“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her.  In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son.”  – 1 Samuel 1


Synesis is the Greek word for understanding. It means, literally, “together”.


The together is twofold. It has an individual and social dimension:

  1. Each individual sees what is understood coherently – as together – within his own experience. He understands for himself.
  2. The individual understands together with others. His vision – that is, his way of seeing – can be shown to others and shared.


Sometimes a friend will come to a another in a state of distress. She talks and talks and doesn’t seem interested in solutions. She doesn’t want to solve the problem. She wants to find a way to see what happened and she wants her friend to be with her in her turmoil and in its resolution. The best thing the friend can do is to be fully there, to try to catch glimpses of clarity and to offer them again and again.

When a whole culture falls into turmoil it behaves exactly the same way. Its whole sense of truth falls apart. It cannot come to inner agreement, it cannot see coherently. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed on the world. Some thinkers will want to impose a dogma or an ideology as a solution to the problem, but this sort of inexpert response will not win the culture’s heart for long. The answer is not action. It is vision. Action follows synesis, naturally, easily. Synesis is the hard part.


Immature synesis is excessively individualistic or collectivistic. The former seeks a unique individual vision to hoard as a private possession or as a trophy commemorating his accomplishment. The latter wants the agreement but neglects what is agreed upon. The shared “truth” is perfectly insubstantial: all that exists is an empty solidarity.

Decaying synesis is also excessively individualistic or collectivistic.


Synesis is not constructed. It is grasped as a whole. It is having the sense of a truth.

Synesis can be pursued systematically, but it will not be gained as a system. Through grappling with the system, through combining, breaking, trying again synesis might occur. It is important to remember that the ability to give an account of something is not evidence of synesis. An inability to account is not evidence of the absence of synesis.

Accounts, explanations, systems are ordered aggregates of particulars.

Synesis is the whole within which particulars take their ordered place. (A concept is a synetic blueprint, the dna of a self-ordering system.)


Synesis is generative. The pleasure of philosophy is that sudden irruption of synesis which makes dozens of insoluble problems suddenly soluble. Fully-formed, living ideas spontaneously explode out of the mind. This happens only with the hermeneutically receptive mind:

Love as artifice. — Whoever wants really to get to know something new (be it a person, an event, or a book) does well to take up this new thing with all possible love, to avert his eye quickly from, even to forget, everything about it that he finds inimical, objectionable, or false. So, for example, we give the author of a book the greatest possible head start, and, as if at a race, virtually yearn with a pounding heart for him to reach his goal. By doing this, we penetrate into the heart of the new thing, into its motive center: and this is what it means to get to know it. Once we have got that far, reason then sets its limits; that overestimation, that occasional unhinging of the critical pendulum, was just a device to entice the soul of a matter out into the open.  – Nietzsche, Human All Too Human 621


What is evidence of synesis? Sharing it.

How does one come to share synesis? Dialogue: mutually receptive conversation.

(Dialogue and synesis refute and destroy solipsism. It is no longer possible to see solipsism as true. For the sake of otherness one is ready to suffer whatever the other inflicts.)


Synesis can explain, but synesis is not the explanation. The explanation can help bring about synesis, by the explanation is not synesis.


Synesis is an expectation of understanding, a faith.


Ideally, an individual’s experience is coherent.

The coherence experienced in synesis occurs within an overarching cohesion. Acquiring this individual coherence – or mere sense of coherence, which can be illusory – is the practice of philosophizing, in its good and bad forms.

Philosophy is solitary at the beginning, but it is the seed of community.

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