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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So what makes a person or idea integral? Do they always have to consciously address all 4 quadrants in any given statement or activity? Does each quadrant have to have a certain level of development? And what is an integral cognitive level of development? Is it postformal operations? If so, what level of postop? Does said level have to also be postmetaphysical? We've already seen that postop isn't necessarily postmetaphysical but can be heavily enmeshed in the metaphysics of presence. Does one have to have stable development in the 4 states to be integral? We've already seen that many of those in meditative traditions might have achieved this and are still quite metaphysical. Does one have to think with real and not false reason? And that's just a start to defining it.

And then there's the issue of complexity, since it seems there's a direct correlation by many between that and an integral worldview. But what kind of complexity? The model of hierarchical complexity variety of Common et al? The dynamic systems variety of Fischer et al? The variety espoused by Morin, DeLanda or the speculative realists? Or some totalitarian metatheory that subsumes them all?

Then there's postmetatheory as highlighted in the Introduction to "Metatheory in the 21st Century." I appreciate that Murray's last chapter was valued for 'prepositioning' metatheory itself, something I've long harped on in the relationship of image schema to differance. Also how it anchors abstract metatheory in the body, for without that it's just more 'complex' but less 'real,' more metaphysical and less postmetaphysical. Of course it we use metatheory's usual definitions and assumptions then postmetatheory would transcend and include and thereby supersede metatheory, thereby outmeta-ing the meta. Poetic justice, that. E.g.:

"The final chapter of the volume is Tom Murray’s "Contributions of Embodied Philosophy to Ontological Questions in Critical Realism and Integral Theory”. This chapter takes a different approach than previous chapters in that it is less concerned with the relationship or possible synthesis between critical realism and integral theory. Instead, Murray draws on the field of embodied philosophy (a la Lakoff and Johnson’s position of embodied realism) to augment both CR and IT. He introduces a number of the core distinctions and findings of embodied realism and illustrates how these notions can ground integrative metatheories like CR and IT. He focuses on epistemological and ontological issues, which is quite useful given that it is within these contexts that most of the philosophical challenges and opportunities exist between these two approaches. In some respects this final chapter represents position 0 in that it foregrounds the process of integrative metatheorizing and helps establish the clearing of such metathinking and meta-practice" (28-9).

A draft of that chapter can be found here.

Hi Edwyrd. I'm interested in this question, topic and related themes. It was good reading the fb posts.

I hope to take the time soon to read what you have posted and to give some level of reply, soon.

Murray reiterates some of Edwards' et al. points. E.g., that categories often overlap and that categorizing too rigidly leads to miscategorizing certain things to fit into a one-size-fits-all schema. Hence Edwards' far broader lens categories usually missing from AQAL. And as I noted previously, Edwards admits that all those lenses seem as if to be inherent in ontology itself due to their continual recurrence. Indeed, image schema preposition those lenses.

Murray also addresses the crux of this thread in that too much metatheory can obstruct what is feels like to examine what's behind it. We need to critically examine our assumptions and epistemic drives, to explore the unconscious metaphors we use in support of it.

"This is not a purely intellectual exercise, but a phenomenological process of feeling into the movement of such drives as sensations within the body, as they arise in the moments of thought and discourse" (14).

I must take issue though with Murray in that he claims L&J do not address development (footnote 43, p. 16). As part of this thread's inquiry attests, one can display development without using the language of a metatheory about it. E.g., the whole edifice of abstract thought arising form image schema to basic categories to metaphor to proposition is indeed a developmental schema. So too is how philosophy is built on this developmental schema, with implicit claims to a more accurate and embodied philosophy taking account of this trajectory. It doesn't have to frame it in the language of development to be developmental.

Although on that same page and in the spirit of this thread, in discussing self and social emancipation he does note that individuals can indeed enact such principles but it "is not essential that individuals understand or use the principles and models in IT and CR." Also on p. 42 he does address one of the questions noted earlier in the thread, that to understand such constructs requires at least a meta-systemic cognitive development. But is such cognitive development needed to enact such principles, the prior quote seeming to suggest otherwise?

E.g., we all use this thing called the internet while most of us have not a clue as to how it works. And yet by such use we are inculcated with an ethic of sharing information as well as enacting its structure via distributed networking. It's a point I've made repeatedly about the emerging collaborative commons, that via the tech most of us are enacting it without necessarily knowing any of its metatheoretical underpinnings. And in so doing we are enacting its ecological consciousness without necessarily knowing what the hell that means.

"Man's activity is the substance of his consciousness." (Leontiev, 1977, p.18)

"For Cooley the mind is not first individual and then social. The mind itself in the individual arises through communication." (George Herbert Mead, 1930)

"The social dimension of consciousness is primary in time and in fact. The individual dimension of consciousness is derivative and secondary" (Vygotsky, 1979, p.30).

As quoted by Edwards in "The depth of the exteriors, part two" relevant to this discussion.

Also check out this article form the 2015 Integral Theory Conference: "Gebser's structures of consciousness and somatic development." It reinforces what I've discussed at length in the Ning IPS thread on the fold. We need to fully integrate previous structures but we don't return to the original state in which they emerged. This is especially important since we entered the deficient  rational stage which has unbalanced the earlier structures. A large part of that deficiency is to "due to the introduction and solidification of perspectivity. The practice of arranging individual elements along a sequential line skews one’s view on reality. Any language arising from the rational structure will naturally describe a perspectival world" (28).

The emerging integral consciousness is an "integration of all structures of consciousness [and] is not to be confused with an 'expansion of consciousness,' which would indicate a quantification of consciousness" (29). It is more of an intensification and coherence of all existing structures. "This shift away from linear perspective requires a sensate connection with life" (29). How do we do that? While the paper didn't go into detail on that, it die go into detail making the connections between structures of consciousness and the nervous system. The earliest archaic structure was related to the dorsal vagus complex. The magical structure is related to the sympathetic vagus complex. The mythic structure relates to the ventral vagus complex and the rational structure to the neo-cortex.

Therefore specific practices designed to engage each of these neural structures can keep them all functioning together in an integrated fashion, i.e., an integral transformative practice (ITP). But we must also be careful when using the rational neo-cortex for the purpose of healthy integration to not slip over to its deficient side, for that will indeed upset the delicate balance of all the structures from working in harmony. Then we get the type of disfigured metatheoretical monsters Joseph talks about in the forum. This is especially hazardous in one who is too top-heavy in metatheory without the grounding practices that induces the "sensate connection with life."

And, as to the theme of this thread, this doesn't necessitate that one engages in metatheory (or academia) to achieve such integration. To the contrary, those so engaged must take particular care to not fall into deficient rationality. I must personally heed this advice, being a brainiac that often flies into such abstract fancy that has lost a balanced touch with my own previous structures as well as with a felt connection with humanity. Just doing the sensate practices to activate the previous structures is not enough if I engage an ITP from a deficient rational orientation like Ferrer warns in this post, or continually engage in the deficient language of meta-perspectivity ad infinitum.

From another angle, here's* one of my favorite pieces by Heron on relational spirituality. The obsession with individual state experience passing as higher levels of spirituality is akin to the obsession with meta-complexity passing as higher levels of cognitive development. In both cases it has more to do with the relational space between prepositioning both states and stages. His website is here.**


* http://integralworld.net/heron3.html
** http://www.human-inquiry.com/homebase.htm

From the first link:

"On this account, the whole meme system collapses, with its claim to portray an evolutionary logic. The green meme description is superficial, and is itself green in the sense of callow, inexperienced and immature, because it cannot grasp the depths and the challenge of relational spirituality. The yellow and turquoise memes, as described, simply have no warrant or grounding in any kind of relational spirituality, and read like the conceits of self-appointed philosopher-kings. The edifice is doomed to an early demise, which is just as well, since, given its radical omissions and distortions, its use is bound to be counter-productive.

"I prefer to think of the spiritual development of human culture as rooted in degrees of relational, moral insight and not in an evolutionary logic. Evolution as a concept seems best left to natural processes. Otherwise intellectual bids to know what evolution is up to and what is coming next culturally, rapidly convert into hegemonic arrogance and attempts at social and intellectual control. The developing of the human spirit in cultural forms is a different category and is very close in my view to the way in which our realization of an extended doctrine of rights, in theory and practice, unfolds."

Great topic here.  In regards to practices to engage the neural structures - especially related to the vagus, this page may be of some help:

https://selfhacked.com/2015/07/30/28-ways-to-stimulate-your-vagus-n...



Edwyrd theurj Burj said:

Also check out this article form the 2015 Integral Theory Conference: "Gebser's structures of consciousness and somatic development." It reinforces what I've discussed at length in the Ning IPS thread on the fold. We need to fully integrate previous structures but we don't return to the original state in which they emerged. This is especially important since we entered the deficient  rational stage which has unbalanced the earlier structures. A large part of that deficiency is to "due to the introduction and solidification of perspectivity. The practice of arranging individual elements along a sequential line skews one’s view on reality. Any language arising from the rational structure will naturally describe a perspectival world" (28).

The emerging integral consciousness is an "integration of all structures of consciousness [and] is not to be confused with an 'expansion of consciousness,' which would indicate a quantification of consciousness" (29). It is more of an intensification and coherence of all existing structures. "This shift away from linear perspective requires a sensate connection with life" (29). How do we do that? While the paper didn't go into detail on that, it die go into detail making the connections between structures of consciousness and the nervous system. The earliest archaic structure was related to the dorsal vagus complex. The magical structure is related to the sympathetic vagus complex. The mythic structure relates to the ventral vagus complex and the rational structure to the neo-cortex.

Therefore specific practices designed to engage each of these neural structures can keep them all functioning together in an integrated fashion, i.e., an integral transformative practice (ITP). But we must also be careful when using the rational neo-cortex for the purpose of healthy integration to not slip over to its deficient side, for that will indeed upset the delicate balance of all the structures from working in harmony. Then we get the type of disfigured metatheoretical monsters Joseph talks about in the forum. This is especially hazardous in one who is too top-heavy in metatheory without the grounding practices that induces the "sensate connection with life."

And, as to the theme of this thread, this doesn't necessitate that one engages in metatheory (or academia) to achieve such integration. To the contrary, those so engaged must take particular care to not fall into deficient rationality. I must personally heed this advice, being a brainiac that often flies into such abstract fancy that has lost a balanced touch with my own previous structures as well as with a felt connection with humanity. Just doing the sensate practices to activate the previous structures is not enough if I engage an ITP from a deficient rational orientation like Ferrer warns in this post, or continually engage in the deficient language of meta-perspectivity ad infinitum.

Returning to the initial inquiry, Wilber has stated that a key way to achieve the integral level is to use AQAL as the integral operating system. That just by so doing it inculcates integral development. As but one example, see this ad for the superhuman operating system, as it is now called.

"But the Superhuman Operating System isn’t simply a map of our early development or a means to better understand yourself, or your spouse, or your boss (although it helps with those things tremendously). The Integral map shows us where we are going, where our emerging potentials are, what they look like, and how we can consciously and intentionally develop them. It shows us not only how to realize our unique greatness but how to actualize it, catalyzing the psychological and spiritual evolution, of ourselves and our planet."

And what I'm saying is that one doesn't need that operating system, or for that matter to use any metatheory, to realize an integral or metasystematic level. As one example, see this Ning IPS thread on Dierkes '15 ITC paper. E.g.:

"One of the consequences of such a shift is that the importance of the emergence of integral 'being' depending, in significant part, on feeling-work, existential inquiry and will-work, and imagination, as much as on increasing cognitive perspective-taking capacity, tends to be downplayed or overlooked -- even if unintentionally so."

See the thread for much more.

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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?

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