Archive for December, 2011

I keep thinking I’m finally about to beat my way out of the 1940’s — and then I realize there are still crucial pieces I need to put in place. For one thing, it doesn’t seem possible to make sense of chaos without taking account of its interactions with the democracy vision.

I’ve emphasized in past entries that each type of vision relies on visions of one of the other types to fill out its picture of existence. Inner experience visions draw upon scientific visions for concrete embodiments of their mystical intimations. Scientific visions depend on social visions to provide a humanly relevant context for their raw facts and theories. Social visions look to inner experience visions to offer a transcendent justification for their allocation of political authority.

These influences tend to be highly abstract and even metaphysical in nature — but there are also simpler countercurrents that flow in the opposite direction. Chaos, for example, provided democracy with a philosophical justification based on the universal capacity for higher knowledge, while in return it acquired an attachment to the ideals of individual freedom and universal rights without which such a democracy cannot function.

This kind of reverse influence occurs primarily during a vision’s earliest phases, when it is mystical and free-floating and has little need of concrete embodiments, political justifications, or proofs of human relevance. In the case of the chaos vision, this means that the crucial engagement with democracy began in the late 18th century and was pretty well complete in the opening decades of the 20th.

The product of that interaction might aptly be called “democratic chaos,” since it is not an integral part of either vision but a synthesis that combines elements of both. That synthesis was well established by 1920 and has changed little since, but it remains a vital force in our culture to the present day.

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