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The Excluded Middle and the Three Tier Model

The following table, by D. Andrew Kille from external link Psychological Issues in Spirituality (original url) contrasts the western dualistic-supernaturalist perspective, with its excluded middle (occult and psychic phenomena, which would be too threatening to both secular materialism and the narrowly fundamentalist interpretation of Christian religion) with the perennial philosophy's multitiered view. The Three-Tiered View shown here is identical to the four-tier model proposed by Professor Huston Smith, except that it fails to include the Mystical dimension of Pure Spirit as a seperate hypostasis, this would of course constitute a fourth tier on top of the three shown here

Two Views of Reality
The Western Two-Tiered View
The Historic and Multicultural Three-Tiered View


High Religion

Faith in God

The spiritual Dimension

The sacred

Miracles and exceptions to the natural order

Cosmic Beings: God, gods, angels, demons of a world separate from this one

Cosmic forces: kismet, fate, karma, or impersonal cosmic forces

Low Religion, Magic, Mana

(Excluded Middle)

Folk religion: local gods and goddesses, ancestors, spirits, demons, ghosts

Psychic phenomena: curses, blessings, special powers, astrological forces, evil eye

Physical phenomena: magical rites, charms, amulets, firewalking, embedded charms, psychic surgery



Natural and Social Science

Sight and experience

The natural order

Secular definition

Empirical methodology

Mechanical analogies

Sense experience

Experimentation and proof

Directly observable sensory phenomena, knowledge based on experimentation and replication

Interaction of human beings or interaction of natural objects based on natural forces

Adapted from Paul Hiebert in Augsburger, D. (1986) Pastoral counseling across cultures, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, p. 34.)

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original content by M.Alan Kazlev
Table © D. Andrew Kille Psychological Issues in Spirituality - Middle Zone Experiences
page uploaded 26 August 2004