INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
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Alec SchaererAlec A. Schaerer, Basel/Switzerland, is a former architect and town planner, who ran many international projects in these fields. Now he is a philosopher, methodologist, author and researcher. In his former projects he saw the unnecessary contradictions within the usual ways of thinking. This is why he became interested in the systematic-methodological potential for a holistic perception of situation and contexts - in particular for questions between nature, human thinking and economic processes.

Forthcoming in: A.K. Giri (Ed.), Pathways to Creative Research: Towards A Festival of Dialogues.
London / New York : Anthem Press. Reposted with permission of the author.

Creating Dialogical Creativity

Alec Schaerer

Abstract / Introduction

The cost of believing in the illusion of arbitrary control and domination is immense, because it breeds huge amounts of unnecessary conflict.

The current stage of human evolution can be characterized as a widespread seducibility by the illusion that dominance will solve problems – revealing itself as sway on all levels, from choosing systems of thought where one imposes favoured presuppositions (for example axioms or definitions) up to bullying and killing people. These practices seem to offer some success at first, as some intended effects are achievable, but finally they always backfire at the operator. It became normal to 'justify' rash action under the guise of a 'need to decide under conditions of limited information', which occurs also in theory formation. The approaches of today's mainstream, based on primal assumptions, can indeed offer only limited insight and knowledge. Some may wonder why dominative attempts at research are here even being characterized as illusory. They are indeed insofar as imposed basic assumptions inevitably produce unintended consequences that can range – depending on their level – from a limitation of possible insight to aggravations of material conflict, which is precisely the opposite of what was desired.

This essay aims at showing by systematic means that improving insight in research and hence knowledge has better possibilities than to invent ingenious basic assumptions, and that moreover it can embody extensive creativity; at its very best it develops a capacity of profound 'listening' to – and therefore 'dialogue' with – the subject matter. For becoming successful, this endeavour must reach beyond the dubious choice of either postmodernistic vagueness or the mental blinkers of tense formal logics, for instead venturing systematically into the foundation of strictly integral views and procedures.

1 Outlining the problem

Alec Schaerer

In the context of research and knowledge, creativity rarely is a discussed issue. When the term arises at all, it aims at exceptionally elegant basic assumptions, or expresses some hope for innovative results. Often creativity is given a connotation of something a bit frivolous in comparison to the dead serious mindset required for allegedly reliable research and knowledge; at best it is relegated to Art as a jester to society. It occurs therefore only rarely that unflinching seriousness and sensitive creativity are being contemplated as two deeply related aspects of proceeding on the path toward an all-embracing understanding of something. The neglect takes effect at the expense of society, which has to make do with fractional insight.

The notion of creativity was originally reserved for the works of the gods, operating out of universal consciousness – in contrast to the human activity of merely 'making' – and even now that notion is usually associated more with innovative agency than with a quest for adequacy to its context. Yet this adequacy, calling for a relational or even dialogical orientation, determines its functional quality. In research and knowledge creation, due to the predominant (and insofar 'normal') habit of setting out from fundamental assumptions – known as axiom, definition, hypothesis, postulate, premise, etc. – today's normal research (in contrast to creative research) cannot achieve fully the required 'listening' mode. Basic assumptions are acceptable as long as they are clearly provisional (Meinong [1910] remains authoritative) – mere tentative elements at the foundation of the query process for developing the adequacy of a theoretical system. Unfortunately, since research is organized in a peculiar institutionalization (as what Heidegger called 'Betrieb'), fundamental assumptions often are not being examined and tested, but quite firmly being believed. But then they mutate into fundamental assertions – and get in the way of insight, because they are a way of 'talking into' the subject matter before it has had a chance of presenting itself fully to awareness.

The result in the respective theory is a warped account of the phenomena. Of course one still gets 'answers', and often they appeal to buyers by allowing desired applications – think for example of the gadgets that physics allows to manufacture. But there is no warranty that the ideas offer a thorough understanding of the subject matter, in this example of materiality; think for example of the idea in physics that matter consists of little pieces. The quantum approach ended up by showing that this idea must be erroneous, and that reality consists of movement as such – but heuristically speaking, even quantum theory itself still remains within the idea of 'particles', even though later on it had to accept that the 'wave' view is just as justifiable. As a result it still remains in 'either-or' declarations, sometimes even elevating this idea to the status of a law allegedly governing reality. This holds even in cases where the entities are idealized objects – as for example with the Kantian approach of Cuffaro [2010]. Till now no approach to physics has been developed that gets rid on principle of basic entities of some sort or another; even nonlinear dynamics or string theory remain dependent on such elements. In the light of this structure of assumptions, it is no surprise that physics' purely theoretical understanding of materiality as such remains in a peculiar kind of vagueness, oscillating between fuzzinesses, probabilities and paradoxes – making look silly the 'materialistic' stances and assertions of many contemporary celebrities. Precise measurements of details do not make up for general gaps in pure theory. A relatively good potential is in approaches based on relativity theory, when pursued toward pure and uncompromised conceptuality (see for instance Ziegler [1996] or Gschwind [2004]). Here we consider physics, which has held a generally paradigmatic role for a long time in spite of reducing its phenomena to mechanics, until biology took the lead, albeit still in a mechanicist and insofar physicalist vein, still far from the Aristotelian objective of a physics allowing complete autonomy of the entity and encompassing in one homogenous approach as much the inert as the living beings.

The cost of believing in the illusion of arbitrary control and domination – from exploiting the mind in conceptually self-induced feedback loops, up to exploiting physical bodies by means of mechanical coercion – is immense, because it breeds huge amounts of unnecessary conflict. Carrying this cost will finally give birth to a new impulse to the evolution of mankind because disturbing other beings is – existentially speaking – a constitutional principle. On the other hand this primacy is precisely the reason why the content to be learned is banished in many cultural contexts – especially in the coercive ones – to remote parts of the 'unconscious' (the realm of repressed ideas). This fact in turn pressures the life process into forms and loops that require more physical deaths and new births, more new incarnations than a straightforward approach would require. The idea of control and domination is adequate for directing the mind in seeking transparency, but it wreaks havoc when the mental activity is not orientated in a globally adequate direction, i.e. one that does not coerce other beings. Intelligent beings have the choice of either dying away mentally from illusion and error by uncompromised method, or dying away physically by dint of effects of what was neglected. Either way we all certainly die – but the two procedures of dying are quite different.

2 Outlining the path toward a solution

Some may wonder why here the facts are put so harshly, talking right away about life and death. The point is that truly uncompromised thinking cannot afford conceptual penumbra, it must address totality and it must do this clearly. The fact that normal research cannot achieve this, because it sets out on less selective distinctions, reveals no law of nature, but a weakness of the undesirable sort. Too many individual and social reactions stem deeply but simply from a fear of loss, of death. Ultimately life is fully understandable only on the background of death. Interestingly enough, no being fears the principle of death that is indeed woven into all cycles of arising and vanishing; what it does fear is the pain in processes of dying that are determined by inadequate handling – be it by its own agency on its own body, or by the influence of other beings. In fact, dying out of complete self-fulfilment is of utmost beauty, it is sheer bliss and known in all spiritual traditions – in contrast to dying by external influence. In cell biology this fundamental opposition is known as apoptosis vs. necrosis, but today's theory of biology can not explain why these strictly polar concepts of death are necessary for making understandable the ways of dying that arise in alive beings (Schaerer [2002] offers an account). Mental death as a result of authentic interest, dedication and devotedness to a subject matter, arises in intense impulses (when addressing totality: as samadhi, satori, epiphany, etc.) only when the forces of the psyche seeking their free flow (in tantra: kundalini) must override a barrier of prejudicial deposits (fundamentally believed suppositions), which can be of sympathetic or of antipathetic character (desire or fear). This is why many spiritual traditions, in addressing totality, advocate techniques for 'purifying the mind' – often forgetting that the presupposition whereby just this is required, and the actual efforts, produce precisely such deposits; the mind then enacts a self-fulfilling prophecy. No wonder it then feels like being God, experientially getting a glimpse of the totality of its own acts. Since humans are structured in a self-referential way – just like the universe at large (remember 'actio = reactio', or quantum nonlocality) – the insights into reality can be considerable. Nevertheless they still need to be reappraised by systematic logical and empirical working through. Even after the wildest psychic breakthrough, everyday life always has its comeback and needs to be mastered. Contemplating life through the immediacy of death can indeed be helpful for getting at the essentials. It can strengthen the overview and thereby the basis for creativity (see e.g. http://www.mycoted.com/Category:Creativity_Techniques).

Some might wonder whether fundamental creativity in research can be developed without massive threshold manifestations. The answer is so simple and so intimately close to us that it escapes habitual everyday awareness: instead of 'talking' into the issue at stake, we can open ourselves up to it as completely as we can, using our mental strength for becoming 'weak' in favour of the subject matter, thereby allowing its nature to permeate us. Many have pointed out the fruitfulness of this move, especially in the phenomenological-hermeneutical line of thought and research. Yet this line remained essentially in a mode of description of objects, proceeding by ever more intimate and detailed observation – usually not noticing the 'blind spot' that is inevitably engendered by this type of procedure. Whether the seemingly objective gesture is one of analyzing, describing, distinguishing, measuring, observing, predicating, influencing, or intervening, is irrelevant, since invariably it is one of splitting up the subject matter according to content introduced by comparing reality with something alien to it. Any separative gesture produces a blind spot that embodies the 'inverse' of the implied content vector. As examples, observation can observe everything except its act of observing, and measuring can never be measured, if only because any type of measuring requires an element or act of comparison, as nature offers no strictly immutable basic elements or constants. Even Planck's action quantum, or the 'velocity of light', are no strict absolutes, but the result of measuring as a type of access to reality as a whole that inevitably induces paradoxes. Especially logicians such as Francisco Varela, Gotthard Guenther or Heinz von Foerster discovered that the blind spot cannot be discovered within a conceptual system that installs a separative gesture: through the system one cannot 'see' what it cannot make distinguishable. One is unable to discern that it cannot make distinguishable what it cannot make distinguishable, namely the paradoxical pattern that the conceptual system, by explicitly splitting up the universe between itself and everything else, must on the one hand be distinct from this distinction, while on the other hand it must exist implicitly within the distinction as part of totality and hence as an object of investigation. In this paradoxical situation, observing other observers in their activity of observing can look like a helpful move, but the blind spot can on principle never be overcome, it can only be shifted around into ever new aspects. Luhmann addresses it eloquently in his version of systems theory (e.g. in Luhmann [1984], [1997]). But by axiomatically postulating something signified that is preconstituted (namely the structure of being a system) while promoting the blind spot as just the type of form that allows differences and causalities to be formulated, he justifies the primal tangle, establishes a self-constraint, and can therefore develop no solution on principle.

Of course the world can be depicted in an endless way on the path of description. But this does not at all warrant completeness of grasp, while the dangers of believing that it can offer totality should not be underestimated – see for example the interesting investigation by Erroll Morris in The New York Times of June 20, 2010 “The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wrong but You'll Never Know What It Is”. The finally relevant question is what one really wants: sophisticated management techniques up to arbitrary domination and control (including of one's own mind), or rather a systematically consistent theory. Primal distinctions beyond the usual ones are decisive. As an example, whether one considers material or mental elements is irrelevant because both are appearances (in the physical and mental realm) governed by their overall order, not this order as such. Understanding 'things' in terms of 'things' – as attempted in today's mainstream – is inevitably limited, since nothing in the realm of representables can offer the required strict generality. Even when addressing 'being as such', like Heidegger, and bordering mystical unity, as in his later works, complete clarity is not automatically warranted. Heidegger, presupposing that reality 'hides' its essential traits, seeks truth through the activity of unveiling (aletheia) – not noticing that his basic assumption makes him describe endlessly ever more details, driven by his blindness for the effects of positing hiddenness. Heidegger has a point insofar as the structure (or intrinsic law) of reality as a whole can indeed not show itself palpably, because appearances follow their structure. Traditional approaches, oriented towards 'things' in the hope of being able to formulate true predicates, cannot be helpful for addressing something as intrinsic as the pure order of something. They inevitably lead to problems such as Kant's with his 'thing-in-itself', or those of essentialism when wanting to reach the essence of things by means of predication. Any object-oriented approach must fail because the chosen perspective overrules the subject matter as such. It is helpful to notice that those concepts that allow complete intelligibility – in a process perspective: laws and forces – are not observable, but accessible only in pure thought. Unfortunately, Heidegger does not study generally the nature of intrinsic laws and how appearances are structured in terms that are ultimately relevant to intelligibility. As a result he is compelled to report descriptively further and further – like practically all adepts of phenomenology and hermeneutics – in ever more detailed narration, endlessly, while the immanent means even of transcendental phenomenology do not allow a full clarification of the categoriality required for solving the crux on principle. There is another prominent stream of object-oriented thought, analytic philosophy, whose ultimate objects are mental and that also operates in a blind spot, in it's case by pandering to naturalism – unaware of the blind spot in that line of thought; for this reason it can unfortunately not even contribute to a strictly integral approach to what naturalism aims at, namely understanding nature in it's complete sense.

3 Outlining the basis for a solution

For determining types of knowledge that allow a fully secure overview, ideas for 'logical', 'metaphysical', and 'moral' certainty were proposed, or 'explicit' versus 'tacit' knowledge, but there is little consensus on the whole. Mittelstrass [1982] distinguishes 'knowledge for the sake of orientation' versus 'knowledge for the sake of action' ('Orientierungswissen' / 'Verfügungswissen'). But he too does not base the more complete type of knowledge (seeking / offering orientation) systematically in a universal way; in spite of his holistic intention he remains in the predicative line of the linguistic turn and its intrinsic self-limitation.

cooperative kids

For closing the gap, a totally uncompromised distinction is useful, namely between the language of intelligibility and the language of manipulability. The first consists of laws (forms of order, pure structure), which we grasp by means of concepts, ideas, or representations that can be communicated by using names and predicates; all forms of understanding are ways of grasping the ultimately relevant order. The language of manipulability consists of names and predicates ('handles' for catching 'things' in representations); the majority of philosophical and scientific interaction occurs in this language. At first glance it seems to allow complete intelligibility; only upon thinking through the network of all names and predicates, one can notice that it cannot cover strictly the whole, that something is missing somehow, can not fully be understood, or produces surprises. Remaining in the language of manipulability impedes knowing just what is going wrong. An example is causation – think e.g. of the 'covering-law' type of explanation (Hempel-Oppenheim) that uses this type of language and cannot allow to know on its own whether the explanandum is causally effective, or a necessary condition, or an inevitable concomitant element. This distinction of two 'languages of thinking' is similar to Mittelstrass' of two types of knowledge, but more promising, since he offers no proposal for overcoming the language of manipulability. Remaining within it while believing it can serve as language of intelligibility logically must lead to believing the encountered limit is absolute – while only the belief in the language of manipulability is absolute. Such knots are unnecessary. The failures they produce often are noticeable only much later. For wanting to learn, many first need to experience failure, but it is more efficient to think clearly beforehand, addressing the fundamental issues.

A sound systematic basis can be found by following closely the process of querying. Any approach can operate only through a perspective, out of a specific interest. On the other hand, actively sustaining a query content for its own sake, until achieving its general conceptual fulfilment – without wanting to apply immediately the discovered research pattern to a specific process – has a purifying effect. We might think for instance of Aristotle, thoroughly interested in change, processuality, movement (kínesis, metabolé). The constancy in pursuit – which can easily take decades of research – is fruitful because it gradually allows inappropriate sidelines to die away in the unflinching dialog with the subject matter.

The deeper one reaches, the better one can grasp the complementing polar 'background' of what one had conceived at first. Studying the genesis and use of concepts shows that any conceptual aspect A can in the very end be thought only on the 'mental background' of non-A, the content that is strictly polar to A. This fact gave rise to many streams of thought under the heading of dialectics, because increasingly knowing A leads to an awareness of its intrinsic conceptual dependency on non-A; hence becoming aware of non-A leads to realizing what A really implies. Hegel draws unceasingly from this well, and any logic is based on negation. Our point is that A and non-A together cover totally the universe, under one aspect: the queried one (in this example: A). Knowing this allows an essential conclusion: upon completely exhausting a query perspective conceptually, its perspectivity and universality become fully compatible.

The other side of this coin is that any query ultimately leads to a polarized conceptual space, as required for fully understanding the query's content. This is the law of content logic imposed by nature that regulates ultimately all mental processes. A difficulty is that everyday life usually prevents us from considering the ultimate consequences of primal assumptions and queries. It continuously pushes us into mixing up query vectors and therefore perspectives. Today's 'normality' encourages evasion, changing the subject, limited views and responsibility – not cathartic engagement in experiencing one's own mental activity and responsibility. This condition made broadly respectable such problematic strategies as Tarski's approach to the concept of truth, seeking to avoid formal paradox by introducing meta-language as a regulator of the respective object language – while in a new perspective the meta-language is again an object language, and the meta-language of all meta-languages is everyday language. As any avoidance-based approach, also Tarski's proposal cannot offer the strict generality hoped for. In any case, the (often neglected) activity of querying determines the outcomes by necessarily splitting up the totality of interconnections – in Hegel's words a “circle of circles” [1830 / 1989: §15] or “diamantine net” [1830 / 1989: §246 addition]) –, compelling it to appear under the conceptual conditions imposed by the query. The (intensely debated) activity of judging is by far not as relevant, because it depends contingently on the implied structure of beliefs and is invariably limited by them, while judgment on an opaque foundation cannot clarify directly the necessary conditions for the activity of querying in an objectively systematic way.

The more intellectual efforts are examined, the more examples of the said law of nature abound, showing why sustained attentiveness to the subject matter is crucial. When fathomed uncompromisingly, the query content itself leads to the definition of the conceptually polarized concepts. For instance Aristotle querying the nature of change finally found 'form' vs. 'matter'; Kant querying the necessary condition for cognizing eventually discovered 'perception' vs. 'thinking' as essential concepts; or Saussure, scrutinizing the nature of the sign, ultimately reached 'the signifying' vs. 'the signified' as the relevant basis – etc.

projective geometry

The best example is a branch of mathematics called 'synthetic projective geometry', which represents the 'mother' of all geometries, including the now famous non-Euclidian ones. In this geometry all structures and mental activities arise in a dual way – for instance triangularity can be thought of as three joined points, defining three lines, or as three intersecting lines, defining three points, while joining and intersecting also constitute a duality. The key point in this geometry is that it always contains totality, i.e. infinity is never allowed to become a special case – as in Euclidian geometry, which then has its problem of parallels. The principle of polarity appears also in the foundation of logic as negation, an absolute opposite in terms of meaning. For becoming operative as an actual logic, negation needs a combinatorial element. It is no coincidence that those logical connectives that allow all other logical connectives to be formulated, namely logical NAND ('not and') and logical NOR ('not or'), display in themselves the said structure and together constitute a duality. There is an arbitrary choice as to which path is to be followed. It is thus no accident that in George Spencer-Brown's [1971] primary algebra the unmarked state can be read as 'True' or as 'False', calling for an arbitrary choice, and that the two resulting structures are dual. Similarly, the dual structure of defining is 'expressing the negation of a chosen content, while the consequences must be contained within the totality of interrelations'. The traditionally distinct – and conceptually polar – mathematical concepts of 'operator' and 'operand' are the two sides of the same coin, namely of the single fundamental action of positing a distinction. But the implied abeyance shows that reality per se imposes no decision; the thinking mind – when wanting to operate by formal means in a systematic setup – must posit this decision, which is then categorially relevant. The act is obviously not absolute as an act; only the law is absolute whereby thinking must posit its own foundation. So the activity of thinking is itself not compelled to be formal, it need not posit first of all a decision for constituting a structure whose characteristics will limit all subsequent views – while for instance the decision to view logic only in formal terms inevitably leads to the impression that there must be a fundamental undecidability. It is useful to think of Kurt Gödel, whose theorems [1931] and their sequels agitate the scientific community to this day.

In spite of a universal applicability within their query perspective, polar concepts resulting from fulfilling a query content still cannot offer complete insight into all relevant facts, as they necessarily leave something open: while 'A' formally defines 'non-A', strictly covering totality, completely knowing the content of A and non-A requires some additional investigation. For example in the Aristotelian case, querying the nature of processuality, one still does not know how the change is actually achieved in the 'form' aspect of a thing in process, or what the concrete qualities are of its 'matter' aspect that allow changes. In the approach proposed here, this implicit remainder is approached systematically. This is why we call this new approach systematic attentiveness.

A brief comment as to terminology: it is useful not to confuse the meanings of polarity, duality, and complementarity. By polarity we mean a semantically absolute opposite that can be achieved only purely conceptually (not just a semantic opposition such as 'full vs. empty'); in contrast, duality here is a materialized opposite (for example enantiomers in chemistry, or converse mental representations such as 'on' vs. 'off', or 'join points' vs. 'intersect lines'); and complementarity is a result of applying foundational ideas (for instance measurement) that entail the impossibility of an aspect arising in a medium, while its complement does arise (for example in the quantum approach: position vs. momentum, rest mass vs. impulse, etc.).

4 Developing an integral solution on the exposed foundation

Intelligibility requires knowing how to use concepts and systems of concepts. Since Freud some believe we are all subject to 'the unconscious'. But all woes are fathomable under the appropriate conditions; only pathological cases move without knowing why. A systematization denotes logically connecting chosen concepts with all other concepts of reality. The borderline between naive ideas and theory is not fixed, because in theorizing too the point is with how little completeness one contents oneself. As even some prominent examples show, possessing a theory does not warrant per se a grasp of the relevant totality. One of the reasons is that not all theories serve the same purpose – for instance, desiring manipulative control in a given realm, and wanting to understand for the sake of the subject matter itself, leads to different theories on the same subject matter. Habitual criteria for judging theories cannot be absolute. Many believe for instance that testability is a requirement of a scientific theory. But it arises only when there is no fundamental conceptual certainty; then empirical tests become a necessity for judging a theory. The problem is that the overall order then must remain unclear, since no empirical test can cover totality. Where scientific thinking has finally nothing but beliefs at its basis, its use of theories can only have the function of making interrelations between appearances credible, as Goethe famously observed [1833 / 1976]. Others believe, when they possess a theory that models a subject matter, that they know the subject matter sufficiently (a point that for instance those economists forget who colonize other fields, contributing to 'economic imperialism').

On the other hand, highly intuitive approaches in an integral aim can benefit from a sound systematic basis, especially when the scientific community remains in doubt about their degree of validity. As an example we might consider the works of Otto Scharmer, consolidated in his “Theory U” (Scharmer [2007]). The example is interesting insofar as he is one of those few researchers who actually and concretely embody some of the creativity aimed at in “Pathways of Creative Research”. He spells out a social grammar of creative constructive change that is intuitively very appealing and has many followers, but especially representatives of 'hard' science miss the secure conceptual foundation. Above we have shown how very close scrutiny reveals that even today's 'hard' sciences cannot offer their own secure conceptual foundation and hence end up in paradoxical statements about total reality – but that is another story.

All systematic considerations occur by means of concepts; the point is in recognizing that action in the conceptual realm is of the same type as action in the gross material realm: what varies is merely the instrumental material (concepts versus physical matter). Concepts are the only 'things' to have the fascinating feature of being simultaneously the result of mental action – being formed through experience – and the means for steering mental action and choosing new experiences – any intention is guided by content and hence something (at least potentially) conceptual. There is a self-referential dynamism in the mental setup that most methods and ways of theorizing do not address adequately. Hegel opened a door, had his difficulties, and was often misunderstood. The key to overcoming the habitual limits is first in allowing one's mental activity to become something one experiences by becoming aware of the ideas to which one lends one's will in thinking, and later in allowing the principle of non-limit to become the lodestar towards totality. For example, in the eco-social process, even the simplest exchange of goods requires implicitly the basic ideas that are relevant to economics.

The strictly polar concepts championed in systematic attentiveness are transcendental (i.e. they constitute conditions of intelligibility, which empirical data never do) and metaphysical (operating in the non-empirical language of intelligibility, and constituting a sound categorial basis on which to proceed). They do not offer object predicates (such as 'the object is red') but are of securely heuristic character (i.e. useful for knowing what to look out for – in the given example, in a phenomenological approach: 'watch out for the colour'). Being developed out of one query content, they concern precisely this perspective and should be used conjointly and within it, because otherwise the results are not fully adequate to the subject matter.

When derived stringently from the content of one query perspective, such polar concepts are strictly universally applicable within their query perspective. Therefore, speaking in terms of pure content logic, within their framework they are also applicable to themselves. This step towards a fulfilment of the pursuit constitutes the dynamising act that overcomes the static situation of strict polarity ('A' vs. 'non-A') of being only halfway through the query, having the names but not yet all the meaning. Note that – in contrast – no predicative approach to external objects can ever allow full self-reference. For understanding why this limit is not relevant in purely conceptual thinking, it is helpful to consider that clear thoughts – in contrast to empirical views of mundane objects – contain no backside, they are not subject to any perspective other than the primal assumptions implicit in the consideration; for the rest their content reveals all of themselves. Exercising the 'inner' empiricism ultimately means considering content for its own sake – as in pure mathematics. In philosophy this procedure is known as the 'speculative method' and was employed particularly in German Idealism.

Wishing to clarify the meaning of 'A and non-A' – in the Aristotelian example: the 'form' and 'matter' aspects, as general concepts – is the same type of query as seeking the intrinsic order ('meaning') of processuality itself; the point is to unfold the conceptual space out of the content of the query. The topic still is processuality, and at first we are interested primarily in its causal side ('form' aspect); this is why we apply the conceptual poles ('form' / 'matter') to the 'form' aspect ('self-reference'). This step must clarify the actual qualities of agency versus the actual qualities of what allows it. Expressed as a question: What is the 'form' aspect of the 'form' aspect, and what is the 'matter' aspect of the 'form' aspect? The next step then is to ask what is the 'form' aspect of the 'matter' aspect, and what is the 'matter' aspect of the 'matter' aspect? Accounts to varying degrees of detail can be found in Schaerer [2001], [2002], [2003], [2004], [2006], [2008], [2009]. Here are the results for the processual query, in a nutshell: the 'form of form' is the intrinsic law of the respective process (the structure of it unravelling just as it does); the 'form of matter' is the force (in the mind: will) producing the change; the 'form of matter' is the disequilibriability of the respective force structure (the way in which it can be disturbed, up to being killed); and the 'matter of matter' is the fundamental equilibrium that characterizes the material medium allowing all force structures to be set up at all, according to their intrinsic law.

Such fully self-referential moves thwart any formal logical system – but here we proceed in content logic, which is the basis that determines also the laws of formal logic. Therefore this path does not face the limit of assumption-based systems, since the query content is unravelled completely according to its own nature, in pure thought. The chosen topic is taken as it is, applying no arbitrary distinction, not even allegedly fundamental ones such as 'subjectivity vs. objectivity', 'descriptive vs. normative view' ('fact vs. value'), 'theoretical vs. practical reason', 'epistemic vs. ontic view', etc. What we are then doing is to mirror content for its own sake – like in pure mathematics. The resulting categorial structure is on the level of the arché (Greek: 'origins') with their 'double face': for instance in the processual perspective (where complete intelligibility requires laws and forces as terms), an epistemic query, investigating appearances as dynamic 'entities' (at the physical or the mental level), eventually discloses the respective structure of law-plus-force (ratio cognoscendi), while an ontic query, analyzing the structural interrelations between concepts, in this case thinking in terms of law-plus-force, finally leads to the respective existential complex, namely to the structure of the world (ratio essendi). In the result, conceptual coherence and differentiation can be equilibrated in a precise way. This is a systematic condition for methods and theories to be adequate to the wholeness of wholes.

5 Fostering integral creativity by means of the exposed approach

The traditional procedure is to focus on predicating features of objects and later becoming aware of the activity of predicating, collecting predicated features of the world and calling the collection 'knowledge'. Beyond that – or rather: for constituting the origin of a fruitful process towards what knowledge ultimately aspires to – we can be aware of our activity of collecting predicates and then become aware of the nature and effect of the attitudes 'behind' our activity, which guide our activity in ways we did not realize before. The point is that these attitudes set up part of the operative order and are thus laws co-regulating the process. For becoming aware of the essentials, an overview is required; only then the procedure can be a truly creative one by being fully in charge of it. Normal research focuses on the object and then develops the type of approach in a more or less subjective and hence contingent way. The lack of objectivity limits the quality of its creativity (for instance Mayorek [2002] offers a detailed account of this lack). In contrast, in systematic attentiveness we focus first of all on the operative and conceptual means through which we approach anything. Thereby we combine the aspect of corpuscular wholeness (being ourselves open in a unified way) with the aspect of relational content (the chosen basic query content defines the required conceptual conditions). Cultivating our own integrity induces more intimacy with the object or rather the subject matter than a dominating attitude can afford. As a tendency, instead of succumbing for instance to a dependency on cellular phones and aeroplanes, one will seek to develop oneself more towards telepathy and astral travel – just to give a few examples. In systematic attentiveness the dialogical quality can on principle be secured at the outset, in a way that is completely adequate to the object. This approach does not foster quick predication, but an awareness of the conceptual needs imposed by approaching the facts out of a particular interest, a specific query perspective. The approach remains in a heuristic mode, merely – but very securely! – indicating appropriate observational dimensions. As a consequence, the struggle between – in the jargon of quantum physics – an 'either-or' in the vein of 'particle' vs. 'wave' aspects does nor need to arise, and no 'blind spot' is being generated, since there is no subjective primal perspective; instead, we pursue objective considerations concerning the general relation between a query content and ensuing conceptual necessity. When we allow ourselves to be rooted meditatively in the overall interconnections we can be aware of the fact that any gesture – doubt, query, outcry, aggression, etc. – elicits organically the corresponding response out of the overall interconnections. There is no chasm between logical connectivity and material cohesion (Schaerer [2002]: section 4.3).

As mentioned in the preceding section, we can do without allegedly basic distinctions such as 'subject vs. object', 'fact vs. value' or 'epistemic vs. ontic view' that split up the features of the subject matter according to criteria alien to it. We do therefore not advocate dissociations such as theoretical versus practical philosophy, or epistemology versus ontology, or descriptive versus normative modes of thinking, or empirical versus rational theories, or science versus humanities – in which the dependency of the one side on the other side is too often forgotten. Instead we propose a methodology and activity in which theory and practice can constitute a dynamic unity, the ontological view has a sound epistemological basis and the epistemology is ontologically relevant, the values that situate the facts are transparent and the effects of values can openly be considered, the empirical activity has a rational basis and the rationality has no empirical gaps, while the proposed form of science is humanly integral and does therefore not become destructive while its humanity is adequate for a complete natural science – etc.. The concretely practiced mental activity can operate in a meditative mood, in universally adequate categories, without finally being compelled to fuzzinesses, probabilities, undecidabilities and paradoxes that must seem inevitable to minds remaining in 'postmodern' beliefs as a result of not having overcome the descriptive mode.

For keeping everything together, the point is to distinguish adequately the conceptual facts in terms of what is fundamentally required for intelligibility. Then one is not compelled to an inadequate fragmentation of the subject matter. For getting the point one can think for example of the physicist who does not distinguish conceptually the alive from the inert and is therefore compelled – by his ideationally real, but conceptually unclear choices – to deploy experimental setups that separate the alive from the inert, in arrays that either kill the object or allow only mechanistic features of it to be recognizable; such a physicist cannot even realize that he is moving around in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Due to its intrinsic completeness on principle, systematic attentiveness is suitable for all scientific disciplines, from physics and chemistry to biology all the way to anthropology, social science, and even theology. It has no problem with the self-referentiality that inheres as much the nature of materiality as the mental structure and process, as required for understanding the extreme existential feature of complete self-referentiality. Systematic attentiveness unifies for instance subjectivity and objectivity, but in a more complete way than other approaches aiming at this bridging act – as for instance is often being claimed in analytic philosophy or in systems theory – because systematic attentiveness liberates from onesidednesses and anthropocentric biases by allowing a thorough grasp of the ultimate principles for intelligibility – for example in a process view: 'law', 'force', 'disequiliability', 'basic equilibrium' – that remain unclear in traditional approaches due to their inherent and nevertheless usually unnoticed self-limitations.

The generality of the produced conceptual instrumentation is the reason why systematic attentiveness offers – besides an improved dialog with the specific subject matter – also a potential for easier and more encompassing inter- and trans-disciplinary comprehension. As outlined very briefly, it is simultaneously an epistemology (of integral character), an ontology (of movement per se), a theory (explaining the relation between mental gestures and resulting conceptual structures), a practice (of integral understanding), etc.. Once the shared general query content has been chosen (for example the Aristotelian line of thought: change, process), the strictly universal applicability of the respective conceptual tetrad makes any given field and discipline accessible to any other by means of the same categorical framework. As the history of philosophy shows, some conceptual polarities have already been developed and can readily be used, while on principle it would be possible to choose a new query content and distill the corresponding polar concepts out of it, but such an operation might well require a few decades of careful work. Yet the existing polarities cover a lot of fields already. Their availability opens up a very relaxed space of communication and agreement, and thereby of creative interaction – as much with the subject matter as with other investigators and involved institutions. After all, the general tenet of systematic attentiveness – proposing first to let go of all beliefs, for instead 'listening' to the subject matter instead of prematurely 'talking into' it – can be understood, enacted and shared by any civilized person in any given culture. It embodies a philosophy of participation and of fulfilment. In this way, systematic attentiveness could be an invisible but very effective ambassador for creating dialogical creativity.

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