Monadic Soul

Monadic Soul

Cyclops, by Odilon Redon 

As early as the Presocratic philosophers, the idea of non-reducible, indivisible units had been expressed as monads. For Pythagoras, it was the “all-including ONE” (Manly P. Hall). The universe is also a monad, but all the individual parts are as well. For Plato, the monads were likened to the Ideas. So, it is directly in line with this tradition to suggest that monads are indeed archetypal images, and therefore irreducible, and that everything derives from them.

It is fitting to match god with the monad, since god is in a seminal way (spermatikos) all beings in nature, as the monad is [potentially all things] in number; for things which appear in actuality to be extreme opposites, in absolutely every mode of opposition, are potentially contained within it, just as we saw, throughout the Introduction to the Arithmetic, that the monad took on every form, by a certain ineffable nature…The monad is absolutely the most authoritative of all things, like a pure light, sunlike and governing, (hegemonikos), so that it may resemble god in these respects, and above all in being a source of friendship and union for things multifarious most diverse, as god has harmonized and unified this universe from things similarly opposed (Nicomachus, qtd. by Charles H. Kahn, Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History, p. 116-117).

I propose that these Pythagorean monads that I refer to as images, as in archetypal images, are the bases for, not only all empirical experiences, but any and all experiences we have in this life. I would equate the archetypes, as in Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, with monads and atoms (not the physical balls of matter we are so familiar with, but atoms in the ancient sense, as being indivisible and irreducible). These are the gods of Greek mythology.

What are archetypes images of? Of this we can only say, “All Monads are mirrors of the Universe. ” (Galileo, Giordano Bruno, and Goethe, A Lecture given by Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, Architektenhaus, January 26, 1911). This was also the opinion of Giordano Bruno. Steiner goes on to explain that,

Such a Monad is the human soul, and they are many. Indeed, the human body itself is composed of many Monads, not of one. If we understand the truth about the physical body according to the ideas of Giordano Bruno, we shall not see the fleshly human body, but a system of Monads; these Monads cannot be clearly seen, just as we cannot distinguish the separate midges in a swarm; the chief Monad is the human soul. When the human soul comes into existence at birth, so said Giordano Bruno, the other Monads which belong to the soul collect together and, by this, the existence of the Chief-Monad, of the Soul Monad, is made possible (ibid).

Fascinating, no? So, now we know, according to Bruno, the so-called Chief-Monad is the Soul in each of us. Not only are the archetypes monads, but Soul is Monad. The main point in all of this is to link Soul to the ancient idea of monad. This was the view of the Pythagoreans. They believed all things emanated from the monad. An idea that has endured for over two millennia deserves to be reexamined.

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4 thoughts on “Monadic Soul

  1. This following section from 'The Monadology' by Leibniz is interesting in this regard-

    '63. The body belonging to a Monad (which is its entelechy or its soul) constitutes along with the entelechy what may be called a living being, and along with the soul what is called an animal. Now this body of living being or of an animal is always organic; for, as every Monad is, in its own way, a mirror of the universe, and as the universe is ruled according to a perfect order, there must also be order in that which represents it, i.e. in the perceptions of the soul, and consequently there must be order in the body, through which the universe is represented in the soul. (Theod. 403.'

  2. The monad is an idea whose time has come. Indeed certain scientific theories of consciousness (like the popular Integrated Information Theory) claim that every experience is an irreducible, non-physical monad (they call it a n-dimensional polytope shape in Hilbert space)which is more causally efficacious as a whole than the material parts which generate it. In time Leibniz will come to be seen as eerily prescient. The Monadology is one of the craziest and most genius metaphysical systems ever proposed.

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