Colegiul National "Moise Nicoara" Arad

A Transdisciplinar Perception on „Sides” of Existence and Knowledge

 

prof. Camelia Circa – Chirilă

prof. Octavia Potocean,

 „Moise Nicoară” High School Arad

 

Motto:

Reality is plastic. We are part of this reality,

 which is modified due to our  thoughts, feelings,

actions. This means that we are fully

responsible for what reality means. Reality is not something  

  exterior or interior: it is at the same time both

 exterior and interior.

(Basarab Nicolescu)

I.                   Argument

The purpose of our workshop has two aspects: on the one hand, it discusses a scientific, transdisciplinary problem, that of existence, knowledge and reality levels; on the other hand, it brings to attention a transdisciplinary didactic approach to these concepts.

The human being is the complex being that is aware of its becoming from existence to knowledge, inevitably appealing to communication, although all these simultaneously exist in us, but they appear differently at each age level. Then, can we refer to different/progressive levels of existence, communication and knowledge ? Objective, affective and rational thinking represents a route implying continuity and discontinuity, expression and repression, due to a simultaneous potentiality and updating of reality and knowledge levels.

In our didactic construction, we used a literary text that, though not considerably lengthy, synthesises  this enitre vision on knowledge of ages and ages of knowledge, through a mathematical symmetry and a logical coherence of the coordinates of emotional, psychological and especially cognitive manifestations, semantically articulating them under the keynote of existence, of to be, completely and entirely. The scientific approach is, of course, transdisciplinary, falling back on the theory of reality levels established by Basarab Nicolescu, a theory impeccably illustrated by the text we have chosen, Three faces, by Lucian Blaga.

1.1  Transdisciplinary argument

Refering to the necessity of a cultural paradigm in the chapter that defines the concept of transdisciplinarity, Janina Flueraş highlights its three basic aspects: vision on the world, vision on knowledge and vision on the human being.

Thus, the vision on the world refers to a reality that is „ open unity and complex plurality at the same time”[1], with a triple structure (Subject, Object and Sacred, area corresponding to the  excluded middle, which unites S and O).

The transdisciplinary vision /approach on the human being has in mind its only possible evolution, that of its conscience, through simultaneous and conscious crossing of different Reality levels, called  autotranscendence and awakening, which can only be achieved through a „new type of intelligence, which should unify the multiple dimensions of the human being, genuinely alchemical process of balancing the mental (thoughts), emotional (feelings) and instinctual level of the human being”[2].

 

The transdisciplinary vision on knowledge  highlights the triple logic, that of the (logically) included middle, mentioned by Ştefan Lupaşcu, who announced that according to this triple logic there is an A term, a non – A term and a T term, which is  at the same time A and non – A (unlike the Aristotle’s double logic which functions on type A or non – A). Thus, the reference is to knowledge „in vivo”, not „in vitro”, the term of knowledge being synonymous to that of  understanding.[3]

In this sense, Basarab Nicolescu claims that „understanding of the axiom of the included middle – there is a third term T which is at the same time A and non-A – is completely clear when the notion of „reality levels”[4] is introduced. In other words, the suggestion is to represent the three terms of the triple logic (A, non-A and T) and their dynamism „by a triangle in which one point is situated at one reality level, and the other two points, at another reality level.”[5] The dynamism of the third, T, is thus manifested at another reality level, „where what appears disunited (wave or corpuscle) is in fact united (quantum), and what appears as contradictory is perceived as noncontradictory.” Acknowledgement of  Lupaşcu’s merit underlines the fact that he claimed that  „the infinite multiplicity of reality can be restructured, derived starting from only three logical terms. (…) The non-contradiction axiom is more and more strengthened through this process. In this sense, we can refer to an evolution of knowledge, without ever reaching an absolute non-contradiction, implying all Reality levels:  knowledge is always open. ”[6]  This idea is in accordance with Godel’s theorem, „ regarding arithmetics and, consequently, any mathematics that includes arithmetics and that tells us that a sufficiently rich system of axioms inevitably leads to results which are either impossible to decide on or are contradictory”[7], which represents an important consideration for any modern theory of knowledge, meaning that „any search of a complete physical theory is illusory. (…) The Godelian structure of the totality of reality levels, associated with the logic of the middle included, implies the impossibility of constructing a complete theory to describe the passage from one level to another and  a fostiori,  to describe the totality of reality levels. The unity that connects all reality levels, if existent, must necessarily be an open unity.”[8] Thus, Heisenberg’s observation, cited by Basarab Nicolescu, supports the idea mentioned above: „We can never achieve an accurate and complete portrait of reality.”[9] And this is because, according to Lupaşcu’s theory, reality undergoes a continuous process of simultaneous potentiality and updating: „Any element, any event implies an antagonistic element or event, and thus updating one involves, causes rendering the other potential. This principle is the dialectical principle of any energy.”[10]

Both updating and  potentiality imply the concept of possibility, but in an exactly contrary way: as a form of manifestation or of standby: Updating corresponds to making real, manifestation – in actions, properties and phenomena – of the possibilities of an entity. On the contrary, potentiality represents  a keeping on standby, in memory, of the possibilities of achievement.”[11] Jean – Louis Revardel notices the fact that absolute updating would mean complete potentiality, which would imply a limit that could trigger the complete disappearance of the physical or bilological world, respectively the entrance in another world order. Thus, the balance zone is represented by a median space, a third matter, that of the included middle, represented by „the quantum world of microphysics and that of the neuropsychism of the human being.”[12] So the change of the reality level will be made from the classical logic to the quantum one.

We hesitated a lot when choosing the literary text that should exemplify this theory of reality levels.After a few variants proposed as work model for secondary school students as part of some projects organised by  the Centre of transdisciplinary research in our school, a text caught our attention, Three faces by L. Blaga, which illustrates the reality levels through the three forms of knowledge (play/game, love, wisdom) which are simultaneously rendered potential and they are updated gradually, at each age level (child, young person, old person), at different levels. Appeared in the debut volume, Poems of light (1919), a volume characterised by expressive dynamism, the poem brings into discussion the Lucifer type of knowledge (as opposed to the rational heavenly knowledge, which has the role of researching the mystery), theoretically supported by Lucian Blaga in the volume „Stones for my temple ” from 1919 („Sometimes our duty in front of a real mystery is not to clear it, but to deepen it to such a degree that we should turn it in an even greater mystery „) and, later on, in „The Lucifer type of knowledge ” from 1933, volume that was then included in the work „Trilogy of knowledge „. In essence,  Lucian Blaga’ attitude is expressed by a  reflection: „For ages, philosophers thought they could finally understand the secrets of the world. Nowadays, philosophers do not believe this and they complain about being powerless. But I am glad I don’t know and that I can’t know what I am and what are the things around me, as this is the only way in which I can project in the mystery of the world a meaning, a purpose and values, which come from the most intimate necessities of my life and my spirit. The human being must be a creator, that is why I gladly give up the knowledge of the absolute.” Thus, love and the creative spirit become the supreme instrument of knowledge, rendering it potential. Play is added to love as a form of knowledge, and wisdom, as finality.

Play

Johan Huizinga himself mentioned the fact that the play implies escaping every day life and the usual routine, being situated above the antinomy wisdom – insanity, truth – untruth, good – evil, and having a meaning as a result, which gives it the ability to surpass the inferior level, which is biological and profane, entering the superior sacred level. The play thus becomes a way of knowledge, as L. Blaga masterly illustrates in his poem.

Another important observation is that the play is subordinated to the aesthetic as it represents order, not chaos, it contains “two features perceived by the human being in things, which it can itself express: rhythm and harmony, and it supposes several terms that express at the same time also the effects of beauty: strain, balance, oscillation, alternation, contrast, variation, connection, detachment, solution.” [13] 

Huizinga also noted that the play has two functions: that of fighting for something and that of displaying, of showing something, which transforms it in a show, with the purpose of drawing admiration. But the two can be united. So understanding the double function of the play  in this context, that of showing a fight for something, a competition, is a necessary condition for understanding the text rendered to attention.

Thus, we could say that in Blaga’s text, the play, though with different connotations at each age level (modus vivendi, affective competition, understanding) represents an open unity of knowing the reality, variable in time due to the affective, spiritual, intellectual evolution of the same human being.

Love

Considered “affective experience at the level of intrahuman transcendence”[14], love represents the confirmation of the affective value of the BEING: „Telling someone I love you has no meaning unless the person feels it within and lives it in its feelings. What one perceives is the movement of the other’s soul. It is what we call an affective confirmation. (…) This very special contact does not only refer to an emphatic, warning touch. It can appear naturally between beloved human beings during privileged moments when meeting. In a contact, this heart to heart meeting is particularly manifested between mother and suckling. It also acquires meaning with people at the end of their lives, when they surpass social preoccupations and focus on the essential aspect of the experience they have lived.”[15] But Revardel mentions that, according to the principle of updating and potentiality, love can also manifest itself as a potential contact, which is still remote from our soul. In this situation, the affective commitment of our being (determined by the affective connection with motherly love) represents potentiality in relation to the other, the beloved one, thus called an approach – to – come: „This very emotional, tender and cheerful feeling connects two human beings that step towards each other when they meet after a period of distance, of absence; it is as if, in its animated corporality, each person lived  the meeting in its corporality, such an intimate and affective feeling of being only one in the same corporality of affective commitment.”[16]

In the text proposed, love represents a value that is rendered potential and updated according to the needs of the human being (protection, affective confirmation, representation of meaning).

Wisdom

Named by Socrates as “a being with a child’s legs, a young person’s arms and an old person’s head”, wisdom represents the superior capacity of understanding and judging things, as well as temperance, caution, moderation determined by experience[17]. It is a quality acquired during a lifetime, with the help of intelligence. Considering the theory of updating and potentiality, we can bring into discussion Maurice Maeterlinck’s opinion on wisdom: “At the beginning, reason and love fight violently in a soul that rises, but wisdom is born out of the peace that finally settles between love and reason”, in other words, balance always appears in a place of extreme conflict between semi-updating and semi-potentiality of the properties opposed to the terms of dialectics[18], as Lupaşcu claims

Wisdom would represent the evolution of conscience towards accepting both yes and no, as Jung masterly concludes, explaining the terms of extraversion and  introversion: „It seems that, in the case of  extraversion and  introversion, there are two naturally opposed attitudes or two movements contrarily oriented, once called by Goethe diastole and  systole. Succeeding each other harmoniously, they are supposed to produce a rhythm of life ; but it seems that a supreme art of life is necessary to achieve this rhythm. For this purpose we should either be completely unaware, so that the natural law should not be disturbed by any act of conscience, or highly aware, so that we should be able to be willing and to perform the contrary movements. But since we cannot regress towards animal unawareness, what is left is the difficult way forward towards a higher awareness. Anyway, that awareness that has made it possible for the great Yes and No of life to be lived willingly and on purpose is a superhuman ideal and a target. The nature of our present mind only allows us to willingly wish for Yes and to at least bear a No. If this is the case, then it means that a lot has already been achieved.”[19]

Referring back to Blaga’s text,  wisdom implies the three faces of knowledge : the playful type, the Lucifer type and the transcendental type.

1.2  Didactic argument

The transdisciplinary didactic approach to this text is challenging both for students and teachers due to use of methods that suppose the knowledge in vivo, through a state called inner illumination, of becoming aware of the meaning, and not  in vitro, of the dogmatic type. As students are not only asked to remember certain information or operational concepts which they should apply to the literary text in order to show that they master them, but, through such an innovative manner, they are asked to organically associate the acquisition of literary and artistic culture with mastery of oral and written expression and expressiveness and with that of means and methods of critical, analytical, comparative and creative thinking.

Understanding and assuming this type of trasdisciplinary thinking, the desire to help the student gain access to it certainly implies applying some methods of critical thinking, but which should also aim at development of creativity, of reflexive and interrogative spirit. In this sense, the didactic objectives of this method imply some realistic and open principles: formation of the perception on the whole, of a holistic vision on the literature of the world and on the world of literature, but also on the real world, integration of the student in knowledge and learning, selection of a general theme that should particularise some trends of ideas, of aesthetic and ethical problems, creation of intertextual and intercultural correspondences; observing the blend of reflexive and rhetorical abilities; development of modern thinking, integrative as far as the text is concerned.

That is why the starting point in the didactic approach is mathematical, due to the text symmetry. As Ilie Torsan also mentions, the word SYMMETRY comes from the Greek terms SYM and METRIA, which means the same measure, notion that today corresponds to that of  proportion. „Let us consider an equilateral triangle. We can apply to it the following transformations, without changing it: we can rotate it with angles of 120, 240 and 360 degrees around  an axis that is perpendicular on the plan of the figure and that passes through the centre of the circle  cirscumscribing the triangle. These rotations change only the location of the points. But we can reflect the triangle in the mirror, proportionally to its heights. Through this transformation, one point keeps its position and the other two interchange. So this triangle has six symmetrical transformations, three rotations and three reflexions.

 

In order to explore the maze of symmetry, mathematicians use the theory of groups, considered as the universal language of symmetry or,  according to the mathematician James R. Newman, the supreme art of mathematical abstraction.”[20]

 

The group, set of elements with laws and rules of composition, has several essential properties: closing , associativeness, the neutre element and the symmetrical element. In the group theory, permutations are very  important. It is what we are going to try to highlight, mathematically interpreting Blaga’s text.

II.                A possible transdisciplinary didactic scenario

The child laughs:

„My wisdom and my love is play!”

The young man sings:

“My wisdom and my play is love!”

The old man is silent:

„My love and my play is wisdom!”

(Lucian Blaga, Three faces)

1. The warming up moment may be a discussion about the biological age / the spiritual age / levels of knowledge – frontally; the essential and provocative questions may be: Can we simultaneously have more ages? Can we simultaneously reach multiple types of knowledge?

2. After discussing and explaining the concepts of symmetry and permutation, the underlying mathematically logical formula is given, as well as a list of words, and the participants at the workshop are requested to create meaningful texts –independent work- by playing with the words, and then, taking turns, to read the texts they have produced.

Mathematical formulation


The list of words (participants may add others as well): hourglass, sand, water, time, weather, day, night, twilight, light, darkness, horse, thirst, hunger, cold, dog, rain, sun, cloud, crying, laughter, included, unincluded, moment, white, black, gray, sweet, bitter, salty etc

A few examples of texts created using the mathematical formula offered :

 

The flower shakes :

„My soul and my fruit is seed.”

The tree ripens :

„My soul and my seed is fruit.”

The man thinks :

„My seed and my fruit is soul.”

The director thinks/ indicates :

„My light and my smile is living.”

The actor says:

„My living and my light is smile.”

The spectator understands/ feels:

„My smile and my living is light.”

The spring is un-done:

„My apricot tree and my sweetness is perfume.”

The summer is done :

„My perfume and my sweetness is the apricot tree.”

The autumn is pre-done :

„My apricot tree and my perfume is sweetness.”

3. Blaga’s Three faces is read and the symmetry of the text is discussed – frontally

Explanation:

A is the set which contains all the actions which a man does in his childhood, B – in his youth, C – in his twilight, x is play, y – love, z – wisdom. The three reunited sets form all the actions of a man in his life.

Moreover, without them being told the tile of the text, they might be asked to guess it, and then to discuss its meanings and plural references (of religious, mathematical, philosophic etc. order)

4. The participants are given a few geometric solids (cone, tetrahedron, cube etc.) and are asked to identify that shape which might represent the relations in the text and, perhaps, to observe what component might be represented on each face of the tetrahedron – frontally or in teams

5. Debate – The discussion will be carried out around the concepts already approached during the work: integrative thought, simultaneous ages and the included middle, but also the open unity of knowledge.

Following this line of thought, we deem it important to bring forth the concept of the integrity of the being, as said by Jean-Louis Revardel, who connects this concept both to “living in that here – and – now of the person’s existence”, as well as to “the entire historicity of its psycho-affective individuality”[21], suggesting that this integrity implies reaching towards “the universality of mankind, a uniqueness which, in the human being, is at the level of ONE, of THE BEING, of THE TRUTH.” [22]

Seen as summed up, the integrality of the being thus covers, at the same time:

  1. the feeling of our bodily completion
  2. the potential appeal to our psychic and cognitive faculties
  3. the potential appeal to our emotional faculties[23]

In her book, The Iceberg Text, Carmen Vlad underlines these ideas by unifying the three ages as forms of knowledge of a unique being: “In the global significance of the poem (in this case the discussed text, Three faces by Lucian Blaga), Homo ludens, Homo loquens and Homo sapiens are not three distinct entities, but three masks, fundamental components of the unique, indivisible cultural being, in its perpetual oscillation between the primordial knowledge, by play, and the fundamental communication, by silence.” [24]

The three manifestations of the human character, rendered potential and updated by turns – existence, manifestation and experience – also appear in Johan Huizinga’s book, both in its preface, signed by G. Liiceanu, who notes that „the play is a dimension of existence, a reality that overflows the boundaries of childhood, invading, like a figure whose essence eludes us still, the whole region of the human being”[25], as well as in the text itself. Thus, not only the game is the dimension of the entire human being, but also poetic thought and wisdom include the playful side: „Poiesis is a ludic function. It takes place in the play-space of the mind, in a world of its own which the mind creates, a world where things are different from those in ordinary life and are bound by ties other than the logic ones. (…) The uniformity of the archaic culture appears in competitions in the realm of knowledge and of wisdom.” [26]

III.              Conclusions

 

Certainly, any literary text causes a way of thought and an attitude that is aimed at creating values that establish man as a being. Just by having contact with the spirit of the text, approaching it as a personal dialogue beyond the cultural space beyond the current times, trying to discover what every artistic creation has the most significant and unique, the student can discover oneself, transdisciplinary revelation of one’s own place and part in relation to the world, time, art and culture. For world culture includes different forms of civilization and human types, thus marking a spiritual evolution.

The proposed disciplinary approach, using a few known methods: learning through discovery, the Evocation – Realizing the Meaning – Reflection setting, The Cube Method covers not only the critical thinking, but also the creative one. Moreover, appealing to debate means developing necessary life skills aimed at integrative thinking. However, the selected methods are also aimed at crossing the road from personal life to text and back, especially by producing imaginative, reflective or interpretative texts: after the students discover techniques of constructing literary compositions, design decoding schemes of the artistic message, they are asked, starting from them, to create their own artistic or critical vision. To acquire basic techniques in decoding and then writing an imaginative text is the way of passing from reading activities to writing ones by requirements such as: create, invent, recreate, modify etc. The research work with the text, seeking forms of personal expression, requires an open approach which promotes the and – and, and not the or – or way of thought.

We must also emphasize the gain in the relationship between mathematical thinking, operational and analytical and the poetic one, speculative and creative. In the proposed working method, the advantage given by mathematics is visible in all which concerns learning abstractization, seeing the essential, by converting the literary text into mathematical formulae and by logical reasoning which can, in turn, shape the world and its laws. After all, as Ion Barbu illustrated, mathematics and poetry are two complementary ways of understanding the same world.


References:

Janina Flueraş, Transdisciplinaritatea şi educaţia – repere fundamentale, în Mirela Mureşan, Transdisciplinaritatea – de la un experiment spre un model didactic, Junimea Publishing House, 2010

Basarab Nicolescu, Ce este realitatea?, Junimea Publishing House , 2009

Stephane Lupasco, Lenergie et la matiere vivante, Julliard, 1974

Jean – Louis Revardel, Stephane Lupasco şi translogica afectivităţii, în La confluenţa a două culturi. Lupasco astăzi – Lucrările Colocviului Internaţional UNESCO, Curtea Veche Publishing House, Bucureşti, 2010

Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucureşti, 2007

C. G. Jung, Opere complete 7. Două scrieri despre psihologia analitică, Bucureşti, Trei Publishing House, 2007

Ilie Torsan, Mihai Eminescu. Simetria în poezie, Editura Universitară, Bucureşti, 2010

Carmen Vlad, Textul aisberg, Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă Publishing House, 2003



[1]Janina Flueraş, Transdisciplinaritatea şi educaţia – repere fundamentale, în Mirela Mureşan, Transdisciplinaritatea – de la un experiment spre un model didactic, Editura Junimea, 2010, p. 21

[2] Idem, pp 30 – 32

[3] Idem, pp 26 – 27

[4] Basarab Nicolescu, Ce este realitatea?, Editura Junimea, 2009, p. 80

[5] Idem, p.80

[6] Idem, p.81

[7] Idem, p.85

[8] Idem, pp.86 – 87

[9] Idem, p.95

[10] Stephane Lupasco, Lenergie et la matiere vivante, Julliard, 1974

[11] Jean – Louis Revardel, Stephane Lupasco şi translogica afectivităţii, în La confluenţa a două culturi. Lupasco astăzi – Lucrările Colocviului Internaţional UNESCO, Editura Curtea Veche, Bucureşti, 2010, p. 119

[12] Idem, p. 120

[13] Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2007, p.52

[14] Jean – Louis Revardel, op. cit, p. 125

[15] Idem, p. 128

[16] Idem, pp 129 – 130

[17] conform DEX

[18] Idem, p. 120

[19] C. G. Jung, Opere complete 7. Două scrieri despre psihologia analitică, Bucureşti, Editura Trei, 2007, p74

[20] Ilie Torsan, Mihai Eminescu. Simetria în poezie, Editura Universitară, Bucureşti, 2010, p. 4

[21] Jean – Louis Revardel, op. cit, p. 127

[22] Idem, p. 126

[23] Idem, p. 126

[24] Carmen Vlad, Textul aisberg, Editura Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă, 2003, p. 220

[25] Johan Huizinga, op. cit., p.6

[26] Johan Huizinga, op. cit., p.179

sus