Hey y'all,

It is debatable (maybe mostly because of me) whether or not Wilber's model needs to be academically juxtaposed against Bhaskar, et al., or whether that general model should be creatively presumed to already structurally incorporate these issues.

If we side with the former view there is still the question of whether creative provocation and bridge building is most likely to be accomplished through quasi-academic "integral papers". Here is an alternate proposal:

While Wilber still lives, he could be presented with a short list of 5 issues. These simply stated issues -- phrased neutrally -- are things that he could either (a) agree are implied components of AQAL whether they are emphasized by him or not, or (b) disagree with -- thereby siding with an "anemic actualism".

This would perhaps achieve an increase of clarity on the issue of whether these points should be considered as implicate to the integral order or as outstanding observations which require modifications or additions of the standard model in order to incorporate.

If this sounds like an interesting idea then all we would have to do is come up with the 5 points...

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I'm with Balder on this one. AQAL is lacking and needs to not only be compared with but integrated into (i.e. included and transcended) other integral and meta models. I'm with Edwards that there is no one meta-model that can handle it all and to presume such is part and parcel of a metaphysical paradigm, hegemonic and inclusivist to boot. Edwards has done extensive research into a host of other meta-models that take into consideration things utterly missing from AQAL, yet he finds the latter useful and includes it in the mix. Or to apply kennilingus to AQAL, it is (somewhat) true but (definitely) partial.

And to try to give 5 more points for Wilber to kennilinguinize is fruitless, imo. I've been at this a long time, from the very beginning of I-I, and the Lingam has faced a lot of criticisms and suggestions. I've seen how he handles both over the years and by his responses and he's mostly sticking to his (Wyatt Earpy) guns and not about to change his mind. Which is ok, but I'm no longer much interested in his views or his model, particularly. I still include some of it but there are far more interesting things emerging in this field and his role is no longer significant. To the contrary, it often gets in the way of new developments.

This proposal relates to your other thread (which I was intending to return to) on "what's wrong with Wilber."  I'd be open to coming up with a list of points or elements we might consider to be missing from, or underemphasized or inadequately developed in, Wilber's AQAL/Integral model.  But before we get to that, I would like to discuss your more general suggestion that we need to creatively presume that Wilber's model already structurally presupposes and incorporates everything we might find "outside" of it.  Do you hold this as a general principle -- that we could also say that Bhaskar's model, or Morin's, or Aurobindo's, etc, also can be creatively presumed to already contain everything found in AQAL?  How about Christianity?  Can we argue that Christianity already structurally incorporates everything within it, such that it really isn't very fruitful to compare and contrast it with other worldviews or knowledge systems or to suggest that it might benefit from incorporating their insights -- that it might have things to "learn" from them? 

Or are you wanting to take this inclusivist stance only in relation to AQAL?

So the position I've been outlining is this:

1. It is important, but insufficient, to investigate a host of meta-models that do not necessarily require integration into a single super-model. This work is the natural companion to efforts to produce a super-model. They drive each other and must advance together.

2. The specific nature of the supermodel changes over time. At any given time, a particular suggestion is privileged over others by a number of a contingent factors.

3. At the moment, AQAL (not necessarily Wilber's notion of what AQAL means) has an arguably unique status -- popularity among numerous academics and non-academics, links to a social movement that identifies specifically with post-pluralist integration, widespread utility of a simplified mandala-like form, contagious languaging, use as the model which is standard enough to deserve criticism for its potential hegemony, etc.

The centrality of a model (i.e. the one of which we must seriously ask, at each stage, whether it includes its critics or not) is determined by factors which are not intrinsic to the model. Bhaskar's and Morin's models barely count as models in this sense because they are not very amenable to popularization nor do they, seemingly, exhibit a prominent urge to be the colonizing hegemonic supermodel. Aurobindo could make a case. Christianity certainly ought to try to see if it can arrive at the Christianity which can incorporate additional and critical insights. Even though I am usually bored to tears by Christians, I would happily accepted a resurgent Catholicism if it started to behave with a contemporary version of the culture-building force it exhibited in the Middle Ages.

Academic attempts to determine which critical nests of insights capture material which exceeds or may contradict this or that model is an important but subordinate task, a limb of the production of advanced culture which requires an equivalent embrace of flag-waving, hegemony, spirit-building, propagation among the ignorant, etc. Philosophy is, on the one hand distinction work (i.e. making distinctions where they did not exist, cancelling distinctions that are being assumed) and one the other hand it is the basic civilization-building work.

It is somewhat analogous to American politics. The privileged status of Democrats does not derive from their lack of corruption, their truly progressive nature, etc. Rather they are simply located at a nexus between the "much worse Republicans" and "thus far unrealistic independents and other parties". That situations could change and should change -- but in the meantime it also behooves the nature to see how far they can push the existing half-decent middlemen in the direction of intelligent culture production.

So what I am doing is the following:

(a) pick out whichever integral-level model is a probable contender for most generally useful, popular, contagious, colorful, well-packed, flexible, etc.

(b) advocate the simultaneous production of divergent models and alternate patterns alongside a plastic incorporation of those perspectives through the mutation of the "standard model" and the "depth-oriented presumption of critical inclusion".

(c) switch models only when an strong contender, exhibiting the extra-intellectual characteristics, and which attempts to occupy the hegemonic central ground, appears and excels -- particularly in the matter of generating social enthusiasm among those who do not wish to exert themselves at the very leading edge.

I assert that it is absolutely critical to have this interplay between a wannabe standard model and a plurality of insightful alternatives. In order to encourage this interplay what is most useful? One approach is to create conversations in the inbetween zone (e.g. this site). Another is to produce papers and articles which circulate among affirmations and critiques, comparison and contrast. And still a third would be to generate a half-facetious and simplified set of potential agreements which would cause the ostensible representative of the more standardized model to clarify the "negotiation space" between itself and others. This clarification is necessarily an opportunity to either express alternative insights as pre-enfolded assumptions or as particular disagreements.

Such a creative enterprise does not NEED to occur. And it clearly must not be based on anybody's particular beliefs about whether this is relevant or already proven, etc. It is simply an additional tactic for colonizing meta-integral conceptual space which would draw upon the symbolic power of this site and the notion of an "agreed upon" assertion of issues.

Whether or not it would be fun, or potentially interesting, to use this site to create such a simple proposal, and refine its phrasing to the point where it might accomplish something beyond the usual round of critiques and rebuttals, is precisely the question this thread exists to answer. Such an experimental attempt would amplify the potential perceived relevance of this site and ask at least some of its members to go beyond self-exploration into an act of ostensibly communal creativity. Maybe people are open this this, maybe they are not. Maybe it would be useful, maybe it would not. At the very least it represents an additional possibility...

LP: So the position I've been outlining is this:   1. It is important, but insufficient, to investigate a host of meta-models that do not necessarily require integration into a single super-model. This work is the natural companion to efforts to produce a super-model. They drive each other and must advance together.

Yeah, we've talked about this a little on other threads.  As I've said, I think it's pretty doubtful that "alternative" meta-models will disappear even if we "absorb" their nutrients into our preferred master-model, so I think there is value in continuing to explore and foster creative interface-work and combat among them.  But this doesn't mean that we should be content with just letting these approaches sit side-by-side, without attempting also to build (or further develop) a coherent and robust super-model. 

Just as an aside:  this is how I understand Sean's Meta-Integral project.  It is just starting, but from what I have read, it appears Sean and crew are interested in creating a super-model (on AQAL architecture and with AQAL languaging).  They are not simply engaging in a compare and contrast exercise (although there is some initial academic legwork along those lines, to prepare the ground for this broader integrative project).  

2. The specific nature of the supermodel changes over time. At any given time, a particular suggestion is privileged over others by a number of a contingent factors.

Yep, I'm with you on that.  

3. At the moment, AQAL (not necessarily Wilber's notion of what AQAL means) has an arguably unique status -- popularity among numerous academics and non-academics, links to a social movement that identifies specifically with post-pluralist integration, widespread utility of a simplified mandala-like form, contagious languaging, use as the model which is standard enough to deserve criticism for its potential hegemony, etc.   The centrality of a model (i.e. the one of which we must seriously ask, at each stage, whether it includes its critics or not) is determined by factors which are not intrinsic to the model. Bhaskar's and Morin's models barely count as models in this sense because they are not very amenable to popularization nor do they, seemingly, exhibit a prominent urge to be the colonizing hegemonic supermodel.

It's an interesting situation.  Wilber's model definitely has broader appeal and stands out from the other meta-models in that regard.  It's still "weird" and heady enough that it is not yet ready for Oprah-esque Prime Time, but it's closer to achieving that than these other models.  It also manages to attract its share of "academic" support.  But on that latter side, Bhaskar's work is actually on generally better footing; at least, it has better traction and commands more respect (especially his CR/DR stuff) in scientific and academic philosophical contexts than IT does.  A small project (again, which Sean and others are spearheading) is to produce some more rigorous, academically acceptable IT literature.  This is not the "main face" of IT in the generation of new cultural generative (en)closures, but it has its place and importance (and does not generate the revulsion in me that university-esque literature apparently does in you!).

LP:  Aurobindo could make a case. Christianity certainly ought to try to see if it can arrive at the Christianity which can incorporate additional and critical insights. Even though I am usually bored to tears by Christians, I would happily accepted a resurgent Catholicism if it started to behave with a contemporary version of the culture-building force it exhibited in the Middle Ages.

I believe some pretty interesting (truly 'catholic,' culture-building) work is, in fact, beginning to emerge.  I'm no longer Christian, but I'm keeping my eye on this with interest....  

So what I am doing is the following:   (a) pick out whichever integral-level model is a probable contender for most generally useful, popular, contagious, colorful, well-packed, flexible, etc.   (b) advocate the simultaneous production of divergent models and alternate patterns alongside a plastic incorporation of those perspectives through the mutation of the "standard model" and the "depth-oriented presumption of critical inclusion".

Your interest in advocating for both approaches at once wasn't clear to me in some of your recent posts (which seemed to be offering an either/or choice), so thanks for clarifying.  Yes, certainly, the most promising model can be mutated and further developed and refined via the "depth-oriented presumption of critical inclusion."  For me, this tactic would be more respectable and compelling if it is carried out with some measure of grace, charity, and humility (to complement the proud idealism in the very deployment of the strategy).  What I mean by this is that current IT has already been criticized more than once for this sort of move, esp. when it has been handled badly:  public rejection and dismissal of a critic or his/her concerns, recommendations, etc, and then the later appearance of these ideas within IT (without acknowledgement of the past dispute, the other's contributions, etc).  IT's position, and its strategy of 'inclusion' (demonstrating the pre-inclusion or implication of these ideas within the existing IT model), would be stronger if it did this in a way that didn't, apparently, attempt to erase or ignore the past exchanges (which clearly were generative for IT).

I mention this just because concerns about the abuse of this strategy are well-founded, not only in relation to past inclusivist projects (say, by traditional religions), but even regarding the more recent history and formation of IT.   

The main question of this thread -- whatever the answer turns out to be -- is:

Are there willing members of this site who think we are jointly capable of simplifying and clarifying a set of related issues which are either missing from or implicit-but-under-emphasized in the AQAL models?

I think this clarification would be good for us, good for philosophy, perhaps utilize the site in a slightly different way and -- depending on how it turns out -- could be a gift/challenge to the representatives of conventional integralism.

Now... to Balder's points...

Yes, I'm interested.  :-)

Balder,

Yeah, we're not very far apart on this. No one is proposing (nor is it actually possible to propose) that alternatives will disappear by being absorbed. However the progressive dynamic requires something like a 50/50 teamwork between the production of potential alternatives & the production of a plastic, colonizing, generic super-model. Each serves as stimulant, counterbalance and dynamic referent to the other. Post-pluralism implies ongoing divergence-convergence

Sean's Meta-Integral project seems very appropriate in this context. 

There is a kind of parallel to the notion of the "greatest depth for the greatest span". From the POV of generating culture the goal is not to have a model that is totally acceptable on Oprah's couch or most rigorously well-supported in scientific-academic contexts. The goal is to produce the deepest general model which combines relatively wide-spread attraction with relatively good academic support. The widest-deepest... not the widest or deepest.

And this could easily change over time -- but only if the builders of alternate models have the willingness, drive and capacity to skew their work in the direction of occupying the perceived center of trans-disciplinary, trans-intellectual territories. Until that happens, there is a strong pragmatic argument to drive a supra-AQAL configuration as far it can go... obviously alongside proliferation competitions and critiques. But those two do not simply sit happily next to each and exchange notes at a cocktail party. They former tries to assimilate the latter, and must be supported in this attempt. The latter tries to pick out problems and diverge from the former... and must be supported in this attempt.

>Your interest in advocating for both approaches at once wasn't clear to me in some of your recent posts (which seemed to be offering an either/or choice), so thanks for clarifying.  

Happy to clarify. I have always presumed that working back to integration from slightly excessive faux-divergence is among the most productive possibles strategies. On the other hand, I also presume that (a) simultaneity, integration, balance, non-offense, etc, must be presumed as the case (b) that either/or is fundamentally indissociable from both/and. MOA treats separators as connectors. 

As you say, the "tactic" would be "more respectable and compelling" if carried out with more grace. But it is relatively useless to chastise the proponents of the "generic model" for being arrogant, gullible, closed, etc. They are always super-susceptible to such things. And once we see that the burden shifts slightly to the critics -- who are in a better position to be able to drop their assumption that there is an important division between themselves and "IT". It is often counter-resistance that holds resistance in place. The idiotic attempt to defend and assert "IT" is partly an effect of the idiotic willingness to take defenders at face value and agree with the tension that is suggested by the differential. And attitude of "Yes, exactly, and THIS is why you are correct..." must be among the major attitudes by which divergent investigators responded to conventional proponents. 

Anything which challenges and undermines the assumption that there is something to "get over" is potentially useful. I think we need to seriously minimize our contemporary notion that humility and inclusiveness are important demonstrations required before we go to work perverting the problematic hegemonic group by means of insisting that additional insights are already included. The Trojan Horse technique and the "tell the bureaucrats it was their idea" tactic are always important tools in our toolbox.

What is the tantric approach to clunky, impermeable agents and communities whose superficial inclusiveness is holding back the empowerment and expansion of the model they represent? Well, among other things it is "Great! I love the qualities of clunkiness, dogma and impermeability. Those are just right. And here's how to deepen them by understanding that they include their apparent opposites..."

LP:  Sean's Meta-Integral project seems very appropriate in this context.

Notably, while he calls his organization Meta-Integral, he simply calls the super-model he is interested in developing "Integral Theory."  

LP:  There is a kind of parallel to the notion of the "greatest depth for the greatest span". From the POV of generating culture the goal is not to have a model that is totally acceptable on Oprah's couch or most rigorously well-supported in scientific-academic contexts. The goal is to produce the deepest general model which combines relatively wide-spread attraction with relatively good academic support. The widest-deepest... not the widest or deepest.

Yes, agreed.  Greater popular appeal (more artful, stimulating, digestible language; more creative, inspiring and constructively challenging expressions; more capacity to "dock" with current memes and technologies; more practical applications, etc) and greater philosophical/academic rigor (theory-practice reflexivity; internal coherence; generative potential; formal excellence; etc) are both worthy goals.  In striving for greatest depth and span, one will not likely win total acceptance either in the talk-show or university circles -- but leaning at once and as much as we can into the "edges" of each of these corners (and others) provides the model opportunity for further sharpening and refinement.

LP:  As you say, the "tactic" would be "more respectable and compelling" if carried out with more grace. But it is relatively useless to chastise the proponents of the "generic model" for being arrogant, gullible, closed, etc. They are always super-susceptible to such things. And once we see that the burden shifts slightly to the critics -- who are in a better position to be able to drop their assumption that there is an important division between themselves and "IT". It is often counter-resistance that holds resistance in place. The idiotic attempt to defend and assert "IT" is partly an effect of the idiotic willingness to take defenders at face value and agree with the tension that is suggested by the differential. And attitude of "Yes, exactly, and THIS is why you are correct..." must be among the major attitudes by which divergent investigators responded to conventional proponents.

Are you suggesting that, as a general principle, and in any case that there is a hegemonically inclined, "missionary" movement or culture which seeks to promote itself in clumsy, ungracious, dogmatic, self-aggrandizing ways, folks as a general principle should not bother to criticize such tendencies (or the leaders and functionaries who perpetuate them), and instead should expect anyone who is critical of such a movement or culture to adjust themselves to it, to drop any sense of difference between themselves and that movement, and then enter it after the manner of the Trojans?

If so, this Aikido-like move of getting 'inside' the energy and then working from within it to effect change or transformation, is certainly one we *should* keep in our toolbox -- I agree.  But there is also something to be said for accountability, for calling people in the public sphere to step up and be accountable, for holding thought leaders to certain standards and requiring at least some degree of theory-practice reflexivity, etc.  So, I wouldn't consider more direct forms of confrontation of certain behaviors always to be "next to useless."  In confronting the system or its leaders -- rather than appearing to "enable" its/their dysfunction through practiced silence -- we also participate in/with it/them.

(As an aside, do you consider IT to be the kind of "generic model" that you describe above?  It seems to me it might be regarded as such, or at least as an aspiring contender for such, within certain pretty small and specialized circles, but it's still mostly unknown in the culture at large).

LP: Anything which challenges and undermines the assumption that there is something to "get over" is potentially useful. I think we need to seriously minimize our contemporary notion that humility and inclusiveness are important demonstrations required before we go to work perverting the problematic hegemonic group by means of insisting that additional insights are already included. The Trojan Horse technique and the "tell the bureaucrats it was their idea" tactic are always important tools in our toolbox.

I understand.  This was the approach I took in an earlier paper, showing the already-present affinity to Ferrer's participatory thought within Integral -- rather than buying the IT narrative that participatory thought is "mean green" and "to be shunned."

So....

Moving on from this:  where to start on compiling our list? 

Regarding the possible differences between IT and CR I mentioned that prompted this discussion, I think Wilber has already given a pretty clear, sustained statement on these issues ("epistemic fallacy," withdrawal, etc).  He's offered opinions on areas of convergence and areas of sharp disagreement ("writers who say that Integral Theory lacks this type of 'ontological grounding' are absolutely right").  In an earlier paper, I had in fact argued that IT did already include the basic concepts, or at least the conceptual resources necessary to meet these challenges from critical and speculative realism.  But after reading Bhaskar more, and then going back to read Wilber's statement about CR (and the contrast to IT) very carefully, I came to the conclusion that there was a significant disconnect that needed to be addressed.  IT may have the resources to respond to CR (I think that can be done), but what is needed to adequately respond is not showing up (in my opinion) in Wilber's responses thus far...  

Akido & accountability both have their roles to play. And calling for accountability is often seductively easy to perform and striking unproven in its effects. The critics who say "this advocate of inclusion is insufficiently inclusive" must also demonstrate a higher degree of inclusion by undermining their role in the interpretive production of an insufficiently-inclusive adversary. 

And your example of your earlier comments on Ferrer is an apt one. It is all too easy to buy into the IT narrative that participatory thought is "mean green". It is equally too easy to buy into the meta-IT narrative that IT is "closed off". We need to mobilize complaints of all kinds relative to specific situations but also ensure that we are not complicit in a facile stance that limits the flexibility of the "conventional model" merely because it is attractive to conventionalists. 

The most important part of any critique is always when we apply it to ourselves... in the sense that any ideology must rest upon a broad field of "obvious" assumptions which do not strike the participants as being supportive of the ideology. The general complaint about the common story is almost always part of the common story. 

So... if we were to begin this kind of small project...

I think what we would need are succinct statements of whatever strikes you/us as being inadequately implied or addressed by Wilber, etc. I think because of my tendency to quickly re-enfold critiques into what they are critiquing that I am at a slight disadvantage in proposing points. But I may be more useful at editing, evaluating, etc.

  • What are the basic points, whether associated with Bhaskar/CR or not, which seem to follow outside the scope of embrace of standard IT?
  • What points have already been made in your writings or on this site which have not been adequately accounted for -- or even apparently opposed -- by conventional IT/AQAL?

Here's a first pass, tossing out a number of the critiques I'm aware of (most of which have been discussed here at some point).

Expecting to language all this better, and more fully, later --

* IT / Wilber-V commits the epistemic fallacy (?)

* IT / W-V is committed to some form of actualism (?)

* IT discourse around the LR, especially, is undeveloped

* IT's account of development is inadequate, and sometimes problematically conflated with 'evolution'

* IT is still metaphysical in ways primarily targeted by 'postmetaphysics' -- i.e., the 'metaphysics of presence'

We might also bring in some of Sean's points.  For instance, he argues that, as integrative meta-theories, IT, CR, and CT all include the Big 3 (or 4), but they are stronger in some of these perspectives than other (IT is stronger in the "I", CR is stronger on the "We," etc).  He also names various forms of integrative approaches (see below) and advocates for Integrative Pluralism as the most desirable one.

Note in Sean's diagram that any super theory is integrative monism. I've yet to be convinced otherwise. I'd add that his integrative pluralism is exactly what Edwards has been doing, and hence Sean's increasing propensity to embrace that work in his own.

I'm also reminded that meta-theory is not the same as a super theory. See this post. I'd also recommend this Edwards' piece on meta-theory.

A cool chart from the last reference. Also note that both Sean and Lingam offered critical feedback for this article. I.e., this paper is already doing to some extent what is suggested by this thread.

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