I had a thread for Francisco Varela on the old version of this forum, and after coming across a couple websites this weekend with some good resources on his work, I decided to recreate a thread for him here.  His work developing the enactive model of cognition, of course, has had a significant impact on the articulation of integral postmetaphysical theory.

 

Laying Down a Path in Walking  (Click "Open the Francisco Varela player and site")

 

From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela

  (Audio and Video links)

 

~*~

 

"Francisco Varela was born September 7, 1946 in Chile. As a child and teenager, he received a strong classical education from the German Lyceum in Santiago, which instilled in him a deep and lifelong appreciation of literature, art, philosophy, and science. He received his M.Sc. (Licenciatura) in Biology in 1967 from the University of Chile in Santiago, where he studied with the neurobiologist Humberto R. Maturana (well known for his classic work with Jerome Lettvin on the neurophysiology of vision in frogs and for his subsequent work with Varela on autopoiesis). According to the story Francisco was fond of telling, as a young undergraduate he one day burst into Maturana's office and enthusiastically declared that he wanted "to study the role of mind in the universe." Maturana responded, "My boy, you've come to the right place."

From 1968 to 1970 Francisco followed in the footsteps of his mentor Maturana by pursuing graduate studies in Biology at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis, "Insect retinas: information processing in the compound eye," was written under the direction of Torsten Wiesel (who shared a Nobel Prize with Davd Hubel in 1981).

With his Ph.D. in hand at the young age of twenty-three, Francisco declined a position as researcher at Harvard and another as Assistant Professor at another American university, choosing instead to return to Chile to help build a scientific research community. It was during these years of 1970 to 1973 that Varela and Maturana, now colleagues at the University of Chile, formulated their famous theory of autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela 1973, 1980; see Varela 1996a for a personal recounting of this time and work). According to this theory, living systems are autonomous systems (endogenously controlled and self-organizing), and the minimal form of autonomy necessary and sufficient for characterizing biological life is autopoiesis, i.e., self-production having the form of an operationally closed, membrane-bounded, reaction network. Maturana and Varela also held that autopoiesis defines cognition in its minimal biological form as the "sense-making" capacity of life; and that the nervous system, as a result of the autopoiesis of its component neurons, is not an input-output information processing system, but rather an autonomous, operationally closed network, whose basic functional elements are invariant patterns of activity in neuronal ensembles (see Varela 1979). These ideas, dating back to the early seventies, not only anticipated but laid the groundwork for ideas that were to become prominent much later in the nineties, in scientific fields as diverse as the origins of life (Fleischaker 1994), the chemical synthesis of minimal living systems (Bachman et al. 1992), artificial life (Varela & Bourgine 1991), theoretical immunology (Varela & Coutinho 1991), dynamical neuroscience (Varela et al. 2001), and embodied cognition (Varela et al. 1991).

When Francisco returned to Chile, he arrived on September 2, 1970, two days before the election of Salvador Allende (the first Marxist politician ever elected in a free election). Three years later Chile was in turmoil, and Francisco, a strong supporter of the Allende government, was forced to flee with his family after the military coup of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Allende goverment on September 11, 1973. They fled first to Costa Rica, and then eventually to the United States, where Francisco took up a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver. There he taught and pursued his research until 1978. In 1978-79, he spent a year in New York at the Brain Research Laboratories of the NYU Medical School, and as scholar in residence at the Lindisfarne Association, and then returned to Chile in 1980, staying there until 1985 (with a year spent in 1984 as a Visiting Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt). In 1986 he moved to Paris, where he was based at the Institut des Neurosciences and at CREA (Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Applique). In 1988, he was appointed to be a Director of Research at CNRS (Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique), a position he held until his death.

Francisco's years in Paris, up until the very month of his passing, were remarkably full and productive by any standard; that he suffered from Hepatitis C from the early 1990s onward, including receiving a liver transplant in 1998, makes his life and work during this time truly wonderful and inspiring.

During these years Francisco pursued two main complementary lines of work: experimental studies using multiple electrode recordings and mathematical analysis of large-scale neuronal integration during cognitive processes; and philosophical and empirical studies of the "neurophenomenology" of human consciousness (see Varela 1996b).

In a 1998 study published in Nature, Francisco and his colleagues in Paris showed for the first time that the human perception of meaningful complex forms (high contrast faces or "Mooney figures") is accompanied by phase-locked, synchronous oscillations in distinct brain regions (Rodriguez et al. 1998). In an important review article published one month before his death, in the April 2001 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Francisco and his colleagues presented a new viewpoint on what they call the "brainweb": the emergence of a unified cognitive moment depends on large-scale brain integration, whose most plausible mechanism is the formation of dynamic links mediated by synchrony over multiple frequency bands (Varela et al. 2001). In addition to these studies, Francisco published numerous technical, experimental and mathematical papers on the nonlinear dynamical analysis of brain activity, including groundbreaking studies on the prediction of seizures in epileptic patients prior to the onset of symptoms (Martinerie et al. 1998; see also Schiff 1998).

Francisco also firmly believed, however, that such scientific research needs to be complemented by detailed phenomenological investigations of human experience as it is lived and verbally articulated in the first person. To this end, he published a number of original and innovative phenomenological studies of aspects of human consciousness (e.g., Varela 1999; Varela and Depraz 2000), including a profound and moving meditation on his own illness and the phenomenology of organ transplantation experience (Varela 2001). He also co-edited two important collections, one on phenomenology and cognitive science (Petitot et al. 1999), and the other on first-person methods in the science of consciousness (Varela and Shear 1999).

Since the mid-seventies, Francisco was a serious practitioner of Tibetan Buddhist meditation and a student of Buddhist psychology and philosophy. His conviction that this tradition and Western cognitive science have much to gain from each other provided another, ultimately spiritual and existential dimension, to his work. This dimension was the subject of his 1991 book (co-written with Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch), The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. He was one of the key members of the Advisory Board of the Mind and Life Institute, which organizes private meetings between Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and Western scientists (see Varela 1997). The ninth and most recent of these meetings was held May 21-22, 2001, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, on the theme of "Transformations of Mind, Brain, and Emotion: Neurobiological and Bio-Behavioral Research on Meditation," directed by Professor Richard Davidson. This meeting was a dream-come-true for Francisco: the best of Western brain science and Buddhist meditative practice and psychology brought together in the context of cognitive neuroscientific research on the cognitive and emotional effects of meditation evident in long-term practitioners. Francisco was to present his studies and findings using EEG and MEG methods at the morning session of May 22, but sadly was unable to be there because of his illness. His Ph.D. student, Antoine Lutz, presented the material in his stead, and a live web-cam was set up so that Francisco could watch the proceedings from his apartment in Paris.

Although the passing of Francisco, especially at a time when his rich and diverse research program was coming to such fruition, is an immeasurable loss, the spirit of his unique and exemplary style of research has never been stronger, and will continue to inspire many of us for years to come.

Francisco was an active and enthusiastic supporter of many interdisciplinary groups devoted to the study of consciousness. In the seventies and eighties, he served on the faculty of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and was a Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association in New York City. He was a founding member of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) and was actively considering hosting the 2002 ASSC meeting until shortly before his death. He was a strong supporter of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona at Tucson, and served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. He was also instrumental in the creation of a new journal, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, and was to serve as its Consulting Editor." ~ Evan Thompson

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well the work of Vygotsky hasn´t been enough studied by educational research, still peripheral, as I see while some tried to use him as a complement to the all dominating Piaget. But there are enough international cross studies to be able to claim woth great certitude the age-bounded emergence of the formal operational stage. I think KW is always chosing the overall gross pattern.

 

I have criticized him long ago for his choice of Kohutian self-psychology in developmental issues in his work "transformations of consciousness" 1983. The entire spectrum of successive growth of object relations/self-representations in the life course of an individual was directly applied from the work of the postfreudian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut´s work "transformations of narcissism". KW saw in it an opportunity to use it analogically to his own, exposing thereby a model showing a growth in decrease of basic narcissism. Here we have a sort of plagiaism at work, and the lack of clinical and empirical verification makes the entire enterprise looking really bad. Ther is also something worth to mention it is the abscence of a serious incorporation of Jacques Lacan´s interpretation of Freud in his AQA system. A very curious decision would I say when we see how much Lacan is quoted in thousands of noted works the world around. I wouldn´t go into details, I see him more as a systematic taxonomist, something he has inherited from his background as biologist.

 

 

 

 

 

I found this interesting article by Joe L. Kincheloe (short biography below*) called "Beyond Reductionism: Difference, Criticality, and Multilogicality in the Bricolage and Postformalism." Here are some excerpts:

"Postformalism operates to develop new ways of cultivating the intellect and defining intelligence, while concurrently working for social justice and a democratic redistribution of power. It takes its name from the effort to move beyond what Jean Piaget labeled, formal thinking" (2).

“The alternative cognitive practices that emerge in these diverse contexts are often grounded in cooperative interaction between and among diverse peoples. In this cooperative domain individuals are privy to the various forms of interrelatedness.... The concept of interconnection...moves postformalists to bring Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela's cognitive theory of enactivism into the bricolage” (13).

* From wikipedia:

Joe Lyons Kincheloe, (December 14, 1950 – December 19, 2008), was a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He wrote more than 45 books, numerous book-chapters, and hundreds of journal articles on issues including critical pedagogy, educational research, urban studies, cognition, curriculum, and cultural studies. Kincheloe received three graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee.

I also want to draw attention to Balder's fine piece of writing called "Enactivism, integral theory and 21st century spirituality" at his Integral Life blog. You haven't contributed anything there is quite a while Balder and your fans miss it. I know you're very busy but a lot of us appreciate your contributions there as well as here.

well this Balder article is fine.

I agree with him on the middle range position between the given and the constructivism.

it makes me think that Wilhem Reich was long ago already an enactivist in his sense, proning the liberation of the betrayed bodymind.

I still hold the KW critique of the Valera phenomenology. It is not the "same" kind of phenomenology inquiry found in the texts of Merleau-Ponty "phenomenology of the perception", Karl jaspers´the spiritual condition of the age" or Jean Paul Sartre "Nausea". Varela´s contribution to neuroscience and cognitive science is great but, personally, I am not so fond of cognitivism.

I am myself a fan of Krishnamurti, and I am still waiting for the beyond green interpretation (KW´s saying) spiritual teachers of that caliber.

 

 

 

I referenced Mark Edwards work on metatheorizing in p. 3 of the progressive economics thread. Returning to another of his JITP articles, "Evauating integral metatheory" (3:4 Winter 2008), he is criticizing McIntosh for eliminating the LR quadrant. Therein he echos previous criticisms against Wilber from Integral World:

"The artifact-in-use, sociogenetic, and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) traditions all see artifacts as intimately involved in the evolution of socio-cultural identity. While Wilber also neglects these approaches in his explication of the quadrants, at least his LR quadrant provides a space for the accommodation and exploration of these theories and paradigms from an integral metatheoretical perspective. As yet, however, AQAL-informed theorists, including Wilber, have not explored this sociogenetic tradition of human development" (73).

Recall earlier in this thread Wilber reducing Varela to just a LR systems theorist and thereby equivalent to a dictator. This is due to the kennilngus neglect of “not exploring the sociogenetic tradition.” Here Edwards goes after McIntosh for doing the same to Luhmann, who is reduced to a gross materialist:

“For Luhmann, consciousness is part of the personal systems and social system’s environmental ecology. Far from denying consciousness, Luhmann sees individuality as being immersed in a sea of consciousness as expressed in social communication. This is not an objectivist worldview, let alone a classical materialistic one. It is a worldview that emphasizes social communication in the creation of individual and collective systems of awareness and meaning rather than subjective intention” (75).

Here we see that P2P ideas such as these are really not limited to the LR quadrant but rather show the relationship of all the quadrants. Granted its focus and methodology might be something we can associate with that quadrant but it is certainly not limited to it.

He concludes again with the same arguments previously used on Wilber and we get the inference that they are still valid:

“Metatheory that sees all aspects of evolutionary development as essentially caused or designed by the dynamic unfolding of the subjective and the cultural suffers from a form of psychological developmentalism. Developmentalism reduces change processes such as learning, cognitive growth, and moral development to the unfolding of interior structures. It does not recognize the contributions of the embodied, relational, and interobjective theories of change and development. And so, we have the polarized views of a behaviorism that sees consciousness as epiphenomenal to behavior and developmentalism that sees the physical and the interobjective as epiphenomenal to the intersubjective. The debate between the cognitive and the sociogenetic perspectives on development, as exemplified in the contrasting of Piagetian and Vygotskian explanations of human development, is another variety of this polarization. In seeing interobjective explanations of evolution, such as systems theory, as epiphenomenal (i.e., as exterior “clothing” to an interior consciousness), McIntosh falls within this developmentalist tradition. A more integral approach would attempt to accommodate the valid aspects of both paradigms within a much more embodied and social understanding of mind” (79).

Also see Mark Edwards' wonderful powerpoint presentation on his own ideas for filling this sociogenetic gap. It is a better intergraal frame for evaluating Varela.
Wow, great find, Ed.  I'll look it over more closely when I get home.

you should pay a look at the original Habermas´ critique of Niklas Luhmann on emancipation. KW is just imitattng it ,

here is a link

http://books.google.se/books?id=sQ4Dqn0pSAEC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA...

theurj said:

I referenced Mark Edwards work on metatheorizing in p. 3 of the progressive economics thread. Returning to another of his JITP articles, "Evauating integral metatheory" (3:4 Winter 2008), he is criticizing McIntosh for eliminating the LR quadrant. Therein he echos previous criticisms against Wilber from Integral World:

"The artifact-in-use, sociogenetic, and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) traditions all see artifacts as intimately involved in the evolution of socio-cultural identity. While Wilber also neglects these approaches in his explication of the quadrants, at least his LR quadrant provides a space for the accommodation and exploration of these theories and paradigms from an integral metatheoretical perspective. As yet, however, AQAL-informed theorists, including Wilber, have not explored this sociogenetic tradition of human development" (73).

Recall earlier in this thread Wilber reducing Varela to just a LR systems theorist and thereby equivalent to a dictator. This is due to the kennilngus neglect of “not exploring the sociogenetic tradition.” Here Edwards goes after McIntosh for doing the same to Luhmann, who is reduced to a gross materialist:

“For Luhmann, consciousness is part of the personal systems and social system’s environmental ecology. Far from denying consciousness, Luhmann sees individuality as being immersed in a sea of consciousness as expressed in social communication. This is not an objectivist worldview, let alone a classical materialistic one. It is a worldview that emphasizes social communication in the creation of individual and collective systems of awareness and meaning rather than subjective intention” (75).

Here we see that P2P ideas such as these are really not limited to the LR quadrant but rather show the relationship of all the quadrants. Granted its focus and methodology might be something we can associate with that quadrant but it is certainly not limited to it.

He concludes again with the same arguments previously used on Wilber and we get the inference that they are still valid:

“Metatheory that sees all aspects of evolutionary development as essentially caused or designed by the dynamic unfolding of the subjective and the cultural suffers from a form of psychological developmentalism. Developmentalism reduces change processes such as learning, cognitive growth, and moral development to the unfolding of interior structures. It does not recognize the contributions of the embodied, relational, and interobjective theories of change and development. And so, we have the polarized views of a behaviorism that sees consciousness as epiphenomenal to behavior and developmentalism that sees the physical and the interobjective as epiphenomenal to the intersubjective. The debate between the cognitive and the sociogenetic perspectives on development, as exemplified in the contrasting of Piagetian and Vygotskian explanations of human development, is another variety of this polarization. In seeing interobjective explanations of evolution, such as systems theory, as epiphenomenal (i.e., as exterior “clothing” to an interior consciousness), McIntosh falls within this developmentalist tradition. A more integral approach would attempt to accommodate the valid aspects of both paradigms within a much more embodied and social understanding of mind” (79).

In the image schema thread I'm exploring "we are live creatures" (see that thread for link) and these relevant passages apply here:

"Having challenged the 'inner mind' versus 'outer body' split, we must not then proceed to replace it with another equally problematic dichotomy—that between the 'individual' and the 'social.' We must recognize that cognition does not take place only within the brain and body of a single individual, but instead is partly constituted by social interactions and relations.

"Following Maturana and Varela (1998: 180-184) we would define social phenomena as those phenomena arising out of recurrent structural couplings that require the co-ordinated participation of multiple organisms. They argue that just as the cell-to-cell interactions in the transition from single to multi-cellular organisms afford a new level of intercellular structural coupling, so also recurrent interactions between organisms afford a new level of inter-organism structural coupling.

"Human cognition cannot be locked up within the private workings of an individual mind. Since thought is a form of co-ordinated action, it is spread out in the world, co-ordinated with both the physical environment and the social, cultural, moral, political, and religious environments, institutions, and shared practices. Language—and all forms of symbolic expression—are quintessentially social behaviors. Dewey nicely summarizes the intrinsically social character of all thought in his argument that the very idea of thinking as a kind of inner mental dialogue is only possible because of socially established and preserved meanings, values, and practices."

I'm bringing this over from p. 4 of the "progressive economics" thread, since it fits here too. Recall above me referencing dominant monads above. I think you'll see much here that fits with kennilingus notions of dominant monads and its lack of P2P intersubjectivity which results in an individualist and capitallistic apologetics.The following excerpts are from Christian Arnsperger's "Homoeconomicus, social order and the ethics of otherness," Ethical Perspectives 6:2 (1999):

"Carrying the legacy of atomism and monadology right into modern-day social analysis, neo-classical economics ...has remained `stuck' within a metaphysical framework which seeks to explain the harmony of the social whole on the basis of its self-enclosed parts."

"A rigorous understanding of the basic methodological stance adopted by economics, namely the idea that social order `emanates' from a bunch of self-centred subjectivities making separate optimizing decisions. Accordingly, in Section 2, I will trace out the analogy that exists between Leibnizian monadology (and its antecedents in Greek and Roman atomism) and modern-day economics. The aim there will be to show that economics, unwittingly but for nevertheless deep ethical reasons, has remained `stuck' in a very specific metaphysical position which virtually no contemporary philosophy of subjectivity any longer acknowledges. Section 3, then, will show how the combination of monadology and empiricism which still prevails in contemporary economics can be overcome by entering an altogether distinct philosophical domain characterized by the primacy of Other over Self (a somewhat hazy terminology which, I gather, will become clearer as we proceed). While this alternative philosophical stance has experienced a surge of interest in recent decades (see, e.g., Descombes 1979, Taylor 1987, Caputo 1993), it has left the social sciences, and particularly economics,* completely untouched."

* And AQAL.

Came across this here today, have no idea whether it's already been referenced.

 

Mapping the Integral U
A Conversation between Ken Wilber, Otto Scharmer, Denver, CO September 17, 2003, Interview by Otto Scharmer

I. The U-Process of presencing

Ken: Let's begin with a summary of your view of the U-process of presencing. I'll make a couple of brief comments, if you don't mind, and then we can jump into it.

Otto: Sure.

Ken: You have certainly drawn from a number of individuals, but in particular Francisco Varela's work has been important to you. However, he lacks a real understanding of the developmental and intersubjective dimensions. In Integral Psychology, which is a book I wrote a few years ago, you can get a good feeling of these developmental aspects. In the back of the book I included one hundred charts that summarize the developmental models from a wide array of theorists and authors in this field.

Otto: Yes, I remember reading it.

Ken: In that book, I presented a criticism of Varela's work which stated that his neurophenomenology takes first-person and third-person realities into account, but not second-person realities. Nor does it take inter-subjective structures or developmental stages into account. These things, in my opinion, are a real gap in his approach.

Otto: Ah, that's good. I don't remember that.

Ken: With regard to the stages, I believe that this U process you describe can effectively happen at almost any stage.

Otto: Yes. It's an evolutionary grammar.

Ken: In a specific way, I'll try to give you my take on it and see if it makes sense to you, and then we'll go from there.

Figure 1: Theory U: Seven States and Capacities, Three Movements, One Process (from: Otto Scharmer: Theory U: Leading from the Emerging Future, forthcoming; www.ottoscharmer.com)
Figure1

Otto: Okay. You know how I use Varela here, right? He has synthesized phenomenology, contemplation, and introspection into three folds, or foldings. "Suspension" is Fold 1, "redirection" is Fold 2, and "letting go" is Fold 3.

Ken: Yes. And what he left out is something that's crucial in all of the contemplative schemes: the stages of development.

Otto: That's right. The relationship that I see between your work and mine is that you map the entire developmental and evolutionary territory from a 50,000-foot perspective-that is how I understand your work. You look at the whole damn thing. And what I'm trying here with the U is to go more into a mid-range change theory. I try to describe the same reality that you look at from a different perspective. In other words, I try to move onto the battlefield and describe the evolutionary process from the perspective of the entity that is coming into being throughout that journey. It's a description of evolution from the blind spot: the "I" of the evolving self.

II. The application of the U-Process

Ken: I agree. It's a better way to do it than Varela did, and I'll tell you why.

The model that I'm working with is briefly summarized by "Quadrants, levels, lines, states and types." There are several things that happen at most of the levels, and here, a level means a structure, stage, developmental level, or developmental structure, and we sometimes use the term "waves of development." Those all roughly mean the same thing. And keep in mind that the quadrants occur at all stages.

There are also developmental lines, of which there are at least one or two dozen that have been identified. These are capacities that human beings have, or "multiple intelligences," as Howard Gardner calls them in his work.

Examples of these developmental lines are things like cognitive intelligence, moral intelligence, aesthetic, interpersonal, mathematical, musical, and kinesthetic. Research tends to show that all of those developmental lines go through stages. Howard Gardner calls the lines "streams," and the levels "waves." So the developmental lines or streams go through stages or waves of development.

In addition to these elements, there are states and types. So we have quadrants, states, and types occurring at almost any stage.

An example of types is yin and yang, or masculine and feminine. If we look at the caduceus model, there are seven levels with a masculine and feminine energy in each of them, or two types in each of the seven stages.

Then there are states of consciousness, which is what I think you are partly working with. Let me explain why I think that, and why this is important.

I agree that this U process can happen in most of the stages-I think this is phenomenologically valid. I don't believe that it happens in a six-month-old, but I think this process can happen in most of the intermediate stages of development.

Therefore, the U process has a much wider applicability than you might suspect, because a lot of the people you're applying this to self-select. People who come to work with you are going to be orange or green or yellow, for the most part.

Now, we can talk a bit more about the states of consciousness. There are three or four natural states that are universal. The great traditions call them waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the Ever-Present which underlies all of them.

Technically, most of the traditions use five states, so let me point out what they are referring to. The states of consciousness called waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the Ever-Present all have energies or bodies associated with them that are called the gross body, subtle body and causal body.

The waking state has a gross body; the dream state has a subtle body; and deep, formless sleep has a causal body. Then turiya, the fourth state of consciousness, is that which witnesses all three states. This is the ever-present transcendental state, which we sometimes call the Witness, simply because it can witness all the changes of state.

So that's turiya, which technically is the fourth state of consciousness. Then the fifth state is turyatita, which is the non-dual state. This is when the witness is one with everything that it's witnessing. But for now, I'll just use the three main states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, or gross, subtle and causal, to get the point across. What's important about those states is that they are phenomenologically very different, and different capacities can come into play in each of them.

Figure 2: Ken's Uncovering of the Ontological Dimension of the U: Gross, Subtle, Causal
figure 2

What I think you're doing is effectively moving people through states of consciousness at whatever stage they're at. This also happens in meditation, and that's why Varela got the hang of it when he first proposed his theories. He was really describing gross, subtle and causal states of consciousness, which is the meditative structure. But that still leaves out stages.

Typically the gross/waking state is a cognition of "it." It's a state where the thinking process tends to be fixed on "its," or anything that can be described in "it" language. Thus, when someone is seeing everything from the outside, that person is using cognition that is distancing. This is a classic waking, or gross object oriented process, even though there are indeed conceptualizations that occur.

III. Thinking, Feeling and Source

Otto: Yes, in my model this would correlate to "seeing," where you project your mental models onto the wall. So where would you place "thinking," "feeling," and "Source" in your model?

Ken: In your U process, "thinking," "feeling" and "Source" would translate into gross, subtle and causal. "Thinking," as we are using it here, refers to cognition of an object. We don't mean, for example, contemplative thinking like Heidegger would use the term. So this is very close to what the gross dimension is, and it's the gross interpretation you come in with.

Then, the "feeling" in your model would be the whole subtle dimension. For example, in a dream state you have feelings. There can be thoughts, but they're very fluid and have a very deep intensity. The dream state is a classic example of that, but so are states of creativity. The relationship between creativity and dreaming is well established, including the fact that in the Upper Right quadrant there's theta-brain activity going on during most creative and dream states.

Otto: So that's what shows up in the upper right quadrant.

Ken: Yes. States of creativity and dream states have a lot of theta-brain activity.

Then, in your model, "presencing" will access your Self, or Source, which are simply variations on the causal Self-the pure, vast, open Self. You have to contact this vast expanse in order to have intentionality. The only time we have free will is when it comes out of this vast background.

If our will comes out of yesterday's habit, it's in the gross realm. And so what you're doing is getting people to fluidly access these states, at whatever stage they're at.

What you're saying here is that we come out of states and crystallize and institutionalize them. This is basically taking these subtler causal forms and materializing them in the near future. So you're essentially calling forth the future and embodying it by working with these creative states. Does that make sense?

Otto: 100%.

Ken: Fantastic. So what I'm saying is that this process can occur at whatever stage a person is at. Do you see what I mean?

Otto: Not quite.

Ken: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6, Stage 7. A person can go through this U process at whatever stage they're at.

Otto: Right.

Ken: Does that make sense?

Otto: I can picture that for, say, 4, 5, 6, and 7. I have just tried to get my arms around an example, but does that really work on 1, 2 and 3?

Ken: Well, no, I stand corrected. As I said earlier, I don't believe this process will work with those earlier stages. At exactly what point it kicks in is hard to say. We'll leave that out for now. Can a five-year-old do it? Can an eight-year-old do it? Can a 10-year-old, a 20-year-old? What point it kicks in is an entirely different discussion, but for most adults, we can see it happening in Stage 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Does the concept of the U process happening at different stages make sense to you now?

Otto: Yes, absolutely.

IV. U process you get a view of the microtexture

Ken: I think that's what's so important about this. Bob Richards and I were talking about this, and we want to carry this conversation forward with you because I think this is a missing piece of the integral puzzle. That missing piece is exactly what you mentioned earlier, where with stages and quadrants, you get a view from 50,000 feet, but with the U process you get a view of the microtexture. This is a real first-person phenomenology of what happens when you go through this great process. It most likely doesn't exhaust everything, but I think it's a fantastic model and technique. It's especially important because I think you're tapping into these great states. There might be other things happening, but you and I have already agreed that this pretty much captures the important points. That's very exciting, because it means that you can teach somebody who, in terms of spiral dynamics, is blue or orange or green how to be the most effective change agents that they can be at their stage.

Otto: That's right.

Ken: I'll give you the last piece, which I think will fit with your model as well. Based on meditation and developmental research, we've come up with what seems to be a rule of thumb about vertical transformation: The more you're plunged into states of consciousness that you can't interpret at your present stage, the more quickly those states help you transform to higher stages. That's why meditation helps you move permanently into higher stages. I think the repeated application of something like this U process would cause definite transformation. Also, I think you would see some transformation in the work that you do, and that transformation would be consonant with my model-it would fit. Does that make sense?

Otto: Yes. A hundred percent.

Ken: Great.

Otto: It also correlates nicely with what I've been experiencing myself and with what I've seen other people go through with the U.

Ken: If you're working with, for example, quadrants, levels, lines, states and types, then the U process is a state technology that can help people at different stages to envision and work with their own possibilities, given the stage that they're at. Then, the creative application of this can help them transform to a higher stage. This is why Bob Richards, Neil Burke, and I are so excited about this. It's a wonderful, useful technology.

Now, if you wanted to use an awkward framework, you could also take advantage of the integral model to situate this. You could look at how people who are at Bob Kegan's Order 3, Order 4, or Order 5 go through the U process. You're going to get different results, and see different things that they imagine. In other words, you can take people at moral Stage 3, 4, or 5, and they will all be able to do this process, but you're going to see different futures due to the fact that people have different orders of consciousness at each level. Using an integral framework would allow you to keep an eye out for that.

Furthermore, you could then start to track people over time. Kegan did this with moral Stage 3 people and found that over a course of six months, 28% of them transformed to Stage 4. So he did the same kind of research that some of the meditation people have done, which shows that meditation increases the development of these stages.

Whether or not that happens-and I think it does-this in itself, at whatever stage, is a fantastic technology to speed up the developmental process of people growing into the higher and wider reaches of their own potential. They would be envisioning it, and bringing it forth out of that chaotic froth of future which can then be embodied and institutionalized. You're actually bringing forth the future.

Otto: That tracks 100%.

Ken: Great.

Otto: We know meditation does something good for the individual and we know we need something on the collective level. But the question on the table is: What are the collective cultivation practices? What do they look like? How can we develop such a new body of cultivation practices?

And the other dimension in need of consideration is that for many people today, including me, the gateway to spiritual experience is through work. In other words, really tapping into the essence of your work

Ken: For men especially, but certainly for a lot of other folks as well.

Otto: Furthermore, we also need to consider the social context. I have seen major transformation and change occur when you help collective systems to develop a shared seeing and sensing of what is going on in their circumstance-seeing and sensing that allows the collective group to be aware of what is wanting to emerge.

Ken: Right across the whole system.

Otto: Yes. And this shared body of seeing and sensing opens up a new space that eventually leads to a subtle shift in the collective field. What's interesting here is that the collective field shift itself becomes a gateway for individual cultivation.

Ken: Yes. There is that mysterious "we" that has a life of its own.

Otto: And that "we" becomes a gateway.

Ken: Exactly. And if that being can resonate at a higher level than where some individuals in the group are at in a given moment, then that being lifts those people up.

Otto: Right.

Ken: Literally. And that's a transformative event in that case. This would deserve the term that's too widely tossed around, which is "conscious business."

Otto: What's that called?

Ken: Conscious business. Everybody is using that phrase these days.

Otto: So what's that?

Ken: Conscious business? Well, to date, it's the name of Fred Kofman's book, so I should not say something silly about it. Boomers do everything consciously. You have "conscious aging" and "conscious hiking" and "conscious eating." With these terms we imply that everybody else has done this unconsciously.

So there apparently used to be "unconscious hiking" and "unconscious aging".

But if you actually do this kind of thing, then it's raising consciousness in a work or business environment-a type of inter-subjective yoga. And that would really be conscious business. Does that make sense?

Otto: Absolutely.

Ken: You used to give that kind of immediate feedback with the people you've done the U process with, which is why you know you're onto something.

Otto: That's true.

Ken: It's very exciting.

Otto: It is. And the relationship you draw is so obvious, but I hadn't thought about it in those terms before. In my own uncovering process this is really a major step forward. Through this past 10 minutes, a whole universe which already existed just opened up, and I see the connecting lines. That's very exciting.

Ken: Great. Let's follow up. We can do it by phone.

Otto: Okay, that's great. Thank you so much Ken. I very much look forward to continuing this conversation.

Wilber: "I'll make a couple of brief comments, if you don't mind, and then we can jump into it."

So so funny. He always prefaces twisting any conversation to his model with this ironic disclaimer.

Wilber: "I presented a criticism of Varela's work which stated that his neurophenomenology takes first-person and third-person realities into account, but not second-person realities. Nor does it take inter-subjective structures or developmental stages into account. These things, in my opinion, are a real gap in his approach."

We've already refuted some of these spurious charges in this thread. See above.

Scharmer: "He has synthesized phenomenology, contemplation, and introspection into three folds, or foldings. Suspension is Fold 1, redirection is Fold 2, and letting go is Fold 3."

This is what I find interesting, these "folds." I've been exploring them in various threads, most recently here. The venn diagram shows these folds as shared spaces between domains (or  holons?), vesica piscis, the spaces between. Unfortunately because Kennilingus redirected the conversation to himself we never got a good explanation of this. I will investigate further at Scharmer's site.

Wilber: "I don't believe this process will work with those earlier stages. At exactly what point it kicks in is hard to say. We'll leave that out for now."

And it is here where kennilingus fails to see the folding I discuss in many threads elsewhere. His own admission refutes the notion that one can experience certain states at any stage. (I.e., without pre-trans confusions. See Edwards' alternative view of states at Integral World.) This is not solved the the W-C lattice unless one folds it in the ways I suggest. (One being the states and lower levels fold around the rational ego, the prerequisite for transrational states.) I think that Scharmer via Varela might be on to something like this, something that cannot be explained through the AQAL framework as so far expressed in kennilingus. I will look into Scharmers' website for more.

 

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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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