Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I came upon this essay by Bonnitta Roy at Beams and Struts: “Evo-devo and the post-postmodern synthesis: What does Integral have to offer?” A few excerpts below echo several of my own ruminations on this forum:
Evolution, development, meta-theory and a post postmodern synthesis – one might hope that Integral Theory would have the capacity to lead the discourse. Sadly, Integral Theory comes nowhere near the level of scholarship in these fields. Worse, I see a kind of hubris in the integral community when it comes to thinking about BIG IDEAS like evolution and development. More than a few people identified with “integral” deploy simplistic concepts and overtly simplified generalizations and then stake out gigantean claims such as evolutionary imperatives, cultural evolution, the evolution of consciousness, and Kosmic development. Notions such as these have become tag lines for a kind of mainstream integral cultural groove – not because they are founded on quality research or scholarship, but because they create compelling “feel good” narratives for a generation that seems to have been starved from epistemic satisfaction. My friend and colleague, Tom Murray identifies “epistemic drives” as the phenomenology of satisfaction (a hit of dopamine, perhaps?) that the body-mind receives from enjoying grand unifying notions and elegant models conveying beautiful images that resonate with a particular epistemic desire.
One such overused exemplar of mainstream integral theory, is the notion of transcend-and-include and the holarchical organization that results from it. When “transcend-and-include” describes a dynamic, it is describing a simple, linear dynamic that creates nested sets of levels that are related in simple linear ways. If instead of associating the term “integral” with a set of exemplary beliefs and the community wit large that promote them, we identify the adjective “integral” in “Integral Theory” as pertaining to a level of cognitive abstraction, also known as meta-systematic , then no theory that entails simple, linear transcend-and-include dynamics can pass the test; and certainly none of the BIG IDEAS about evolution and development can be addressed in terms of simple linear dynamics. This holistic, holarchical world-view that is engendered by the linear forces of transcend-and-include dynamics, is neither postmodern nor modern, but harkens back to the pre-modern notions of the perennial philosophies.
Teilhard was also an avid student of evolutionary theory – the workings of which create entirely different kinds of organization, and can not be represented as nested sets, but need to illustrate diverse and discontinuous form branching from a kind of evolutionary tree.... What is noteworthy...is that evolution produces discrete categories that are cotemporaneously discontinuous across evolutionary lines. What intrigued Teilhard was the phenomenon of “radiation” – which can be seen as the “bursts of forms” that radiate from the “nodes” representing foundational ancestors. As Teilhard envisioned it, the primary cause of the variety and diversity found in nature, was this “radial force.”
 This is consistent with the definition of “integral level” in cognitive-developmental theories such as Torbert, Cook-Greuter, and Fisher