The fifth dimension of experience evolved in Greek antiquity, as well as in India and China, when reason was discovered as a mental faculty supervising all other modes of experience. Since the Greek term for reason is ‘nous’, we may call this experiential transformation the noëtic turn.

The Noëtic Turn

In ancient Greece, the turn to self-refelection transitioned seamlessly into the next transformation, the noëtic turn. With this turn, the origin of knowledge shifted to the human side. The is usually called the “transition from myth to logos”. The transition took place gradually, beginning with Solon, continued by the Pre-Socratics, and completed by the Sophists.

The sophists were the real founders of rational thought, since they developed its characteristic methods – such as grammar, logic, rhetoric and public education – and spread them throughout Greece. The movement climaxed with Plato’s synthesis. In his Politeia, the book on the city-state and cocncept of justice, Plato analyzed the noëtic turn in his analogy of the cave.

Political Life

The Noëtic turn also created a unique model of public life. This model is closely related to the city-state, the Greek polis. In essence, the political way of life means: Replacing the eternal truths of sacred myths with fallible opinions based on common methodological practices. Thus, political culture replaced primary consensus with secondary consensus. We can trace similar contemporaneous developments in China and India.


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