Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 9, Iss. 1, January, 2005, pp. 1-21
@2005 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Case of the Missing Third

Robin Robertson, Alhambra, CA

Abstract: How is it that form arises out of chaos? In attempting to deal with this primary question, time and again a "Missing Third" is posited that lies between extremes. The problem of the "Missing Third" can be traced through nearly the entire history of thought. The form it takes, the problems that arise from it, the solutions suggested for resolving it, are each representative of an age. This paper traces the issue from Plato and Parmenides in the 4th - 5th centuries, B.C.; to Neoplatonism in the 3rd - 5th centuries; to Locke and Descartes in the 17th century; on to Berkeley and Kant in the 18th century; Fechner and Wundt in the 19th century; to behaviorism and Gestalt psychology, Jung, early in the 20th century, ethology and cybernetics later in the 20th century, then culminates late in the 20th century, with chaos theory.

Keywords: philosophy, psychophysics, Gestalt psychology, imprinting, archetypes, Cantor sets, Bateson