Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
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.
Using the phraseology of this forum we might ask the question thusly: HOW AND WHY DO SPIRITUAL ENACTMENTS AND DEPTH-OBSERVATIONS TEND TO REINFORCE METAPHYSICAL ASSUMPTIONS IN MANY PEOPLE?
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.
Thanks for starting the thread, as it reflects several of my concerns in recent posts. I'm even going to have to give in and accept the premise of IT as the current meta-marker, just not particularly kennilingus. I'll say more as I ponder, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
For now I'll just re-post some representative examples of this phenomenon from other threads:
From here. (Also see the one following it.):
This Krugman post notes that tribal regressives who don't believe in climate change--it's a massive liberal conspiracy--are trying to thwart and roll back renewable energy programs. The Koch brothers are of course one such sun block, as are other usual suspects like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity. Krugman rightly notes that these folks are paranoid.
Unfortunately we also have the RIFTers on the tribal left, also a bit paranoid who don't trust government or tech and thereby add fuel to the regressive agenda and make it all the harder to reverse climate change.
At around 10:00 in the Picketty interview he responded to a question about the economics profession. He said part of their problem is the ideology, in that in order to be taken seriously they focused on mathematical formulas. Thing was, the formulas were isolated from data and facts in some abstract Platonic and/or Aristotelian ideology (my translation). So it was quite a shock to the economics world when Picketty and his team of international economists actually complied the data on income inequality over several countries and centuries. That it contradicts the ideology is evidence that the latter needs to get up to speed to match the facts. Naturally progressives welcome this task and regressives are still in denial.
Also see this post quoting Thompson:
"I describe a dialogue on this question I had with the Dalai Lama at his refugee home in Dharamsal
a, India, and I explain the basis in Buddhist philosophy for the Dalai Lama’s view that consciousness transcends the brain. I argue, however, that there’s no scientific evidence to support this view. All the evidence available to us indicates that consciousness, including pure awareness, is contingent on the brain. Nevertheless, my viewpoint isn’t a materialist one" (33).
Btw, relating this to the paper in the first post this is exactly one of the problems of Ferrer's kind of pluralism. On the one hand he presupposes there is no ready-made metaphysical reality and accepts the postmeta notion of it being undertermined multiplicity. He also accepts that empirical knowledge should be verified by empirical grounds. Spiritual knowledge should be verified otherwise, one way being based on "the potency of its emancipatory effects." But what if the latter emancipate one in certain ways but is still interpreted in a way that conflates those effects with metaphysical, objectivist claims about empirically unsubstantiated survival of physical death?
I'm also reminded of this old Mark Edwards blog post. An excerpt:
"Should metatheorising try to include all views even when those views may be endangering human sustainability? Is the task [of] integration endangering the responsibility to advocate particualr visions? And what does that mean for the goals and methods of doing metatheory? Are our ideals of being 'integral' rendering us impotent to present a particular way forward? Is the maxim of 'true but partial' reducing integral visions to 'balanced and irrelevant?'"
Speaking of which, Joe Corbett reams integralites McIntosh and Phipps in their ICE analysis. Basically he says they use integral theory to prop up big capital and blame the green meme for challenging such an agenda.
"What America needs today more than ever is a revival of the progressive left, not its obliteration by moderation and incorporation."
As to how post-rationalism contributes to this pre-trans fallacy, I've explored this in quite a few places. That's why I differentiate kennilingus with integral theory (IT) in general, for the former has problems that contribute to the phenomenon whereas that latter more generally can overcome it. For example, recall this post which also applies to kennilingus:
Recall this post from the pomo and complexity thread, wherein a Ph.D. dissertation applied the Prigogine and Morin sort of complexity to various issues. The referenced post is the last chapter's application to capitalism. Consistent with the above are some excerpts from that post indicative of capitalism's metaphysical and dualistic idealism typical of Enlightenment formal operations:
He starts by describing capitalism as a restricted economy with ideological components [...] [which] causes one to avoid any empirical evidence to the contrary, because the idea is what is important, not the empirical material on the ground. [...] A general economy though does not oppose the ideal with the actual, and consequently impose the former on the latter. This opens the system to possibilities never considered in the restricted version due to contingent forces on the ground.
Restricted economies like capitalism are present-centered. The future can only be based on possibilities inherent to what is present, not some novel challenge. It’s a 'feedback trap' that only narcissistically reinforces itself instead of responding to a changing environment. Interestingly, this is tied to 'awakening' to truth, 'a different consciousness' where time stops in an eternal present (259-61). Which all of course feeds back into a timeless Causal or Ideal [that is] bivalently juxtaposed with the actual or material.
Also recall this post from the anti-capitalism thread. A small, relevant excerpt:
I see the same idealistic dynamic or restricted economy involved in such integral models when based on the same kind of egoic-rational consciousness and its hidden metaphysical premises including a mereology based on the kind of set theory inherent to that consciousness. Whereas we see a different sort of democratic mereology in Bryant and the speculative realists, which I'd suggest is influenced by this other kind of emerging reasoning beyond the metaphysical formal operations inherent to capitalism. And in many cases, integral theory in its support of such an idealistic economic system, as it tends to unconsciously use the same kind of consciousness structure from participating in and enacting not democracy but plutocracy.
Here's a good article on how some MSNBC hosts give a forum to extreme wackos in the name of being fair and balanced. I saw these examples on Hayes' show and agree completely with the criticism that one cannot treat these fanatics who do not 'reason' or acknowledge facts as an adversary worthy of respect or equal treatment. By trying to engage them Hayes only allows them yet another forum to inculcate their propaganda further. And he fails to accomplish what he thinks he can, some sort of rapprochement leading to a better political process. The critic comes the the same and correct conclusion as Corbett here.
One of the most interesting things about the film TRANSCENDENCE is how the claims of benevolence by the advanced intelligence (which in this case are accurate) are taken as confirmation by those who anticipate its egregious inhuman plans. This very anticipation is the phantasmic justification for their inhuman and culturopathically primitive actions.
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) occurs when Mrs. Scientist apologizes for not believing in Mr. Scientist. Her disbelief was exaggerated when it was pointed out that in his old-fashioned form Johnny Depp never wanted to help change the world. So again we find a situation in which the naive self-presentation of the higher function is directly received as a stimulant for the regressive assertion of the lower function.
This phenomenon begs to be understood better...
Randi Rhodes pointed me to this study on confirmation bias. When confronted with the actual facts many folks will deny them more strongly to support their preconceived agenda. They did note though on p. 3 that the phenomenon was stronger in conservatives. Also see this post in another thread. Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to adapt their views to new information or facts, which is also related with more complex and nuanced thinking. But it seems that even a complex, nuanced conservative thinker will still fall prey to such bias per this post.
The last link on p. 3 also mentions that the more complex conservative thinker tends toward the authoritarian. It also breaks down liberal/conservative into egalitarian-communitarian/hierarchical-individualist. It seems to be more a type than a level. Lakoff also uses strict-father and nurturing-parent types to distinguish conservative from liberal values. Which reminds me of the political compass discussed in this thread. Some here who have taken the test tend toward left-libertarian, which reminds me of Corbett's contention that a more 'developed' socio-economic system is indeed libertarian socialism. Which of course relates to more 'developed' notions of cognitive processing.
Granted 'more complex' thinking here was not further parsed into typical developmental terms, like formop, systemic, meta-systemic and so on. Given formop is for most the typical metric for highest cognitive stage I've argued that formop is metaphysical to the core. I've even argued that's where kennlingus fails, itself being rather formop and metaphysical and hence its defense of capitalism. Even the Lingam admits to such a connection and at least gives the green meme a postformal marker, if only the 1st degree of so-called 2nd tier. A large part of pomo pluralism is indeed going postmetaphysical in its refutation of essentialism and foundationalism. So we can reasonably argue that our liberals are moving into postformop and our 'smart' conservatives are still stuck in formop to partially explain the above results. And how types might be linked to levels.
So this morning I have in mind a possible distinction within this realm. It seems that in some cases the presence or potential of a post- stage becomes itself the target of attacks by the pre- and in other cases the post- serves as "permission" for the pre- not to accept the conventional.
In the first category such diverse phenomena:
In a recent interview, George R R Martin describes how his Ice and Fire saga (now popularly acclaimed for precisely its post-fantasy elements) was enthusiastically received by many movie producers who only wanted to shorten it, remove the multiple protagonists, make it more heroic, etc. A common story faced by innovate writers in any genre. The expression of appreciation for their work takes the form of an assault on the very factors which make it appear progressive.
The more serious Aetherometry scientists working on developing a motor that runs on mass-free electricity have often complained that their work is undermined by enthusiasts who show up, wanting to help, wanting to popularize the work, and end up putting on magazine covers next to the Ghost of Elvis and the Tachyon Pyramid.
When the Chinese began to expand they immediate attacked and slaughter high Tibetan mystics. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan they imprisoned and killed Sufis. The Jews turned on "Jesus" and fanatical Muslims often make Sufis their own first target for suicide bombings.
These are all cases in which the lower is provoked to attack the higher. And it apparently is not dependent upon the conscious valuation or devaluation of the higher.
And yet in cases where a post-partisan, planetary and bodily consciousness awakens in populations they often stop voting. This is an example of the presence of a higher potential, higher glimpses, causes something in people to pull back to a position "below" the conventional level of assumed participation. A similar case exists in the person who becomes aware of (so-called) trans-egoic states and takes this as permission to flow along with their own narcissistic stream of consciousness. The exist of a beyond-ordinary discredits the efforts and qualities associated with the ordinary. Theurj's example of the more complexified conservative thinker becoming, counter-intuitively, more authoritarian belongs in this group..
So it looks like there are two slightly different manifestations of this general phenomenon. And I am intrigued by the fact that neither of them appear to be directly dependent upon whether a person "likes" or "dislikes" what they see in the post-stages.