Wholeness as the Body of Paradox

Journal of Mind and Behavior 18 (4):391-423 (1997)
Abstract
This essay is written at the crossroads of intuitive holism, as typified in Eastern thought, and the discursive reflectiveness more characteristic of the West. The point of departure is the age-old human need to overcome fragmentation and realize wholeness. Three basic tasks are set forth: to provide some new insight into the underlying obstacle to wholeness, to show what would be necessary for surmounting this blockage, and to take a concrete step in that direction. At the outset, the question of paradox is addressed, examined in relation to Zen meditation, the problem of language, and the thinking of Heidegger. Wholeness is to be realized through paradox, and it is shown that a complete realization requires that paradox be embodied. Drawing from the fields of visual geometry and qualitative mathematics, three concrete models of paradox are offered: the Necker cube, the Moebius surface, and the Klein bottle. In attempting to model wholeness, an important limitation is recognized: a model is a symbolic representation that maintains the division between the reality represented and the act of symbolizing that reality. It is demonstrated that while the first two models are subject to this limitation, the Klein bottle, possessing higher dimensionality, can express wholeness more completely, provided that it is approached in a radically nonclassical way. The final question of this essay concerns its own capability as an essay. It is asked whether the present text is restricted to affording a mere abstract reflection on wholeness, or whether wholeness can tangibly be delivered
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