Lesson 71- The Hegelian Dialectic And Models
I am not yet through with the Hegelian Dialectic because there are so many ways of viewing and applying it. It may represent one of the basic Natural Laws of the Universe and, if this is so, then it reflects the mental processes of God. Or to be more specific, it represents the mental processes of Gods Wisdom, who, to a Christian is Jesus Christ, the Logos or Logic of God. Therefore I am going to speak about some of the many things for which his dialectic is a model.
First, the Hegelian Dialectic, like all dialectical processes, describes a dynamic interaction between two things that produce a third. In other words, it is a model for a Trinitarian relationship in which the third product proceeds or flows from the interaction of the other two. In the Nicene Creed it says and we believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Thus, to a mind trained in Christian theology, the dialectic should raise a flag of recognition.
Second, the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for rational thought. As I pointed out in previous programs, the basic difference between human beings and animals according to the ancient and Christian philosophers is that animals have arational, non-reflective minds and we have rational, reflective ones. Thus, the mammalian brain in animals has two lobes, just like ours, but they are duplicates. What is contained in one lobe is exactly identical to what is in the other. Thus, there is no dynamic interaction between them that leads to a combined idea. In Hegelian terms, their brain, like asexual reproduction, is Thesis to Thesis and it can result only in Thesis. This being true, we can conclude that their brain is non-progressive and that they survive by repeating the same instinctual patterns over-and-over again. Because of this, we could further conclude that they were made to exist rather than develop and that their lives could be symbolized by a repeating circle.
Human beings, on the other hand, have rational, reflective minds in which the intuitive, non-verbal, artistic, right lobe and the logical, verbal, scientific left lobe interact in a dynamic way to produce a combined idea which proceeds from both of their points-of-view. In Hegelian terms, our brain, like sexual reproduction in which the Female interacts with the Male to produce the child, is a Thesis to an Antithesis that results in a Synthesis. This being true, we can conclude that our brains are progressive and that we survive by creating new patterns resulting from rational reflection. Thus, we were made to develop and our lives are best symbolized by a developing line that is constantly extending itself.
In the circle and the line, we are looking at the symbols for two types of eternity. The circle represents the eternal is because it is complete, while the line represents the eternal becoming because it is always extending itself. The only Being who can legitimately be referred to as the eternal is is God Himself because only He is totally complete and without change. Therefore, when Moses is confronted by God in the form of a burning bush, he asks God His name and God replies, I Am who Am. In other words, I am existence itself, I am the eternal present in which there is no past or future, because I am holy. Put a W in front of HOLY and we see that it means that He is the only one who is whole and complete. Everything else, in terms of its life, is incomplete and therefore lacks wholiness. God, because He is life Itself, is the fullest expression of life and we, lacking wholiness are constantly in pursuit of the fullness of life or God. Thus, we are the finite beings who, having left the past, and looking forward to the future, are locked in space and time. God, on the other hand, is the Infinite that, having no past or future, is outside of space and time. This raises the question, If the finite is pursuing the Infinite, when will it catch It? The answer is Never!
Thus, where an Infinite Being, who is God, is the only legitimate circle in the universe, finite beings are destined to be eternal lines always in pursuit of that which is always one-step beyond their grasps. Animals because they lack a linear left lobe, are locked in a non-progressive existential mode and therefore are denied any chance of experiencing the fullness of life. Human beings, having a linear left lobe, are free to pursue a path to the fullness of life if they are willing to accept the challenge of the struggle of dialectical growth. Human beings who choose a circular existence instead of linear growth have chosen to give up the quest for the fullness of life and therefore are destined to live in a circular hell of their own making.
All circles, except for the eternal circle who is God, are forms of hell because they have accepted a finite condition for an infinite goal and thus their hearts will never draw any closer to the object for which their hearts were made. Thus, this suggests that salvation is more about attitude rather than an accomplished fact.
The finite is constantly being saved from a lesser form or life to a fuller form of life through its dialectical pursuit of the Infinite. St. Augustine was right, Our hearts were made for Thee Oh God- who is the fullness of life- and will not rest until they rest in Thee. And, if my analysis is correct, we were not made for rest but for pursuit and, as the Bible says, we will run and never grow weary because we will be energized by our love for an Infinite God. Our attitude must be those of little children who, knowing that they are incomplete, are always seeking growth and development.
Third, to the extent that the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for rational thought, it is also a model for a Trinitarian God. Since, modern brain research has revealed that our right and left lobe represent different personalities, looking at reality from two different points of view, the mystery of there being more than one person in a single being is no longer a mystery. And the fact that there is a third lobe, the frontal lobe, from which all judgment comes, suggests that we also contain a third person which flows from and is a combination of the other two. Thus, it appears that rational beings, by definition, are Trinitarian in nature. Therefore, it follows if God is a Super-rational Being then He, like all rational beings who are made in His image and likeness, is also Trinitarian in nature. Like us, He must possess an intuitive, subjective, creative, nonverbal right lobe that is an artistic genius who is concerned with beauty and form. This lobe would be the Creator of the universe who sees it holistically in His mind in its completed state and it would be the First Person of the Blessed Trinity whom we call the Father. Also, like us, a super-rational God must possess a left lobe that is logical, objective, technological, and verbal that is a brilliant craftsman who is concerned with structure and function. This lobe would be the Logos or Logic of God who objectifies the plan of the Creator by bringing the vision into existence through a logical step-by-step process. This is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity whom St. John refers to as the Word or Logos that was used by the Creator to build the universe, and whom we call the Son. Finally, this super-rational being must possess a Creative Energy or Spirit who results or flows from the love and affirmation that takes place when the total agreement between the Creator and His Craftsman overflows into an explosion of enthusiastic energy necessary to carry the Plan out. This is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity whom we refer to as the Holy Spirit. In Hegelian terms, the Father is the Thesis or foundational principle. The Son is the Antithesis or the progressive logical reflective agent that interacts with the Thesis. And the Holy Spirit is the Synthesis that flows from the interaction of the other two.
It should not surprise us that a Trinitarian God might pattern His creation on His own nature. Thus our universe is full of dialectical relationships in which two things interact to create a third. For example, the hydrogren atom, the first and most basic atom in the universe, unites a large proton with a positive charge with a small electron with a negative charge to create the first form of stabilized energy upon which all other structures are built. The female ovum with a positive charge interacts with the male sperm with a negative charge to produce a child. The right lobe interacts with the left lobe to present a plan for action to the frontal lobe. Nature itself is based on competition that is just another form of a dialectical relationship in which two agents interact to produce a singular result. And Hegel, based on his dialectic, proclaimed that Truth itself was a union of opposites. Finally, Buckminster Fuller, a modern genius, hypothesized that when the internal structure of the atom was finally discovered that it would be based on a triangle that, according to Fuller, had to be the basic form of the universe because it was the only structure that had internal integrity. In other words, it was the only structure that was able to support itself because it was, like Hegels truth, a union of opposites. Because of this, structures built with triangles get stronger and need less support as they grow larger while those built on rectangles and squares become weaker and need more support.
For example, before Fullers discovery, sport stadiums couldnt have roofs because all roofs were designed as being flat. In order to support this type of roof, support pillars would have had to be built in the playing field. However, Fuller solved this problem by his invention of the geodesic dome that is composed of interconnected triangle that does not need pillars to support it. In fact, as these domes grow larger the less internal support they need. Thus if you wanted to build something as large as the universe, the triangle is the form that you would use.
Therefore, we might conclude that a dialectical God with a dialectical mind created a dialectical universe based on a dialectical form using a dialectical process that is moving towards the fullness of life.
However, there is one major difference between our Trinitarian Nature and Gods. We are moving from Darkness to Light and thus there is a conflictual relationship between the Thesis and the Antithesis because one is in disagreement with the other. However, if we follow the Hegelian Dialectic to its final conclusion, which is Ultimate Truth or God, the conflictual nature disappears because the last Antithesis, having purified the Thesis of its final error, is now in total agreement with the Thesis. In fact, in the final step of the Hegelian Dialectic, the Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis are in total agreement and have resolved into one united being. At this point, all linearity disappears and everything is resolved into the eternal I AM! because the vision in the mind of the Father, which was subjective, has become the objective reality resulting from the efforts of the Son through the Spirit and, since there is no more work to do, the Father, Son, and Spirit unite in the rest of the eternal present where time and space disappear. Thus, Jesus statement that the Father and I are one takes on a new and deeper meaning.
Fourth, the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for how we get out of the left lobes version of hell and go to its version of heaven. As I said in previous programs, each lobe of the brain has a different point of view about everything because the artistic right lobe is looking at reality from a subjective, feeling point of view while the logical left lobe is viewing it from an objective, factual point of view. Thus, the subjective right lobe, which is related to our animal nature, would view hell as a place of eternal punishment involving fire and brimstone and heaven as a reward of eternal pleasure. On the other hand, the objective left lobe, because of its desire to know the truth, would view hell as a state of Mental Darkness or ignorance and heaven as a state of Mental Enlightenment in which all Truth would be known. Thus, to the right lobe, heaven and hell are places of reward and punishment where we will go at the end of our lives. To the left lobe they are simply states of being which result logically as a consequences of our life decisions. Hell, from its point of view, would be the Gehenna or hell of the Old Testament, which means empty thought rather than burning fire. Thus, instead of being a place that we are going to at the end of our lives, it is the state of being in which we are born at the beginning of our lives. Helen Keller described this state of being, which she experienced for the six years of her life in which she lacked the ability to understand language. She wrote:
For nearly six years I had no idea whatever of nature or mind or death or God. I literally thought with my body. Without a single exception my memories of that time are related to touch. For thirty years, I have examined and reexamined that part of my development in the light of new theories, and I am convinced of the correctness of what I am saying. I know I was impelled like an animal to seek food and warmth. I remember crying, but not the grief that caused the tears. I kicked, and because I recall it physically, I know I was angry. I imitated those about me when I made signs for things I wanted to eat, or helped find eggs in my mothers farmyard. But there is not one spark of emotion or rational thought in these distinct yet bodily memories. I was like an unconscious clod of earth. Then, suddenly, I knew not how or where or when, my brain felt the impact of anothers mind, and I awoke to language, to knowledge, to love, to the usual concept of nature, of good and evil. I was actually lifted from nothingness to human life. (Gehenna?)
When the sun of consciousness first shone upon me, behold a miracle! Down in the depths of my being I cried, Its good to be alive! I held out two trembling hands to life. The world to which I awoke was still mysterious, but there were hope and love and God in it, and nothing else mattered. Is it not possible that our entrance into heaven may be like this experience of mine?
What Helen was describing is the awakening of the left lobe of her brain that was activated as soon as she began to understand the connection between words and things. In other words, the logical left lobe, which is seat of the Logos or Logic that St. John says is found in every human being, began to lead her out of the world of empty thought or Mental Darkness into the world of conscious thought, or Mental Light. This Logos, according to St. John, is the Jesus within every human being and it is the only way out of the Kingdom of Mental Darkness. Thus, the Church is correct when it says that Jesus, the Logos or Wisdom of God, is the only path to salvation because He, who claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is the Truth that will set us free from the Gehenna of empty thought.
Animals, because they lack a logical left lobe that is able to reflect on an alogical right lobe are destined to live forever in the world described by Helen. Human beings, having a logical left lobe, are able to get out of it if they are willing to follow objective truth. However, since this involves a struggle, there is a constant battle between their flesh, which like animals lives in the hedonistic world of our passion and drives, and the spirit, which seeks to break free of this world, and to pursue the Ultimate Truth behind it. Some human beings, wishing to live a life of amusement, which means without thought, will never get out of Gehenna. They are condemned forever to the world of empty thought because they lived their lives according to their passions and drives rather than according to their knowledge and understanding. St. John asks, Why does God condemn Man? and his answer is Because the Light (of Understanding) came into the world and they loved Darkness.
So how is the Hegelian Dialectic a model for getting out of Gehenna or the hell of the left lobe? Since the Hegelian Dialectic says that history, or life itself, is moving towards the Ultimate Truth or God through a dialectical process, then it must be the methodology and path that leads us from Gehenna, the Kingdom of Mental Darkness, to the Ultimate Truth, the Kingdom of Mental Light. Thus life, for those who are being saved, is the constant pursuit of objective truth and the way that we discover it is to start with a Thesis or theory about what is true. Eventually, this will beget an Antithesis or anti-theory that will challenge the theory, either in part or in whole. A struggle will take place between them and they will combine into a Synthesis that will contain what is true in both of them. Then the whole process begin all over again through the challenging of some other falsehood or half truth contained in our Thesis by other Antitheses which result in other Syntheses. Thus, Truth is constantly being purified through the refining power of Antitheses.
This is the same process described in the Bible in which God says that He will refine us like gold tried in the fire. This refers to the fact that gold in its natural state contains impurities. Thus, to purify it, it is subjected to extreme heat that causes the impurities to rise to the top where they are scooped off by the refiner. In the same way, God subjects our Thesis or theory about reality, which, like gold in it natural state, is a mixture containing impurities, to a refining process. Our Thesis, which is probably located in the right lobe, is our holistic theory about reality. It is what we believe and feel is true and since it is holistic it is a complex mixture of truths, half-truth, and falsehoods. The Antithesis is the factually oriented left lobe that, in its pursuit of objective truth, challenges those parts of our Thesis that are inconsistent with reality. Like gold that is subjected to the purify heat of fire, the Thesis is subjected to the pressure of opposition and out of the stress and storm of this pressure, a Synthesis is formed in which some element of the Thesis that was false is eliminated and the Synthesis then become a newly purified Thesis.
As this process is repeated over and over again in each individual life and in the life of Humankind itself, both individually and corporately we move away from the Gehenna of empty thought and Mental Darkness towards the conscious world of Mental Light and truth.
Thus, from the beginning of our life, the Logos of God, or Jesus, who is located in the left hemisphere of our brains, has been struggling to set us free from the empty thought of Gehenna by leading us down the path of Objective Truth.
If this is true, then the greatest threats to our salvation are those which interfere with our ability to know truth. Thus, atheistic philosophies like Existentialism, which, based on subjectivism, deny that there is any objective meaning or purpose to the universe, eliminate the very foundation necessary for discovering objective truth. Also, lies that purposely set out to distort the truth are its archenemy. That is why the devil is called The Father of All Lies and the Prince of Darkness.
Fifth, the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for different philosophical and political positions. The Thesis is the Conservative Position and its role is to defend what is by protecting our present understanding of reality. It is a foundational principle because without it, we would have no basis for directing our life energies. The Antithesis is the Liberal Principle and its role is to push the envelop by pushing for changes and reforms in the Thesis. It is the principle of change and progress and without it we would be stuck in a circle of repeating the same truths, half-truths, and falsehoods of our ancestors. The Synthesis is the Moderate Principle and its role is to preserve the truths of our ancestors while, at the same time, correcting or eliminating their half-truths and falsehoods. Without it, we would either be stuck in the stagnation of the past or whirling in the confusion of every radical idea that came down the pike. Thus, our choice would be stagnate order or chaotic freedom. It is this Moderate Principle which permits us to grow and develop organically by allowing us to change parts of ourselves without changing our basic identity. Thus, from the moment of our conception we have been going through significant changes, yet we still remain the same person.
Sixth, the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for the Law of Identity and Immunology. Because the Thesis, in its Conservative Role, will resist anything that is foreign to its basic identity, it is an example of the Law of Identity that states that every thing must defend its identity or else it will lose it. Thus our Biological Thesis, which is our genetic code, will resist all changes or things that are foreign to itself. Through our immune system, it will attack everything that is not itself. Yet, at the same time, if we never changed, we would never move from the embryonic level of existence. Thus, through the intake of food, we are constantly transforming organic chemicals and the tissue of plants and animals into our own flesh that allows us to grow and mature. In other words, we are synthesizing them into ourselves.
At the same time, on the mental level, we are constantly taking in new ideas and experiences which, to the degree that they are compatible with our theory of life, are integrated into our mental theory of reality. However, to the degree they are not compatible, they are rejected.
Seventh, the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for all growth and development because it is basically a model for competition. And competition forces animals and humans to put forth their very best efforts. It is only when we meet a challenge that hidden potentials and strengths are revealed. Thus, weightlifters in order to improve their strengths must workout with weights that challenge their muscles. If they work out with weights that dont challenge their strength they will never improve. In fact, one of their mottos is no pain; no gain. By the same token, anyone who wishes to improve in any area must compete against those who are better than themselves. In some paradoxical way, the Antithesis is not really against the Thesis because without it, the Thesis cannot grow. Thus, in order to grow, we need the people who challenge or disagree with us more than those who dont. And, it is the troubles of life that often strengthen our character to a greater degree than the pleasures. As one sage put, whatever doesnt kill you strengthens you! In fact we could say that whoever takes on the Antithesis grows and develops and whoever avoids it remains the same. Anyone who ignores this will ultimately pay a penalty.
For example, doctors are now telling us that we have created a serious problem through our overuse of antibiotics. We have developed the practice of using them for every minor infection. Thus, instead of allowing our own bodys immune system battle these infections and thus grow strong through the creation of antibodies, we have allowed penicillin and other antibiotics fight the fight. As a result, the invading germs have been growing stronger while our bodies immune system have remained at the same level. The problem has become so serious that medical people are now talking about super-germs which are unaffected by our antibiotics. Thus there is a mad rush to create new and stronger antibiotics to deal with them. However, it is a losing battle because each time these germs face a new antibiotic, there are always a few that survive and they reproduce to create even stronger strains. At this moment, some of the sexually transmitted diseases which were traditionally wiped out by antibiotics, are now incurable because there is nothing that can touch them.
We can see the same effects played out in our welfare programs through which the state, like penicillin and infections, takes on the problems facing its citizens. As a result, the state grows in power and influence while the welfare recipient is weakened and debilitated. And over-protective parents can have the same effect on their children. Thus, as I said in a previous program, beware of people who want to take your problems from you or from a Christian perspective, beware of well intentioned people, like Secular Humanist, who want to eliminate all of our crosses. Even if they mean well, the effect is to steal from us the fullness of life that the Gospel promises to those who pick up their cross and follow the Truth.
Finally the Hegelian Dialectic is a model for life because it is a model for integration. The philosophical definition for life is integration and the one for death is disintegration. For example, I am a composite of billions upon billions of cells which have integrated into one functioning being for the purpose of our mutual survival. Throughout my life, I have integrated new cells, new experiences, and new insights into our mutual life and, as a result, we have experience life in a fuller way. However, when I die, these cells which have integrated for life will begin to disintegrate. Thus, armed with this knowledge, we can look at Gods instructions to Moses in a new way. God said, Tell the people that today I have place before them life and death, the blessing and the curse Tell them to choose life. We could restate this by saying, Tell the people that today I place before them integration and disintegration, the blessing and curse. Tell them to choose integration.
An interesting question, which leads us to an even deeper understanding is what is the energy that causes integration. The answer is love. Whenever we love something, we want to integrate with it. Another question is what is the energy that causes disintegration? The answer is hate because we never want to integrate with anything that we dont love. Our final question is what is love? And the answer that St. John gives is God is love and he who abides in God abides in love. And since God is the energy that causes integration and integration is just another name for life, the He is the source for all life. Thus, the Hegelian Dialectic, which integrates the Antithesis with the Thesis, is a model for life and the methodology by which God brings it about.
Believe it or not, I have not exhausted all of the things for which the Hegelian Dialectic is a model. Many of them elude me right now and others have to wait for a more appropriate time. However, I hope that I have convinced you that it qualifies as one of the basic natural laws of the universe and that its insights are very consistent with the Christian gospel. Later I will return to it when I make my final argument against Secular Humanism and attempt to show that it is the Christian gospel which will save Humankind, not the relativistic philosophies of humanism.
Well , I see that my time is up. Heres Dom!