It’s only ontology.

From the Dictionary:


noun: ontology; plural noun: ontologies
the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.
a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them.
“what’s new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets”


early 18th century: from modern Latin ontologia, from Greek ōn, ont- ‘being’ + -logy.

I have long had a phrase I use “It’s only ontology”.  I use it to listen to people as they talk about Jesus, Chi, Shan, God, spirit or soul and so on.  My little phrase reminds me to listen to the person rather than get into a debate about the existence of this or that. Also, irrespective of the existence of stuff, ontology  “shows properties and the relations between” categories.  For an archetypal psychologist, for example,  there is a fundamental distinction between soul and spirit. Other people may use the words differently, yet they can reveal much about their world view.  It’s only ontology.

PSM_V10_D562_The_hindoo_earthScreen Shot 2020-07-27 at 11.19.24 PM

I am looking back on earlier posts in relationship to ontology.  Here is one where my phrase does not hold:

Continue reading “It’s only ontology.”

Eric Voegelin & Participatory Consciousness

quoted in

The Philosopher and the Storyteller
By Charles R. Embry

The symbols do not refer to structures in the external world but to the existential movement in the metaxy from which they mysteriously emerge as the exegesis of the movement in intelligibly expressive language. Their meaning can be said to he understood only if they have evoked in the listener or reader the corresponding movement of participatory consciousness. Their meaning, thus, is not simply a matter of semantic understanding; one should rather speak of their meaning as optimally fulfilled when the movement they evoke in the recipient consciousness is intense and articulate enough to form the existence of its Human bearer and to draw him, in his or her turn, into the loving quest of truth.

google books


I found it fascinating that through the words participatory consciousness the dialogue and archetypal psychology – with its notion of metaxy come together.

Careful reading of the passage points to the responsibility of the sender. Sending might involve beauty. In imago we are asked to listen to some ugly sends! Fair enough, but what if they were works of art?

Plato’s Metaxy

I have several earlier posts about this but the link where I quote this particular essay has gone dead. Searching on a snippet I found the whole (?) item on a Japanese website. I don’t know the author or original source. The old dead link might be a clue:

I now have a Metaxy tag, which should bring up all relevant posts, though search works too.

The whole item follows:

Continue reading “Plato’s Metaxy”

Yet more Metaxy

This time from James Hillman

Especially—this Neoplatonic tradition is thoroughly Western even if it is not empirical in method, rationalist in conception, or otherworldly spiritual in appeal. This tradition holds to the notion of soul as a first principle, placing this soul as a tertium between the perspectives of body (matter, nature, empirics) and of mind (spirit, logic, idea). Soul as the tertium, the perspective between others and from which others may be viewed, has been described as Hermetic consciousness (Lopez–Pedraza 1977), as “esse in anima” (Jung [1921] CW 6, §66, 77), as the position of the mundus imaginalis by Corbin, and by Neoplatonic writers on the intermediaries or figures of the metaxy. Body, soul, spirit: this tripartite anthropology further separates archetypal psychology from the usual Western dualistic division, whose history goes back before Descartes to at least the ninth century (869: Eighth General Council at Constantinople), occurring also in the medieval ascension of Averroes’ Aristotelianism over Avicenna’s Platonism. Consequences of this dualistic division are still being felt in that the psyche has become indistinguishable from bodily life, on the one hand, or from the life of the spirit on the other. In the dualistic tradition, psyche never had its own logos. There could be no true psychology. A first methodologically consistent attempt to articulate one in a philosophical style belongs also within the perimeters of archetypal psychology (Evangelos Christou 1963).

More metaxy

Nous, Ananke and Eros: Reflections about the Images of the Soul by Marcus Vinicius Quintaes

João talks of love as being “a bridge which helps people connect these two places that are so very distant one from the other”; it is in this mediating space, on this bridge, in this intermediary region that the Greeks called Metaxy, that Eros is located, acts, and comes true. A region neither human nor divine, neither conscious nor unconscious, simply intercourse between regions. It is in this Metaxy, intermediary region where Eros can fly and burn with his arrows, that we find the realm of psychic reality: a place we should all go to, in search for the exercise of our Soul-making.


I have liked to this essay before, it is crucial to my explorations, because the whole of psychotherapy is in the metaxy. The transference is participatory. The Imago match is participatory perception. Cyberspace is participatory, not just justice, good, beauty though these large ideas were the cyberspace at the time.

These theoretical uses, perception, relationships between the ideas, and epistemology are intertwined. The philosopher resembles Eros, because he or she is able to “know” both knowledge and opinion. He / she can know “true knowledge” because of participation in the ideas. Since he can participate in the ideas of justice, good, etc., the philosopher is even able to perceive the world better.(8) Since the philosopher is also able to participate in the (lesser) forms, including justice, good, beauty, he / she will be also be most virtuous. Thus, the theoretical uses of metaxy all band together to form a coherent picture of Plato’s philosophy, a philosophy which is between idealism and realism.

Though I have trouble with the postmodern school as the writing never fully connects with me, there is a strong respect here for the archetypal trdition, here are some paragraphs to mull over from David L. Miller, 1966:

The world is itself a graphic interface with “icons” clicking us rather than we them. As Henry Corbin had noted, the world is mundus imaginalis, a medial imaginal cosmos, like Plato’s metaxy, the realm of the phantasm. We are in a sort of Windows 95: an screen of images pointing to no-thing on either side but a so-called reality that is in fact virtual. William James had remarked that in the twentieth century the greatest discovery was the unconscious. Gilbert Durand has added that in the twenty-first century the greatest discovery will be the content of the unconscious: namely, images. Perhaps we are already there. From TV satellite dish, to computer terminal, laser holography, and imaging centers with diagnostic MRIs, as Andre Agassi says in a camera commercial: “Image is everything.”

A postmodern theologian of culture, Mark C. Taylor (who not incidentally was honored by the Carnegie Foundation as the 1995 Teacher of the Year) has helped in his writings to bring to differentiated articulation the implications of a culture of simulacrae for teaching. In a book (Imagologies) that reports on values in teaching where classrooms in Finland and in Massachusetts are electronically linked, Taylor points out that cultural “imagology insists that the word is never simply a word but is always also an image” (styles). “The return of the figure disfigures the disfiguration of concepts by reinscribing the imago in the midst of the logos” (simcult) The audio-visual trace of the word involves an inescapable materiality that can be thought only if it is figured. The abiding question for conceptual reflection, according to Taylor, is: “How to (dis)figure the wor(l)d?”–a statement written in a manner so as to enable at least four possible readings (styles).

Others besides Taylor, and not only those in the study of religions, have mapped the contemporary hermeneutical task similarly. I have alluded already to the essay in which Derrida writes that “every abstrtact concept hides a sensible figure” (1982: 210). And I have mentioned, also, Wittgenstein and Bachelard. But there is also the important cultural and intellectual work of George Lakoff and J. A. T. Mitchell, both of whom have offered strategies of thinking and working in a world of semiotic simcult, a world in which, as Taylor has observed there is a fundamental irony. “A paradox of the imaginary.” writes Taylor, is that “the proliferation of images is iconoclastic” (communicative practices). This is because of the infinite deferral of final definitive signification. Since closure is not possible, neither is idolatry or dogmatism or ideologism or colonialism. When these emerge, as indeed they do and will, they are defenses against the situation in which we find ourselves.

The Deceiving Virtues of Technology

An essay by Steve Talbott it is available in NetFuture #125 I have since read it more fully and find I have two points to make (for now): One, it is about technology not cyberspace, which is fine of course, but the latter is so much more probing, and later in the debate this lack of an experiential perspecive becomes more important. He is machine not experience focused. Secondly, it is about the journey of the Self. It might sound esoteric, but Self even with a capital, is not the soul, the focus on Self places us in a different realm. Cliff Bostock, puts it this way in the Decoding Hillman essay.

For Hillman it is enough to continually deepen one’s sense of life’s beauty. This is soulmaking. We should not confuse the soul with the Self. The soul seeks and expresses difference. It delights in multiplicity. It confers meaning by processing images and, most important, it is not “inside” us. It is an “other.” It is with us. It is connected to the soul of the world, but it is most definitely not “us.” In Hillman’s world, we live as poets, not as Christs-in-training.

I mentioned this article in an earlier post, and there was mention of a conversation with Kevin Kelly on this topic. I am curious and have found these links:

The next issue of netfuture #126 where the discussion begins.

The debate goes on later… around a different topic but similar theme.

And again here:

Update, Sunday, 4 August 2002:

I have read all the above conversation and I recommend it. It is a discussion, in the end about machines having, or not having life. All the way through was struck by the absence of either ST or KK using the word soul, which is the essence of life, with its roots in the word breath. It is also linked in by Jung at least, with the word Anima, that which animates us. Let me deal with one point here before I stop updating this item:

There is always such a rock-bottom lifelessness in the machine, which betrays itself, not merely at the bottom, but at any level of description you choose. The organism, on the other hand, is enlivened from within, which means, among other things: all the way down.

I take this as meaning that KK is wrong because in the end, no matter how complex the machine it is just a whole bunch of little things like a hammer. I am with KK here, even a hammer is more than the sum of its parts, and while it is “made not born” it has soul. “All the way down” we have stuff with soul. It takes a knack to see it. Now that puts my response to them both in danger of being dismissed as “mystical”. OK, maybe, but it is experience that imbibes something with soul and experience is the basis of empirical science. Experience is in the realm of consciousness. Let’s role-reverse with a hammer and speak for it. I like the way ST suggests we do that with rats we use in experiments (though he uses different words.)

I will find a link for role reversal here before I stop updating this item.

I want to link to Moreno. He had a lot to say on all this in the 30s. Zoomatrons, God is dead but God enters the world on the psychodrama stage, in other words through the psyche, through this sphere that is neither matter or abstraction but medial to use a word I have heard from Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who attributes it to Toni Wolff. The medial is between the matter and spirit. (Page 289 Women Who Run With The Wolves) I also recall a word: metaxy, which points to the same idea.