Plato's Mystical Science
of Dialectical Interchange
Plato's esoteric teachings in his written dialogues are hidden in plain sight. However, discerning their meaning requires proficiency in a special tradition. 1 As we saw in an earlier essay, Plato's teaching about the esoteric nature of philosophy is plainly referred to in his Phaedo:"For I deem that the true disciple of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they do not perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying . . . the separation of soul and body . . . when the soul lives in herself, and is parted from the body. . .
"In matters of this sort philosophers, above all other men, may be observed in every sort of way to dissever the soul from the body."
Here Plato is referring to the teaching concerning "dying before you die" which is one of the central concepts of the Perennial Tradition. Philosophy, the love of and the search for wisdom, is the actual practice of learning to leave the physical body and live in the soul, the spiritual body.
The philosopher--seeker after wisdom--lives in her soul, the higher consciousness. Discerning the essence of philosophy, we now have important clues as to the nature of Plato's mystical science--what he called Dialectic--and described as maieutic psychagogy:
- Maieutic: maieûtikos, midwife, one who assists in the delivery of a new being
- Psychagogy: psuchagôgê, from Greek, psûchê, soul, and agogê, transport to or lead out of; the science of helping to bring out (give birth to) new elements (ideas, beings) from a person's soul or to bring into (transmit to) a person's soul, elements from a higher level of being
Plato's Socrates, in the dialogues, practiced an extraordinary kind of shared mystical experience in which he served as a psychagogic midwife, overseeing the process of the divulgence of, the bringing into being of new elements: ideas, feelings, inspirations, and images.
"The new order [created by Socrates' life and death] is understood secretly even by those who meet it with sulkiness and recalcitrance, for this secret understanding binds the partners of the dialogue together at least for its duration. We remember the passage of the Cratylus. The 'desire for virtue' is present even if it is obscured by the mania of the body; and it will reign freely when the obstacle of the body is removed. In so far as the dialogue is an attempt at existential communication, it is an attempt to liberate the soul from its passions, to denude it of its body. Socrates speaks to his interlocutors as if they were 'dead' souls, or at least, as if they were souls who are capable of death. On the part of Socrates, the dialogue is an attempt to submit the others, at least tentatively, to the catharsis of death. The judgment of the dead is thus enacted in part in the dialogue itself, concretely, in the attempt of Socrates to pierce through the 'body' of his interlocutors to their naked souls. He tries to make die, and thereby to make live, those who threaten him with death. "
Eric Voegelin, Plato
Both Socrates and the other participants in the dialogues were in an altered state of consciousness. Socrates at times had to work to bring other participants into a heightened state, since they were largely unfamiliar with the experience. But his presence and his actions were able to bring them into this higher state--so much so that the participants sometimes spoke of being entranced, charmed, or bewitched, as in this passage from the Meno.
Menon: You seem to me to be a veritable wizard, casting your spells over me, and I am truly getting bewitched and enchanted, and YOU HAVE STOPPED MY WORLD. And if I may venture to make a jest about you, you seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others to be very like the flat torpedo fish [electric eel], who torpifies those who come near him and touch him, as you have now STOPPED MY WORLD. . . . And I think that you are very wise in not venturing away from home, for if you performed your necromancy in other places as you do in Athens, you would be cast into prison as a sorcerer."
As is clear from the Phaedo and other dialogues, Plato believed that we can only discover truth when we are in our higher consciousness."Then when does the soul attain truth?-for in attempting to consider anything in company with the ordinary bodily consciousness she is obviously deceived.
"Yes, that is true.
Plato makes this very clear in the Phaedo:|
"Is there or is there not an absolute justice?
"Or did you ever reach them with any other bodily sense? (and I speak not of these alone, but of absolute greatness, and health, and strength, and of the essence or true nature of everything). Has the reality of them ever been perceived by you through the bodily organs? or rather, is not the nearest approach to the knowledge of their several natures made by him who so orders his intellectual vision as to have the most exact conception of the essence of that which he considers?"
|Socrates is making it clear to them that they have had experience with Forms when in dialectical interchange with him, and since they could not have experienced Forms in their ordinary state of consciousness, it must have been in a higher state (even if they were unaware of it and in a limited way through Higher Reasoning).|
"And he attains to the knowledge of Forms in their highest purity who goes to each of them with the soul alone, not allowing when in the act of contemplation the intrusion or introduction of sight or any other sense in the company of reason, but with the very light of the soul in her clearness penetrates into the very light of truth in each Form; is not this the sort of man who, if ever man did, is likely to attain the knowledge of true being?"
|"Dialectic is the only philosophical process which seeks for wisdom by anagogically uplifting our Intellectual foundations so that our Higher Self ascends to the Origin." 3 |
We can identify other essential features of the Socratic shared mystical experience which Plato called dialectic or maieutic psychagogy:
- In the experience itself, participants were aware that they were in a state of heightened consciousness: inspiration or divine rapture
"And now, dear Phaedrus, I shall pause for an instant to ask whether you do not think me, as I appear to myself, inspired?
Phaedrus: Yes, Socrates, you seem to have a very unusual flow of words."
Socrates: Listen to me, then, in silence; for surely the place is holy; so that you must not wonder, if, as I proceed, I appear to be in a divine fervor, for already I am getting into inspired poetry." [We must be aware that Socrates is speaking somewhat ironically. But he is also speaking of the reality of a heightened state of consciousness which participants experience in dialectic.]
- Maieutic psychagogy involves Socrates (or other advanced teacher) helping another participant to give birth to realities from within him. Plato believed that the human soul possesses latent knowledge, which could be brought out and elucidated by a special kind of interchange which he called dialectic--a bringing to birth from the depths of a person's higher being. The maieutic art of Plato's Socrates involved his drawing his interlocutors into stating and reflecting upon the implications of their uncritically held opinions and their joint examination of these opinions to see if they were stillborn or viable.
"Indeed, the secret of your system has just this instant dawned upon me. I comprehend the principle you use in communicating your questions. You lead me through the field of my own knowledge, and then by pointing out analogies to what I know, help me understand that I really know some realities which hitherto, as I believed, I had no knowledge of."
3. In the shared mystical experience, Socrates and Plato acted as a spiritual midwife, assisting the other person to bring his own ideas into being, as we see in Theatetus:4. In the shared mystical experience of maieutic psychagogy, Socrates, Plato, or an equally advanced dialectician plants idea-seeds in other participants' souls and then watches as they come to fruition."You are not bearing in mind, my friend, that I have no knowledge; I cannot claim any such ideas as my own? no, I am barren as far as they are concerned. But I am acting as your midwife, and that is why I am chanting and serving up morsels of my own wisdom for you to taste. This will continue until I have played my part in bringing your very own notion out into the world. Once that stage is over, I will examine the idea to see whether it turns out to be viable or stillborn."
"And so with dialectic; when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible."
Plato, The Commonwealth
SOCRATES: Is there not another kind of word or speech far better than this, and having far greater power -- a son of the same family, but lawfully begotten?
PHAEDRUS: Whom do you mean, and what is his origin?
SOCRATES: I mean an intelligent word graven in the soul of the learner, which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent.
PHAEDRUS: You mean the living word of knowledge which has a soul, and of which the written word is properly no more than an image?
SOCRATES: But nobler far is the serious pursuit of the dialectician, who, finding a congenial soul, by the help of science sows and plants therein words which are able to help themselves and him who planted them, and are not unfruitful, but have in them a seed which others brought up in different soils render immortal, making the possessors of it happy to the utmost extent of human happiness.
"After much effort, as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed by question and answer without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers. . . . After long continued interchange between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of understanding, suddenly a light is kindled in the teacher's soul by a flame that leaps to the student's soul, and thereafter sustains itself." 341c
|"To read a Platonic Dialogue is to participate in a dramatic experience, and what readers cull from these experiences and refer to as The Philosophy of Plato can never be stated in the indicative mood, as if it were so much objective information on matters of fact. Plato's 'secret' is not factual at all. No application of scholarly technique enables the reader to extract from The Dialogues a concentrate which can be distilled into a specific essence. Plato's 'philosophy' has no prescriptive formula. There is nothing, nothing whatever, which you might conceivably discover, write down, and pass around in a printed book which could be set upon library shelves and put into the hands of young students. It is like poetry or music. You have to experience it directly, in and for yourself.
"The process however of dealing with all of these, as the mind moves up and down to each in turn, does after much effort give birth in a well-constituted mind to knowledge of that which is well constituted. But if a man is ill-constituted by nature (as the state of the soul is naturally in the majority both in its capacity for learning and in what is called moral character)-or it may have become so by deterioration-not even Lynceus could endow such men with the power of sight"
|"Let us review the whole development of this dialogue [Phaedo], in which Socrates brings his hearers to behold the eternal in human personality. The hearers accept his thoughts, and they look into themselves to see if they can find in their inner experiences something which assents to his ideas. They make the objections which strike them. What has happened to the hearers when the dialogue is finished? They have found something within them which they did not possess before. They have not merely accepted an abstract truth, but they have gone through a development. Something has come to life in them which was not living in them before. Is not this to be compared with an initiation? And does not this throw light on the reason for Plato's setting forth his philosophy in the form of conversation? These dialogues are nothing else than the literary form of the events which took place in the sanctuaries of the Mysteries. We are convinced of this from what Plato himself says in many passages. Plato wished to be, as a philosophical teacher, what the initiator into the Mysteries was, as far as this was compatible with the philosophical manner of communication. It is evident how Plato feels himself in harmony with the Mysteries! He only thinks he is on the right path when it is taking him where the Mystic is to be led." |
|"The subject on which Plato had not written and would never write, must be something about which all writing would be futile. It must be a feeling, a sentiment, an experience, which is not gained by instantaneous communication, but by making oneself one with it, in heart and soul. The reference is to the inner education which Plato was able to give those he selected."|
"I certainly have composed no work in regard to [dialectic], nor shall I ever do so in the future, for there is no way of putting it in words like other studies."He then elaborates:
"Thus much at least, I can say about all writers, past or future, who say they know the things to which I devote myself, whether by hearing the teaching of me or of others, or by their own discoveries-that according to my view it is not possible for them to have any real skill in the matter. There neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject. For it does not admit of exposition like other branches of knowledge.
"Yet this much I know-that if the things were written or put into words, it would be done best by me, and that, if they were written badly, I should be the person most pained. Again, if they had appeared to me to admit adequately of writing and exposition, what task in life could I have performed nobler than this, to write what is of great service to mankind and to bring the nature of things into the light for all to see?
|Plato here indicates that the special experience of higher knowledge CANNOT be transmitted through writing.|
"But I do not think it a good thing for men that there should be a disquisition, as it is called, on this topic-except for some few, who are able with a little teaching to find it out for themselves.
|There are a few people, Plato indicates, who can take a small amount of delineation of higher knowledge in written form and figure out the rest for themselves.|
"As for the rest, it would fill some of them quite illogically with a mistaken feeling of contempt, and others with lofty and vain-glorious expectations, as though they had learnt something high and mighty.
|Most people, Plato says, would inspect any expression of higher knowledge in written form and either feel it to be inferior or consider it to be something already within their impressive store of knowledge.|
"Further, on account of the weakness of language, these [i.e., the four: the name, the definition, the image, and the knowledge] attempt to show what each thing is like, not less than what each thing is. For this reason no man of intelligence will venture to express his philosophical views in language, especially not in language that is unchangeable, which is true of that which is set down in written characters."
"Therefore every man of worth, when dealing with matters of worth, will be far from exposing them to ill feeling and misunderstanding among men by committing them to writing. In one word, then, it may be known from this that, if one sees written treatises composed by anyone, either the laws of a lawgiver, or in any other form whatever, these are not for that man the things of most worth, if he is a man of worth, but that his treasures are laid up in the fairest spot that he possesses. But if these things were worked at by him as things of real worth, and committed to writing, then surely, not gods, but men 'have themselves bereft him of his wits.'"
|Plato succeeds in stimulating, in all of us, a way of looking at--whatever we are studying. He makes us perceptive: in a specific way. We call it 'intuitive'. Throwing our minds open to Platonic influence enables us to look beyond what is objectively present: present, that is, to our senses and to our analytical intelligence. We feel our way toward its 'inner essence', toward what would be its meaning 'in an ideal case'. We call this, looking for the 'Platonic idea' of the object."|
In nature we have two useful examples of instant translation into action of direct impulse: a group of birds flocking, and a school of fish swarming. We often see a dense mass of birds such as sandpipers or pigeons wheeling, turning, changing direction in close formation, with the speed and precision of perfect coordination. The hesitation of a tenth of a second by any single member would inevitably throw the whole operation into jostling confusion.
There is manifestly no room for the communication of an idea through any medium of expression, no matter how simple or instantaneous, through a mechanism such as a brain. The action of flocking or swarming must of itself be the reality. It is not a question of receiving an impulse and deciding to act on it; nor of receiving an impulse and diverting it into the groove of even long-established habit of thought or behavior. Such automatic action is necessarily the immediate external manifestation of an impulse.Because we humans are of a dual nature--earthly and divine--our ordinary procedures of investigation do not enable us to understand ourselves. The methodology of exploration must partake of the same nature as that of the reality explored.
The rapid twinklings of birds flocking through space are phrases of the directer language of which dialectic speaks. This uninterrupted, primordial language is what Socrates taught the participants through dialectical interchange. At first, we may feel it to be almost impossible to obtain that flexibility of spirit which will receive accurately and undistortedly the immediate impulse from the depths of being--the impulse which will translate itself into the sure action that is its expression. We stammer and hesitate and use wrong "words" and "awkward phrases" in attempting any new or little-accustomed language.
When we begin learning to follow intuition in immediate dialectical interchange, we make many blunders and mistakes. This occurs for several reasons: because of the distortion of habits of thought, puzzlement as to what we're experiencing, or because before the first and pure impulse is brought to conscious attention, it's diluted by deliberation. Thought, for all its mechanical nature, is extraordinarily swift, and before the flash of perception has reached awareness it may unconsciously interpose a hundred considerations that modify it. What we think is the pure impulse has thus become a hybrid before it reaches its expression in action. Only with practice and with trial-and-error can fluency and accuracy in this language, as in all others, be obtained. But we can succeed in gaining proficiency in this primordial language of inspiration through persistence of effort.
The spontaneity of dialectic is not, however, mere mindless blathering, bantering, or Freudian free-association of senseless mental effluence. We're learning to use the unfamiliar powers of intuition and inspiration, tapping into content already existent in a higher realm. Dialectic involves allowing this supersensible wisdom to flow through us in an untrammeled and unpremeditated way. Instead of the uprush of crude, raw discharge, we become unobstructed conduits for exalted, resplendent ideas and feelings.
We Can Only Investigate Human Nature Through the Use of Dialectic
Whereas we can study the nature of ordinary physical objects through the use of science and mathematics, the essence of humans is not ascertainable through those means. In his Oration on the Dignity of Man, Pico della Mirandola makes it clear just what a different kind of reality humankind is:"We have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom and choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer. Thou shalt have power to degenerate into the lower forms of life which are brutish. Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul's judgement, to be reborn into the highest forms, which are divine."
"We cannot discover the nature of man in the same way that we can detect the nature of physical things. Physical things may be described in terms of their objective properties, but man may be described and defined only in terms of his consciousness. This fact poses an entirely new problem which cannot be solved by our usual modes of investigation. Empirical observation and logical analysis, in the sense in which these terms were used in pre-Socratic philosophy, here proved inefficient and inadequate. For it is only in our immediate intercourse with human beings that we have insight into the character of man. We must actually confront man, we must meet him squarely face to face, in order to understand him. Hence it is not a new objective content, but a new activity and function of thought which is the distinctive feature of the philosophy of Socrates. Philosophy, which had hitherto been conceived as an intellectual monologue, is transformed into a dialogue. Only by way of dialogical or dialectic thought can we approach the knowledge of human nature. Previously truth might have been conceived to be a sort of ready-made thing which could be grasped by an effort of the individual thinker, and readily transferred and communicated to others. But Socrates could no longer subscribe to this view. It is as impossible--says Plato in the Republic--to implant truth in the soul of a man as it is to give the power of seeing to a man born blind. Truth is by nature the offspring of dialectic thought. It cannot be gained, therefore, except through a constant cooperation of the subjects in mutual interrogation and reply. It is not therefore like an empirical object; it must be understood as the outgrowth of a social act. Here we have the new, indirect answer to the question 'What is man?' Man is declared to be that creature who is constantly in search of himself--a creature who in every moment of his existence must examine and scrutinize the conditions of his existence. In this scrutiny, in this critical attitude toward human life, consists the real value of human life."
Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man
|"Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction."|
"'Critias, you act as though I professed to know the answers to the questions I ask you, and could give these to you if I wished. It isn't so. I inquire with you . . . because I don't myself have knowledge' (Chrm. 165D).
"Can he really mean this? He can, if in such passages he is using 'knowledge' in a sense in which the claim to know something implies the conviction that any further investigation of its truth would be superfluous. This is the sense in which the word 'knowledge' is used in formal contexts by earlier philosophers, and nothing gives us a better sense of the dogmatic certainty implied by their use of it than the fact that one of them, Parmenides, presented his doctrine in the guise of a divine revelation. . . This, I suggest, is the conception of wisdom and knowledge Socrates has in mind in those contexts where he disclaims it. When he renounces 'knowledge' he is telling us that the question of the truth of anything he believes can always be sensibly re-opened; that any conviction he has stands ready to be re-examined in the company of any sincere person who will raise the question and join him in the investigation."
|"Why rank that method [dialectical interchange] among the great achievements of humanity? Because it makes moral inquiry a common human enterprise, open to every man. Its practice calls for no adherence to a philosophical system, or mastery of a specialized technique, or acquisition of a technical vocabulary. It calls for common sense and common speech. And this is as it should be, for how men should live is every man's business, and the role of the specialist and the expert should be only to offer guidance and criticism, to inform, and clarify the judgment of the layman, leaving the final decision up to him. But while the Socratic method makes moral inquiry open to everyone, it makes it easy for no one. It calls not only for the highest degree of mental alertness of which anyone is capable, but also for moral qualities of a high order: sincerity, humility, courage. Socrates expects you to say what you really believe about the way man should live; which implies, among other things, about the way you should live. His method will not work if the opinion you give him is just an opinion, it must be your opinion: the one you stand ready to live by, so that if that opinion should be refuted, your own life or a part of it will be indicted or discredited, shown up to be a muddle, premised on a confusion or a contradiction. To get into the argument when you realize that this is the price you have to pay for it--that in the course of it your ego may experience the unpleasant sensation of a bloody nose--takes courage. To search for moral truth that may prove your own life wrong takes humility, that is not afraid of humiliation. These are the qualities Socrates himself brings to the argument. . ." |
"a talk which the soul has with itself about the objects under its consideration. . . It seems to me that the soul when it thinks is simply carrying on a discussion in which it asks itself questions and answers them itself, affirms and denies. And when it arrives at something definite, either by a gradual process or a sudden leap, when it affirms one thing consistently and without divided counsel, we call this its judgment. So, in my view, to judge is to make a statement, and a judgment is a statement which is not addressed to another person or spoken aloud, but silently addressed to oneself." [189e-190a]
|"It is important to keep in mind that the objectivity of the institutional world, however massive it may appear to the individual, is a humanly produced, constructed objectivity. The process by which the externalized products of human activity attain the character of objectivity is objectivation. The institutional world is objectivated human activity, and so is every single institution. In other words despite the objectivity that marks the social world in human experience, it does not thereby acquire an ontological status apart from the human activity that produced it. The paradox that man is capable of producing a world that he then experiences as something other than a human product will concern us later on. At the moment, it is important to emphasize that the relationship between man, the producer, and the social world, his product, is and remains a dialectical one. |
"That is, man (not of course, in isolation but in his collectivities) and his social world interact with each other. The product acts back upon the producer. Externalization and objectivation are moments in a continuing dialectical process, which is internalization (by which the objectivated social world is retrojected into consciousness in the course of socialization), will occupy us in considerable detail later on. It is already possible, however, to see the fundamental relationship of these three dialectical moments in social reality. Each of them corresponds to an essential characterization of the social world. Society is a human product. Society is an objective reality. Man is a social product. It may also already be evident that an analysis of the social world that leaves out any one of these three moments will be distortive. One may further add that only with the transmission of the social world to a new generation (that is, internalization as effectuated in socialization) does the fundamental social dialectic appear in its totality. To repeat, only with the appearance of a new generation can one properly speak of a social world."
|"Myth, art, language and science appear as symbols; not in the sense of mere figures which refer to some given reality by means of suggestion and allegorical renderings, but in the sense of forces each of which produces and posits a world of its own. In these realms the spirit exhibits itself in that inwardly determined dialectic by virtue of which alone there is any reality, any organized and definite Being at all. Thus the special symbolic forms are not imitations, but organs of reality, since it is solely by their agency that anything real becomes an object for intellectual apprehension, and as such is made visible to us. The question as to what reality is apart from these forms, and what are its independent attributes, becomes irrelevant here. For the mind, only that can be visible which has some definite form; but every form of existence has its source in some peculiar way of seeing, some intellectual formulation and intuition of meaning."|
"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."
seeks for, pursues
(anagogically) upliftting (carrying to a higher domain)
"Dialectic is the only philosophical process which seeks for wisdom by (anagogically) uplifting our Intellectual foundations so that our Higher Self ascends to the Origin." my translation
"'Then,' said I, 'is not dialectics the only process of inquiry that advances in this manner, doing away with hypotheses, up to the first principle itself in order to find confirmation there?'" translated by Paul Shorey
"Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is by her gentle aid lifted upward. . ." translation by Benjamin Jowett
4 An author able to achieve union with her Higher Consciousness is capable of communicating (speaking and writing) in a manner to transmit primordial meanings to another person. The usual limitations of words and thoughts are overcome and a higher language with (literally) higher meanings comes into play.
5 Zorba: "Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble."
6 The author experiences the most transformative dialectic (maieutic psychagogy) in free-flowing interchange with his wife, Michelle Mairesse. It's impossible to record all these astounding dialogues, but a brief snippet from a recent interchange will give you a glimpse of what stupendous--and mystagogic--divulgence can occur:
Michelle: "How do you know what you just said is true?"
Norman: "How can you ask such a question?"
Michelle: "Words. Words. Words."
Norman: "Will must be authoring this dialogue!"
Michelle: (pregnant silence mystically giving birth to new meanings)
Norman: Suddenly transmogrified into the Avatar Elmer Weishaupt Gantry: (occult silence maintained through Herculean restraint, eventuating in a wan smile)
Examples of Dialectic:
These three examples assist interested persons in attaining a "sense" of what should or should not occur in dialectical interchange at various levels. Each interchange is made up of an entirely unique configuration of ideas, communications, and interactions--as the event unfolds. You will need to read these examples if you wish to participate in dialectical interchange.
- This is a session in which the participant has clearly not adequately prepared to effectively take part in a dialectical interchange. This kind of unprepared person would not be allowed to participate, so this example should be construed as representing a counterindicative episode that would not ordinarily take place. 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 this sample session, it is clear that the participant has not succeeded in making the necessary prerequisite changes in his thoughts and feelings to enable him to participate in an altered mode of interchange.
In the other two examples below, an altered state of consciousness is markedly in evidence during the interchange.
- This is a modern dialectical interchange between Diotima and Socrates, providing an illustration of how dialectic eventuates at an advanced level
- In this third example, the interchange occurs at an exceptionally high level, with understanding being "produced" through the dialectical process.