Henri Bortoft is a science researcher and a student of Goethe and Bohm.  I first learned of Henri Bortoft's work in an ecopsychology course at JFKU.  I was discussing him on another forum yesterday, and decided to introduce him here today as someone who might have some things to contribute to an emergent postmodern / 'postmetaphysical' (note my use of scare quotes now!) spirituality.

Here's an interview that gives a sampling of his perspective…


 

Imagination Becomes an Organ of Perception

 




Conversation with Henri Bortoft
London, England
July 14th, 1999
Claus Otto Scharmer

 

Henri Bortoft is the author of The Wholeness of Nature (1996), the definitive monograph on Goethe's scientific method. Bortoft did his postgraduate research on the problem of wholeness in quantum physics with physicist David Bohm. When I met him in London, we began our conversation by talking about his views on quantum physics.

I. Two Interpretations Of Quantum Physics

Henri Bortoft: There is a problem with the interpretation of quantum Physics. I would call this problem the two level theory.

C.O. Scharmer: What's that?

Henri Bortoft: Two-level theory means that there are two levels: a microcosmic and a macrocosmic level. The macrocosmic level means that you look at the measurement. Everything comes down to a measurement.

I think that the two-level theory is misleading. Goethe made the distinction between the kind of thinking which begins with the finished product, the object, and the dynamical thinking, which looks, instead at the coming-into-being of that object. The point of quantum physics is not to differentiate into two levels but to look at the coming-into-being of entities.

People say that quantum physics and the micro-level are based on probability structures, but the mathematics tells you it isn't. The wave function is a complex number. But probability can only be a real number. The quantum physics is not a level of probability. Only when you come down to the measurement can you encounter the phenomenon of probability. The question is, what is before the measurement? Before the measurement is the coming into being of entities. This is a purely dynamical condition.

COS: Say more.

Henri Bortoft: For example when you look at milk you don't call it cheese, although cheese might be the final stage. You call it milk. The probability part comes at the end. There is no probability in the quantum stage. The problem in quantum physics is that we are dealing with the assumption that “there is a world behind.” What Nils Bohr did was new. Nils Bohr said that in quantum physics. There is nothing “behind.”

I found that there is a relationship to Goethe. Goethe says, you should study the light as such. Quantum physics is to do exactly that. People might describe quantum physics differently. David Bohm advised me to study Nils Bohr very carefully, because interpretations of Bohr often differ significantly from what he actually said. The notion of wholeness in quantum physics was first introduced by Bohr. Bohr saw this as a limit to our thinking. He was influenced by Kirkegaard and had his pessimism. He said that you cannot include the invisible wholeness directly.

But Bohm thought differently. He thought that you can understand the wholeness. He used the hologram as a model. I found that very illuminating. It shows, the whole is present in its parts.

II. Searching For A Living Perception of Wholeness

In 1972 I came to know Goethe's work just by accident. A friend recommended that I read a book by Ernst Lehrs when we saw it in the window of a bookshop - in fact T.S. Eliot had spoken highly of it. It was called Man on Matter. One chapter dealt with Goethe's way of seeing plants. What I found interesting was his notion of the living perception of wholeness. It related to the famous dispute between Goethe and Schiller. Goethe's point was to develop a different kind of seeing, a seeing that strives from the whole to the parts. That was very close to Bohm's hologram.

Bohm differentiated between two ways of implicate order. One, the extrinsic, and two, the intrinsic. Goethe shows that there is an intrinsic order of the living plant and that the intrinsic order is accessible to the perception.

COS: But doesn't Goethe start with seeing the particular object?

Henri Bortoft: You start with an object, with the plant that is the finished product. But then comes the cultivation of perception.

COS: “Striving out from the whole to the part.”

Henri Bortoft: That is exactly what is to be reached.

COS: What does it take to operate from that level?

III. Exact Sensorial Imagination

Henri Bortoft: We don't learn to make mental pictures intentionally anymore. But Goethe really enhanced his capacity for this kind of seeing. We don't have the idea of doing this anymore.

When I give a talk I realize that old people often don't understand this dimension of perception. But even young people are often unable to do this, at first it takes time. You have to slow down. You see and you follow every detail in imagination. It is an exact sensorial imagination. You create the image of what you see in your mind and you do that as precisely as possible. For example, you look at a leaf and you create the shape of the leaf as precisely as possible in your mind. You are moving around the shape of the leaf in your mind and you follow every detail. You are producing that shape. The whole phenomenon works in the mind. The phenomenon becomes an image in your mind. Obviously you cannot do that in five minutes. You cannot do that with the computer. You have to be active with your mind.

There is a huge resistance in ourselves against that. We are too busy. If you want to do this you have to slow down.

COS: You become one with the leaf.

Henri Bortoft: In a way, you do this with one leaf, with another leaf and so on. Suddenly there is a movement, a dynamic movement, as you begin to see not the individual leaf but the dynamic movement. The plant is the dynamical movement. That is the reality

COS: You do it in the context of an unfolding whole.

Henri Bortoft: Yes, it is just seeing. It is exact sensorial imagination.

IV. Imagination Becomes An Organ Of Perception

Then, this imagination becomes an organ of perception. You can develop it. I get the sense that when you do it you are moving in another space, an imaginal realm. It is a movement. And it seems more real than the outer world. I think it is more real because you are doing it. You are active. Goethe had an enormous ability in that regard. The same is true for Picasso. The way he painted. When you look at his pictures you see the metamorphoses.

The fact that you are active is important to understand why it is so real. You have to make a certain effort. I think that it is harder for people today because of TV. Watching TV is something passive. Listening to a radio was more active. You needed imagination.

COS: Where is the locus of that space? Where are you when you are creating, co-creating this imagination? Is the space within ourselves or not? Probably one could not apply the distinction of inside vs. outside.

Henri Bortoft: You are right: you don't make that distinction. There is neither subject nor object. Not under that framework. This seeing is prior to the subject-object separation. The focus is on working on the imagination. The distinction between subject and object belongs on a more outward level, it belongs in the world of bodies. Subject and object in its own form is an outer distinction.

V. Inversion Of Container And Content

COS: In your book you talk about the inversion of container and content. Conventional science considers theory the container and facts the content of the phenomenon. For Goethe, in contrast, the sensory facts are the container that give rise to encountering the real phenomenon (“theory”). You write

“This transformation from an analytical to a holistic mode of consciousness brings with it a reversal between the container and the content. In the case of positivism, the theory is considered to be only the container for the facts. Now, if the theory, in Goethe's sense, is the real content of the phenomenon, then it can be said that in the moment of intuitive insight we are seeing inside the phenomenon.”

Henri Bortoft: Yes, the unfolding of nature in itself is an epistemological reversal. The source of the idea is the phenomenon itself. That relates to Aristotle's idea of perception, which has been taken up in an astonishing way in our own time by Gadamer.

COS: When you practice the Goetheanic way of cognition would you go through a sequence where you experience this reversal?

Henri Bortoft: You see the metamorphosis. The plant is a dynamical movement. You see its leaves as traces that embody and manifest certain snapshots of this movement. That becomes so strong when you see it. That is the intuitive seeing from inside of the phenomenon. The dynamic movement is the reality.

COS: What you see are the traces that are left behind. Reality is the movement.

Henri Bortoft: I would call it dynamical.

VI. Archetypes And Self-difference

COS: What are the archetypes, what is the Urphänomen?

Henri Bortoft: Archetypes are difficult to describe. Archetypes are different modes of unity, of a dynamical unity. There is a multiplicity in the unity. We don't fragment the unity. The idea of self-difference is something that is very important. Self-difference means that something becomes different from itself. Instead of asking for what different things have in common, what is the same in them, self-difference means that you look at what differences emerge from the unity. For me, this idea was the fundamental motivation. The idea of self-difference is so important. Goethe was a carrier-wave for this. That is the new way of cognition.

The Greek god Proteus appeared in different forms. It is like the hologram. It is a unity, and yet it is different. You find that idea in a lot of mythologies, for example in native American or native African cultures.

VII. All Is Self-Manifestation

Look at hermeneutics: You read a text or watch a play or listen to music or look at a painting. It always appears differently, and yet it is not. It is the same and it is different. Gadamer calls the “same and different” self-manifestation. That is actually real, not a representation in the subjective noun.

COS: Did Gadamer coin the term self-manifestation?

Henri Bortoft: Yes, he did. I met Gadamer in 1987. He was very impressive. He was 87 by then and attended a conference in Oxford. He listened to every single presentation and from his questions you could see that he was not criticizing the presenters, but was listening to their intention. He was trying to help them in their way of self-manifestation. Gadamer talks about this in his books. I use the term now more and more. When you read his magnum opus “Truth and Method” you ask yourself why do I have to go through the whole history of German art and so on. But then you realize what he is doing is to listen to the self manifestation of an evolving intent.

Gadamer's first and last insight is that all being is self-manifestation and understanding is an event. It is an event of self-manifestation. That is exactly what Goethe is talking about.

In most cases we confuse unity with uniformity. Take Newton, for example. You have the apple that falls to the ground, the moon going around the earth. This way of perception makes everything look the same. While doing so we lose the flexibility. That is what is happening today in our societies. Computer technology plays an important role in that. I think that it is a terrifying situation when you lose the flexibility.

But I am talking about another kind of unity. An organic or living unity. There is a dynamic unity of self difference. I call that the counter-enlightment. This kind of unity removes a restriction in our cultural thinking. Organic diversity includes unity and organic unity includes diversity.

COS: Could you apply that to the social world?

Henri Bortoft: Stephen Toulmin's book Cosmopolis outlines how universalism came from the mathematical approach in science. In the 17th century you see a reaction to the Renaissance. Modern science is a result of that.

COS: Did you ever see an archetype?

VIII. Archetypes are Dynamic Forms

Henri Bortoft: I never saw one. Archetypes are dynamic forms. That is what an archetype is. An archetype is a movement which is here and yet becomes different - at the same time. It is the same in itself and it is different in itself. You have to go through the opposite sides to see that things are the same. You have to bring the opposite sides together, then you see the differences.

COS: What is the role of a participatory science in a world of evolving self-manifestation?

Henri Bortoft: I wish we had more time for contemplating this question. What do you think?

COS: One of the themes we are currently wrestling with is how to rethink our fundamental notion of cognition. From many experiences in our work in organizations and communities we have come to believe that there is another way and another source of knowing that can be accessed. This other way of knowing is related to heart intelligence rather than to head intelligence.

Henri Bortoft: Yes, this is absolutely right on. I believe that these are foreshadows of something that will come.

IX. Reflection: Two Types Of Wholeness

Bortoft distinguishes between two types of wholeness: the counterfeit and the authentic whole. Both notions of wholeness are based on different faculties of cognition. The counterfeit whole is based on the intellectual mind abstracting from concrete sensual perception. That is, the mind is moving away from the concrete part to get an overview. The result leads to an abstract and non-dynamic notion of the whole. In contrast, the authentic whole is based on a different cognitive capacity, the intuitive mind that is based on opening some higher organs of perception. The intuitive mind is moving right into the concrete parts in order to encounter the whole. This encounter leads to perceiving the dynamic and living multiplicity of the whole.

The distinctions between the two types of whole (the counterfeit and the authentic) correspond to two cognitive capacities (the intellectual mind and the intuitive mind) and to two notions of generalization (the abstracting general versus the concretizing universal) which are at the heart of Bortoft's work.

Says Bortoft (1998, 285): “We cannot know the whole in the way in which we know things because we cannot recognize the whole as a thing. … The whole would be outside its parts in the same way that each part is outside all the other parts. But the whole comes into presence within its parts, and we cannot encounter the whole in the same way that we encounter the parts. We should not think of the whole as if it were a thing.”

Bortoft claims that we can not know the whole in the way in which we know a thing, because the whole is not a thing. Thus, the challenge is to encounter the whole as it comes to presence in the parts. Says Bortoft (1998, 284):

“If the whole presences within its parts, then a part is a place for the presencing of the whole. … a part is special and not accidental, since it must be such as to let the whole come into presence. This specialty of the part is particularly important because it shows us the way to the whole. It clearly indicates that the way to the whole is into and through the parts. It is not to be encountered by stepping back to take an overview, for it is not over and above the parts, as if it were some superior all-encompassing entity. The whole is to be encountered by stepping right into the parts. This is how we enter into the nesting of the whole, and thus move into the whole as we pass trough the parts.

This process of presencing the authentic whole leads to an inversion of container and content. For Bortoft and Goethe the sensory facts are the container that give rise to encountering the real phenomenon (“theory”). Bortoft (1996): “This transformation from an analytical to a holistic mode of consciousness brings with it a reversal between the container and the content. In the case of positivism, the theory is considered to be only the container for the facts. Now, if the theory, in Goethe's sense, is the real content of the phenomenon, then it can be said that in the moment of intuitive insight we are seeing inside the phenomenon.”

Bortoft explains: “These examples can each demonstrate the reversal that comes in turning from awareness of an object into the encounter with the whole. This turning around, from grasping to being receptive, from awareness of an object to letting an absence be active, is a reversal that is the practical consequence of choosing the path that assents to the whole as no-thing, and not mere nothing.”

At the root of this reversal is a profound self-transcending experience. The experience is about encountering the dynamic unity of self and world. Goethe expressed this deep principle as follows:

“Man knows himself only to the extent that he knows the world; he becomes aware of himself only within the world, and aware of the world only within himself. Every object, well contemplated, opens up a new organ within us.”

X. Bio

Henri Bortoft is an independent researcher in the philosophy of science. He did postgraduate research on the problem of wholeness in quantum physics with David Bohm and Basil Hiley at Birkbeck College. Subsequently he worked with J.G. Bennett at the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences, on the problem of language and the perception of wholeness. His Institute for Cultural Research monograph, “Goethe's Scientific Consciousness”(1986,second edition 1998), has been published in German (1995) and French (2001)translations. Author of a comprehensive book on the philosophy of Goethe's science, “The Wholeness of Nature”(1996), he has given many seminars, workshops, and courses, on Goethe's way of science and the evolution of scientific consciousness, both in the UK and in the USA. He also contributes to the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College.

Views: 1012

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

And here's a passage on wholeness from an essay entitled Counterfeit and Authentic Wholes:

“Everything we encounter in the world can be said to be either one thing or another, either this or that, either before or after, and so on. Wherever we look, there are different things to be distinguished from one another: this book here, that pen there, the table underneath, and so on. Each thing is outside the other, and all things are separate from one another. But in recognizing the things about us in this way, we, too, are separate from and outside of the things we see. We find ourselves laid out side by side, together with and separate from, the things we recognize. This is the familiar spectator awareness. In the moment of recognizing a thing we stand outside that thing, and in the moment of standing outside that thing we turn into an “I” that knows that thing, for there cannot be an “outside” without the distinction of something being outside some other thing. Thus, the “I” of “I know” arises in the knowing of something in the moment of recognition of the thing known. By virtue of its origin, the “I” that knows is outside what knows.

We cannot know the whole in the way in which we know things because we cannot recognize the whole as a thing. If the whole were available to be recognized in the same way as we recognize the things that surround us, then the whole wouel be counted among those things as one of them. We could point and say, “here is this” and “there is that,” and “that's the whole over there.” If we had the power of such recognition, we would know the whole in the same way that we know its parts, for the whole itself would simply be numbered among its parts. The whole would be outside its parts in the same way that each part is outside of all other parts. But the whole comes into presence within its parts, and we cannot encounter the whole in the same way that we encounter the parts. We should not thing of the whole as if it were a thing.

Awareness is occupied with things. The whole is absent to awareness because it is not a thing among things. To awareness, the whole is no-thing. The whole that is no-thing is taken as mere nothing, in which case it vanishes. When this loss happens, we are left with a world of things, and the apparent task of putting them together to make a whole. Such an effort disregards the authentic whole.

The other choice is to take the whole to be no-thing but not nothing. This possibility is difficult for awareness, which cannot distinguish the two. Yet, we have an illustration immediately on hand with the experience of reading. We do not take the meaning of a sentence to be a word. The meaning of a sentence is no-word. But evidently this is not the same as nothing, for if it were we could never read! The whole presences within parts, but from the standpoint of awareness that grasps external parts, the whole is an absence. The absence, however, is not the same as nothing. Rather, it is an active absence inasmuch as we do not try to be aware of the whole, as if we could grasp it like a part, but instead let ourselves be open to be moved by the whole…

We cannot separate part and whole into disjointed positions, for they are not two as in common arithmetic. The arithmetic of the whole is not numerical. We do not have part and whole, though the number category of ordinary language will always make it seem so. If we do not separate part and whole into two, we appear to have an alternative of moving in a single direction, either from part to whole or from whole to part. If we start from this position, we must at least insist on moving in both directions at once, so that we have neither the resultant whole as a sum nor the transcendental whole as a dominant authority, but the emergent whole that comes forth into its parts. The character of this emergence is the “unfolding of enfolding,” so that the parts are the place of the whole where it bodies forth into presence. The whole imparts itself; it is accomplished through the parts it fulfills.

We can perhaps do something more to bring out the relationship between whole and part by considering the hologram… If we break the hologram plate into fractions, we do not break the whole. The whole is present in each fraction, but its presence diminishes as the fractioning proceeds. Starting from the other end, with many fractions, we could put the fractions together to build up the totality. As we did so, the whole would emerge; it would come forth more fully as we approached the totality. But we would not be building up the whole. The whole is already present, present in the fractions, coming fully into presence in the totality. The superficial ordering of the fractional parts may be a linear series - this next to that, and so on. But the ordering of the parts with respect to the emergent whole, the essential ordering, is nested and not linear. Thus, the emergence of the whole is orthogonal to the accumulation of parts because it is the coming into presence of the whole that is whole, the whole that is immanent.

This process tells us something significant about the whole in a way that shows us the significance of the parts. If the whole presences within its parts, then a part is a place for the presencing of the whole. If a part is to be an arena in which the whole can be present, it cannot be “any old thing.” Rather, a part is special and not accidental, since it must be such as to let the whole come into presence. This speacialty of the part is particularly important because it shows us the way to the whole. It clearly indicates that the way to the whole is into and through the parts. It is not to be encountered by stepping back to take an overview, for it is not over and above the parts, as if it were some superior, all-encompassing entity. The whole is to be encountered by stepping right into the parts. This is how we enter into the nesting of the whole, and thus move into the whole as we pass through the parts….” (Henri Bortoft, Counterfeit and Authentic Wholes, 1985, pp. 283-286).
Nickeson said Jan 6, 2009, 2:20 PM:


Hey,
I won't be able to participate in any discussions of this for a couple of weeks, but I wanted to share this particular issue of Janus Head that is dedicated to ”Goethe's Delicate Empiricism.” I think it fits well into this thread.

Ciao
Steven
Balder,

I knew that I had linked to that issue of Janus Head sometime in the dim, dark past. I visited it again yesterday and have made some notes toward putting something into this thread in the next couple of days...thinking about its application in the arts and in the phenomenology of process.

Later.
Balder,

I have been about a week here trying to figure a way to make this post interesting and concluded that my problem is with Bortoft's presentation. I might be wrong about this but it seems like he has taken a non-theoretical methodology that Goethe developed and has thought about it too much and explains it as if it were a theory. His language is theoretical and abstract and Goethe's scientific method is anything but that when put into naturalistic practice. But at a certain level theorizing is a totally natural phenomenon. It appears that Bortoft is a professor and to paraphrase H.L. Menken, all professors have a theory in the same sense that all dogs have fleas. (Here are two links to articles in the Janus Head journal that handle the Goethe method more directly and to my thinking forthrightly: Craig Holdrege, Daniel C. Wahl.)

Goethe's method of scientific investigation came from his daily watching a plant grow, being continually absorbed in the processual phenomenon as is. It was a method of collecting data and pointed remembering every bit of it but offering no theories, no explanations, no probes into that which was not known, no rational or even cognitive attempts to find THE answer. From my experience with similar but different kinds of investigations, it is the only honest way to go after a coherent picture of something that changes day to day such as the morphology of a plant (in Goethe's case) or a rapidly developing political or legal situation as was the case for my investigations. I stumbled onto the technique entirely by accident 40 years ago or so and it was relatively recent that I learned that Goethe used something similar.

The singularly interesting feature of the method is that point when "imagination becomes an organ of perception," the point of gnosis, the eureka; that moment when it appears that the facts have indeed taken care of themselves and are speaking for themselves. It is when a growing collection of unprocessed data suddenly and seemingly on its own turns into something that makes all the sense in the world. It always happens sooner or later, it always seems magical and mystical and often it is accompanied by a kundalini event of one size or an other from which alone there is a great temptation to put a transcendent significance into the occurrence as if Providence has just given one the key to a truth. I see that both Goethe and Bortoft seem to take it quite seriously, anyway more so than I do. I suspect that after being forced into the exile of ambiguity for so long that part of the brain that makes sense out of chaos (the same part of the brain that composes pictures of cartoon characters in the random distribution of stone chips in a terrazzo floor) kicks in and makes sense out of chaos. Aha...another great face on the floor!

I would never presume that the gnosis moment gave me the truth, but it did give me a provisional vocabulary and some metaphors with which I could communicate a roughly coherent assemblage of all that data, i.e. a palatable story for the jury, or the commissioned 7,500 words for the magazine.

I guess that if one looks at Bortoft's interpretation of Goethe there might be more value to be mined in terms of postmetaphysics and spirituality. I don't see much correlation of Goethe with those two from my perspective in which it is a technique, more like an artistic style to find the muse in situations that (in my cases) were all too often severely grounded, ugly, down and dirty.
Steven,

Reading about this process of retaining all the detail of a case until that "..point of gnosis ... when a growing collection of unprocessed data suddenly and seemingly on its own turns into something that makes all the sense in the world.", I was intrigued by your disinclination to attribute any greater significance to that eureka moment than, as you say, a particular part of the brain suddenly making sense out of chaos.

It got me wondering about the collective unconsciousness, if there is such a thing, and whether there could be a similar process potential or implicit within the collective unconsciousness that could be brought into play by the very individual process you describe, eventually producing this eureka moment.

I don't know if this is straying too far off topic, but what do you think of the idea that there is, or at least might be, some kind of deep underlying intelligence within the collective or universal "field"? Is this nothing but a metaphysical whimsy? I'm asking partly because I remember you talking in the past about your Taoist study/practice, and am assuming you'll have heard the commonly expressed idea that the universal chi is somehow "intelligent", allowing the transmission of an encapsulated chi "message" from master to students.

But I'm also curious as to whether it's possible for the whole notion of "transmission", and maybe even "Wisdom", to be reformulated(?) in such a way that it can be included within a post-metaphysical spirituality. Maybe that's something for a different thread.
LOL,

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, but finding time for conversations right now is a problem. I have a partial answer to your interesting questions drafted, but I think this needs to be addressed first:

LOL: I don't know if this is straying too far off topic...

As you and I are the only ones playing on this field I think we can make this topic up as we go along.

More later.
L0l,

1) You ask: "...what do you think of the idea that there is, or at least might be, some
kind of deep underlying intelligence within the collective or universal 'field'?"

2) And then: "...(I) am assuming you'll have heard the commonly expressed idea that the
universal chi is somehow "intelligent", allowing the transmission of an
encapsulated chi "message" from master to students.

In #1 you are talking about the collective unconscious or something akin, right? In #2 the subject is that which comes under the heading of "shaktipat." I am not sure they are the same or that #1 is the medium for #2. I prefer energy fields to consciousness fields and since I have been on all sides of the shaktipat phenomenon, I have concluded that it is 110% energy, it is the vehicle. Consciousness as content, as passenger, can come along for the ride...or not. Shaktipat does not need conscious content to be effective. It might be nothing more than one flood of endorphins resonating off another within a proximate range...but it is objectively effective even if only something akin to a placebo being effective.

The collective unconscious, as I understand it, stands to reason if for no other reason than the extrapolation from genetic exploration that claims you, Lol, and I, are no further removed than 32nd cousins to 86% of the rest of the people now on earth. And since all of us experience pretty much the same kind of day to day existence, I would say that what comes and goes through our brains is, likewise, pretty much the same as all the other clowns out there.

That said and to get back on topic I need to mention that I suspect that the collective unconscious and a universal consciousness are horses of different merry-go-rounds. I am not convinced by this universal consciousness (panpsychism) proposition in any of its various forms. I would not deny it as a possibility, but it is defiantly a stretch. If there is such a thing as universal chi, it does not seem reasonable to my little culturally-informed perspective that it is organized into anything remotely conscious, or if it is, the universal mind is profoundly fucked-up. Thus getting back to Taoism and transmissions, my guess is that they are carried on an energy form that no one yet has invented a gauge fine enough or swift enough to discern it. As you might have also picked up from Taoism, its origins were largely shamanic practices which I suppose also to be the origins of the shaktipat phenomenon. And like I said above, a lot of different things can be communicated that way so the content could be engineered to fit any need, Integral's needs included.
Getting back to the quote that begins this thread about imagination, Lakoff & Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (available online at this link) talk about an experiential synthesis of reason and imagination called imaginative rationality.

“What we are offering in the experientialist account of understanding and truth is an alternative which denies that subjectivity and objectivity are our only choices. We reject the objectivist view that there is absolute and unconditional truth without adopting the subjectivist alternative of truth as obtainable only through the imagination, unconstrained by external circumstances. The reason we have focused so much on metaphor is that it unites reason and imagination. Reason, at the very least, involves categorization, entail-ment, and inference. Imagination, in one of its many aspects, involves seeing one kind of thing in terms of another kind of thing—what we have called metaphorical thought. Metaphor is thus imaginative rationality. Since the categories of our everyday thought are largely metaphorical and our everyday reasoning involves metaphorical entailments and inferences, ordinary rationality is therefore imaginative by its very nature. Given our understanding of poetic metaphor in terms of metaphorical entailments and inferences, we can see that the products of the poetic imagination are, for the same reason, partially rational in nature” (138-9).
Edward,

I am not sure that I understand Bortoft's use of the word imagination, I am not at all comfortable with his presentation. But L & J's paragraph is much more clear. I think I have posted a link before to Eugene Gendlin's work in the same areas. (He is even less abstract than L & J.) So you might find this page interesting in comparing the two approaches. (I should mention that I found Gendlin's work some time ago in the same little complex of sites in which the Janus Head edition re: Goethe's scientific method was found. It is a site dedicated to Existential Phenomenology.)
Indeed I might. David Michael Levin, one of my virtual mentors, edited a book on his philosophy called Language Beyond Postmodernism. Mark Johnson (of L&J) wrote a chapter. I will check him out.
interesting thread Balder. It made me think too, particularly the part about the holographic thing of the whole being in each of the parts. Several connections followed here, when people receive body part transplants weird things happen, they may find suddenly their tastes change, liking things they avoided before, only later they find out it was a passion the donor had. If we were a cell in our blood stream we would live in a serous world confined to arteries veins and the heart and would be unaware of the whole body / person. Perhaps we are also parts in a greater whole, possibly a whole in another dimension. like the cells in our own body unaware of the whole. I also see the universe as a collective intelligence, in my youth I denied this connection when i experienced ESP, then when it happened again and again I could no longer deny it. and I had to question who or what was providing this link between others and myself at a distance? the only answer I could come up with was a collective intelligence which sometimes provided this link. It was more than coincidence, and links happened that I wouldn't have imagined possible, eg animal to human, as well as human to human.
Steven,

Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the essential humility it contains - in one sense in the way you affirm your experience without declaring it as "the truth", and in another in the way the reader is reminded of a fundamental aspect of his/her 'humus' - that very energy in all its rawness that we do our best to embody.

In the therapeutic modality I practise I so often find myself in sheer awe at the potency of the human organism, so much so that I can resonate with the idea of consciousness as passenger aboard the energy vehicle. But I resonate more with that other idea, of consciousness riding the energy winds like the rider of a horse, not just as passenger. And I do find myself persuaded (albeit provisionally) by the idea that consciousness and energy are never separate - gross with gross, subtle with subtle, and extremely subtle (bollocks to causal) with extremely subtle. My choice of content engineering, I suppose.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2019   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service