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).

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Here is an interesting review of one of Desmond's books. It addresses some of the issues I perceive: 

http://www.thomashibbs.org/4926/god-and-the-between

Andrew,

I've never been totally comfortable with Wilber's use of Eros and Agape; I'm much more comfortable with the terms transcendence and immanence, or the Ascenders and Descenders, which I do find to be helpful frames which can help us in attempting to achieve a healthy balance of emphasis.

In terms that might be a little bit more amenable to Darwin, I really like Layman's discussion about W2P (will to power). This can be related to Odum and Lotka's concept of the Maximum Power Principle, or "The 4th law of thermodynamics" which Tim Winton's ITC 2013 paper identified as possibly the "final cause" of the universe:

"In order to exist, dissipative systems are driven to continually invest their harvested energy in complexifying (increase their energy quality) in order to maximize their rate of continuing to harvest that energy flow. Their very evolutionary persistent existence (sustainability) depends on it." p.34) And "Could the 'aliveness' of energy and its proclivity to 'wind up' not be our source of telos or final cause, which is ultimately to return to its own nondual source?" (p. 35)

There are a number of profound implications from the above. One of which, and I think Layman's discussion along with theurj's discussions here in general, point toward this idea:

As a growing system on this planet, W2P or MPP indicates it to be perfectly natural that our culture has experienced a long period of emphasis on competitive growth, much like a young ecosystem gets its start with competitive weeds vying for space.  If conditions are right, the system can develop more into something more like a mature forest, where cooperation is the primary emphasis as a means to maximizing use of available energy.  And so the conception of power morphs more to a P2P expression as the most optimal use of energy.  Here is where Loomer's article on Two Conceptions of Power, linked above comes into play. Power is now more efficiently linked to the 4th chakra (as an expression of love), rather than the traditional association with the 3rd chakra. 

 

Or, as the great philosopher Jimi Hendrix said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

David,

Much is revealed by your discomfort.  We should be alert to the possibility that these are not variously appropriate names which skew our understanding of one issue but rather distinct inter-related issues. There is not immediate reason to think eros/agape, immanence/transcendence, ascending/descending are competitors for the same structural territory. 

I would suggest that eros is w2p working on novelty while agape is w2p working on coherent mutual stabilization.  Ascent and descent can be parsed away from the total context of reality and situated specifically as the spectrum of dynamic subtle energy oscillating between the vital terminus and the luminous terminus.  Immanence approaches the "alreadyness" necessary for a non-metaphysical grasp of involution.  And transcendence is ambiguous in the sense that it depicts a common "more" present in all these dimensions and/or a specifically eros-like production of higher simplexity layers.

What I call the "solar plexus doctrine" (roughly the idea that humanity is hung upon the middle torso chakra) has led people to exaggerate it, even it pathological forms, as the emphasis of power-doctrines... when clearly the best of those doctrines are full-spectrum analysis of the motivation and behavior underlying all energy dynamics.So, yeah.

I wanted to post a quick link of someone discussing Buddhism and Christianity:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1486

I'll get back to you ltr David, but I don't stick around this neck of the woods because i think Layman and Edward are idiots! Quite the contrary , really:) Sorting out conflicting versions of reality is no small task. I do have a small aversion to grand, sweeping, totalizing views, though.

Cobb's piece is a good one. A couple of excerpts emphasizing how a Buddhist-inflected AQALingus might display some of the traits we've noticed in this thread.

"I find in Pure Land rhetoric, as in Buddhism generally, a strong focus on enlightenment as the one goal worthy of pursuit. [...] At this point in history I am much more concerned for the salvation of the planet, and especially of the human species, from the misery and destruction we are now bringing upon it than for personal salvation. [...] But I find preoccupation with our inner states an inappropriate response to our global historical situation.

"In the twentieth century the social gospel and the liberation theologies have continued the prophetic emphasis on concrete historical change. [...] I do not see a comparably supportive tradition in Mahayana Buddhism as a whole. By that I do not mean that there are no themes or points of contact for accenting global responsibility of this sort. Buddhists have certainly taken the lead in deploring violence and working for peace. But on the whole the analysis of the what now works against peace still tends to underplay the concrete historical factors that are currently so threatening. The tendency is to contrast the general human condition with enlightenment and to see enlightenment as the way to peace."

The power of love:

Hi David, I do get that Wilber considers eros and agape useful myths. However , I'm just not convinced that the way he uses them is accurate. This might be Visser's point, also. Is it accurate to equate evolutionary process with these concepts? Probably not, imo. And if that's the case, then how useful are the metaphors? If the energy needs can't be sustained or stabilized , then evo is going to go retrograde pretty fast; and no poetry or prose is going to stop that. I'm not hoping for that; hell, i'm just starting to hit a good draw! 

Huey Lewis likes to golf!  Secrets to the draw not based on mythological ball flights: first; keep a neutral to strong grip, if the target line is 12 o'clock in front of you; align your body to 1 o'clock with a closed stance; then have the take away straight back and bring the downswing on an inside to outside path at about 2 o'clock. The club face should be closed to the swing path at impact. This should give one a nice right to left ball path with lot's of distance. 

i'm going to miss this game if the !#$% does hit the fan in the coming years.

Amazing civilization while it lasted.

Here ya go lp: 

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2353

I'm not so much bothered by this when it's framed as philosophical science. FWIW., I think your framing above has more coherence than Wilber's. 

Andrew wrote: "If the energy needs can't be sustained or stabilized , then evo is going to go retrograde pretty fast; and no poetry or prose is going to stop that."

You and I share this concern. This is an important part of what my ITC paper will be about. My hope is that the crisis period we have entered will eventually (probably after a lot more pain, unfortunately) enable a more profound post-crisis positive shift to the new paradigm, as per Gebser's thinking.

I look forward to reading the religion online articles you pointed to.  I really enjoy and get a lot out of almost everything I read there.

Here's another one then David! 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science

My understanding of Darwin is that evo is no guarantee of anything and that evo in reality isn't as linear as some think; and we are understandably deluded in thinking that humanity is an apotheosis. That's my Stephen J Gould interpretation of what science can tell us. Having said  that, there are alternate spiritual theories that I hold loosely that give me hope that not all is lost. These ideas are grounded in reason as much as they can be. One of them is non-dogmatic evolutionary panentheism. Just please keep AC and KW away from this theory as they will just go and wreck it! lol 

Layman, thank you. Perhaps 'discomfort' was not the appropriate word, but I was having trouble resonating for a number of reasons. 

I appreciate how you're laying it out, and it helps me to see eros (and agape), etc. in the 2nd chakra as manifesting in the Patterns of Resource and Masculine/Feminine Polarity

Layman Pascal said:

...I would suggest that eros is w2p working on novelty while agape is w2p working on coherent mutual stabilization.  Ascent and descent can be parsed away from the total context of reality and situated specifically as the spectrum of dynamic subtle energy oscillating between the vital terminus and the luminous terminus.  Immanence approaches the "alreadyness" necessary for a non-metaphysical grasp of involution.  And transcendence is ambiguous in the sense that it depicts a common "more" present in all these dimensions and/or a specifically eros-like production of higher simplexity layers...

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