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.
Oh , by the way: do any of the apostate, pseudo integralites( see Joe's latest blog) on this forum know when Kenny wrote this?
It's actually a decent read in that he expounds more on his view of post metaphysics ( a clever way of denying ___) hahaha. That third strand of science should shut Frank up!
Wilber wrote that about 13 or 14 years ago, I believe -- I'd have to check for the exact date.
And which of Joe's blogs do you mean? The one on Zak Stein?
Really, that long ago. It seems fresher than that:) Yes, the Stein post. My post is typical andyism, but it points out that integral will be similar to Christianity ( or any other religion) in that it will have many different camps or sects, or interpretations. ( Spock's right eye raises, 'fascinating '.)
Andrew--please elaborate on "That third strand of science should shut Frank up!"
One of the 6 Keys of the BBASiCS Project is "Smart Groups". Virtually every problem in the real economic and political situation represents an insufficient methodology for uploading, combining and enacting group decisions. In the United States what are some key areas in which the overall intelligence of the collective can be amplified?
1. (As Gregory says) Extra-political pressure toward the goal of blocking "sponsorship" from politics. The influx of mass capital into the electoral and legislative process places a considerable inhibition and distortion upon group intelligence.
2. Such pressure might also, from this point of view, be directed toward the less populist need to establish secret ballot in the legislature, more proportional vote counting methods and the annihilation of the gerrymandered districts.
Decisions about the appropriate role of infrastructure in society are always being made. Are they being made more or less intelligently? Democracy is already smarter than several antiquated systems of social organization. But it can get a lot smarter. However first we need to address the major leaks in the boat of collective decision-making. And we primarily have to do that in a way which pressures, manipulates and works around "our representatives".
Hey Gregory, I think there is one Integral stage, but I tend to agree with R/Pascal that that stage may be opening up in an MOA 123 kind of way. Maybe Newtonian/Einstein/_______ (put your fav. new physicist) kind of way. The previous MOA is improved upon and the newer MOA has better understanding of the nature of things.
So, science 123. It seems that your work is heavily influenced by science 2 ( phenomenology , deconstruction, etc.) and that you do try to mesh/put together science 2 with insights from science 1. You even seem to consider seriously science 3 ( spirituality) . Is it wei-wu or woo-ooo; that is the question?
Do you know if it's Frank's view that science 3 is ALL woo-woo? As for myself, I get kind of suspicious when it looks like the Zero Theorem ( god in this usage) is TOO important to people. i couldn't really care less if god exists or not; but I keep an open space there, but the ideas of god have to fit through the goalposts of basic logic and reason ( at least as how i use those faculties). Let me give you an example: Reincarnation. In and of itself the idea is not irrational or illogical, I see it everyday in the waking/sleep cycle; the seasons, etc. But making dogmatic religious ideologies out of that idea is a very bad idea, imo. Does that make sense?
Wilber's ranking within science 3 has some problems. Privileged access, privileging one spiritual notion over all the others: the new John 316-- no one comes by Integral but by the one truth of non duality as I Wilber posit it………
Layman--secret ballot in the legislature: interesting idea, must think about that. The annihilation of gerrymandering: very good idea. Add these to substantial campaign finance reform and this country might be capable of salvaging something resembling government by the people again.
Andrew--I don't believe Frank thinks science 3 is all woo-woo. He probably finds many of the conclusions reached thus far on Wilber's end to be woo-woo due to the lack of sufficient evidence, repeatability, and falsifiability. Frank just wants to be persuaded by good evidence, like most of the rest of us. Spirituality is a very difficult area for science to enter into. Though I admire Wilber's desire to move in this direction I don't think he or those he admires in this area maintain sufficient standards to be very persuasive in academic circles. A large amount of skepticism exists among academics even in the fields of social and psychological research due to problematic experimental design, insufficient sampling, difficulty controlling variables, and sometimes outright fraud. The literature exposing and debunking these "sciences" is growing rapidly every year. Wilber thinks "satori" is a demonstrable fact and that there are practices that if followed will lead others to the experience. But "satori"--like near-death experiences--is a fact only in a certain sense. People have the experience, yes. But what does it mean? How is it to be interpreted? Has the person with the near death experience actually gone to the "other side" and seen life after death? Has the person who has had the "satori" experience actually seen the face of God or had a cosmic merging or some such thing? Or, are these experiences simply induced through certain procedures and/or circumstances that give rise to intense sensations that give the illusion of something grand?
I know I'm not raising issues or asking questions that are anything new to this group. Personally, I'm open to evidence from adequately controlled research. There has been some recent evidence from an Arizona based neurosurgeon who found compelling reason to believe the mind of a woman he operated on functioned for something like a half and hour after her brain was incapable of neural firing (due to having been frozen). After the half hour or so of surgery her brain was thawed and she was brought back to a sleep state. She described what was going on during the surgery. This was fairly impressive evidence (can't find the link for it right now) in support of mind/brain separation. So, yes, I'm very much open to what is called science 3--investigations into mind/spirit activity independent of physical bodies. But we need really rigorous experimental designs in order to produce compelling evidence.
I think anyone willing to let well controlled evidence speak louder than analytical pronouncements--such as "that can't happen"--is in the camp of science. And that's where i put myself. I think Wilber wants to be there too, but he needs to raise his standards for what he is willing to accept as compelling evidence if he wants to be viewed as credible in academic circles of science. And in the academy the bar for what counts as "good science" is getting higher and higher as more is learned about the flaws of experimental design and the difficulty in controlling variables in fields relating to human behavior and experience.
While Wilber has been notably 'hard' on certain new age amplifications and extrapolations of quantum theory, for instance, or Green/eco-spiritual celebration of systems thinking -- exercising, here, a strong critical capacity -- he has also strangely been rather gullible when it comes to certain paranormal claims and figures, as the Trivedi incident reveals.
As to the scientific study of spiritual experience, we have a thread on Evan Thompson. He is doing exactly that, working with experienced Tibetan Buddhist meditators and combining MRI studies with their phenomenological descriptions of those states of consciousness.
Here's one quote from the Introduction of his new book Waking, Dreaming, Being, discussing chapter 3 on the issue of whether pure awareness transcends the brain: "[T]here is no scientific evidence to support this view. All the evidence available to us indicates that consciousness, including pure awareness, is contingent on the brain" (xxxv).
And this post on his paper "Dreamless sleep, the embodied mind and consciousness."
"But whereas the Advaitin takes this minimal selfhood to be a transcendental witness consciousness, I think itʼs open to us to maintain that it is my embodied self or bodily subjectivity, or what phenomenologists would call my pre-personal lived body. In this way, I think we can remove the Advaita conception of dreamless sleep from its native metaphysical framework and graft it onto a naturalist conception of the embodied mind."
Andy Smith has joined the Wilber-Visser-Perez discussion, referencing Gregory's work as well as Edwyrd's.
For some reason I cannot access Integral World. Would someone copy and save the post with comments and attach to this thread? Thanks.
Hi, I have copied it to a Word document and attached it below. The formatting came out strangely for some reason but it appears still readable.