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.
I wonder if Wilber is attempting a kind of hylozoism with his views on evolution, i.e. there is life in all matter and matter in all life and the two are inseparable. And for Wilber, in this case, life = spirit = eros. This view avoids the problems of the emergence of one or the other. Certainly, it's possible to say that life exists as potential in matter, because life is here. But to find life in all matter is a stretch for science right now because we cannot detect it--or at least it would then require a very unusual definition of "life." Nevertheless, I recently read about a group of researchers in the Czech Republic who succeeded in creating RNA proteins by bombarding a chemical soup with high energy laser light (simulating the energy of a large asteroid hitting the earth). All that is left is discovering how the step from RNA to DNA occurs.
Hi Gregory, i'd like to start off by weighing in on the Perez/Visser squabble . I sit around the campfire where people are agreeing that SDI should not be used to pigeonhole individuals into lower/higher rankings. That other camp where people do that is being soaked by gail winds and rain; not so good, kind of sucks! The ability to be able to 'think' meta-paradigmatically is obviously a nifty ability and has much potential; and if we want to label that ability as an Integral stage that's fine with me. But in and of itself, that ability and utility doesn't guarantee much; it can sink or swim/surf awesome waves, or get mired in vortices of rip tides and rocks. Personally, I think i get where Frank is coming from on the scientific/evolution meme; it's been pretty darn useful overall insofar as giving humanity a solid epistemological base; and i'm good that it may yet tell us much more about the nature of things; but I've never been convinced of much when science oversteps what it can know. On Wilber's view: I see it as a type of faith ( one i share in some sense) so i'm not opposed to Wilber's ideas along these lines until he reaches a point in argument where he seems to me, to overstate his opinions and theories. I'd even give him that in the end he may well be right about eros and agape; but for now, for me, he's using poetry.
On metaphysics: I agree with you; there is no escaping it, but I have no problem thinking of MOA1/2 as post-metaphysical systems. I guess I just have an aversion to the generic use of the word to describe natural/supernatural dichotomies.
Oh yeah, something rather than nothing? Well, Godel, perhaps? It may well be that the talking monkey's faculties of logic and reason--in the end-- have limitations. That our minds are not equipped to understand ___ mind. Hahaha, speaking of monkeys: yeah I'm a pan psychic …..dedumdodo……..
One last note: the pathology of the elite within control of A.I. / biogenetics doesn't exactly thrill me with hope:(
Interesting issue. I share your concerns about elites. But I think there is a motive beyond greed and competitiveness driving them. I would call it the "soaring motive" or the "reaching for the stars motive." What drives an athlete when they have beaten all the competition? What drives a billionaire when they are the richest person in the world? They want to reach beyond anything ever before achieved. They want to set records. They don't just want to fly, they want to go to the moon. They don't want to be great, they want to be superhuman. They don't want to defy gravity, they want to leave it behind. Elites are never content with being elite. They see themselves on the frontier of virgin territory and want to push on--even if that means leaving the rest of humanity behind. They have severed the connection to the collectivity and do not want to return to herd to help others and bring everyone along on the journey because that takes too long and puts a brake on the frontrunners. It takes a person with more compassion than ambition to overcome the desire to soar ahead of everyone in the pack. And I doubt whether there are enough people of great compassion among elites to keep them from leaving a good part of humanity behind in their rush toward the future.
I wanted to touch on what I consider the more important topic that is inherent in philosophy: that of how shall we live? Not that I don't think arguments over ontology and metaphysics are unimportant; it's more that to me, those areas have always and will continue to be camps. There never has been or never will be one monological system wherein everyone will agree that one explanation satisfies all questions about the nature of reality and being. I for one, am okay with that; I would however like to see that truism acknowledged more instead of the usual fortresses that surround these differing views.
How shall we live then? Well, it is becoming abundantly clear that monological thinking is alive and well when it comes to global economic neoliberalism. I see this trend over the last 30 years being a precursor to the future. A future that will be defined by energy resource. If the elites succeed in their attempts at ITER or other means of scaling energy supply then I suspect that that technology combined by elite neoliberal ideology will create a culture much like portrayed in the movie Elysium. A new energy scaled to meet the demands of the elites combined with their arrogant pathology will wipe out billions from the middle classes creating a two tiered society of extreme wealth, luxury, and self entitlement ; juxtaposed to the most abject poverty and misery for the masses. All present trends point in this direction. The flip side scenario to that future will be the one where the elites fail to materialize a new energy source to scale. Present trends continued combined with the downward trajectory of energy resource will create various scenarios of Mad Max type cultures as depicted in shows like Revolution i.e. Neo-feudalism.
Of course, the elites could engineer a more friendly egalitarian type future but I believe they will choose not to, and then at the point we can start to ask WHY they choose NOT to create a benevolent future.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Kabbalism to answer this question intelligently for you. Perhaps you can provide a thumbnail sketch of the key elements as you see them and I could offer an opinion based on that.
Which, of course, leads us right back to metaphysics and ontology.
Anyway, Gregory, I was wondering if it's possible to think of Derrida as a modern day Kabbalist? In the sense that he tends to view language as foundational in that signified/signifier way of looking at things. I would guess that you would think the 'nothingness' of the Aleph, and the 'fullness' of the Bet are not appropriate metaphors for the dimensions of space-time, and that there is no correlation between mystical Kabbalah and Derrida whatsoever?
I can offer some insight, having been an initiate into a Hermetic Qabalah system. Bottom line is that for them (magic) words can call into presence the actual things they represent. In most cases the things so called are from more subtle planes of existence, like angels and demons, all the way up to God. It's the neo-perennial philosophy in practice and it doesn't seem Derrida would go along with that.
And that's because the words themselves are from a more subtle, higher plane of existence that prefigures material reality. In the beginning was the Word, and all that.
As to Gregory's comments on elite aspiration, I get it and share it. I tend to push my own and standard performance boundaries to achieve excellence. And I appreciate it in others, like Michael Jordan or Ken Wilber. It's what keeps us growing. But there can be a flip side in the tendency to leave everyone else behind, since they drag us down and tether such soaring heights. I get it in spades as I obviously have that syndrome. And yet there are some, like Balder, who manage both the flight and the compassion to teach others, bring them at least a bit closer to the Sun. It takes a special sort for both. Few among us have that talent, certainly not I among them.
Here is a link I found, so my sense of Derrida wasn't too far off; although I agree with Ed: Derrida may have borrowed some of the basic premises of Kabbalah, but he was atheist through and through.
If we think of atheism as a form of pantheism then to me, the fortress walls in various camps don't seem unbridgeable . All we have to do then is try and sort out exactly what is myth and what might be plausible at our given time in space. Hell, under this framing two little letters 'en' are all that's needed to bridge a gap! pan(en) theism. lol
Here is a good link from Wallace where he brings up some of the issues I've mentioned on the limitations of science and what it knows or can know:
From the text:
Neither the scientific nor the Buddhist view of the vacuum is complete. The scientific view of the universe has little to say about the origins, nature, or role of consciousness in nature. And the Buddhist view has no objective, quantitative means of examining vacuum states of space. Rather than viewing the modes of inquiry of these two great traditions as incompatible, it may be more fruitful to regard them as complementary.
Which brings me to this I.W. post. We've had previous discussions here on Dzogchen and some of the realizations of the significance of consciousness in that system i.e. that consciousness is primary to existence. A view I hold lightly.
If consciousness is primary to existence, then that would certainly explain the gaps in the scientific canon. BTW., I do think powers suggests that an initial first step in meditative processes is a tapping into archaic structures of consciousness.
Lime is the next stage beyond turquoise! Though my guess is that LP's filters will see it as chartreuse.
Oh yeah, on the primacy of consciousness: certainly from my conditioning, I find it more useful to frame that idea in a faith matrix ( see Fowler) . It's not my intention, though, to piss off the Dzogchen Buddhist's, who seem a little more sure of that spiritual hypothesis.
It's not just the primacy of consciousness for the D(z)ogma, it's like the Kabbalists in that it is the literal metaphysical basis that transcends and 'involves' into the material world. Both have magic words and rituals that enact that process, or so they believe. Same with kennilingus.
As noted earlier, pissing others off is not a consideration.
Oh, i wanted to qualify my future predictive musings: it will be the combining of A.I. with a new energy source to scale that will bring on the Elysium type scenario . A.I. will decimate the middle classes and when we combine that with the loss of feeling within the elites, we will end up with something like Elysium. By the way: my tacit understanding is that austerity is an elite move to channel money from the commons into the attempt to find a new energy source of scale.
I agree, though, that the elites are not solely motivated by power, money, and greed; but to underplay that assessment isn't realistic either. And I certainly concede the existence of healthy elites, although ironically they are losing as much as we are these days. The consciousness of the unhealthy elites is seared. They can no longer feel and they have taken over large parts of the earth via neoliberalism.