Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I want to re-open some previous discussions we've had with and about Greg in the previous forum, as well as this one. Here are the links to the prior Gaia threads on Derrida and synergist spirituality. In this post from the OOO thread I introduced his new book, Radical Atheism and New Spirituality. Therein I linked to an Integral World article that highlights a few excerpts of the book. I will include the referenced passage from that post below in some more lengthy excerpts:
"The nature of being may be such that it can only reveal itself partially...there are alternative economies of order, economies that see partiality and limited perspective as a consequence of the nature of being itself.
"Derrida...calls such an alternative economy of order a general economy. A general economy features the necessity of interrelation and dissemination of information or meaning as exceeding all measures of control and recuperation. It forms a law of irrecuperable loss.... Arkady Plotnitsky explores Derrida's use of general economy in great detail alongside parallel developments in theoretical physics.
"A restricted economy imposes a structuring principle that establishes a strong polarity of opposites and clear lines of choice. The structural tension between opposites such as true and false or fact and interpretation operates with a clarity that facilitates either/or alternatives and simplified decision-making. In a general economy, however, every oppositional structure submits to a reversal and a displacement. This displacement involves an extraordinary reconfiguration of the structure or dynamic play between opposites.
"General economy displaces discrete and essential difference between opposites with a new structure that sees the opposition as presenting a tension between elements both different yet connected, both penetrated to the core each by the other yet irreducible one to the other. Plotnitsky calls this structure complementary—after Niels Bohr and the quantum theory of wave/particle duality.
"Applying the principle of complementarity to any oppositional pair yields a structure in which the two sides of the opposition penetrate each other in every instance such that there is no pure instance of either. As will be discussed in the next section, this complementary structure of oppositional relations has profound consequences for the concept of transcendence.
"In a general economy there is no crossing over from one pure instance to another pure instance since no clear boundary separates one instance from the other. This circumstance of structure supports the notion of a universal law of contamination. This universal contamination cannot be explained in simple degrees of mixture, gradation, or shades of difference. Instead, this law of contamination presents the circumstance of superposition—superposition of continuity (irreducible dependence) and discontinuity (irreducible separation).
"The possibility for unique and irretrievable loss inherent in a general economy is theorized at the philosophical level by Derrida in his notion of the trace—a term he uses to describe the nature and quality of being. The trace is an absenting presencing, disappearing as it appears.
"From the language Wilber uses in characterizing his view of Spirit and his view of enlightenment it becomes clear that his spirituality remains within what Derrida calls a restricted economy. There are two primary indicators for assessing Wilber's approach to spirituality as consistent with a restricted economy: 1) the implicit assumptions about the deep structure of basic oppositions such as Emptiness and Form, timeless and temporal and 2) the dominant role of notions such as unity and union.
"Wilber speaks of the overcoming of this dualism in the union of Emptiness and Form and time and timelessness as if each side in the pair were in some sense separate, as if the Emptiness and Form aspects of Spirit could be approached separately in paths that then lead to partial enlightenment. The mere notion of the possibility of partial enlightenment in the sense Wilber suggests is symptomatic of an organization or structuring of oppositional relation in a manner consistent with a restricted economy."
In the “essence and identity” thread I introduced Gregory Desilet's essay “Physics and Language.” From that essay he said:
"As both the one and the many, the continuum does not require, and in fact precludes, a thorough merging of opposites. Where there is a tendency to see unity as fundamental the continuum asserts that difference is equiprimordial with unity. Oddly enough...[this is] consistent with descriptions Derrida gives for the term differance" (349).
In this post quoting the same article he says:
“Contexts are not absolute, [they] are in motion and continually changing within an infinite, changing net…. The reality that emerges though particular contexts is not objective reality in any traditional sense of the word. Reality as a superposition does not conform to the idea of objectness or thingness. This way of thinking places it in a conceptual category for which adequate metaphors are difficult to find—thereby necessitating terms such as ‘continuum’ or ‘differance,’ ‘superposition’ etc.
“Yet the contextualization that limits interpretation does not function with the closure of totalization; its boundary remains open. This lack of closure entrails, paradoxically, that reality both is and is not what it is interpreted to be. It is, at one level, what is interpreted to be but also always exceeds, at another level, what it is interpreted to be. This ‘exceeding’ means that at every point of capture reality escapes calculation and thereby admits construction” (352).
Also recall the following, originally posted in the “what 'is' the differance?” thread:
Let's now look at his article "Misunderstanding Derrida and Postmodernism." He says:
"But by embracing any form of absolute transcendence in his philosophical outlook, Wilber necessarily retains traditional metaphysical distinctions between emptiness and form, the real and the manifest, and Being and time."
Desilet gives Wilber credit for his exposition in IS (Appendix II) on the relative side of the coin and agrees with much of it. But W still maintains an absolute in clear distinction with the relative and his nonduality is a higher synthesis and reconciliation between the two. Whereas for Desilet (and Derrida):
"Time (as difference or change) and Being (as sameness or permanence) interpenetrate each other all the way through and at every point....At certain places in his discussion Wilber seems to grasp the postmodern approach to oppositional tensions as interpenetrations simultaneously essentially different and essentially related."
And in other places W maintains the divide with his absolute Spirit apprehended via nirodha meditation as the other side of the equation. W's version of the myth of the given only applies to the relative side.
Desilet then goes into this "witness" business, which relates to the other thread on Shinzin Young. It is distinguished form the ego in that the latter is again only relative whereas the witness is pure, absolute consciousness. Particularly relevant to this discussion is that Derrida's "undeconstructable" (like khora) should not be confused with the likes of this transcendental absolute:
"Every instance of consciousness...is necessarily already divided. Consciousness and Being are split by difference all the way to the core.... The 'other' functions as an 'absolute' for Derrida only in the sense of presenting an absolute 'opening' as the 'yet to come' (what Wilber might regard as the 'unmanifest'). The 'yet to come,' as that which can potentially come into awareness and experience, cannot be absolutely alien to the self yet neither can it be absolutely known or comprehended at any moment in time. As such, the 'yet to come' retains a quality of essential difference from and essential relation to 'what is.'”
And Desilet's concluding remarks make a point I've made several times before, that retaining the absolute (as metaphysically defined) maintains notions of superiority and hegemony, something we've certainly witnessed in the kennilinguist integral community.
"Traditional metaphysics and its construction of notions of absolute transcendence that easily slide, however unintentionally, toward authorization of modes of certainty that do little more than contribute to predispositions of non-negotiation and systems of exclusionary discrimination."
Granted Wilber does move away from traditional metaphysics, per both my and Desilet's comments above, at least on the relative side of the street. But he still retains it for his absolute.
Recall this recent post in the Rifkin thread about thermodynamics and irreversibility in terms of Newton and Adam Smith, how they did not take it into account. Desilet brings this up in terms of restricted and general economies. He shows how Derrida's framing of opposition is in line with the latter and thermodynamics, comparing it to Plotnitsky's QM complimentarity. And of course contrasting it with Wilber's restricted economy which tends to see opposition as a much stricter division between transcendence and immanence. Now where have I heard this before?
Earlier in the thread in this post Balder responded to my statement “Differance does not include ontotheology but rather refutes it” with this Derrida quote:
"Différance is not only irreducible to any ontological or theological--ontotheological-- reappropriation, but as the very opening of the space in which ontotheology--philosophy--produces its system and its history, it includes ontotheology, inscribing it and exceeding it without return." (Derrida, "Différance," Margins of Philosophy, p.6.)
In my research today on Derrida's response to Hegel's dialectic I came upon this book made available electronically, Hegel After Derrida (Taylor and Francis, 2001). Chapter 10 is of relevance here, “Hegelian Dialectic and the Quasi-Transcendental in Glas” by Kevin Thompson, starting at p. 239. An excerpt relevant to Balder's quote and some initial commentary follows.
“Derrida himself has constantly reminded us of...the continuum of constitutive syntheses that his writings have attempted to expose...maintain a ‘profound affinity’ (M/15/14) with that very discourse that ‘summed up the entire philosophy of the logos’ (DG/39/24), the Hegelian dialectic.... Hence, a deep affinity becomes manifest between the concept of Aufhebung – the ‘speculative concept par excellence’ as Derrida recalls (ED/377/257) – and différance.... Given its ‘almost absolute proximity’ (P/60/44) to that most speculative of concepts and the entire onto-theological system it sanctions, the chain of infrastructural relations would seem to emerge – ‘unable to break with that [Hegelian] discourse’ (M/15/14).... In this sense and to this extent, Derrida’s thought remains faithful to the very intention embedded within the philosophical tradition itself and, more specifically, to the Hegelian system of speculative science as this tradition’s culmination. However, this simple repetition and affinity remain enigmatic in that it is precisely the Hegelian constriction of negativity, as a moment appropriated within a teleological economy of absolute presence, that Derrida’s work has most forcefully sought to call into question, i.e. to solicit. How then is this proximity to be understood?”(239-40).
I'll comment more as I read the chapter, but for now one can see Balder's Derrida quote includes (Hegel's) ontotheology, yet “exceeds it without return.” It might appear to be akin to Hegel's dialectic rephrased by Kennilingam as transcend-and-include.* But also note in the HAD quote that Derrida's so-called synthesis is not based on “a teleological economy of absolute presence.”** Or, in OOO terms, Hegel's version (as well as those developmentalists using his dialectics) is infected with the metaphysics of presence and lacks the the withdrawn. Hence the “without return” is missing, i.e., the missing is missing. Oh, that's a nice double negation without sublation...
In light of the above, and subsequent reading and evaluation, the terms I used in the quote at the top of this post were inexact and inaccurate. Differance does include but also refutes ontotheology. It is a very exacting process of discernment though, one which I'm learning to better articulate. More after reading the chapter.
* In that regard recall this post in the real/false reason thread where Derrida is “willing to apply the most rigorous standards of logical accountability (including the axioms of classical or bivalent true/false reasoning) and thereby locate those moments of aporia or logico-semantic breakdown that signal the limits of any such reckoning.” As noted elsewhere, Derrida's intent is not to eradicate what he's criticizing, just to 'open' or supplement it.
** Also a criticism in the real/false reason thread, how the mereology built from false reason in the MHC sublates (i.e., subsumes) the parts in its totalizing synthesis. Whereas the 'flat' mereology of the OOOers, which recognizing greater wholes, does not subsume the parts therein. And as per Bryant, this has significant political implications and consequences.
More from HAD:
"Derrida claims that, within the affinity of onto-theology and deconstruction, ‘a kind of infinitesimal and radical displacement’ (M/15/14) of Hegelian speculation is carried out. Uncovering this displacement necessitates demonstrating that différance not only makes possible the identity of speculative knowledge but also that it, simultaneously (à la fois, du-même-coup) and necessarily, fissures this ultimate identity by inscribing it within a non-totalizable and interminable negativity, within what Derrida calls the remains (reste), which in turn can be neither elevated nor interiorized. The synthetic movement of différance is thereby conceived as the simultaneity of the speculative economy of absolute presence and the general economy of absolute alterity; it is an originary contamination of pure identity and pure difference" (240).
Following are some excerpts in HAD from Critchley's chapter, starting at 197. The following is quoting Derrida in Glas:
"What is the inassimilable, the absolutely indigestible, played a fundamental role in the system, abyssal rather, the abyss playing...a quasi-transcendental role.... Is there not always an element excluded from the system which assures the space of the system's possibility....the transcendental position or ex-position?" (209).
I'm reminded of the role of Cthulhu as the abyssal player that cannot be digested in any system, that if fact always disrupts it and hence is eliminated as indigestible negativity or merely 'deconstructive.' And the embodied transcendental pre-position of our image schemata, themselves grounded in differance, which allows for (rational) system in the first place.
Also see this post and following in another thread, also relevant here.
Such correspondences stand out sharply to me as well
The scheme which I use divides post-metaphysical systems (Metaphysics of Adjacency) into three levels --
To say "merely deconstructive" is a reference to the first level of cognitive assimilation of this principle. Such a saying is either a defensive pre-pluralist stance, posing in its own egotism, or else it is a higher level critique which identifies an inadequate simplicity among those who are overwhelmed by the contingency of perspectives and refuse to accept system without minimizing it, equalizing it, and veiling their own absolutism in a performative contradiction. Here is deconstruction rightly denounced as a form of indigestion. Here is Cthulhu rising to destroy the coherence of mind and civilization.
Yet on the far side of integrative models (second level MOA attempts) we encounter the illumination of the principle of trans-multiplicity, of enactive-structural-difference-as-identity, of approximation itself as the enabler of certainty, etc. Here the nature of the indigestion changes. It is now reliable, necessary -- the foundation which permits systems and Reason to occur at all. Here Cthulhu is risen, truly cosmic, the abyssal player who is included as the necessarily excluded element which secures mind and civilization.
Desilet has a new article out: Pulling Rank: Wilber's Unhappy Marriage of Sense and Soul.
Here's the conclusion:
"The paradigmatic postmodern structure of opposition consists of a relation in which one side never occurs without the other and neither side can be reduced to the other. This entails a “system” which may be perceived or theorized as “one” system yet it is a system in which a type of dualism is irreducible. It is the “one” that is also always “two” (or at least “two”). And this complementary or correlative oppositional tension is what I regard as the most defining aspect of any view that could properly be labeled “postmodern.”
This metaphysical “circumstance” renders invalid what Wilber claims is valid in this passage from the Wyatt Earp blog:
This kind of poor reasoning concerning “development” underlies much of Wilber's argument in the famous “Wyatt Earp blog.” And it is used to justify an arrogance Derrida would find appalling. Wilber can dismiss this “dialogue” (read: attempts at criticism of his work) as “empty” because those who are attempting to engage him are simply working from a lower level and therefore cannot see what he sees at his qualitatively different transcendent level. This is very convenient for dismissing one's foes or apparent foes. But it functions more as a poor excuse for ignoring and disenfranchising the other rather than a justification or argument to be taken seriously.
Viewed from a deconstructive slant, such engagements may lead to “marriage” only when each side assumes at the outset they do not fully understand the other side. This kind of dialogic assumption, this openness to the other lacking in Wilber's approach, makes possible the kind of engagement that could yield better understanding. This process, of course, presents no guarantees for achieving improved understanding or improved relationship because there can be no guarantees for creating nor conclusive tests for confirming the bridging of the mystery of the other. But lack of guarantees presents no reason for refusing dialogic engagement or dismissing others because they are judged to be operating from a “lower level” of development. This strikes me as a kind of “rankism” analogous in many ways to racism. (For an excellent deconstruction of rank, see Robert W. Fuller's Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank).
Derrida's account of “hospitality” (in one of his later works) rests on his deconstructive views and provides the rationale for maintaining, always, an open door to the other that would preclude the kind of encompassing and appropriative attitude toward critics Wilber adopts in the Wyatt Earp blog. I know from my own experience Derrida lived up to his expressed view of hospitality. When we met, even though he was busy and knew nothing about me or who I was, he made time to see me and could not have been more gracious in dialogue (even when I offered criticisms). My experiences of Derrida and of Wilber (especially as evident in the Wyatt Earp blog) confirm my belief that deep metaphysical assumptions have consequences down to the surface of everyday encounters. For this reason, in addition to others, Wilber's inadequate “grokking” of postmodernism has consequences worthy of note for integral theorists."
There is a tight knot of valid strands here -- although we must be careful not to assume the tightness of the knot is evidence supporting any particular strand's critique of another. With only minimal information about Desilet's article & Wilber's nature I can, nonetheless, make a few general and interconnected observations:
1. The observation that developmental models detect basic communication problems between levels of inclusion is not necessarily connected to rank-pulling. It is equally likely that the superficial resemblence is triggering a practiced hypersensitivity. Any statement of the logic of inclusion must express that a larger set includes sets that do not include the original set. This logical necessity has no necessary relation to concerns about disenfranchisement or "not being taken seriously".
2. The developmentalist model adds a vertical dimension. With this axis we observe that some sets of relations are "sides" (e.g. horizontal-ish features like states, quadrants, etc.) and others are enfoldments (e.g. the relation between turquoise and postmodernity or postmodernity/modernity). Enfoldments are examples of relations that are not "sides". They do not need to be preserved from reduction to each other because their enfoldment does not constitute a reduction but merely a de-emphasis of certain concerns through their incorporation with what formerly appeared as their opposites. While the marriage of "sense and soul" is very side-like... postmodernity & integrative developmentalism are not presumed to be a marriage/side relation.
3. "A structure of opposition consists of a relation in which one side never occurs without the other and neither side can be reduced to the other" IS the root of all forms of the Metaphysics of Adjacency. Yet this fact does imply that the form and quality of this relation will be constant among all types of alternatives. The concern about "flatness" is not typically included in Green intellectualism. It is a concern that oppositional tension comes in multiple forms... only some of which resemble a dialogue of equals on any particular topic.
4. The validity of sidestepping or counter-balancing these deconstructive (MOA-1) concerns does not remove the responsibility for MOA-2 to exhibit an appropriate etiquette and fraternal attitude toward all MOA-1 attempts. However that, also, does not minimize the utility of feisty remarks.
5. Turquoise vs. Green -- Does concern about "Rank" stand out? Does it feel like a "central issue" or does it seem like a normal, important-but-most-obvious concern embedded amid its opposites? I.e. does the force and validity of rank also seem integrated and affirmed along with worry about the effects of rank-pulling?
6. The point is that, from the POV of turquoise, Green perceives an open door as closed. And, using a developmental lens, this is both predictable and problematic in communication. Wilber may be saying or expressing more than this... but then again he may not.
Hi, LP, did you read the whole essay or just the excerpt I posted? On the comments section of his essay, I posted a link to your response and invited him to read it...
For some strange reason my ISP doesn't allow me access to this site.* Therefore would someone download the article and attach it here? And also provide any Deslilet responses here? Thanks.
* Perhaps net pay-for-play has already begun? As an aside, our satellite company (DISH) has removed CBS from it service, since they won't pay CBS market value given several of its shows are number 1 in their genre. Just wait until we the customers start dumping DISH and going elsewhere for our favorite shows.
My reference to "minimal information" was meant to indicate that I had not read the whole article. However I have been developing the theory of the char-truce... the conditions under which mutuality can be established between MOA-1 and MOA-2. The deconstructive critique must be allowed to stand but its emphasis must be questioned and undermined using its own concerns. That, along with sensitivity to the arrogance of "higher vision", goes a long way to establishing the chartreuse zone of intermediacy.
In a sense it is precisely the complaint "sides" (equi-valid horizontal alternatives) cannot be presumed to be the standard or universal form of the irreducible oppositional connection which so-called Second Tier models hold against postmodernity. It is this notion, extrapolated from the more narrow experience of alterity, which creates the emphasis on dialogue... and the heightened sensitivity to the problems which might impose themselves upon such dialogue. Problems like the implications of rank. Obviously turquoise is not turquoise unless it validates postmodernity... but that validation has no choice but to critique the emphasis placed on dialogue between sides and (without invalidating it) look beyond to a more general synoptic system in which the underlying patterns of most perspectives are already accounted for. The difficulty in affirming that represents a quasi-incommensurable gap in sensibility which makes communication difficult. Either level can equally well claim the same neglect of its emphasis. That gives the root of an etiquette in discussions. However, structurally, one is more inclusive. Yet structure is not necessarily the predominant concern in establishing the mood by which the most mutually edifying exchanges can occur. Hence: chartruces are needed.
Hi, LP, did you read the whole essay or just the excerpt I posted? On the comments section of his essay, I posted a link to your response and invited him to read it...
Interesting comments by Pascal and all. Thanks for thinking of me again! It's been a while since I've exchanged some thoughts with this group. Not sure I'm any smarter but I'm still a curious wanderer--or, in keeping with my Colorado residency--an inquiring high plains drifter. In partial response to Pascal, I will cite something I wrote on the Integral World page of comments after my article there. Twern't much, as they say, but I guess my concern relates to the ease with which spiritual categories and categorization can lead to misunderstanding, abuse, and outright fraud. Here it is:
You say: "It seems to me any developmental ranking system worthy of pursuit, whether privately or publicly, would progressively enable the more developed human being to understand, relate to and empathize with those less developed than themselves." Developmental ranking systems are an interesting puzzle to me. They do not have quite the clarity of skill ranking systems--for example, competitive ranking in golf or chess. Someone with a 6 handicap in golf could meet someone with a 15 handicap and say, "I'm at a higher level of golf than you." The 15 handicapper could say "prove it" and the two could go out and play a round and see. The golf ranking system corresponds to a hierarchy of skill that is overtly demonstrable. The same is true of the chess rating system. Someone who claims a 2000 rating can prove the accuracy of that rating by playing a game or two with someone of 1200 rating.
In levels of consciousness or spiritual ranking, the situation seems more complicated. Using the Wilber-Combs Lattice, A may say he is at integral (stage)/non-dual (state) and B, who claims to be at the same stage/state, may say "prove it." Are there things A can say or do that would "prove" the rank? Wilber seems to think so. But here there is no unequivocal demonstration. If A points to inner experiences as proof, these experiences are not accessible to others for verification. If A points to personal practices, these actions, much like signifiers on a printed page, are open to varied readings. They need not mean what they appear to mean. For this reason, spiritual rankings can be fudged, and often are. They become status symbols more than genuine spiritual markers, and people apply them to themselves and to others for very first tier reasons. Consequently, I think such ranking systems may be highly susceptible to being abused more than being helpful. The better course may be to withhold judgment as much as possible with regard to spiritual ranking of self and others.
Your reply strikes me as very sensible. While I think so-called "messages from turquoise" can easily be misunderstood (via fairly predictable differences in tone and presumption) it is undoubtedly the case that developmental hierarchies along the different trajectories of human interiority still have a long way to go in terms of proof and clarification. They also resemble other structures that run a considerable risk of abuse. And, even given the enormous relativity in the concept "abuse", there is no reason to imagine that either the concept or reality of developmental hierarchies is not going to be abused.
I tasked myself to decide on the 6 things which can most contribute to the future well-being of humanity. One of those, after a lot of pondering, I realized was "character profiling tools". And it seems pretty clear that a vertical axis is necessary. However, that still leaves us with a lot of problems to solve. At the moment, we are still doing a lot of the old-fashioned approach -- using subjectivity and intersubjectivity as our standard. This has to be replaced or at least matched by systematic external testing up to whatever degree of clarification that Nature allows.
"Wiser" or "more conscious" or "more moral" or "more artistic" exist in an ambiguous territory. We need a lot of work and interest to drive forward the development of nuances, correlations and verifications in this material.