How do post-conventional possibilities stimulate, confirm and empower pre-conventional structures of thought, feeling and action? This is the question around which integral studies is subliminally congealed...

In my text on THE RULES OF METATHEORY I make the quasi-controversial claim that Integral Theory (loosely interpreted) has a special kind of "special place" in contemporary higher level philosophy. Such post-pluralistic endeavors, I claim, always have the joint character of convergence and divergence. In their convergent mode we temporarily exploit populist models so that a "generic metatheory" can be tested, expounded and forced forward -- and there are a number of decent reasons to treat Wilber-ese as the current manifestation of this limited and pragmatic facet of our ongoing work. One of those reasons is simply that the pre/trans fallacy remains the catchiest, simplest & most well-known articulation of the problem to which this thread is devoted: how post-modern potentials confuse and entrench pre-modern sensibilities.

The very premise of an "integral altitude" is partly forced into existence by the regressive and undifferentiated elements within the post-modern, pluralistic, relativistic and sensitive cultural operating system. Its inability to adequately distinguish itself from more primitive forms of consciousness is an ongoing driver of the need for an additional layer of social psychology.


Obviously we can, and should, approach this central problem from many angles. The one which provoked my thread-creating activity today began from observations of facebook users and "players" of digital games. It is clear that people are excessive (if not addicted) to electronic feedback loops in which they receive quasi-arbitrary "reward symbols" which have no real life value. Whether it is the points, coins or powers you acquire in your  online gaming or the "likes" received for sharing content in virtualized social networks there is a tendency to become highly involved in the meaningless economy of meaningless exchange.

Now here's where it gets on topic!  Are these exchanges meaningless?  Don't they have a real value in sustaining people's communal ties, plugging people into each other, establishing credibility and potential commercial connections? Yes. Those are all "post-modern" observations. They are appreciations of the possibility of network logic and structural co-enactment. Yet the computer mounted camera watching your bored, lifeless face as you click "like" or watch your false "credits and bonus points" get compiled does not tell us a story of advanced sensibilities. This is dull activity and basically narcissistic immersion in the most trivial and abstract dimension of social activity has its roots in very primitive functions. Really it is no different that feeling better when someone smiles at you or compliments you. This seems innocuous when it is positive but -- as the wise have always complained -- it enslaves you to the general process of social reactivity which may later be used to condemn or dismiss you. To receive praise through automatic feeling-mechanisms is also to surrender the right to be blamed and injured through that same mechanism.

So we might see many forms of "social networking", "value-based feedback" and "digital gaming" as ways in which the potential utility of advanced systems is harvesting and reinforcing very primitive mechanisms of individual submission and self-abnegation.

There is a strong parallel here to the way in which advanced states of consciousness reinforce naive traditionalist assertions and pre-scientific fantasies. And that, in turn, correlates to the way in which real knowledge of conspiracies and alternative physics fuels a pandemic of paranoia, stress-based anti-institutional fury and a regressive erosion of the principle of social trust.

A "close encounter" may be conceived as a post-rational peak event but why is it so often subsequently confined to pre-conventional, non-evidential and intellectually febrile visions?

How do pluralistic societies actually come to permit resurgent tribalism? How do post-nationalistic sensibilities encourage the corporate theft of the energy and regulations which sustain the well-being of the national ethos?

Why do the real possibilities of massless energy technology become discredited by the unthinking advocacy of people who lack the least bit of demonstrated scientific mood or cultural usefulness?

How does Heidegger turn Nazi?

How does the notion of "fair and balanced" impartiality come to characterize a media ecosystem in which facts and expertise are themselves rejected?

And ultimately: How has Divinity so often appeared as an anti-life, anti-progressive agency?

I haven't time right now to speculate on the answers but I would submit that the common premise of all these situations requires our most robust clarification. It is in some respects the root of metatheoretical ethics. It is certainly an areas in which many pertinent discoveries remain to be made.

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"What I call the 'unquilting point' (the moment in a movie which must be taken as the moral of the film since immediately afterwards the tension dissolves and all difficult issues are easily resolved)..."

So would that be the anagnorisis followed by the peripeteia?

A well-bred lady ought to slap a fella for that kind of language!

My joke on the Lacanian term ("quilting point" or "the buck stops here") bears some similarity to the post-Aristotelian doctrine of a crisis-of-recognition-that-annuls-ambivalence-or-ignorance (an-agno-risis) leading to a swing-or-fall-back-the-other-way (peri-peteia)

Aristotle thought in terms of the superficial experience of the protagonist. Therefore the anagnorisis is commonly imagined as a moment in which the lead character consciously realizes an error or previously hidden fact which alters the course of their action.  Othello "catches onto something" and then "changes his mind".

The unquilting point is less about the conscious psychological experience of the character and more about the unconscious psycho-social experience of the filmmakers. A certain tension has been communicated. It is present in the atmosphere and tempo of the production. It may or may not be well-represented by the character's beliefs about what kind of situation they are engaged in. It shows up as much in the soundtrack and camera angles as it does in the script. There is a problematic quality to the multi-media universe being collectively explored. Characters have numerous goals which seem not to get resolved no matter the wisdom and skill of their attempts. Or sometimes goals are resolved and it does not seem to make any difference.

And then...

The movie rushes to completion.  All the different issues which a variety of different characters were struggling with, mysteriously unable to make progress upon, suddenly become ludicrously easy to solve. The audience barely needs to be shown the resolution. We take it for granted.  The issue has vanished and perhaps none of the characters know why.  They may not have realized anything.  But if the audience goes back in their memory they will be able to identify the point at which the pathos suddenly drained out the production.  This point, however trivial or seemingly unrelated to the surface issues, releases all the steam from the pressure-machine.

In Transcendence it accompanies a confession of a realization. But in Return of the Jedi it is the removal of Vader's helmet that confirms the epic tensions of the universe have vanished (and they do not return in any satisfactory sense until that helmet clicks back into place in Revenge of the Sith). In Noah the main character seems to turn a corner when he does not stab his infant granddaughters but even after they land in the Rainbow Kingdom the unresolved tension and inconclusiveness persists.  Yet once the snakeskin wrist wrap is returned it is suddenly, almost unconvincingly, easy for him to stop drinking, rejoining the family, know what to do, appreciate everything, etc.

But I digress (or turn around)...

Sub-species of "How Post- Aggravates Pre-"

  • CLOAKING: pre- takes advantage of the situation to disguise itself as post-; e.g. anti-social narcissistic manipulator styles himself as a "shaman"; Stalin perpetrates totalitarian oligarchy while pretending that he is securing "communism".
  • DESTROY THE OCCUPYING ENTITY: the post- is perceived as an incomprehensible and existential threat to an assembly of pre- groups; e.g. Arab tribalism confronting the Zionist state, alliance of rebels against Johnny Depp in Transcendence, mythic slaving states united against the threat of humanist American Federalism.
  • AFFIRM & DECONSTRUCT: the pre- affirms the post- and immediately tries numerous "helpful" and "pragmatic" tactics to neutralize the specific elements which distinguish the novelty of the post-; e.g. flakes supporting Wilhelm Reich, producers trying to "fix" the most interesting elements of a movie, translators "correcting" Gurdjieff, Kierkegaard or other trans-grammatical obscurantists.
  • DISCONFIRM THE STANDARD: pre- disavows any need to achieve the standard consciousness because it sees the standard challenged by post-; e.g. deconstructionism provokes narcissistic relativism, postmodern politics permits ethnic retribalization; the notion of electronic co-creative reality gives "thumbs up" to regressives who create Fox News, etc.

This last one has two subdivisions. In one version the primitive mentality simply seizes upon the challenge to its adversary (the conventional level) as legitimation for "going wild". In other version the agents of advanced consciousness actually seek out and encourage people prematurely to affirm their views without have attained them. E.g. the Dadaists concept that anything can be art is actively promulgated to the point where a flood of uninspired detritus fills galleries. The willful assertion that my crap could be art was initially championed by great artists who tried to sway the population.

More categorizations to come, I'm sure...

We should add to this:

THE VAIN SWITCHEROO: in which the "pre-" aggressively assumes it must already be the "post-"; a stressful and divisive caricature of the actually "post-" is asserted as though it were well-known and universal agreed with; one often sees this in the case of Amber and Orange attacking Green in the full self-flattery of assuming they have already triumphed over that lowly stage with all its obvious errors.

And note that must of the agitation of the lower seems to target lower or incomplete elements within the higher. Thus Orange frequently and unfairly attacks Green based on the assumption that examples of Green-Cognition with Conformist Motivation are the quintessential examples of Postmodernity. Mismatches between the leading and supportive lines within the post- are of particular interest to the pre-.

I've devoted reams to just that aspect, even saying that kennilingus is a more complex orange (formop) endeavor with exactly those characteristics. (At least in certain respects.) As is its partners in crime, like the model of hierarchical complexity, which don't understand how an accurate postmetaphysical level is constituted based on real reason, since they are engaged in metaphysically false reason. The latter is even extended into the so-called postformal levels, still tainted by the same metaphysics.

I know, I can be and have been accused of the same phenomenon in terms of being a green misinterpreting yellow and above. Time will tell which is the more accurate 'integral' view.

So somehow the notion of "lines" must enter into this discussion. 

The cognitive truth of trans-rational stages is that they are VERY RATIONAL.  And yet, presumably, a person can have only the most minimal cognitive access to a particular altitude while holding a great deal of energy in their spiritual, emotional or ethical modules of intelligence.  That would necessarily look like a person who has a lot feeling about certain post-formal topics but only very infrequently sounds "sane" on these topics. 

This must be added to the straight up deceptions and self-deceptions and misunderstandings involved in pre-formal personalities (and sub-personalities within ourselves) attributing post-formal status to themselves.

A lack of "fullness" or "width of stability" at one's peak cognitive altitude is almost a guarantee that one will manifest in ways that swamp the very structures and issues of that level with half-crystallized, misdirected and oddly-inappropriate-but-strongly-committed articulations.

When these people lash out at pantomime versions of higher levels they are trying to attack, digest and integrate the shadow effect produced by their own inability to cognitively accommodate their higher level energies.

At a very basic we should not neglect the manner in which "dogmatic certainty" (or at the sense of willingness to make a non-ironic absolutist assertion) seems to be justified by the appearance of confidence exhibited by "the wise".  As soon as you can see something new you have a piece of understanding that is less common.  It therefore appears that your trust in it -- even if you can explain its reasoning -- is a quasi-arbitrary assertion. Thus the willingness to make such assertions in the absence of "seeing more" is provoked.

What we essentially need is a concept which allows us to discern whether higher approaches are themselves inevitably provoking pre-conventional responses or whether this is associated with a fault, offensive or misguided appearance of the Higher.

For example --

Is the anti-Green insurgency in America a direct result of the nature of Green or a result of the "Amber" style in which Green appears and enters into Amberish conflict with the Amber substrate of other major social values blocs?

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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

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