Tertium Organum, Chapter 2 (Perception)


Reference: Tertium Organum

The following is a summary as well as a commentary on Chapter 2 of Tertium Organum by P D Ouspensky:

According to Kant, we cannot grasp the true nature of things because we cannot perceive beyond space and time. Ouspensky is suggesting that this difficulty may be overcome by taking a closer look at space and time, especially at the possibility of higher dimensions.

According to Hinton, as quoted by Ouspensky, we need to look at the space sense as a means to cognize the world, rather than as a hindrance. A simple study shows that space is not limited as ordinary experience would seem to inform us, but that we are quite capable of conceiving different kinds of space.

The suggestion here boils down, basically, to sharpening the mental perception. The proposal is to develop a sense of four-dimensional space to see what more can be perceived in nature.

Ouspensky says,

For development of knowledge it is necessary to separate the self-elements, i.e., the personal elements which we put in everything cognized by us, from that which is cognized, in order that our attention may not be distracted (upon ourselves) from the properties which we, in substance, perceive.
Only by getting rid of the self-elements in our receptivity do we put ourselves in a position in which we can propound sensible questions. Only by getting rid of the notion of a circular motion of the sun around the earth (i.e., around us–self-element) do we prepare our way to study the sun as it really is.
But the worst about a self-element is that its presence is never dreamed of till it is got rid of.

Therefore, in order to perceive more clearly one needs to get rid of self-elements, or personal filters, such as, biases, fixed ideas, presuppositions, etc., that one is generally not aware of. This may happen as we explore the fourth dimension of space.

Space for us is the form of the universe or the form of the matter in the universe. It is limited to three dimensions that are defined as three mutually perpendicular directions. For some reason we are simply not aware of a fourth dimension or a fourth mutually perpendicular direction. That means there are realities, which cannot be measured merely in length, breadth and height.

A reality is something where a definite action, function or influence is involved. There is physical reality, such as, a house, recognized by certain sorts of actions and functions. Then there is metaphysical reality, such as, the idea of good and evil, recognized by its own actions and functions. These two realities exist in different dimensions.

Ouspensky says,

Of such different existences we know very many. A book exists, and also the contents of a book. Notes exist, and so does the music that the notes combine to make. A coin exists, and so does the purchasing value of a coin. A word exists, and the energy which it contains.
We discern on the one hand, a whole series of physical facts, and on the other hand, a series of metaphysical facts.
As facts of the first kind exist, so also do facts of the second kind exist, but differently.
From the usual positivist point of view it will seem naive in the highest degree to speak of the purchasing value of a coin separately from the coin ; of the energy of a word separately from the word ; of the contents of a book separately from the book, and so on . We all know that these are only “what people say,” that in reality purchasing value, energy o f a word, and contents of a book do not exist, that by these conceptions we only denote a series of phenomena in some way linked with coin, word, book, but in substance quite separate from them.
But is it so?

All objects exist as mass and significance. We perceive mass through our physical senses, and the significance through our mental sense. Mass and significance exist in two different dimensions. The significance is as much of a substance of the object as is the mass. The positivist philosophy does not seem to recognize these two dimensions of substance.

Mass and significance of an object go hand in hand. Mass is defined in the three dimensions of the physical space. We may say that significance is defined in the fourth dimension of a ‘higher space’.

We usually regard space as a form of the universe, or as a form of the matter of the universe. Matter is everything which directly or indirectly offers resistance to motion. Motion (force) is everything which directly or indirectly communicates movement as action, function or influence. Action, function and influence are the characteristics of existence.

Matter and motion (force) are simply generalizations of myriads of things and phenomena that we perceive in existence. They are as much of an abstract conception as are truth, good and evil.

Ouspensky says,

Returning to the consideration of space, we shall under no circumstances introduce unknown quantities in the definition of it. We shall define it only in terms of those two data which we decided to accept at the very beginning.
The world and consciousness are the facts which we decided to recognize as existing.
By the world we mean the combination of all the causes of our sensations in general.
By the material world we mean the combination of causes of a definite series of sensations: those of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, sensations of weight, and so on.
Space is either a property of the world or a property of our knowledge of the world.
Three-dimensional space is either a property of the material world or a property of our receptivity of the material world.
Our inquiry is confined to the problem: how shall we approach the study of space?

Based on the above, the following is my firm belief.

Mind is also a sense organ that perceives the mental dimension of objects. The consideration of ‘higher space’ then covers not only the physical dimensions but also the mental dimension.

Therefore, spirit (significance) and matter (mass) are different dimensions of the same reality. They are not independent of each other as supposed in the consideration of duality.


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  • vinaire  On April 30, 2015 at 7:19 AM

    The subject of “duality” is very interesting. Duality is simply two opposite dimensions of the same reality. So we good and evil as two opposite dimensions of the same reality. We have duality of active motion (force) and passive motion (inertia). They are opposite of each other; but they are two dimensions of the same reality. So, all duality in this universe is simply expressing two opposite dimensions of the same reality. This applies to the duality of spirit and matter as well.

    One may say that duality makes up the two ends of the same scale. Now there are different scales and we need to find the relationships among these different scales.

  • Shamanarts  On April 30, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    dedicated to the ONE EYE love….

    • Shamanarts  On May 1, 2015 at 9:12 AM

      • vinaire  On May 1, 2015 at 10:40 AM


        “[Gurdijeff] taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”, but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.” ~ Wikipedia


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