Update: His Ph.D. thesis is here. And a pdf copy is below.

Mark has been cited more in this forum than probably any other source. I even started a few threads about some of his work but he deserves one in this room. The following are various posts from those threads and others where he is prominently mentioned. Again there is no rhyme or reason to the order, nor are posts or comments identified, again being the 'property' of this open source forum. As always if you need to identify the source they're easy enough to find.

In researching intersubjectivity and Mark Edwards I found the Institute for Integral Studies and Mark's blog on altitude sickness. Following is an excerpt. Sound familiar from our recent discussions?

As with all lenses the altitude lens is subject to different kinds of truncations and reductionisms. I call these reductionisms the varieties of altitude sickness and, in a spirit of playful finger-pointing, I will briefly describe a few of these here:

1. Lens absolutism: This is the general problem of relying solely on one lens to explain vertical development.

2. Stagism: This is where all developmental capacity is thought to be function of the whole-of-system movement from one stage to another. This ignores the evidence that incremental learning and evolutionary process can result in transformative development.

3. Developmentalism: This is the view that transformative change is the result of changes in an individual’s own structures rather than the structures that exist in their social and material surrounds.

4. Immediatism: This is the lack of awareness of the role of mediation in vertical development. For example relying on Piagetian models of structural change to the exclusion of Vygotskian ones.

5. Pigeon-hole(ism): This is the tendency for stage-based theorists to assume that those who are critical of stage-based models are relativists.

6. Vertical co-dependency (student variety): This is the assumption that only those at a higher stage can teach those from lower stages.

7. Vertical co-dependency (teacher variety): This is the assumption that those at a lower developmental stage need to be taught by those from a higher developmental level.

8. Communal altitudism: This is the assumption that a community of the adequate can only be constituted by those of requisite altitudinal level.

9. Individual altitudism: This is the view that you must know the altitude of your critic to judge whether their criticism is valid or not.

10. Altitude metricism: This is the seriously mistaken view that we need to be able to measure the altitude of individuals to be able to help them develop.

11. Lack of oxygenism: This is the syndrome of delusional symptoms that the human mind suffers from when it reaches a certain altitude.

12. Altitudinal fascism: This is the illness that besets a country when those who wish to take or maintain political power view all of its history in terms of the stage-based development of an elite group.

13. Altitudinal collectivism: This is the illness that besets a country when those who wish to take or maintain political power rationalise any action in terms of the stage-based development of the collective.

14. Altitudinal leaderism: This is the assumption that we need enlightened leaders to have enlightened communities.

And the following is an excerpt from Edwards' 6/2/10 blog:

"I don't see Wilber's AQAL as an integral model of development because it does not use these three lenses [stage, mediation, learning] but only the stage-based lens (sometimes in conjunction with other AQAL lenses).

"To unwrap this a little let's take the student-teacher relationship as an example. From the stage-based view the teacher is at a higher level and the student is at a lower level. The relationship is one of expert to apprentice. There is a qualitative difference in their identities such that the student does not understand what the teacher is taking about until some dramatic mysterious transformation occurs. We see this, for example, in stage-based model of spiritual development where we have the wise guru teaching and assisting the development of the devoted student or disciple. This is an ancient model that goes back thousands of years and is the prevailing model of the he student-teacher relationship used in the AQAL-informed writings and research.

"The weakness in the stage-based view is that the teacher can all too easily become the master and the student becomes the servant or slave. This relationship can obviously go very astray very easily and, by itself, this lens is an inadequate model to use for the development process in contemporary society. In my opinion, there is far too much reliance on this model for explaining the he student-teacher relationship in AQAL-informed circles. Particularly when applied to the area of spirituality the stage-based model suffers from serious shortcomings. First, the use of the stage-model needs some serious updating to contemporary views about stage-based development. Gurus and teachers who support evolutionary and stage-based view of development are very prone to overestimating the importance of the guru-devotee model and the qualitative differences that they assume exist between teacher and student. When practices within insular settings and non-traditional environments, these kinds of gurus often fall into all the traps of abusive power that many of us are aware of.

"My view is that the archaic view of the teacher-guru and student-disciple has done its dash and can only be defended by those who are so immersed in stage-based development that they see no other meta-level possibilities for articulating growth (this is one of the many forms of altitude sickness that I wrote about in my last blog). I see development and learning relationships moving way beyond these limiting views of guru and student and engaging much more with the language of relationality, situational choice, shared play, communal learning, distributed intelligence, collective wisdom, reflexive learning, and action inquiry. The defence of the ancient models of student-teacher relationship, particularly where development is focused on the stage-based lens, seems to me to be a sign of regression rather than evolution."

We can see many of the issues in recent threads, from Balder's conference paper to Batchelor to transitional structures, addressed by Edwards. Part of the problem with AQAL and MHC is their almost total reliance of the holoarchical lens. Granted Wilber also uses a spiritiual or absolute lens, and he does pay lip service to types, yet altitude via holoarchy is nonetheless the definitive lens in his "relative" plane. Edwards calls this altitude sickness (see link above) which aptly describes how we get such monolithic reductions of whole individuals or entire worldviews. For example, Edwards says in Part 9 of his interview at ILR (link below):

"AQAL metatheory has focused almost exclusively on the stage-based approach where development is seen as the holarchical emergence of qualitatively new forms of complexity and capacities. This is, what I call, the developmental holarchy lens. However, this is only one among many other explanatory lenses that might be used to describe and understand transformation.

"But I think that stressing the role of the developmental holarchy lens, that AQAL and SD and DAI have so importantly drawn attention to, has reinforced that old view that we need some 'Great Leader' to lead us out of our troubles. We need a messiah to transform us. The redeeming CEO who will say the word and we will all follow to some new promised land. This is a big mistake. I don’t think that is how transformation occurs. If integral metatheorists see social transformation as resulting from the developmental genius of individuals then it is being dangerously reductive. The use of the developmental lens has to be much more sophisticated that that. We need to combine it with and differentiate it from many other lenses if we are to see how stage-based development aligns with other aspects of transformation."

We can see that such a lens problem promotes exactly the type of guru-worship rampant in integral world, if not of Wilber then Cohen, or the traditional guru model in general.* You see this model also represented in the capitalist corporate structure, hence the often noted relation of Wilber's attachment to capitalism within his AQAL lens.

Edwards offers us many more lenses through which to interpret anything, a pluralistic variety of lens that curtail altitude sickness, yet nonetheless also themselves have relation to one another in a metatheoretical framework. Hence not just a monolithic relativism. See Parts 8 and 9 of the ILR interview for some of these other lenses.

* This is another example of "monism." Or perhaps in kennilingus argot we might call it "dominant monadism."

His Ph.D. dissertation can be found at this link: "An integral metatheory for organisational transformation." In Chapter 8.4 he details the inadequacies of the AQAL model. On p. 224 he lists lenses that are missing, including system dynamics, social mediation, postmodern decentering and evolutionary process. It sounds like a partial table of contents for my critiques over the years. In my modesty I'm almost embarrassed (not) to note that I'm given an honorable mention in his Acknowledgments.

And while I'm mentioning Mark check out his latest blog entry on climate change. I like this excerpt, questions I've repeatedly raised in several posts on the forum:

"Should metatheorising try to include all views even when those views may be endangering human sustainability? Is the task [of] integration endangering the responsibility to advocate particualr visions? And what does that mean for the goals and methods of doing metatheory? Are our ideals of being 'integral' rendering us impotent to present a particular way forward? Is the maxim of 'true but partial' reducing integral visions to 'balanced and irrelevant?' "

Also check out this extended review of Mark's new book, Organisational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Mark Edwards article in the JITP: Evaluating Integral Metatheory

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 1

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 2

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 3

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 4

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 5

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 6

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 7

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 8

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 9

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 10

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 11

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 12

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I've not indicated any doubt about the existence of problematic organizational tendencies and regressive moods within the "kenniliguist" realm. All I am saying is that these particular factors (i.e. totalitarian organizational structure, self-righteousness, aggression toward "lower levels", group aggrandizement via marketing, etc) are not in themselves the source of the trouble. It is not impossible to conceive of situations in which these elements could play a localized or temporarily useful role. I do not rule out the limited applicability of these means. What makes these factors ugly, what makes them regressive, is something more subtle.

It is the same with the issue of vertical co-dependency. Of course it is rife with problems which could significantly mitigated by a postmetaphysical context. But are there particular strains of legitimate teaching which become almost indistinguishable from the negative primitivism of an excessive valuation of the teacher's relevance? Perhaps. And at the very least we would be in a very good position if we could speak of an element which makes the difference between better and worse versions of the problematic behaviour pattern.

So I don't see a special problem in setting up THE standard of "what is real and true and good" if it is done by reasonably healthy people, in a reasonably intelligent social network, and based in a deep prior knowledge of flexibly incomplete postmetaphysics. Whether or not this is what we actually see in a particular case (like one particular example of institutional/corporate "integral spirituality") is distinct from the issue of whether such an approach is workable.

The experience of Casual consciousness should be the very thing which reveals the differential and non-confined element of all experiences and experiencers. The emotional, social, and intellectual factors which lead or do not lead a person to derive this as the "essence" of Consciousness are the real issue -- not whether the map is anchored in assertions relative to the causal, etc.

I want to make sure we are correcting the right factors and not merely their symptoms...


As you are likely aware, I've spent a lot of words on what this excess or the withdrawn is, aka differance. And how it differs from the Lingam's Causal. It is indeed a core/khora issue. And how we come to know or speculate its existence. I explored this in the "what 'is' the differance" thread, as well as numerous other places since that have expanded on my earlier ideas in that thread. Like in the fold thread, pp. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11. But particularly this post, which relates to the in/out, one/many relations noted above pre-figured in differance. And expressed in those pre-rational, differential image schema in humans.

It's also important though in our theory as to how we relate the in/out, one/many based on idealistic or metaphysical distinctions like the Causal or based on postmetaphysical distinctions like differance and image schema.

Perhaps Balder can tell us how he's dealing with the Lingam's Causal and this sort of difference in his new paper?

Yes, it would be nice to hear Balder on that. All three of us (and others) have devoted a good chunk of intellectual resources and communication to exploring the "causal/difference". One of the things that interests me is how much leeway we have to be apparently metaphysical from a postmetaphysical context. Whether corrective specification ought to come in the form of additional elements, alternative approaches or the folding of the specification back into the apparently metaphysical versions. In particular, what phrasing or holding of a model allows it to operate metaphysically AND postmetaphysically while provided the maximum structure incentive to engage in an unforced migration from the former to the latter...

I think one of the practical bits of data we need is to know whether people who engage "causal consciousness" from a pre-existing sensibility "adjacency" or "differance" tend to naturally interpret it in a different way from others. Although we want theory to match up with our best experiences, we also need to know whether this match tends to happen because it is stipulated in theory or because of something else which predisposes the "type" or "angle" or "mood" from which a person engages and assimilates the Causal.

When I, for example, elevate/specify "ish" as the essence of "is" -- am I merely being accurate or am I also being useful? If this is an impression gained by people of a certain type when encounter certain experiences then pragmatism orients toward whatever inclines them to be of that type in the first place.

I've been wanting to respond to this in detail and have been very busy this week.  I will copy below a section from my paper in which I mention Wilber's causal in relation to the withdrawn (but it is only a passing reference and I think more can be said in this area).  LP, I appreciate your questions in your more recent posts.  Like you, I don't regard postmetaphysics as opposed to metaphysics, and have advocated (in publications and on the forum) for Integral as both a postmetaphysical and a metametaphysical orientation.  Postmetaphysics from this perspective is a particular development, not only from, but within metaphysics.  So ... I agree there should be some leeway in how integral postmetaphysics "docks" with older metaphysical systems.  We can develop postmetaphysical spiritual models and artfully give expression to postmetaphysical spiritual visions independently of "traditions," but there is room also to work within traditions and unfold integral and/or postmetaphysical sensibilities in and through their forms and narratives.  (I see this being done quite beautifully by the Polydox theologians we've discussed here from time to time).  Nietzsche's Zarathustra straddles both approaches (articulating a new, independent postmetaphysical vision, but also artfully drawing on and appealing to traditional models and modes).  Sloterdijk takes a reverse approach: using traditional mystical and theological concepts to illuminate and "leaven" secular postmetaphysical philosophy.

This is all I have time to jot down this morning.  Here is the excerpt from my forthcoming paper:

"In a blog entry on the affinities and differences between Whitehead’s process ontology and OOO, Levi Bryant (2010) comments that he finds Whitehead’s three-fold model of prehension – namely, that prehension involves a prehending subject, a prehended datum, and a subjective form of prehension (the way an actual entity prehends another entity) – closely consonant with an object-oriented understanding of “inter-object relations,” including the related concepts of withdrawal and translation.  Bryant (2010) interprets the third point, the subjective form of prehension, in terms of the second-order cybernetics of Bateson and Luhmann: information is always internal to autopoietic (or allopoietic) systems, intimately related to their distinctive structures, rather than a “message” that is transmitted, intact, between systems.  But since information here is understood in terms of difference – a “difference that makes a difference,” selecting unique system states within prehending entities – then the prehending entity cannot be identical with its prehensions; it must withdraw from or exceed its relations to other entities. 

This is where OOO differs with Whitehead’s process ontology, Bryant argues, and why OOO would suggest, instead, a four-fold model of prehension.  Whitehead defines an actual entity as nothing other than the concrescence of its prehensions, in effect identifying the subject with its perceptions or experiences.  But if an object is nothing other than its perceptions, then it is nothing in itself.  It has nothing it can bring to its perceptions – no structure – and thus no “how” or subjective form of prehension.  Bryant (2010) therefore argues that further differentiation is needed to make for a coherent model of inter-entity relations:  “the subject/substance that does the prehending (the real object), the datum prehended (another real object), the subjective-form under which the datum is prehended (the organization or endo-structure of the real object), and the sensuous object (Harman) or system-state (me) produced in the prehending” (para. 8).  When the prehending entity is defined as consisting only of its previous prehensions, Bryant maintains, this misses the withdrawn, mediating endo-structure of the entity (Bhaskar’s generative mechanisms or intransitive level) which translates and gives subjective form to its emergent prehensions.

In one section of his response to Critical Realism, Wilber (2012a) discusses at length the enactive trinity at the heart of Esbjörn-Hargens’ (2010) Integral Pluralism: the Who, the How, and the What (or Epistemology x Methodology x Ontology).  He accepts this formulation, but argues that Esbjörn-Hargens should be even more forceful in his claims about the roles that Epistemology and Methodology play in the actual co-creation of multiple objects.  However, if Bryant’s (2010) analysis above is correct, then Wilber’s Integral or tetra-enactive framework, to the extent that it is based upon Whitehead’s model of prehension (and therefore fails to include, or lacks an adequate means of accounting for, withdrawal), will tend to problematically conflate the Who and the What. 

To put this another way (and to recapitulate the ground we have covered above):  A Critical Realist definition of the "real," as the irreducibility of things to our knowledge of, or access to, them, does not require or presuppose a particular kind of metaphysics; it simply suggests that whatever "is," exceeds or withdraws from or cannot simply be reduced without remainder to our knowledge of it. The reasoning behind such an argument has been spelled out above. Without acknowledgement of such an ontic excess, of withdrawal or absence, we can hardly make sense of our experimental, inquiry-centered, exploratory, and injunctive knowledge disciplines; or, as both Harman (2011) and Bhaskar (2002b) argue, we could not make sense of process or change. Thus, I am suggesting that the 'ontic' aspect of Morrison's 'ontic-epistemic' vertical (or Immanent/Transcendent) axis be read, at minimum, as an acknowledgement of this withdrawn depth, this 'excess' which escapes reduction to any present act of knowing. This kind of distinction can still be made within a nondual, pan-semiotic worldview (Bhaskar’s metaReality is nondualist), so it is not an advocacy for the kind of 'fractured' or flatland metaphysics that Wilber (2012a, 2012b) is concerned about. And the epistemic domain, which lies along Morrison’s (2007) Transitive axis, is the real domain of our modes of knowledge, both our models of "how we know" (epistemology) and our models of "what we know" or "what exists" (ontology). Here, epistemology and ontology are rightly seen as inseparable aspects of a whole; they co-arise, dance together, and mutually influence each other in semiotic and energetic interplay. Such a view is compatible with Varela’s enactive orientation, which argues that "what ex-ists" for us (or any sentient being) as a real and causally effective domain of distinctions is inseparable from the (embodied) Who and How of knowing. But the epistemic/ontic distinction which transects and supports this (but which does not limit us to one kind of ontology) allows us also to avoid reducing or conflating "what (phenomenally) ex-ists" (or even subsists) with the full being of that with which we interact. About the latter, the most this model says is, "Do not reduce what beings are entirely to how they are known or enacted, whether synchronically (ex-istents) or diachronically (subsistents); there is a hidden ontic depth or excess which must be acknowledged as well."

Wilber's conception of the causal domain as a non-manifest but nevertheless real, constitutive aspect of being offers a potential resource here.  In the so-called Wilber-IV phase of his work, for instance, Wilber (1995) differentiates the low causal, which is the domain of subsistence of the totality of manifestation at any given time, from the high causal, which is the unmanifest emptiness that is the ultimate depth of every being or form.  At both levels, a type of “withdrawal” is at work:  at the low causal, the totality of manifestation serves as the ever-receding horizon of being, the simultaneously present and retreating wholeness which is transcended and included in each moment of the holonic unfolding of the Kosmos, and which exerts an actualizing Omega-pull on all beings; and at the high causal, Spirit is conceptualized as radically withdrawn, unmanifest, the infinite emptiness towards which all beings ultimately incline3.  As radically unmanifest, Spirit or emptiness never enters into the evolving play of the Kosmos in any phenomenal form, and yet it may be realized as both the “deepest depth” and the nondual suchness of each and every thing (Wilber, 1995, p. 655). 

In his more recent discussions of the constitution and ontogenesis or tetra-enaction of sentient beings, Wilber has not included reference to the causal as the unmanifest depth of every form, but taking this additional step would likely help to address the problem of actualism that plagues his current “postmetaphysical” account.  If every being enfolds this withdrawn, causal depth, it cannot be reduced to its momentary enactment or its phenomenal appearance for other beings.  Neither the manifest Kosmos as a whole, nor any entity within it, is ontically exhausted in either its actual or empirical/phenomenal manifestations.  One useful move here might be to refute, as Bryant (2012) does, the common conflation of the concepts of wholeness and totality.  In this view, a whole is never a totality, whether on a local or a cosmic scale: a manifest whole always consists of a finite constellation of infinitely possible relations; and thus, while a whole is in one way more than its parts (the principle of emergence), it is simultaneously also less than its parts (since it only ever actualizes a portion of each part’s potential in its formation).  When we conflate wholeness and totality, we end up with a form of actualism, as Bryant (2012) points out: the whole as totality is exhaustive, allowing nothing outside of its presence or present actualization.  The limitations of actualism have been discussed above.  Wilber’s causal unmanifest may thus play a similar role to Bhaskar’s intransitive domain in allowing for a truly stratified depth ontology capable of addressing these limitations and moving beyond the ontological monovalence of empiricist metaphysics."

"At both levels, a type of 'withdrawal' is at work:  at the low causal, the totality of manifestation serves as the ever-receding horizon of being, the simultaneously present and retreating wholeness which is transcended and included in each moment of the holonic unfolding of the Kosmos, and which exerts an actualizing Omega-pull on all beings; and at the high causal, Spirit is conceptualized as radically withdrawn, unmanifest, the infinite emptiness towards which all beings ultimately incline." (My emphasis.)

See my recent diatribe here. This is a metaphysical teleos different from the postmetaphysical strange attractors within the real virtual of Bryant, DeLanda, etc. Bhaskar is guilty of it too in his recent work on meta-reality.

"Wilber’s causal unmanifest may thus play a similar role to Bhaskar’s intransitive domain in allowing for a truly stratified depth ontology capable of addressing these limitations and moving beyond the ontological monovalence of empiricist metaphysics."

They may avoid that sort of metaphysics with your suggestion, but not the kind per my previous comment.

And to clarify metaphysics from postmephysics: If by metaphysics we mean ontology, our epistemic views on the ontic (real), then yes, postmetaphysics is that sort of metaphysics. I prefer the word ontology for that. What I generally mean by metaphysics is the sort of dualism that see a sharp distinction between the epistemic and the ontic, the relative and the causal, with the latter as a cause with teleos pulling the up the relative. Whereas what I mean by postmetaphysics is the sort of ontology like what I described in my linked diatribe, more closely akin to the OOO and SR crowd (in some respects) and the post-structuralist, alter-complexity dynamic systems crowds (in some respects).

Which of course relates to an ongoing inquiry here and elsewhere, the nature of the ontic/real. The likes of Bryant and many others accepts that we can never really know the real as it is in itself, i.e., there is no total direct access. We can only know it based on our inherent structures and translate it so as to survive and thrive, which often works well enough. In that sense our ontology is epistemic, and Bryant accepts this correlationism. It does though leave room for the ontic to be something other than our translation, and this ontic exists (subsists?) even within us as the withdrawn. We can posit attractors to account for its operation, but again they do not enter into the actual in toto nor do we have direct access to them. At best we infer them based on our empirical, actual observations.

And the latter epistemic observations indeed gain more comprehensive and accurate views with each iteration (2nd, 3rd, nth), thereby revealing just a bit more of the ontic, so our ontologies evolve. One such evolution is going postmetaphysical, hence it being one of the 3 main focuses of this forum. But again, it matters (pun intended) how such iteration is formulated and how we infer the ontic.


I am struck again with how casual and obvious this all could be. What colloquial person would disagree that "things" are -- at least -- somewhat more than "other things" know about them?

Likewise it seems to me that many responses to OOO complaints are "hidden in plain sight" in AQALish model. The symbolic thresholds between quadrants are, necessarily, instances of generative same-difference. Their very existence in the model describes the fact that the apparent entities in any zone are insufficient to account for the total actuality of the entities in that zone. To view a zone from another zone is to cross through an is/isn't relationship of dynamic incompleteness.

The contents of my psyche are not only what they appear... when contextualized by my brain. And my brain is not only what it appears when contextualized by protocol-driven networks of dynamic objects which describe and respond to my brain. An "also/not quite" is demonstrably required at the relational thresholds of all epistemological domains.

Even if we state that the knower is simply the updated status of the known, there is still an experiential differential which is functionally identical to an incompleteness of knowledge about the ontological status of what is known.

Thus the argument that AQAL models are at risk by basing themselves upon Whitehead's notion of prehensions is silly -- when the existence of domain-boundaries between perspectival styles already enforces a "withdrawn" or "excess". All "things" are open-ended as soon they are structurally juxtaposed with alternative totalities. A thing-opening, structural excess that occurs as the boundary conditions by which perspectives behold perspectives is simply an elaboration of the basic idea of "causal".

To pass a stick through the surface of water and view it bending it to already tacitly acknowledge an acceptable divergence between the perceived event and the potential reality -- and to highlight the peculiar nature and status of that which perceives.



1. The naive assertion of myth, belief and visionary experience as concrete reality.

2. The conflation of epistemology and ontology in ways that are reminiscent of positing our interpretations as objective realities.

3. The sharp separation of epistemology and ontology in ways that imply an unjustified trust in some well-known "objective reality" that is merely obscured, hinted at or interpreted by our beliefs and perceptions.

4. Any kind of ontology.

Slippery business. Therefore:


1. Non-dogmatic spirituality and philosophy which does not require "belief" in order to function.

2. The separation of epistemology and ontology such that we do not mistake our modes of knowing for what may be known.

3. The undoing of the separation of epistemology and ontology such that we do not naively assume that our interpretations exist in the context of an impossible "additional, unperceived Real reality".

4. Any kind of ontology which organizes itself by generative differentials (any Metaphysics of Adjacency).

Slippery business.

LP, your speaking "as if" the perspective is already obvious is strategic and valuable, ideologically and apologetically, esp. for someone speaking (as you do) as an independent "apologist" for (your LP-brand of) Integral; but it is unhelpful and actually obstructive or non-constructive academically for anyone attempting to address Wilber's scholarship.  The perspective may be obvious to you, but when you read Wilber's responses to Bhaskar, especially with knowledge of Bhaskar's approach, Wilber's "miss" is so significant that it is clear that these distinctions are not obvious to Wilber and he actually *is* endorsing a version of the ontologically anemic actualism, and committing a version of the epistemic fallacy, that Bhaskar critiques (despite my attempt to defend him against such charges myself in an earlier paper). 

This doesn't mean that Wilber's model, taken as a whole, is necessarily subject to that; but it does mean -- I am certain -- that Wilber currently isn't seeing it or giving it voice.  So, this statement of the obvious, from an academic point of view, is perfectly necessary, given Wilber's recent remarks (and attempted "take down" of Bhaskar in recent writings).

So...well, um, you know where you can stick your "silly"!  (Your inter-quadrant differentials are an important component of meeting Bhaskar's or OOO's concerns, and I agree they should be invoked, but they do not go "far enough" -- at least w/in the context of Wilber's current presentation.  So, our task is to highlight them and then bring them forward, in a movement which shows what is at once "already present" but also "never yet present").

Edward:  I agree that my discussion of Wilber's causal doesn't present a full critique or reframing of it yet.  It seemed more than I wanted to get into, since I'm already well over my page limit.  But yes ... more needs to be done to make it more postmetaphysically robust.


An "independent apologist" -- nice.

Now, I think, the "my remarks" (TM) taken as a whole clearly cover the ground of (a) mentioning a number of good reasons why the attempt to academically address Wilber's scholarship is useful, and (b) working to quasi-trivialize and productively challenge the basic assumptions about the usefulness of the typical tones, angles and sets-of-concerns found in academic scholarship.

One of the things I am proposing is that it is largely undetermined whether there is more utility in academic compare/contrast or in the gesture of presupposed inclusion of critiques. It is well within possibility that the former approach (and not the people who adopt it!) appears vastly more significant and relevant than it actually is when we come to the matter of being intellectually constructive. 

My perspective -- partly performative, as is obvious -- is that central components of something like Bhaskar's approach can be very easily interpreted out of both Wilber and out of the perennial colloquial sensibility of reg'lar folks. It is not as clear as we might think that Wilber is endorsing an anemic actualism or that he misses important distinctions which Bhaskar is emphasizing. Of course one must believe such things in order to have a fun time contrasting them in a quasi-traditional academic style. That's important. Work on both fronts must proceed in tandem.

However, since the majority of critiques are (can be said to be without too much trouble) obvious in the unpacking of factors in the "standard model" (and also since things like "academic disagreement" and "take down" may be excessive and thoroughly unreliable ways of reading slightly different emphases among thinkers that refer to each other) I think we should be very open to the notion what seem to be critical nuances might also be so generally obvious as to go largely unremarked upon by many... including Wilber.

>So, our task is to highlight them and then bring them forward, in a movement which shows what is at once "already present" but also "never yet present").

Exactly. And in order to perform this it is not enough to simply use alternative integral-level analyses to challenge and contrast whatever seems to be Wilber's current presentation. It also has to include a way to make an AQAL type model demand, of itself, that the already-present/never-yet-present is self-evidently essential. Relatively simplified and general reality maps must self-reveal the insights (represented by Bhaskar, etc.) without getting trapped in holding as "additional" or "neglected" or "alternative".

The potential tension between (a) standard integral models and salient critiques, and (b) intellectually acute theorists and folksy notion, must be relaxed. Not eroded, but blurred and made more welcoming. 

I am listening for a tone of Dionysian good cheer which rejoices: "Yay! This is what Wilber means whether he knows it or not!" That strikes me as an intellectually righteous expectation when it is considered that integral-level analysis and integrative life-tones must keep pace with each other and not succumb too much to primitive "university-esque" assumptions about what constitutes a constructive critique or a robust assumption about the nature and ownership of a thinker's ideas.

What a curious position I find myself staking out!

God bless us, everyone...


PS - Gave last night what was perhaps the world's first "postmetaphysical enactive and participatory public lecture/class on chakra biopsychology". No colors, no serpents, no Sanskrit, no infinities. Small crowd -- but went great!

From Edwards, ... An integral metatheory:

"One central aim in modernist social science is to search for theoretical monism [... which] still carries with it the Enlightenment dream of consilence, which is a monistic form of integration. [...] But this objectifying kind of grand theorizing is not the goal of the integrative pluralism that is pursued here. [...] This pluralistic form of metatheorizing aims for an integrative polycentrism" (51).

From Edwards, "Towards an integral meta-studies," Integral Review 9(2), June 2013:

These meta-level studies form a new layer of global research in that they emerge out of the pluralism of diverse views of reality that are present across different cultures, different political and geographical regions different social histories. Where modernistic forms integrative science have attempted to develop unified grand theories and the single big Theory of Everything, the new integrative meta-level approach recognises the postmodern turns towards interpretive, methodological and theoretical diversity. The goal then is not for a unified grand monism but an open space for pursuing scientific big picture inquiry in which multiple perspectives can be appreciatively and critically considered. Hence, this new meta-level inquiry offers a scientific response to one of the central questions of the 21st century - how are we to develop global conversations around what Raiman Panikkar called 'the pluralisms of truth'" (175-76).

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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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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