What of these other fours?
 Post appears BELOW Table of Contents.
 This blog focuses on similarities between others' four-folds, tetrads, tetrachotomies, and mine, and includes links to online information on others’ fours in their own terms. It results from overgrowth of an old post at The Tetrast "What of these other fours?".
Table of Contents

Fours that I've
adopted or adapted:
Fours with a striking
likeness to mine:
Fours involving some
likeness to mine:
More-or-less different fours:
Unless otherwise stated within the post, first posted on Friday, December 5, 2008. Post times here are just a device to control the order of appearance. Most of the posts are based on entries in an older post "What of These Other Fours?" at The Tetrast.
Penelope Merritt's account of traditional four-symbolism
Red drop-shape, storm-blue lips-shape, vivid-gold solid triangle, at jazzy tilts, and hard-green solid square, all against a black infinity sign against a white pentagon against a black hexagaon, etc., i.e. a background of higher polygons crowding up behind one another, alternating black & white.Penelope Merritt’s account of traditional four-symbolism “A Few Thoughts On the Number Four” at samuel-beckett.net is one of the very few which I’ve read which reminds me at all of my fours. Incidentally thereto (at least I think it's a coincidence), it’s one of the few accounts of number symbolism which don’t make me sleepy. Most such accounts that I’ve seen, even the brief ones, soon amble into vague numerological mazes. But this Penelope weaves plain and clear. (She is with the Community Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene, Oregon.)

Now, I’m interested rather more in recurrent logical patterns, than in number symbolism and elaborate games of artificially synesthetic apprehensions of small positive integers (and I don’t believe in synchronicity or believe that numbers have magic powers). But logic and reason involve fourfolds which do get reflected in common ideas, whence traditional number symbolism draws.

After Penelope’s initial discussion, she goes on to discuss the number five, which represents things like expansion, destabilization, catalysis. This is like a new beginning, a new first stage, that works upon the stabilization which is the fourth stage.

Then Penelope discusses the four Gospels, the four elements, the four humors, and there the correlations with my tetrastic structures seem weak, so I will focus on her initial discussion.

“One represents the male principle, the ‘yang’. It is raw energy, positive, original and creative. In the creative process it is the original spark of an idea.”

Here, at a beginning, I think of forces, movements, directional and opposable, roving and wandering, more than I think of energy.


“Two is the feminine principle, the ‘yin’. It is the gestational period in which things begin to form, the earth into which the seed of one’s idea is planted. In the creative process there is almost always a similar period when an original impulse ‘cooks’ for a time, even if only in sleep or distraction.

Here, at a middle, I similarly think of gestation, processing, producing, adaptation. Here I also think particularly of rhythm, regularity, constancy, homeostasis, patience, endurance, dependability, perseverance, etc.
“Three is the synthesis of one and two. It is ideation and self-expression, the creation itself, the finished idea.

Here, at an end or culmination, I think of those things and of vibrancy, claritas or radiance, energy, vigor, and also selectiveness, perfectiveness, etc.


“Four is the material manifestation of three, the actual physical realisation, order and systematisation of the idea. It is the making real of the dream represented by three.

Here, at a check or checking, similarly I think of stability, firmness, solidification, confirmation, entelechy.
Penelope goes on to say, “Four has come to be considered the number of labour and stability” I don’t associate stage four (my “check” or “checking”) with labor except (as often happens) insofar as labor bears out and verifies, or disconfirms, that which is discovered in stage three (my “end” or “culmination”). Instead I would associate, most of all, stage two (my “middle,” “means,” “mediation”) with processing, production, labor, adaptation, etc. Penelope elsewhere in her essay says that four is associated with both dependability and stability; I think, for "four," less about dependability across time and more about balance and stability across space, structuring and stabilization (of opposed forces and movements), etc., rumination, digestion, assimilation, integration, concrete embodiment. Staunchness and solidity.
In terms of various kinds of strength, one might do it this way:
1 {beginnings}. Might, dynamism.
2 {middles}. Endurance, patience.
3 {ends}. Vigor, vibrance.
4 {checks}. Firmness, solidity.

I have long been somewhat aware of yin-yang ideas, seed and soil, etc., but I know little of any further number symbolism. Yet I didn’t pick my four out of a hat. Above, note the diagonal oppositions between 1. might, dynamism, & 4. firmness, solidity, (will travel vs. won’t travel) whereof the familiar fantastic extremes are the irresistable force and the immovable object, and between 2. endurance, patience, & 3. vigor, vibrance, (will be patient vs. won’t be patient), whereof the respective fantastic extremes are the unflappable and the undampable. These are ideas in abstract balance. And they are anything but an arbitrary pairing of dyads. Note that 1. might, dynamism, & 4. firmness, solidity, (will travel vs. won’t travel) are space or distance ideas, while 2. endurance, patience, & 3. vigor, vibrance, (will be patient vs. won’t be patient), are time ideas. They have distinguishable physical meanings reflected in a system’s
1. Momentum, impulse, force.
2. Rest mass, rest energy, internal work & power
3. Energy, work, power.
4. Internally balanced momenta (kinetic & potential), impulses, forces.

Physics quantities. Momentum, mass, energy, etc.They also correlate pretty well with Aristotle’s Four Causes:
1. {might} efficient,
2. {endurance} material,
3. {vigor} final,
4. {firmness} formal.
Worthy of note is the correlation of Aristotle’s four causes with the systematically interrelated kinetic & mechanical conceptions above (remembering that kinetic and related mechanical conceptions arose from attempts to quantify cause and effect, but are not conceptions of causes and effects per se, much less conceptions of things related to each other as cause and effect, e.g., momentum and force are not considered to “cause” energy, work, or power as “effects”).
— In comparing with Aristotle’s causes, one may wish to think not just of momentum and energy but also of impulse and work, and of force and power. Force, for instance, involves change (or rigidity, opposition to change) of a system’s motion, shape, state, or condition. And thinking of internal force and power makes us think of a material system rather than, say, merely a cloud of variously traveling photons (which as a whole travels slower than light and so has the kinetic values which some given material system might have).
— “Power” here means rate of work done or energy transported, such that “wattage” would be the least bad word for it in everyday metaphors, because the quantity called “power” in physics is decidedly unlike political-style power, which is instead forcelike, directional and opposable, winner of a contest among those who would lead and be first; wattage-style power is comparatively more suggestive of a different prize, that of being that which wins the contest among ends and perfections: “vibes,” charisma, radiance, popularity, glamour, show, etc., though one should think of horsepower, vigor, whatever kind of vitality, and not only of candlepower. To be sure, I don’t think for a moment that social and poetic forces determine theoretical physics; however I like some kinds of common metaphors and I think that it’s interesting to see how far they can be taken and to see whether underlying logical similarities between systematic sets (especially foursomes) of conceptions can be brought to light).

The volitional or conational characterizations which I made —
1. wandering,
2. perseverance,
3. selectiveness,
4. staunchness, unbudgingness.
— are based on considerations about variability and constancy in light of the structure of logical quantity. As I said in “Why tetrastic?,” some fourfolds echo each other in ways for which I have not yet managed, at least to my satisfaction, to uncover the reasons, even when the fourfolds separately from each other have seemed clear enough. Turn a sign this way, then that, align it with others, the world seems to crack open, and the chase may be on. I disbelieve in a collective unconscious (Jungian, panpsychic, or otherwise) and I really have no precise idea why, for instance, there would be a correlation or analogy stretching from mechanical and kinetic concepts such as force, energy, mass, etc. (and related concepts of time and distance), to logical modes of constancy and variability, and even to, of all things, aspects of traditional number symbolism. I can only assume that it reflects some similarity in their respective logical structures, and guess, as I usually do, that broad conceptual structures elaborated so as to exhaust the logical possibilities in their respective realms sometimes end up with a family resemblance which sometimes spurs philosophical qualitative inductive generalizations but is seldom subjected to thematization and careful treatment and which may just as often spur a writer or artist as a philosopher. Penelope also, as shown, characterizes the numbers in terms of the creative process, which brings us to the post, "Helmholtz, Poincaré, & the creative process."
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