Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
We can use this thread for discussion of anything related to the upcoming conference. Alas I will not attend due to living far, far away and have other priorities for my limited finances. The abstracts and bios for presentations can be found at this link. Our forum host Balder (aka Bruce Alderman) will be presenting:
Sophia Speaks: An Integral Grammar of Philosophy
The four pronouns at the center of the Integral model have yielded impressive explanatory and integrative power. However, while they are useful for classifying disciplines according to their primary epistemological orientations, they are not sufficient to account for or disclose the ontological views which inform our perspectives. After situating Integral Theory in a longer lineage of “pronoun philosophies,” I introduce an expanded set of grammatical lenses to complement Integral’s four person-perspectives. These lenses, based on six common parts of speech, can serve both metaphysical and meta-metaphysical ends, helping to identify the ontological views that inform our person perspectives, and providing an integrative architecture for correlating and interfacing various metaphysical systems and integrative meta-theories.
Another one of interest to me is this one by Gary Hampson and Mark Edwards:
Awaken: An Analysis of the Transformative Lyrics and Music of the Progressive Rock Group, Yes (Re-regarding and regaining the flower and fruit of Yes as neo-baroque future dreamers creating the spiral aim)
This presentation offers a “fusion of insight” arising from the often-spiritual, often-densely “baroque” lyrics and music of the progressive rock group Yes. Various lenses are employed to help empower the hitherto neglected connections between this “wondrous” art form and integrative studies. These include the authors’ first-person perspectives regarding their experiences with Yes music. The analysis addresses various spiritual traditions, The Beloved, and Audrey Kitagawa, spiritual mentor of the (most-times) lead singer/lyricist, Jon Anderson. Themes include: ecstasy, empowerment, Enlightenment, the evolution of consciousness, injunctions, Love, the Moment, nonduality, Sun as archetype, and world challenges. “Songs cast a light on us” (Awaken, Yes).
I'm hoping for a better post-conference price...
Good news: Sophia Speaks won "Best Integral Theory" paper award tonight! Woot!
(A link to all the papers for the conference is here.)
The awards were announced right before Edgar Morin gave his keynote address. His accent was thick and it was hard to fully comprehend him, but I followed most of it and enjoyed it. Maybe I'll write more on it later, when I'm not so worn out. Driving home tonight, I thought about the standing ovation he received from the Integral audience at the end of his talk and it brought tears to my eyes. Much of what he said was familiar; what moved me, and I think the audience, was his passion when he spoke about standing up to corruption, injustice, and abuse. (This has been a common theme at the conference: protesting within the limits of the law isn't working. Something else is needed...)
Congratulations, and well deserved!
Congrats buddy. Well deserved indeed. Bring your new audience back 'home' to the forum!
And amen to standing up and fighting the good fight. It's about time the integral community get politically involved.
Also, since your paper is now available, please start a discussion thread on it and let's get busy?
Thank you, Joe and Edward. And, yes, good idea; I'll start a thread once the conference ends, or maybe once I'm back from my UK trip next week and will have more time.
So reviews, thoughts, feelings from those who attended the conference?
I think it may take some time for me to digest the event and take a fuller view of it, but this was my initial comment on it (on FB):
I left this year's Integral Theory Conference feeling enlivened and inspired. It is a precious opportunity, indeed, to be able to spend "face-time" with so many brilliant, passionate people committed to inquiring deeply, learning ongoingly, thinking creatively, generatively linking the fractured and disambiguating the conflated or confused*, disturbing the status quo (where it is dysfunctional or oppressive), facing into the unknown, and having a positive, pro-social impact on a world in crisis. I'm not sure yet what will grow out of this event, but I feel some potent seeds have been sown.
Half of this impression comes from the conversations that happened between presentations and over meals, but there was a definite shift in "tone" (in my experience) in this year's conference compared to the previous event. There was a much stronger feeling of an emergent (or at least more prominently voiced) critical self-awareness of the Integral community in its relationship both to itself and to the larger world (other meta-theories, cultural and language groups, nations, political orientations, etc). "Integral political activism" was a strong theme -- and an open question -- in a number of the presentations and conversations I encountered throughout the weekend.
I missed Sean's keynote talk, unfortunately ("unfortunately" because I heard it was one of the best all weekend), but the keynotes by Bhaskar and Morin were both interesting -- if sometimes a little difficult to follow because of language issues. Bhaskar's talk was basically an intro to key CR concepts, which he offered as a gift to the Integral community; Morin's talk was mostly an overview of complexity principles, with an emphasis on their linkage to Integral theory and their importance for the multiple crises (ecological, social, economic, political) that we face today.
There's more to say, but my time is a little limited (trying to play catch-up after missing several days of work), so I'll come back to this later. If any other members here attended the event, please join in to offer your impressions or critiques...
*Oh, and ambiguating the obvious!
Jonathan Reams has published a review of ITC 2013:
Comments to follow.
I think Jonathan paints a fair representation of some of the strengths and weaknesses of the conference -- though I would say my experience of the event, overall, was more positive than his. The descriptive phrase for the conference that I would use is neither "giant leap" nor "bridge too far," but a "step in the right direction." Here, by "right direction" I don't necessarily mean the inclusion of Bhaskar and Morin per se, but simply a step toward a more consciously enacted integral pluralism and a recognition of the existence (and validity) of other integral meta-theoretic systems. As I commented above, I felt there was "a much stronger feeling of an emergent (or at least more prominently voiced) critical self-awareness of the Integral community in its relationship both to itself and to the larger world (other meta-theories, cultural and language groups, nations, political orientations, etc)." Accompanying this, for me, was the thought, "At last!" Much about the the new orientation wasn't new -- it was an orientation a number of us have been pushing for, from the margins, for awhile now.
Regarding Jonathan's assessments of the presentations by Bhaskar and Morin, sadly I have to say I mostly agree. Both presentations had interesting moments, which I appreciated, but both were actually quite difficult to follow -- Bhaskar's because of his speaking style (meandering or rhizomatic, take your pick; halting; full of jargon), and Morin's mostly because of thick accent and broken English. Neither discussion stimulated any significant insights for me, and neither made much of an attempt to draw orienting connections to Integral Theory (though Morin did reference IT in a few remarks). For a Wilberian Integralist entirely new to either approach, I'm not sure what s/he would have gotten out of them -- which is a shame, because I think there are definite rewards to be had in both approaches. Jonathan is right that Wilber appears to be better at clearly articulating and introducing his perspectives to a general audience (though many of us now wish Wilber would do more than Integral 101 in his public videos and presentations!).
I did not stay for the end of Bhaskar's presentation; it was going on long and I had a long commute back home and an early start the next day (to give my own presentation). I did stay for Morin's full presentation, though, and feel he got a standing ovation, not so much for the depths or sophistication of his remarks (he discussed general concepts quite familiar to anyone familiar with holistic / new paradigm thinking), but for the passion with which he delivered his closing remarks, calling for folks to actively and forcefully challenge the status quo.
I have to admit to bristling a little at some of Jonathan's representations of Sean; Sean was a teacher of mine at JFKU, and I am quite fond of him and respect him a lot, so I suppose I am a bit defensive of him. So, with that caveat: I found Jonathan's depiction of him to be a little patronizing. I also did not have any issue with the award categories, or feel the inclusion of papers on CR and CT were after-thoughts or poorly integrated "add ons." Perhaps because this still was an event being organized by Wilberian Integralists, the balance seemed appropriate to me.
The major components of the conference, of course, were the 90- and 60-minute presentations and the afternoon panels, which received a fairly brief (and non-comprehensive) treatment by Jonathan. I don't fault Jonathan for that, of course; there were far too many for any one person to attend and report on. But, like Jonathan, I found the ones I attended to be quite good (with several better than any I'd seen at previous Integral Theory conferences), and overall I had the sense that Integral thinkers are beginning to hit their stride (in a more consistent way). Really, I liked this part of the conference the best (well, this, and the lunch and break-time discussions). I am appreciative of the kosmopolitan "embrace" Sean, Mark, Jordan and crew aimed to enact, with his invitation of Bhaskar and Morin to the event, but I was mostly rewarded by the sense of solid, promising work being done in the trenches, so to speak, by folks who are at the edges of, or even altogether outside, the mainstream Integral spotlight.
"I suggest that a more complex view must include notions of fundamental 'uncertainty', existential paradox, and the nature of interdependent polar opposites as a basis for making its claims. In terms of its understanding of humans, integral evolutionary assertions sound more as coming from a formal operational, self-authoring, analytical, and future-focused mindset than a truly second-tier one despite 'postconventional' content and worldcentric values" (17-18).
Balder: "I was mostly rewarded by the sense of solid, promising work being done in the trenches, so to speak, by folks who are at the edges of, or even altogether outside, the mainstream Integral spotlight."
Here here! As in bravo for saying it but also to look here, at our forum. A lot a really good work is being done but marginalized or completely ignored even by the kennilingually marginalized alternative integral academics. As if that milieu is a prerequisite for acceptable integral theory and practice. Since you Balder are now bridging that boundary it is our hope that you bring your more academically insular friends to our bounteous table. Facebook (Basecrook) is a start, but some serious citation in academia would be better. Please, and thank you.