I started this inquiry at FB IPS. Is integral all about meta-theory? And does one have to be involved in meta-theory to be integral? Even more broadly, do we have to meta everything? So I'm curious about how one can be integral and not necessarily participate in meta-theory. It seems most discussion that claim integrality usually go through delineating AQAL, as if that is what defines it in toto.

I'm reminded of Gidley's work. She talks about the difference between research that identifies postformal operations (PFO) from examples of those that enact PFO. And that much of the research identifying PFO has itself “been framed and presented from a formal, mental-rational mode” (109). Plus those enacting PFO don’t “necessarilty conceptualize it as such” (104). And of course this now infamous Gidley quote:

"For Gebser, integral-aperspectival consciousness is not experienced through expanded consciousness, more systematic conceptualizations, or greater quantities of perspectives. In
his view, such approaches largely represent over-extended, rational characteristics. Rather, it involves an actual re-experiencing, re-embodying, and conscious re-integration of the living vitality of magic-interweaving, the imagination at the heart of mythic-feeling and the purposefulness of mental conceptual thinking, their presence raised to a higher resonance, in order for the integral transparency to shine through" (111).


So how do we DO that? And is a meta-theory necessary to do that?

I'm also reminded of this Ferrer essay on integral transformative practice, abstract below:

"Most psychospiritual practices in the modern West suffer from favoring growth of mind and heart over physical and instinctive aspects of human experience with many negative consequences. Michael Murphy and Ken Wilber have each made excellent contributions in offering prescriptions for “Integral Transformative Practice” (ITP) which includes various physical and psychospiritual disciplines. Their prescriptions, however, can easily perpetuate the mind-centered direction of growth characteristic of the modern West in that they inherently ask one's mind to pick and commit to already constructed practices. Needed is an approach that will permit all human dimensions to co-creatively participate in the unfolding of integral growth. As one possible solution, the author presents a program of ITP developed by Albareda and Romero in Spain. Their Holistic Integration is based in group retreats to practice “interactive embodied meditations,” which involve contemplative physical contact between practitioners that allows access to the creative potential of all human dimensions."

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Here's Ken rationalizing his polemic. It cuts both ways. Also see Wilber's chapter in The Essential Ken Wilber, "The value of polemics."

So, to add another question to the mix: Is kennilingus necessary to metatheory? Granted, it is one expression of it, but does it have to be included? Looking at Edwards' encyclopedic survey of metatheory, many of them never heard of it. (Also recall this post.)

That Wyatt Earp incident happened quite a while ago and he doesn't keep saying 'suck my dick' ad nauseum. Who knows how he really is interiorly, but I'm guessing it's pretty much in the past for him. I doubt he is fixated on it or on punishing those challengers. Your tit-for-tat name calling does seem repetitive. I wonder a tiny bit what that's about.

I think some fundamental human values and functions are important to progress to healthier societies. To name just two, respect and empathic capacity. Name calling is maybe inevitable when our not-so-intelligent emotions take off and our capricious powers of rationality and rationalizing become momentarily occluded and tweaked in there service. But to keep repeating the pattern is not "high" or very good functioning.

I find it strange and disconcerting when I hear you giving so much intellectual attention to more fair, just, kind and effective economic system, and progressive third parties, and other favorite themes of yours, but you seem to me rather disrespectful and perhaps vindictive in your actions and your apparent relative inability to question yourself in regard to this. All this talk of embodiment of more nuanced cognition, a la Lakoff etc, seems not to apply to this circumstance for you, to name one. Much of your efforts seem to me therefore in a blind spot or a bit dishonest or confused.




Edwyrd theurj Burj said:

Did you forget Ken's Wyatt Earp essay where he told those who disagree with him to "suck my dick?"  And that's not a problem for you? So yes, part of the word kennilingus is a play on those who virtually suck his dick by being parrots or blind acolytes. So Ken or his fans can't take his own medicine?

And no, I'm not at all impressed by those prudish standards of "growth." That is just one more variant of saying "you're not integral if you do this or that." Not buying it buddy. So can you not react to the word? And  I sort of like Smegwyrd... Reminds me of theurJISM.

Edwyrd, I'm vaguely and specifically not feeling good in this exchange with you. I think I'll ease out of it. It's a bit strange and make be a tiny bit amusing to me how resonant with the collective political 'dialogues' going on just now in the USA our own escalations are.

Also as I have been thinking/feeling/reacting and writing and then thinking/feeling/reacting more about our back and forths I get whiffs of my own inevitable performative, emotional, and cognitive contradictions with some of what I have said and with otherwise aspired toward. That's not new to me, but I don't want to or need to follow that trajectory very far with this.

Of course some of what you have said about me has some reality.

I also want to have a current history with you that is comfortable enough to be constructive, if not more. Sort of prioritize what seems most important at the moment.

So, Edwyrd, gooday and good health.

It's ok Ambo. I get that reaction a lot from kennilinguists. I appreciate you wanting to help me get over my 'problem,' but I'm just fine with it.

Yeah, right.

Getting back to the topic of this thread, Zak Stein did a measurement study of how JFK graduate students in integral theory and practice programs thought about AQAL. This from p. 8 is interesting: "Also examined was the relation between Integral Life Practice and Lectical Level. Level scores were neither correlated with with any meditative, body, or shadow practices, nor the number of Ken Wilber books read." The following indicates that knowing the model itself does not generate higher order understanding. E.g., from p. 15: "There are clear developmental differences in the ways in which individuals in this sample understand integral theory and practice." And akin to the Mascolo article, one area of the study was significant: Those who stereotype individuals, or worse cultures, within a particular level or color is antithetical to higher cognitive complexity, and if fact inhibits it (18).

And speaking of the Mascolo article linked in the last post, this is from p. 6 discussing Fischer's dynamic skill theory:

"It follows that individuals never operate at any single level of development. Instead, they operate within a developmental range – a series of levels that vary with task,
domain, context, emotional state, and so forth. Given such dynamic variation, there can be no broad-based stages of development. It is thus not helpful to think of a person or a person’s abilities as being 'in a stage' of development. Development does not move through a series of fixed steps; development operates more like a constructive Web."

If so for an individual, how less so for an entire culture?

And this from p. 9, which reminds me there is no sky hook, even if it is a nebulous morphogenetic gradient. And that there is no predetermined way for everyone to develop along a single pathway or by following a single metatheoretical model. To paraphrase an old but accurate adage: the metamap is not the territory. Helpful, but when you walk it there will be ideosyncratic variations not seen the the map. And in the case of human development, just knowing the map doesn't substitute for, or help with, actually working the skill tasks.


"Psychological structures self-organize in both real and developmental time. To say that they self-organize implies that there is no single, fixed or isolated genetic, psychological or sociocultural plan that directs the course of development. The pathways of development are neither fixed nor predetermined. Instead, they emerge over time as a product of richly interactive person – environment interactions. Novel skills coevolve with the formation of novel forms of cultural life. Rather than thinking of development in terms of fixed pathways, it is better to think of developmental pathways themselves as emergent outcomes. That is, while we sometimes walk along pathways that have already been paved for us, in development, we typically forge our own unique paths as we walk."

Thanks for sharing Edwyrd. Very interesting quotes you pulled out.

Do stages belong at the center of developmental theory? Good 2004 article with that name by Dawson, Fischer and Stein. Some excerpts:

"We argue that placing stages at the center of Piaget’s developmental theory undermines its coherence by displacing the central theoretical constructs that give rise to a concept of stages. Stages should be a vehicle for analysis, not a core process at the heart of the theory of development" (256).

"[W]e certainly value Piaget’s stage theory. However, we strongly question whether his stages can justifiably be placed at the center of his theory. In fact, Feldman himself briefly acknowledges that some Piagetian scholars consider stages of cognitive development to be ancillary to Piaget’s central theoretical claims. However, he fails to adequately consider their justifications for taking this position, neglecting even Piaget’s own claim that his stages were a heuristic device rather than a central component of his theory" (258).

Also see this article on the inhibitory-control theory, which has in common with Fischer's dynamic skill theory the italicized text in the following quote:

"Piaget underestimated the rich precocious logical knowledge already present in infants and young children, and he overestimated the logical abilities of older children, adolescents and adults, who commit systematic errors even in very simple logical tasks (Houdé, 2000; Kahneman, 2011). These logical errors usually occur when older children, adolescents and adults rely on prepotent responses, illogical intuitions, or misleading strategies (such as heuristics) rather than on logical algorithms. Importantly, the ability to overcome those errors is directly related to the ability to inhibit these intuitive forms of thinking (Houdé, 2000; Kahneman, 2011; Houdé and Borst, 2014). Consequently, today the discrete Piagetian stages theory is replaced by an approach of cognitive development which is analogous to overlapping waves within a non-linear dynamic system (Siegler, 1999). In such a system, at any point in time and at any age, different strategies with different degrees of complexity and sophistication might be in conflict in the brain. According to this theoretical framework, the progressive ability of the prefrontal cortex to inhibit irrelevant or misleading strategies to activate the most logical one sustains the conceptual development of children and the shift from one Piagetian stage to the next (Houdé and Borst, 2014). This constitutes the central assumption of our new neo-Piagetian theory of reasoning development."

Fischer's "constructive web" and inhibitory-control theory's "overlapping waves within a dynamic system" remind me quite a bit of image schema and Edwards' various lenses, how they relate and interact. It seems the strict ladder of stages metaphor is not apt to handle such interactivity. The reality is that we are a hot mesh.

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