Here's a new piece of writing by Ken (though some of it looks like it is copied from an older text). 

Integral Semiotics

I have skimmed it, but I'm too swamped at the moment to give it careful attention.  I look forward to coming back to this in a few days.

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David, great questions.  I'm not sure I can tackle all of them, but I'll give some of them a shot a little later this week.

All the best,

Balder

“You walk for days among trees and among stones. Rarely does the eye light on a thing, and then only when it has recognized that thing as the sign of another thing: a print in the sand indicates the tiger's passage; a marsh announces a vein of water; the hibiscus flower, the end of winter. All the rest is silent and interchangeable; trees and stones are only what they are.

Finally the journey leads to the city of Tamara. You penetrate it along streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls. The eye does not see things but images of things that mean other things: pincers point out the tooth-drawer's house; a tankard, the tavern; halberds, the barracks; scales, the grocer's. Statues and shields depict lions, dolphins, towers, stars: a sign that something -- who knows what? -- has as its sign a lion or a dolphin or a tower or a star. Other signals warn of what is forbidden in a given place (to enter the alley with wagons, to urinate behind the kiosk, to fish with your pole from the bridge) and what is allowed (watering zebras, playing bowls, burning relatives' corpses). From the doors of the temples the gods' statues are seen, each portrayed with his attributes -- the cornucopia, the hourglass, the medusa -- so that the worshipper can recognize them and address his prayers correctly. If a building has no signboard or figure, its very form and the position it occupies in the city's order suffice to indicate its function: the palace, the prison, the mint, the Pythagorean school, the brothel. The wares, too, which the vendors display on their stalls are valuable not in themselves but as signs of other things: the embroidered headband stands for elegance; the gilded palanquin, power; the volumes of Averroes, learning; the ankle bracelet, voluptuousness. Your gaze scans the streets as if they were written pages: the city says everything you must think, makes you repeat her discourse, and while you believe you are visiting Tamara you are only recording the names with which she defines herself and all her parts.

However the city may really be, beneath this thick coating of signs, whatever it may contain or conceal, you leave Tamara without having discovered it. Outside, the land stretches, empty, to the horizon; the sky opens, with speeding clouds. In the shape that chance and wind give the clouds, you are already intent on recognizing figures: a sailing ship, a hand, an elephant...” ~ Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I’ll respond here to this post and the two following in the OOO thread.

Thing is (yes, intentional punning), the thing (referent) still is despite whatever name (signifier) or meaning (signified) is ascribed to it. Yet while the thing has an autonomous individuality it does not have some sort of ideal essence or purpose; it too is strictly constructed and conditional. Or 'empty' of inherent existence, we might say. So the withdrawn and excessive 'center' is at the heart of all three semiotic aspects.

Hence Cilliars move (like Bryant, Deleuze, DeLanda, Varela etc.) to describe self-organization in postmetaphysical terms, all taking account of the metaphysics of presence.* The latter is particularly keen on putting 'what is' into a strait jacket and holding a copyright on its 'nature' for all to kowtow and worship, typical of the metaphysical nature of the perennial tradition in all its varieties. Hence my questions, using the language (signs) of that tradition even while trying to change the meanings (signifieds). It seems the referents and the signifieds are being put into literal boxes with too strict defining lines and boundaries, especially when specifically defined in terms of pure essences and real purposes.

* Recall this post from p. 1, particular to the kennilingus notion of transcendent awakening, which is still in its integral semiotics.

Yes, agreed.  And I want to highlight this post again, since it might have been missed previously and it is relevant here (perhaps moreso than when I originally posted it).

I'm not saying you are being hegemonic Joseph, but the perennial tradition certainly is. In all its varieties, east and west. So I'm not sure that using homeomorphic equivalencies from those metaphysical traditions is applicable. It seems that when we go postmetaphysical they are no longer equivalent. Yes, the traditions perceived 'real' basic categories inherent to our psychoneurology. And yet those basic categories themselves undergo a significant transformation in postmetaphysicality in all aspects of semiotics: signifier, signified and referent. Hence I'm not so sure that new wine in old wineskins works, as the old 'forms' will continually structure everything to itself. Much like we need a new socio-economic form beyond capitalism to generatively enclose and enact integral ideas.

There may be homeomorphic equivalencies in other postmetaphysical expressions, from OOO to speculative realism to next gen cognitive neuroscience to dynamic systems to the more general complexity crowd. But the latter are '2nd tier' to use kennililngus, and I really do think along with the kennilingus crowd that there is indeed a major shift in 2nd tier that changes everything. It's just that I disagree with the kennilinguists on where that 2nd tier is located in kosmic addressing, as it were.

"The entire cube is present." Even if we accept the difference between the actual and the withdrawn, is even the actual cube fully 'present?' Is the excess only within the withdrawn or also in the actual? Granted there is a 'place' for the withdrawn excess (and perhaps actual excess) in the 'center,' but again, is the actual cube ever fully present?

This of course does not refute the usefulness of the cube. I'm still just wondering about its 'presence.'

The following shows Star Trek's universal translator in action. Although we might not always like the translation. What ugly bags of water we are.

Perhaps another way of saying it is in this post  quoting The Democracy of Objects:

The following quote from chapter 4.4 on translation highlights the difference between a uniform or universal connective tissue like information or light by noting that the object translates such environmental perturbations depending on its organizational structure. He claims there is no self-identical reproduction of said universal (environmental) information such that we are 'all one” substance. Of interest in this section is the difference between developmental and applied biologists, with the former using a type of logic we see in the likes of hierarchical complexity, which assumes such a universal, mathematical 1-to-1 transference of information in building its 'nests.'

“This conception of the formation of the [object] is premised on an implausible idea of causation where causes are transported from one object to another without remainder. Here the [object] is a pliable clay that can be formed however we like. Here information is conceived as something that is transported as self-identical, producing a univocal effect in the body of the [object]-to-be. What is entirely missed in such a model is the manner in which the entity receiving the perturbation transforms it according to its own organization" (181).

PS: So even the cube as universal translator is not fully present to its own hidden premises, assumptions, unmarked spaces etc.

And this Desilet essay is quite clear on some of the semiotic issues of translation, as well as kosmic addressing.

It seems your last post Joseph was erased?

Hi, David, I finally just finished reading Tim Winton's paper today.  Because of my schedule, I read it in a fragmented way over a few days and will probably need to return to it to get more out of it, but for now I'll attempt a beginning response to your questions...

1) As Balder summarized, "he finds that both Wilber and Bhaskar fall short of embodying, in their actual theoretical constructs, the nonduality they espouse -- subtly privileging the epistemological or ontological domains, respectively." Do you agree?

Yes, I think mostly so, though I appear to have a somewhat different take on their relation to each other.  I definitely agree that viewing them together, in a complementary way, is fruitful (drawing, respectively, on the strengths of their epistemological and ontological models).

2) What do you think of his "methodogolical" solution rather than a metaphysical one, following Morin?

I'm sympathetic to it; this is the strategy of Francisco Varela, as well.  However, I sometimes feel (following a formulation by Joel Morrison) that this discussion is hampered because it makes insufficient distinctions.  For instance, it is helpful to distinguish the ontic and epistemic from ontolology and epistemology.  In this view, ontology and epistemology are both actually ways and forms of knowing (-ologies); and as "ways," they are naturally co-implicated in "methodology."  But as ways of knowing, they both operate on the "plane" or in the field of the epistemic.  Epistemology and ontology inhabit a horizontal relationship (which Winton's model also depicts), but the epistemic and ontic inhabit a vertical relationship:  the epistemic transcends and includes (and thus necessarily requires/presupposes) the ontic.  As Joel puts it, the -ic suffix is an indicator of a domain of the "real" (meaning both ontic and epistemic domains are real), just as the -ology suffix indicates a domain of knowledge, i.e. a divisions within the epistemic.  When this differentiation isn't made, I think you run the risk of various forms of conflation (such as I discuss below).

I plan to explore this more fully later in a more developed exploration of possible intersections of Bhaskarian and Wilberian thought (with Morrison's model as one possible means of interface).

3) Do the diagrams signifying Semiotic Enactment make sense (figures 4 and 5)?

I'd like to hear if you have any specific questions about either.  In general, yes, both make sense to me.  At first blush (to me), it appears they could be seen as mapping perspectival / epistemic systems (at Bhaskar's level of the empirical), and not (yet) touching on the domain of the real (at least as Bhaskar or OOO would define it).

4) There's been discussion here about the interpretation of Pierce's foundational categories, but I'm wondering if you think that broadly speaking Tim has effectively "located a realist approach to pansemiotics."

This is one of the questions where I'm going to have to return to the paper to review it more carefully before I'll feel confident answering it.  Yes, I think he has made valuable and promising steps towards a realist semiotics (especially as he connects it to energy and the fourth law of thermodynamics).  However, I'm not convinced (yet) by his depiction of semiotic realism in Figure 7.  I can see how his model depicts the Bhaskarian domains of the empirical and the actual, but I'm not sure if his identification of "semiotic," "intransitive domain," and "zone of subsistence" at the center of the circle works.  For instance, I don't think an easy identification can be made between Bhaskar's intransitive domain and Wilber's zone of subsistence (although Wilber suggests that), since Wilber still largely defines the latter in epistemic terms.  (I can give support for this claim in another post.)  Similarly, I'm not yet sure the identification of semiotic with the nondual and Bhaskar's intransitive domain works.  I really appreciate and resonate with what he is attempting, but my recent excursions through SR and OOO leave me with some questions about some of the identifications he is making.  I will take some more time with this and will respond more later.

5) Do you agree with the statement on p. 31 that "The advantage of this type of pansemiotics over Wilber's Whiteheadian panpsychism is that thought (subjective interiority, psych or 'mind') does not need to be carried down into the physical domain to do duty as a partner to material and efficient causes to explain the self-organizing capacity of an early evolving universe." ?

I am sympathetic with this view, yes.  I have some open questions on this, myself, but I think what he is suggesting here is pretty much how OOO handles this: autopoietic "translation" happens ubiquitously among objects, but this is not always "psychic" or "cognitive" -- it can be energetic / material, for instance.  Wilber doesn't always define himself as a panpsychist either; sometimes he has referred to his model as pansemiotic, instead.

I'll respond in a separate post to your remaining questions.  Overall, I enjoyed Winton's paper -- I love the host of voices he's gathered here -- so I look forward to exploring this a bit deeper, both in itself and in relation to Wilber's recent articles (and some of the themes we've also been exploring on this forum).

All the best,

B.

DavidM58 said:

I'm curious to hear what others are thinking in response to the bigger themes in Tim's paper.

First, I want to share that I think the best background pieces to read in preparation for this paper would be Tim's 2010 paper "Pattern Dynamics TM: Creating Cultures of Sustainability" (this was a 'best paper' award winner at the 2010 ITC). Especially pay attention to the 2nd half of the paper on 'A Theory of Meta-types', 'Semiotic Enactment', 'Integral Pluralism' and 'Cosmic Positioning System'. This should be read in conjunction with Esbjorn-Hargen's paper "An Ontology of Climate Change" for full context.

For a less academic overview of PatternDynamics, you might also check out an article I co-wrote for Integral Leadership Review (Notes from the Field): Tim Winton's PatternDynamics Workshops in USA and Canada.

Here are some questions that came up for me in reading Tim's latest paper. I apologize that these look like a series of essay questions for a test. I personally don't have a very strong background in philosophy, and much of the discussion so far has been over my head and I don't feel fully qualified to evaluate the paper. I'm really curious how any of you might respond to any of the following questions - my attempt to touch on the broad themes of the paper.

1) As Balder summarized, "he finds that both Wilber and Bhaskar fall short of embodying, in their actual theoretical constructs, the nonduality they espouse -- subtly privileging the epistemological or ontological domains, respectively." Do you agree? 

2) What do you think of his "methodogolical" solution rather than a metaphysical one, following Morin?

3) Do the diagrams signifying Semiotic Enactment make sense (figures 4 and 5)?

4) There's been discussion here about the interpretation of Pierce's foundational categories, but I'm wondering if you think that broadly speaking Tim has effectively "located a realist approach to pansemiotics."

5) Do you agree with the statement on p. 31 that "The advantage of this type of pansemiotics over Wilber's Whiteheadian panpsychism is that thought (subjective interiority, psych or 'mind') does not need to be carried down into the physical domain to do duty as a partner to material and efficient causes to explain the self-organizing capacity of an early evolving universe." ?

6) What do you make of what I see as a ground-breaking stance regarding the role of energy, drawing from Stanley N. Salthe and Howard T. Odum's Maximum Power Principle? ("In order to exist, dissipative systems are driven to continually invest their harvested energy in complexifying (increase their energy quality) in order to maximize their rate of continuing to harvest that energy flow. Their very evolutionary persistent existence (sustainability) depends on it." p.34) And "Could the 'aliveness' of energy and its proclivity to 'wind up' not be our source of telos or final cause, which is ultimately to return to its own nondual source?" (p. 35)

7) What do you make of the comments on p. 37 that "Within iSR [integral Semiotic Realism] nondual realization is not signified as a spiritual realization: it is signified as Realization itself. iSR takes the pragmatiasist route and (all other references being equal) rejects a 'spiritual' signification of the nondual by virtue of its effects."

8) Does Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields effectively fill the role of a convincing naturalistic means of 'formal cause'?

9) Finally, would you agree that the destructive pathology of modernity is largely due to the "lack of  a cosmology that demonstrates a place and a belonging in the universe in a way that is convincing and meaningful within the rational paradigm of modernity," and do you see the possibility that iSR might have the capability "to provide a  Grand Story that has the capacity to unify, while respecting the diversity of, the major worldviews". (p. 43)

Joseph,

I’m with you on tarot imagery and activating the subconscious but  a couple of caveats. Virtually all modern tarot decks were created by members of the Golden Dawn, including the deck you use. And they are operating within a very particular western metaphysical tradition so the tarot images are designed to convey very specific meanings within that tradition. Meanings that are by definition metaphysical. So using those images as is makes the task of postmetaphysically recontextualizing those meanings is challenging to say the least. Hence we find some contemporary tarot decks modifying the images somewhat to add, subtract or completely change some of the traditional meanings. However I’ve yet to find any deck that makes modifications to the images themselves based on postmetaphysical enactment. You are working on modifying some of the signified meanings, but not the signifier image containers themselves.

And while I agree on activating the subconscious via imagery for a host of healthy reasons, from bringing to light some of our destructive unconscious processes to more fully integrating pre-rational aspects (and more), the “cognitive unconscious” as L&J call it is not accessible at all. It is akin to the onticological withdrawn or the Derridean excess. Through other methods we can learn a lot about it but we still cannot access it, even subconsciously. So incorporating that knowledge into our models allows for a surprise from beyond our constructions. Constructions that while useful if too rigidly held block novel emergence. In a way it’s like the Fool who can be any card in the deck, whose own very meaning is this openness to change and the unexpected, whose number is 0 which can be anything and nothing.

And finally a word about tarot free association and free imaginal play. That’s why I often prefer to just pick a card at random and get freely associate with it, whatever comes up from my subconscious. Often what comes up has nothing to do with the traditional meaning of the card, other times some relevance, other times quite relevant to those meanings. However in the latter case I ascribe that to years of inculcation in those traditional meanings. The other method is a variation on pathworking. The latter is to go inside the cards and interact with the images and characters in a visualization exercise. Most pathworkings though are guided to fit precisely the traditional meanings of the cards and its placement on the Tree of Life, so that you’re guided to see the appropriate symbols and figures. But now I prefer to allow this process to go where it wants. And again, I often interact with the images and characters in the most unexpected ways, much more like dreams. It of course helps to record them and reflect on possible personal and even collective meanings afterward, but the actual meditation is less guided by traditional expectations.

Balder,

Thanks for the reply - very much appreciated.

Regarding the diagrams (Figures 4 and 5 especially), they make a lot of sense to me, demonstrating Winton's Semiotic Enactment in its relation to and advancement of Wilberian Integral Theory. You touched on what i was wanting, which is - do the diagrams also make sense from the perspective of CR (or OOO, etc.)?

"Wilber doesn't always define himself as a panpsychist either; sometimes he has referred to his model as pansemiotic, instead."

This is very interesting, and at the same time I'm not totally surprised. I'd love to hear more on where Wilber sees his model as pansemiotic or both panpsychist and pansemiotic.

Thanks again, and I look forward to your further thoughts.  At some point I hope to delve deeper into the areas related to the 4th law of Thermodynamics/Maximum Power Principle.


Balder said:

Hi, David, I finally just finished reading Tim Winton's paper today.  Because of my schedule, I read it in a fragmented way over a few days and will probably need to return to it to get more out of it, but for now I'll attempt a beginning response to your questions...


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