JUSTDOLIT: a single tool to analyse all texts

The 4 dimensions

1 Introduction

This module will introduce you to the basic characteristic of each of the dimensions we have encountered in module 1, and which you can access by clicking either 1. on the menu bar above (or even here, Indiv., Metaph., Nature, Society) or 2. on the pictures at the end of this page. Every one of the dimensions has its own characteristic features which make it completely different from the other dimensions. It is important to study these features.

However, before explaining the features of the different dimensions, it may be interesting to know that modern Western society favours certain patterns when it comes to distributing the dimensions. The most typical patterns are the following:


Nature / society


Nature (& individuality)


Society (& metaphysics)



The most typical pattern is the one in which individuality joins nature, and both oppose society, sometimes in conjunction with metaphysics. Another typical pattern is the movement from metaphysics to nature and society. In modules 2.1-2.4 these patterns will be referred to in a number of ways, but alternative patterns will also be shown.

2 An example of typical movements

The most typical patterm of dimensional distribution can be well observed in W. B Yeats’s fine poem “An Irishman foresees His Death”:

An Irishman foresees His Death

I KNOW that I shall meet my fate  
Somewhere among the clouds above;  
Those that I fight I do not hate  
Those that I guard I do not love;  
My country is Kiltartan Cross, 5
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,  
No likely end could bring them loss  
Or leave them happier than before.  
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,  
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds, 10
A lonely impulse of delight  
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;  
I balanced all, brought all to mind,  
The years to come seemed waste of breath,  
A waste of breath the years behind 15
In balance with this life, this death.  


I, nature and society:

In the first part of the poem (ll. 1-10) everything social – “Those that I fight” and “guard”, “Kiltartan’s poor” the “law”, “duty”, “public man” and “cheering crowds” – is indifferent to the persona’s individual will to fight - none of these “bade me fight” - as it does not affect his natural feelings - the persona does neither hate (l. 3) nor love (l. 4). In this initial part of the poem, the social dimension is therefore opposed to the feeling of the persona. Society thus opposes nature (feeling) and individuality (it's the persona's feeling).

In the second part (ll. 11-16) the “lonely impulse of delight” definitely establishes what was before only a loose and conjectural bond between the individual and the natural dimension, and their antagonism towards society. The individual will is now activated by a feeling, and that feeling emphasises the separation of persona and society.


The first part already suggests the metaphysical dimension, for the airman knows he has to meet his fate. The meaning of that fate is, however, neither explained nor put in connection with the other dimensions. But in the second part metaphysics joins individuality and nature, for individuality and feeling lead to death: “In balance with this [social] life, this death [informed by the lonely impulse of delight]” (l. 16) . Initially, society is equated with life and individuality and nature with death. A further step, however, could well bring us to acknowledge that the kind of social life that exists in the text is akin to death in life, given that social life is “A waste of breath” (l. 15). Thus this text presents an opposition between an individualism - understood in natural terms - and society. But both individualism and society have a further metaphysical significance in their association with death.

3 The dimensions

Click on each of these pictures to access modules 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4:


















acknowledgement of pictures:


daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann