This dude also deserves a thread, a postmetaphysical visionary of an integral paradigm different from the trademarked variety. And quite "spiritual" to boot, if by that we mean creating a more equitable and humane lifeworld in which all can thrive and aspire to their highest potentials. From the integral capitalism thread:


Have you discussed Jeremy Rifkin's notion of "distributed capitalism," based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models, which he discussed in his book, The Empathic Civilization?  I skimmed the thread and didn't see mention of it, so I thought I'd add it to the mix.  Here's a brief article on it.

(An interesting notion of his, which is not directly relevant to this thread but possibly relevant to this forum, is Rifkin's notion of an emergent "dramaturgical self" as a stage of self-making beyond the "existential postmodern self."  I haven't explored it in depth -- I've just been reviewing his book for a class -- but I'll look into it more and will comment further if it's relevant.)


Thanks for these links. I've heard of Rifkin but have yet to read him. I agree with most of what he's saying but he is stretching the definition of the term capitalism beyond its intended meaning. Recall its meaning from the beginning of the thread. Private ownership of the means of production with profit flowing to the top is antithetical to shared, open and distributed ownership of resources and information and P2P relationships, much like selfish concern and cosmocentric morality are so in a moral hierarchy. Rifkin is right to make the connection between the worldview and economic-communication systems, and that the internet correlates with an empathatic, biospheric view necessary for such shared resources and environmental consciousness. But again, capitalism was all about the exploitation of natural resources as if they were infinite with little to no regard for the environmental consequences. Rifkin laments this destruction and rightly analyzes the consciousness and systems that created it, capitalism, yet by keeping that name in his new view of P2P distribution is a functional misfit.

One can also view him speak on his new book at YouTube. Just watching the first couple minutes it seems to be the same info in the text linked above.


I also had posted this video on his work here on IPS awhile back.


Now I understand hybrid systems during transition phases. For example we have hybrid gas-electric cars which are better than just gas-driven. But we know that it is a transition to a full electric car when we develop the technology and infrastructure to make it feasible. That is, we know we must completely leave behind using a limited resource like petrol for a more sustainable energy source. So with economic systems. There are hybrids of capitalism with open source and of course it is a step in the right direction. But like with petrol we know that at some point we will leave capitalism behind in a more equitable, humane and environmental consciousness with correlative political economy.


So for me it says something about our consciousness to which economic system we attach. Given the I-I agenda of a kinder, gentler capitalism it appears to be on the transition of rational-pluralistic and it calls that integral. Hence you get no language or values about open source, distributed networks or P2P. Whereas I think what Rifkin is describing, that ecologic empathy that is growing out of the informational-pluralistic into the internet P2P network, is what we might call integral. And it is open source, not private property. But again, it is currently a hybrid in transition but we know where it is going and what must be left behind.*


*As to worldview and moral level replacement, see the previous thread on ladder-climber-view. Like I said, I don't think it's a strict or clean dividing line between one level and the next, with transitions containing mixes and hybrids. But we see the trajectory of where it's going and what it will eventually leave behind.

You can find Rifkin's website here. Following is an excerpt from the synopsis on his lecture "The age of access":

"The new information and telecommunications technologies, e-commerce and globalization are making possible a new economic era as different from market capitalism as the latter is dissimilar from mercantilism. In the new century, markets are slowly giving way to network ways of conducting business, with far-reaching implications for the future of society....The notion of exchanging and holding on to fixed property becomes an anachronism in a society where everything is continually evolving."

Views: 3504

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Interesting.  Perhaps they're both correct?  I wonder if cognitive development triggers, or otherwise entails, neurochemical changes...
I'm thinking Rifkin's notion of the 'dramaturgical self' may relate in interesting ways to Robert Miller's notion of a (Zen) philosophy of play, which we discussed in a thread on the old IPS.  I'll write about this more when I have a chance to explore this a bit.

The little  bit I've read about this from reviews is that Rifkin finds with exposure to multiple roles in varied contexts often people become narcissistic because of a feeling of empowerment at being such good actors, at being competent in being "plural." In a sense it's the critique of relativism, that with such multiple roles we come to think there is no center that unifies or integrates the roles so an inflated sense of self emerges with consequent nihilism and narcissism.

But according to some of these reviews Rifkin intimates that what the dramaturgical self can open is a loosening of the sense of "self" so that one can uncover their "true" or authentic self, aka Self. And this seems to be a return to metaphysics, which itself is the other end of the narcissistic dichotomy in eternalism. Are you finding this in your reading Balder?

As an example of my own narcissism, my online name "theurj" has plural meanings, one being a play on the urge. That urge can be of many types, from sex to hunger to art etc. So I tend to like words with urge in them, like dramaturge. It's like the urge to dramatize, like being a drama queen or king. We all know folks like that. I'm like that in some ways, certainly in my online persona, and when I dance.

That last post free associated with this song, not sure why. Maybe because of the mirror image, how it can lead to narcissism and/or a deepening examination of oneself?

Man in the Mirror/Below the Surface by Dan Fogelberg

Looking at some of Rifkin's comments in TEC via the free Google book preview (without page numbers*) he discusses that a separate self sense is requisite to having empathy for another, that there has to be not only connection but boundary. I have no problem with that but with the notion of an "authentic" self, as if there is an inherent, given, individual self or soul that we uncover rather than this separate, individual self is enacted via its unique circumstances. Of course there is a unique "I' for each of us, not just contextually but down to our physical genetics. But it is not a metaphysical entity. For example he says: "To be authentic presupposes an immutable, core self." He says that without this authentic self we can lose accountability and I say we can retain accountability with a constructed self (within individual genetics) just fine without an "immutable core."

* I'm referencing Chapter 14, section "The relational self in an interconnected world," the page with footnotes 36 and 37.

He then talks about the actual, ideal and true selves.* The fist is what we show to others, the second is what we aspire to and the latter is who we "really" perceive ourselves to be. Yet none of these selves are immutable, all changing throughout  a lifetime. In fact, the more mutable they all are the more well-adjusted we become. Granted they cannot remain in constant flux without some core stability but none of them certainly ever become "immutable cores." Or if they do, it is to that extent that we are dysfunctional.

* Same chapter, page with footnote 48.

Interesting; I'll check that out.  I would agree, arguing for an immutable "core self" is an unnecessary step in a metaphysical direction.  I had been skipping ahead and reading a little of his dramaturgical chapter last night and had only picked up from that (so far) that he felt authenticity involved being true to your feelings -- still role-playing, but like a method actor, with depth and congruence of feeling.

I think Rifkin makes a good contribution towards outlining a theory of morality that is compatible with an integral, postmetaphysical approach -- one which, to me, gives some practical traction to Wilber's more abstract notion of the BMI.  In positing empathy and compassion as the embodied basis of morality, Rifkin follows the lead of both Schopenhauer and Lakoff & Johnson, among others. 


A common criticism I've heard of this approach is that "empathy" -- feeling another's feelings, commiserating with another's suffering -- is perhaps good for helping us to feel better, or to make social connections, but is insufficient as a moral response.  But when Rifkin speaks about "empathic consciousness," I don't think he is speaking simply about sharing emotions, or trying (in pre/trans fashion) to make empathic responsiveness replace, or do the "work" of, higher-level moral reasoning; rather, he is describing a centauric, or post-centauric, stage of conscious development, which reintegrates organismic intelligence with our formal capacity to reason, regulate and cultivate affect, etc. 


In relation to this, Martin Hoffman, whom Rifkin mentions in his book, describes five stages of empathic development, the first three of which are relatively primitive and biologically determined, with the last two potentially emerging (in properly conducive social contexts) with the development of language, rational thought, and increased powers of perspective-taking.  The final stage in Hoffman's scheme (though it wouldn't be the final stage in an Integral model) is role-taking, or perspective-taking.  This stage of empathic arousal is what allows us to imaginatively inhabit others' shoes, and to identify with whole classes of individuals or beings (in expanding circles as we develop).  The relevance of this, as Rifkin suggests, is that empathy -- especially when developed into the 2nd-tier, centauric form he calls Empathic Consciousness -- can help bridge the is/ought gap that has marked much traditional and modern moral philosophizing (as Hume notes) and essentially provide a new, integral, embodied foundation for morality (as opposed, for instance, to the disembodied forms taken both in Freudian and Kantian models).  In Freud's scheme, for example, people are moral because they fear punishment -- by family, society, or superego.  In the latter instance, there remains an unbridgeable gap between the disembodied superego and the destructive and primarily self-serving "innate drives" of the human body.  Morality, in other words, is always prescriptive and involves perpetual conflict between the "ought" (Superego / Reason) and the "is" (the body's actual state or "nature"). 


In Rifkin's understanding, however, morality can be both descriptive and prescriptive when it is grounded in the development of empathy and empathic consciousness.  But in this case, empathic consciousness is much more than just "feeling" another's feelings; it is multidimensional and involves many components, including feeling, rationality, mindfulness, reflection, the ability to take universalizing perspectives, etc. To illustrate this, Rifkin contrasts traditional shame-based modes of discipline with a model of discipline that emerged with psychological consciousness: induction discipline.  As Hoffman explains it, parents who practice induction discipline, rather than simply shaming and punishing the child, help their children to perceive the consequences of their actions, to empathically identify with the injured party, to assume some measure of responsibility (begin to recognize their role as causal agents in the situation), and often also to take some reparative action (hugging, saying I'm sorry, returning the toy, etc).  In Rifkin's view, the empathic training here is simultaneously the cultivation and establishment of moral vision.  In other words, an empathically centered program of development, which would involve this sort of prosocial training and discipline, can facilitate the growth of principled moral thinking out of, or at least in the context of, empathic understanding (hopefully avoiding or minimizing the dissociations encouraged by previous stages), while simultaneously, at the appropriate stages, using rationality and principled thinking to critically assess the limitations of present behavior and further cultivate and evolve the reach and depth of empathic consciousness and the compassionate application of altruistic principles.  What I believe Rifkin is proposing here, in other words, is a centauric/vision-logic model of morality, in which our moral sensibility (and practice) is no longer dissociated from the body and its intelligences (which was the case for both Freudian morality and Kantian deontology), and from which we can begin to craft new narratives and practices for raising our children up through the many stages (and values) of empathic, moral, and cognitive development. 

Does Rifkin cite or reference Wilber at all? If not, other developmentalists and which ones?

No, I don't believe he ever references Wilber.  The "Integral" language in my post above is my "spin" on his theory.  He does mention a number of object relations and developmental psychologists, including Piaget (whom he critiques).  My Nook version of the book doesn't have a good index, so I'll have to look at my library copy at home to get other names.


EDIT:  I take that back!  I looked in the Google version of the book and there is a reference to Wilber's Up From Eden.

I finally got a copy of the book from the library. The following quotes are from Chapter 13, the section entitled "distributed capitalism":

"The peer-to-peer sharing of energy among millions, and eventually billions, of people marks the beginning of a new era that could see the steady erosion of traditional hierarchical modes of organization and management and the widespread adoption of distributed networks characterized by mass collaboration" (527).

"'Peer production' or 'peering' is becoming standard operating procedure in some the world's largest companies, especially in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries" (530).

"Third Industrial Revolution peer-to-peer technologies give rise to 'distributed capitalism' and, in the process, make many of the central assumptions of market capitalism outmoded and irrelevant" (531).

From the next section entitled "From property rights to access rights":

"Nowhere is the old classical economic paradigm and the new distributed capitalism mode more at odds than when it comes to the notion of holding intellectual property. Patents and copyrights are sacrosanct in the traditional business scheme. In a collaborative economy, however, open-sourcing of critical information becomes essential to collaboration. Possessing and controlling information thwarts collaboration" (533).

"The result is that we are witnessing the birth of a new economic system that is as different from market capitalism as the latter was from the feudal economy of an earlier era. Nor is it just a matter of finding new organizational formats to upgrade the conduct of business in a market economy. It's the market economy mechanism itself that is becoming outmoded" (537-8).


Reply to Discussion


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.

© 2024   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service