TRINPsite, 56.34.5-56.34.5 



To claim that everything is, or should be, neutral (or for example, at rest or equal), and to neglect or ignore that in a certain respect neutral-directed polarity is prerequisite for neutrality, is protoneutralism. Likewise, to claim that everything is, or should be, one (or of a kind), and to neglect or ignore that in a certain respect a distinction might be relevant, is protorelevantism. Protoneutralism is contrary to relevantism, because relevantism does make a difference between certain catenical aspects and between polarity which is relevant to a certain end, and polarity which is not. Protorelevantism, too, is contrary to neutralism, because neutralism does not literally consider all catenical aspects and all neutrality and polarity as 'one', but assigns a different normative value to neutral and unneutral predicates dependent on the kind of aspect concerned.

There are several variants of protoneutralism and protorelevantism and ancient protoneutralist or protorelevantist theories and ideas can be found in at least two of the world's continents, if not everywhere. (In no way are those ancient theories and ideas typical of the thought of one particular race or people. Those who speak of "western" and "eastern thought" may want us to believe this, but these people heavily draw on monolithic conceptions of what 'western' and 'eastern thought' is supposed to be. Their attempts to expose all sorts of absolute differences between both is plainly racially or ethnically inspired, also when their racialism or ethnocentrism is external aggrandizemental. What may be correct is that there are considerable gradual differences between all ancient systems of thought taken together in one part of the world, and all ancient systems of thought taken together in another part of the world. This, however, does not justify ignoring minority thinkers altogether. If full respect is paid not only to racial or ethnical minorities, but also to philosophical and ideological minorities, examples of protoneutralism and of protorelevantism can be found in both --what certain people have preferred to call-- 'western' and 'eastern thought'; and perhaps, also in something like 'northern', 'equatorial' and 'southern thought'. Nonetheless, thinking is a predicate of persons, not of bodies, and therefore it is a materialist aberration to classify thought, or systems of thought, in terms of the country or continent the body of the person thinking comes from. Hence, we had better forget about 'western-versus-eastern' attempts at dividing and straitjacketing global thought in a nonsystematic, nonsubstantial way.)

Now, taken literally, there is no traditional or ancient system of thought which says that everything is, or should be, 'neutral'. What such systems actually teach, is something we interpret in our present-day catenical terms as 'neutral'. Key concepts are, then, equality, symmetry and harmony. Equality is the ideal of egalitarianism, an old ideal whose discussion we will delay until our treatment of the principle of equality (in 3.5). Of the other two notions, symmetry has always been identified with beauty and perfection, while harmony is not only by ancient thinkers but still by modern thinkers believed to be inherent in nature. In one protoneutralist world-view there is said to be a 'harmonious cooperation of all beings' which obey 'the internal dictates of their own natures'.

It has already been explained in Antonymics and antonymical metaphysics (I.2.3.4) that the yang-yin doctrine and similar antonymical doctrines are antineutralistic from the standpoint of our catenical ontology (and exclusivist as well). Yet, when world-views based on these types of metaphysic start speaking about "(dynamic) balances" between the one side and the other, and when both sides are really opposite to each other, the result of such a balance (whether 'dynamic' or not) is a form of neutrality. However, the 'balance' aimed at is not always a balance like that between lightness and darkness, or between being active and being passive; it has also been argued that the virtuous man or person should 'maintain a dynamic balance between good and bad'. On this naive, protoneutralist view (which was mentioned in I.7.2.1 before) the moral agent should not strive for the good at all, for this task would not only be impossible, it would not even be a task 'e should undertake. Those who take this kind of reasoning seriously --and even in modern times there are people who have done this-- must have a very twisted sense of goodness indeed. Perhaps they are striving for a dynamic balance between rationality and irrationality, for conceptual discernment is certainly not part of their dynamist enterprise. If a normative principle of neutrality is to make any sense, it just cannot be applicable to normative predicates themselves. (Or, if it can, it does not add anything to our knowledge, for example, when defining good as neutral. But even then, the idea of a balance between the neutral and the unneutral is as mistaken as the idea of a 'compromise' between neutralism and extremism.)

When protoneutralist systems of thought deal with opposites like light and dark, active and passive, that is, monopolarities of modulus-catenas or other catenas without a fixed neutral empirical value, they do not really center on neutralities in the strict sense, but rather on perineutralities. Such perineutralities are explicitly recognized as superior, when moderateness or moderation is taken as sign of virtue This protoneutralist position is known as that of the doctrine of the golden mean: every virtue is a mean between two vices. (Note how this view combines the view of neutrality as a limit-element in a context of non-perineutral polarities with the hypothesis of mean-neutrality.) Thus modesty is a mean between bashfulness and pretentiousness, 'proper pride' between humility and vanity; courage between cowardice and rashness.

In the same vein truthfulness has been called "a mean between mock-modesty and boastfulness". But it has been rightly pointed out by a modern philosopher that this applied at the most to truthfulness about oneself, and that the conception of truthfulness as a mean in general is as absurd as the belief in some mean between partiality and impartiality. (This being a reference to someone who knew very well how to change base elements into gold: this golden mean adept claimed that 'e had always 'endeavored to steer the narrow line between partiality on the one hand and impartiality on the other'.) For us it is evident why there is no superior mean between two opposite types of truthfulness: firstly, truthfulness in itself is not a catenated predicate; and secondly, it is a propositional predicate dealing with the relation between the ground-world and propositional reality. It is a fallacy to apply a ground-world principle to a concept such as truthfulness. Protoneutralist theories like the doctrine of the golden mean formulate some ostensibly universal, seemingly neutralist or perineutralist, principle and then drown in their own muddy sink of inconsistence, because they never bothered, or were never able, to develop an adequate ontology first.

Altho we will now examine some protorelevantist ideas or systems of thought, the distinction between protoneutralism and protorelevantism is not always easy to draw, something which need not concern us, as the distinction between neutralism and relevantism or inclusivism is often vague or nonexistent too. An example of where the distinction seems to be absent can be found in an ancient philosopher who maintained that nothing on the world changes. When thinking of change as a bipolarity, this implies that everything in the world remains the same in the concatenate sense. This is a neutral view, particularly in an ontology which does not differentiate fact and value, or the factual-modal and the normative. But it seems that the change referred to was primarily a change in the noncatenated sense of coming into being or ceasing to be. (This meaning of change can still be catenical if, and insofar as, it denotes catenalization and decatenalization.) It is with this in mind that 'the only true being' was said to be 'the one, infinite and indivisible'. No distinctions, neither 'true' nor 'false', could be made on this protorelevantist account.

The claim that nothing changes is itself the antithesis of the claim of a contemporary philosopher that everything changes. This alternative thesis became beloved by latter-day dialecticians who contented themselves with the idea of a world in perpetual flux and continually plagued with wars and struggles. Antineutralist tho the ancient thesis itself may be, it is remarkable that the same philosopher presents us with a conception of 'cosmic justice' in which the strife of opposites never issues in a complete victory of either side. Instead, opposites are said to combine to produce harmony and unity in such strife. This is a protoneutralist theory not much different from the one of a dynamic balance between yang and yin. The similarity becomes even more remarkable when we are told that not only things like day and night, summer and winter are one, but also war and peace, and good and evil. This presupposes a war between war and peace and a form of justice in which neither goodness nor badness will ever win. Now, it could be argued that the dialectical synthesis, however nonsensical, is already contained in the thesis that everything changes. It could be argued too that it is relevantist neutralism which is the synthesis of the thesis that literally everything displays, or should display, polarity, and the equally frivolous antithesis that literally everything is, or should be, neutral. Dialecticians believing in this theory should thus not remain stuck in the former outmoded stage, but progress with us to the synthesis of thesis and antithesis. Thereafter they may, of course, forget about antonymical metaphysics altogether. Such an ideological change for the good would be a revolutionary one indeed.

The idea of the oneness of the totality of all things returns under different guises in several philosophical and ideological systems. Certain mystics have it that the unity of all things is attained in a state of consciousness in which 'one's individuality dissolves into an undifferentiated oneness'. This experience of oneness with the surrounding environment, which is said to be the main characteristic of their meditative state, can (but need not) be explained in relevantist terms. For where there is no goal and no striving, there is no relevant distinction, and where there is no relevant distinction there is no (legitimate) way to divorce oneself from the rest of this world and to divide it. (This is also the gist of the canonical prose poem The world, one and uniform.) However, the irrelevance of any distinction we might make, does not preclude the true existence of a multitude of things and events around us. If acknowledged for truth-conditional reasons they are --on certain ancient accounts-- claimed to be 'manifestations of the same ultimate reality' nevertheless. This ultimate reality or ultimate, undefinable reality is, then, the unifying notion of the religious or philosophical doctrine concerned. Some modern scientists have proposed similar ideas, probably not so much as scientists but as philosophers or ideologues. (They may speak of some "unbroken wholeness", for instance.)

All the above forms of protorelevantism are naive in that they do not discern the difference between the factual (that everything is one) and the normative (that everything should be one); in that they do not discern the difference between the truth-conditional and the relevancy-conditional aspects of living and thinking; in that they refuse to openly commit themselves normatively, while implicitly employing at least one normative principle (that of oneness); and in that they have no reply to the actual existence of inequality, of extremist strife, and of the lack of harmony and unity in the world. They must either admit that also these evil phenomena are manifestations of the 'one ultimate reality', or deny this and explain the (normative) difference between a so-called 'ultimate' and a 'nonultimate' reality. In the former case they support extremism and lesser unneutralism directly; in the latter case they support it indirectly by not being prepared for a confrontation with concrete, real-life issues. Also we will use expressions like oneness and the ultimate. Yet, whereas it is poetry when a person uses such expressions after first having analyzed the reality 'e is confronted with and the reality 'e proposes, it is obscurantism when a person founds 'er entire belief in notions like oneness and the ultimate, while remaining wholly mystified by them.

©MVVM, 41-56 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Fundamentals
The Norm of Neutrality
Misassociations and Nonneutralist Attitudes