recognition). Within continental philosophy (a term I use simply because that is the term generally put in opposition, even though the said Tao Te Ching would fall under the umbrella of "continental philosophy"), within the metaphoric, within the poetic, that it is a contradiction is not a problem, not something that needs to be resolved. For in continental philosophy, an idea is most vibrant, most potent, most "true," as it were, if, when you take it to its limits, it reaches – and includes – its opposite. Contradiction is not necessarily a fault. Contradiction is not that which cannot be spoken about.
And, admittedly, very often contradiction is nothing but contradiction, and I'll be first to point them out in films. But most films are generally analytical affairs, so the contradictions are indeed errors. And it has to be recognized, contradiction is an inherently analytical idea. To speak of contradiction is to enter into the analytic, the rational. Is there "contradiction" in the works of the surrealists? Is there contradiction in cubism? Or is it only contradiction when you reduce the work to analytical terms? The answer is yes. Within a work contradiction only exists to the degree that the work is an analytic work. The more it is an aesthetic work, the less it is read as contradiction. Or, at least, since we lack a word for contradiction within an aesthetic text and reading, the less it is read as an logical contradiction. (Perhaps parataxis is such a word, such as it is used within poetry, somethine readily used within the visual – and aural – arts. Though, perhaps the aural already has dissonance.)
Which brings us back to our "duality." Viewing the cosmos or deity through the idea of a duality is only a contradiction with the unity that is the individual engagement with the cosmos if you reduce it to analytical terms. Within the aesthetic, the mythic, both ideas can exist at the same time. Indeed, as with the eyes of the yin-yang, the masculine and feminine cannot be removed from the idea of unity, however the opposition.