March 03, 2006


I do not know who deserves the credit for the word (possibly it was first used by Paul H. Ray. It was Ray who first used the phrase "cultural creatives" to describe a significant segment of the American population that he identified as pioneering, or otherwise contributing to, a newly emergent integralist culture in the United States... "Transmodernism" is, firstly and obviously, a name. More than any condition or doctrine, what it names is primarily an aspiration. It is the name given to a desire to transcend the perceived limitations and constraints of a narrow modernity or post-modernity -- a desire to rise above and beyond both Max Weber's "iron cage" of modernity's narrow instrumentalism as well as post-modernity's dissolute fragmentation and relativism.
Transmodernism is a spiritual emigration from the present. This is represented in the current effort to restore to mind the whole temporal dimension in thought which was methodologically excluded in Newtonian "single vision" and in Cartesian dualism. Transhumanists (or transmodernists. I intend to recapture the term "transhuman" from the cyborgs) are spiritual emigres, which necessarily highlights the temporal dimension in transmodernist thinking. To my mind, the foremost exemplar of that effort to restore the time dimension to thought has been the speech-thinker Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.
Even while Fukuyama was declaring the inevitable triumph and final closure of the "iron cage" of bureaucratic and instrumental rationality in his End of History, and the reign forever more of what Blake would probably call the "soul shuddering vacuum", the interfaith dialogue had already released the explosive potency of the transformative spirit from the shackles of mere religionism, just as Blake had prophetically envisioned: "The war of swords departed now, The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns" ("Science", that is, in the sense of Wisdom or Gnosis, or as Reason rather than rationality. Blake had his own understanding of the meaning of "Enlightenment" and it didn't quite jibe with that of the Newton and the philosophes).
This is the dialogical principle in action. It bridges the times as well as the spaces of life (or, as Rosenstock-Huessy himself put it, dialogue both synchronises and coordinates). Once the so-called "cultural creatives" identify the source of that vocation or imperative, they will also know the goal, and will be able to profess it unanimously (or what the spatially and materialistically minded once called "solidarity" in the classic idiom of Newtonianism). Unanimity is only solidarity carried to a higher level of awareness by the penetration into it of consciousness and the conscientiously dialogical, which in turn transforms mere "social movement" into deliberative "social action", and mere "social forces" into consciously inspired and aspiring "social actors". Superficially, unanimity and solidarity are treated as synonyms. But there is a world of difference between conscious "actors" and mere functionaries or cogs in the machine. "Unanimity" is time-binding speech. "Solidarity" is space-bound thinking.
Instead of assimilation to the One, it pursues the integration of the Many, instinctively seeking to preserve and conserve their distinctive integrity. "Health", in its fullest meaning, is the revolutionary value of the future, as Rosenstock-Huessy anticipated decades ago. Modernity, as Nietzsche wrote, subjected life to a radical devaluation. Life became "nothing but..." this or that. It declared that life had no purpose and was merely mechanical. In the end, Modernity iself became what it beheld, a thing mechanical and without purpose. Consequently, it has become something that must be outrun, overcome, and transcended. by longsword on Wed 09 Mar 2005 02:46 PM CST

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