Recently, Layman Pascal shared with me a very interesting document -- a manifesto of sorts -- that I thought would be fun (and illuminating) to explore and discuss in depth, if anyone is interested.

I'll post the first page of the document below, since it summarizes the contents of the paper, and I'll post the full document as an attachment.

The Rules of MetaTheory

c. 2014 CE

The Governing Principles &

Teleological Ethos of Integrative MetaTheory

(expressing and clarifying the Dionysian Cultural Revolution)

 

This brings together, in both content and style, my personal contributions to “integral

meta-theory” and a summary of much important material from the collective conservations

of Alderman’s online forum devoted to: postmetaphysical spirituality.

 

HEREIN

1. THE NATURE OF METATHEORY

2. THE PRIMAL SPLICE

3. POSTMETAPHYSICS

4. GENERIC METATHEORY

5. THE DIONYSIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION

6. POSTMETAPHYSICAL SPIRITUALITY

7. THE “LR EMPHASIS”

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I linked to this thread on Facebook, and several people have offered some responses.  Here is one by Trish Nowland (a member here but I don't think she's visited this forum in awhile):

"I was surprised and delighted to see someone engaging metatheory and considering it with such breadth and intricacy all the way to nuts and bolts.

Mark Edwards draws in a scholarly way on Colomy (1991) and Ritzer (2001), who talk about metatheory as undertaken for a series of reasons, (not just as Layman seems to implicitly shape things as, in the effort to 'transcend and include'). Metatheory, as a sociological practice can work to call forth principles and interlinkings perhaps unseen in the propositional basis of theory itself, which might be done to a) enhance understanding of research within a field or paradigm, b) prepare the ground for the emergence of a new theory within a field c) set a conceptual framework for the integration of theories to produce an overarching theory and d) adjudicating between theories.

I'd love to see some nuancing of approaches articulated along these lines in Layman's work, if I may be so bold, Layman's approach strikes me much more as a meta-triangulation, than as metatheory as it has been described, in sociological research.

http://doresearch.wordpress.com/tag/meta-triangulation/

Which is *only* illuminated by sociological research, it is true, but I spent this week trying to locate theorists who actually develop metatheory theory and with the exception of the work of Edwards, they are surprisingly thin on the ground.

We need approaches to metatheory with contours that can be distinguished from Wilber's developmental conceptual framework, that offer unique perspectives. With peace, Trish."

Trish Nowland!

I am happy to see that she has spotted my criticism or disagreement or contextualization of Edwards. Despite my great respect for his work, I find that many of his expressed attitudes about Meta-theorizing are unnecessarily limiting.

It is hopefully clear as a muddied crystal bell in my text that I regard the "series of reasons" for meta-theorizing as being, collectively, and regardless of the opinions of the agents involved, structurally supportive of the project of a basically transcend-and-includish Metatheory.

Trish is spot on when she says that "we need approaches to metatheory with contours that can be distinguished from Wilber's developmental conceptual framework, that offer unique perspectives". This necessary task is inherently mutual and supportive of Wilber's framework (which we must be  bold enough to remove the clunky idea of "Wilber"). Or, indeed, it would be supportive for any centralizing integral framework which exhibits the capacity to prominently carry forward the underlying cultural disposition which fuels metatheories.

The living matrix or edifice of Metatheory is a functional structure that operates (in addition to a dialectic between "convergent" and "alternative" metatheorizing approaches) between the giddy heights of trans-academic cultural operations and the close-up work of clarifying and eliciting new understandings from within particular fields of scientific, social and conceptual research.

In this latter matter the methodologies of meta-triangulation can be a critical ally.

Roland Faber, too (see Becoming Intermezzo: Eco-Theopoetics after the Anthropic Principle)

I have to wait till tomorrow for time to contribute to this thread.  In the meantime, two additional posts from the FB site:

Trish Nowland: Am appreciating the sense of possibility opened up for a relationality made tangible, between an emergent conceptual framework, and metatheory. This barely exists, at least in academic literature so far as I've researched, would LOVE to see an inter or transdisciplinary approach continue to unfold, via Layman's writing.

One outcome of Sean E-H's melding of a (perhaps somewhat pragmatically purposed) relation between Wilber, Bhaskar and Morin was that it made me wonder about what sort of wisdom might be made manifest about a theoretical foundation that was purposed for actually bringing notionally unrelated (and sometimes, warring) theorists together. So, on what grounds this is a viable or wise, thing to do, and how are we enabled in seeing the asymmetries, appreciating the immanent and omissive critique that must serve the purpose, somehow, of knitting an overarching unity, maybe we each individually would meld different relationships for different theorists, does this matter? In some ways, I guess it is a question of minimal ontology, for metatheory, to allow maximal melding, to the actual research question.

As a separate comment, I'd wonder whether, with illumination of the factors underpinning the 'cultural disposition' that enables metatheory, what this might do for the transformation of culture, itself - it's a real curiosity for me, the degree to which culture must be somewhat unconscious, in order to be culture, can we transform it, can we find an adequate approach with metatheory, to actually map-engage, it? What would that mean, maybe, for a real world research paradigm, with it's own unique culture?

Serge Lanoë: At least, if we have [deep] Theories A, B, C... or Concepts A, B, C... may we accept initially that there is no Meta-Theory foundational to A, B, C... But just working on the homeomorphisms [Raimon Panikkar] between A, B, C... and Perichoresis of [A, B, C, ...].

There are various and sundry meta-theories. And no one of them covers all the ground, nor can it. Even if one, or a group, were to consider all extant meta-theories available. For that one or group would still interpret all meta-theories through its own pet meta-theory. That's the whole point of it takes a village, or the next Buddha is a sangha. Granted, I know this can easily be turned into a variant of the old meme green meme BS, which is inherent to the kennilingam meta-theory; if you don't agree with this meta-theory as transcending and including all others then by definition you are MGM. Layman includes this specious argument in his manifesto calling it MOA-1, and it's what Trish first noticed. And which is but one problem with using kennilingus as the base from which to build the meta-theory. But what do I know? I'm MGM or MOA-1, but only to a kennilinguist.

I will grant though that Layman does include quite a number of things from our forum that are not within kennilingus. To say though that they are implied in the latter, even if not readily apparent, is stretching credibility. Many of those forum points came from other meta-theories, and hence we have been affected (infected?) by those ideas to notice the gaps in kennilingus. And even though we've expanded a general integral meta-theory, it's still flavored by those influences and missing other elements from yet other meta-theories, like those that Edwards has assiduously and academically elucidated. Though I am in agreement with many other points in the manifesto, since they were either taken from our posts here and/or are Layman's variations on points we've long made here.

The MOA indexing of meta-theoretical approaches is what stood out right away for me, too, when I first received this by email.  I don't have time to write today, so for now I'll just copy the response I had initially emailed to Layman:

Layman, I like your 'sacralization' of meta-theorizing as the irascible/sacred sensibility of the emergent (Dionysian) spiritual age, and your call for the creative mixing of genres and tones as necessary for adequate communication of this sensibility (though, yes, a few more formal-academic exercises might be helpful opening parries) is spot-on, IMO.  The one area that stuck out for me as a place of energizing friction, if only slightly, is your discussion of the nested (MOA) styles of meta-theory and a few of the following comments about generalized meta-theory.  I imagine what I'm mostly up to (with my integral translineage stuff and my Sophianic grammar) is basically MOA-2 activity, but it seemed to me that some of the emphases and points that Edward and I have made were being assigned to MOA-1 (admittedly, reading between the lines here).  So, this is something I'd like to discuss. 

I know you felt I didn't go far enough in my Sophia Speaks paper, for instance, to articulate a well-worked-out integral-meta-theory.  In general, I agree: I worked up to it and stopped shortly after laying out the introductory ideas (in part because I'd already exceeded my page limit by about 40 pages).  But I take my whole heno-ontological grammar approach, where the grammar elements both distinguish various metatheories and reveal them also to be variations of each other (since each tends to enfold the same grammatico-ontological or topological elements as the others), to be generally an MOA-2 (i.e., integral) project -- even while I have resisted making Wilber's Integral the be-all and end-all. 

I am definitely starting from a Wilberian Integral position or orientation (just because that's the approach I've most studied and most appreciate), but I don't think a workable MOA-2 approach demands that we take one of the existing meta-theories as "best" and then attempt to show how it already includes everything else the other meta-theories might want to contribute.  We can do that, but the approach I've been taking is to attempt to highlight a set of elements which are common to multiple traditional philosophies and integral meta-theories (in different proportions, arrangements, and intensities), but which, in their entirety, are not yet explicitly and actively employed by any of them -- which is to take a stand at once outside of and within these different theories (since each meta-theory deserving the name meta-theory can be shown to presuppose or employ many if not all of these grammatical elements implicitly or explicitly -- and, perhaps, as you argue, to also have a matured 'prepositional' sensibility not so readily found in pre-integral models).  Although I have not yet seen any writings by Sean yet on this topic (only his slide show), I think he's taking a similar approach:  applying the label 'Integral' to a space that encompasses a general integrative-meta-theoretic territory that includes but is not limited to Wilber's version of Integral, even while also (at this point) still leaning more heavily on Wilber's distinctions than on others'. 

I'm happy to discuss these strategic preferences with you here by email, or on the forum if you want to share your "rules" there.

It might also help to review Integral Review's 6(3) issue on metatheory? E.g., Wallis' article examines 20 definitions of metatheory.

A point on MOA indexing:

Villages downstream continue to be effect by what happens upstream. MOA-1 is not in any sense superseded or trivialized by MOA-2. It is minimized only insofar as it is contextualized into a functional partnership. There is no naive hierarchical status by which the workers on the second floor of the edifice can cast aspersions on people who are oriented toward important work on the building's foundations. 

And what's more, the MOA-3 viewing context must involve insight into the simultaneous mutual identity and critical differences between the first two "styles". Such insight, which transfigures and even apotheosizes the basic instincts of MOA-1, observes that the divergence of alternative models and the convergence into supermodels are tasks which cannot be separated from each other -- especially in an ethical, cultural and aesthetic context.

I think one of crucial things we need to look at collectively is this business about tensions between MOA-1 and MOA-2. Typically the proponents, even the very superficial ones, of MOA-2 models have a slightly snobbish attitude about the preliminary and necessary and never-completed work upon which it tries to establish itself. And, just as typically, adherents of MOA-1 approaches have a chip on their shoulders about the attitude expressed by MOA-2ers... and the failure of many MOA-2 expressions to properly honor and incorporate the basic meta-theorizing work (including their suspicions and critiques). 

From my point of view this tension, operating in two directions simultaneously, is both natural and unnecessary. 

theurj said:

I will grant though that Layman does include quite a number of things from our forum that are not within kennilingus. To say though that they are implied in the latter, even if not readily apparent, is stretching credibility. Many of those forum points came from other meta-theories, and hence we have been affected (infected?) by those ideas to notice the gaps in kennilingus. And even though we've expanded a general integral meta-theory, it's still flavored by those influences and missing other elements from yet other meta-theories, like those that Edwards has assiduously and academically elucidated. Though I am in agreement with many other points in the manifesto, since they were either taken from our posts here and/or are Layman's variations on points we've long made here.

Just to be extra clear:

It is not a matter of making assertions about what points are already implied within "kennilingus". It is rather that --

(a) it remains uncertain whether certain points ought to be regarded as implied or overlooked

(b) there is efficacy and justification, from trends outside of the intellectual points of theory, to privilege whatever populist convergent supermodel happens to be sucking up the air in the room

(c) that this privileging operates alongside, and not at the exclusion of, alternative metatheorizing

(d) that this privileging necessarily involves re-inscribing other people's insights into the centralizing model

(e) that the centralizing model must always be understood as more and other than what its nominal creators had in mind or are typically associated with. 

Wallis' article (linked in previous page) discusses the deconstructive and the integrative approaches to meta-theory, roughly analogous to MOA 1 and 2. And his attempt to show the relationship between the two, or "insight into the simultaneous mutual identity and critical differences between the first two styles," might be construed as an MOA 3?

(a) it remains uncertain whether certain points ought to be regarded as implied or overlooked

And, of course, it may be the case that they are both implied (implicit) and overlooked.  In his meta-integral keynote, I believe, Sean makes a distinction between integrative capacity and integrative competency -- with the former not necessarily entailing the latter (at any given point in the "realization" or manifestation of a particular metatheory).

(b) there is efficacy and justification, from trends outside of the intellectual points of theory, to privilege whatever populist convergent supermodel happens to be sucking up the air in the room

Yes, I agree -- there may be pragmatic or other reasons to privilege or "run with" a particular model or "grand narrative" over others (beyond, or even irrespective of, its theoretical strengths or weaknesses).  As I commented previously, however, MOA-2 does not demand that we privilege any single one existing theory; we might prefer, and benefit from, a multi-lineage or trans-lineage practice (and still be doing MOA-2 or MOA-3 work).

(c) that this privileging operates alongside, and not at the exclusion of, alternative metatheorizing

Right -- obviously, even a privileged, and exceptionally inclusive and well-developed, metatheory cannot escape being a metatheory among metatheories, or a view among views.  For the "heno-ontological" orientation I've proposed, you have a (quasi-nondual) "polytheistic" (or perichoretic) situation where an individual might worship primarily or exclusively at one (theoretical) shrine, and might find in her deity (many of) the reflected and enfolded qualities and gifts of the other deities, but others will do the same, finding similar ultimacy and maximal inclusion in their respective deities.  In such a context, there are usually several "major deities" which attract distinct "centralizing" lineages and inspire similar absorptive or inclusivistic gestures, but there will also be a host of other minor deities performing distinct functions, orbiting around and circulating between the central(izing) ones.  Metatheorizing in a heno-theistic or -theoretic culture means one must always practice, and co-privilege, including and relating, enfolding and networking.

(d) that this privileging necessarily involves re-inscribing other people's insights into the centralizing model

Hopefully with more grace and charity than is sometimes the case in integral writing, where others' insights are absorbed without acknowledgement of those others...  Anyway, it goes without saying (since I just said it above!) that, while we may strategically do this in relation to one metatheoretical model, it will be going on elsewhere as well -- a polycentralizing or -centering, as Edwards suggests.

Also, to play on something Edward shared just recently (Bryant's blog on Badiou and set theory), for autopoietic systems or generative (en)closures, what is inscribed is both same and different (or neither same or different): if a universal, then an open universal (in Badiou's sense) rather than a closed one, since in its inscription it 1) becomes what it never was, and 2) reconfigures or transforms other elements in the system in which it is included.

(e) that the centralizing model must always be understood as more and other than what its nominal creators had in mind or are typically associated with.

Yes, our models or generative (en)closures are like bubbles, that slip away from us even as we breathe them into being...

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