The main idea of this book is that Western civilization produced 5 and only 5 philosophical frameworks or modes which define condition of society at any given moment and dynamics of its development.
These modes are:
D – Philosophy of Disintegration based on Kant’s ideas, which comes in two forms:
D1 (Knowing Skeptics): Unity through natural world grasped in unrelated chunks
D2 (Kant): Unity is impossible, both percepts and concepts are detached from reality
I – Philosophy of Integration based on Aristotle ideas: Unity through natural world grasped through concepts derived from percepts
M – Philosophy of Misintegration based on Plato’s ideas, which also comes in two forms:
M1 (Worldly Supernaturalists): Unity through transcended world, but natural world is real and concepts must be applicable to percepts.
M2 (Plato): Unity through transcended world grasped by concepts independent of percepts.
These definitions allow analyzing Western history as process of modal progression with change in mode defining all areas of culture including art, science, and politics. Contemporary United States is currently representing mix of multiple modes with author expecting one mode M2 in form of religious totalitarianism to become dominant with the exclusion of all other modes.
There is a small chance to avoid it due to combination of current expansion of Objectivism as pure philosophical representation of I (Integration) mode and predisposition of American culture to I mode as it was expressed in Enlightenment and ideas of country’s founding fathers; but this chance is as small as probability of 300 Spartans stopping Persian army (which did really happened).
PART ONE: EPISTEMOLOGY
The Western civilization became different from all others when Greek philosopher Thales came up with idea of new method of thinking – integration. Now we seems to be observe process of switching from this method to method of disintegration that threatens destruction of Western civilization. The DIM theory is an attempt to analyze current processes and provide prognosis of future development.
The process of integration per philosophy of Objectivism contains integration from perception to concepts as integration of percepts; then from concepts to generalizations, then from generalizations to principles and finally to integrated unity of knowledge.
Integration could be valid that is based on perceptions of real world as in science and invalid, that is unrelated to perceptions of the real world. The only alternative to these two methods is non-integration when part of the whole product brought in randomly like in abstract art. Examples of all three are: Galileo vs. Nostradamus vs. Pollock
2.The Three Archetypes
The three archetypes of integration represented by three philosophers and their ides:
• Plato: Everything is integrated and combined in the one Supreme Being not related to natural world and not accessible to sensual perception. His metaphysics is supernaturalism meaning that reality is non-natural phenomenon. His epistemology is rationalism meaning that concepts are primary and independent from percepts. This is invalid integration.
• Aristotle: Reality is Nature and there is nothing else. There is no matter without form and no form without matter. His epistemology is derived from perceptual reality: human percepts create concepts in the mind and concepts are aggregated into reason. This is valid integration
• Kant: Logic and causality are baseless; they cannot be derived neither from percepts nor validated by reason. Everything comes from 12 innately existing mind concepts. Reality does not exist, but rather just a product of human mind and is generated from preset concepts. Since reality does not exist there is no absolute truth and everything is whatever humans want it to be. This is not integration, but disintegration.
All three philosophies are internally consistent and logical, even if writings of all three authors include quite a few contradictions.
3.The Two Mixtures
Philosophies of Plato and Kant spawn two additional mixtures:
• Worldly Supernaturalism. This is concept of duality of real (supernatural) and unknowable god and worldly nature knowable via empiric research and scientific method. This was direction of ideas developed by Descartes, Spinoza, and Stoics. This mixture represents mutation of rationalism.
• Knowing Skepticism is the mixture that represents mutation of empiricism under influence of Kant. It accepts that the reality is unknowable, but allows knowledge of specific limited facts making universe into stream of human experiences. Comte and John Stuart Mill father developed these ideas. Interesting outgrowth of this came in area of ethics where it produced Comte’s religion of humanity and Bentham’s Utilitarianism.
4.DIM and the Hypothesis
D – Disintegration
Kant: Unity is impossible, both percepts and concepts are detached from reality.
D2 – Many without One
Knowing Skeptics: Unity through natural world grasped in unrelated chunks
D1 – Ones in the Many
I – Integration
Aristotle: Unity through natural world grasped through concepts derived from percepts
One in the Many
M – Misintegration
Plato: Unity through transcended world grasped by concepts independent of percepts.
M2- One without the Many
Worldly Supernaturalists: Unity through transcended world, but natural world is real and concepts must be applicable to percepts.
M1: Many from the One
DIM Hypothesis contains to related theses:
1. Western philosophy produced 5 products defined by their mode of integration, which describe totality of all alternatives.
2. Western Culture historically went through several changes of these modes with these changes occurring not by chance, but in accordance with logic of mode progression. Understanding of this logic provides for ability of rational prediction of future development of the West
PART TWO: DIM IN MODERN CULTURE
Part two is review and analysis of modern history of changing mode expressions in 4 areas of culture:
Classicism: Various versions of M1 mode – Worldly Supernaturalism.
Romanticism: I mode – One in the Many, Aristotle’s mode
Naturalism: D1 mode Ones in The Many
Modernism: D2 mode Many without a One
Socialist Realism: M2 mode One without the Many
Newton: This is variation of integration mode. One is real, but only as One in the Many (I).
Positivism: Representative Erich Mach. This is Comte’s epistemological approach-reality exists and is knowable, but only as a bunch of percepts somewhat interconnected, but not integrated: Ones in the Many (D1)
Einstein: This one accepts reality of the world, but puts first mathematical ideas and esthetics of equations to explain it and use percepts only to confirm correctness of concepts. The mode is the Many from the One (M1)
Quantum Mechanics: This is juxtaposition of percepts, equations, and probabilities. The mode is the Many without a One (D2)
String Theory: In this approach the physical world is not exactly real, but derived from conceptual realm of mathematics. From unified Theory of Everything or One flows unreal and non-perceptual Many (M2)
Classical Education: based on studying ancient texts and logic of ancient languages. It was however based on religious doctrine with Many (school goals, curriculum, and methods derived from supernatural One = M1 mode)
Progressivism: it was rejection of raw accumulation of texts and facts with downgrading the very notion of knowledge and move to perceptual level exercises and processes. It was mode of Many without One D2.
Pluralism (In Schools): This is D1 mode – Ones in the Many with multiple instances of percepts and concepts presented chaotically with consistent rejection of integration as impossibility.
Totalitarian Education: This form of education is fully designed to indoctrinate individuals into whatever ideology rules a given totalitarian society. It has always a few unalienable characteristics: It is always collectivist, it has always clearly defined enemy either bourgeois class, or Jews, or whatever. Observed facts had to be subverted to comply with a priory concept of ruling ideology. It is M2 mode– One without many.
I Approach: There are no clear examples of I approach in contemporary educational systems. Author only provides a speculation based on his experience as processor. The crux of the matter should be integration of high level philosophical concepts with lower level concepts derived from clearly identified percepts. It should also include extensive horizontal integration between various areas of knowledge. It should be One in Many mode – I.
Absolute Monarchy: In this form it is Many from One mode when king is the One. M1 mode.
Capitalism: This form of society is integration of Many individuals interacting through market into One prosperous society where everybody is trying to make living by doing something that other people need: I mode.
Pluralism (In Government): This is form of contemporary western societies when basic principles disconnected from reality of everyday concerns and actions. It is D1 mode where Many interspersed by unconnected Ones.
Totalitarianism: This form popular in the middle of XX century is deifying collective and diminish individuals all the way to annihilation. It is One without Many – M2 mode.
Egalitarianism: This form was never really implemented and will never be implemented because its promoters always exclude themselves insisting on being more equal then others. It is more of a method of obtaining electoral support in democratic society for bureaucratic machinery of state. Ideologically it is Many without One – D2 mode.
PART THREE: DIM IN PRE-MODERN CULTURE
This part is a pretty detailed review of pre-modern cultures from point of view of DIM hypothesis assigning specific mode sequences to different areas of these cultures. So here are the assignments:
9. Greece: Literature – mode I; Science – I; Education – I; and Politics – I.
It is quite interesting that author assigns the best and fully objectivist mode to all areas of Greek culture, but does not concentrate on reasons why this breakthrough eventually did not held. There is mention of incomplete development of ideas and institutions and small scale and populations of Greek societies that prevented them from making their I-mode dominant in following Western societies.
10. Rome: Literature-M1 mode; Physics-M2; Education-M1; and Politics-M1
11. The Middle Ages: Literature – M2 mode; Science – M2; Education – M2; and Politics – M2.
Overall it seems that Western civilization got it right starting with Greeks who were mainly I mode culture then went to M1 mode in Rome, and then to M2 in Middle Ages. However contemporary cultures are jumping all over the place between all 5 modes everywhere with probable exception of education, which somehow never got a proper I-mode established. Could it be that it is source of our many troubles?
PART FOUR: THE FUTURE
12.Identifying a Culture’s Essence
Philosophy and Cultural Products: Philosophy that dominates society is not obvious on foreground for all to see. It is rather in background nearly invisible, defining thoughts and actions of individuals representing intellectual forces of society. Even if these individuals not clearly formulate or even understand philosophy they adhere to, they insert it in all cultural products that they generate. Author believes that he proves important generalization: Cultural Works are transmitters to a society of philosophical fundamentals.
Some Problems of Non-DIM Analysis: Non-DIM analysis does not provide a standard for analysis of cultural product. DIM does it by selecting product’s structural features, essential characteristics, and relationships between them without which it could not be considered whole.
The Two Philosophical Issues Underlying Mode: Metaphysical issue is the status of this world. Epistemological Issue is the status of concepts. The first one defines what to integrate and the second defines how to integrate.
13.The West’s Modal Progression
The mode is a way of thinking and it lasts for a long period of time until some triggering event makes people to conclude that this mode is not working any more and they change to another mode of thinking considered more effective in achieving their goals. Author believes that DIM allows evaluate the status of current mode based on relevant events that may or may not undermine or strengthen current mode and available alternative modes that are represented in minds of population and, as result, produce not only valid explanation of previous mode changes, but also prediction of future change.
West modal progression went through 2 phases for each mode: one ancient and another contemporary. So here they are:
I (Integrations)- Ancient Greece and Enlightenment of XVIII century;
M1 (Misintegration of Worldly Supernaturalists) – Ancient Rome and Renaissance and Age of Reason of XVII century;
M2 (Platonic Misintegration of the One)- Middle Ages and Contemporary Totalitarians Marxism and Nazism with the One being Führer;
Author sees the M modes as dominant with I and D modes just as temporary interruptions. However even during these interruptions M is always in background waiting to show up as response to whatever crisis to occur.
Here is Mode change algorithm:
1. Instability of mixed mode
2. Inability of establishment to defend its mode due to philosophical deficiency
3. Modal rebellion by intellectuals
4. Modal rebellion by the public
5. Knowledge of acceptable alternative mode
14.Secular Modes in the United States Today
Secular modes are those that at minimum deny exclusive reality of supernatural: D1, D2, M1, and I. Currently there are multiple modes in play in the USA with D1 mainly being philosophy of educated (soft BA) elite. Based on number of college graduates about 15 mil or 5% of population. D2 is much smaller not more the 1-2 mil, but it includes elite of art, science, education, and politics, making it disproportionally influential. I mode supporters are unusually strong in America as evidenced by consistent split between American common-sense public (I) and intellectuals (D). However at the same time population continuously moving away from I mode accepting more and more growth in government. At this point author finds it impossible to define strength and potential of American subconscious adherence to I mode and predict either it will wither away over time or suddenly explode to the surface moving country as whole to tradition of founding fathers. M1 mode of significant part of population combines reality of supernatural with reality of natural world as represented by adherence of many Americans to both science and religion. It is philosophy of established traditional churches and it seems to be on its way out.
15. The Anti-Secular Rebellion
Author expects rebellion against contemporary D mode of elite and even M1 mode of philosophically peaceful coexistence between supernatural and natural. He believes that Christianity as M2 mode is on the raise being supported by significant forces in middle bureaucracy, military, and business. He also considers it a possibility of merge between Christianity and Environmentalism resulting in very robust M2 movement.
16. What’s Next?
In the best traditions of American doom and gloom future author believes that M2 is unstoppable and will result in totalitarian religious regime based on Christianity with property rights retained more as cultural tradition, than actual individual control over resources, pretty much as it was in Nazi Germany. It would also include high level of nationalism and external aggression. The time frame for all this is defined as next 50 years.
This prognosis is not presented as inevitable, but rather as high probability outcome. However there are some trends that could prevent such theocracy – small, but growing objectivist movement among intellectuals. Interestingly enough he finds a solace in the story of 300 Spartans who stopped huge Persian army in the battle of Thermopylae preventing annihilation of Western civilization in its cradle.
MY TAKE ON IT:
It is a very interesting philosophical interpretation of the history of Western civilization and prognosis of its future development, but in my opinion it is way too limited to be correct. The problem is that humans are not really philosophical creatures who think and act consistently with philosophical concepts they consciously or unconsciously developed in their minds. Humans are self-directing creatures who act mainly with the purpose to survive in a given environment and pass on to the next generation genes that were instrumental in their survival. As such creatures, humans develop conceptions about environment, their place in it, and actions they need and want to conduct on multiple levels with two main objectives: individual survival and group survival. Even at this level of simplification the two objectives they have are often contradictory when group’s survival may require individual sacrifices and vice versa. The point is I do not believe that humans could conceivably have non-contradictory, logically consistent philosophy and act on it. Moreover in addition to philosophical contradictions within one human head at one point of time there are many more contradictions between different incarnations of owner of this head over time. Just try a simple mental experiment: pick up an issue and try to imagine discussion between yourself as you are now and yourself-10 years, yourself-20 years, and so on. Now multiply it by about 300,000,000 times and you’ll get nearly infinite variation of philosophical views and concepts about reality or lack thereof at the same time in one society. In short humanity is way too complicated to predict its future development based on philosophical concepts simplified to 5 modes.
This brings me to the reason why I think that prediction of future theocratic totalitarism in America is way off the mark. The culture of this country combines tremendous practicality of people who were formed both genetically and culturally by their immigrant ancestors who carried in their minds ability to be comfortable with purely I mode approach to environment at the level of direct interaction with this environment and multiple variations and combinations of all modes in their minds at the level not related to such interactions. The second (ideological) level is mainly used to support group cohesiveness and pretty much nothing else, so it is not really important. What is important is American tolerance to this ideological level diversity formed by necessity to cooperate with neighbor who has different genetic, cultural, religious, and you name it background. This combination make it highly probable that Americans turn away from current trend of big government due to its inefficiency and impracticality and will do it within relatively short period of time because tolerance prevents big government from shutting down dissent. In my opinion all this makes theocratic totalitarian future unrealistic, but libertarian future with “I” mode dominant at the practical level and usual mess of all 5 modes at philosophical level will continue as usual with currently prominent collectivistic intelligentsia being destroyed by failure to produce promised governmental paradise.