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.

Views: 3356

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi, Bruce.

Yes, that could be the case. If so, this move unfortunately would be a bit out of date, since, with the increasing influence of actor-network theory, speculative realism, critical realism, OOO, spherology, and other trending philosophical approaches, not only in philosophy or science but in the humanities in general, there is (in my understanding) definitely a concerted and deliberate move away from any kind of strong social constructivism.

Thank you, I had been wondering about that, where these theories you talked about here were marginal ideas you had picked off the web or whether they were gaining traction in academia. Are these theories integral, modernist reactions to postmodernism, ontology friendly postmodernism? Also, do you think these theories have triumphed over anti-ontology postmodernism, or is it still back and forth?

For instance, Wilber argues that atoms might be posited as subsistent elements of reality, but only for the level of consciousness which enacts reality in atomic terms, which then retro-reads that atomic reality back into the past and extro-reads it out into the world for all other beings. Higher beings will enact, and then posit the subsistence of, other elements. Thus, what is "subsistent" changes according to the level and mode of consciousness doing the enactment.

Thank you for the rundown on Bhaskar. That is helpful. I think in this quote above you capture Wilber's emphasis (at least in number of words given to the discussion), but I'm not sure overall he has a bias toward epistemology with the idea of subsistence. It seems to me that there is the idea that molecules, say, depend on atoms for their existence whether they know it or not. There is the transcend-and-include idea as well. But he doesn't go into that much in these ka/semiotics discussions. We have to look back to other discussions (about holons, transcend and include, unfoldment/enfoldment) and kind of bring it all together.

To cite an example, on p. 251 of Integral Spirituality, Wilber notes that intrinsic features are not pregiven but are interpretive and constructed; they are "the products of the highest level of consciousness making the claim" (emphasis mine). I

You mention his use of co just below this, but I just wanted to point out that you left out the co here in "co-products."

As I've noted elsewhere, I don't think this is really a strong divergence from Wilber, since consciousness is used as a kind of shorthand, and he acknowledges distinctions among 'prehension,' 'irritation,' etc.

Yes, I can see that the pan-interior issue isn't necessarily a central one. It does explain why CR advocates think IT isn't "grounded in ontology" and things like that. IT seems to leave openings for new enactments to reinterpret ontology. Is there something similar in CR? Is there a levels scheme in CR or Meta-reality?

I think you're right that the epistemic fallacy applies to ontology-shy postmoderns. The more I think about it, though, the more it seems the pan-interior question is central to the dispute. If interiors really are an evolutionary emergent, then the separation of epistemology and ontology may make a certain sense; the ontic would be more fundamental. But if something like pan-interiorism is right, the ontic couldn't be privileged as the real or most fundamental, and the separation of ontology and epistemology wouldn't make sense.

Hi, David,

Thank you, I had been wondering about that, where these theories you talked about here were marginal ideas you had picked off the web or whether they were gaining traction in academia. Are these theories integral, modernist reactions to postmodernism, ontology friendly postmodernism? Also, do you think these theories have triumphed over anti-ontology postmodernism, or is it still back and forth?

I'd say a number of these theories are, to use SDi language, teal or turquoise expressions (which Wilber recognizes as well, calling CR "turquoise").  They have not yet become the mainstream view(s) in academia, but they are making headway.

Thank you for the rundown on Bhaskar. That is helpful. I think in this quote above you capture Wilber's emphasis (at least in number of words given to the discussion), but I'm not sure overall he has a bias toward epistemology with the idea of subsistence. It seems to me that there is the idea that molecules, say, depend on atoms for their existence whether they know it or not. There is the transcend-and-include idea as well. But he doesn't go into that much in these ka/semiotics discussions. We have to look back to other discussions (about holons, transcend and include, unfoldment/enfoldment) and kind of bring it all together.

Yes, I believe IT, taken as a whole, has resources to avoid such a charge, or to respond fairly adequately to it*.  But there are passages where the emphasis seems to make IT vulnerable to this charge, and Wilber's responses (so far) haven't really met the criticism(s) in a direct enough way to be effective (in my opinion).

*I think some reformulation and adjustment might help as well. 

You mention his use of co just below this, but I just wanted to point out that you left out the co here in "co-products."

Thank you for pointing that out.  The discrepancy came from my electronic version of the text, where it just says "products," not "co-products."  My hard copy does say "co-products," but I was using the electronic one as a reference when I was writing.

I think you're right that the epistemic fallacy applies to ontology-shy postmoderns. The more I think about it, though, the more it seems the pan-interior question is central to the dispute. If interiors really are an evolutionary emergent, then the separation of epistemology and ontology may make a certain sense; the ontic would be more fundamental. But if something like pan-interiorism is right, the ontic couldn't be privileged as the real or most fundamental, and the separation of ontology and epistemology wouldn't make sense.

One reason why I think it is not central to the debate is that several philosophical systems that address the epistemic fallacy are also pan-interiorist or pan-psychic or pan-semiotic in their own ways.

But here's another way to approach it:  the claim that all entities have interiors is an ontological claim, not an epistemological one.  It is defining the nature of being.  Epistemology deals with how we know.  The critique of the epistemic fallacy is not a critique of the idea that all beings have the capacity to know, at all levels, but a critique of a tendency to conflate what beings are with how they are known: to consider a being's being as nothing more than another being's perspective of it, or experience of it, etc.

Yes, I think you're right that there are a number of ambiguous or misleading things in IS and elsewhere that could use clearing up.

With regard to pan-interiorism, I think what you say about the epistemic fallacy is right (though I think we agree it doesn't apply to integral, at least when we interpret those ambiguities in certain ways). I was referring more to whether epistemology and ontology are inseparable (rather than the modern and postmodern move of reducing it to one or the other) and the idea that IT isn't "grounded in ontology" and such.

I have a question about Bhaskar's three ontological levels. On p. 6 of Hedlund-de Wit's paper he says that the empirical is what we observe or experience, including through microscopes, historical documents, and other injunctions. But then he lists the Big Bang and the French revolution as examples of the actual -- how do we know about those apart from historical documents and (radio) telescopes? Is the actual simply past events? Then, by what injunctions do we know the real?

https://metaintegral.org/sites/default/files/Critical%20Realism_4-1...

Hi, David, asking you to please keep in mind that, while I've read some essays and a book by Bhaskar, most of my knowledge of his approach comes from secondary sources (writings by speculative realists, object oriented ontologists, and Whiteheadians), I'll offer my understanding of his three ontological levels for what it's worth.

The actual level is the level of events, past and present, whether observed or unobserved.  Imagine a sleeping person: as they sleep, they maybe roll over in bed, or a brief muscle spasm plays across their face.  No one is there to witness it, and the sleeping person herself is unaware of these events, but nonetheless they take place.  If a camera was running as she was sleeping (as in the Paranormal movies!), then these events would be recorded and "observed," but without a camera or a conscious observing spouse or partner, they still would actually take place without "registering" on the empirical level.  This is the actual.  The only way we know, with some certainty, that these unobserved actual events occurred is through our encountering "traces" of them in the empirical after the fact.  For instance, a person might have gone to sleep on their right side, but they wake up on their left.  However, the actual may also be observed (in which case it coincides with the empirical). 

Both the actual and empirical are still differentiated from the level of the "real," however, because -- as Bhaskar argues -- some aspects of an entity (structures, mechanisms, powers) usually remain dormant or inactive or unexpressed during an actual occasion.  Entities don't "show all their cards" at once, in part because the relations into which they enter with other entities resonate with or connect to or activate some aspects of their being, but not others.  Bhaskar argues this is why experimental injunctions are necessary: there are generative mechanisms and powers in entities which are not empirically evident in ordinary experience and which underlie (without being wholly reducible to) various acts or events (the actual).  As such, they can only be discerned when we create special, closed experimental conditions to activate them or call them forth.  The injunction for knowing the real is to create conditions which actualize the real (cause these hidden, unexpressed potentials to manifest).

Does this help?

I have a question. So we might draw out into the actual and empirical some latent real potentialities via controlled experiments. I presume though this is not to say that we can draw out all of the latent real potentials if we could but devise enough experiments? Bryant might say that this withdrawn real (in distinction from the actual real) is virtually infinite.

A comment on the actual/empirical. The cognitive unconscious, for example, has quite a bit of actuality of which we can infer empirically though not experience directly. Which of course helps us tremendously in using such data to curb the overstatements of phenomenological access to postmetaphysically ground claims of god or nirvana or the causal. But then there is the transcendental deduction of what must be necessary to get the actual going. So is this part of Bhaskar's real or actual?

We see this explored in Bryant and DeLanda, that we have withdrawn and virtual generative mechanisms that we infer from traces in the actual, like attractors. According to them such attractors never enter into the actual and hence the empirical, yet it seems we can empirically use them anyway.

Great questions.  In my understanding, yes, Bhaskar's notion is similar: the real is such that it is virtually infinite: no set of experiments will entirely exhaust or expose the real.

But then there is the transcendental deduction of what must be necessary to get the actual going. So is this part of Bhaskar's real or actual?

Yes, the transcendental deduction addresses the "real," as that which is necessary to get the actual going.  was that your question, or were you asking more specifically whether Bhaskar would consider the cognitive unconscious to be the actual or the real?  If the latter, I haven't heard him address this directly, but it would seem to me that cognitive science deals with both: trying to discern the activity of the cognitive unconscious, and also to posit and test for possible generative mechanisms of/for the cognitive unconscious.

I guess my inquiry is about the strict boundaries between Bhaskar's 3 elements. It seems we can infer a lot about the real and test those assumptions to make ontological statements about the ontic. So in that sense the real ontic is not unavailable to the actual or the empirical, at least in part. To say the real, or the virtual in Bryant's case, is strictly withdrawn seems a bit too dogmatic perhaps? To use Bryant's own Borromean hypothesis, there are areas of overlap and connection between these domains, none being 'pure.'

Yes, that's a similar concern to one I think we both voiced, in our own ways, at the beginning of the OOO thread: whether the withdrawn is conceived as a fully withdrawn, always-the-same, inaccessible core.  I objected to Bryant on that basis, only to learn that he actually didn't hold that view (but Harman did).  I prefer the definition of the real as the irreducibility of a being to how it is known or accessed or perceived.  Bhaskar does say something similar, defining the 'real' as the irreducibility of an entity either to empirical expressions or actual events.  That seems workable to me.  I'm not sure whether he goes farther to posit a Harmanian "always withdrawn" essence; I think not, but I'm not sure.

So returning to semiotics and applying Bryant, we might say that each of his elements are predominantly in one domain but obviously share 'space' with the others: the signifier the symbolic, the signified the imaginary, the referent the real. More later as I ponder.

A related discussion is taking place on a Facebook forum, so I wanted to copy some relevant posts over here:

BRUCE:  David, this is a tangent, but, recalling our recent discussion on the Integral Semiotics thread, have you noticed how -- or if -- Wilber makes room for a transcendental signified in his latest formulation of Integral Semiotics?

DAVID:  Bruce, that's an interesting question. It seems to me that he first of all makes room for it by including referents (there's something outside the text) and then modifies or contextualizes the idea in developmental perspectives.

So he says anyone can see a particular referent (or grasp a transcendental signified) if they can enact the worldspace the referent arises in:

"A dog exists in the sensorimotor worldspace, and can be seen by any holon with physical eyes. The square root of a negative one exists in the rational worldspace, and can be seen by anyone who develops to the dimension of formal operations. And Buddha-nature exists in the causal worldspace, and can be easily seen by anybody who develops to that very real dimension of their own state possibilities."

Later he says: "All signifieds are actually developmental signifieds, and exist in the Upper Left at some specific altitude (red, amber, orange, green, indigo, etc.)."

So transcendental within a given worldspace.

So it seems to me that when he says, for example, enacting/disclosing an atom requires at least an Orange altitude, that implies a global kosmic habit or morphogenetic groove that anyone of that altitude can tap into through any language and culture and, if they take the injunction, grasp that signified. And then the interpretation is further relativized and contextualized by language type, culture type, etc.

But all that is setting aside the remark about situating referents in the LL.  What do you think?

BRUCE:  Hi, David, the comment about the LL does make things a bit complicated, doesn't it? My understanding is that Derrida, in criticizing the notion of a transcendental signified, was criticizing the belief in a fixed, absolute, irreducible, timeless, wholly transparent "signified" that transcends the system and is not subject to historical change (and which, incidentally, would therefore allow for pure, unaltered and unadulterated translation between all systems). He pointed out, for instance, that the God of a given historical period transforms with the emergence of a new culture; that it shifts in its significance and form as history unfolds. A signified which is worldview- or worldspace-dependent, and which operates in a world of multiple objects (a la Hargens), would appear not to be such a transcendental signified.

JOEL:  "All signifieds are actually developmental signifieds, and exist in the Upper Left at some specific altitude (red, amber, orange, green, indigo, etc.)."

By saying this is Wilber (correct?) saying that they do not "exist in" the other quadrants?

David: Bruce, yes, I'm not taking the word "transcendental" that literally. Derrida didn't admit to a pure transcendental signified either, just enough to allow translation. And certainly there isn't a timeless interpretation, though there could be a timeless "experience." But with regard to translation, I wonder what makes Derrida an authority since he admitted to only speaking one language.

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