Deconstructing the sacred

with the

Theory of Mediation

Bernard Couapel

M.A. Dissertation in Religious Studies

University of Lancaster 2004/2005

Supervisor: Richard Roberts

(Original version 10 September 2005)

Revisited version 10 November 2006

according to the recommendations of the assessors


The theory of mediation (TDM) is a clinical anthropology that diffracts human reason into four planes of rationality and allows the deconstruction of cultural phenomena into the structures of the sign, the tool, the person and the norm. The deconstruction of the sacred through the lens of TDM shows that religion is similar to a language and that it is always related to a culture. The interrelation between culture and religion shows that religion differs along with societies, but also that religion can turn into ideology, like myths, especially as a reaction against the ideology of modernity. TDM can be used to dissociate fundamentalism from essentialism in term of aim, but also dissociate fundamentalism as ideology from fundamentalism as a personal discipline.

To my beloved daughter Anne


The vision of the sacred has always been a philosophical subject and authors have often projected their own ideas or ego in their explanations. After the death of God of Nietzsche, metaphysics has turned into deconstructing the language in order to understand the way of representation of concepts, involving research in human sciences. The Theory of Mediation (TDM), elaborated by Jean Gagnepain and his team at the Université de Haute Bretagne II in Rennes, France, will be used in this dissertation in order to deconstruct the sacred.

The first part of this work is dedicated to the presentation of the theory of mediation. On the one hand, we can summarize TDM in incorporated rationality with a notion of human threshold, and the dialectical process in which the human reason negates nature in organizing its representation structurally, but also negates and reinvests this representation in the real. On the other hand TDM is related to diffracted rationality on the planes of glossology (I), ergology (II), sociology (III) and axiology (IV) through the mediation of the sign, the tool, the person and the norm which work according to the same incorporated rationality on each plane. Because TDM is a non-philosophical theory of human reason, it looks to the clinic (that is to say the study of pathological cases) for its verification (or invalidation); therefore it is scientific.

The second part deals with examples of deconstruction like language or translation, in order to point out the mechanism which are at work in TDM. Language works analogically to religion, and the problems of translation explain the different interpretations of sacred text according to languages and cultures in time.

Following these examples, we attempt first to deconstruct the sacred into the creation of myth by human, and the constitution of religions through the revelation of divine message. We analyze the similarities between the ideologies created through myths and religious fundamentalism on the one hand, but also the difference between personal decision and obligation in the veiling of Muslim women on the other hand. Essentialism and fundamentalism are opposed in terms of orality vs literacy, but also similar because of their origin as a modern reaction against the modern concept of domination and competition. The danger of technology which seems to dominate humanity in the post-modern world is stressed with references to Plato, Heidegger and the Chines taoist philosopher Chuang Zi. The effect of the sacred is dissociated from the use of the sacred by humanity, and the role of the leaders is stressed with its counter part in the case of terrorism. The last part attempts to synthesize common rules and principle in various religions which could form the basis for a common understanding and a practice of religion based on similarities, excluding confrontations which are always triggered by societies and cultures.

According to Perroches, the theory of mediation, although still known by few – that’s not an accident: it places too radically into question the establishment, whether cultural, scientific or academic – there is no doubt in our minds that it will sooner or later be THE theory of the 21st century, the founding theory of the Human Sciences (which are yet to be created, having nothing scientific about them, as we know, but the name) [Perroches].

The Theory of mediation

The first part of this work is dedicated to the presentation of the theory of mediation. The English or French material for writing this chapter was borrowed to Jean Gagnepain, Thomas Ewens, Jean-Claude Quentel, Yann-Fanch Perroches and Bernard Couty.

1. Origin

Jean Gagnepain was named professor at the Université de Haute Bretagne of Rennes in 1958 when he was 35. He began then to elaborate his model which was originally developed with respect to language. Today it takes for its object the entirety of what is called "the cultural", that is, the dimension that specifies human beings and distinguishes them from other living species. In other words, "the cultural" constitutes the specific order of reality in which only human beings participate. It is the cultural order that permits human beings, while remaining natural beings, to constantly transcend their natural being in abstracting themselves from it. The theory of mediation understands culture as the ensemble of properly human capacities which, absent pathological conditions, all human beings share regardless of their historical epoch or geographical setting. For the theory of mediation, culture and reason - the "rationality" which philosophers have discussed for centuries - are identical. The human sciences, understood as the theory of mediation understands them, take up in their own distinctive fashion the questions which philosophy has treated only speculatively [LIRL].

According to Thomas Ewens [Ewens1994] the theory of mediation is nothing less than a new, clinically based theory of reason or culture -understanding by culture those mediations of our relations to the world that characterize us as human and that are not accessible to animals. Though the theory of mediation is extraordinarily complex in its details and its ramifications, two principles underlie it: the principle of diffracted reason and the principle of incorporated reason.

Gagnepain's work shows, on the basis of what the clinic forces us to recognize, that human reason is diffracted. In other words, rationality in human beings has several different forms which the clinic requires us to dissociate. Reason is logical, to be sure, but it is equally and just as fundamentally technical, ethnical, and ethical. There is no hierarchy among these different "planes" or "levels" of rationality that constitute psychic life. On each of these planes or levels, human being mediate their relations to the world and others (thus the term "mediation"). Unlike the other animals, human beings are not limited to what their immediate physiological capacities allow them to grasp. They can stand back from, or take a distance from, their natural insertion in the world and can elaborate those cultural mediations that are constitutive of a properly human reality. Human beings manifest the world in and across the words they speak : with them, they designate the world and explain it to themselves. In so doing, they realize their logical capacity. Human beings also manifest the world the world in and across their tools : with them, they fabricate the world and, in doing so, they realize their technical capacity. Human beings likewise manifest the world in originating their histories and societies, realizations not of their logical or their technical capacities but of their ethnic capacity. Finally, human beings manifest the world in the norms and regulations to which they submit their desires. Here is it question of their ethical capacity.

The three sources of the TDM are philosophy, human sciences and clinic. On the one hand, it originates from theories of thinkers like de Saussure, Freud and Marx, but also from the heritage of philosophy and metaphysics after the “death of God” of Nietzsche. On the other hand, the TDM validates its model in the observation of pathologies associated with human reason. Therefore, it combines approaches from philosophy and from biology, and at the same time reorganizes the field of human sciences which was constituted by linguistics, sociology and psychology, each of these domains claiming to explain the entire human reason. The first discovery of the TDM was the atechnia, when Jean Gagnepain and Olivier Sabouraud dissociated human technical capacity from the logical capacity, through the observation of pathologies. The autonomization of different rationalities working on the same model allowed Gagnepain to expand the model to the whole human reason, as Yann Fanch Perroches argues: “We were in need of a theory of Art; we’ve taken up a theory of Man [Perroches].

In the following section, we try first to place the TDM in its context and define the limits and borders with neighbor sciences and theories, but also the heritage from previous theories and observations. The TDM claims to found human sciences, as a theory of human reason, dissociated from nature and the super-nature, but at the same time, validated by clinical observation.

2. Human relation with nature and super-nature

This section is dedicated to the heritage of the Theory of Mediation (TDM) and its positioning in knowledge. In TDM, human is not between nature and super-nature like in positivism, but as God is everywhere and therefore in the real world, the principles of TDM can be understood the same way in relation to nature and supernature. One way to define the TDM is to analyze its relations with philosophy and metaphysics, the continuity it represents with the human sciences, and its relation with biology. Knowledge like signs can be defined by their relation or opposition to other theories and signs, and therefore the importance of situating TDM in relation with other theories.

Heritage from philosophy

After the “death of God” from Nietzsche, and the completion of metaphysics, under the influence of Buddhist scriptures and Asian philosophy, the works of later philosophers have focused on deconstruction.

For Michel Haar [Haar1985], platonic structure of metaphysics, based on the separation of true being and lesser being, is abolished and no just turned around.

The Heideggerian definition of metaphysical approach consists in identifying beings in their totality - i.e. in designating with one name the character of beings as such and in their entirety. Alphonoso Lingis [Lingis1977] quotes Nietzsche:”The essences found through philosophical interrogation do not reveal the things themselves productive of their appearances, issuing signs of themselves, but reveal acts and laws of the subject that interprets”, and says that in this sense, Heidegger has called Nietzsche the most coherent subjectivist and the last Cartesian. If Being, then is not a ground, but an abyss, chaos, there is consequently in Nietzsche a quite new, non-metaphysical or trans-metaphysical understanding of being of things. Nietzsche wrote “there are no facts, there are only interpretations and interpretations of interpretations. There are no persons, selves and egos; there are only masks, and masks of masks”, so what is sovereign is always masked. For Lingis, a being has not one form, but different forms; it has not one telos, but as many as there are powers orienting it; it has not one essence, but multiple essences, not one meaning behind it, but multiple meanings in its appearance, multiple apparent meanings. There is no essence to be sought behind the appearances, no telos behind the differentiation of the appearances.

Jacques Derrida who is associated with deconstruction asks “what other possibilities for thinking after the end of metaphysics?” For Heidegger, the dual notion of veiling and un-veiling happens simultaneously through the opening. The opening corresponds to presencing. Derrida speaks of the illusion of metaphysics. A meaning is never given pure and simple, it is always an effect of the play with differences within language, so an absolute present truth is never there, it is always deferred (postponed). He adds that everything can be deconstructed, which explains the instability of knowledge. For Derrida, language or texts are not a natural reflection of the world. Text structures our interpretation of the world. Following Heidegger, Derrida thinks that language shapes us: texts create a clearing that we understand as reality. Derrida sees the history of western thought as based on opposition: good vs. evil, mind vs. matter, man vs; woman, speech vs; writing. These oppositions are defined hierarchically: the second term is seen as a corruption of the first, the terms are not equal opposites. Ludwig Wittgenstein [Wittgenstein1958] like Derrida speaks of the multiplicity of language games, the whole life consists in playing with language games. In his Philosophical investigations, he stresses that philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is.

Emmanuel Levinas argues that the call for the other is prior to the subject [Levinas1963] . He defines the trace as what bears witness to something that has not been there, that is older than time. He finds the basis of the subject on ethics. Ethics is prior to the subject, it does not tell you what to do, but rather tells you what you do do.

Taylor describes the technological world as the ultimate projection of the self to the world. For him, Heidegger and Levinas question the subject as an ethical question. He stresses on the end of the self with the death of God. The self becomes an effect (post-modern) rather than a cause, a producing source (modern self). Stable self becomes an unstable product, it becomes a trace. But the deconstruction of the self is not the destruction of the self. The self does not construct the truth but opens to the truth. So what is it that gives rise to our language, thinking, understanding? Taylor calls it the divine milieu which correspond to Heidegger's opening.

Gilles Deleuze [Deleuze1985] asks “What is consciousness?” and argues that like Freud, Nietzsche thinks that consciousness is the region of the ego affected by the external world.

In Theology and social theory [Milbank1990], John Milbank introduces his book by saying: “I treat the writings of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Deleuze, Foucault and Derrida as elaborations of a single nihilistic philosophy, paying relatively less attention to their differences of opinion”. We can agree with a definition of a nihilistic philosophy since Nietzsche, but what happened then to metaphysics, after being trapped in Asian philosophy? The main element in our view, is the fact that it is no more possible to see the world as dual oppositions like Derrida describes the western thought, but to insert another level of rationality with nature and super-nature, which is human reason.

Nietzsche's philosophy is nihilistic and considered as a wrong view by Buddhism [Rinpoche] although it has been build on the influence of translations of Buddhist texts. Heidegger tried to find a new way to consider metaphysics, but in our view, he seems to have moved toward a kind of Taoist view, with his disclosing and opening which is close to the Tao. “The Tao that can be described is not the Tao” say the Taoist philosophers, and that matches very much the idea of the opening, prior, beyond our understanding.

The works of later philosophers have focused on deconstruction. Jacques Derrida and Ludwig Wittegenstein have focused on language, Heidegger and Levinas have put ethics prior to the subject, and Gilles Deleuze has stressed the importance of the external world on consciousness. Heidegger and Mark C. Taylor have seen the importance of technology on the subject. All these different views are very close in their different ways to the human sciences of Ferdinand de Saussure for linguistics, Freud for psychology and Karl Marx and Auguste Comte for sociology.

So we can argue that metaphysics since Nietzsche has been split between Asian philosophy and the western human sciences, the latter being the new way to think for western philosophers. The result is a three level vision of the universe: physics, human reason and supra-natural.

For Ewens, in Kantian terms, it is a question of passing from a description of an already constituted reason to an explanation of a constituting reason. It is a question, therefore, of accounting for that in human beings which, without their knowing it, makes them capable of posing the world - and of posing it not only in one way, by knowing it, as the traditional analysis holds, but in four different ways on the basis of four different capacities [Ewens1994].

Jean-Claude Quentel argues that Gagnepain and Lacan have in common the same philosophic heritage and a refusal of Bergsonianism [Quentel]. The philosophic heritage that they share is above all that of phenomenology. Both were marked by the work of Husserl as well as that of Hegel and Heidegger. They both combat the influence of Bergson. Jean Gagnepain, notably, is going to give the name of ‘the theory of mediation’ to his theory, thus opposing himself explicitly to Bergson and his “données immédiates de la conscience” (the immediate data of consciousness). There are no immediate data of consciousness : Lacan also forcibly asserted this even before he was influenced by the work of Freud. Both of them also break from philosophy much as the human sciences (those ‘ungrateful daughters’ of philosophy) during their early days. Both tried to explain the human (scientific goal) without reducing it (heritage of philosophy). Lacan did this in the manner of Jaspers (after Dilthey) : to explain is not to comprehend. Jean Gagnepain also holds that it is a question of explaining, but without losing from sight the originality of the object of one’s study (i.e., the human).

Heritage from human sciences

Thomas Ewens describes three major influence on TM: Freud, Marx and De Saussure [Ewens1994] :

From Freud, Gagnepain takes the notion of a spaltung, or split, in psychic life between conscious and unconscious – but since “conscious” and “unconscious” are too tied to a 19th-century conception of cognitive consciousness, Gagnepain prefers to speak of “explicit” and “implicit”.

From De Saussure, Gagnepain takes the notion of structure. De Saussure distinguishes langue and parole – roughly, language as structure on the one hand, language as speech on the other. Gagnepain reworks these notions in his own way. Instead of speaking of structure only in the case of speech,he holds that there are also analogous structures underlying our making, instituting, and regulating, and he will contrast these structures with correlative performances on each plane or level of reason. There is the underlying grammatical structure of language, and there is the actual performance of speech; there is the underlying technical structure of art, and there is the actual performance of art making . And similarly on the other two planes.

Finally, from Marx, Gagnepain takes the notion of dialectics. Marx sought to develop a scientific theory of history, and he found the core notion of his theory in the Hegelian notion of dialectic. Marx deidealized the Hegelian notion of dialectic and brought it down to earth as a dialectical conflict of forces at the heart of history. Marx, however, had a very narrow conception of the nature of the forces in conflict: he thought that the basic conflict was a conflict between classes. Gagnepain takes this notion of dialectic from Marx but he extends it to the entirety of human social and historical being: for Gagnepain, dialectical conflict is at play and manifests itself not only in a conflict of classes but on all levels of culture. It is at work in couples who fight and make up, in political parties that contest and compromise, in nations that wage war and engage in peace talks.

Quentel stresses that Jean Gagnepain speaks of ‘culture’ to specify the register of the human and when Lacan speaks of culture it is in this same sense. In this sense, both of them are influenced by ethnology - and notably by the work of Durkheim. In fact, it is extremely instructive to go back to Durkheim if one wants to grasp what is at issue in the human sciences as Lacan and Gagnepain represent them [Quentel].

So Gagnepain's theory of rationality combines in a unique way the model of conscious and unconscious that he takes from Freud, the model of structure and performance that he takes from De Saussure, and the model of dialectical origination that he takes from Marx. At the same time, the TDM reshapes the disciplines of human sciences, namely linguistics, sociology and psychology, adding the level of technical capability of human, in order to build a coherent model of human reason.

Clinical anthropology

Perroches argues that one of the main characteristics of TDM is its observation of pathology in order to verify the theory through a clinical Basis. TDM, unlike numerous schools of psychoanalysis or linguistics, doesn’t content itself to pronounce more or less brilliant assumptions explaining or justifying Man: it looks for experimental proof. The dissection of a cadaver doesn’t teach anything outside of pure biology, and being unable to use a scalpel on the living, it’s in the pathologies unique to man that TDM tests its theories: aphasias, atechnias (pathologies predicted by TDM and experimentally verified), psychoses and neuroses form the favorite stomping grounds of mediationist researchers (and not with the goal of a cure, which is a different problem). Human uniqueness, scientific and experimental base; thus TDM is meant to be the true founder of human sciences yet to be invented [Perroches].

The four rationalities have been distinguished by studying the ill, and the observation that one can be “ill in one plan” while having preserved intact the other rationalities is the proof of their independence and non-hierarchical nature. Thus an aphasic (ill in Plan I) can no longer speak correctly (using the wrong word, for example saying “fish” instead of “hat”, or “loss of grammar” (“agrammatism”), for example saying “tomorrow car vacation”). But he retains the ability to communicate (Plan III) by gestures or by “badly controlled” words. He also retains desire to do so (Plan IV). An agraphic (ill in Plan II) can no longer write but can still speak, etc. What’s more, this “illness in Plan II” never involves just the loss of writing and/or reading, but equally affects everything having to do with the manipulation of tools as well as the intentional gesture: thus the ill person can’t dress himself correctly anymore, nor light a cigarette, make the sign of the cross or a military salute, etc. It is absolutely astonishing to realize that, other than mediationists, no other scientist has yet been able to isolate purely ergological difficulties from purely aphasic ones. Leading experts continue to speak of, for example, an aphasia with “an associated apraxia in undressing“, when the trouble is purely ergological. [Perroches]
According to Quentel, both Lacan and Gagnepain see the relation to the clinic as essential [Quentel]. They fall within the heritage of French psychopathology, notably that of Theodule Ribot. Ribot saw the clinic - more precisely, the clinic of pathology - as a mode of validation of research hypotheses. He used the metaphor of the magnifying glass (pathology magnifies) and of the scalpel (pathology is selective : it dissociates, dissects, and thus constitutes the equivalent of an analysis). At the same time, both Lacan and Gagnepain distance themselves from Ribot whom they see as still too tainted with evolutionism. On this point, they were aided by Freud (somewhat in spite of himself since Freud also remained strongly influenced by evolutionism) who emphasized the specificity of human phenomena. When Freud speaks of pathology, it is especially his famous metaphor of the crystal vase which is relevant here: the clinic of pathology reveals the fault lines that remain hidden in normal everyday life.
The appeal to the clinic has, in fact, two aspects : a ‘therapeutic’ aspect (which, for psychoanalysis, is inseparable from the demands of professional practice) and an explanatory aspect. Pathology dissociates what is normally indissociably bound together : it is in this sense that it is explicative. As the neologism invented by Jacques Schotte expresses it, pathology becomes patho-analysis. Gagnepain is an epistemologist of the human sciences - in other words : he is above all interested in explanation not therapy. Though one can always draw therapeutic indications from the theory of mediation, the theory is not primarily concerned with therapy or healing and its theoretical aims are not subordinated to the demands of professional practice.

The originality of TDM comes from the fact that although it takes into account philosophical heritage, all the assuptions have to be validated by clinical observations. The work of Jean Gagnepain, as epistemologist is essentially focused on the search, behind the phenomenon, of the process of human reason and its diffraction into different habilities of human being.

The next sections describe the main features of the model of TDM, namely (a) diffracted reason into four different autonomous levels or planes, (b) incorporated rationality and its principle of dialectical process which is applied to each of the planes of rationality, (c) the practical or aestetic aims of each level of rationality, and (d) the interaction of planes.

3. The 4 planes of rationality: diffracted reason

The theory of mediation is a theory of diffracted, or “deconstructed” reason [Perroches] [Ewens1994]. It maintains, according to experimental proof, that human reason is quadruple. It has four distinct and equal modes, or capacities. TDM uses the term planes for these rationalities, which it numbers for convenience and not as a hierarchy: the rational capacity underlying signs and speech: (a) the capacity for language (Plan I); the rational capacity underlying the making of tools and art:(b) artistic capacity (this term is not to be taken in the sense that it is commonly given these days) (Plan II); the rational capacity underlying our being persons, that is, our capacity to institute ourselves socially and historically: (c) the capacity for history (Plan III); and the rational capacity underlying norms and the ordering of our desires: (d) normative capacity (Plan IV). There is no hierarchy among these capacities; each is equal to all the others. Reason is one, but it has four modes;each of these modes is, so to speak, reason in its entirety in one of its modes. These distinctions in rationality are not explicitly apparent; just as white light is diffracted into the spectrum by a glass prism, human reason is diffracted into distinct rationalities by the prism of TDM.

In the concrete, all of these modes are likely to be operative at once in the complexity of a given human act. But, as the clinic of pathology reveals, they are distinct capacities, and these capacities must be distinguished if our analysis of cultural phenomena is not to founder in endless confusions and ambiguities. For most of Western history, we have taken one of these modes, the rationality underlying speech and signs (reason as logos), as preeminent, and we have effectively identified reason with it. Language remains at the center of contemporary concerns in the human sciences. Indeed, in the wake of De Saussure and structural linguistics, the model of language is central to fields as diverse as anthropology, psychoanalysis, literary studies, art history, and many others, so that in the contemporary academy, it has become a virtual self-evidence that there is only one mode of rationality, the one characteristic of speech. But the “language” that is thus at the center of these disciplines is an undeconstructed notion of language that lumps different meanings of language together without distinction. The theory of mediation diffracts or deconstructs these different meanings of language. Language is not only speech: it is also artificialized as writing; socialized as English, French or German; axialized or normatized as correct or incorrect, aristocratic or plebeian; and so on.

In the theory of mediation, each of these rational capacities is the object of a new science: glossology in the case of the rationality proper to speech (reason as logos); ergology in the case of the rationality proper to art making (reason as tropos); sociology/history in the case of the rationality proper to our ways of instituting ourselves socially and historically (reason as nomos); and axiology in the case of the rationality proper to normative behavior (reason as dike). Taken together, they constitute a new science of man, which Gagnepain calls a clinical anthropology [Ewens1994].

For each plane, or rational capacity, there is a mediation which is associated to it: the sign for the plane of logos or glossology, the tool for the plane of tropos or ergology, the person for the plane of nomos or society/history, and the norm for the plane of dikè or normative behavior. For each of the mediations we distinguish two “faces” which are in reciprocal interaction. For example, if we analyze the sign, in the case of logos or glossology, the first face corresponds to the structural analysis of the signifier, and the second face to the structural analysis of the signified. All four mediations (sign, tool, person and norm) are bifacial. In the structural analysis of each face, there are two axes of analysis: the first is the axis of taxinomy (or identity) which works by opposition. The second one is the axis of generativity (or unity) which works by segmentation. The pathologies reveal the attrition of one or the other analysis, for instance, the attrition of unity in the aphasia of Broca, and of identity in the aphasia of Wernike.

















manufacturer/ manufactured



Face 1

taxinomical axis
generative axis





Face 2

taxinomical axis
generative axis





Diffraction of reason into planes of rationality, and their mediations.

Now that we have presented the notion of diffracted reason into four rationalities or planes, we understand that the one who “is” as a person, is not the one who “wants” nor “speaks” or the one who “works”. However, these four rationalities work together, and thus the empirical observation is a result of them. In the next sections, we present the principle of incorporated rationality, with the notions of dialectic and aim of reason that are common to the four planes.

4. Incorporated rationality

This section is dedicated to the description of incorporated rationality which works dialectically, and the notion of threshold that separates the animal from human. This incorporated rationality works on every plane of rationality that we have described in the previous section.

On each of the planes/levels of reason, there is a dialectical process in which the instance of reason negates our natural animality and organizes it structurally; and this structure, in turn, on the level of performance, is itself negated and reinvested in the real [Ewens1994] . All we ever see, of course, is the performance.

An animal can link together two objects symbolically. For instance, a dog can link together my “Come!” and the action of coming; a chicken can link together my clicking of the tongue and the advent of food. One is Index, the other sense or meaning: Index + sense or meaning = symbol. In the animal world, there is always a fit between the two. In us, reason will negate this animal “fit” and introduce a “lack of fit” - Gagnepain says an impropriety. Reason negates the natural sounds and makes of them signifiers that it organizes phonologically; and it negates the natural senses or meanings and makes of them signified that it organizes semiologically. In other words, the “instance” of reason negates and structures the naturally given.

But this structuring of the naturally given as a structure of signification which Gagnepain calls grammar, is not yet speech. It only provides the stuff of speech, that is, general laws of syntax and a lexicon, all of them “improper”: on the level of grammar, the laws remain general, the words are polysemous. To actually speak, I must negate the generality of the structural rules in the grammar and the polysemy of the words in the lexicon and use them to designate what I want to say. I must put “proper words in proper places” and adjust my speaking to the particularities of my speech situation. Once again: except in cases of pathology, all any of us sees is this conscious performance in which I more or less carefully chose my words and constructed my phrases to achieve my rhetorical aims. A similar dialectic is at play on all four levels/planes of our rationality. On each of them, the animality we share with other animals is negated and organized structurally, and that structure itself is in turn negated and gone beyond in the performance of making, instituting, regulating. The instance of reason negates animal labor and introduces the leisure of the tool; it negates animal groupings and life and introduces social and historical absence; it negates the desire for satisfaction and introduces abstinence.

What needs to be recognized here is that the second moment of the dialectics, the negating of the naturally given and its organization as structures of signification in the case of speech, structures of fabrication in the case of art, structures of institution in the case of social and historical groupings, structures of regulation in the case of normative behavior – all of these orderings, structurings, formalizing – are unconscious, implicit, hidden from our view. And these in turn are negated, gone beyond, referred back to the real in our actual performances of speaking, making, and so on. We do not see the grammatical structure underlying speech, we see only the rhetorical performance; we do not see the technical structure underlying our use of tools, we see only the industrial performance; we do not see the ethnical structure underlying our societies/histories, we see only the political performances in which we institutionalize our contracts and agreements; we do not see the ethical structures underlying our normative behavior, we see only the moral performances.

In this sense, then, the theory of mediation is a theory of incorporated rationality: the rational mediations that structure our explicit speaking, making, communicating, and regulating are implicit and incorporated in the performance.




Naturally given =>

Cultural instance(agency)=>


Dialectic: 1ststep

2nd step (implicit)

3rd step (explicit)


=> symbol

Sign (impropriety)





Grammar (signification)



=> instrument

Tool (leisure)





Technique (fabrication)



=> species

Person (absence, arbitrarity)





Institution (institution)



=> value

Norm (abstinence)





Reglementation (regulation)


The three steps of the dialectical process on the four planes of rationality

Jean Gagnepain doesn’t deny the animal in man. However man, in contrast to the animal, denies nature (others would say “transcends”). Man is a rational animal (endowed with reason) and by his reason he denies his animal nature. That which distinguishes man from the animal is precisely that man is not only an animal. This difference isn’t progressive, there are not – except pathologically – half-men, just as there are not half-human animals: there is a threshold that the animal does not cross, and which causes the human animal to become Man. Perceptions, gestures, bodies and activities (being and desiring) are acculturated (transcended) by Man, in contrast to the animal which experiences them in a literal manner. This acculturation gives birth, in man, precisely to the faculties that the animal does not possess: language, tools, history and society [Perroches].
To speak of language in bees is an abuse of the word language; of that of dolphins or whales a pure fantasy or, if you would, a fine example of anthropocentrism. The stick used to pull off a bunch of bananas is abandoned by the chimpanzee as soon as it is used, proof that it isn’t a tool but a simple appendage. One knows well that the “societies” of ants know no revolutions, or even evolutions other than biological or environmental ones. And finally, man denies his impulses, he doesn’t necessarily eat when he is hungry or drink only when he is thirsty, doesn’t sleep when he is sleepy, and doesn’t copulate only during mating season. This acculturation of nature by Man, that is to say this faculty to abstract nature, to deny it, is one of the key elements of TDM. In this it distances itself from the “hard” sciences (biology, cognitivism, behaviorism…).

Quentel on the discontinuity nature/culture, or the threshold of the culture argues that both Lacan and Gagnepain affirm the specificity of the human while at the same time insisting upon a scientific approach to human functioning. Both of them break with the evolutionist perspective which continues to dominate the study of the human. Both affirm that there is a discontinuity between the processes of living and the processes which come specifically into play with human beings who are also living beings. Both of them pose thus a threshold of the human and are thus ‘anthropologists’, not in the sense of social or, still less, physical anthropology but in the sense of an ‘anthropology’ which would specify ‘the human’ in human functioning [Quentel].

5. The different aims of reason

Gagnepain distinguishes three different aims of reason in the exercise of any one of our four modes of rationality. Two of these aims are practical, one aesthetic. Of the two practical aims, one consists of trying to conform our reason to the world, the other of trying to make the world conform to our reason. The aesthetic aim, on the other hand, consists neither of trying to conform our reason to the world, nor the world to our reason; it is rather, autoreferential; it takes itself as its aim and tries to conform to it. Its aim is not practical but aesthetic. Thus, for example, we attempt to conform our speech to the world: this is what Gagnepain means by science in the broadest sense. Or we attempt to conform the world to our speech: this Gagnepain calls myth. Or our speech can seek its meaning in itself in the universe of words: this Gagnepain calls poem.

The same thing is true on the other planes of reason. The tool conforms itself to the world: this we can call empirics; or the tool conforms the world to itself: this Gagnepain calls magic; or, thirdly, the tool, the work, takes itself as its aim: its aim is plastic (literally: can be shaped or molded). Similarly, on the level of politics, Gagnepain will speak of synallactic, anallactic, and choral aims of reason; on the level of normative behavior, he will speak of the casuistic, ascetic, and heroic aims of reason [Ewens1994].

The endocentric aim of reason which according to the plane corresponds to poetic (I), plactic (II), choral (III) and heroic (IV), can be compared to the pure reason of Kant, the two other aims are related to the practical reason.

The following table presents the three aims of reason in the four planes of rationality.

Practical aim

trying to conform our reason to the world

Practical aim

make the world conform to our reason

Aesthetic aim

autoreferential, it takes itself as its aim and tries to conform to it.













Normative behavior




The three aims of reason on each plane of rationality

6. The interaction of planes

In the presentation of the interaction of planes of rationality, we take Bernard Couty's example of a real situation, in order to understand the different modalities that interfere in language [Couty2003]: In an English embassy reception, the Ambassador says to his counselor: “Don't you think it is a bit hot here?” The counselor stands up and opens the window, he has understood that the meaning of the message was “Open the window!”. How then is built the relation “Don't you think it is a bit hot here? = Open the window!” ?

Three different modalities converge at the same time:

a) Firstly, something is said in a specific and transitory situation. The meaning is “open the window”. This modality takes place on the plane of glossology (I), because it is in the end the meaning of what the Ambassador says.

b) Secondly, the Ambassador is English, and speaking to an Englishman, he speaks English and would not say “ouvrez la fenetre”. This rationality is on the level of sociology (III) because it is related with personal interaction and language (idiom).

c)Lastly, the Ambassador understands the brutality of the order “open the window!”, and finally changes the subject. The transfer of subject does not abolish the order -the social relation continues – but softens it. In that case, the plane of rationality of axiology is involved because of the restriction in term of expressing an order.

In this example, the sign is taken twice as a content. Firstly, the sign is the object of a social convention over words: it is the idiom. What makes the sentence “English” is not what makes it a “sentence”. The plane of Person has taken the sign as incident plane. Secondly, the sign is the object of an axiological restriction on the words, this is what the TDM calls discourse. What makes the sentence a “word play” - in Freud 's meaning – is not what makes it a “sentence”. The plane of the Norm has taken the sign as incident plane. Therefore the example can be dissociated into glossology, socio-linguistic and axio-linguistic which are the results of the glossological meaning of the words, the social interaction in a socio-cultural context and the discourse created by the transfer of subject for softening the order.

The following table shows the different modalities which are related to the interaction of planes. The lines of the table correspond to the plane which is taken as a content (incident plane). They intersect with the planes used as infrastructure, i.e. from which the interaction with other rationalities originate.

Infrastructure ->
Incident plane







Deictic, Ergo-linguistic





Dynamic, ergotropy











Hegetic (code)


The interaction of planes

7. The neuro-tunnel at work

After having presented the principles of diffracted reason and incorporated rationality, we present the four planes of rationality in action, in what is called the neuro-tunnel which starts from reality and applies on it human incorporated reason and aims of reason. Most of this section has been translated from Bernard Couty's summery of TDM.

Glossology: the homo sapiens

Glossology is the model of the Sign. The two types of information common to certain animals and the man are consisted of the feeling (esthesie) and perception (gnosie). The gnosie is the capacity to build the object of representation (Gestalt), the two capacities are clinically dissociable. The object of representation is treated in terms of seriation, O1 => O2 => O3 =>… => On, where an object of representation Op-1 is “index” (indice) of the object Op which becomes “meaning” (sens). This relation of index and meaning constitutes the symbol.

The clinic allows to dissociate the natural capacity of representation and the cultural capacity of the Sign, the grammaticality. The animal can bind sound and meaning (Op-1 and Op). Human circumscribes this relation in two terms and is able to analyze the sound phonologically and the meaning semiologically. This double reciprocal analysis gives the de Saussure's terms of Signifier (sound analyzed structurally) and of Signified (structurally analyzed meaning). These two elements constitute the Sign where each face finds its criterion of structure in a reference to the other face. The sign is structural negation of the symbol.

Structural analysis of the sound - relevance (pertinence) - creates differential elements, the feature (trait), and sequential elements, the phoneme (phonème), which is not an addition but a syncrasy (syncrasie) of features. The structural analysis of the meaning created by the differential element, the seme (sème), and by the sequential element, the word (mot), which is not an addition, but a syncrasy of semes. The reciprocal action of the two analyzes is validated by the fact that the phonological difference attests a semiological border - the material becomes mark (marque) of Signified - and that the semiological difference attests a phonological border - the meaning becomes function (fonction) of Signifier -. Each face of the sign thus gives the other its conditions of existence. The projection of an axial analysis on the other allows making similarity by conservation of an invariant, it is the paradigm (paradigme), and complementarity, it is the syntagm (syntagme). The analysis in terms of signs (or significance) denies the symbol, but puts “vacuum” in the place of “full”.

Structure of the sign




When we speak, it is the third “moment” of dialectic, that of the performance (performance). One catches the language only in the reinvested form, which we call “Rhetoric” (rhétorique). The Sign, empty, is “de-signed”. Designation is then contradictory with the significance. Rhetoric tries to reinvest the grammaticality in reality, without succeeding: it is not natural object about which one speaks, but of a doubly mediatized object, a concept. In other words, to speak of the object, it is not to put a label on a thing, otherwise, it is the pathology of adherence. What, therefore, characterizes rhetoric, is a fundamental impropriety. The object about which one speaks is not reference himself: it is the whole of the context which refers, the other parameters are: the transmitter, the receiver and the vector of the message. All these parameters influence the form of the message. To try to reduce impropriety, the speaker unceasingly has recourse to “figures” like the metaphor or the metonymy. These “figures” are not the exception, but the rule.

According to that, rhetoric has three “aims”:

In the event of pathology, rupture of this dialectical, one can observe two great cases of figures:

* Either there is reification with the formal pole of the Sign, and the subject is constrained with a speech of a pure grammar like Boris Vian, they are schizophasias.

We define reification as a treatment of an analytic or abstract relationship as though it were a concrete entity (Young). The process of regarding something abstract as a material entity, Whitehead's "fallacy of misplaced concreteness," e.g., the mistake of confusing a system, which is a construct, with the physical entity described in its terms. In social systems reification is encouraged by the use of language and underlies many processes of constructing social reality (Krippendorff).

* Either there is no deficiency from reference to the context, but of incidence to the structure, they are the aphasias. The clinic of aphasiology shows that an aphasic continues to designate as it can, and it is through the mechanisms of compensation,

the strategies of "saying", that the team of Jean Gagnepain could build the model of the glossology. The three other models are structured analogically with this one.

Ergology: the homo faber

Ergology is the model of the tool (outil). The clinical field makes it possible to differentiate the incidences of aphasia in reading/writing from what concerns properly the word-blindnesses/agraphias announced since 1891 by Déjerine. Independent from the aphasia, they reveal a disturbance of the equipped performance (monstrous letters, graphic dreams etc…). In addition, the clinical observation makes it possible to differentiate the apraxia (apraxie “idéomotrice”), in which the patient, while knowing “to what purpose” such tool is useful, is unable to use it, from the atechnia (apraxie “idéatoire”) where the patient can show dexterity in the use of a tool while “having to some extent lost the instructions”. On this basis a private clinic of atechnias is developed. Atechnias are distributed between disorders of the structural analysis of the “means” (for example: to be unable, vis-a-vis a simple device, to use the adequate tool: mecanological disorder) and disorders of the structural analysis of the “ends” (for example: incapacity to add up several tasks in their succession and their coupling: teleological disorder). Moreover, the clinic shows that, whether mecanological or teleological, the disorders reveal the attrition either of the taxinomic analysis, or of the generative analysis. These observations and experiments resulted in working out the model of Ergology, whose mediation is the Tool, which is completely independent from that of Glossology. The animal, like the man, is able spontaneously to transform its power into movement, to adapt it permanently and, thus to adapt its environment. It is what the model of the Mediation calls « route » (trajet). The animal is able to create a seriation of routes T1 => T2 => T3 =>… => Tn such as Tp-1 is the « means » and Tp the « end ». This natural treatment of the route, which represents a connection of the “means” and the “end”, constitutes the instrument.

The clinical field allows to dissociate the natural capacity of instrumentation from the cultural capacity to emerge to the tool, the manufacture (abstract capacity which the human has to technicize his activity by giving himself “instructions”). If the animal can bind “means” and “end”, Tp-1 and Tp, the man circumscribes this relation in two terms and is able mecanologicaly to analyze the “means” and teleologicaly the “end”. From this double reciprocal analysis are born the terms of manufacturer (fabriquant) or structurally analyzed “means”, and manufactured (fabriqué) or structurally analyzed “end”. They constitute the Tool in which each face finds its criteria of structuring in a reference to the other face. The Tool is the structural negation of the Instrument.

Structural analysis of the “means” creates differential element, the material (materiau), and sequential element, the machine (engin), which is not an addition, but a syncrasy of material. Structural analysis of the “end” (“what-for to make it”) creates differential element, the task (tache), and sequential element, the machine (machine), which is a syncrasy of tasks, not an addition. The reciprocal action of the two analyzes is validated by the fact that the mechanological difference attests a teleological border (the “means” becomes device of the “manufactured”) and that the teleological difference attests a mecanologic border (“end” becomes utility of “manufacturer”). Each face of the tool thus gets its conditions of existence from the other. The projection of an axial analysis on the other allows to make similarity by conservation of an invariant: the inflection (flexion) (corresponding to the paradigm in the Sign) and of the complementarity: the coalescence (coalescence) (corresponding of the syntagm in the Sign). The analysis in tool (or manufacture) denies the instrument, and puts “vacuum” where nature puts “full”.

Structure of the tool




However we produce: this is where a third “moment” intervenes, that of the performance. One usually observes the tool only in a reinvested form, which we call “Industry”: exploitation of the means we have “to be able to make”. The production is then contradictory with manufacture. Industry tries to reinvest manufacture in the production, without ever achieving it: one does not carry out a route, but a doubly mediatized route. The natural gesture is disputed, the production consists in going back to the effectiveness of nature, but, dialectically, it is characterized by inefficiency.

The route which is adapter and adapted gesture, does not do the whole work, three other parameters contribute to it: the executer (executant), who incorporates himself in the work, the owner (exploitant) who, far from being only a consumer, carries out also the analysis of manufacture, and the vector (vecteur) who deals with various constraints weighing on the production of the work. In order to try to reduce inefficiency, the executer has unceasingly recourse to “figures” which are hardware configurations aiming to the effectiveness. Some of them, because of ignoring how to interpret them, are too quickly put in the category of the “ornaments”: guard of the knife, the tympanum of the church… These figures of the work are the metaplasies (métaplasies), which do not constitute the exception, but the rule.

The Industry, which sectorizes in: dynamic (dynamique) (which amplify our natural means), deictic (déictique) (signals, among which the writing), schematic (shématique) (clothing, habitat) and cybernetics (cybernétique) (decision, automation), have three aims: the empirie (empirie), which adapt the tools to the constraints of the world, the magic (magique), which adapts the world to the tools, and the plastic (plastique), where the work finds in itself its own end. These three aims are not exclusive from one another.

Pathologically, in the event of rupture of this dialectic, one observes two great cases of figures: whether there is reification with the formal pole of the tool, the subject is doing pure manufacture which corresponds to schizotechnia (schizotechnies), or there is deficiency of incidence to the structure which corresponds to atechnia (atechnies). The clinic of the atechnia shows that these subjects continue to produce as they can, through mechanisms of compensation.

Sociology: the homo politicus

Sociology makes it possible to build the model of the Person (personne). The clinical field relates to psychiatry. Two groups of phenomena are concerned: “Attrition” and “lack”. There are disorders of the knowledge (Sabouraud) which reveal an attrition of the collective history and categories socially accepted while the auto-centered personal history, logic and tool last. On the other hand, it seems now clear that the child does not enter a relationship with others with the same order as that of the adult (Quentel) and if his logic does not differ basically from the adult (as opposed to what Piaget said about it), he reaches the historicity and the social meaning of the categories only around the age of twelve. The clinic of delirium allows to differentiate schizophrenia from paranoia. Both are clinically proved to be pathologies of the otherness, therefore of the generativity (unit). Schizophrenia is precisely a reification with the pole of the individual, with a tendency marked with the no-communication, while paranoia denies the personal history so much that the patient undergoes a “drift of identification”: he takes himself for another. Taxonomically, narcissism is a reification with the pole of the individual while sadomasochism abolishes the limits between the Ego and the Other. We approached here only one of the “faces” of the person, but the other one has its own pathologies, the perversions. From this clinic, one draws the model of sociology, whose mediation is the Person.

For the animal like the man, the genital functions constitute the natural treatment of the species. That is done in terms of seriations, where the specimen (two subjects of biologically complementary sexes, in the case of animals with sexual reproduction) aims at reproducing the type, a new being: S1 => S2 => S3 =>… => Sn. The species thus seems to be the connection from sexuality to genitality (contribution to the type). The clinical field authorizes to dissociate the natural capacity of reproduction from the cultural capacity of emergence to the Person. The animal can bind specimen and type (Sp-1 and Sp), the man circumscribes this relation in two terms and is able to analyze ontically (ontiquement) the specimen and deontically (déontiquement) the type.

From this double reciprocal analysis are born the terms of instituting (instituant) (specimen analyzed structurally) and instituted (institué) (type analyzed structurally). The whole constitutes the Person, each face of it finds its criterion of structuring in a reference to the other face. The Person is the structural negation of the species. The structural analysis of the specimen differentiates the biological sex from the social sex (it is the problem of incest) and creates differential element, the status (statut), and sequential element, the notable (notable). The first melts our memberships by acculturation of the three co-ordinates of time, space and milieu, and makes us emerge to history. The second acculturates the natural recognition of the Other in parity. Structural analysis of the type creates the differential element, the office (office), and of the sequential element, establishment (établissement), making us emerge to the order of the debt and the law understood as a contribution to the City. The reciprocal action of the two analyzes is validated by the fact that the ontic difference attests a deontic border and reciprocally, the deontic difference attests a ontic border. The projection of an axial analysis on the other allows, like for the other planes, to make inflection and complementarity. The analysis in Person denies the species, but puts “vacuum” where nature puts “full”.

Structure of the person




However we live, there is a third “moment”, that of the performance. One does observe the Person, usually, but the reinvested form which we call “Insistence” (insistence). The insistence tries to reinvest the Person in reality, without reaching completely that point: the Person never coincides with the situation where it is posed for performance, it is not the natural subject which is essential, but a doubly mediatized subject. What, therefore, characterizes Insistence is the arbitrarity that the convention tends to reduce. Convention is not the Ego alone, reinvested in “me”; three other parameters intervene: “you” and “it”, also avatars of the Ego, and “one”, the social one par excellence which is the negation of the environment. Convention founds the social contract because it makes it possible to surmount the appropriation (the private) by communication, i.e. the exchange, and to found political configurations as well as languages. It has three aims: anallactic (one acts on the others to make them in conformity with oneself), synallactic (one acts on oneself to adapt to the others), choral (where the use is caught itself for the end).

Axiology: the homo rectus

Axiology is the science of the Norm, i.e. of what makes us culturally moral. The clinical field covers here, in psychiatry, the whole of the Freudian problems of the desire. According to Sabouraud, in neurology, a group of frontal syndromes causes among certain patients inactivity, apragmatism (apragmatisme) and abulia (aboulie). This reveals that the activity wanted for a “end” (an awaited advantage) is compromised following a dysfunction of the hypothalamus. That corresponds rather well to the traditional table of the moria. We are here on the level of an animal determinism.

On the other hand, the clinic of the neuroses (phobia, obsession, hysteria) shows that the anguish of the neurotic, often conscious but uncontrollable, is due to the unreasoned fear of a punishment because something – the realization of a desire - is felt like an interdict. It is interesting to note that the neuroses - reifications with the pole of the structure - are distributed between disorders of one or other “face” of the Norm and according to an attrition of taxonomy or generativity. Psychopathies (running away, reluctance, debauchery, monomania) present a similar distribution, on two faces and two axes, but, contrary to the neuroses, they are marked by the fact that the patient cannot control his desire any more and “sticks” to its impulses: if the neurosis is a blocked brake, psychopathy is the absence of brake.

From this clinic, one draws the model of Axiology, whose mediation is the Norm. The animal, like the man, is sensitive to the affects which aim at the satisfaction of a need. The coupling of the affect and its target constitutes the project. At this level, to want is only animal impulse. The field of the impulses exceeds that of the Freudian libido, which it also includes. The natural treatment of the project is made in terms of seriations P1 => P2 => P3 =>… => Pn, where a project Pp-1 constitutes the price (prix) whose Pp is the good (bien). This connection of the price to the good constitutes the value. The clinical field authorizes to dissociate the natural capacity to constitute value from the cultural capacity to emerge to the Norm (or ethics). If the animal can also bind price and good (Pp-1 and Pp), the man circumscribes this relation in the two terms and is able timologicaly (timologiquement) to analyze the price and chrematologicaly (chrématologiquement) the good. That enables him to give up a good in order to reach a good considered to be higher, thus melting structurally the lack, and the repression. From this double reciprocal analysis come the terms of regulater (règlementant) (structurally analyzed price) and regulated (règlementé) (structurally analyzed good). The whole constitutes the Norm in which each face finds its criterion of structuring in a reference to the other face. The norm is the structural negation of the value.

Structural analysis of the price (expiation) created differential element, the guarantor (garant), and sequential element, the guarantee (caution), syncrasy of guarantors. Structural analysis of the good (restriction) created differential element, the vacation (congé), and sequential element, the case (cas). The reciprocal action of these two analyzes is validated by the fact that the timologic difference attests a chrematologic border and that, reciprocally, the chrematologic difference attests a timologic border. The projection of an axial analysis on the other provides us the means of making similarity by conservation of an invariant (inflection) and complementarity (axiological equivalent of the syntagm). This double analysis shows that for all of our acts, statements, beings… it is necessary to assume the cost. The cost is overestimated by the timological neurotic (not necessarily with a trauma at the origin of the pathology), and is underestimated by the timological psychotic. Moreover, it is about an “intern” structural analysis which does not need to resort to a “super-ego” whose content would be imposed by society: sociology and axiology are definitely separate.

The analysis in Norm denies the value, but puts “vacuum” where nature puts “full”.

Structure of the norm




However we act: this is where a third “moment” intervenes, that of the performance. One usually observes ethics only in the reinvested form which we call “habilitation”. The pemission which habilitation gives us is then contradictory with Noloir (not-to-want) which imposes to us the structure. Enabling tries to reinvest ethics in reality, without never achieving it completely. It is not according to the natural value that we act, but of a doubly mediatized value. In other words, to act (or to express oneself) is not “to stick” to the value, and the characteristic of enabling is a fundamental transgression. Enabling comprises four parameters: dedicated (dédicataire) (what one makes a decision about), decision maker (décideur) (who enjoys the freedom entitling him to satisfy his desire), the vector (vecteur)(circumstances in which occurs the decision) and the project (projet) (what our will sticks to). In order to try to reduce the importance of the transgression, in the normal repression-transfer complex, there are “figures of enabling” which allow, for example, “to say without saying”, “making without making” etc…, in short, a fundamental “lie” behind which the analyst can decipher the will. Apophantic is a sectorization of the enabling based on the research of implicit (and not of the “unconscious”) behind the expression, which include the axio-artistic (morals of work), the axio-cenotic (morals of the body and “manners”) and the axio-linguistic (morals of the speech). Lastly, enabling has three aims: ascetic (self-control up to finding satisfaction in the lack), casuistic (attenuation of the restrain according to the situation), heroic (research of the vote for itself).

The definition of apophantic from other authors are similar to the TDM, except that they connect it with the logos, as TDM relates it to the plane of axiology. In his peculiar reappropriation of Aristotle's notion of logos, Heidegger contends that discourse is essentially apophantic, which means that it reveals something, it discloses what it talks about; the topic of discourse is a theme made visible to the speaker and to his listeners thanks to words which bestow a determination, a form to what is talked about. Hence speaking is primarily speaking about something, and listening to a speaker is primarily gaining access to the visibility of a subject-matter about which listener and speaker can agree. The apophantical synthesis represents the unity of subject and predicate in a judgment, and thus lets something be seen in discourse. Aristotle uses the term "apophantic logos" in order to distinguish a specific type of Logos (speech, communication)—that which discovers truth and falsehood and is, in its development, determined by the difference between truth and falsehood. When Husserl revived the idea of an apophantic logic, he emphasised its original critical intent. And he found this intent precisely in the idea of a logic of judgments—that is, in the fact that thought was not directly concerned with Being (das Seiende selbst) but rather with "pretensions", propositions on Being. Husserl sees in this orientation on judgments a restriction and a prejudice with respect to the task and scope of logic.

The following table summarizes the previous sections with horizontally the diffracted reason and vertically the incorporated rationality.






1st step of the dialectic


- feeling(esthesy)
- perception(gnosy)

- motricity
- operation (praxy)

- individualization
- incorporation (somasy)

- affect
- drive (boulie)






Immediate and natural treatment


O1 -> O2

T1 -> T2

: -> S2

P1 -> P2





















Structural analysis











and their

structural analysis









2nd step Instance





Cultural hability










3rd step















Infrastructure ->
Incident plane




dynamic, ergotropy


hegetic (code)














Homo sapiens

Homo faber

Homo politicus

Homo rectus




Perversion:echolalia and psychosis(paranoia, schizophrenia):schizolalia

Psychopathy and neurosis

At the end of this presentation of the theory of mediation, it is interesting to compare it to Michel Foucault's approach of human knowledge with his concept of episteme. According to him, the domain of the modern episteme should be represented rather as a volume of space in three dimensions. In one of these we would situate the mathematical and physical sciences, for which order is always a deductive and linear linking together of evident or verified propositions; in a second dimension there would be the sciences (such as those of language, life, and the production and distribution of wealth) that proceed by relating discontinuous but analogous elements in such a way that they are able to establish causal relations and structural constants between them. These first two dimensions together define a common plane: that which can appear, according to the direction in which one traverses it, as a field of application of mathematics to the empirical sciences, or as the domain of the mathematicizable in linguistics, biology, and economics. The third dimension would be that of philosophical reflection, which develops the thought of the Same; it forms a common plane with the dimension of linguistics, biology and economics: it is here that we may meet, and indeed have met, the various philosophies of life, of alienated man, of symbolical forms (when concepts and problems that first arose in different empirical domains are transposed into the philosophical dimension); but we have also encountered here , if we question the foundation of these empiricities from a radically philosophical point of view, those regional ontologies which attempt to define what life, labour, and language are in their own being; lastly, the philosophical dimension and that of the mathematical disciplines combine to define another common plane: that of the formalization of thought. From this epistemological trihedron the human sciences are excluded, at least in the sense that they cannot be found along any of its dimensions or on the surface of any of the planes thus defined. But one can equally well say that they are included in it, since it is in the interstices of these branches of knowledge, or, more exactly in the volume defined by their three dimensions, that the human sciences have their place [Foucault1970].

In his definition of the episteme, we can see that the fundamental disagreement between Foucault and Gagnepain is the organization of knowledge around disciplines, which is contradictory with the in-discipline of Jean Gagnepain. We could argue that Gagnepain is an epistemologist, always questioning the status of knowledge, as Foucault seems to have an ideological approach based on a fixed structuration of knowledge

Foucault reflects on the 'sciences of man' as part of the modern episteme in the same way as grammar and natural history were part of the Classical episteme. ... But that does not necessarily mean that they are sciences. Western culture has constituted, under the name of man, a being who, by one and the same interplay of reasons, must be a positive domain of knowledge and cannot be an object of science [Foucault1970].

In the last quotation, Foucault rejects the possibility of human sciences, which is in direct contradiction with TDM. One could argue that TDM is precisely a science, because of its relation to the clinic for verifying the theory through the observation of pathology.

After having described the theory of mediation, we take the language as a first example, in order to make comparison with the deconstruction of the sacred.

Principles of deconstruction

1. Intersection of planes

Yann-Fanch Perroches stresses that historically, it is by the study of language that TDM achieved this deconstruction of human reason. That which we commonly call language is thus deconstructed according to these four planes: There is of course a purely linguistic capacity (TDM uses the term glossology), which is that of the sign (acculturation of animal perception). But there is also an independent ergological capacity, which allows us to translate our language into writing: this is the capacity of the tool, which in this case translates into a pencil and paper, but also in stone, the hammer and chisel, the computer keyboard, etc. There is equally a sociological capacity that causes the emergence of idioms: French, English, Spanish or Breton. (This capacity is also “historic” since language varies not only with space but with time as well.) It is this that causes us to incorporate ourselves into societies and to exist as persons. It is the acculturation of the animal body. And finally one last capacity, that of the normative, which acculturates our impulses, turns our language into discourse: you can’t just say what you wish, to whom you wish, in the manner you wish! Swear words, euphemisms and innuendo attest to this [Perroches].

For Michael Herrmann, in the view of theory of mediation (TDM), human rationality, and language as correlating with it, has to be deconstructed on the basis of clinical (neurological, psychiatric) evidence into logical, technical, social and ethical rationality. In addition to being deconstructed, human rationality proves (clinically) to be dialectical: each of its levels is thus characterized by a polarity between implicit formalization ("instance" or "structure") and explicit formalization ("performance"). Within this theoretical framework, the concept of language itself has to be deconstructed, depending on whether we are concerned with "internal linguistics" (glossoloy) where language appears logically as a formalizing principle, or with "external linguistics" where it is formalized itself by a non-specific principle: it appears to be either technically artificialized as "writing" (II), socially personalized as "idiom" (III), or ethically legitimated as "discourse" (IV) [Herrmann2001].

Perroches Still keeping the example of language because it is probably the easiest to understand, speaks of the fundamental consequences of this quadruple negation of nature. In the case of language, the “word no longer sticks to the thing” since man denies both the word and the thing. Thus a table isn’t necessarily a flat surface with legs, since it can also be a “multiplication table”, “water table”, “database table”…, but it could even be a support of any kind, as long as you take your meal on it, for example. In short, words and things seem to have lives independent of each other. These are two non-isomorphic universes. This is what TDM calls the impropriety of the sign, which explains synonymy, polysemy, etc.

Perroches in his example deconstructs language into writing , idiom and discourse which correspond to the intersection of the plane of the sign with the planes of the tool, the person and the norm. The intersection of the four planes build a tetrahedron in the space with six edges that can be represented by the following figure that shows the tetrahedron from above with its basis on the plane of the norm.

econstruction of language

The four rationalities

Intersection of planes

I: glossology: the capacity for language: the sign

II: ergological, artistic capacity: the tool

III: sociological capacity for history: the person

IV: normative capacity: the norm

I-II: writing
I-III: idiom
I-IV: discourse
II-III: style
II-IV: stratagem
III-IV: code

2. Problems of translation

This section is dedicated to the problems of translation in order to give an example of how TDM analyzes and deconstructs human phenomena.

Roman Jakobson wrote: “translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes. Equivalence in difference is the cardinal problem of language and the pivotal concern of linguistics. [Jakobson]”. Michael Hermann criticizes this vision and states that what is inacceptable in this formula for any mediationist approach is the globality of the concept of language, i.e. the non-distinction between logos and nomos, which goes back to Saussure, stating that "language is a social institution", and "language is a system of signs that express ideas" [CGL]). Jakobson, by telescoping those two levels, necessarily understands equivalence as a logical equivalence: translation means changing an equivalent content from one code into a different code, and it is not fundamentally different from synonymy or intralingual translation: it appears as the solution of an equation: the same equals sign is to be put between "eight times five = forty" and "a bachelor = an unmarried man".

Speaking about translation, we have to distinguish between:

From the mediationist point of view, the borderline between glossology and sociolinguistics is not the difference between inside or outside a given language, but between two analyzing principles: logical ("analyzing our representation") or ethnic ("analyzing our group membership"). Whenever we put our sayings into other words for better understanding, we translate ourselves. This translation is not primarily concerned with words and texts, but with our personal way of understanding words and texts, i.e. our difference compared with the text. This difference is related both to language and to knowledge, and we are separated both by heteroglossia and heterodoxia: a French text is 1) written in French, 2) intended for French readers, so that the translation has to be both interlingual and intercultural. Translating this French text into English means adding what is lacking for it to be 1) in English, 2) for English people [Herrmann2001].

In the example given by de Saussure, modern French mouton can have the same signification as English sheep but not the same value, particularly because in speaking of a piece of meat ready to be served on the table, English uses mutton and not sheep. The difference in value between sheep and mouton is due to the fact that sheep has beside it a second term while the French word does not [CGL]. Thus translating sheep by mouton is supplying a difference of value: cutting off an exceeding part and adding a lacking part in comparison with the French word, so that sheep becomes acceptable in the shape of mouton. This difference of value has to be understood in a double sense: it means in terms of lexical identity that the French word is NOT THAT (i.e. not the English one), and in terms of textual unity that the French word is NOT THERE (i.e. not in the same texual collocation). Concluding on this point, we may say that translation takes place on the sociolinguistic level, and that it consists in filling up a deficit: "we translate a deficit". We are confronted here with an inversion of the sociolinguistic point of view. Instead of language (langage) being formalized by the ethnic principle of personal difference into personal language (langue), we have now to consider the opposite case of langue being reformalized by langage, or in other words: nomos or the personal legality, being explained by logos. The difference is that of TRANSLATING vs. EXPLAINING the difference. We may call this difference ARBITRARINESS, referring to what Saussure termed limiting of arbitrariness. Establishing translatability for teaching purposes is also the objective of contrastive stylistics. This is shown for instance by the schedule of translation procedures which are ranged from "close to the original" (loanwords like bulldozer in French) to "far from the original" (intercultural equivalents like baseball in the U.S. and cyclisme in France). This is another attempt of limiting arbitrariness by thinking of it in terms of distance to be measured.

The expression "the criticizing of the translator" may be understood in two different senses: as the translator being criticized, or as the translator criticizing the author. In both cases we have to distinguish what the author (or the translator) wanted to do, from what he was able to do. In summary, the possibility of criticizing the author (both of the original and of the translation) depends on our hermeneutic ability to find out the respective parts of personal inspiration ("what the author wanted to do") and of socio-linguistic limitation ("the author's linguistic and cultural horizons"). According to Borges, this difficulty of delimiting "what belongs to the author" and "what belongs to language" accounts for the existence of so many translations of Homer, and also, in the words of Jean Gagnepain, for the infinity of sacred hermeneutics, which eternally must attempt "to distinguish God's word from the doxa of the language in which it is believed to have been originally revealed to us" [Herrmann2001].

The following table shows the interaction of planes which are at work in the translation process, namely glossology, socio-linguistics and axio-linguistics.

Infrastructure ->
Incident plane







Deictic, Ergo-linguistic





Dynamic, ergotropy











Hegetic (code)


Application to religion

After having presented the principles of the theory of mediation and an example of deconstruction and analysis, this chapter is dedicated to the application of the theory to the sacred.

1. Definitions of religion and spirituality

The Oxford reference dictionary defines religion as (a)a belief in a superhuman controlling power, especially in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship; the expression of this in worship. (b) A particular system of faiths

The word religion comes from the Latin religio which means obligation, bond, reverence

For Turner and Durkheim, religion is a social cement binding individuals and social groups into a communal order, and Marx and Engel in 1844 say that religion is the sigh of the oppressed creatures, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of people. So we could define religion as the social cement of the total society while being the social opium of the class structure [Turner1991]. For Steve Bruce, religion consists of actions, beliefs and institutions predicated upon the assumption of the existence of either supernatural entities with powers of agency, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose which have the capacity to set the conditions of, or to intervene in human affairs [Bruce].

Emile Durkheim considers that religion is merely a form of custom, like law and morality, but it asserts itself not only over conduct but over the conscience. In short, religion starts with faith, that is to say, with any belief accepted or experienced without argument. So long as men live together, they will hold some belief in common. What we cannot foresee and what only the future will be able to decide, is the particular form in which “faith” will be symbolized. There are no religions which are false, all are true in their own fashions. All answer, though in different ways, to the given conditions of human existence. Law, morality and religion are the three great regulatory functions of society[Durkheim1975].

Weber thought of religions in term of a continuum, with apolitical Buddhism at one extreme and Islam as a « warrior religion » at the other [Turner]. Danièle Herieu Léger thinks religion as an ideological, practical and symbolic system through which consciousness both individual and collective, of belonging to a particular chain of belief is constituted, maintained, developed and controlled [Leger1993] and the shortest definition comes from Hubert who says that religion is the administration of the sacred.

The role of religion in the society is defined by [McGuire1992] as one of the foremost forces speaking to issues of legitimation of power and moral order at the global level, as for [Leger1993], religion works ad intra (through incorporation into a believing community) and ad extra (through differentiation from those who are not of this lineage). In modern societies, sport fulfills the social functions of self-affirmation which in traditional societies belonged to religion, and [Bruce] defines secularization as a process of moving from organized religion to politics, football or other.

Now that we have compared different definitions of religion, let us try to define the notion of spirituality. The Oxford reference dictionary defines spiritual as of or concerned with the spirit, not physical or worldly; of the Church or religions. This word comes from the Latin spiritus which means breath.

2. Religion according to TDM

Jean Gagnepain describes the relation to God as follows [Gagnepain1994] :

I: to give language back to God is creating silence in oneself and give the word back to Him: it is the prayer.

II: to give our efficiency back to God is to pose Him as the creator of everything.

III: to give back to God our ability to recapitulate the becoming and make history of it, is to pose the eternity of God and therefore eternal life.

IV: to give back to God our ability to regulate our desire, and thus to emerge to liberty, is to give Him back the liberty that we dispose of, the merit that we have acquired and to recognize that He is the author of all grace.

The analysis of the Genesis by Jean Gagnepain shows the 4 planes of rationality:

The sacred can therefore be deconstructed into the four planes of TDM as follows:

3. The meaning of life

How does the sacred appear in humanity? Is it a creation of mankind or is it given from above? The answer to these questions depend on personal experience or the will to believe in something beyond reality. We can then split the study of the sacred into a movement from below which come from the human and consists in philosophy, myths or animism on the one hand, and a movement from above with revelations and prophecies on the other hand.

The search for the sacred, or beyond reality, corresponds to a need to understand or to escape reality and find the meaning of human life. Philosophy, metaphysics or Buddhism constitute different ways to search for truth, starting from the human condition in order to elevate spirituality.

Prophecies and revelations are supposed to come from the sacred to humanity in order to give messages in terms of belief and way of living. The witnesses of these revelation become examples to follow. In this case, human has a soul which is connected with the sacred, even if the soul takes various definitions according to the revelation. But even if every living being has a soul like in Hinduism, all revelations differentiate human from animal. Some animals can be considered like gods or spirits, and thus superior to human, like cows in Hinduism, but their status in the real world is only related to their status in the sacred world. As Nietzsche wrote, the aim of human during his life differs according to the revelations, avoiding sins and notions of good and evil on the one hand, and escaping from suffering on the other hand. The structure of the universe is also explained like in the religions of the Book or Hinduism. In the case of revelations, humanity which has not witnessed revelation has only to follow the message of God and the example of His messenger.

At the meeting of the search for the truth and the revelation from God, there is the human and his acceptance of the revelation. The question is why do people believe a revelation without proof? The answer is the need to have an explanation of the meaning of life and the universe on the one hand, or the use of reason like Pascal's bet on the other hand: Pascal's Wager is a famous argument to believe in God: "What have you got to lose by believing in God?" In essence, you are asked to analyze the question of God's existence in terms of a bet, that is to say, in terms of the odds of winning and the payoff. If there is no God, it doesn't matter what you bet: you are worm food either way. If there is a God, and you believe, then you go to heaven; and you don't believe, you go to hell. In a normal betting situation, you need to compare what it costs to play to the odds of winning and the payoff. This is not a normal betting situation. The payoff is infinite and the cost is finite. As long as there is any chance at all, no matter how small, it is best to bet for God. You have nothing to lose, and infinitely much to gain. Or so the reasoning goes.

Now that we have differentiated between the creation of the sacred by humanity and revelations from the sacred, we shall study the creation of myth in the next section.

4. Creating the sacred

In this section, we have chosen to study the mechanism of creation of myths and their role in term of explanation but also of representing the sacred, because they are considered to be breakthroughs of the sacred into the profane.

For Edward Tylor, myths are a way to explain the world, they have the role of science in primitive societies. For example, rain is considered to be poured by gods on earth in some societies [Tylor].

Acording to Eliade, Myth narrates a sacred history; it relates an event that took place in primordial Time, the fabled time of the « beginnings ». In other words, myth tells how, through the deeds of Supernatural Beings, a reality came to existence, be it the whole of reality, the Cosmos, or only a fragment of reality – an island, a species of plant, a particular kind of human behavior, an institution. Myth then is always an account of a « creation »; it relates how something was produced, began to be. Myth tells only of that which really happened, which manifested itself completely. The actors of myths are Supernatural Beings. They are known primarily by what they did in the transcendent times of the « beginnings ». In short, myths describe the various and sometimes dramatic breakthroughs of the sacred (or the « supernatural ») into the world [Eliade1957] .

Roland Barthes defines Myth as follows:

1. Myth is a type of speech, a language; it can be analyzed using linguistic analysis.

2. Myth is located in history.

3. As Barthes’ title indicates, he is discussing myth in twentieth-century (“our society is the privileged field of mythical significations”).

4. Myth in that society is “intentional”, “motivated”, that is, created for particular ends.

5. Myth works to conceal its constructedness by transforming history into “nature,” making something which is constructed seem “natural,” inevitable: myth “makes [things] innocent, it gives them a natural and eternal justification, it gives them a clarity which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of fact”.

6. This transformation robs the historical object, empties it of its full, complex life, and reduces it to a sign.

Movement from language to myth:  language combines signifier and signified to create sign, myth combines linguistic sign with mythic signifier to create mythic sign.

linguistic signification: linguistic signifier (“laurel”) + signifier (green thing outside with pointed leaves) = sign (green thing outside with pointed leaves = “laurel”)

mythic signification: linguistic sign (green thing outside with pointed leaves = “laurel”) becomes mythic signifier; combined with mythic signified (“victory”) creates mythic sign (“laurel” = “victory”)

7.  The mythologist must examine myth to see where it comes from, locate it in history,

understand it as ideology. [Barthes]

From Tylor, Eliade and Barthes, we see that myth is related with the sacred or perfection, and that it is used to explain unknown phenomena. Myth shows the need for human to transcend himself in order to reach perfection. Myth is linked with love and imagination, coming from human who creates his own sacred world. Barthes sees two levels of abstraction in the creation of the mythic sign. In our view, it is rather the same mechanism of incorporated rationality which is at work, and the “mythic sign” is rather a kind of polysemia which is directed toward the sacred.

Like any domain of human reason, myth can be diffracted into four rationalities. The twentieth century has witnessed a regression of religious practice in modern societies, but the need for creating the sacred has switched the creation of myth from supernature to the world. In the view of TDM, myth can be understood as an aim in the performance and can be seen in the mythical aim of rhetoric, the magical aim of industry, the anallactic aim of politics and the ascetic aim of moral.

All modern myths are connected to one or several of these aims on different planes of rationality. For instance, the magic of industry build mythic cars, computers or buildings. The political myth is related with society and originates ideologies. On the plane of moral, ascetic behavior often represents an example to follow for people. Myth is always present in societies, even in modern societies, and according to Eliade, the participation of an entire society in certain symbols has been interpreted as a survival of « collective thinking ». It is not difficult to show that the function of a national flag, with all the affective experiences that go with it, is in no way different from the « participation » in any of the symbols of the archaic societies [Eliade1977].

Taking into account the structure of mind according to Freud, we can see myth as the Ego Ideal which is part of the superego (Over-I). The Ego Ideal provides rules for good behaviour, and standards of excellence towards which the Ego must strive. The Ego ideal is basically what the child’s parents approve of or value.

The twentieth century and post-modernity have witnessed a privatization of religion along with the progress of science and technology which are now capable of challenging the traditional vision of the sacred. The scientific explanation of the universe and life with the theory of the Big Bang and the theory of evolution, but also the technological creations that would have been considered like miracles a few decades ago, tend to push people in investing their need for sacred into the possibilities of modern technologies, especially those which increase the power of individuals in term of knowledge, communication and transportation.

In the field of society, the political myth represents the equivalent of revelations in religions. It is interesting to note that although politics claims to be different from religion, its structure matches that of religions. For instance, the Marxist ideology is very close to a religion, although Karl Marx and Engel in 1844 say that religion is the sigh of the oppressed creatures, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of people. The Marxist theory speaks of heaven coming on earth and the creation of a new man. Semi divine figures of leaders like Lenin, Stalin or Mao Zedong correspond to the saints. The scriptures are the Marxist writings and the sacred nation is Russia with Moscow being the third Rome. The idea is that there was trouble before this ideology and the reactions against it are considered to be diabolic, so any opposition needs to be crushed, the KGB taking the role of inquisition, in order to go to a new humanity. In that logic, all other nations are devalued. This example shows how old theological bases can be recycled for constructing an ideology.

As a conclusion to this section, we can say that the mythical approach of the vision of the world is incorporated in humanity, following the natural ability to construct a representation of the world which makes humanity take a distance from nature. If according to Eliade, myths describe the various and sometimes dramatic breakthroughs of the sacred (or the « supernatural ») into the world, it is important to stress like Barthes that it is also a construction and an inflexion of a reality by humans. Myth are at the origin of ideologies that often follow the structure of established religions. But as ideologies correspond to the anallactic aim, that is the attempt to see and organize society according to their principles, they are opposed to the epistemological approach which correspond to the synallactic aim and consists in putting into question the status of knowledge. Ideologies are therefore built on myths by humanity under the control of the will to power of political leaders. This conclusion will lead to the section about the power of the sacred which we will deal with after analyzing religion. The next section is dedicated to revelations and religions which can be considered like given from God to humanity.

5. Revelations and religions

In the previous section, we have dealt with the creation of the sacred by humanity through myths. We are going now to deconstruct religion according to TDM. In the same way as myths, religion can also be considered as a language (idiom). A language is a dialect that has succeeded. For instance, standard French is linked to the way people speak in Paris and is the result of the victory of Parisian French over other languages in France. In the same way, Mandarin is the Chinese which is spoken in Beijing and has dominated the use of Cantonese in formal transactions among Chinese people and the mass media.

Therefore, the same way a succeeding dialect gives birth to a language, a myth can be at the origin of an ideology, and a succeeding revelation becomes a religion. The success of a revelation depends on the impact of it on society, and the number of people following it. This impact is largely due to the proofs that the prophet or messenger gives about his revelation. The relation with the sacred is always at first seen as a danger, like the “witches” who were burnt during the inquisition, and now the mystics who tend to end in a psychiatric hospital of modern society.

Almost every accepted religion has started with bloodshed, the Christian in the Roman circus with lions, the Muslims against the people of Mecca, and the Sikhs against the Muslims. So the prophets had to prove the validity of their message. Their situation was about the same as people who claim to have had a contact with extra-terrestrial, and it is probably not a coincidence that the recent Raelian religion is directly related with the UFOs, because the representation of the sacred follows the imagination of human in a given socio temporal context

The last remark stresses the importance of the social context for the acceptance of a representation of the sacred. Therefore, because religion like languages belongs to the plane of sociology (III), we can try to observe the mutual influences between religion and culture. In order to be accepted and to spread religions had to be adapted to the cultural substrates. For example, the choice of December 25 for the birth of Jesus Christ is because it was already the birthday of Osiris, Adonis and Dionysus. Originally Christianity honored the Jewish sabbath on Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan veneration day of the sun. The commandments forbid the worshiping of statues, but Catholic churches are full of these representations which come from the cultural substrate of Rome in the first centuries of the Church. Even the representation of God has been borrowed to the Greek god Zeus. In the Lebanon, the Church had to accept the marriage of priests in order to bring the Maronites in her ranks. The way priests gather in a circle in Sainte Anne d'Auray in Brittany, is close to the way of worshiping in the Celtic world. The pilgrimage in Mecca which represents the fifth pillar of Islam was already a pilgrimage before the arrival of Islam. Even the attitude toward alcohol in Islam seems to be related to the Arab culture because although the Koran says that wine has good effects but the bad effects are greater (ch 2 v 219) the beginning of the verse 43 chapter 4 says: “O you who believe! Approach not the prayer when you are in a drunken state until you know the meaning of what you utter...”. So the banning of alcohol in Islamic practice is more related to cultural principles than religious obligations. It is important to stress that smoking hashish, for example seems less serious than drinking alcohol for Arabs, as in western culture it is the contrary. As Bullock [Bullock2002] points out, religious text does not determine in any causal way how people live, factors such as interpretation, via schools of law, prevailing discourse and local custom need to be considered.

All these examples show that a new religion cannot change radically the whole society, but has to adapt to the socio-cultural context. This was already stressed by Durkheim when he said that “society is the soul of religion”.

Even after being settled, religions can change or divide, like the splitting of Christianity between Orthodox and Catholic who both claim to be universal. In Islam, less than thirty years after the Prophet Muhammad died, this religion split into the Sunnite and the Shiites after a terrible military battle. So after a revelation, it is society that shapes the practice of a religion.

So we can say that religions evolves like languages in society and time, and Durkheim observes that one can see that there might be groups of religious phenomena which belong to no constituted religion: this is because they are not or are no longer integrated into a religious system. If for special reasons the cult succeeds in maintaining its identity through the whole which included it disappears, it will survive only in the state of desintegration. That is what has happened to so many agrarian cults which have survived in folk-lore. Gradually things change. Gradually human duties are multiplied, become more precise, and pass to the first rank of importance; while others, on the contrary, tend to become attenuated. He adds: what is happening to religions today? Their dogma are disappearing. In its positive and constructive part, science on certain points is already in position to replace it [Durkheim1975]. This confirms that the scientific ideology challenges the religions through the magic of its achievements.

But on the other hand, religion has an effect on societies in term of idiom, style and code. For example, Urdu in Pakistan and Farsi in Iran are very much influenced by Arabic because of Islam; they are also written with the Arabic alphabet. The Islamic style is specific to Muslim countries and differs from the Christian one. In south of Spain, which has been dominated by Islam during centuries, one can find the remains of the Arabic domination through architecture. The code is also largely influenced by religion, even in laic countries like France the calendar and holidays are organized around Christian festivals. In Muslim countries, law is often closely linked with the Islamic law (Shari'ah). In Beijing (China), one can guess to be in a Muslim district, just by the smell of food in the streets. So the relation between religion and society works on both directions, which makes it sometimes difficult to dissociate them. Like language carries its own vision of the world, with the relations between words and images related to culture and history, religions has also their own vision of the sacred world but also from the real world. There is here a similarity between religion and myth and Eliade stresses that the foremost function of myth is to reveal the exemplary models for all human rites and all significant human activities – diet or marriage, work or education, art or wisdom. Thus the gods did; thus men do [Eliade1957].

Continuing the comparison with language, one can see that according to the face of the sign which is favored, prayer will be based on the signifier or the signified, like writing can be phonographic, based on the sound, or ideographic, based on the meaning. In the case of a prayer based on the signifier, it uses the pure words of God for worshiping, these mantras or verses are supposed to have a kind of magic which makes people heard from God, like in Islam. When a prayer is based on the signified, it is translated into the languages of the worshipers so that they all can understand the meaning of the words, like in the Catholic Church for example. But because of the vision of the world which is associated with all languages the translation can only be an interpretation and therefore differs from one language to another. The problem of translation has been presented in a former section. This effect of impropriety can be observed in the translations of the Bible from Greek to Latin and the need for hermeneutics in order to find the real meaning of the texts.

But as Ferdinand de Saussure argued language does not only differ from one region of the world to another at a certain time (synchrony), it also changes with time (diachrony), and therefore again the need for hermeneutics in order to reformulate the religious message according to the present time. Because of the impropriety of language, it is impossible for people to share the same understanding of a message, a fortiori a divine message which is supposed to be perfect. For example the Koran is made of explicit verses and allegories which are not understandable. Therefore the need of a teacher who can decipher the meaning of the divine message according to his interpretation. This means that whether a religion is based on orality or literacy, there is always a need for flexibility in order to adapt the message to the socio-temporal context, the same way religion adapts itself to the cultural substrate.

Orality belongs to the plane of the sign (I) and corresponds to religions based on tradition like Hinduism, African and Celtic religions, and literacy characterizes the religions of the Book or Abrahamic religions. Literacy is linked with the plane of the tool (II) as it is a technicization of language.

Plato affirmed that writing weakens the mind, writing is passive. It is an unreal, unnatural world. Writing is inhuman, pretending to establish outside the mind what in orality can only be in the mind. Writing is simply a thing, something to be manipulated, something inhuman, artificial, a manufactured product. For Ong, writing is a technology that restructures thought. He stresses differences between the oral and the literate mind. Oral culture keeps its thinking close to the human lifeworld storing knowledge into stories. Writing was an intrusion into the early human lifeworld, much as the computers are today. If a book states an untruth, 10.000 printed refutations will do nothing to the printed text. The untruth is there forever. This is why books have been burnt. The same question applies with computer, with the value of information that they contain [Ong1999]. How do orality and literacy have an effect in the development of religions? Orality has certainly more flexibility than literacy and builds an open mind through the explanations of a teacher. Literacy develops the mind which is described by Plato and Ong and as the text is fixed, the essence is fixed in a frozen language which is subject to various interpretations and a tendency to ideological treatment by the leaders.

How do religions evolve? In order to answer this question, we first have to recognize the principle of action and reaction that prevails in most of human interactions. For Karl Marx, it is war that makes humanity because of the natural conflict of human with its environment. If we take the example of the Muslim invasions of India, Hindus had the choice between converting to Islam or death. As Hinduism is a non violent religion, it was impossible for the Hindus to fight against the Muslims. But a new religion appeared with Sikhism, which has values very close to Islam. Sikhism which can be considered like the armed arm of Hinduism has stopped the invasion of India and the killing of Hindus, by preaching similar values to Islam and by the use of force. In that case, the reaction of Sikhism was similar to the action of Islam. We can compare the reaction of Hinduism against Islam invasion with the nowadays Hindu essentialism against modernity.

Similarly, an other challenge to religion appeared with modernity and science. According to Lester Kurtz, modernity can be defined as the emergence of a global, scientific technological culture since the Industrial Revolution, and especially during the latter half of the twentieth century [Kurtz1995]. The perception among many European intellectuals in the nineteenth century that religion was dying was the result of two interrelated social movements: the scientific and democratic revolutions. Benavides states that in terms of religion, modernity has generally been identified with the resolute rejection of a sacramental view of reality and of anthropomorphic conceptions of the divinity, as well as even more radically with an outright rejection of any notion of transcendence [Benavides1998]. Tylor, Frazer, Marx, Freud predicted the decline of religion in modern society. Comte invented a new religion based upon a new rational and scientific foundation: sociology. Durkheim saw the beginnings of a new functional equivalent to religion emerging in the values of the French revolution. Malcolm Hamilton claims that the churches decline would give way to the emergence of revived religions groups (sects) or new innovative development (cults) in non formal organizations [Malcolm]. Jung believes that the crisis of the modern world is in great part due to the fact that the Christian symbols and « myths » are no longer lived by the whole human being; that they have been reduced to words and gestures deprived of life, fossilised, externalised and therefore no longer of any use for the deeper life of the psyche [Eliade1977]. Lester Kurtz on the problem of relativism said that although some religions are more exclusivist in their formulations than others, virtually all of them either assert or imply that their own version of the world is true, thereby rendering competing worldviews inferior [Kurtz1995]. Although this position may obtain some legitimacy in isolated cultures, it obviously becomes problematic in a multicultural context. This brings us to a major problem of modernism, and a central theological issue of the contemporary religions – the issue of relativism.

As religion belongs to the plane of sociology (III), religious reactions against modernity can have three aims. The synallactic aim corresponds to the agnostic point of view which is common in modern society. In that case, people admit that they have no fixed truth and can be influenced by new visions and explanations. On the contrary, the anallactic aim strives to convince other people by the mean of proselytism. This aim corresponds to fundamentalist attitude toward religion which becomes a kind of ideology. The third possibility, the choral aim, would correspond to the words of Dalai Lama: “it is not because one goes to the same restaurant that one must eat the same dishes”.

After the dissociation between orality and literacy, and the mutual influence of religions and ideologies, we come to the difference between fundamentalism and essentialism. For Gerrie ter Harr, Religious fundamentalism, generally speaking, refers to « an identifiable pattern of religious militance in which self-styled true believers attempt to arrest the erosion of religious identity by outsiders, fortify borders of the religious community, and create viable alternatives to secular structures and processes ». The basis of this process of selective retrieval is found in a sacred history, often as recorded in sacred texts. It is worth noting here that fundamentalism is not exclusively found in book religions. Today a similar trend can be discerned in oral religions, which may be described as the fundamentalization of traditional religions. But the rise of the Hindu nationalist movement can be explained in primarily political and economical terms, and Hindutva cannot be properly understood in terms of fundamentalism, given the nature of Hindu religious traditions [terHaar].

There is a kind of fundamentalism in Hiduism which comes from the fact that undoubtly, the Gita became a vehicle of Hindu self-representation in the 19th and 20th centuries [Prasad] and Bharati Agehananda stresses that Indians and sympathetic occidentals alike have come to regard the Bhagavadgita as the Hindu Bible. But the informed Hindus must contest the Bhagavadgita Renaissance status ; it is not canonical like the Vedas or the Upanisads [Bharati1970]. For Ashis Nandy, there is a response which usually comes from the non-modern majority of the society. This response does not keep religion separate from politics, but it does say that the traditional ways of life have, over the centuries, developed internal principles of tolerance, and these principles must have a play in contemporary politics [Nandy].

In the case of Hinduism, the tendency to fundamentalism seems to be directly connected with the choice of the Bhagavadgita as the Hindu Bible, transforming Hindu orality into literacy. But Ram Prasad puts into question the Hindu fundamentalism in asking: Is there something called Hindu fundamentalism? Fundamentalism requires « fundamentals » available from a single authoritative source, and since there is no such single source in Hinduism, there can be no fundamental Hindu beliefs and no fundamentalist Hindu interpretation of religion. The other argument is that there is no such thing as a single Hindu religion, from which it follows that there can be no fundamental Hindu beliefs. The absence of the conception of « one-off » revelation is related to the very abundance of scriptures. Doctrinal pluralism has obviously taken the historical acceptance of multiple sources of authority to itself to be the fundamental characteristic, the unifying value and the common core of the Hindu tradition[Prasad1993]. So if we dissociate politics from religion, we can argue that the Hindu essentialism is close to the choral aim of TDM because it does not strive for proselytism, but rather for the acceptance of all religions in a fair socio economical context.

In short, we have on the one hand Hinduism, orality and essentialism with a choral aim and on the other hand Islam, literacy and fundamentalism, ideology with an anallactic aim. But the fundamentalism, along with the classification of Kepel can also be split into movements from above and movements from below. Fundamentalism from above is related to society (III) and fundamentalism from below is linked to the will of individuals (IV).

According to Ahmad Mumtaz, Islamic neofundamentalism is a modern phenomenon that emerged on the intellectual and sociopolitical scene of the Islamic world during the inter-war period and assumed worldwide significance in the post-World War II era. It is inspired by the belief that Islam, as a complete way of life encompassing both religion and politics, is capable of offering a viable alternative to the prevalent secular ideologies of capitalism and socialism and that it is destined to play an important role in the remaking of the contemporary world. Islamic neofundamentalism is engaged in a war against foreign political domination and economic exploitation and also against cultural influences and ideological intrusions of both Western liberalism and Soviet Marxism. At the cultural religious level, Islamic neofundamentalism expresses itself in the assertion of a distinctive Islamic cultural identity and recovery of faith based on pristine Islamic beliefs, norms, and practices [Mumtaz1994]. Gerrie ter Harr stresses that there is a connection between the emergence of fundamentalist tendencies and the changes that stem from the colonial experience[terHarr]. For Madan, « Secularization » is nowadays generally employed to refer to, in the words of Peter Berger, « the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols ». Social analysts draw attention to the contradiction between the undoubted though slow spread of secularization in everyday life, on the one hand, and the unmistakable rise of fundamentalism, on the other. But surely these phenomena are only apparently contradictory because there are no fundamentalists or revivalists in traditional society[Madan].

All the authors insist on the relation between fundamentalism and the effect of modernity, Orientalism and colonialism, which means that fundamentalism, like essentialism is a reaction against modernity, but the difference is, like Ram Prasad argues that fundamentalism takes the locus of the essence of tradition to lie in scripture, the primary revealed text(s) [Prasad1993]. Richard Fox underlines the effects of modernity in terms of opposition and domination, he defines communalism as the hyperenchantment of religion, racism as the hyperenchantment of biology, sexism as the hyperenchantment of gender, and ethnic prejudice as the hyperenchantment of culture. Each of these builds new forms of identity, allegiance, and loyalty that are formally inconsistent with modernity, but that are, in fact, its own creations [Fox].

Hefner stresses that the Muslim world is being shaken today by competition over « the interpretation of symbols and control of the institutions, formal and informal, that produce and sustain them ». This claim that Islam is a complete social order remains a contentious issue dividing liberal and conservative Muslims [Hefner1998]. The liberals represent the synallactic aim and the conservatives the anallactic aim of the plane of sociology for TDM. In short, conservative Muslims struggle against modernity by interpreting the Koran and the example of the prophet Muhammad like an ideology. Therefore, one can argue that fundamentalism as an ideology is a modern reaction to the ideology of modernity, whether capitalistic or Marxist.

But the anallactic aim of the plane of sociology (III) represents only one part of religious fundamentalism, namely the pressure to change society. In his classification of religious movements, Kepel [Kepel1994] differentiates between movements « from above » which aim at changing the society by affirmed political means, and the movements « from below » which work rather on the modification of individuals and prone a religious « break » from the social environment. In order to show the two parts of fundamentalism, we will work on the question of the veil for Muslim women, as according to Gerrie ter Haar, for many people today, the word « fundamentalism » is automatically associated with Islamic fundamentalism. El Guindi argues that it is not the veil per se, which should be analyzed but the ‘code’ underlying it [ElGuindi1999]. So we have to differentiate the inner hijab which is the expression of an inner state from the outer one which is how it is seen by others. For the ‘inner’ dimension of hijab, the intention, motive and behavior observed by the wearer in association with it, does not necessarily conform to the way it is understood in the wider social and cultural context, as is the case with the new veiling trend. Bridgewood notes that the act of covering the hair has frequently been interpreted as a sign of self-restraint, control and denial of sexuality [Bridgewood1995].

The theory of mediation differentiates fundamentalism from above and from below, and the inner and outer hijab in term of planes of rationality. The outer hijab is related to Islamic fundamentalism from above, which tends to change society and defines a code of behavior, and is therefore from the TDM point of view an effect on the plane of sociology (III) with an anallactic aim, like ideologies. The inner hijab is a personal choice and is related to the plane of axiology (IV) with an ascetic aim. In both inner and outer hijab, the aim consists in trying to make the world conform our reason, but the plane of rationality differs.

This example allows us to observe the codification of individual behavior in society. The social codification of individual behavior can be observed by the fact that if an important group of individuals has a common attitude or practice, it become progressively a social code. Muslim women is some countries, criticize the western women who veil themselves when they come to their country because in doing that, they reinforce the obligation for all women to veil themselves.

The following table shows the deconstruction that we have done so far of the sacred.







Kepel class.

From above

From below

From above



Personal choice





















Opposed to



Free thinker

6. The power of the sacred

After having attempted to dissociate and deconstruct the creation of sacred through myth and religions, we analyze the power of the sacred in terms of effect and use. The effect of the sacred is the observation of the sacred by itself, and the use is what people, especially leaders do with it.

a) How to define the sacred ?

The sacred world is not observable by humanity, but we can argue that the same dialectic of reason applies to supernature as it does for nature. The sacred could relate to the Tao or the opening of Heidegger. If we apply the same dialectic on nature and supernature, we can state that the difference of sacred world is similar to the difference of vision of the world through the various natural environment. In our view, the best way to imagine the different visions of supernature can be to make analogies between differences of climate and environment (countryside, seaside, mountains) in the natural world, and the representations of the sacred in various religions, like the representation of paradise or a perfect society for instance. From these given representations, human reason makes an its own abstraction of the sacred.

b) The effect of the sacred

As the sacred is the representation of perfection, be it God or a specific human action, it has an effect on human because of his striving to elevate himself or meet what is beyond reality. This effort to understand or construct a vision of supernature is related in our view to the incorporated rationality and the mechanism of dialectic which tends to transcend reality and thus build a personal representation of the world which is an abstraction and therefore a kind of sacred world.

So the effect of the sacred as it can be observed is a kind of detachment from the real world and an opportunity for people to transcend their differences in a magic world of brothers and sisters. In term of social relations, the sacred corresponds to the choral aim because it brings people together just for the pleasure to be together. This should be differentiated from the use of the sacred in order to trigger confrontations about what is sacred, in an ideological perversion. According to the origin of the sacred, we have the gathering of followers for prayer and the religious festivals when the sacred is related to religion, and the gathering of people for sport and show when the sacred is constructed by humanity.

When religion is challenged, humanity tend to reinvest its need for sacred in myth. This is why is modern countries where religion is put into question by science, people tend to disengage from religion and invest in myth. Modern myths are usually related to sport or politics, and the football match or rock concert have replaced the mass because of the secularization of society.

Bourdieu's model of society and social relations takes its roots in Marxist theories of class and conflict. Bourdieu characterizes social relations in the context of what he calls the field, defined as a competitive system of social relations functioning according to its own specific logic or rules. The field is the site of struggle for power between the dominant and subordinate classes [Bourdieu1988]. If like Barthes we take myth as a depoliticized speech, then the sacred that it generates puts all people who believe in it at the same level of inferiority by the expression of its perfection. So the sacred in itself is a powerful factor of unification of humanity because it transcends the worldly concurrence between humans. But this power to unite humanity is only at work in the non-doing, namely the non-intervention of human will. We find the non-doing in prayer, giving the word to God, and the performance of rituals, giving the action to God.

But the effect of the sacred alone cannot be observed, as it is in the representation that takes place before the performance. The only way to dissociate it is in taking what is in common between a religious mass and a football match for example. In the concrete, the sacred is often interconnected with personal or social interests which relate to the anallactic aim of sociology and therefore to ideology. The only sacred which is disinterested in society can be observed by the prophets or messenger of God who have encountered Him, even indirectly, and people who strive to encounter the supernatural, often by a way of detachment from the world, like the monks which can be found in all religions.

c) The use of the sacred

The use of the sacred, can be understood as the moment of performance in the real world. In that case, the sacred takes the form of an ideology, be it political or religious. It is the use of the sacred in the profane world by humanity, and therefore is related with the fact of doing. Hinduism asserts that the world is ego and Sex, the master of all being the ego. Therefore, in the reinvestment of the sacred in society the apparition of ideologies which are built in order to organize the power. The Christian Church, the communist party or capitalistic organization put in place ideologies of chosen people based on the domination of their theory or vision of the world. But as ideologies work like languages (idioms), their relations of domination vary with time, like English has supplanted French in the 20th Century, which had before gained its status against Latin and Greek in the progressive use of vernacular language over what are now classical languages. On the same way the French culture which is highly related to the enlightenment project through the ideas of the French revolution is now devalued by the crisis of modernity, which is related to the crisis of Christianity as it can be expressed by Nietzsche's nihilism. The challenge in Abrahamic religions becomes more and more limited to the confrontation between Judaism and Islam, which originates mainly from the common and difficult history of Jews and Arabs at the time of Moses. But the violence of their action and retaliation brings all the ideals which sustain them to injustice and chaos.

These remarks point out the meaning of the end of modernity in terms of end of ideologies on the plane of sociology (III), end of universals on the plane of representation (I) and the progressive domination of humanity by its own technology (II) with the expansion of cybernetics allied with dynamic and deictic industries; this has been already stressed by Heidegger.

d) sacred leader

It is important to stress the importance of leaders in any social movement.

At the top of societies, there is usually a cooperation between the sacred power and the power in the profane world. In Celtic culture, the Druids had the power of the sacred like the Brahmans in Hinduism, and they played a role of counselor to the king. In modern societies, the power of the sacred has switched to scientists, especially in countries which reject the influence of religion in public affairs, like in France for example. This means that progressively, the representation of the sacred has turned into the defense of an ideology, which has been put in place through the endless circles of action-retaliation in a search for domination. Religious leaders cannot bring anymore mutual understanding and respect in this logic of confrontation.

The advent of info-technologies from the 1950s on has had an effect on the origin of political leaders. Their charisma is more and more linked with their representation in the mass media. This means that modern technology has now the capability to create myths through show business, cinema and television. One of the president in south America is a former pop singer, the president Berlusconi in Italy runs a television network and the visit of the governor of California Schwarzeneger in Japan was experienced even by the political Leader of that country like a come back of the actor of “Terminator”. This means that the basis of mythical figures lies now in info-tech which are now able to achieve the propaganda that Goebbels put in place during the third Reich in Germany. The mythical figures of late modernity become virtual and have nothing to do with the intrusion of the sacred in the profane. They are built through images and acting, and the perfection that built myth in now apparent. The support of myth which was oral has turned to the printing industry and is nowadays the info-tech.

The political leader in anti-modern states who are religious, change their religion into ideology in order to fight back the effects of the ideology of domination. The fundamentalization of religion according to political aims is obvious if we compare it with Hindu and Buddhism essentialism which performs the same struggle against modernity. The struggle is similar but the religious involvement is different because of the oral or literal nature of religions, the hardening of written text by oriented interpretation uses religion as a weapon as opposed to the diversity and flexibility of orality which lets religion out of the political struggle. So as we have stated before, fundamentalism tends to proselytism (anallactic aim) as essentialism tends to reestablish a balance and equality of rights in society (choral aim). These religious motivations and involvement are the background of the political battle which otherwise can be similar in both fundamentalism and essentialism. The similar view to essentialism in Islam can be found in the verse 49-9 of the Koran: “And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both, but if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it complies with the command of Allah; then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily, Allah loves those who are equitable”. Nevertheless, we can observe like Plato said, that literacy favors the radicalization of religions because of its effect on the mind, the same radicalization of society appears with technology.

So modern leaders have their power increased by technology, but at the same time they are influenced by technology and often make decisions according to it. But on the other hand, the spreading of technology, allows individuals to challenge the society.

The new challenge of society is violence which is generated by technology and modernity. According to Gerry ter Harr, an important tool in the empowerment project that seems part of the fundamentalist agenda is its organizational structure. The basic social unit for the effective functioning of religious fundamentalists is the congregation or congregational group. These are often loosely structured and able to act independently within a wider framework. Its political counterpart may be seen in the organization of independent « cells », such as is believed to be the case with some Islamist networks, including that of the at present much-debated Al Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden [terHarr] . This brings us on the field of terrorism which goes from computer hacking to suicide bomb attacks. All of these strategies are based on blackmail which is the new threat in society.

The French resistance was also called terrorists by the German Nazis because they were against German invasion. This shows the various meaning of words according to situations. The fight of French resistance was aimed at destroying German means of war. The essentialist movement is defending the equal representation of religions in society. The bomb attacks of Al Qaeda kill innocent people just for terror. Can we then call the terrorists of Al Qaeda religious? Certainly not, because, in the Koran the biggest sin is to kill voluntarily innocent people and especially a true Muslim, and as in the amount of victims of terror there are some true Muslims, the terrorist attacks are in direct contradiction with the religion that sustains their action. These terrorist attacks frighten the true Muslims because they damage heavily the vision of Islam and by the circle of action-retaliation, Islam is more and more portrayed like an ideology to be fought. Therefore, the responsibility of liberal Muslims to fight these extremists, like it is written in the Koran in order to defend their own vision of religion ; verse 26-152: “And follow not the command of those who excess”. In that respect, communalism has the advantage to let people of a community solve their problems together. Africa's cities are often structured around a division of society according to religions or ethnical origin. But like in all movements, the important is to avoid extremism and to mix inter-community and intra-community social exchanges.

This last paragraph about terrorism has its place in the section of religious leaders, because the decisions are no more taken only by leaders, but also through the power of individuals. The spreading of technology allows now terrorists to take part in the political decisions, like they have had a great influence in the Spanish elections through the bomb attack in Madrid. The war in the name of religion has been replaced by religious terrorism as a post-modern effect of privatization and relativism. This does not avoid to face the political problem that sustains the fight, and we can differentiate between the cause and the way of action. In that respect we can argue that the best religious political leaders are those who let the sacred show its effect in state of using it, like Ghandi and the Dalai Lama. For the individuals who strive to expand their religion through violence, they should remember that a forced conversion has no value, like the forced veiling of women destroys the very meaning of it, and recall themselves the Islamic Jihad which is in two parts: the first Jihad is to let the values of Islam prevail in oneself, and the second Jihad is to bring other people to Islam through the example of one's good deeds.

7. Who will be saved ?

After having made the distinction between the effect and the use of the sacred, then the leaders in religion, we now try to synthesize the values of religion and try to define what is a good follower.

All religions insist on the purity in thoughts, words and deeds and the definition given in Hinduism and Christianity matches exactly. The theory of mediation could attempt to diffract the thought on the plane I, the words on the plane III of society, and the deeds on the plane II of tool and action. The plane IV of the will is in that case what controls the other rationalities in term of ethics.

Following the sequence from thoughts to action, the first and essential essence of spirituality concerns thoughts, and the aim of believers is the spiritual elevation or transcendence which makes them closer to the sacred. Upasana which is in Hinduism the word for meditation, literally means “sitting near God” [Sivananda1997]. The Buddhist compare the soul to a donkey climbing a mountain and risking to fall down at every moment, having to start again to elevate itself. Hinduism states that just as you think, so you become [Sivananda1997] and stresses the need of self control, the four fundamental virtues being non violence, truth, purity and self control.

In the field of social interaction (III)it is important for people to control their words in order to keep good relations with others. The Koran indicates the conduct to have in front of non-Muslims in the Chapter 109: “I worship not that which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship, and I shall not worship that which you are worshipping, nor will you worship that which I worship, to you be your religion and to me my Religion”. On the social field, it is important to dissociate politics from religions in order to avoid the transformation of religion into ideology. The principle of laicity allows this dissociation, with the condition that it is not sustained itself by the ideology of modernity and science like in France. Laicity has to be reinvented with a fair place for religions and a critical attention to ideologies, whether religious or political. For instance, we can argue that the ban of the veil for women at school or in administrative jobs is the consequence of the partial laicity that favours modern principles, but also that Muslim proselytism has triggered that reaction.

The importance and danger of technology have been stressed by Nietzsche and Heidegger in western metaphysics on the one hand, but also by Asian philosopher like Chuang Zi who stated “whoever uses machines does all his work like a machine. he who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries a heart like a machine in his heart loses his simplicity. He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the striving of his soul. It is not that I don't know of such things, I am ashamed to use them”. The meaning of all criticism of philosophers is that technology has no religion. We see in the statement of Chuang Zi the effect of doing on the mind. This explains the importance of rituals and good habit in deeds in order to empower the mind with righteousness. Islam works in that way and stresses the importance of right action and practice. Like the interaction of religion and society goes in both directions, the sequence of thoughts, words and deeds can also be inverted, as one's thoughts can be also influenced by one's deeds. This vision can be also in some way be understood like the work of Karmic actions. We have argued that post-modernity starts with the domination of humanity by its own technology. If we think of the effects of a new crisis of petrol on societies and individuals for instance, we understand how much after having seduced humanity with its progress, science and modernity have brought people into slavery though their dependence to technology. Technology has no religion and therefore has brought modern societies to take distance from God in a process of secularization. Infotech has become the new way to create myths and humanity apprehends the real world through the lens of a machine, be it a television or a computer. Therefore the fear or the wish of a supernatural intervention in order to bring back the supremacy of God on earth.

The vision of apocalypse for the religions of the Book, the wheel of time and the destruction at the end of the Iron age in order to start again a Golden age, or the prophecies of Nostradamus all explain or witness the need of destruction before the apparition of Heaven on earth. The righteous will be saved in all religions, whether through the grace of God, or escaping from the circle of reincarnations. So for the religions of the Book, the true war between good and evil is in oneself and for the Asian religions and philosophies, the progressive detachment and righteous conduct will bring the follower away from suffering, to enlightenment and the final emancipation in Nirvana.

The best advise to give in term of religious conduct comes from Hinduism and Buddhism which state: Become true Hindus, true Christians and true Muslims. Let the flame of true love fire your soul [Sivananda1997]. This statement could be enlarged to the practice of the mythical principles of democracy and human rights for followers of ideals. Whether there will be destruction of the world before Paradise or the Golden age does not really depend on humanity but on God. Therefore the importance of personal conduct which is the basis of society through the effect of codification, but is also the essential in human and what will be judged. So the common motto, in form of a prayer in this dangerous world of the end of the Iron age could be “Om, Shalom, Salaam”.


This attempt to analyze the sacred through the theory of mediation does not pretend to be exhaustive or definitive. Even the theory of mediation evolutes and according to Jean Gagnepain, as an epistemologist, it is a model that could be refuted in the future. Nevertheless TDM is a powerful model that allows deconstructing human phenomena,and has proved its capability to analyze human reason. Very little material is available in English about TDM, and we have attempted to organize, synthesize and translate the writings of Gagnepain and his followers. We hope that the presentation which is made in the first part of this work has brought some understanding to the Anglo-American culture.

The application of TDM to the sacred has allowed us to differentiate religion and culture, religions and myths, orality and literacy, fundamentalism and essentialism, and fundamentalism from above and below. This second part has taken into account various ideas expressed by authors who are not in the stream of TDM, in order to insert them in our logic of deconstruction. The sections about the meaning of life and who will be saved are a kind of Esperantist “Kredo” from the author, it represents his personal engagement in life and should not be interpreted like related to TDM. Are the statements expressed by the author accurate? The answer is in the understanding of the reader and the specialists of TDM who will read this work. At least, we have attempted to put TDM in action on religious material which comes from Anglo-American culture and tried to organize it in the frame of this new theory.

If like Hinduism states, the world is Ego and sex, we can argue that the sacred is love and detachment. The power of the sacred is certainly related to love and its counterpart hate which is triggered by worldly human passion. Hate can be associated to ignorance which leads to narrows minded selfish attitude in state of spiritual elevation to more understanding and compassion. The caricature of excesses are religious ideologies driven by men that oppress women under the pretext of protecting them. A similar cultural ideology associated with humor could be the fundamental difficulty for Bretons and British people to admit the superiority of the French. In the end we can say that in the profane world, humanity is driven by the will to power of Nietzsche, and in the sacred world by the will to love. But does love belong to human reason or is it common to all life, like Buddhism and Hinduism state in their vision of possibilities of reincarnation in the whole spectrum of life and even matter of the world, human being the highest level? This question is open but inadequate in the political correctness of modern societies. When one witnesses the conditions of life of animals and then of industrial slaughtering in modern societies, one can only think of the boomerang effect that affects modern culture. The principle of scientific explanation, competition and domination which have been organized in order to dominate the world through Orientalism and colonization, is now applied on modern societies themselves, bringing conflicts in terms of fundamentalism, feminism and a modern slavery based on work. The same happens with the way humanity treats other beings. The way animals are treated in modernity prefigures how, from the same boomerang effect, humans can treat each other. Concentration camps and extermination witness the result of the effect of nihilism and technology on human relations. Therefore the need in the post modern world to engage in ecology and respect of nature, as a first step toward the renewal of ethics against technology that Chuang Zi, Nietzsche and Heidegger have criticized. And lastly, in a time when the three religions of the Book are together waiting for Jesus Christ (Eisa in Islam) to come (back) on earth and say his last words, it is interesting to consider the different status which are given to Him and the way religions are waiting for Him. In all cases of interpretation, there is very little chance that He would appreciate the suffering that is inflicted in His name and would certainly not agree with the use of former martyrs' suffering in order to revenge on other people who are not responsible. So the individual answer might be to live “here and now” according to the ethic of one's belief, as if the end of one's life or the whole world were to come suddenly.


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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

The Theory of mediation 4

1. Origin 4

2. Human relation with nature and super-nature 5

Heritage from philosophy 5

Heritage from human sciences 8

Clinical anthropology 9

3. The 4 planes of rationality: diffracted reason 10

4. Incorporated rationality 12

5. The different aims of reason 14

6. The interaction of planes 15

7. The neuro-tunnel at work 16

Glossology: the homo sapiens 16

Ergology: the homo faber 18

Sociology: the homo politicus 20

Axiology: the homo rectus 22

Principles of deconstruction 28

1. Intersection of planes 28

2. Problems of translation 29

Application to religion 32

1. Definitions of religion and spirituality 32

2. Religion according to TDM 33

3. The meaning of life 33

4. Creating the sacred 34

5. Revelations and religions 36

6. The power of the sacred 43

a) How to define the sacred ? 43

b) The effect of the sacred 44

c) The use of the sacred 44

d) sacred leader 45

7. Who will be saved ? 47

Conclusion 49

References 51