Thoughts on a Gnoseology of Metaphorics

Thoughts on a Gnoseology of Metaphorics

We have grown weary of the man that thinks.
He thinks and it is not true. The man below
Imagines and it is true, as if he thought
By imagining, anti-logician, quick,
With a logic of transforming certitudes.
-Wallace Stevens, Sombre Figuration

I have come to realize, after all my years of studying philosophy and psychology, that my own personal gnoseology must be one I am calling “metaphorics.” I name it this to accentuate the primary use of metaphorical thinking in the acquisition of knowledge, or, rather, gnosis. What is metaphorical thinking, or metaphorics? Metaphorics is the type of thinking that occurs in art, mysticism, poetry, and mythologizing. Unlike its cousin, logical analysis, metaphorics does not need to set up a dichotomy between subject and object. Even though this type of thinking has its usefulness, this is a reductionist practice that transforms beings into objects to be analyzed by a subject. This is why metaphorics is more primary to our experience. In a gnoseology of metaphorics, beings are accepted phenomenologically, as they are in reality, be they humans, animals, plants, stones, etc. In metaphorics, The need to split object from subject does not arise.

Why do I use the word, “gnoseology?” It denotes more the sense of an inward, revelatory knowledge than the usual term, “epistemology.” The ancient Greek language had several words for knowledge, two of which were gnosis, and episteme. In short, both mean a “theory of knowledge,” but gnosis has more of a sense of non-sensory, experiential, intuitive knowledge, while episteme leans more toward a scientific type of knowledge. Knowledge that emanates from the Cosmic Mind is more of a revealing, or unconcealing of truth. It arises sometimes spontaneously, perhaps in a “Eureka moment,” or through meditation or active imagination. A fine article by Rev. Fr. Troy W. Pierece called, Gnosis, Episteme, and Doxia, Oh My!, explains the differences between gnosis and episteme quite well.

 So, a gnoseology of metaphorics is a theory of how imaginal knowledge is acquired through communing with the Cosmic Mind. I have discussed this very briefly in my article, Bruno and the Cosmic Mind. I use the word “communing” here, but Bruno was more explicit. In his book, De Umbris Idearum, He used sexual imagery to convey his meaning:

Hence in order for you to acquire a consummate and absolute art, it behooves you to copulate with the soul of the world, and once you have copulated with it, to act, for it is teeming with rational forms, and it generates a world full of rational forms (qtd. in Mendoza 163).

Bruno’s highly imaginative reasoning follows thusly: the Soul of the World, the Cosmic Mind, has produced all material forms, including the human body.  According to Anaxagoras, everything is in everything, therefore humans contain elements of the Cosmic Mind, the Soul of the World, thus allowing us to enjoy intercourse with it. This is exactly how Michaelangelo created the amazing works he is famous for, as well as Einstein, Picasso, da Vinci, and many others who have tapped into this awesome power.

Mankind has ignored this type of knowledge for much too long. Certainly, logical, deductive, scientific knowledge has served a great purpose to further our civilization, but it is nearing its limit. We need gnosis. We need metaphorics. We need to tune into the Soul of the World, copulate with it,  in order to get humanity past this crucial period in our evolution.

More to come later……


Works Cited

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

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