Polarity and Polarisation
I spent the summer of 1973 at the University of Grenoble, a delightful city that was also the home of Hector Berlioz. One of the books I read it was On Liberty by John Stuart Mill where the following sentence etched itself on my mind: “He who knows only his own side of the argument knows little of that.” For me, the fundamental components bearing on the views we take are presuppositions and evidence, while reason and logic are neutral and universally applicable.
In the last few months, we have all experienced conflicting claims and narratives and are likely to have taken a view one way or the other in what amounts to an information war that for me is part of a larger philosophical tension between pharmaceutical and natural approaches to health that has a long history. Communication power, as I suggested in a previous editorial, is the capacity to impose a narrative and remove competition through censorship. This process has exacerbated existing polarisations while it is important to respect other informed viewpoints and understand where they are coming from. This may involve deep listening and suspending one’s own assumptions, as David Bohm suggested.
In Nature, all life is polarised between masculine and feminine, shoot and root, positive and negative, light and dark, Yang and Yin. However, these polarities exist within larger wholes and cycles, as Anne Baring and Jules Cashford noted in The Myth of the Goddess – for instance in the phases of the lunar cycle. These are dualities rather than dualism, which hardens the polarity into seemingly irreconcilable opposites and warring factions – good and evil, right and wrong.
I was recently reading lecture given in 1943 – the last year of his life – by Peter Deunov. In it he analyses the deep symbolism embedded in major and minor keys, suggesting that major is related to the central nervous system and minor to the sympathetic nervous system, major to health, joy and life, minor to illness, sorrow and death, major to the brain, minor to the heart – overall, the organism functions in a musical or rhythmical fashion, while birth and death represent an eternal process of renewal.
The depth of renewal we now need implies a process of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing in relation to historic and structural injustices that has to move beyond existing polarisations to find a new common ground rooted in integrity, transparency and truth if trust is ultimately to be re-established.