Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
In broad outline (I may need to add a few more points), an Integral approach to Religious Studies is ...
1) Meta-paradigmatically encompassing of at least eight broad zones of inquiry, each of which might contain multiple theoretical and disciplinary approaches to the field of religion: mystical/phenomenological, structural/psychological (Folwer's stages of faith, psychology of religion), hermeneutic/anthropological (Gadamer/Geertz), autopoietic/neurophysiological (neurotheology, neurophenomenology, etc), social autopoietic/systemic (social autopoiesis of religion, evolutionary theories of religion, etc). In the spirit of IMP, however, hybrid orientations are also facilitated, such as Heidegger's or Levin's spiritual hermeneutic phenomenology, or Varela's neurophenomenology (named above).
2) Inclusive of the gifts of premodern, modern, and postmodern approaches to religious praxis and scholarship.
3) Conversant in, and capable of navigating within, metaphysical and postmetaphysical frameworks or modes of discourse.
4) Capable of fostering a coherent, integral-pluralistic approach to the challenge of religious diversity -- neither promoting a hegemonic inclusivism nor sliding into a depthless relativism.
5) Validating of emic as well as etic religious orientations and methodologies -- facilitated, perhaps, by the adoption of an enactive, processual, and/or participatory "view" or epistemology, which allows for the co-creative emergence of multiple religious worldspaces, forms of spiritual knowledge/experience, and soteriological horizons.
6) Broadly concerned with personal, cultural, and sociological dimensions of religious belief and practice -- no longer confining the "spiritual" to the (necessarily) private interior of the (isolated) modern rational ego.
7) Reinvigorating of the old archetype of the scholar-practitioner -- dissolving the hard-and-fast boundary, which has developed in recent years (esp. in academia), between the (critical) religious scholar and the (supposedly critically compromised) religious practitioner or theologian. Critical engagement can be fostered and facilitated, not compromised, by serious contemplative engagement or religious praxis.
Nice! I like these suggestions. I had been thinking earlier this morning about the term transclusion, which is used in computer programming. It involves the inclusion or embedding of one text within another by reference, but while I could possibly relate this to Bryant's autopoietic translation, it still seemed to carry with it too have representational and inclusivist connotations, so I set it aside.
I just edited my last post with some more suggestions.
Your intended audience can help to determine choice of words. A more philosophically-informed or academically-oriented audience will likely love and appreciate the neologitastics of 'trans(en)acted a/crosscorporeality.' A lay audience (i.e., peeps like me) might find their minds hydroplaning and skidding off this highway of meaning-making, unless we were given the benefit of Edward's explications in some kind of preamble, which would be like radial tires on a road receiving a downpour of abstractions. :)
And, in reference to something you said in an earlier post, Bruce, about the "trendiness" of the word "enact" -- I believe that is partly your fault, professor!
--Cheers, from Mary the Metaphor Mama
Yes, I agree, Mary. I like Theurj's suggestions and think they likely will be good words to continue to use and develop here on IPS and maybe in some future publications, as well. For now, I opted just to use ordinary words (no neologisms) in the two opening paragraphs I was working on in my review of Ferrer's Participatory Turn. Here's what I decided to say:
"Integral and participatory approaches to religious studies arguably share a number of core questions and concerns. How might we chart paths through and beyond the cultural-linguistic paradigm that prevails in the Western academic study of religion? How might we foster visionary, meta-paradigmatic approaches that honor the gifts of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern forms of religious belief and praxis, and that integrally engage and affirm the diversity of theoretical orientations and academic disciplines that have emerged within the field to date? Can we develop culturally sensitive and philosophically robust approaches to the challenge of religious diversity that neither promote hegemonic inclusivism nor slide into depthless relativism? Can we cultivate and train a generation of religious scholar-practitioners capable of navigating within both metaphysical and postmetaphysical spaces with equal facility and finesse?
Readers who find the above questions to be relevant and engaging will find much to reward them in Ferrer and Sherman’s (2008) landmark text, The Participatory Turn. Consisting of an introduction, which provides a scholarly and erudite survey of current challenges and movements within the field of Religious Studies; three theoretical essays, which outline a number of the important historical and philosophical dimensions of the participatory paradigm; and eight theological essays, which both review and enact a participatory approach within their respective traditions (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and Western esoteric, among others), the anthology provides much food for thought for religious scholars and practitioners alike. Of particular interest to Integral practitioners, I believe, will be the nuanced discussions of the pragmatic and enactive turns within religious studies, the participatory-enactive model of religious pluralism outlined by Ferrer (2008) and several other authors, and a genealogical survey of the participatory paradigm, which spans thinkers well familiar within the Integral corpus: from Plato and Plotinus, to Meister Eckhart, to Schelling and Peirce, to name a few."
At first glance I would wonder why we should cringe before the possibility of having staked out a turf? No permutation of linguistics is going to produce terminology so perfect that it will cease to pertain primarily to its own kind of thing. I am reminded of the unintentionally disingenuous criticism Republicans level at Obama when they accuse him, a politician, of being politically motivated in some of his actions.
One might even suspect that that the concern to produce a truly extra-territorial, supra-inclusive discourse is not so much a recipe for extending thought forward into new clearing but rather a way of maintaining a sort of unnecessary intellectual ambivalence regarding the creative work of turf-establishing. So maybe be a proud monocular holoarchist rather than risk the endless & endlessly re-equalizing effort to make sure that "every other thing" gets a seat on the bus with "everything".
That said, I almost agree with Kerry in the following sense -- that the attempt to approach religion Integrally must involve more than just an integrating of the traditional field of perspectival options which gets called Religion. Reinvigorating the scholar-monk role in a complex field of massive validations is fine but it is only half the story... these combined & cooperatively validated perspectives create a picture of something reasonably organic (sic) which then retroactively becomes our new definition of what "real religion really is". So the establishment of the new terms, the living terms, the ability to distinguish or unpack a new "real religiousness" apart form its historical garments and contemporary conversations as part of the movement establish tomorrow religion is something which should be boldly presented in addition to the great incorporation of commonly established religious views.
Recently, in a discussion elsewhere on the web, Kerry Dugan called me out on something I'd written -- identifying in it a kind of pre-integraal inclusivism. Here is what I wrote, and his response:
Balder: Integral and participatory approaches to religious studies arguably share a number of core questions and concerns. How might we chart paths through and beyond the cultural-linguistic paradigm that prevails in the Western academic study of religion? How might we foster inclusive, meta-paradigmatic approaches that honor the gifts of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern forms of religious belief and praxis, and that integrally embrace the diversity of theoretical orientations and academic disciplines that have emerged within the field to date?
Kerry: This question suggests it's own answer(s) by virtue of it's terms, but... doesn't yet, to me, demonstrate a meta-paradigmatic approach. The territory is full of turfs. To introduce inclusive embrace can come across as yet another turf, a staked claim over and against the rest, unless or until it speaks to the whole of the territory. As phrased it waits, like Hegel, for a New Man, one able to inhabit the new world (imagined, perspected and promoted by its proponents). Meanwhile, the koan of transmission remains. I'm partial to demo/enactment that models the new, or next. ...
In his response, he left out the remainder of my questions, which do make a bit of a difference (in my view):
Balder: Can we develop culturally sensitive and philosophically robust approaches to the challenge of religious diversity that neither promote hegemonic inclusivism nor slide into depthless relativism? Can we cultivate and train a generation of religious scholar-practitioners capable of navigating within both metaphysical and postmetaphysical spaces with equal facility and finesse?
But even so, perhaps his critique points out a tension in my set of questions, where in the first part I am not enacting what I am suggesting in the second set. I think the particular sticking point for Kerry was my use of 'inclusive.' This is a bit ironic, since my two recent academic papers have been dedicated to pointing out the limits of inclusivism (in both interreligious and Integral circles). I used the word, 'inclusive,' as a nod to the Integral audience for which I'm writing -- thinking we can speak of inclusion without falling into inclusivism -- but maybe not; maybe a better word needs to be found.
Kerry suggested the word, inclusive, indicates 'closure' -- which would indeed appear to involve the marking out of a new territory, a new turf, a new Hegelian space. On the one hand, with my recent use in my writings of the pair of terms "generative enclosure" and "disenclosure" (referring to the generativity of autopoietic and allopoietic particulars and of deconstructive/kenotic openings or movements, respectively), I think there is still room to think in terms of closures (or bubbles or spheres, in Sloterdijk's terms). But, in using one, then, I think you'd want to have the other always "highlighted" in the wings. On the other hand, I'm thinking there is a way to think outside or beyond such inclusive (enclosing) metaphors. Morin's complexity thinking (which I also discuss in the paper from which the quote above is taken) stresses that mono-centric holarchy, poly-centric heterarchy, and a-centric anarchy need to be thought at once; only a monocular view sees the world primarily in terms of holarchy.
Is there a word that can evoke this sense of complex seeing, which gets at the broad engagement and affirmation intended by 'inclusion' without suggesting (or, at least, privileging) closure or the establishment of a new turf?
Sloterdijk's metaphor of 'foam' might be one place to look. But ... well, 'foamy' would probably be too opaque a term (if I said, "How might we foster foamy, meta-paradigmatic approaches...")
Any thoughts, folks? Do you see the problem Kerry identified? What do you think of my tentative suggestions above?
Still thinking about the general topic and the "kerry response"...
I guess one could look at the slight difference between inclusion & non-exclusion (resembling Lacan's dialectic of the All and the Not-All). More the point, however, there is a distinction between "inclusion" and "inclusivity". The form might run the risk of becoming a monocular intellectual territory but the latter is a principle which flexes immediately to incorporate any proposed alternative to itself.
I disagree with "Morin" insofar as the inclusivity of holarchy is an endless expansive principle which operates only by having built its alternatives into itself. The putative distinction between first and second tier approaches is that 2nd tier is defined by its incorporation of 1st tier alternatives. Thus to suggest that we must simultaneously think holarchy, heterarchy & anarchy is either redundant or covertly disingenuous. The holarchic principles in Wilber are based on each level keeping active the particular interpretive styles of its predecessors but organizing them relative to each other. So unless one can say where heterarchy and anarchy "fit" then one is not yet discussing holarchy.
Thus I hear in Morin's assertion a kind of conservative flavor -- a "hold on" and a "not so fast" masquerading, as these things so often do, as the possibility of undecidability and potential equivalence of viewpoints. Balking at the possibility of monocular holarchy is a move which occurs at the furthest position along the first tier. Mind at the end of its tether. It mis-perceives holarchy as a horizontal alternative among many 'advanced possibilities". Thus it hesitates to re-vitalize the cosmos its perceives and names this hesitation after the principle of computational irreducibility (complexity) which is already always built into all forms of knowledge. This looks to me like a refusal to incorporate the indiscernible element of interpretive understanding into a model. Such refusal has two classic form -- the fundamentalist assertion (which veils this element) & the intellect slide-sideways (which exports this element in the form of the endless proliferating relational boundary between alternatives which need to be taken equally into consideration).
An integral approach is a gamble on depth, not the quest for an unassailable width which responds to every possible complaint with an attempt to restructure its linguistics.
So I'm lookin' over yer 7 proposed points for Integral Religious Studies:
I see basically 3 areas of concern being expressed:
Here's what I think is missing:
Yes, as I indicated in the opening post, I recognized the initial list was incomplete, but I felt it constituted a good set of points to get the discussion going, at least. I also was consciously framing it to walk something of a middle line between two models -- Wilber's and Ferrer's -- since I was initially organizing these points while I was writing a review of Ferrer's book, The Participatory Turn, for publication in an Integral journal. In the context of IPS and this forum, I'm definitely open to expanding and revising this proposal through our discussions here.
In addition to the three points you detected in my bullet points, I was also wanting to advocate for the development of postmetaphysical forms of spirituality and theology (alongside, and in relation to, metaphysics) and for doing the epistemological and ontological work necessary to foster integral (or post-) pluralist theories interreligious relationship and interfaith dialogue. (This latter is something I've been working on in a couple recent papers).
Concerning verticality / ranking, I felt that was already addressed in my first point, which included developmental approaches to religion and spirituality (of which Fowler's stages of faith is one example).
Re: pathology vs. health, yes, I think that's important to include and should have made clearer reference to that. Between Ferrer's and Wilber's systems, it -- and ranking -- are both points of contention. Ferrer argues that many traditional theological/metaphysical rankings of traditions, including some Wilber endorses, are problematic and fall apart under analysis (for instance, because identical ranking criteria may be used to arrive at very different conclusions), and therefore argues for more pragmatic points of evaluative comparison (more closely related to health and pathology): how well does a tradition achieve its aims, such as lessening pathological narcissism or egocentricity, developing virtues or strengthening prosocial relations, etc. He also argues for asserting (post)modern normative claims (according to which many conventional relgions would fall rather short), such as promoting deepened embodiment or bodymind integration.
Lastly, regarding the contrast between "non-religious" religiosity and the assumed religiosity of inherited traditions, that is something we've explored here quite a bit over the past few years, so I'm definitely on board with including that as well. One area in which I've discussed it is in relation to Raimon Panikkar's work -- where he discusses secularism, for instance, as a deep valuation of time and contingency, which he sees as a special form of "religiosity" or spirituality that has emerged within, and is particularly suited for, our kairos. In this light, Panikkar (a priest) sees atheism as a theological advance over (most) traditional/inherited theisms.
As you say, given the framing of the context, the points I mentioned are mentioned or hinted at in what your list -- its essentially the emphasis that I was addressing.
My three were the "in general" things which appear to be less emphasized in the most energized conversations on this site. However, that is a difficult assessment to make. The tension in a forum like this always runs between the content of a given discussion thread and the ostensible context provided by the history of all the other threads.
So my question becomes "where" do you consider the ongoing, updated summary of the issues that comprise a viable study of Integral Post-Metaphysical Spirituality/Religion to reside on this site?
I'm not familiar with Panikkar's work but I definitely agree that atheism is, in many cases, a religious advance upon traditional theism. And this is certainly a foot-in-the-door towards the living "non-official" religious emergence of our epoch.
Actually it reminds me of a letter I once sent to the local Anglican bishop trying to persuade him that the Randomness (one you compile a list of its qualities and powers) is a contemporary Name of God.
He didn't write back.
Where do you consider the ongoing, updated summary of the issues that comprise a viable study of Integral Post-Metaphysical Spirituality/Religion to reside on this site?
There isn't such a summary. You'll just have to do the homework and read some threads to catch up enough to know what ground has been covered. Hence you'll see me often pointing out links in response to newcomers instead of going over the same ground ad infinitum. I realize some don't want to invest the time and energy to do that; I feel the same way about doing it all over again (and again, and again).
Balder, on the other hand, is much more personable and likely to at least partially re-trace old ground for newcomer benefit.
Hahaha, I was just about to say that Theurj has a prodigious memory (or else a very good private indexing system, or more patience than me to research past threads), since he often is able to provide very helpful links to past discussions, many of which I have forgotten. We do not have a working summary of what constitutes IPS/R, though some members in the past have asked for summaries to be written that would encapsulate the main themes explored here over the past several years. I've been thinking of upgrading the site (to allow for more members and features), so if I do that, I may take the time also to begin such a summarizing / indexing project.
In the meantime, I would say that the "Revisioning the Great Traditions," "Postmetaphysical Visions and Visionaries," and "IPS Inquiry" boards on the forum probably contain the most threads immediately relevant to the questions of integral religion and/or spirituality. We also have archives from threads on an older version of this forum available which covers a lot more ground. (You are right that there is a rather lengthy and involved history running and rumbling underneath present discussions, so perhaps it is a little difficult to detect what are the predominant themes here. They have shifted over the years, and the site -- as I also told another member recently -- has served as sort of an ongoing, semi-private "learning lab" for the handful of us regular posters, rather than this being a large, dynamic public forum. Meaning, we tend to pick up a thread of inquiry and follow it out for a long while before moving on to the next thing.)
Here's a representative sampling of some of the postmetaphysical (or related/relevant) philosophers and religionists that have been discussed here most frequently in the past couple years: Ken Wilber, David Michael Levin, Raimon Panikkar, John Caputo, Derrida, Catherine Keller, David Loy, Anne C. Klein, Jorge Ferrer, Nagarjuna, Francisco Varela, Michel Bitbol, Gilles Deleuze, Peter Sloterdijk, Graham Harman, Roy Bhaskar, and Levi Bryant, among a number of others. But a central aim here is not just to review others' work, but to contribute creatively to the articulation and emergence of new forms of integral postmetaphysical spirituality, in whatever small ways we can.
In starting this particular thread, I had hoped to use the few points I'd listed in my paper as a launching point for further discussion and inquiry -- and perhaps also as a place to do the kind of summary/overview work you and others have requested. So, that's something we can do here.
About your letter to the bishop: Nice! I'm not surprised he didn't respond, but I am happy you took the initiative to put a bug like that in his ear.
This deadlock between people's unwillingness to follow link and study old conservations, on the one hand, and other people's unwillingness to retreat old territory, is common on forum but represents a limitation. So I'm not really "asking where" the existing summary is located but rather using this question as a polite way of suggesting that such summaries ought to exist.
There might, for example, be way of indicating certain threads as areas for compiling. This current one is very broad in its title and its opening post purports to be a broad outline. Thus such a thread suggests itself as a natural site to extend and build up the requirements of a broad outline. Which might involve:
-my three summary points of Balder's 7 points
-Balder's addition of "advocating for the development of postmetaphysical forms of spirituality and theology (alongside, and in relation to, metaphysics) and for doing the epistemological and ontological work necessary to foster integral (or post-) pluralist theories interreligious relationship and interfaith dialogue"
-my sense that the centrality of verticality/ranking should be emphasized more overtly, apart from its inclusion under the guise of "developmental approaches to religion and spirituality""
-pathology vs. health
-official vs. non-official religion (incl. atheism as a religious advance)
That gets us to a different 7 basic points -- which is valuable only if certain areas of a forum are "ongoing summaries". Obviously all options point to work for somebody vs. somebody else but the more readily people can get up to speed and orient themselves in terms of what is ongoing is directly related to the potential for a space to act as a site of creative collective intelligence rather than merely...