'The Wheel', 'the Wheel of
the Norm' or 'the Wheel of
the Ananorm' is mentioned in the
To the Early Readers at the
very beginning of the
Book of Instruments, the first book of the
Model of Neutral-Inclusivity, and in
The Wheel of the Ananorm,
in the last chapter of the
Book of Symbols, and therefore of
the whole Model.
(You can find a
copy of these two 'wheel poems' at the end of this
It is in the paragraph preceding the latter poem
(S.126.96.36.199) where the following
explanation is given of the use of the wheel as a
(The figure of speech used in the Wheel is an ancient one.
The word wheel derives from kyklos, meaning circle or
wheel, which in turn derives from
c(h)akra, also meaning wheel.
In some products of thought levels of consciousness were,
or still are, depicted as wheels or 'chakras'.
The effect is the more striking because telos in
means end or purpose, derives from cakra too.
That is why it is also of great symbolic
significance to call the
By doing so we further unify the past, present and future; and this
without trying to roll back the wheel of history.)
i will first discuss the
points made in this parenthetical paragraph in more detail.
Thereafter, i will discuss the characteristics of
the neutral-inclusive Wheel as displayed
at the top of this document.
(At the bottom you will find a table of the grey tones
used in the prototype of the Wheel.)
Wheels in history
Several wheelless millenniums had passed in agriculture and pottery until
in the Copper Age, the transitional period between the Stone and the Bronze
Ages (roughly, 6500-4300 years ago), the potter's wheel was invented and
the first wheeled vehicles were built.
(It has not gone unnoticed that the new signs of advancing
civilization as manifested, not only in ceramics,
metallurgy and wheeled vehicles, but also in government and law, medicine
and architecture, writing and weaving, were already
found in societies that still venerated,
unexpected as it, perhaps, may be by androcentrist
male theists, a Supreme Being in the form of a woman.)
The early wheel was a solid piece of wood with a hole at the center for an
Spoked wheels and chariots did not emerge until the Middle Bronze Age
(4200-3550 years ago), after the domestication of the
The number of spokes in wagon wheels varied from 8 to 16, dependent on
the diameter of the wheel desired and the load expected.
The wheel and axle was one of five or six classical simple machines,
among which also the lever, pulley, wedge and screw, with or without
the inclined plane.
There is no reason to assume that the wheel ever started as a symbol
of cultural significance, even
tho it may have
been invented at more than one time and place
independently; and even tho the original idea may
have come from a toy builder or artist who was not after anything
of practical significance.
Chakras in history
The word chakra derives from the same archaic form as wheel
and cycle in a family of languages ranging from Bangla to
Icelandic and originating in countries as far apart as
Bangladesh and Iceland.
(The term Indo-European for this family is a dubious one.)
Unlike the literally or comparatively objective
meanings of wheel and cycle, the meaning of chakra
has, in the course of history, also fanned out in subjective
directions which are much more, if not completely, of
a metaphysical religous or pseudoscientific brand.
Its disc shape definitely helped the Sun to be turned into a god that
illuminates the world, thus associating
the wheel symbol with light; or with light and knowledge — the
same kind of association as we find in the contemporary
English word to enlighten.
And yet, it is one thing to start from the notion of a circle or a cycle
and to arrive at the notion of a center, or vice versa, and quite a
different thing to use chakra in the sense of a 'psychic energy
center' in an esoteric theory.
The term chakra simply does not need to be used in a
supernaturalist or any such
context, if only because in the Vedas the compound noun chakravartin
is used figuratively for a leader whose wheel moves,
or who, from a center of power or influence in an empire, makes the wheel
move in all four quarters of the compass.
This 'chakravartin' was a monarch with military or political power
as real as any such person in the present, regardless of that
person's also being a chakravartin in the little democratic sense of
an idealized universal ruler.
If chakra can be used for something as political or relatively
short-lasting as a 'wheel of state', it can also be used for more serious
or solemn matters of a
denominational and really
long-lasting, if not 'eternal', nature.
In Hinduism and Buddhism the dharmachakra has become the main
symbol of the faith.
In the most general sense, dharma refers to a normative system
—dharmachakra may even be translated as wheel of the
law— so in the case of Siddhartha Gautama's doctrine it is
immediately connected to the Four Noble Truths or the
Noble Eightfold Path.
(The wheel may have, say, eight, ten, twelve, sixteen or twenty-four
spokes, but will be eight-spoked on purpose if it is to represent the
Eightfold Path; or twenty-four-spoked if it is to represent a particular
collection of twenty-four qualities.)
By starting to teach a new normative doctrine Gautama, or 'the
awakened one' (buddha), set, as it were, the wheel of the new
dharma in motion.
Rather than a wheel-turning king, Gautama became a wheel-turning sage,
but not in the sense of a pure philosopher; rather in the
pre-Napoleonic sense of an ideologue, because it is
especially ideology which must be normative, whether good or
bad, right or wrong, or mixtures of the two.
(It is said that Gautama's turning of the wheel signified 'a great and
revolutionary change', and such an ideological desire is not in the mind
of a sage as philosopher.)
Religious symbols in the Model?
No, there are no sanctified (exclusively) religious
symbols or, for that matter, concepts in the Model of Neutral-Inclusivity.
At the same time, however, for a symbol or concept to be
acceptable it cannot be a requirement that it is not
being used in any religion.
The requirement should be that it is not supernaturalist in
itself, that it does not come from or lead to a belief detached from
nature and the natural, and especially that it does not promote the type
of institutionalized supernaturalism which
goes under the banner of religion, steals the state and by its
state religionism foists its own
precepts and symbols on the total population of a
The neutral-inclusivist's choice of
linguistic symbols, a section (S.2.1.2) of the chapter The
Use and Nonuse of Linguistic Symbols in the Book of Symbols, it is
written: the vocabulary of the person believing in and
supporting the ideal of neutral-inclusivity will or may differ
from other vocabularies in the following
respects after which seven points follow, of which the last one is
in the explicitly inclusivistic and
veridicalistic use of terms which
The example given there is that The Dharma may be used as a
literary reference to the Ananorm or the Norm (which itself is a
normistic literary reference to the
whole normative edifice erected in the three books of the Model).
The dharma may refer to the Four Noble Truths or the Noble
Eightfold Path in Gautama's teachings, these Truths and this Path are
in no way part of the meaning of dharma or dharmachakra.
The Model dharma stands for the
norm of inclusivity, the
norm of neutrality, the four pillars of the
Norm and the five TRINP values
(of which relevance and inclusivity share one pillar).
And the neutral-inclusive dharmachakra is precisely the
wheel of that dharma.
No connection at all?
Yes, there is some connection with beliefs which may be classified as
"religions" on account of some supernaturalism, but which are hardly
theocentrist (for example, because
a god needs the same enlightenment as every ordinary mortal).
Such beliefs are not mentioned, but hinted at in the third chapter of the
Book of Fundamentals under
Protoneutralism and protorelevantism.
In that section (F.3.2.4) ancient systems of religious and/or
philosophical thought are being discussed which
somehow relate to the
two fundamental values of neutrality and relevance.
None of these systems explicitly recognize neutrality, let alone
catenical neutrality, as a supreme
And yet, such concepts as equality, symmetry, harmony
and balance may play a key role in their argumentation and
symbolism; concepts which are considered '(catenically) neutral' in the
Model of Neutral-Inclusivity.
Other old trains of thought do not so much focus on a fusion of
opposites of which some kind of equilibrium is the result, but rather on
the pristine unity of ultimate reality in which nothing changes
or, less pristine, in which everything changes.
Concepts such as unity and oneness are treated as
'inclusive' in the Model, but within a framework which clearly
distinguishes the truth-conditional aspect of living and
thinking from its relevancy-conditional one.
Changes and differences which are there
truth-conditionally speaking 'are not there'
relevancy-conditionally speaking, if or when they are not relevant.
The teleological part
of the Norm
No doubt, teleology is etymologically
intimately related to the Wheel.
But how intimately is it related to the Norm?
As explained in
Elements of Normative Philosophy,
the seventh chapter of the Book of Instruments, in the section
(I.7.4.2), the Model of Neutral-Inclusivity does not use
teleology as a synonym of
consequentialism, but uses it in the sense of
decision-theoretical value-based ethics which is past-, present- and
Therefore, the doctrine of neutral-inclusivity (the DNI) with the values
or 'principles' of truth, relevance, inclusivity and neutrality
is a teleological system of thought.
However, an ethics ultimately based on values is not the same as an
ethics ultimately based on rights and/or duties.
In the Model the difference between the two is found back in the
distinction drawn between a normative doctrine, such as the
DNI, and a normative metadoctrine.
It is not until the eighth chapter that this distinction between the
(first-order) doctrinal and the
metadoctrinal is introduced and is
going to play an enormously important role in the
foundation and development of the Norm.
The Norm is more than the doctrinal values or principles of the DNI: it
comprises the metadoctrinal principle of personhood as well.
The value of personhood and the rights and duties which give it extra
weight may very well be defensible within the purview of the DNI, they
add something to the Norm to which a purely teleological calculus
would do no justice.
A neutral-inclusive wheel symbol
As a concrete object a wheel will have three spatial dimensions;
nonetheless, as a symbol it has two dimensions which need not be
spatial ones either.
Now, each separate dimension can be looked at as a separate
catena of a
negativity on the left, a positivity on the right
(or the other way around) and a neutrality in the center.
In an ordinary catena we could place an arrow on or along its axis from
left to right and from low to high (or the other way around), to indicate
in which direction the values increase (or decrease) according to a
However, a neutral-inclusive Wheel is a symbol of neutralism and/or
And the symbol of neutralism is the
Nanapolarity Catena or
'nanacatena', the catena which does not focus on the extremely negative
nor on the extremely positive but on the neutral, which is expressed by
two arrows pointing to each other in the center of the catena or
The neutrality at the center of a nanacatena is its telos,
the quality with the highest value in a
normative evaluation, the
focus of thought and the aim of action, and a quality to be striven for
as symbolized by the two arrows pointing in its direction.
But, conversely, the telos between the two arrows in the
symbolic representation may also be one of the three
other teleological values of the DNI: relevance,
inclusivity or truth.
And, by extension, each point between the two arrows could also represent
personhood, the fifth value of the Norm, because also that is a value
to be striven for (even tho its metadoctrinal foundation
distinguishes it from the doctrinal values).
Another way of looking at the four-spoked wheel symbol is that
'catenary' spoke represents one of
the four pillars of the Norm.
It is even possible to think of four extra 'intercatenary' spokes
which cut the quarters between the catenary spokes into two equal halves
to represent the same four pillars on their own.
You would say that the neutral-inclusive wheel symbol needs four, if not
eight, spokes to represent the Ananorm.
A matter of discipline
Philosophers may unscrupulously offer so-called 'philosophical' ideas and
theories which are largely, if not predominantly, the domain of religious,
political or other forms of 'ideology' (whether used in a Napoleonic
pejorative or in a proper sense).
author of the Model of Neutral-Inclusivity, on
the other hand, is honest about this creation being both a
philosophical and an
But while its mixed philosophical-ideological nature may be the rule
rather than the exception, it is not a work in any
philosophical or ideological
Particular traditions and history in general are there to inspire and to
remind the writer and reader, yet certainly not to be taken for granted
or, worse, as good arguments by themselves.
The ultimate values espoused in the Model were not taken from a pluralist
potpourri of historical, traditional or, for that matter, fashionable
contemporary values with pleasant
connotations or exciting emotive meanings; nor was the
quantity of these values (or of any set of commandments based on them)
reduced in a slapdash or sloppy process to 10 or some such wholly rational
'holy' number (in the numeral system with the hollow base ten,
Instead, the ultimate values were carefully selected one by one, with each
choice leading to the next one: from truth to relevance and inclusivity,
from relevance to neutrality and from these three to personhood.
In this process, the number of ultimate values was kept as small as
monistic ideal— without
jettisoning or overlooking what deserved to be kept or to
be assigned a place too in the normative structure.
What underlay this undertaking was mental discipline pure and
simple: mental discipline as displayed in the use of method rather
than arbitrary selectivity, and as resulting in innovation rather than
in the perpetuation of 'what has always been considered useful' and/or
An integral part of this independent approach is, even more
than giving different answers to old questions, the
reformulation of old questions and the
formulation of new ones.
Would the association of the number of values of the
Norm with the number of spokes in the Wheel in any way be symbolic of the
discipline with which the Model was produced?
That is the question!
The sectoring of the disk
Just as the absolute size of the wheel, that is, the area of the circle,
plays no role in the wheel symbol, so the absolute area of a sector plays
no role either.
What counts for a proper division is that all sectors are of equal
But what part of the circle should these sectors be?
In the case of a quadrant, that is, a quarter of a circle, for instance,
the fraction is 1/4, the part number 0.25.
(This is not a fraction but a number in itself.)
It is quite understandable that the disk of the wheel symbol may make
many people think of the disk of an analog clock.
In itself this would not need to be a disaster, if it were not such a
chaotic clock they have been dumbed down with, one which first divides the
day, a naturally given unit of time on Earth, into 2 parts, then into 12
parts (called "hours"), then these parts into 60 parts (called "minutes"),
then these parts again into 60 parts (called "seconds") and finally these
parts of the day into something like 100 or 1000 parts again.
Such a clock and such a division of the also naturally given unit angle
(traditionally divorced from nature by 'three hundred
and sixty degrees') is a freak of culture which does not deserve to be
kept taken seriously, and is completely unsuitable for the
design of a neutral-inclusive symbol.
There is only one scheme of division which is universal and not
the division of the full circle into two (half) parts, of each of these
parts into 2 (quarter) parts, of each of these parts of parts into 2
(one-eighth) parts, of each of these parts of parts of parts into 2
(one-sixteenth) parts, and so on and so forth.
While the division into four parts happens to be related to the number of
pillars, the rest is entirely unrelatable to the
number of ultimate or other values of the Norm.
From radixes to sectors and spokes
The continuous subdivision of a disk and its parts into two parts
may remind some of the radix-two numeral system traditionally called
By looking at it as a continuous subdivision into
halves it is actually a radix-half system.
The radix-half-(radix-)two couple defines the very first supersystem
among rational numbers, both of part and of whole numbers.
The radix-2 ('binary'), radix-4 ('quaternary'), radix-16
('hexadecimal') and radix-256
systems are subsystems of it with transparent
The radix-1/16-16 double system is remarkably suitable for a
universal numerical vocabulary which
does not suffer from Greco-Latin exclusivism but is
and free from any whole-number bias as well.
(Here i am referring, not to the innocent 'whole-number bias' of
schoolchildren, but to the way portions,
denigratingly called "fractions", are treated by
adults as numbers created from the ribs of integers.)
It follows that there is a very good reason for stopping the
subdivision of the Wheel after subdividing it into sixteen
one-sixteenth sectors with sixteen spokes to separate them.
Nevertheless, it is quite possible to continue by
dividing the disk into 32, 64, 128 or, perhaps, even more
impressively, 256 parts.
In theory, we could go on indefinitely, but in practice we would,
long before reaching near-infinity, already end up with a solid
wheel, the very type of wheel before there were spokes or a need to use
This too has always been part of the symbolism of the wheel, namely
that after a full rotation we will be back where we came from, albeit
on a higher level of accomplishment.
M. Vincent van Mechelen