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From Semiotics to the Astral
by Patrice Guinard, Ph.D.

-- translation Matyas Becvarov --

This text in its present state, although it has been reworked from Chapters 20-22 of my doctoral thesis (1993), still leaves me unsatisfied. More now than ever I want to say too many things in only a few words. This approach, which invariably excludes busy or inappropriate readers, has the secondary effect of distancing some of the most patient, as well. In my own defense I can only say that I was guided in writing these lines not so much by the illusion of elaborating the essential as by the concern to avoid the insignificant. Astrology needs a new epistemology, that is to say, a new conceptual fabric that conditions its mental space. I believe I have managed here to lay some of that foundation.

1. An Approach to Ontology through the Harmony of Ternaries
(and a Critique of Dualist Thought)

"The object of logic is correct designations or qualifications."
(Marcel Granet, La pensée chinoise)

      From the three ontological modes of Charles S. Peirce (Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness) we can deduce the three categories of being I have called States, Objects and Signs. While reading the continual variations Peirce developed in the attempt to justify his point of view, it seemed to me that logic alone is incapable of plumbing the depths of the metaphysics of medieval inspiration he wanted to resuscitate with the help of modern concepts: "psychological" considerations became necessary, as Paul Valéry has pointed out. So the three different categories of being can be defined initially by the relation they have to consciousness: every type of being results from a specific mode of relation with consciousness. In particular, the world of "objects" is not the primary world for consciousness, a world anterior to that of consciousness itself, but is rather a secondary world that can only manifest itself through resistance to a previously extant fundament that determines it to be what it is, relative to that fundament.

      The concept of Firstness translates what rises out of the indeterminacy of its origins, that of Secondness what manifests through reaction to something outside itself, and that of Thirdness what can be concluded from a mediation between two things. The psychic state translates the capacity of the organism to register spontaneously the stimuli it receives from the interior environment, the dynamic part of which is governed by the planetary cycles. So the impressional underpins any psychic transformation. The Object comes from the outside: it results from the capacity of the organism to react to stimuli coming from its outer environment. The Sign translates the relation from the internal dimension to the outer one: it is the necessary resultant for consciousness between the state giving the intial impulse and the object that provides the impetus.

      Astral impulse stimulates mental representation: it does not create it. That is why in the case of "symbols," predetermined by their cultural history, I prefer the term symbolal, a sign of indefinite aspiration that finds its sense beyond the boundary of any received semantic horizon. Each authentic expression of the symbolal marks its relation to the indefinite, which is contrary to the abusive use of symbols in common discourse.

      Mental representations are worked out through successive syntheses, more or less encompassing, between external constraints and inner necessities. A meaningful proposition is a function of a state and an object. Likewise, a mental representation R can refer to impulses (i or j) and to different impetuses (x or y) : R = f (i, x) = f (j, y). The equation means: being in agreement with regard to terms, but not to content. R = f (i, x) and R' = f (j, x): what is expressed here differs because this time it is the impulses or the states of interior reception that differ. As Nietzsche notes: "For people to understand one another, it is not enough to use the same words: the same words must be used for the same type of feelings; in short, one must share with others certain experiences." [1]

      The famous "Quarrel of the Universals" that arose in the 11th and 12th centuries seems tailored for the dualism established between "words" and "things." For the strict nominalist Jean Roscelin de Loches (ca. 1050-1124), universals or general ideas are nothing but words, emission made by the voice (flatus vocis) to which nothing corresponds in reality. Pierre Abelard (1079-1142) takes up this idea again and affirms that the universality of genera and species is a construction of the mind. For Guillaume de Champeaux (ca. 1070-1121) and his student Gilbert de la Porrée (ca. 1076-1154) universals are constituted by beings that share a common essence. [2]  However, there is room for "a nominalist" who also brings the sign to the object, as well as for "a realism" that relates it equally to the state of being. The living idea is a product of the mind, as the nominalists claim, but it is also a mediation performed by the mind. In that way it becomes "real," because it refers back always to a certain relation between internal impulse and external impetus. No sign exists but has this dual contribution, even if it exists in forms that are only slightly expressive, brought forth from a change in the psychic state at the time the representation is formalized.

Let us examine now the five generic ternaries that translate this tripartite division of beings:

      Emanation, manifestation and representation are modes of apparition to consciousness of the state, the object and the sign, respectively. What emanates arises from the psychic realm, from the transpersonal. The term "emanation," used in the same sense in Neo-Platonic philosophy, carries the notion of a procession. In theology it designates the process of divine creation. What manifests itself comes from the psychic, the concrete and the objectival. The terms is used nowadays to designate the apparition of a phenomenon. Finally, what is represented arises from the psycho-mental, the verbal. "The world is my representation," affirms Schopenhauer, one view of the mind.

      Each type of being is associated with a formal principle. Essence is the indefinite potential of being, at the source of all phenomena. It can only be perceived by the mind because it always exists beyond the frontiers of manifest phenomena. Existence can be perceived but not determined, because it opposes and resists any attempt at reduction. That is the fact of being, of being something rather than nothing, independently of any mediation. Appearance is the mediated aspect of being perceptible to consciousness, in so far as it determines to appear as this thing rather than another. Essence arises from the unknowable, existence from the unknown, appearance from the known. The known is simply a point on the continuum of the unknown, which itself is simply a band in the space of the unknowable.

      A logical mode can be attributed to each type of being. Possibility characterizes what might be, incidentally or independently of any manifestation. Actuality characterizes what is effectively present, what manifests itself in one manner or another. Necessity characterizes what must be by reason of an imperative. Possibility arises from the conditional, actuality from the contingent or circumstantial, necessity from the imperative. Logicians use this tripartite division to characterize the modalities of judgment: hypothetical, categorical or apodictic.

      Each type of being attaches itself also to a functional principle. Potentialization characterizes the process of accumulation of states, experimentation that of the transformation of objects, and determination the process of the attribution of signs.

      A "feeling" results from interaction with one or another of these three categories of being. Transcendance (in the sense of the term used by Karl Jaspers, not by Kant) results from an elevation of the spirit, following a psychic transformation. Enjoyment results from satisfaction of the body, following physical contact. Power results from satisfaction of the psycho-mental order, which translates the mastery and efficiency of the mind.

      One of the first ternaries of Occidental thought, of Egyptian origin and introduced by Plato in the form of a mythic story, differentiates the components of the "World Soul," existing before the Universe or the "World Body" (Plato is insistent on this point): "From the reality that is indivisible and always remains identical (the Same), and from that which on the contrary expresses itself in physical bodies, subject to becoming and divisible (the Other), from these two it [God, or the Demiurge] has drawn through mixture a third, intermediary form of reality." [3]  So God harmoniously assembled these three forms of reality in order to create the Real.

      It does not seem that Plato remained forever faithful to the concept put forward by the Pythagorean Timon of Locres. In fact the Platonic idea considerably reduced the field of the possible and the unknowable, hemmed in by the necessary and the determinate, since it formalizes, crystallizes and qualifies the indeterminate through the modalities of the Beautiful, the True and the Good and leads reasoning back to the duality that opposes the sensate and the intelligible. However, in the Parmenides, the other fundamental dialogue of Plato, he denies being the inventor and the partisan of the theory of "Platonic" Ideas and insists on their unknowable quality: "Unknowable, therefore, must remain for us both the Beautiful-in-Itself in its essence and the Good, and all the attributes we conceive, must they not? since they are Ideas-in-Themselves." [4]

      We know that the Trinity takes part in and motivates Christian thought from the time of Paul forward, who invented Christianity: it is divine and coextensible to the threefold nature of humanity (body, soul, mind), a fact seized upon by the Gnostic Valentinius (ca. 100-160) to make sense of inequality before the Redemption: corporeal man will be condemned, psychic man is redeemable, and "pneumatic" [from Greek pneuma, meaning soul] or spiritual man will be saved. The Cappadocian Gregory of Naziance (ca. 330-390) imposes the consubstantiality of three divine "persons," equal in perfection. St. Augustine does the same: the divine nature that distributes itself equally in three persons finds its corollary in the human soul, which is being, intelligence (or mind) and life. This threefold division strangely resembles the procession of hypostases conceived by the Neo-Platonist Plotinus, who himself received not a little influence from Christianity. Ternary division appears in a variety of modal declensions and shows itself to be more or less tributary to the doctrine of the Trinity in thinkers and theologians as diverse as Porphyrus, Proclus, Boethius, Damascius, Origen, Thomas Aquinas, Raymond Llull, Duns Scotus, Nicholas of Cusa, Marsilio Ficino, Heinrich Agrippa, Charles de Bovelles, Jakob Boehme ...

      Most of these triads have degenerated (to use Peirce's term): by which is meant they no longer hold to the order of ontological prescience. The Neo-Platonist Jamblic (ca. 250-325) was among the few to remain faithful to the Platonic order, even if in so doing he betrayed his predecessor Plotinus. The ternary of Jamblic is at once ontological and genetic: Being, which produces everything that exists, engenders Life, which brings about among other things the capacity for movement; in its turn Life engenders Intelligence, which brings about the capacity to know, and so in turn organizes everything that exists. It is probable that this Syrian, already heavily influenced by the Chaldean Oracles (ca. 100 A.D.) transmitted by the Julians, father and son, who were Hellenized Chaldeans, may have taken inspiration from the famous cosmogonic triad of the Sumerians: AN, the inaccessible divinity, EN.LIL the creator of the world and of life, and EN.KI the creator of humanity and of civilization.

      Boethius (ca. 475-524), the "last Roman thinker," distinguishes three classes of being: intellectibles (incorporeal beings that exist or should exist outside of matter), natural beings (concrete and corporeal), and intelligibles (abstract, conceivable by thought, and linked to the body). Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), the precursor of German metaphysics, postulates the existence of the Triple Infinite: "God" as infinite unity (absolute and indivisible in His supra-intellectual immanence), the "Universe" as infinite equality (second, material, coextensive with the first), and "man" as infinite connection (third, intellectual, and achieving creation through thought).

      From Descartes forward the triple nature of reality and the ternary determination of ontological causes, even in their degenerated forms, find themselves in a bad way. The distinction between the soul (German, Seele) and the mind (German, Geist) becomes obscure almost to the point of disappearing. As a result, the ontological ternary loses itself in dualism. This situation does not occur because one knows precisely what is matter and what is mind: the first is conceived by its difference to the second, which is itself conceived in terms of what it is not. From that arises the antinomy of substances with Descartes, of thought and its extent, that renders accessory and inoperative the first pole of the ternary. "God" is also eliminated, this time consciously, in the "intra-natural" dualism of Spinoza, represented by the formula Deus sive Natura: "God, or rather, Nature." Substance, or what is represented by the medieval formulation Natura naturans ("nature naturing"), is constituted of an infinity of attributes (its natural properties), and is opposed to "nature natured" which is the sum of the modes (modifications, external effects) of the attributes of Substance.

      Hence we arrive at the "transcendental aesthetic" of Kant, which opposes the noumen (the thing in itself, or Ding an sich in German), a reality imperceptible through sensation, unknowable in nature, that marks the limits of our faculty of consciousness, to the phenomen (German, Erscheinung), which is reality as it appears to us and remains inseparable from its empirical representation. The fact that the "transcendental" gives rise to the empirical does not imply that the phenomenon escapes the clutches of representation. From thence comes the formalism of Hegel, for whom Mind thinks successively the frameworks of its thought (logic), the manifestation of what is real (nature) and the products of its own activity (history). The eo ipso (German, an sich) returns finally to itself (German, in sich), which presupposes a total rationality of the real and a single identity for Being and for Thought.

      So we find ourselves back again in the year 425 B.C.: Plato was born when Parmenides the Eleate proclaimed identical the nature of Being and Thought, essence and intellection, the object of thought and the act of thinking, a charged notion with serious implications for the future of philosophy. In point of fact it matters little whether one opposes essence to existence-appearance (Kant), appearance to essence-existence (Spinoza), or even existence to essence-appearance (Hegel), the result is "dualistic" and the triad is subsumed under antinomies that exclude any questioning of the third part. [5]  Everything takes place as though reasoning were incapable of functioning without the displacement of one of the poles of the ternary. Is this a symptom of the heavy hand of juridico-political idiosyncracy on philosophical reflection, or simply of the incapacity to be mindful of interiority? For this very reason there are only three types of thinker: those who only know how to count up to two (the most numerous category), those who have never learned to count at all, and finally, those rare thinkers who know truly how to count, beginning with Pythagoras and Plato.

      Let us recall that in order to escape dualism Jamblic substituted identification for Ideas, a necessary stage according to Plotinus on the way toward achieving fusion of the human soul with the One, a theurgistic accomplishment by virtue of its being an ineffable action lying completely beyond the bounds of intellection. Moreover, he criticized the abbreviated hierarchy of hypostases in Plotinus and understood, just as the "mystics" had done, that one must pass by way of the body to reach the Ineffable. Analytical reason, the ultimate by-product of the evolution of consciousness, attributes to itself privileges of astonishing scope. From it comes a revision of the order of progression in ontological principles: Being first, indeterminate, followed by Life, itself followed then finally by Intelligence.

      So it is that three orders are successively traced out in the heart of reality: the unfathomable world, existing for itself, the unimaginable origin of everything that is; the natural world, manifested, closely dependant on the unfathomable world; the social world, the result of its "connection" (Nicholas of Cusa) to the two others. Close to the three logical universes of Peirce, these worlds recall as well the ternary of the Chinese (Heaven, Earth and Man), or the celestial, elemental and intellectual worlds of Agrippa of Nettesheim, or even the metaphysical, physical and logical worlds of Giordano Bruno. [6]

      As was pointed out by Proclus, the illustrious successor to Jamblic: "Everything is in everything, but each thing in its own particular mode." [7]  The result is that human nature belongs simultaneously to three orders of reality, Soul, Body and Mind, the respective components of these three orders. Metaphorically speaking, Heaven is pure Soul, an essential and absolute monad; Earth is Soul and Body, a "sub-essential" dyad, a reservoir of life that nourishes everything; Man is Soul, Body and Mind. He experiences, feels, and is; he lives, moves, acts and reacts; he thinks, reasons, and conceives.

      Experimental psychology, in its most recent avatars of cybernetic and machinistic nature, and ignorant of the first pole of the ternary, ends up with a dualistic explanation that tends to cancel the differences of function between the human brain and the automatons of artificial "intelligence." Thus are concocted in the industrial laboratories of technological factories modes of life for the future, with the thumb in place of the brain: a world of sub-humans, artificial, irresponsible, cloned, docile, servile, ready to be manipulated.

      It is from the relation between the impulse-giving state and the impetus-giving object, from the gap between aspiration and experience, and finally from the permanent disequilibrium of the organism that can be born the three forms of organic modification: immediate, simply reactive, and mediate, that translate emotion, action and conceptualization. Emotion is the repercussion of what arises in the object from the preceding state; action (of which the "word" [parole] is only a particular instance) brings to realization what in the state seems to conform to the object; conceptualization coordinates what reaches equilibrium in the relation between the state and the object.

      The gesture is at once emotion, action and conceptualization, a "pure act," psychic, physical and mental. To consciousness it appears as feeling, event and judgment conjoined. Paradoxically, it is by the accomplishment of the gesture -- which is specific, singular, quasi-obligatory, although at the same time unpredictable and free of the weight of habit and social convention, and thus perfectly adequate for what the moment demands and the milieu offers -- that the transpersonal Self can manifest in its liberty and its necessity. "I shall forget even less that, up to the present, the two hours of my life in which I was most animated, the least discontented with myself, the least distant from from the intoxication of happiness, were those in which, gripped by cold, struggling with great effort, consumed by need, pushed sometimes from one precipice to another without seeing them clearly and coming away alive only to my surprise, I said to myself simply in my pride without any witnesses: For this minute now, I want what I must do, and I do what I want." [8]

2. The Triad of Being

"For in all worlds shines forth a triad that a monad rules."
(Chaldean Oracle 27)

      When Plato in his Sophist asks what differentiates Being from Non-Being, he soon comes up against the polysemiousness of the word being: "Non-being cannot be attributed to any being at all (...) Each time we use the term 'something' we apply it to a being." And later: "To being one can, I imagine, adjoin some other being. (...) But to non-being, can we ever say it could be possible to adjoin a being of some sort?" And finally: "For after having posited in principle that non-being must participate in neither unity nor plurality, I said then and say again now that it is a sort of being, for I say non-being." [9]  In effect when I affirm that this thing is, I bring to bear a judgment concerning the existence of the thing in question. But when I say it is pink or sharp, I attribute to it the "quality" of being this or that; in other words, I make a judgment concerning the nature of the thing in question. Finally, when I say that "non-being" is inconceivable, or that a bird is a feathered mammal, I pronouce this time a formal judgment regarding identity: what I name a feathered mammal is also what I name a bird.

      Being is the primary concept of the process of identification proper to language in general, and to philosophical reflection in general. This unifying entity, a characteristic of Indo-European languages, is also an opportunity for the sophist to fabricate false images of thought and to create artificial effects from sense and non-sense. Is this to say that ontology (reflection on being) has been first and foremost since Thales of Miletus an adventure in quibbling and derivitive thoughts occasioned by the stupefaction of the mind before being and its diverse manifestations? For Heidegger, modernity throws us into a forgetfulness of Being and into ignorance of the "ontological difference," that is to say, the difference between beings, which exist, and Being (whose divine absolute is only one idol among others), that permits beings to exist.

      Building up the conclusion of the Parmenides (in the excellent translation of Émile Chambry), perhaps the last word of Plato to those who would too quickly believe to have understood, and to those, as well, who are paid to teach as are the Sophists (the exact inverse of how things ought to be): "Either a person exists or does not exist, the person and other things, relative to themselves and the ones [relative] to the others, either all are absolutely or are not, either all appear nor do not appear." [10]  So, beyond what one can call the skepticism of the later philosophy of Plato, the presence of a luminous triad is affirmed in the very heart of a negation that intended to make itself systematic, and is visible to those who can read: the triple modality of Being or of the Real.

      Ontology has previously been presented under the bias of a taxonomy of reality with three entry points: Being is the triadic archetype of an indefinite plurality of ternaries relative to what is extant. To put it another way: there is only one triad, declined according to different perspectives, that reveals itself in the form of ternaries. It is the final argument of all intrinsic differentiation of being. It is for itself and in itself. At once immanent and transcendant to consciousness, it exists in each being according to that being's own nature. From a "genealogical" point of view, the third term is a result of the first two: from a "structural" point of view, the three terms are co-present.

      Every tripartite disposition does not, however, acquire de facto the status of a ternary, for a ternary requires some relation through some mode or other to the archetypal triad. The negative pole of each term is exterior to the ternary, which is only composed of the positive "qualities," linked through a specific semantic perspective. A ternary is not a monad put through the process of dialectics and then "recombined" in the manner of Hegel; it is dynamic in and of itself and possesses three positive, co-existant poles. A ternary impresses itself upon consciousness through the vehicle of matrix-based reason. It can neither be deduced nor induced. The Triad is a watchdog against the quibbling of dualist discourses with their four processes: the obfuscation of one of the poles, the shoring up of one of the poles on the basis of one of the other two, the setting up of a puppet pole in the middle of a tripolar ensemble, and finally, the reversal of the hierarchy among the poles. For Jacques Lacan, the unconscious is "structured like a language," which is to say, it has its foundation in the Signifying and is coded by the socio-cultural milieu by means of the "discourse of the other." This theory reflects the European idiosyncracy devoted to the justification of "representation." In general, it is Firstness that is excluded from contemporary dialogue, which means impoverishment of consciousness through suppression of its relation to the ineffable and through a simplistic policy of "third-excluded," which leads to the misery of our binarized languages.

      Let us take a more specific example from recent philosophy: that of Cornelius Castoriadis, born 11 March 1922 in Constantinople, died in Paris on 26 December 1997, still faithful to his ideas. He was the co-founder of the movement Socialism ou Barbarie [Socialism or Barbarity], and he remained critical of the evolution of modernity: "There is an intrinsic link between the type of nullity in politics, this becoming nothing typical of politics and insignificance in other domains, in the arts, in philosophy, or in literature. That is the spirit of the times. Everything conspires to spread insignificance. (...) ONE has spoken of a sort of terrorism of unique thought, that is to say, non-thought. It is unique in the sense that it is the first thought to be an integrated non-thought. A unique, liberal thought no one dares oppose." [11]

      In his principal work, L'institution imaginaire de la société [The Imaginary Institution of Society], Castoriadis conceives of a social ternary (symbolic, functional, imaginary) to explain the social impregnation of the individual and collective psyches. Signs and objects actualize themselves in social praxis: in a social dire [to say] (from the Greek legein, meaning representation, determination, adjustment). This "symbolic" and this functional only exist through their rootedness in an imaginary, by nature not assigned and more or less indeterminate (from a socio-historical and psychic point of view) with regard to figures/forms/images, on whose basis alone it can be a question of "something." [12]  The social imaginary of Castoriadis differs from Jung's collective unconscious in that it espouses no model, finds no archetype, remains totally aleatory, even if it is shot through with the marks the social dimension has inscribed into it. The unconscious remains the contingent product of a radical imagination that figures here as a sort of deus ex machina.

      As Castoriadis remarks in this regard, the psyche is the condition sine qua non of human activity and its efforts toward formalization: "The representative flux of the psyche continues whether or not there is 'exterior stimulation.'" [13]  As a result: "There is no perception if there is no independent representative flux, in one sense, of that perception. A subject that had only perception would in fact have no perception: it would be totally swallowed up by 'things,' flattened against them, crushed against the world. (...) The imaginary -- in both the social and psychic aspects -- is a logical and ontological condition of the 'real.'" [14]  Castoriadis is not, however, a Platonic, but rather an Aristotelian and a Freudian. His social occasionalism replaces divine cause with an aleatory cause of socio-cultural origin. The result is that his notion of the psyche dispenses with the question of knowledge if there preexist in it more or less variable forms of a limited number on which it might depend. "That by which the 'real' announces itself in the psyche, the 'impression' (Eindruck, to use the Kantian term), only becomes an element of representation by function of a psychic elaboration that can produce, according to its subjects and the moment, results of the most multifarious and unexpected variety." [15]

      From this comes a triple origin of the emergence of representations: 'real' (the actual presence of a perceived quantity), ideal or rational (the presence of words, those depositories of previous mental representations), and imaginary (indefinite presence), which corresponds to the principles of reality, rationality and pleasure. [16]  This sociabilization of the psyche that Castoriadis inherits from Freud moreover rides roughshod over the differences between individuals within a collectivity. So the social ternary is degenerate, in the sense that the first term is placed on the foundation of something that does not in itself belong to the unknowable, but belongs rather to something aleatory, and more or less known into the bargain. The first term of the ternary in its socialized form deprives the psyche of the power it could in reality draw from itself, rather than from a collective magma that flows from sources one does not know. It is mental representation, however new it may be, that necessarily passes through the social. All original creation requires rootedness in some inalienable fundament. So Castoriadis' theory seems much less optimistic than that of Malebranche, and it matters little that the latter calls "God" what arises from the source. Castoriadis remains close to Lacan, and with that in mind I find it impossible to escape from the nullity mentioned above, if it inscribes itself invariably with heavy and repetitive characters onto the texture of our "social imaginary."

      It has been said repeatedly since Freud that desire is alienated, turned back on itself, compressed within the social world: the object of desire is replaced by fakes, by substitutes. Now, the Latin word desiderium, from sidus, star, means "absence of a star." To desire is to regret the absence of something one has already known; it is to lament the disappearance of the "inward star," i.e. of the impressional. So there is in fact nothing exterior to consciousness that could be the object to be desired, more or less valued by the social milieu and in accord with a supposed "reality principle." Desire is internal: it is desire of Self. "In psychic reality all desires are not realizable, but always realized. (...) The psyche is for itself the lost object." [17]  There is thus no "object" to be desired, but rather the relation of the state to the object, or even of the state that desire identifies as the object; and one comes back here to Stoic philosophy, which labored to undo that identification, that contingent rapport which is in part socialized.

      Epictetus, the philosopher who was an emancipated slave, understood that the power of the soul resides in the inalienability of inner freedom. So the appropriate conformity to its own being is always conceivable, even and precisely if it is suffering. The soul's power manifests itself as a global and organic response to a situation both internal and external. If an exterior stimulus corresponds to an interior one, then a mental representation coordinates them. The sign, an issue of that mediation, designated that object as being the most adequate for that particular state. As for the constancy of a mental representation, it results from the reinforcement of the link that unifies the object and the state, from its becoming "bogged down" by repetition and habit. Maine de Biran addressed this problem. But if representation is found to be out of step with the situation, then it is the aspiration that has changed, even if the object of experience remains the same, and one is stupefied, for example, to discover all of a sudden that one no longer loves the woman one believed one loved. [18]

      The three types of being are interdependent, and each generates "overtures" toward the two others. Under the influence of aspiration, the object becomes virtual and the sign becomes a symbolal. Under the influence of experience, the state becomes an affectal and the sign an indical. Under the influence of habit, the state becomes dispositional and the object becomes formal. The totality of what is under any mode at all, otherwise designated as the Real, is ternary:it does not inhabit the object more than the state or the sign, but instead resides at their common boundary. The nature according to which this reality manifests itself to the consciousness that seeks to know it is luminosity, positiveness or rationality, according to whether it is perceived in a manner that is inspired, experimental or reasoned. Plato insists on the limits of experience and human reason, saying they are incapable by themselves of attaining the truth of the real. That is why humankind has been given the power of "divination," to remedy that insufficience and that infirmity. [19]

      What is more, affinities between the psychic and the objectival exist before the operation of mediation, for example the mediation between the planetary signal Mercury and the impressional of Mercury, of which the symbolal "Mercury" has as its function to mark out the resonance between the two. More generally, a given state predisposes one to the perception of a particular object in a given context, and the "comprehensive" representation (Zeno and Cittium) that results has as its function to emphasize their adequate correspondence. In this way the isomorphism between the three levels of reality makes itself apparent, levels that are at once interior and exterior to consciousness. The Triad permeates astrology as it does every other domain, according to the perspective appropriate to it, its purpose being to give rise to what Jakob Boehme called the magnum mysterium: the mystery of three in one.

3. The Infrastructure of the Psyche

"Language and the prejudices on which language rests throw up multiple obstacles to the deepening of internal phenomena and of instincts."
(Nietzsche: The Dawn)

      There must be in us a prior universe, a fundament, that enables the concretization of images of the world around us and the abstraction of mental representations. There must be something unthought, something to be thought, at the source of each thought. Interiority -- of which Christian theology has made its battle charger knowing perfectly well, at least in the time of Origen, that all the pagan gods were themselves also interior gods -- is a condition necessary to all psycho-mental dynamics. Rather than an imaginary relation to a transcendant entity, interiority designates the plurality of subtile emanations of psychic energy, those liminal phenomena, those "immediate data" of the soul; in short, the impressionals, which are the forces of indefinite variation and continuous innervation of the psyche. They are the true "occasional causes" of Malebranche, the evanescent marks of the presence of the organism to itself, of its internal condition.

      The impressional is an internal orientation of the organism, unpredictable, nor even perceptible, unconscious (in the sense of Leibnitz), but capable of being felt within the limits of its extremely fleeting nature. It belongs to the indeterminate fundament of the psyche, to the indefinite field on which any perceptive or apperceptive phenomena can make an imprint. Leibnitz insists on the existence of an infinity of small internal perceptions, confused, unconscious, "insensible," "unperceivable," with which the soul is continuously impregnated. These impressions are the immediate consequences of our actions, and to ignore them is to delude oneself about the extent of our freedom. Leibnitz adds, taking up a formula made famous in astrological debates, "These impressions impinge without compelling." [20]

      The indeterminateness of psychic-astral impressions is relative to the mode of being of thought, to the Thirdness of Peirce, which means that these conductors of psychic energy, all the while escaping direct apprehension by consciousness, can nevertheless be subordinate to certain rules of distribution. To put it another way, these initial orientations of the psyche, these liminal modifications of consciousness are distributed into diverse classes according to specific modalities, to the degree that they cause to appear in consciousness traces that in-form it. Diverse lines of force operate on psychic matter -- one is reminded of Kepler's metaphor of the strings that bind the inside of a gourd -- prior to any determination of a psycho-mental nature.

      That the psyche has different zones of intensity from which one sort or another of impressional form may emanate in a particular moment, that it incites to such and such a perceptive modality, to this tonality of mood or that expressive form, does not imply anything until it comes under the weight of determination. No specific meaning is attributed to these vectors of differentiation. The psychic-astral does not function as a deformation of the objectival nor as a mirror of the mental: it is its own universe and generates its own "economy."

      For Freud the unconscious is the bearer of significant determinations: a dream is a riddle to solve. [21]  The unconscious is supposedly intentional, just as consciousness is for Husserl in the same historical period. The unconscious is said to push open a way into consciousness: "May the intellect one day be able (...) to accede to dictatorship in the psychic life of humanity!" [22]  The unconscious is ostensibly composed of residues that after repression would still escape the grasp of consciousness. Thus Freud the Taurus remains very close to Johann Herbart (1776-1841), successor to Kant in the chair of philosophy at the University of Königsberg, himself another Taurus who assumed the assimilation of the psychic to the mental through permanent, dynamic conflict of representations: the fusion and reproduction of "homogenous" representations, the repression of those representations located beneath a certain threshold of consciousness through the force of stronger ones.

      Freudianism assumes both the conscious finality of the unconscious and its transparency to the social code. Psychic potential is entirely subordinate to the mental. Freudian psychoanalytic techniques, as well as those of Lacan, nailed fast to discourse (even if only that of an unconscious that one sets to chattering) and to the supposed "word of the other," pin psychic potential down to tables, grids and codes issuing from the socio-cultural consensus and set the patient to gossiping when he would do far better to seek himself in silence. In certain Oriental disciplines such as yoga, on the contrary, the aim is to meditate, to abstract oneself from the exterior world, to interrupt the mental dialogue that each person carries on with himself, to move beyond the continual agitation of the mind, and finally, to "stop the world" and put an end to one's "internal chattering," as Castaneda reminds us. Each culture contains hidden within itself its own insupportable follies, but that of the Occident, intent on plastering the individual to the wall of his own obsessions, surely makes Western culture more impotent than others with regard to recognizing and encouraging otherness.

      I maintain that psychism is the vehicle of a life adequate for itself, and that it carries within it anti-agendas. These are mental operations that turn the unconscious back upon something conscious and uproot it from its sphere of development, from its own atmosphere. The unconscious is not the repository of repression, but rather the field of awareness for pre-perceptive incidences. It is positively active, independently of factual events and the ulterior transformations of mental labor. It is in the purview of this general economy of the psyche that it remains to achieve or not to achieve at any given moment the creation of perceptive and apperceptive relations.

      Astrological operators give various account of the incessant and necessarily "registered" movement of the impressionals, of this internal and liminal circulation "that we do not perceive, because the impressions are too small and too numerous or too unified, so that they cannot easily be distinguished one from another." [23]  In the hypothesis of "continuous creation" put forward by Descartes, [24]  Malebranche sees a justification for the movement of bodies, but also for the inclinations of the soul. He assumes that "creatures" themselves are the "occasional causes" of the permanent triggering of divine creative action, ordered according to rigorous laws but specific to each being: "A natural cause is not, therefore, a real and true cause, but only an occasional cause that determines the Author of nature to act in such and such a fashion, in such and such a situation. (...) All the forces of nature are, therefore, nothing more than the will of God, always in effect." [25]  The uninterrupted action of God on the human soul explains the continuous arising of variable states, incapable of justification on the sole basis of external factors, be they natural or cultural. The creator continuously upholds his creations by repeated influxes: it is impossible that his effects should be suspended.

      In reality, this divine "imprint" makes its effects only through the intermediary of the famous "second causes" of Arabic philosophy, i.e. the planetary operators that act as a vehicle for the transmission of the influxes to the psyche. The contact is all the more striking, and listening to the self is all the more easy the more one distances oneself from the operations of mind and those relations that are attuned to the outside world. The state is the more vivid if it is held at arm's length from all mental determination. Modern man has lost the knack of allowing his "unconscious" to decide what is good for him; he continually allows a parasitic relationship between the unconscious and the intellect, which believes itself to be more clever, even when it is in a complete muddle. To let things act in and of themselves: that is the first principle of the health of consciousness.

      The "simple affection" of Maine de Biran is independent of any act of perception or of knowing. The "vital atmosphere" (Maine de Biran) that results is the necessary condition of organic well-being. Only afterward, in a second "time," is it possible to recognize that one has or has not been capable of being "happy." In this way an intimate life manifests itself, a life indefinite, more or less accessible through introspection, that we most often explain in moral or ideal terms having more to do with fantasy than reality. For the fleeting traces left on consciousness by the flux of the impressionals must not be confused with the psycho-mental manifestations that follow after them. Maine de Biran, the successor of Leibnitz, one of the four or five major philosophers of French thought whose work has seldom been republished and very little diffused and understood, never ceased in the course of his lifetime to track systematically the manifestations of that first, intimate life, and to try to give account of it methodically, even if not "scientifically." Given that fact, if the astrologer were to rely on some outside source in order to make a skeptical mind understand what astrological operators actually are, he would doubtless do well to use the work of this thinker and psychologist.

      The multiplicitous flux of the impressionals, the substrate of the psychic infrastructure, must be distinguished from two other form of state: the affectals (states of experience, products of tension or resistance, be it internal or external in nature) and the dispositionals (states of habit, products of crystallization, stabilized by the frequency of more or less constant mental representations that issue from the environment or from the self). The dispositionals are "implex" (Valéry) and result from mediation between more or less recurrent states and more or less similiar situations; they mark a continuity within the psyche. Impulse is a particular form of affectal; it arises from something internal and organic. The impulse is a state in so far as it indicates an internal resistance; it marks the boundary between the psychic and the somatic, and as Freud points out, the "measure of the necessity for work that is imposed on the psychic by consequence of its relation to the corporeal." [26]  "Unconscious" impressionals, "subconscious" affectals, and "conscious" dispositionals are in themselves possibilities. When they group themselves together to form an ensemble with more or less the same orientation, they give rise to the "appetites" commonly called desire (in the case of impressionals), need (in the case of affectals), and motivation (in the case of dispositionals).

4. The Psychic Self

"And as long as you have it not,
This: Die and become,
You are but a darkling guest
On the dark Earth."
(Goethe : Westöstlicher Divan)

      The psychic system is composed of three successive layers: Self, Me and I. [27]  The Self is continuously nourished and innervated by unconscious phenomena that escape all attempts at determination. It is an internal presence. The pure psychic state, exempt from all relation to objects, is inapperceptible: it is an internal modification of the organism, ungraspable by sensory perception and by mental attention alike. The Self as an "unconscious" plurality takes in the immanent totality of these states.

      The Me is turned toward the exterior. It is composed of the subconscious relations it maintains with exterior reality, through the resistance that the environment produces on the psyche by the sensibilization of the ensemble of modifications affecting the psyche. So any non-mediated relation between a state and an object disturbs the psychic equilibrium and produces perceptions that affect the organism. The Me is the region of the psyche affected by its relation to what is outside it and has as its function to restore psychic equilibrium.

      The I builds itself by a return to itself through its mediated relations between states and objects. In this manner, apperception creates mental representations at the end of a relation that has become conscious between an internal state and and the modification proceeding from the environment. A part of the psychic iceberg above the surface of the water, the I is an act of becoming aware, of continuity, unity, stability, identity with itself.

      Each of these constitutive parts is built up according to the mode that characterizes it: the Self, a psychic receptor, arises from aspiration; the Me, a "psycho-somatic" actor, arises from experience; the I, a psycho-mental organizer, arises from habit. As an internal instance the Self is multiple, ungraspable, traversed by incessant fluxes; the Me, dual in nature, interacts with the world in which it participates; the I, focused on identity, individualizes itself as an autonomous entity. To each degree of cohesion in the psyche (or in consciousness, in the larger sense of the word), Self, Me and I, corresponds a specific mode of action: to the Self, intention (in the sense Castaneda gives to the word, not in the sense of Husserl), more a state than an action, more availability than consciousness, an active-passive attention that can arise from itself independently of what is manifested. To the Me corresponds realization, which results from a tangible reaction to the environment. To the I corresponds supposition, the incessant creation of mental representations and an ultimate rebalancing with a view to unity.

      The Self is thus a causeway for incidences in permanent effervescence. It is constituted of evanescent, indeterminate psychic forces. It is an orchestra with numberless players who, one after another, according to indefinable rhythms, become the conductor by handing over the baton they call Me or I. It is not necessary to choose among these diverse forces, nor to elect the one who will take over the podium: the forces organize themselves, subordinate themselves naturally, are sensitive each to each according to the possibilities of the moment and the exigencies of the existential situation. When a beam of these forces takes the ascendant over the others to the point of subordinating them in a constant and repetitive way, there is formed what one could along with Nietzsche call an instinct, which manifests itself through the "will to power," i.e. the tendency toward the expansion and full flowering of that instinct.

      In reality, the authenticity of the Self does not reside in temporal variation, of which the dynamic brought about by the planetary transits, and above all the daily transits, marks the transformations and recurrences. It is rather a question of incarnating the diverse psychic tendencies proportionally to their temporal importance in the general psychic economy. Hence "being oneself" consists quite simply of developing the principal tendencies, in safeguarding the secondary tendencies, and in acquiring those tendencies that are improbable. For the economy of the natal chart shows clearly that there exist, for example at the planetary level, certain dominant functions, secondary functions, strong enough but often "blocked" by the dominant ones, and minor functions.

      So it is, then, a question of espousing these fluxes without letting oneself become subject to the psycho-mental sirens, whatever their origin might be. "To follow nature" as Montaigne emphasizes after the Stoics: "I have taken, quite simply and crudely in my opinion, this ancient precept: that we can scarcely fail to follow nature, and that the sovereign precept is to accommodate oneself to it. I have not, as did Socrates, corrected by the force of reason my natural impressions, neither have I troubled my inclination with art. I let myself go forward just as I have come along in the past; I fight against nothing." [28]  The constitution of the I is only possible by a process of discrimination by means of which the dynamic of the Self finds itself blocked by imagined representations. One can distinguish several modes of formation of the I: by the will to be something specific and the effort to achieve that end, or perhaps by the prolongation of a specific attachment that has impressed the psyche with traces that seem indelible.

      To safeguard the authenticity of the Self is to be mindful not to become an I too soon; it is to reject the crystallizations, sometimes artificial, of the process of constitution of the I at whatever level it might be; to guard oneself against becoming too quickly something determined that could only too easily become the prey of a greedy society -- and all societies are greedy, to one degree or another; to nurture oneself and to serve one's own purposes. It is always possible to regard oneself differently, to act or to feel differently, to be something other than what one has believed oneself to be, to surprise oneself. Every psycho-mental articulation implies a blockage that impedes the maintenance of a lively indetermination that forms the source of all regeneration. To die to oneself in order to become again Self.

[1] Nietzsche, Par-delà bien et mal, O.P.C. 7, French translation by Cornélius Heim, Paris, Gallimard, 1971, p. 193. « Text

[2] For the Quarrel of the Universals, cf. Étienne Gilson, La philosophie au Moyen-Age (1922), Paris, Payot, 1986. « Text

[3] Plato, Timée, 35a, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 2, French translation by Léon Robin, Paris, Gallimard, 1950, p. 450. « Text

[4] Plato, Parménide, 134b-c, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 2, French translation by Léon Robin, Paris, Gallimard, 1950, p.204 « Text

[5] Cf. Spinoza, Ethics; Kant, Critique of Pure Reason; Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit. « Text

[6] Heinrich Agrippa, De occulta philosophia (1531-1533), French translation by Jean Servier (La magie naturelle, céleste et cérémonielle), 3 vols., Paris, Berg International, vol. 2, 1981, p. 77-79; Giordano Bruno, Cause, principe et unité, French translation by Émile Namer, Paris, Alcan, 1930, p. 37. « Text

[7] Proclus, in Éléments de théologie, 103, French translation, Paris, Aubier Montaigne, 1965. This Neo-Platonic who died in 485 A.D. was the first philosopher whose natal chart is known. He was born in Byzantium (or on Rhodes) 8 February 412 (Sun 200 Aquarius, Moon 170 Gemini, Ascendant 80 Aries, Mid-Heaven 50 Capricorn). Cf. Otto Neugebauer and Henry van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1959, p. 135. « Text

[8] Étienne Pivert de Senancour, Oberman (1804), Paris, U.G.E., 10-18, 1965, p. 446. « Text

[9] Plato, Le Sophiste, French translation by Émile Chambry, Paris, Garnier, 1969, p. 80-83. « Text

[10] Plato, Parménide, French translation by Émile Chambry, Paris, Garnier, 1967, p. 304. I emphasize the terms that relate to the ternary Existence/Essence/Appearance, according to the order they appear in Plato's text. « Text

[11] Cornelius Castoriadis, "Contre le conformisme généralisé. Stopper la montée de l'insignifiance," in Le Monde Diplomatique, August 1998. « Text

[12] Cornelius Castoriadis, L'institution imaginaire de la société, Paris, Le Seuil, 1975, p. 7. « Text

[13] Castoriadis, op. cit., p. 406 « Text

[14] Castoriadis, op. cit., p. 451. « Text

[15] Castoriadis, op. cit., p. 383. « Text

[16] Cf. Castoriadis, op. cit., p. 396. « Text

[17] Castoriadis, op. cit., p. 400-401. « Text

[18] Incidentally, Pascal denied the possibility of a meeting between state and object and showed that no object is adequate to a given state other than the ultimate object, the God of the Christians, who is intermingled with all states. The human condition, then, is subject to diversion, that is to say, to small cares of the ego and to existential boredom, i.e. to the miserable status of humanity deprived of God. « Text

[19] Plato, Timée, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 2, French translation by Léon Robin, Paris, Gallimard, 1950, p. 497. « Text

[20] Gottfried Leibnitz, in Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain, II 1, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1966, p. 97. « Text

[21] Artemidorus of Ephesus (2nd century A.D.) held the view that the oniric element had a precise meaning. But one should refer to the work of Carlos Castaneda, in particular Le don de l'aigle (New York, 1981; French translation by Guy Casaril, Paris, Gallimard, 1982) and L'art de rêver (New York, 1993; French translation by Marcel Kahn, Monaco, Le Rocher, 1994), the notion of the "dream body" and the distinction between dreaming and the conscious dream. « Text

[22] Sigmund Freud, Nouvelles conférences sur la psychanalyse, French translation by Anne Berman, Paris, Gallimard, 1936; 1971, p. 227. « Text

[23] Gottfried Leibnitz, in Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain, II 1, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1966, p. 38. « Text

[24] "From what I was just a short while ago, it does not necessarily follow that I must be that now, if it is only in this present moment that some cause produces and creates me, so to speak, yet again, i.e. preserves me. (...) So all that is necessary here is that I interrogate myself to know if I possess some quantity of power and of virtue capable of arranging that I, who am now in this moment, continue to exist in the future (...) but I find no such power within myself, and thereby I see the evidence that I depend upon some being other than myself." (René Descartes, Méditations métaphysiques, French translation of 1661; Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1979, p. 123. « Text

[25] Nicolas Malebranche, De la recherche de la vérité, VI 2.3, in Oeuvres, edited by Geneviève Rods-Lewis, Paris, Gallimard, 1979, p. 647. « Text

[26] Sigmund Freud, Métapsychologie, French translation by Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, Paris, Gallimard, 1940; 1981, p. 18. « Text

[27] This ternary appears only formally to the psychic apparatus of Freudian thought -- Id (Es)/Ego (Ich)/Superego (Über-Ich): the "I" does not necessarily incorporate the excessive socio-cultural, familial and moral connotations that psychoanalysis attributes to the Superego, and the Self escapes these influences in large part. « Text

[28] Michel de Montaigne, Essais, III 12, edition by Alexandre Micha, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1979, p. 270.« Text

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