TRINPsite 55.25.5 - 55.25.5  
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M O D E L
MODEL OF NEUTRAL-INCLUSIVITY
BOOK OF SYMBOLS

1.3 

WAYS OF CLASSIFYING SYMBOLS


1.3.1 

ON THE BASIS OF MEDIUM, DEDUCTIBILITY AND FUNCTION

As said in the previous division there is a tendency in traditional thought to associate the symbolic with the visual-auditory and the spiritual, whereas in actual fact the symbolic need not be visual or auditory, and is not less 'spiritual' when it is not. Now, when speaking of 'visual', 'auditory' and other symbols, we classify them on the basis of medium. But this is merely one way of classifying symbols (or modes of generative symbolism); there are at least four different criterions on the basis of which they can be subdivided, namely:

  • the medium of representation
  • the deductibility of the symbol
  • the symbol's primary function
  • the symbol's ideological acceptability

Granted that human beings have usually five senses, the classification on the basis of the medium of representation involved yields five types of symbol. They are, with the corresponding sensory modalities:

  1. visual: the sense of sight
  2. auditory: the sense of hearing
  3. olfactory: the sense of smell
  4. tactual: the sense of touch
  5. gustatory: the sense of taste
Examples of ancient symbols which are not visual-auditory are the burning of incense and the kissing of something which is believed to be holy or sacred. The former symbol is olfactory, the latter one tactual. (Tactual is to be preferred to tactile because of the analogy with visual. Compare also visualize with tactualize.)

For all five mediums it must in principle be possible to find or create symbols which can represent neutral-inclusivity in general, or neutrality proper and neutral-directedness in particular. For example, pure water as a neutral liquid which is neither acid nor basic can be used as an ideal gustatory symbol representing neutrality proper or neutral-inclusivity in general. Insofar as the neutrality of water is, or can be, connected with the notion of inclusivity, it is etymologically justifiable to look at and experience water as a 'holy' substance. This must then be understood in a symbolic fashion. To unconditionally believe that water would literally always have a purifying or healing effect is supernaturalism.

Water may be suitable as a chemical symbol of neutrality, it does not follow from the norm of neutrality that it should be. Likewise, a symmetrical design, for instance, may very appropriately represent neutrality too, but it cannot be proved in any way that neutrality proper must per se be represented by symmetry even tho it is certain that neutrality proper cannot be represented by asymmetry. The choice of water and something which is symmetrical as neutralist symbols can be defended because of their inherent qualities. Perfect neutrality does indeed appear as symmetry of the purest water. Yet, the choice of water and symmetry as symbols is not an automatical result of the choice of neutrality as a normative value. In other words, the symbolic significance of such elements cannot be deduced from the perfective value of neutrality. Altho it never can in a way, there are considerable gradual differences nevertheless.

Some entities (the supreme being in particular) stand on the borderline of the presentative and the symbolic. They have practically the same significance whether viewed from a presentative or from a representative angle. Other entities or elements, like water, only become significant in a symbolist sense because of what they represent, and not so much for what they are. A being like the supreme being is in its representative capacity a fundamental symbol. The deductibility of such a fundamental symbol is maximal. That is why the distinction between fundamental and nonfundamental symbols can be said to be one on the basis of the deductibility of these symbols. In the third chapter it will be discussed in more detail why the supreme being is indeed a fundamental symbol of neutralism.

Nonfundamental symbols can be subdivided on the basis of their primary function. At least three types of symbol can be distinguished in this way. They are, with the phenomena or activities with respect to which they play a role:

  • linguistic: the choice and use of words and names
  • emotional: expressions like celebration and mourning
  • ritual: formal acts or series of acts

We will treat of linguistic symbolism in the next chapter, and of emotional and ritual symbolism in Chapter Five. The first reason to discuss the linguistic symbols (in Chapter Two) before the fundamental ones (in Chaper Three) is that even fundamental thought has to make use of linguistic symbols for its communication. The second reason is that the different types of symbolism do, of course, occur in combination too, and by treating linguistic symbolism first it is possible to immediately apply this form of symbolism --of generative symbolism in the case of the Ananorm-- to a number of nonlinguistic symbols to be presented in the later chapters. Before doing this tho, we should consider a fourth way of categorizing symbols.


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