The Structure of Consciousness III: Imprints of the Fourth Circuit

In my earlier posts on the 8-circuit model, I’ve described some possible imprints on the first, second, and third circuits. According to Wilson and Leary, the first and second circuits can have two imprints. I suggested that the third circuit might have three possible imprints (be sure to read the comments on that post for some insightful discussion by Adam of Here, I’m going to talk about imprints on the fourth circuit, and the implications that has for possible human societies. Watch out, I’m going for a record on this one: I’m going to suggest eight possible imprints.

Overview of the Fourth Circuit

vasterthanempiresThe fourth circuit is called by Wilson the “sexual/social” circuit, and it is activated at puberty. This is the realm of morality, especially sexual morality. In my earlier blog post, I suggested that the fourth circuit was associated with the King/Queen archetype — not ruling as a figure of dominance (that’s probably 2nd circuit), but ruling by virtue of character, courage, and principled action. The King/Queen archetype is also associated with sexuality — recall the legend of the Fisher King, whose genital wound makes him and his land infertile.

What is the Fourth Circuit for?

Wilson hypothesizes that the purpose of the 4th circuit is to prevent the 3rd circuit from running wild.

The 3rd circuit is an unrelenting source of innovation, new ideas, new machines, new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at the world. Wilson suspects that the 3rd circuit, left unchecked, would tear down human social structures faster than the 2nd circuit could build them up. Just about the time when Ogg the Strong gets himself anointed Man in Charge, Eater of the Prime Rib And Primary Progenitor, that’s when some nerdy bozo invents the bola and the whole power structure is turned on its end. While this is an advantageous process for nerdy bozos, it’s not so good for human society as a whole. Human children require 15 years to reach anything approaching maturity, and during that time it’s best if the local power structures are relatively stable.

Enter the Fourth Circuit. Ogg the Strong makes a deal with the local shaman. The shaman declares that the spirits don’t like bolas, and anyone who uses one will surely be visited by hobgoblins and hemorrhoids. Meanwhile, the shaman has a rather nicer house now, and eats meat more frequently. That very week, the nerdy bola inventor is hung upside down from a tree to appease the spirits.

I do not mean to imply that the damping effect of the Fourth Circuit always manifests as a power-play. Most of the time, in fact, it manifests as a strong intuition that some new innovation or way of doing things is just wrong. Ethically wrong. It is the source of expressions such as, “it just ain’t natural”, “we’ve always done it this way”, and “if God had intended…”

According to Wilson, then, a positive 4th circuit imprint will predispose someone to regard innovation as ethically desirable, or, at least, unobjectionable. Conversely, someone with a negative imprint on the 4th circuit has an instinctive distrust of new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Inhibiting the 2nd and 1st Circuits

It occurred to me that, while the primary evolutionary function of the 4th circuit may have been to serve as an impediment to the 3rd circuit, that is certainly not its only function today. People have strong moral and ethical standards about all kinds of things, not just about sexuality and social order and innovation. The 4th circuit can inhibit the action of the 2nd circuit. To take a simple example, most of us would be horrified to think that human society might be organized like a wolf pack or heard of cows, in which the largest, strongest, and most brutish wield all power. Even humans who are large, strong, and brutish themselves tend to think this would be a bad idea. It is our sense of social justice, arising from the 4th circuit, that creates this distaste.

The 4th circuit can even act as an inhibitor of the action of the 1st circuit. Those who are vegetarian or vegan on principled grounds, or who perform religious fasting, have allowed their 4th circuit oral and ethical programming to suppress the natural 1st circuit desire to feed oneself whatever’s available. Any religious, ethical, or moral tenet which requires sleep deprivation, fasting, or mortification of the flesh is a suppression of 1st circuit instinct by the 4th circuit.

Eight Kinds of Suppression

If this is the case, then there may be eight possible imprint states (or perhaps, eight categories of imprints) for the 4th circuit, one for each possible combination of suppression of the first three circuits. For example, one imprint my be to have no suppression on any of the three circuits. Another might be to suppress or control all three. Another might be to suppress the 3rd circuit but not the first two, etc.

If this is correct, then human societies may be categorized into eight basic types, each corresponding to a different imprint of the 4th circuit. Here’s a chart with some ruminations on each type.

+/+/+ A society in which there are no restrictions on the first three circuits; something like the famous words of Alastair Crowley: “Do as Thou Wilt shall be the Whole of the Law”. Individuals with this imprint may not be particularly rare, but societies that permit this kind of person are.
-/-/- A society in which speech and thought are controlled, as is economic activity, land ownership, et cetera. One thinks of dictatorships and the Soviet Union.
-/+/- A society in which individuals are free to compete over status and perhaps territory, but thought and speech are restricted, as is access to food and other basic resources. A good example might be a militaristic society.
+/-/+ A society in which access food and basic necessities is free, and there is unlimited exchange of ideas, but status is tightly controlled. An example might be in university setting. This society is probably unstable; arbitrary restrictions on th 2nd circuit will not survive long if thought and speech are not controlled. The only reasons that universities survive is that people are not students forever…
-/+/+ A society with free speech and fluid status structure, but access to food and other necessities of life are tightly controlled. A commune might be a good example. Again, this will be unstable unless everyone always agrees (or is forced to agree) with the way the food is controlled — in which case the commune will be closer to -/+/- (militaristic)!
+/-/- A society in which and thought and status are ruled from above, but food and other basic economic commodities are not. Many modern churches have this: the church hierarchy is rigid, and dogma is handed down from on high, but there are few or no restrictions on economic life.
+/+/- Freedom in everything but speech and thought. An example might be a relatively free theocracy, where the priests allow the citizens freedom in all aspects of their personal lives, but do not brook heresy.
-/-/+ A society where access to food, basic necessities, and status is controlled, but there is freedom of expression and thought. This is probably an extremely unstable situation, since freedom of thought and expression will eventually lead to freedom in other areas. It might be compared to post-feudal/mercantilist European society, in which status and access to resources was controlled by the monarchies — but with the invention of the printing press, thought and speech could not be controlled. Within two or three hundred years, those monarchies were gone.

Lastly, I should emphasize that this represents eight kinds of imprints on an individual, not on a society. Given enough individuals with, say, a -/+/+ imprint, a commune-like society may result (all other things being equal), but obviously not everyone in the society will have that imprint. For example, it’s arguably the case that the modern western world has a large proportion of +/+/+ individuals, and possibly overall the imprint is +/+/+, but there are also certainly a lot of -/+/+ people (e.g. environmentalists) and +/+/- (e.g. fundamentalists).

In later posts, I’ll look at the relationship between these imprints and the planets of astrology, and by implication, with the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

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