Philosophy, Eteology, Integral and the Body

…Or can mentation be supplanted by verition? Embodying truth? What do you think (ironically) this means? How can we make a statement speaking from/as/through “truth”.

Moving from the head to the whole nervous system, perhaps no particular aspect of the body truly associates with the integral structure. Maybe this is pointing to the same thing.

A few words from EPO, pg. 144, is that the integral is associated with the vertex, while the mental is associated with the brain and the eye. The vertex refers to area formed by “four bones of the skull.” A kind of intersection or convergent set of relationships.

Tagging @JeremyS here for a geometric consideration (if you’ve got one!)

What do you think?

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Thanks, @Jeremy! Your questions prompted an etymological quest, and herein is what I found.

I have been perplexed by “vertex” as the organ emphasis of the integral structure, as well. In all the time of my studying and teaching biology and anatomy, I have never seen it used in reference to the surface of the skull. In geometry, it usually has one of two meanings: the top of a triangle, where the two legs meet (the third side being the base), or more generally, any point where two lines of a figure meet (in 3D objects, where two edges meet, i.e. a cube has 8 vertices). But, after further delving, I don’t think either of these capture what Gebser is getting at.

Several months ago, I was given an opportunity to “pillage” the library of a retired biology teacher (and anthroposopher). I found, amidst numerous textbooks, field guides, and a nearly complete collection of Barfield’s writings, a small (6” x 7”), handbound, photocopied 1973 edition of Ursprung und Gegenwart (part I). Its from the “Bibliothek der Padagogischen Forschungsstelle Beim Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen”. So, though I don’t read German, I have been (synchronistically) blessed with access to the original language.

(Vertex) is a translation of (Scheitel). My german dictionary is not great, and only gives this to mean the part of the hair. Internet translators are more helpful, though. The single-word translation I got was “apex”, but here are some other, “looser” meanings:

  • the line that divides the hair into right and left halves
  • the top of the head
  • in architecture, the peak, or high-point (scheitelpunkt)
  • in astronomy, the zenith

More meaning can be gleaned from these expressions:

  • “jemandem den Scheitel mit der Axt ziehen”: roughly translated, to pull(separate) someone’s “scheitel” with an axe; colloquially, to kill someone (seems reminiscent to scalping, though I’m starting to sense its not of the head, but in some way, above it, as if this is a severing of an “umbilical cord”, connecting a person with their “scheitel”, but definitely I’m projecting here)
  • “vom Scheitel bis zur Sohle”: a German version of “from head to toe”

Perhaps out of a wish to avoid Mythical associations, or ignorance, Gebser doesn’t mention what I must admit comes to mind for me, that this is the crown chakra. With the usual caveats, one could easily imagine: magical – root/sacral/solar plexus(?), mythical – heart/throat(?), mental – throat/brow(?)

Viscera, heart, and brain are readily thought of as “physical”, while vertex/scheitel are not so easily imagined (for me). Perhaps when the integral structure is concretized, our idea of “physical” will change to include what seems now to be super-physical.

To return to a more geometric consideration, I am minded of pg. 260, wherein Gebser refers to the (projective) geometric axiom that two parallel lines meet at a point-at-infinity. Taking two such lines to be the legs of a triangle, the intersection of two parallel lines is the vertex/apex/scheitel of a triangle. And correlative to our physical limitation, such a point is generally not “conceivable”, at least within the mental structure. But through projective geometry, and the paradoxical thinking it entails, such elements at infinity can be “wared”.

I hope that, more than provide a definition, I’ve at least given you some pictures to play with when pondering (vertex). Its meaning, for me, has certainly expanded (or intensified) in the process. Of course, my understanding is limited by my supeficial understanding of German language and culture; a native German speaker would contribute greatly to our sense of the word.

(source: Duden | Scheitel | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft)


Vertex is a spatialized location in a physical schema that suggests a coming together of qualitatively different inputs. The image falls apart as an idea if we try to figure it out from our native mind set of the mental/rational. All we can do is try to intuit what happens when all the structures are firing in the efficient mode. One gets a feel for it but it must also have a quality like a musical chord where each note is essential but in this case not played on the same instrument. Once we have realized what the efficient mode is in each structure then truth by this experience is derived in any given situation through “verition.” But we have to understand that any given experience in the world will be more in one structure than another, I assume, since it is hard to imagine a place where all of the structures would be represented equally in some phenomenon. Applying the right structure is part of the game with verition, the appropriate structure perhaps tempered by the active efficient witnessing of the others.(if that makes sense). It feels to me like we get back to this idea of diaphany where origin is shinning through each structure so that verition is the recognition of origin in its “rainbow” hue, sort of speak. But this is too much mental map making. Perhaps its better to ask, how does verition detect non-truth? I would say by detecting the presence of deficiency. So, can verition replace mentation? Yes, but some situations may call for an efficient mental act of mentation, like a engineering problem, so one doesn’t discount mentation entirely.

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when I think of the mental structure being associated with the brain and the eye, I instantly think of perception (especially VISUAL perception) while the vertex (especially mentation supplanted by verition~ TRUTH) makes me think of the way that Otto Rank distinguishes between Truth and Beauty.
Truth is what is mortal, Beauty is that which is immortal. In this context, mentation supplanted by verition means full embodiment combined with full consciousness, full mentation. Not a separation of the psyche and soma.
Ver-tex could be related to ver-ition here… the point of psyche (Beauty) /soma (Truth) convergence, or the consciousness of the Narayan (Sri Aurobindo’s term for the God-Man).
The place of the vertex is the integration of life and it’s complementarity in death. It is walking with death as the companion, with an awareness of Beauty (immortality) even as we are now living Truth (mortality).
I also understand the arational perspective to include both that which is visible as well as that which is invisible.
here, again, “verition” (for me) means a full embodiment of both the visible self and the invisible self (soma and psyche) in the present moment experience (rather than a denial of the somatic aspect of experience) in favor of the mental (spiritual). (Reading Merleau-Ponty is very helpful in understanding this).
Curiously enough, I have also been writing about these “entrail readings” as of late~ :wink:

one last thought, as related to the idea of the astronomical idea of the vertex as related to the apex or zenith~ I am thinking of the astrolabe here, as the precursor to the clock, and the earliest constructions of time, with the nadir, zenith, the azimuth and the altitude. the celestial sphere denoted along WITH the local horizon in time constructs. just a thought~ that Gebser is referring back to something else here that is being brought forth again, in a deeper way~