Metanoia, continuum and quaternity

(This is a translated excerpt from the essay “Espíritu del Cuaternario” (Spirit of quaternity)

After so many considerations on science we need to return to a more general perspective.

It was probably as a reaction against the intrinsic idealism encapsulated in the trinitarian symbol that a number of thinkers of diverse orientation turned in the twentieth century, and especially after the post-war period, towards quaternary schemes as symbols of totality. Jung was maybe the first perceiving the need for this shift, followed later by such well-known authors as Heidegger with his earth-heaven-celestial-mortal quaternity, or the Schumacher of the magnificent “Guide for the Perplexed” with his fourfold field of knowledge: inner self, inner world, outer self, outer world, opposed two by two as determinants of experience, appearance, communication and science.

Another one of those thinkers was Raymond Abellio, who also presented a quaternary model of perception and thus of knowledge, in which the mere relation between the object and the sense organ is always only a part of a larger proportion —a relation of relations— , since the object presupposes the world and the sensation of the organ a whole body that organizes it and gives it a definite sense:

The most important aspect of this exacting proportion (object/world = sense/body) is the ignored but ever-present continuity between the extremes “world” and “body”, where the world is not a sum of objects, nor the body of organs, parts or entities. In short, the primitive homogeneous medium of reference to which any of the so-called “fundamental forces” must necessarily be connected, since we already know beforehand that any motion or change of density is only a manifestation of the principle of dynamic equilibrium, either as a sum or as a product.

The body from within is the seat of sensation, the undifferentiated common sensorium from which the different organs have emerged, and without which there would be neither subject nor “common sense.” In harmony with this, one can speak of two modes of intelligence, one which seems in motion and pursuing its object, and an immobile one which allows us to listen to our own mentations, and without which they could not exist. Let us try to think without listening to ourselves, and we shall see that this is impossible: the very compulsion to think is nothing but the desire to listen to oneself.

Abellio proposed an “absolute structure” of space to which the “movements of consciousness” would also be referred, and which would be nothing but the axes of ordinary flat space with the traditional six directions.

The relation of the movements of the body with respect to its isometric center of gravity as origin of coordinates is similar to the movements of the object-oriented intelligence with respect to the immutable intelligence. Certainly the “space of the mind” does not seem extensive at all, but to verify its intimate connection with the physical it is enough to put into practice any of those isometric exercises in which one remains standing and hollows out simply to perceive the balance in the micro-movements necessary to maintain the posture. If the intimate is the compenetration of the internal and the external, we have here both a physical exercise and an exercise for the intelligence, which allows us to verify the intimate, transcendental relationship between movement and immobility.

According to Abellio, “the perception of relations belongs to the mode of vision of the “empirical” consciousness, while the perception of proportions is part of the mode of vision of the “transcendental” consciousness”: this would apply to the four parts or moments of the quaternity already expressed. As an heir of Husserl, Abellio makes a great effort to go beyond conceptualist schemes but still remains within the bondage of knowledge. Global awareness or “consciousness of consciousness” is not the object of an infinite regression only by virtue of a sort of ultimate “passage to the limit” that keeps reminding us of such things as Peirce’s “ultimate interpreter”.

The ultimate dilemma of understanding, as Siddharameshwar puts it, is that without detachment there is no knowledge, and without knowledge there is no detachment. Now, this detachment is not the mere separation that we take with respect to the object, but something more deeply connected with our will. We suppose that we want to know, but know what? We do not even know that, and perhaps we do not even want to know that. Scientists strive to find the solution to inherited problems, but it is way more important to know how to put aside the questions that one has not asked oneself.

The empirical self cannot be the operator of global consciousness -consciousness without object-, and the “transcendental self” is only a name for that which never says “I” and doesn’t need it: for that body-world continuum within which sense objects appear. That continuum sometimes gives us some knowledge, if we aspire to deserve it, perhaps with the sole object of bringing about the detachment of the intelligence and the self that are normally conscious of adhesion and separation and live by their alternation, but lose ground in the middle.

So it could be said that all global knowledge is simply a grace of which the empirical self is the object in order to facilitate its detachment and give it some aptitude; and it is perfectly within logic that it can only arise beyond the desire for particular knowledge, as grace is identical with being, the non-particular par excellence. But there is also around this neutral word, “being,” a transubstantiation of intellect and will.

Abellio’s fourfold proportion points to a succession of thresholds, of ever-widening perspectives, but which we should not see only as angles of knowledge, but as degrees of participation in being, arising from a double movement of embodiment and assumption. Of course, this double movement also occurs in scientific knowledge, but as long as Nature is only an object we are talking about two types of knowledge that are not even comparable.

In this context, the metanoia or metacognition can in no way give rise to an infinite regress, because what it actually implies is a repeated transformation of the mutable or apparent with respect to the immutable that by definition cannot be seen.

On the other hand, the “turn towards the body” of the most recent philosophy is too partial not to be easy prey to instrumentalization —much has been said about sex and “desiring machines” but the truth is that desire, which is a feminine agency, acts more in the soul or even in the spirit than in the body; while the will, which is much more literally confined in bodies and is a masculine agent, is systematically ignored. Basically, the body continues to be seen as an object, even if on the other hand science prevents us from considering an external desiring, naturing Nature.

Although this short final chapter is not the place to dwell again on the sciences, considering the bodies it is obligatory to mention the fundamental ambiguity of the relational mechanics inaugurated by Weber with respect to the three energies —kinetic, potential, internal— which, although a mere consequence of the equations, seems nonetheless natural, and which should be taken into account with respect to certain balances and proportions.

Noskov’s longitudinal vibrations internal to the moving bodies, postulated precisely to justify the conservation of energy which in Weber was merely formal —no more and no less than in the other mechanics— are at the core of the issue, and it is easy to see how they should “fit” within the data of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity —and in the parallel transport of the so-called geometrical phase. In general, in any field when distinguishing between particle and field we have a self-interaction problem under accelerations that quantitatively coincides with Noskov’s oscillations This view in terms of resonance is in harmony with the ancient, and much more timeless, conceptions of Nature.

As we have already seen in different places, the retarded potentials and the corresponding oscillations would not only be present at a fundamental physical level, but also in complex organic systems such as respiration and blood circulation.

The Solar Verb, the arouser, Savitr, is totally incomprehensible in our objective representation of Nature without the twin notions of internal vibration and external resonance; and these notions are naturally connected when we put force and potential on the same basis. To get another view of the physical Continuum, we would have to deal yet with other questions of relevance, such as scales transitions in length and time, fractional dimensions and fractional operators, but this would lead us back to complex matters; in any case we have already suggested some relationships.

“Help me and I will help you”, Nature tells us today as always. Modern science, as imposing as it is, ignores this connection, which passes immediately through one’s own body but extends to the limits of our world.


Raymond Abellio, La structure absolue, Essai de phénoménologie génétique, París, 1965

Nikolay Noskov, The phenomenon of retarded potentials

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