EJACULATION & BROCCOLI: A Phased Evolutionary Definition of "Metaphysics"


The leading cause of death for males in the civilized world is (arguably) prostate cancer.  Several medical recommendations exist to help to prevent this abominable scourge that is slaying my gender in droves.  Prominent among these recommendations is broccoli (and similar vegetables) whose chemicals are uniquely nourishing and supportive to cells in this region of the body.  And ejaculation.  Men who ejaculate more frequently, it turns out, do not leave tiny clumps and semen-derived crystals in their system.  These unused objects weaken us and leave us statistically more vulnerable to degenerative diseases in this region of the body. 

This is only one of many pieces of modern data which directly opposes the old spiritual notion that we should "conserve" the release of our sexual fluids.  The old notion is metaphysical

The sense that spiritual improvement and health are likely to be related to conservation and purity seems to be based on a mixture of legitimate insights & cultural ignorance.  Most metaphysical schemes have (something like) "conservation" at their heart. 

Metaphysics usually believes in an initial condition of natural or divine perfection, or authenticity, which is corrupted by the world and squandered by our bodies.  Our duty is to return to the source and protect our purity.  As Nietzsche observed (I'm paraphrasing) "The quintessential metaphysical assumption is that qualities must originate in things that are like themselves -- never from their opposites."

He also said: We will never be free of God as long as we have faith in Grammar.  One of the meanings of that sentence is that our sense that a subject must condition a predicate (that "doing" must be done by a doer). 


These two notions -- that qualities depend upon their original condition & that prior intentional agents are required in order for activities to occur coherently -- are hallmarks of metaphysics.  To them we might add that totalizing activities of the mind, which propose to fix the universe in a single interpretation that will never be out-of-date, are also dangerously metaphysical.  But these are very high-level investigations!  For most people metaphysics means something more basic, simpler.  It means, perhaps, the acceptance of angels, ghosts, voodoo, crystal power and the mythological tales of ancient books. All these entities were used almost like science (physics) by our ancestors.  The seem like metaphysics only in comparison to modern rationality.  And modern rationality itself can be subjected to high-level abstract complaints about the lingering metaphysical assumptions in its grammar, cosmology, etc.

An integral definition must operate equally well at the "levels of the Spiral".  Thus we cannot take up a fixed position in the usual sense.  While we hope to make philosophy and spiritual practice into something which can live (and flourish) beyond the criticism of explicit and implicit metaphysics we have to explain how our position operates equally well in every cultural operating system.  Here is a simple way to do that:

(INTEGRAL) METAPHYSICS:The array of entities which previous cultural operating systems did not feel it necessary to prove.

Each "level" of socio-cognitive system enfolds its predecessors.  Thereby it observes that they believed too much, accepted too many unjustified things.  It stands out to the new system, very obviously, that its necessary precedents included types of entities which inhibit the expansion of consciousness, empathy & understanding.  Any integral notion of metaphysics must affirm the phase-like structure of organic relativity.


The Aboriginal Cultural Operating System treats as "metaphysics" whatever implied humanimal beliefs are not provable in the dreamtime-clan system.

The Barbarian (Village/Horde) COS includes Aboriginal "totem & taboo" in its definition of metaphysics.  The shamans, chiefs & matriarchs who have discovered that emotional-muscular self-assertion can violate the hypnotic boundaries established by Lore & Elders must then experience that lore as unsubstantiated.  The animal or half-animal spirits can be dominated by rebellious human gangs and subordinated to the to local man-god.

The Traditional COS includes Barbarian entities in its definition of metaphysics.  The local humanoid gods are understood as unsubstantiend, misperceived -- ontologically exaggerated.  They may be treated as demons, saints, etc. but their deityhood is unjustified before The Great Law. 

The Modern COS includes mythic-orthodoxy in its definition of metaphysics.  This is the popular notion of metaphysics.  The Great Chain (One Legal Order) appears unsubstantiated, merely presumed. 

The Pluralist COS includes implied modern assumptions in its definition of metaphysics.  Many basic points of modern reasoning appear to preserve uninspected patterns which resemble orthodoxy.  Singularity.  First Cause.  Cause & effect.  Doers.  The "right way".  Realism.  All these become dubious, yet to be confirmed.

The Integrative COS includes pluralistic presumptions in its definition of metaphysics. The alterity and apparent limiting influence assumed by ecologists, revisers, sensitives, tolerators, etc. is not necessary what it seems.  Its nature is called into question.  The implications of contextual shifts and multiple lenses are not as ontologically obvious as the pluralist feels them to be.  Etc.

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Hi LP - If I understand you correctly enough, you are using "post" (metaphysical) as a process word. Maybe it is almost an eternal 'place holder' for articulating the recognition of transition to any substantial new stage. Just to get in the swing of the prefix as you are using it, it doesn't settle in to inhabit the currently fresh destination arrived at.

As you seem to be addressing, "post" usually becomes attached in time, context, and even contents to the particular new. Maybe part of the reason that happens is the customary limitation in envision the multiple waves that have come and that will come - we become fasten-ated and tend to reside in the very contemporary events of past, present, future.

You are suggesting that keeping the designation "post" free to articulate the almost certain future waves that will displace the current one brings benefit. For one thing it avoids the confusion of designating where we speaking about in a series of pres and posts, and it is ever a reminder of the one given, change (or has that been challenged as a given, too :))

Practicing, ambo

Yes, he's using 'post-, here, conventionally, as a developmental marker.  A six-year-old's understanding is post- in relation to a toddler's.  The way it is normally understood in its attachment to -metaphysics is also developmental: post-metaphysics 'goes beyond' (and reconfigures) former metaphysical worldviews.  My beef is with making 'post-metaphysical' itself a generic developmental process word, such that everyone at any stage and at any time is essentially 'post-metaphysical' in relation to some preceding worldview-stage.  That waters the word down in a way that I don't find useful -- although I agree with, and also see, the stages of ontological suspension and reconfiguration that we've both been discussing (and I don't think most sophisticated folks who currently embrace the word, post-metaphysical, imagine in any way that their understanding is the end of the line, or metaphysics-free).

My suggestion is, instead, to track these transitions as "post-x metaphysics" (which use of 'post-' still suggests "the almost certain future waves that will displace the current one.")

I'm pretty sure that I'm using "post-" in the normal way... which always involves a double sense.  Just like when we say "contemporary".  It has a specific meaning in our own epoch but only as the relevant subset of its general meaning.  

WE integralites naturally use post-metaphysics to mean our stance relative everything -- everything we are subsuming, clarifying & revaluing about all the kinds of metaphysics that have gone before.  However that meaning is valid precisely because it is a subset of the self-enfolding of metaphysics that happens at every phase. 

It has a precise meaning because it has a generic meaning.  And vice versa.  

There is really no terminological issue here.  What's going is simply that we, like everyone, tend to leave out certain bracketed words when we speak.  People attracted to "postmetaphysical spirituality" assume it means "(integral-level) postmetaphysics" or "(metatheoretic) postmetaphysics."

We don't need to say that all the time in order to know what we mean.  However we must also face up t the fact that this has a certain specificity.  But 17th century physicists might use the term to designate their freedom from the irrational dogmas of Christendom.  That is true for the same reason that our usage is true.  But ours is more true.  Why?  Because we know why ours is true for the same reason as their.  And, of course, we are looking from our viewpoint.  

The level which understands the phase-based relativity of metaphysics happens to be our own discussion level... so for us it is simply convenient to treat this as "postmetaphysics".  However our level is also the one at which we see this as valid because of its analogy to all levels.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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