In the context of my philosophical counseling practice at the Philosophical Parlour (Stockholm, Sweden), I have introduced the practical notion of “crealectic intelligence”, a meta-analytic and meta-dialectic understanding of our being in the world.
Analytic forms of intelligence were certainly a major step in human evolution. Some eighteen centuries ago, in his account of Aristotle’s Analytics, Alexander of Aphrodisias wrote that the one who “uses analysis […] reduces composite bodies into simple bodies” (c.200 CE, 49, §2.4), thus separating an unknown into parts that are known (Arnauld & Nicole, 1996, p. 200). Analysis is a moment of distinctive literacy facilitating communication and the effectual manipulation of the Real. If an intentional consciousness is not able to distinguish discrete parts in the world by reading them as potential text or protocol, it might remain dreamy or confused (Craig, 1984, p. 41). Shared intelligence needs an analytic moment in order for agents to communicate their rational reading of a given situation.
Once we start disagreeing with a given analysis or simply debating aspects of it, we are adding a dialectic dimension, which I argue functions as a bridge between analytics and crealectics (or “hyper-dialectics”, Merleau-Ponty, 1968). Since Plato, dialectic intelligence designates an interpretative conversation in which there is a more or less rational tension between different or agonistic perspectives (from dialegesthai: to talk through). Dialectics is “the progression of thought through the appearance of oppositions within one and the same unity” (Bloch, 1983, p. 288). This form of thinking can be performed between different subjects or within the same personal mind, as in Socrates’s inner dialoguewith his guardian divinity, his daimonion (McMahon, 2013, p. 40), or as in Descartes’ cogito, which can be defined as the human capacity for an internal individual dialectics, a form of consciousness that is capable of self-contradiction or self-examination. In Hegel’s grandiose variant, dialectic intelligence described the ubiquitous and necessary unfolding of a time-dependent yet absolute process of negations and performative contradictions towards the realisation of Spirit or Mind.
The dialectic stage of understanding is necessary to transform a reading of signs into a deliberative interpretation that encompasses real or apparent contradictions. However, this moment of intelligence is not sufficient to act healthfully and sustainably upon the world because the synthesis it proposes can be contested and, by definition, negated anew, endlessly. Moreover, dialectics tends to fall into binary dichotomies, which are themselves cognitive reductions, even if they seem to introduce more complexity than analytic intelligence (Elbow, 1993). For example, the two categories of disease and normal health are oblivious of possible alternative mental or physical states that are neither normal nor unhealthy (Canguilhem, 1991, p. 97). The human phenomenon of psychological resilience is neither pathological nor normal: it is a “novelty”, a manifestation of crealectic intelligence (de Miranda, 2019).
Analytic and dialectic intelligences cannot exhaust our experience of meaningful social agency. Social reality is polysemantic and implies a multiplicity of decisions, beliefs and acts in which the very factualization of data, the attribution of a syntax to a given reality, is itself already filtered by creative and active imagination and an embodied perspective. I call “crealectic” cosmologically- and socially engaged form of consciousness that is aware of acting upon a world of multiplicity and possibility, with the ideal of co-creation in mind. Crealectics deals with processing realities and imaginaries of novelty, plurality and ambiguity, rather than mere contradiction of binary polarities or operations of known bits; its ontological core is the idea of co-creation and compossibility based on a dynamic principle of infinite possibility (Bergson, 1922; Whitehead, 1929; Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, de Miranda, 2017).
The aim of my philosophical counseling practice is to curate a balanced analytical-dialectical-crealectical subject, a cosmopolitical, ambitious and joyfully creative citizen-thinker who cares to take holistic decisions towards a philosophically- and collectively healthier way of life.
Alexander of Aphrodisias (c.200 CE /1991). On Aristotle’s prior analytics (J. Barnes, Trans.). London: Duckworth.
Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Arnauld, A., & Nicole, P. (1996). Logic or the art of thinking. (J.V. Buroker, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Assemblée Nationale Française (2019). Compte-rendu 28 [Account of debate 28], Commission des Affaires Économiques, 11 Décembre2019.
Bergson, H. (1922). Creative evolution (A. Mitchell, Trans.). London: MacMillan.
Bloch, E. (1983). The dialectical method (J. Lamb, Trans.). Man and World, 16(4), 281–313.
Canguilhem, G. (1991). The normal and the pathological (C. R. Fawcett, Trans.). New York: Zone Books.
Clewis, R. R. (2019). The sublime reader. London: Bloomsbury.
Craig, R. P. (1984). Developing a philosophy of reading: Piaget and Chomsky. Reading Horizons, 25(1), 38–42.
Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1994). What is philosophy? (H. Tomlinson & G. Burchell, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.
De Miranda, L. (2008). Paridaiza. Paris: Plon.
De Miranda, L. (2009). Peut-on jouir du capitalisme? Lacan avec Heidegger et Marx [Can we enjoy capitalism? Lacan with Heidegger and Marx]. Paris: Max Milo.
De Miranda, L., Ramamoorthy R., & Rovatsos, M. (2016). We, anthrobot: Learning from human forms of interaction and esprit de corps todevelop more diverse social robotics. In What Social Robots Can and Should do (pp. 48–56). Amsterdam: IOS Press.
De Miranda (2017). On the concept of Creal: The politico-ethical horizon of a creative absolute. In The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research (pp. 510–16). Louvain: Leuven University Press.
De Miranda, L. (2019). Being and neonness. Cambridge, MIT Press.
De Miranda, L. (2020). Ensemblance: The transnational genealogy of esprit de corps. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Elbow, P. (1993). The uses of binary thinking. Journal of Advanced Composition 13(1), 51–78.
Foucault (2005). The hermeneutics of the subject. (G. Burchell, Trans.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hegel, G.W.F (1806/1984). Letter to Friedrich Niethammer, 13 October 1806. In C. Butler & C. Seiler (Trans.), The Letters. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Holton, G. (1978). The scientific imagination: Case studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jousse, M. (2016). In search of coherence (E. Sienaert, Trans.). Eugene: Pickwick Publications.
Kaan, E. (1999). Syntax and semantics? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3(9), 322.
Koistinen, O. (2014). Desire and good in Spinoza. In M.J. Kisner & A. Joupa (Eds.), Essays on Spinoza’s Ethical Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lyotard, J.-F. (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge(G. Bennington & B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lyotard, J.-F. (1994). Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime (E. Rottenberg, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible. (A. Lingis, Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: W. W. Norton.
Quine, W. V., & Ullian, J. S. (1978). The web of belief. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Sinclair, M. (2017). The actual and the possible: Modality and metaphysics in modern philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Slife, B. D. (1994). The possibility of possibility. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 14 (1), 96–101.
Thompson, H. E. (1997). The fallacy of misplaced concreteness: Its importance for critical and creative inquiry. Interchange, 28(2 & 3), pp. 219–30.
Virág, C. (2017). The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Whitehead, A.N. (1926). Science and the modern world. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Whitehead, A. N. (1929). Process and reality. New York: MacMillan.
Wiitala, M. O. (2013). Desire and the Good in Plotinus. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 21(4), 649–666.
Wittgenstein, L. (1958). Philosophical investigations (G.E.M. Anscombe, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell.
I am delighted to announce that from January 2021, I will officially be part of the new Center for Medical Humanities team at Uppsala University, led by Dr Ylva Söderfeldt.
I will be personally working on philosophical health. My topic will be The Rediscovery of Philosophy as a Way Toward Health and the “Mind over Matter” Idea.
“The preservation of health has always been the principal end of my studies.” Descartes to the Duchess of Newcastle (cited in Health, a History, 2019, Oxford Philosophical Concepts, OUP).
My project is to contribute to the transnational contemporary intellectual history of the ideas of philosophical health and “mind over matter” and explore how explicit or implicit philosophising is or can be used in contexts of care. In order to contribute to current interdisciplinary efforts to form a sustainable, holistic and critical concept of health, I am performing a genealogy (or “histosophy”: see my article in Global Intellectual History) of the idea of “mind over matter” (and variants such as “mind over body”) as it unfolded in the last 200 years and the ideal of philosophical health as it is being rediscovered and practiced in the last decades by practitioners called “philosophical counselors”, a practice in which I am also empirically and humanly engaged since 2018. I am also interested in the intellectual history of philosophical medicine, the French-German Romantic idea (1750-1850) that medicine should be grounded in cosmology and unifying philosophical or existential principles rather than on mere empirical data. I’ll be also looking at what the intellectual history of process philosophy (Hegel, Whitehead, Bergson, Deleuze, among others) has to say about healthy living.
“The artist in executing his work is creating the possible as well as the real…”H. Bergson, “Le possible et le réel,” in La Pensée et le Mouvant. Essais et conférences, Paris, Félix Alcan, 1934, translated by Mabelle L. Andison, “The possible and the real,” in The creative mind, The Philosophical Library, 1946.
Around 2001 I expressed my desire for a book that would be called, in French, Système du Vécu, a System of the Lived Experience. I believe I have the same desire today, expressed under another label: a theory of crealectics. But whose lived experience are we talking about? Mine? If it is a theory, it should refer to any lived experience, human, animal, any living being to a certain degree. There is here the assumption that all living beings share the same fundamental way of being or becoming, although with variations in a continuum.
We are talking about an embodied theory, one that is experiential and not only intellectual or abstract. If a theory of crealectics is possible, everything that I do, or think, may be part of the same narrative, the same symbolic network. All events can be explained and interrelated under the same worldview. But there is also the possibility that theories are metamorphic, therefore ultimately inconsistent, or consistently indeterminate.
I coined the concept of crealectics, as I have written elsewhere, as a combination of Creal and (dia)lectics. Creal is the name I gave a long time ago in the French novel Paridaiza (to be published in English translation in October 2020) to the feeling and conviction that there is one cosmological ground to everything there is, a creative given or flux, a divine immanent stream of infinite possibility or plenitude, of which we are, more or less actively, co-agents. The ultimate Real, I wrote, is a Creal, a generous and loving – sometimes apparently destructive – possibilisation furnace, a continuous creation of multiplicities, potentialities and actualities. Alfred North Whitehead called it “Creativity”, and Bergson “creative evolution”. A theory of everything should be possible if we accept that the core of the universe is the fact that potentially everything is possible, although not everything gets actualised in the same world. Leibniz would say: everything is possible but not everything is compossible.
Hegelian or Marxian dialectics is, in simplified terms, the idea that reality unfolds historically via a process of contradiction and agonism of opposites which generate new temporary conciliations. Crealectics is meta-dialectical because the ground of apparently contrarian forces at play in lived experience is not necessarily dual, binary, made of couples of opposites, but multiple, chaotic, made of multidirectional conjunctions that are only contradictory for a surface perspective. Moreover, I wrote in Being & Neonness that the hypothesis of the absolute Creal presupposes the hypothesis of the idea of absolute One; unity is the implied horizon of the infinitely diverse, and vice versa. This is logical, ontological and cosmological, since these three aspects, to be truthful, must be one in crealectics or any monist view of the world for that matter.
I also wrote that the universe is a love story between Creal and One, Multiplicity and Unity, in a hyper-dialectical dance. The dynamics and tensions between multiplicity and Unity are enough to create worlds, orders, evolution, matter, mind. This is probably what a theory of crealectics should explain more clearly. I am also aware that Plotinus among other Greek Platonists might have had similar views. Merleau-Ponty suggested en passant, in his unfinished last book, the necessity of a “hyper-dialectics”.
Luis de Miranda: “Histosophy as Method”, Talk at Uppsala University, Live and via zoom, 5 November 2020.
- Datum: 5 november, kl. 13.15–15.00
- Plats: Engelska parken – Rausingrummet
- Arrangör: Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria
- Kontaktperson: Sven Widmalm
Luis de Miranda, Uppsala universitet: “Histosophy as Method: How I Used It and How I Plan to Use It Again Now”
I was invited today to participate in the 1st International Workshop on New Foundations for Human-Centered AI, with some members of the “High Level Expert Group in AI” appointed by the European Commission. There was an interesting (virtual and written) discussion about the European HLEG ethics guidelines for Artificial Intelligence. Here are (a bit out of context) my 3 skeptical comments in the form of post-its. I also add the PDF of the Projected European guidelines, which are still being discussed.
“The preservation of health has always been the principal end of my studies.” Descartes to the Duchess of Newcastle (cited in Health, a History, 2019, Oxford Philosophical Concepts, OUP). Therefore there might be a deep connection between health and cogito –think about it.