The vision of the fourfold

Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep.

(William Blake,”Letter to Thomas Butts” 1802)

William Blake scornfully dismissed bleak rationalism, what he terms here as  “single vision” and “Newton’s sleep”, as a way of perceiving and understanding the world we live in. True understanding did not lie that way, he maintained, but in exercising the Imagination and “seeing” in a visionary sense beyond the immediate sense impressions.

In describing the foursome tree as a symbol of perfection, Margaret is drawing on a tradition that, as noted in the previous post (The foursome tree)  arises from number symbolism in classical thought and subsequently appears in many forms and interpretations down the centuries.

So in opening up to Blake’s fourfold vision we find ourselves able to perceive the universe in its infinite perfection. It is a vision in which we do not stand as observers but as participating co-creators. We are in the universe as much as the universe is in us.

In the last century, the phenomologist Martin Heidegger also framed a response to the notion that science could ultimately “explain everything”. Like Blake, he saw science as having a limited field of perception, working, as he saw it, with “objects” rather than “things.” When we work with objects, he argued, we do not see beyond our own need to call for explanations, and that way falls short of transcending the true nature of the world.

By trying to understand what Heidegger means by a “thing”, we enter into a completely different realm of perception and understanding.


More on this later.





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