The Middle Path

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Thesis                     Synthesis                Antithesis
Birth                           Life                       Death
Being                       Becoming                Nothing
Apollo                     Hermes                   Dionysus
Centripetal               Static                    Centrifugal
Active                     Neutral                   Passive
Positive                  Ambivalent              Negative
Left                           Centre                    Right
Upper                       Middle                   Lower
Manic                      Normal                   Depressive
Excessive                 Balanced                Deficient
Hot                          Warm                      Cold
Acid                        Neutral                    Alkali
Red                           Purple                    Blue
White                         Gray                      Black


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1 + 2 = 3


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[...] every tension of opposites culminates in a release, out of which comes the "third." In the third, the tension is resolved and the lost unity is restored.

It presents itself in a form that is neither a straight “yes” nor a straight “no.”

[C. G. Jung]
'A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity' (CW 11)
and, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (CW 9), par. 285


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A thought is affirmed which on reflection proves itself unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradictory, which propels the affirmation of its negation, the antithesis, which also on reflection proves inadequate, and so is again negated.

In classical logic, this double negation ("A is not non-A") would simply reinstate the original thesis. The synthesis does not do this.

It has "overcome and preserved" (or sublated) the stages of the thesis and antithesis to emerge as a higher rational unity.

[Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze]
Hegel for Beginners


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Since "one" and "two" were considered by ancient mathematical philosophers to be the parents of numbers, then their firstborn, "three," the Greek Triad, is the first and eldest number. 

The birth of the number 3 and triangle enables opposites to balance and transcend to a new wholeness they couldn't achieve by themselves.  

A third leg makes a tripod stable, and a third strand of hair allows a braid to knot as one whole, just as neutral judges balance opposing parties, neutrons balance atoms, and the Supreme Court plays the role of the balancing, transcendent third force between the Executive and Legislative branches. The triangle is the strongest and most stable of shapes and so appears in the constructions of humans and nature.  

Speak aloud the word "three" in English [...] and you'll hear its relation to words like "through" and "threshold" and the prefix trans ("across," "penetrate"). The leap to "three," as its linguistic root tells us, takes us over a threshold and through past polarized limits of the Dyad.

[Michael S. Schneider]
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe, p. 39
and 'Number and Shapes: The Timeless Alphabet of Art and Life'


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Homeostasis is the property of a system in which a variable (for example, the concentration of a substance in solution, or its temperature) is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant.

'Homeostasis'


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Maimonides [taught] that an intelligent person should live a life based on reality, on what is true and false, while the average person who lacks the ability to do so should live according to “necessary truths,” morality.

Maimonides makes it clear in his Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot De’ot 1:4 and 5, that the moral “middle path” is the “necessary truth,” the guidance given to the general public who are not capable of evaluating every occurrence in their lives and making decisions each time how they should act based on reason, on what is true and false.

[He] introduces the concept of the “golden mean” and advises people to live a life in which they behave according to a middle path between two extremes.

For example, people should not be overly stingy nor should they be spendthrifts; they should not laugh excessively nor be sad and dispirited. He calls this derekh hachakhamim, “the path of the wise.”

[On the other hand] the ideal path, the method for the intellectual, is “the virtuous way,” the carefully considered rational behavior beyond the middle path, when reason dictates the need for such behavior.

An individual who is very careful about himself deviates somewhat from the mean to either side, and is called 'virtuous'. For example, the individual who distances himself from pride and turns to the other extreme and becomes very humble – this is the virtuous quality. If he only moves toward the middle and is humble, [whilst this is] not the best behavior, it is still considered wise behavior, [thus the individual] is called 'wise.' 

The virtuous people of old would arrange their behaviors away from the middle path toward the two extremes. There were times when the behavior would veer toward one extreme, while there were times when the behavior would veer toward the other. This is behavior that is beyond the legal requirement. We are required to take the middle paths.

Both the essential truth of morality and the real truth advocate proper conduct. However, the essential truth focuses only on what the average person is capable of doing, morality. The difference between the two can be seen in the example presented by Maimonides in his Hilkhot De’ot.

The average person following morality is advised to follow the middle path for it is easier than having to analyze every situation independently, while intellectuals, who are capable of using reason and considering the “true” results of their behavior, are told to deviate when advisable from the middle path.

[Israel Drazin]
'An Intelligent Person is not Moral' (minor adjustments have been made to the original text)


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Baker Roshi, during a little talk one day, remarked that ordinarily in our culture we have only two ideas: either we express or we repress. Either one represses anger, or one expresses it. For example, it could be said that Richard Strauss is repressing certain negative emotions, whereas punk rock is expressing them.

But expressing is not any more admirable than repressing. The Western man or woman lives in a typical pairing of opposites that destroys the soul. Either we defeat Communism or we are defeated by it. Either a man dominates women or he is dominated by them.

Joseph Campbell describes the two opposites as two horns; and if we get hooked on either, we die.

[Robert Bly]
A Little Book on the Human Shadow, p. 56


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[...] living beauty spreads her golden shimmer only when soaring above a reality full of misery, pain, and squalor [...] all experience goes to show that beauty needs her opposite as a condition of her existence.

"Whenever we turn our gaze in the the ancient world, we find taste and freedom mutually avoiding each other, and Beauty establishing her sway only on the ruins of heroic virtues.

If then we keep solely to what experience has taught us hitherto about the influence of Beauty, we cannot certainly be much encouraged in the development of feelings which are so dangerous to the true culture of mankind; and we should rather dispense with the melting power of Beauty, even at the risk of coarseness and austerity, than see ourselves, for all the advantages of refinement, consigned to her enervating influence."

[...] under no circumstances can the initial value of the higher form of energy be attained by the lower forms as well or be resumed by the superior function: an equilization at some intermediate level must inevitably result. For every individual who identifies with his one differentiated function, this entails a descent to a lower value as compared with the initial value.

This conclusion is unavoidable. All education that aspires to the unity and harmony of man's nature has to reckon with this fact.

[C. G. Jung, also Friedrich Schiller (in quotations)]
Psychological Types, p. 84-6


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Iphigenia sees her role in life as that of “making men mild.” 

She is always encouraging people to calm down and be merciful. She is committed to love, but a love marked not by wild passion, but by understanding, sympathy and a desire for harmony [...]

Goethe's first audiences, brought up on Romanticism, were slow to get the message. Was Goethe turning his back on Romantic love? Where was all the passion? They described the story of Iphigenia as like “watching grey mist.”

Goethe, now in middle-age, was undaunted. He’d had enough of Werther and expressed his own view emphatically – “Romanticism is sickness, Classicism is health.” 

But he encountered an elemental cultural problem: Romanticism feels more exciting. Goethe pinpointed one of the central problems of culture: how to make things that are good for us compete successfully for attention with the thrilling passionate stuff?

 

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Taoists believe that a meaningful life, the optimally meaningful life, is to be found on the border between chaos and order. 

And I would say that your nervous system tells you exactly when you are there and it’s a kind of place and you can tell when you’re there because you’re secure enough to be confident, but not so secure that you’re bored and you’re interested enough to be awake but not so interested that you’re terrified. 

And when you’re in a state like that, you find things interesting and meaningful, time slips by you and you’re no longer self-conscious.

[Jordan Peterson]
'Reality and the Sacred'


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The thing is, when I'm balanced I'm not here, and I don't like not being here. I like to feel myself rubbing against things.


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In the revisional concept of psychoanalysis in his first book, Perls called Friedlaender's polar philosophy "differential thinking" and considered it to be a "mental precision tool", since it can find the point of "predifference", as he also refers to creative indifference, as well as the zero-point, the center from which balancing equilibrium is possible and

"we could find a point from which the observer could gain the most comprehensive and undistorted view [...]

By remaining alert in the centre, we can acquire a creative ability of seeing both sides of an occurence and completing an incomplete half. By avoiding a one-sided outlook we gain a much deeper insight into the structure and function of the organism"

The center is a "magical" word for Friedlaender; likewise, for Perls, "to center one's existence", or centering, is the most basic goal of therapy, because we "acquire a creative ability of seeing both sides of an occurence" [...]

[Ludwig Frambach, quoting Fritz Perls]
Creative License: The Art of Gestalt Therapy, p. 121


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Friedlaender's “creative indifference" [...] became for Fritz Perls the “fertile void” [...] the usual meaning-making process of polar differentiation is set aside in a state of pure being, through a deliberate act of polar indifferentiation. The closer we come to simply being, the more we open a space in which fresh possibilities can arise.

The fertile void or place of creative indifference is the ground. The goal of Gestalt process is to “lead increasingly from the one-sided fixation [on] that which is in the foreground to the ground, from the periphery to the middle and center, by way of integrating rigid dualities into flexible polarities” 

Poles such as rage and gentleness "should not be isolated from each other as mutually exclusive contradictions, but should be experienced as a unit of opposites" [...]

It is possible to achieve this perspective by being "flexibly centered in [one's own] indifferent center." In this way, one can react freely and appropriately, either angrily or with gentleness, to the demands of the situation from a totality of experience.

Friedlaender’s goal, as Perls saw it, was the achievement of this lovely neutrality in which one no longer feels pulled toward one extreme or the other and is no longer the prisoner of one way of seeing the world, which inevitably blinds one to other possibilities.

[Herb Stevenson, quoting Ludwig Frambach]
'Paradox: A Gestalt Theory of Change'


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Self

As an empirical concept, the self designates the whole range of psychic phenomena in man.

Just as conscious as well as unconscious phenomena are to be met with in practice, the self as psychic totality also has a conscious as well as an unconscious aspect.

Empirically, the self appears in dreams, myths, and fairytales in the figure of the "supraordinate personality", such as king, hero, prophet, saviour, etc., or in the form of a totality symbol, such as the circle, square, quadratura circuli, cross, etc.

When it represents a complexio oppositorum, a union of opposites, it can also appear as a united duality, in the form, for instance, of tao as the interplay of yang and yin, or of the hostile brothers, or of the hero and his adversary [...]

Empirically, therefore, the self appears as a play of light and shadow, although conceived as a totality and unity in which the opposites are united. Since such a concept is irrepresentable - tertium non datur - it is transcendental on this account also.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychological Types (CW 6, 1991), p. 460


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Equilibration

This is the force which moves development along. Piaget believed that cognitive development did not progress at a steady rate, but rather in leaps and bounds.

When a child's existing schemas are capable of explaining what it can perceive around it, it is said to be in a state of equilibrium, i.e. a state of cognitive (i.e. mental) balance. 

However, an unpleasant state of disequilibrium occurs when new information cannot be fitted into existing schemas (assimilation).

Equilibration is the force which drives the learning process as we do not like to be frustrated and will seek to restore balance by mastering the new challenge (accommodation). Once the new information is acquired the process of assimilation with the new schema will continue until the next time we need to make an adjustment to it.

[Saul McLeod]
'Jean Piaget'


Assimilate - will fit into existing order - no change - dominate (change other)
Accommodate - will not fit into existing order - change - capitulate (change self)



Popper envisioned science as progressing by the successive rejection of falsified theories, rather than falsified statements. Falsified theories are to be replaced by theories that can account for the phenomena that falsified the prior theory, that is, with greater explanatory power. 

For example, Aristotelian mechanics explained observations of everyday situations, but were falsified by Galileo's experiments, and were replaced by Newtonian mechanics, which accounted for the phenomena noted by Galileo (and others). Newtonian mechanics' reach included the observed motion of the planets and the mechanics of gases. The Youngian wave theory of light (i.e., waves carried by the luminiferous aether) replaced Newton's (and many of the Classical Greeks') particles of light but in turn was falsified by the Michelson-Morley experiment and was superseded by Maxwell's electrodynamics and Einstein's special relativity, which did account for the newly observed phenomena.

At each stage, experimental observation made a theory untenable (i.e., falsified it) and a new theory was found that had greater explanatory power (i.e., could account for the previously unexplained phenomena), and as a result, provided greater opportunity for its own falsification.

'Falsifiability'


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Related posts:-
Lines and Circles
Land and Sea 
Balance
Shades of Gray
In-between
Open Wound
Everything and Nothing 
Searching Without/Searching Within 
Frozen in time 
Forget Your Self

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