Monday 21 November 2016

The reality of polarity and the necessity of dyads

At an ultimate level, opposition in all things can be taken as a phrase describing the fundamental metaphysical principle that creativity (taken here to be identical with progression in the harmony with God’s creation) must be a product of two distinct and in-a-sense ‘opposed’ principles.

 As the ultimate creative act of having a child comes from the interaction of two persons of the two sexes, so spiritual progression comes from the interaction of ‘opposites’; and what these and other creative situations have in common is that there is a ‘polarity’ (to use Coleridge’s term) in which the two sides are distinguishable but not divisible.

There are many similarities between men and women; but there is also a complementarity of nature which goes beyond the specifics of parturition – the feminine has always been recognised as a ‘centripetal’, gathering, unifying principle; and the masculine as a ‘centrifugal’, exploratory and differentiating principle – both of which are required to make that ‘vortex’ of new life and potential that is a child.

At its very deepest possible level of analysis; life (and love, as its basis) is dynamic, active, creative – and this is because fundamental reality is always a polarity.

(Note: This insight came to me yesterday when reading, and for the first time understanding, the final – and most difficult – chapter of William Arkle’s A Geography of Consciousness, 1974.) 
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Freddy Martini said...

I had a very similar insight yesterday afternoon as I was working on an outline for a book on Energy Storage. For anything to happen - physical power - there must be a polarity of opposites. Energy is useless unless it is respect to a difference that can be exploited for a flow of power. And, it is the same in spirituality. Stress is perhaps the "charging" of the polarity. The relief and the benefit of the stress is the "discharge" of the polarity and using it for spiritual strength. It is almost never linear either; the phenomenon almost always is an avalanche effect after a long build up (or a tipping point).

Bruce Charlton said...

According to Owen Barfield; the idea of polarity as a metaphysical principle goes back to Raymond Lull, Giordano Bruno, and (17th century English 'puritan') Richard Baxter - all of whom were read by ST Coleridge.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JB - That's not what polarity means in this context. I hope to clarify the cncept in a few more posts.

whitestone said...

its all a question of balance and there can be no balance without opposing forces in equilibrium. pluses and minuses in everything. isn't that the basis of homeostasis?

Bruce Charlton said...

@w - Polarity is a way of analysing and explaining reality to other binary systems like Platonic matter and spirit, or Aristotelian form and matter - the difference being that polarity is the basis of an ultimately dynamic and evolving (rather than static, structured) reality.

whitestone said...

This is truely fascinating. am greatly interested in opposing forces working in harmony to create and maintain equilibrium in body mind spirit and the universe in general. Would greatly appreciate hearing more about this concept of 'polarity"

Nicholas Fulford said...

At its very deepest possible level of analysis; life (and love, as its basis) is dynamic, active, creative – and this is because fundamental reality is always a polarity. - Bruce Charlton

Building and falling, tensing and relaxing, inhaling and exhaling, as a string upon which is played a perfect fugue.