Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
What is, and what do you think about, the role of Agape in Integral Theory? Wilber has talked fairly frequently about the interplay of Eros and Agape -- understood primarily as ascending and descending movements -- in a number of his works, but arguably more emphasis has been placed on Eros in Integral thought. I was prompted to reconsider Wilber's framing and use of these concepts by something I was reading by William Desmond (and I'll talk about this in more detail later). For now, I'd just like to ask: What are your thoughts on Agape, and how do you see it showing up -- both explicitly and implicitly -- in Integral Theory?
(This thread was originally posted on the Facebook version of this site. For those with access, there is a good, lengthy conversation taking place there).
Yes, agape can be defined dialectically, but in my view, some of the important -- and, yes, central -- meaning of the term is lopped off or distorted when you do that.
I had thought you would appreciate Desmond's metaxology as an MOA-2 ally or cousin, but it seems you are keeping things confined -- at least in relation to eros and agape -- within a largely dialectical framing.
As for your paper, I still plan to respond to it. But unfortunately I don't have the amount of free writing / thinking time available to me that you obviously have, so this kind of thing moves rather slowly for me. :-(
I am quite happy with the adjacency elements of Desmond's metaxology. I just think he (and most people) are conflating two distinct patterns of love-influence-energy because they both push some of the same emotional, mystical and theological buttons. I don't care which one gets called Agape but there are two distinct functional profiles involved. One is perfectly consistent with dialectical framing and the other is not. But they are not competing for the definition of Agape. The represent two distinct patterns.
One issue here that is a likely philosophical / paradigmatic sticking or stumbling point is that Desmond primarily discusses eros and agape phenomenologically rather than metaphysically / ontologically, so the focus and purpose are different. He doesn't appear to be trying to enlist the terms in the 'cosmos-building' work that Wilber does.
Anyway, I think there are elements in your paper that make bridges towards Desmond's views, nevertheless, that haven't appeared as much in your forum comments, and I definitely want to engage them. You've framed the situation primarily in terms of differentiating from a mythic-God approach (and a mythic/mystical/sentimental use of agape), however, and that isn't what Desmond is up to (or what I have been trying to present or defend in my own inquiries here). But I'm new to his work so it takes some digesting, on my part, to sift through a good bulk of what he says and then relate that back to your proposal...
I'm trying to bring all these sets of concerns together rather than evaluate them comparatively. I think the phenomenology and the ontology should be viewed as complementary aspects of the definition of any of these terms. Although all terms are "incomplete" or "self-proximal" by nature, if we want to associate that with Agape with have a limited set of choices. Either we accept the holonic notion (which adequately covers most of the phenomenology) in addition to another more primal influence OR we posit a supraholonic notion which acts trans-holonically relative to all other holons. Since we do not want to do the latter, we must do the former. And the former requires teasing apart two things which are frequently entangled in different sets of definitions of agape-as-experience. But I'm no expert on his work. I'm just trying to organize what is possible relative to all the points which keep surfacing in postmetaphysical discussions on this topic.
I also am interested in bringing these sets of concerns together, not just comparison; however, some initial comparative disambiguation is necessary, in my opinion, if we don't want to run roughshod over one interpretation by simply assuming the starting terms of the conversation based on another. In my understanding of Desmond thus far, he does accept something like a holonic notion -- he speaks of singular integrities (as open wholes) -- but he does not posit a superholon. I understand your point in your paper and think Desmond is doing something a little different, but I'll need time to flesh it out. I'll take this up when I respond to your paper.
sure, i wasn't dissing disambiguation. my assumption is that desmond, like us, is not speaking in terms of a superholon. therefore we are left with intra-holonic agape or extra-holonic agape. but we have to tease those apart. whatever you ferret out of desmond i will run against this and see if it fits.