The Contemporary Operation
of Plato's Mystical Science of Dialectic The Contemporary Operation
of Plato's Mystical Science of Dialectic
Perennialist teachers--such as Plato--adapt higher knowledge to their own time and place and to the capabilities of students whom they're teaching. In Plato's time--and until very recently--the written manifestation of the dialectical experience was impossible.
Part of the difficulty with written expressions of dialectic, during Plato's time, was that they could "neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others." Written expositions couldn't interact with the reader. During Plato's era, it was correct to say (as he does in Phaedrus):"Only in principles of justice and goodness and nobility taught and communicated orally for the sake of instruction and graven in the soul, which is the true way of writing, is there clearness and perfection and seriousness."
However, Plato was aware that even in his day writing possessed the revelatory function of bringing essential concepts to mind for those who were already prepared and possessed basic knowledge. It was for this reason that Plato wrote in the dialogical mode: to introduce readers to dialectic, allowing them to engage in this mystical experience through their virtual participation with Socrates and the other participants.
The New Dialectic
With the introduction of the Internet, the nature of written expression of ideas has undergone a revolutionary transformation. The Perennialist Teacher and the seeker can interact in a real-time environment, exchanging ideas and investigating issues in synchronous or asynchronous mode.
As is the case in all genuine learning environments, only those students who have the necessary moral and intellectual capabilities are able to pursue the path of knowledge in all its manifestations and achieve understanding of higher consciousness. Of equal importance, only an adept in the Perennial Tradition can initiate a genuine dialectical interchange, since only she possesses the requisite capabilities to make it operative in its higher mode. In the last stage, the Teacher and the seeker must come into physical contact to complete the process.
The New Dialectic is focused interchange, engaged in intentionally with the goal of increasing understanding, exploring issues, and evaluating thoughts or actions. It engages the heart as well as the mind. It is different from ordinary, everyday conversation, in that dialectic has a focus and a purpose, and is part of a comprehensive system of transformation. Dialectic does not involve debate, which presents two points of view with the goal of proving the supremacy or correctness of one of the viewpoints over the other. The New Dialectic, unlike debate or even discussion, is as interested in the relationship between the participants as it is in the theme being explored. Ultimately, New Dialectic presupposes an openness to modify deeply held convictions.
Pacing Speeds in Dialectical and Ordinary Communication
|| Dialectical Interchange (genuine)
|| Ordinary Communication (spurious)
|| 1. Fastest|
| 1. A. Two advanced persons engaging in dialectical interchange
|| 1. B. Glib, rapid-fire "performing" on TV, radio, or in ordinary conversation
|| 2. Medium Pace
|| 2. A. Advanced persons involved in conversation with ordinary persons; allowing inspiration to come through
|| 2. B. Ordinary persons engaging in excessive deliberation and "editing" for effect
|| 3. Slowest Pace
|| 3. A. Advanced persons involved in an interview with ordinary persons;|
allowing inspiration to come through
| 3. B. Ordinary persons engaging in excessive deliberation and "editing" for effect
People become so habituated to rapid-fire, thoughtless interchange that when they experience advanced persons in accustomed conversation or in an interview context, the slower pace is disturbing to them. Ordinary persons engage in "performing" most of the time in whatever context of communication they engage in: speaking as rapidly and mindlessly as possible, always "being on camera or on microphone," unable to enter into the higher state of consciousness involved in dialectical interchange.
You'll note in the above diagram that when two advanced persons are engaged in genuine dialectical interchange (either in verbal face-to-face interchange or online), that they communicate at the fastest possible pace: 1. A. We'll examine this phenomenon in the discussion of online chat dialectical interchange below.
Online Dialectical Interchange
Dialectical interchange via the Internet occurs through the use of Internet text chat technology. In ordinary interchange, participants communicate single messages and single replies. Dialectical interchange in the Internet text chat mode creates an extra-ordinary experiential atmosphere, leading to an altered state of consciousness for the participants. Participants communicate multiple messages and replies in quick succession--at the 1.A. pace.
To return to the original image click on the frame.
| The participants' state of consciousness must expand to retain and deal with multiple inputs and outputs simultaneously. There is so much interchange material that a participant cannot interact effectively by remaining in an ordinary state of consciousness.|
A rather ordinary requirement for participants in dialectical interchange via text chat technology is that they must learn to type at an increased speed. The more advanced requirement is that participants must be able to register information and respond at a higher level of speed and capability. They must enter an expanded, many-faceted consciousness which retains multiple concepts and meanings while comprehending the information in a manner enabling them to respond appropriately and creatively.
One way to get a sense of the speed and multi-dimensional nature of dialectical interchange is to review this document. This is a session in which the participant clearly had not adequately prepared to effectively take part in a dialectical interchange. This kind of unprepared person would not now be allowed to participate in interchange, so this example should be construed as representing a counterindicative episode that would not presently be included in the introductory study program in the Perennial Tradition.
This illustration can help prospective participants prepare for a dialectical interchange in the sense of seeing how necessary it is to move out of the cliched, hackneyed, academic, scholastic communication mode to be able to participate successfully in a higher mode of thought and communication. In this sample session, it's clear that the participant has not succeeded in making the prerequisite changes in his thoughts and feelings to enable him to be aware that he was participating in a higher mode of interchange. Nonetheless, this sample does illustrate the multi-dimensional, extra-ordinary atmosphere which an Internet text chat episode involves.
To get an idea of how a person must "let go" and get beyond ordinary communication and thought modes in dialectical interchange, this illustrative session will help.
The author has engaged in dialectical interchange throughout a period of over forty years and is now working with the New Dialectic directly online and indirectly through Dialectical essays. This unique, innovative process has proven to be effective and productive in all aspects.