⚂ 2.3.10 On the philosophy of development through

positive disintegration and secondary integration.

William Tillier

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Kazimierz Dąbrowski

On the philosophy of development through

positive disintegration and secondary integration.

The present introduction is intended as a brief presentation of the philosophical ideas inherent in my conception of man’s development. In the article itself, I will discuss in more detail the fundamental elements of my philosophy beginning with the idea of the two essences. These constitute aggregates of the highest individual and social structures which are qualitatively stable but quantitatively changeable. These essences are consciously chosen by individuals, verified by them, and individually developed. They decide about the sense of human existence and the sense of one’s individual life, an idea expressed, among others, in terms of ‘existence through essence.’ The essences are components of a transcendental but concrete and empirically conceived ideal that can be achieved through the process of positive disintegration, partial secondary integration, by transcending the human biological life cycle and other analogical cycles as well as by transcending one’s psychological type.

This is the pattern according to which multi-dimensional and multilevel development runs its course – theoretically, practically, and invariably empirically – until the social and individual ideal is attained. In this way one’s ‘higher self’ is formed, constantly enriched, ever transcending its lower levels. Simultaneously it is always empirical and amenable to intellectual and at the same time transcendental analysis.

This article also presents my polemical discussion of the views of K. Bhattacharyya, S. Katz, and Z. Cackowski concerning, in a mere outline, the problem of nature and freedom.

Through this discussion as well as through my psychological and psychopathological view of human development, so briefly, outlined here, I would like to present my own philosophical ideas.


Through reflection concerning the sense and the aim of life and of development, we search in ourselves and in others for those types of human qualities which present the unchangeable, durable essence, valuable to existence in the objective and subjective sense. In the flow of our and of other people’s thoughts, aspirations, and experiences we shall rest ourselves on that which is essential in the subjectivity and

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objectivity of human beings, on that which is valuable to “rest on” in the current of life in order to choose and stabilize the changing processes of our lives, that which should not be loosened, that which presents an essence of where we are and to where we are going. We rest ourselves on this, we desire to endure in this, for without it our sense of life becomes valueless and with the loosening of this something we could not be accommodated, choosing non-existence rather than existence without such a value. And through this we stay to face those things which cannot be changed as qualities. We often choose this attitude in the early stages of life and after reinforcing it through the authentic experience, through suffering, through pain, through reflection in hours of loneliness, and through all that which is very experiential in our inner psychic milieu together with our states of sadness, depression, anxiety, and even obsession. Through such experiences connected with everyday life experiences, with the loss of our near ones, with the troubles of the psychoneurotic type, it is clarifying something in ourselves and concretizing something in ourselves. This group of qualities could be called essential. Without them the whole sense of life sinks into the sea of senselessness. If we could remove from ourselves those qualities in a strong authentic way, they would be presented as follows:

1) Individual Essential Qualities. Our basic interest will concern those aptitudes and talents without which the sense of our life would disappear or diminish to such an extent as to make life very difficult. We could not imagine the life of Chopin without his characteristic creativity in the form of musical poetry, or the life of Michelangelo without his painting, sculpture and architecture, or the life of Janusz Korczak 1 without his deep interest in the education of children which presented his most important sense of life.

The second group of individual qualities includes the emotional bonds of friendship and love without which the lives of many of us would not hold any deep value. Such a bond could be for us like a spiritual thread without which we could not find the scent or the colours of our emotional life. We would always want to be with them actually and for eternity, in harmony with the belief of one of the bishops of Canterbury, “Wait for me in the grave – I have invincible will to meet you in the valley of shadows.”

A third quality among all essential individual qualities I believe to be the self-conscious identification with oneself, with one’s development and with one’s perspective for the future. This is like the consciousness of our developmental identity.

We may now come to the essential social qualities. This refers to those qualities which are common to all the people who are on the level of accelerated development.

2) The Essential social Qualities or Common Qualities.


1 Polish physician and writer of Jewish origin who occupied himself all of his life with children with a great deal of love and comprehension. He accompanied his charges to the annihilation camp in Treblinka and died with them in a gas chamber.

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social qualities or common qualities. They represent the essence of our relations with others, of our “being with them” through our participation in the human community.

Both of these essences, that is the individual and the social, will be very closely connected and each of them will present the  conditio sine qua non to the other one. They will present something like a twofold unity. This is exemplified in the attitude of Christ who had the most numerous and the deepest individual emotional friendships. On the one side we face his very deep interest and aptitudes of genius and the consciousness of His own unrepeatable individual identity, and on the other side – His constant readiness to serve all the people to the extent of accepting the way of Golgotha. These two groups of qualities, these two essences will never undergo any basic changes. They will present something like the central group of qualities of our personality which may undergo quantitative changes.

It is clear that we accept the possibility of having and developing other qualities throughout the course of development. Although these will be new and important qualities, they will never change the central place and meaning of the central qualities described above.

These unchangeable qualities, these essences, decide perhaps about the sense of our thinking, the projection of ourselves and of others into infinity and perhaps even into immortality.


In our human but difficult mental approach, existence without understanding the sense on which it is based or without knowing its contents, presents something which cannot be understood. Existence, like existence without differentiation, without individualization, or without differentiation of the subject from the object, appears to us as something very obstructive, very often unconscious, and from the philosophical point of view, something mystical but never concrete, indeed rather pantheistic.

From this point of view, existence is not more than essence. That is to say, it is something which is an expression of the “psychic explosion” of the human individual, stabilized, different and unchangeable.

In many religious systems of the East, especially in different Hindu philosophical and religious systems, existence is something with little meaning or without meaning for the human experience. These problems are seen by Rama Krishna and Vivekananda in view of our “small personalities,” whose basic aspirations “should be” the complete identification with the highest personality, the highest moral principle. identifications such as, “like a drop in the ocean” are for us meaningless and antihuman. Similarly, the approach to the problem of identity by Yogananda in his autobiography presents for the West something incomprehensible in its philosophical meaning and religious approach. In his autobiography Yogananda records the following conversation. One of his pupils came to him with this question: “Tell me master how to find in the hereafter my guru whom I loved so much?” Yogananda answered as follows: “That is impossible my dear, because you will be your guru, and your guru will be yourself.” This is the expression of the identification of unity with the object and subject.

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In the Buddhistic approach of passing through many developmental differentiations through the increasing of Karma, that is, through individual responsibility – it is philosophically incomprehensible and impossible to accept the state of nirvana, which means “existence – non-existence.”

On the other hand, the poem  Bhagavadgita is also incomprehensible to the Western way of thinking. Due to the disposition of the god Krishna many deaths occur at a time of war. Krishna tells Arjuna, one of the main participants in the war, that he should not hesitate to kill his enemies in the coming war because their deaths are already predestined. They are already dead and Arjuna will not be responsible for their deaths.

To us, all this is incomprehensible for it is the effect of a monstrous approach from the point of view of a lack of differentiation and of authentic responsibility.

In this type of approach, we do not see any action belonging to an independent individual since all differentiation means  maya and existence is incomplete identification.

From my point of view, the essence of man is the unity of the conscious, the chosen, the affirmed, and the developing major characteristics of individual personalities. In this approach, essence is much more important than existence, which, from the point of view of Eastern religion, presents something extrinsic to individuality and inimical to it.

The annihilation of our elaborated essences through the ways of development is something worse than death and non-existence.

For this reason, essence coming from a definite level of human development is much more important than existence – existence when “is being because it is being,” when nothing defines it, when nothing differentiates it, and when nothing is essential in it.


In order to portray clearly the ways of reaching human essences, which we discussed above, and to clarify the problem of “existence through essence” – I feel inclined to present two kinds of development. These are: development through stages and development through levels. The former concerns the development of all human species and many species of animals while the latter concerns human beings only, and more strictly only certain groups within the human society. The first kind is determined phylogenetically, that is, biologically: we are born and pass-through determined periods of development – the negativistic period, the period of puberty, the period of adolescence, the adulthood of man, the period of middle age, older age and death. These periods with some differentiation present the main common traits of all members of the human society. The period or stage of aging is characterized by feelings of inferiority, lack of potential, very often a clearly defined tendency toward subordination, and want of care; often by too much adaptation in order to find good approval of entourage (external environment), by a tendency to interest the environment,

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and by a certain degree of artificiality, stereotype, and so on. Such psychophysical attitudes prevail in most human attitudes.

Besides these, we also meet other characteristics based on different potentials for development. Here, we are dealing with the so-called development through the psychical levels. This is a completely different kind of development.

The author bases himself here on his theory of positive disintegration in which he differentiates five levels: primitive integration, the unilevel disintegration, the multilevel spontaneous disintegration, the organized, systematized multilevel disintegration, and the secondary integration. Here, the course of development passes through the loosening of rigid structure, through the stimulation of specific constitutional structures of the individual together with different external stimuli and his own authentic experiences. This means that such a development goes through many difficult experiences: sadness, depression, anxiety states, developmental crisis, external and especially internal conflicts. agony, enthusiasm, and even ecstasy; that is to say, true disintegration which contains in its essence the positive elements, the elements of accelerated development. Through this kind of experience in his inner psychic milieu, through the nuclei of developmental forces of the multi-dimensional hierarchy of personality, the individual arrives at his deepest needs and at the programme of his own development toward the previously mentioned human essences. In this way, the individual transcends the development referred to as development through stages and enters upon development through levels. This is an expression of the gradual overcoming of biological determinism, the overcoming of “species” development, and of moving towards the self-conscious development of the individual and social groups.


It is perhaps necessary to explain briefly our notion of transcendence. We cannot accept, in this case, the notion of Kantian transcendence, where the transcendence being spoken of makes it impossible to understand such transcendence. We cannot understand transcendence which is impossible to reach. In the same manner, we cannot accept the scholastic meaning of transcendence in the form of identification with a deity, that is, identification with eternal truth.

The basic notions of Hindu philosophy, of Buddha, Brahman, Zen, Lamaism, etc., are foreign to us. We cannot accept the notion of existence-non-existence in Buddhism or the opinion of Rama Krishna and Vivekananda on the necessity of destroying our “small personality,” of destroying any individual distinction between subject and object. In our opinion, if we do not want to be in the chaos of unclear notions, we should accept empirical transcendence which is accessible to those human beings who are on the level of accelerated development, who are on the way of overcoming the lower levels of their own development, who are gradually reaching the way of empathy, and their concrete ideal, this means of their own two essences: the individual and the common (social). This type of transcendence means the transcendence of the lower level of our personality for the benefit

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of the higher level. Such a transcendence expresses the highest form of development without any elimination of all that which means personality; which means the unity of the conscious, self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-educated higher traits of one’s own basic psychic qualities.

This is the level of our concrete ideal; this is the level of our essences, or group of qualities, in which the central qualities remain unchangeable as qualities but changeable quantitatively. This is the expression of the self-conscious and chosen structure after a very long and difficult way of positive disintegration. This is the reaching of a structure which is so high that we will never be able to reject it because it becomes more valuable than life. We already discussed this problem in the first sub-chapters of this paper.


As stated in the heading the problem is that of development through stages and through levels. Man transcends the biological life cycle, that is to say, the cycle characteristic to herd development common to both animals and human beings. Man transcends biological determinism through the way of his own self-consciousness, his will, his choice, this means through the participation of the third factor and all autonomic and authentic factors. He partially transcends biological determinism and reaches the level of indeterminism or auto-determinism, which means that he does this with a very conscious decision. Thus he comes to occupy a position which is against and above all mechanisms common to animals and human beings.

During the period of puberty he begins to ask himself whether dynamisms like ambivalences and ambitendencies, contrariness in the instinctual and emotional attitudes, changeability of moods, attention of superiority – inferiority feelings, opposition to parents, strong and not sufficiently conscious sexual tendencies are really necessary in his life. Through “insight,” self-consciousness, through third factor influence on consciousness one comes [to] be in some extent against oneself, one influences one’s choice of oneself as a higher human being and influences the tendency to partially isolate oneself from many species dynamics. Such an individual does not agree with certain dynamics and tries to transcend them. This is the essence of the transcendence of the biological life cycle in this period. We observe similar characteristics in early childhood and adolescence.

From the point of view of developmental periods, or levels of development, we observe the need to transcend the stereotype in the field of “mature” sexual tendencies, we witness the need to be independent from such determinations, we witness the need to transcend the common tendency for acquiring money, to be “like others,” the tendency to cling to people with position, or to those with a better economic situation. There is a tendency to transcend the new stereotypy and move toward a richness of personality, the psychic richness.

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On the basis of our clinical work and observations and on the basis of fragments taken from many biographies, we see clearly that individuals who want to transcend their biological life cycle do not accept any new forms of stereotypy, or of the new and rigid biological determinism.

The increasing of self-consciousness expresses a negation of that kind of “maturity,” of those kinds of ambitions, and of that kind of dependence in the concrete period of development.

In such conditions, the development of certain attitudes takes place which expresses itself in the need to be creatively “not matured”, to avoid searching for artificial solutions but to search for the sense of life and the philosophy of life, and to attain such a level of development as to be able to transcend all stereotypical interests and aptitudes, and to expand the tendencies leading in the direction of development through levels.

Taking the example of old age, we see in most of the cases a weakening of psycho-physical affections, symptoms of pain characteristic of old age, inquietude resulting from the fear of being left out, struggles resulting from submission to the will of the family and the want for greater acceptance: we observe the feeling of inferiority, etc.

On the other hand, from the sum representation of this period comes the revolt against most of the rigid biological expressions of this period, the need to preserve human dignity at all cost: the need to lean towards creativity towards making independent decisions concerning one’s destiny, to search for the sense of the last years, to be prepared for death, which certifies a clear tendency to transcend the lower level of oneself and to reach the higher level.

Along with the transcendence of the biological life cycle we also observe two ways of development in such fields as: the transcendence of the social life cycle, of the educational life cycle; the transcendence of the psychological, the psycho-pathological, the philosophical and the religious life cycle and of many others.

The struggle to transcend the social life cycle will be expressed through systematization and conscious trial of not adjusting oneself to certain conditions of social life and of adjusting oneself to the higher levels of such social conditions. This means the introduction into the social life of the third factor which isolates the personality from some forms of social adjustment. The tendency to transcend the social life cycle is also expressed in a deep need to achieve greater harmony between higher needs for individual development and gradually higher forms of social development, which expresses itself, among others in the independence of one’s attitude of certain types of social models, and in the realization of higher models and concrete social ideals in the direction of higher, and often non-relative social values. This is expressed in the development of so-called social essences in harmony with individual essences.

With regard to the transcendence of the educative and the moral life cycle, we witness a tendency toward the development of self-education as opposed to the submission to education by others, more choice and a cultivation of multi-levelness in education leading towards concrete idealism of personality, and the transcendence of the lower level of development through the action of centres for individual and social interests.

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In the field of transcendence of the psychological and psychopathological life cycle, we witness, among others, dynamisms such as the tendency towards the multi-level approach in psychology and psychopathology; the tendency towards objectivation of the emotional and instinctive functions, like the objectivation of the hierarchy of values and aims, like deep interests in creative development, like the lack of subordination to rigid classifications in psychology and psychopathology, like the aspiration towards understanding and acceptance of developmental elements in the so-called psychological symptoms and syndromes, and of understanding the need and value of psychotherapy through development.

In the field of philosophy and religion, the expression of this kind of transcendence will be the approach to both fields from the multilevel point of view. This means the transcendence of the lower from of philosophical and religious knowledge and the tendency to participate in all philosophical and religious experience – and these are all human functions in the intellectual experiential attitude toward both fields. The signs of such a transcendence will be, among others, the introduction of both the analytical and the synthetical approach to this field, and of the intellectual, emotional, and imaginational elements of inner experience. This is the expression of philosophical and religious synthetical empiricism on the highest level.

The problem of transcendence in the above described life cycle brings with itself the problem of transcending one’s own psychological type. This signifies the trials that go beyond the determination of one’s structure and functions. This is not the problem of a total transformation of one’s own type. That would be impossible and unnecessary. Rather, on the basis of self-consciousness, of the dynamisms – “subject/object in oneself” and of the collaboration of the third factor – it is the transcendence of one’s introverted or extraverted, schizothymic or cyclothymic types of psychic overactivity in the sense of developing additional traits that come from the contrary type towards a more multi-dimensional and more multi-level development which will permit a deeper penetration into different levels of reality.

The possibility of such a transcendence is always based on a rich or fairly rich potential for development from the point of view of the emotional, the intellectual, and the imaginational potential. This is as mentioned previously – connected with the aptitude and need to transcend the biological life cycle of man and of other different developmental cycles which were already discussed in this chapter.

An individual with a prevalence of introverted traits begins to see himself in a distorted mirror. He himself begins to see – in the context of his social milieu and in his own mirror – the one-sidedness of his own structure. If he possesses a dominance of introverted traits, he desires to overcome such one-sidedness through insight into his inner self and through systematic trials. He aspires to change some of his introverted traits into more extraverted ones. He begins to appreciate social life, to reflect on the necessity of contact with a larger group, which involves taking part in the cultural and social life. He observes that the presence and action in the field of one’s imagination, of one-sided through rich interests, cannot express the multi-dimensional direction of development. From this comes the phenomenon in the field of schizothymic and cyclothymic types in agreement with Kretschmer’s

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typology. In such people the processes of self-consciousness come slowly and show that a prevalence of schizothymic or cyclothymic traits should be corrected and even lead to the elaboration of a programme of a more global transformation of the concrete type. With regard to the typology of over-excitability we can say that the sensual or psychomotor over-excitability as such does not offer sufficient elements for the attempts at transforming one’s type. The possibility of such a psychic transformation depends on components of emotional, imaginational as well as intellectual over-excitability in the higher levels. The combination of the first two, with the latter three, together with a generally high psychic development, offers a clear possibility of transcendence, in the direction of the transformation of the concrete psychological type.

The individual who presents the possibility of insights, some tendencies towards the hierarchization of his inner psychic  milieu and the ability to harmonize it in his contacts with others; one who sees clearly the problem of values, the problem of levels, and accepts their great importance in his own life and development as well as in the lives and development of others, begins to work on the compensation and sublimation of one-sided and feeble traits in the sphere of emotional and instinctive functions, in the field of emotional life. With this base, the individual begins to transform little by little its introvertive and extravertive, schizothymic and cyclothymic traits without deforming his psychological type. This is called the tendency to transcend one’s psychological type.


Judging from the elaborations contained in the previous chapters, it is becoming apparent that the most appropriate development and, on the other hand, the most accelerated, is going to be broader and higher, that is, it will move in the direction of multi-sidedness and toward the hierarchy of function and values and the hierarchy of aims. Multi-dimensional development means many-sided development, and this means the development of all of the most important human functions. Thinking about such multi-dimensionality we have in mind the image of the development of emotions, instincts, cognitive functions, intuitional development, and even mystical functions. In each of the above enumerated groups different functions have to be dealt with. Thus, in the field of, for instance, emotional, instinctive functions the development of social and moral functions, aesthetic and religious feelings, an almost personal attitude of love and friendship leading toward identification with oneself; in the field of cognitive functions the different forms of cognition: analytical, synthetical, intuitive, descriptive, valorizing, etc.

Coming back to some particular functions, we will describe by way of an example the following functions: empathy, humility, courage, sexual functions, etc.

All of these functions, belonging to the most important ones begin to undergo, on a certain level of development, that which we call a “new thing under the sun” hierarchical, multi-level development. Before the period of such an explosion of multi-levelness – we have

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the symptoms of accomodation to the changing conditions of life. Thus, we accept moral, aesthetical relativity, we are hesitant on the level of emotional life. From the time of the appearance of the “new thing under the sun,” the development progresses – as we already know from the species form, or from the herd form, to the form of levels. We witness the slow creation of “channels toward superior reality” which are bound with the hierarchical development of the inner psychic milieu. The way involves passing from the lower primitive to a higher level of development in accordance with the scale of levels specific to the theory of positive disintegration. It involves, moreover, going through unpleasant experiences: sadness, depression, obsessions, states of disharmony, internal conflict, inhibitions, psychic over-excitability, neurosis and psychoneurosis. It is developing towards personality and its concrete ideal, which means developing toward the top structure of the ideal already described in previous chapters, in the structure of two essences: individual and social.

This means that multi-level development is based on developmental needs which include elements like the nuclei of this multi-level development, psychic over-excitability in the forms of emotional, imaginational, and intellectual over-excitability: also nuclei of inner hierarchical milieu are present. This means that together with the nuclei of self-consciousness there is a presence of the most important interests and aptitudes, tendencies towards strong, unique, and unrepeatable emotional bonds in the developmental meaning. always with a tendency towards the highest levels. At this stage of development elements become autonomic and authentic and they become the deciding factor in the development towards personality and its concrete ideal.

As we already mentioned the multi-dimensional and multi-level development transcends the developmental law through stages, which I repeat – is common to human beings and to animals. It is transformed to development through levels, which presents authentic human characteristics.

Such multi-dimensional and multi-level development is in harmony with the developmental approach to mental health and to mental hygiene. Since the essence of mental health lies in the aptitude to develop in the direction of cognition, experiencing, discovery, and creativity, progressively higher levels of reality are necessary until the concrete ideal, both individual and social, is achieved.


One of the most common phenomena in the processes of psychic transformation is the transformation of older functions through new ones, the elimination of the old function by the new one, or the transformation of the level of function from the lower one to the higher.

The second phenomenon is authentically human and appears most frequently in human psychic development and in accelerated development. From the beginning, certain forces come into being in the developing personality. On the one hand, they stimulate the higher traits of the individual, especially their essential elements and their authentic elements, which are impossible to reject due to con-

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sequence of “destroying all life.” On the other hand, forces which negate or disaffirm the lower, purely practical, narrow, and rigid species elements come into being. This is the expression of human development not through stages, but through levels.

Progressively clearer building and stabilization of that which should endure, of that which is a  sine qua non condition of human development, this means its individual and social essences, which were already discussed, together with a diminishing in strength of the more primitive function and level – become the most characteristic elements of the processes of psychic development, and especially of accelerated development. We have been asking and we ask now which essential processes transform the human individual through developmental stages from the more primitive, rigid, subordinated to the “higher”, more complicated ones, preserving and developing his basic qualities, his individual and social essences?

They are the processes of positive disintegration and secondary integration. They are like the stable processes of elimination of the “lower” and the introduction of the “higher” to the structure of individual and social groups. This problem has already been discussed.

In a rigid stereotype structure with primitive instinct and with an intelligence subordinated to this primitive structure, this designates the so-called “lower form,” and “small psychopathy.’’ The human individual passes through the process of uni-level positive disintegration, systematized and organized multi-level disintegration – towards secondary integration.

We shall try to give a brief synthesis, a brief description of those basic levels and dynamisms which direct the processes of transformation.

The lowest level presents the so-called lower norm and its negative variation, psychopathy. I have already mentioned that two of these groups, but especially the second, are characterized by a primitive instinctive structure with intelligence in its service, by a rigid and egocentric attitude, by a lack of empathy, by a lack of inner conflicts, by psychic one-sidedness by antagonism, by a strong dynamicity in the realization of basic needs together with a tendency towards the realization of one’s own interests and the subordination of other individuals in the service of such interests.

Such individuals, because of their fair or good intelligence, lack of inhibition and hesitation, and great dynamicity – play a great role in social life, often enjoy a very favourable reputation, and even present good candidates for marriage. They do not develop themselves. Their emotional functions are retarded. However, due to a lack of recognition of their low values, they often introduce many difficulties and bring about many disasters to social life. This is primarily due to the acceptance of them by large groups of the so-called law norm.


We believe that this study on the developmental philosophy positive disintegration means something highly human. We believe that it shows a heroic attitude and searching for a new human authentic

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reality, for new forms of creative stabilization of human essences. The attitude contains something like creativity in its penetration toward a higher level of reality.


I would like now to discuss some of the views expressed by a distinguished Indian philosopher K. Bhattacharyya, an American philosopher S. Katz and a Polish thinker Z. Cackowski concerning the problem of man and his development.

In his paper “Nature and Freedom” Bhattacharyya discusses a number of problems of fundamental interest to philosophy, namely those concerning nature and freedom. He perceives elements of freedom in the process of transcending nature by consciousness and asserts that when something is conscious it is in a sense beyond nature. One of the ways of attaining freedom is to develop “non-attachment” in oneself or to detach oneself consciously from particular needs or aversions. The detachment may occur only on a high level of development but the author fails to define this level precisely. The detachment presents but the negative aspect of freedom. Its positive aspect is found in transcending nature. The detachment nevertheless actually means a point of puncture between nature and transcendence. The empirical insight into reality – as Bhattacharyya sees it – signifies a perceptive insight, attainable through observation; thus it is one that cannot transcend nature. In this conception, therefore, freedom can be couched in physical or physiological terms, even though in Bhattacharyya’s view body, is not a “part of nature” inasmuch as it is conceived consciously. Reason, which is common to all minds, becomes the basis for a kind” of universalism attainable through “detachment from the ego.” It is reason precisely that liberates us from the natural.

On a high level of development freedom becomes an expression of an impartial attitude towards oneself and others. On this level alone the unity of all ‘‘selves” is attained. Thus, freedom constitutes a unity of all transcendental parts of spirit which belong then to the “great spirit.” By its very nature reason is situated beyond nature and so it expresses transcendental freedom. Conceived in this manner freedom expresses transcendence within oneself through “detachment” from one’s individual “self” full of specific needs and aversions. Thus it departs from the individuality of “self” in the direction of universalism, unity of all selves’ in the “great spirit.”

This conception is quite typical of the overwhelming majority of Indian philosophical schools. It is a monist philosophy that preaches transcendence over nature through unindividualisation of reason. Freedom in this context means being free from individual “limitations” while transcendence over nature means freedom from individual “self”, from individual personality. This is a view similar to that of Rama Krishna, Vivekananda, Yogananda and the majority of Indian philosophers. As I have already pointed out, after individual features have been discarded and after “detachment” from individual needs and emotions has been attained, freedom comes to express the tendency to unindividualise personality and thus, in my opinion, is a conception contradictory in itself.

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My view is akin to the way in which S. Katz considers this doctrine in his critique of Bhattacharyya’s conceptions. In his view the concept of “transcendental self” is devoid of sense because it lies beyond any system of empirical criteria, including that of personal identity. Katz emphasizes that Bhattacharyya identified reason with freedom and rightly criticizes his conception of “clear conscience” related as it is to a certain ideology and some religious attitudes. Another thing brought out by Katz is Bhattacharyya’s concept of “metaphysical monism” as well as his idea of the “transcendental unity of spirits.” He objects to “grand ideas” of this kind provided they are endowed with a precise content.

To take up certain issues connected with the problem of freedom as conceived by Cackowski in his article “Freedom and Necessity.” One of his basic issues is that independence is invariably achieved at the cost of a new dependence; such is freedom when it is consciously struggled for and accepted. It is Cackowski’s conviction that human life presents a multi-layered activity. Practical activity can be distinguished as one of the levels while another level is that of activity “superfluous” at a given moment, activity done for the future, as for example in the field of knowledge, abilities, aptitudes. Thus, the relation between necessity and freedom will vary with the level considered: it will tend to be much greater and more extensive at the second level. In Cackowski’s view human life together with its necessary elements and conditions affords a supreme value, man being the only subject to actualise it. According to him human life is never enriched by some partial value for nothing. New values are created only at the cost of other values. The point is to create and multiply higher, supreme values. For Cackowski freedom means accomplishing something through something and against something.

My point of view is as follows. I will refrain from repeating the arguments against the conceptions of Indian monism. Suffice it to say that it obliterates human individuality and personality and blots out the sense of conscious development. It preaches the idea of a total identification with the “great spirit” and questions the value and sense of human love and friendship. Moreover, the conception of freedom as transcendence over nature deprives human existence of any sense. I endorse most of the opinions voiced by Katz with the restriction that these views concern but a fragmentary range of metaphysical problems.

Cackowski on the other hand does not define precisely which values he considers to be supreme and does not discuss higher individual and social emotions as values of the higher level. Consequently, his ideas of transcending values, of certain values coming in and others going out are not based on clearly distinguished levels of emotional and impulsive functions. This means they have no basis in a hierarchy of values. Nevertheless, his basic conceptions are dynamic and essentially warrantable within their scope.

All in all my philosophical ideas could be itemized as follows:

1. Reality has different dimensions and levels which can be examined only with the help of empirical, though multi-dimensional and multi-level, methods.

2. Nature is multi-levelled. Transcending one level involves the necessity of encroaching upon another, a higher one.

144 Kazimierz Dąbrowski

3. Freedom is a consciously selected, verified independence of certain levels of reality attained in order to become consciously and autonomously dependent on higher, consciously “desired” levels of reality.

4. Reason alone can never transcend the lower levels of reality. It must be achieved by a fully developed personality, i.e. with the cooperation of intellectual, emotional, conative and intuitive, etc. functions.

5. Emotional functions together with the intellectual and impulsive ones decide largely about human development, about the individual’s ever richer possibilities for a further development and about his reaching ever higher levels.

6. Emotional functions and, consequently, values based upon them, can be considered objectively and their level is measurable by means of specially constructed tests.

Kazimierz Dąbrowski


  1. K. Dąbrowski, Positive Disintegration, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1964
  1. K. Dąbrowski, Personality Shaping Through Positive Disintegration, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1967.
  1. K. Dąbrowski, Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration, Gryf Publications Ltd., London, 1970.
  1. K. Dąbrowski, The Dynamics of Concepts. Gryf Publications Ltd., London, 1973.
  1. K. Dąbrowski, Psychoneurosis is Not an illness, Gryf Publications Ltd. London, 1972.
  1. K. Dąbrowski, Multi-levelness of Instinctive and Emotional functions, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta. Canada, 1972.