Today’s post is going to be a bit different. The following was taken from a thread of discussion on Facebook by Marshall H. Lewis, Charles McLafferty and myself. Feel free to join the conversation with thoughts of your own.
Marshall: The traditional topographical model of the Psyche in depth psychology has been on my mind for some time, especially in light of Frankl’s dimensional ontology. The traditional “tip of the iceberg” model – a pyramid with consciousness at the peak – was used in part in the formation of Frankl’s model. I have been struggling with synthesizing and simplifying these models and have come up with this “beam of light” model. I invite your comments.
(Picture the words below written with two diagonal lines on either side, open at the top and closing in at the bottom)
Batya: Looks interesting, Marshall. I’d like to see you develop this more. What kinds of thoughts and feelings accompany each dimension? What is the dynamic of the interrelationships between or progression of the various
Charles: Marshall, early on in “The Unconscious God” [aka “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning”], Frankl notes that there are four dimensions. The noetic is not the highest, but rather subordinate to the dimension of the spirit. He hinted at this throu…ghout his writings, by saying that religion was not the realm of psychology, and even here it is easy to miss his direct statement that the noetic is subordinate to the spiritual. Would this have implications for your model?
Batya: Charles, I completely missed this in Frankl. Where in the book does he say this? I always thought the noetic IS the spiritual. My understanding of Frankl was that he said the difference between religion and psychology was a difference in aim, but that both religion and logotherapy relate to the spiritual dimension.
Charles: We have all been taught that the noetic is “that which makes us uniquely human.”
Charles: It is necessary to read very carefully on pages 16-17. In fact, I was reading on the next page when I stopped, realized what had I had just read, and went back… to make sure: “A higher dimension, by definition, is a more inclusive one. The lower dimension is included in the higher one; it is subsumed in it and encompassed by it. Thus biology is overarched by psychology, psychology by noology, and noology by theology.” [Cf the rest of that passage.]
So he delineates them separately, thus defining a 4th dimension, one that is beyond noology. I don’t take him literally when he uses the word “theology” (as in religion) but rather theo-ology– as in the study of God.
Marshall: The way I take this is that the “noetic” is the spiritual dimension as experienced in and through the human person. Therefore, it is a proper topic of psychological study. The next higher dimension, the dimension of G-d, includes and encompasses the human person, though is beyond the human person, and is not a proper subject for psychology (i.e., becomes theology, or is beyond understanding) at that point.
Marshall: My little beam of light model is basically turning the Freudian iceberg model upside down and substituting light for ice. In fact, it is an early attempt to look at Frankl through a Kabbalah lens. That being said, it would be proper to place the “noetic” at the origin of the light. This reflects Frankl’s notion that conscience implies the existence of a “transpersonal agent” (pp. 53-54 in ‘The Unconscious God’). Beyond conscience, and beyond the human person, would then be that dimension that we are incapable of conceiving, the dimension of Ein Sof in Kabbalah, or the dimension of the divine prior to manifestation through human experience.
Batya: I gather from what both of you are saying is that theology deals with something beyond human comprehension. I would say that it is for this reason Frankl says we can never be sure we are doing the right thing, that our conscience can err. …At the same time by the power of our free will we have a window to the transcendent, which we can call God, by which we can hear that we are addressed/called through reality and can respond with the one right response. The concrete action we take when we are responding properly to divine providence’s call is the point of contact between the beyond and the here-and-now.