In my research today I came upon this interesting article, “Here comes everything: the promise of object-oriented ontology” by Timothy Morton. (New link, old one broken.) It is of interest not only to speculative realism but also to some recent discussions on Caputo's ontology, modes of apprehension of such, and quantum theory. The article is 27 pages of text so I've culled some excerpts, lengthy in themselves.

 

Excerpts:

 

Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature....object-oriented ontology (OOO)...goes further than this, rejecting essentialist Matter.... OOO is a form of realism that asserts that real things exist--these things are objects, not just amorphous “Matter”.... OOO extends Husserl's and Heidegger's arguments that things have an irreducible dark side: no matter how many times we turn over a coin, we never see the other side as the other side--it will have to flip onto “this” side for us to see it, immediately producing another underside. Harman simply extends this irreducible darkness from subject–object relationships to object–object relationships.... Causation is thus vicarious in some sense, never direct. An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either.... We've become so used to hearing “object” in relation to “subject” that it takes some time to acclimatize to a view in which there are only objects, one of which is ourselves.

 

The notion of the “withdrawal” of objects extends my term strange stranger to non-living entities. Strange stranger names an uncanny, radically unpredictable quality of life forms. Life forms recede into strangeness the more we think about them, and whenever they encounter one another--the strangeness is irreducible....the uncanny essence of humans that Heidegger contemplates extends to nonhumans.... The more we know about a strange stranger, the more she (he, it) withdraws. Objects withdraw such that other objects never adequately capture but only (inadequately) “translate” them....This is what “irreducible” means.

 

Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger....[it] amplifies imagination rather than trying to upstage it, and it revels in dislocation, not location.... Harman's imagery differs from ecophenomenological ecomimesis that confirms the localized position of a subject with privileged access to phenomena.... Harman's rhetoric produces an object-oriented sublime that breaks decisively with the Kantian taboo on noncorrelationist scientific speculation....ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien.

 

The aesthetic, as we shall see, is the secret door through which OOO discovers a theory of what is called “subject”.... Melancholia is precisely a mode of intimacy with strange objects that can't be digested by the subject.... To lapse into Californian, OOO is so about the subject. There is no good reason to be squeamish about this. The more the ekphrasis zaps us, the more we fall back into the gravity well of melancholy. Sentience is out of phase with objects, at least if you have a nervous system. So melancholia is the default mode of subjectivity: an object-like coexistence with other objects and the otherness of objects--touching them, touching the untouchable, dwelling on the dark side one can never know, living in endless twilight shadows. If the reader has experienced grief she or he will recognize this state as an object-like entity that resides somewhere within the body, with an amortization schedule totally separated from other temporalities (in particular, the strict digital clock time of contemporary life). Through the heart of subjectivity rolls an object-like coexistence, none other than ecological coexistence--the ecological thought fully-fledged as dark ecology . The inward, withdrawn, operationally closed mood called melancholy is something we shake off at our peril in these dark ecological times.

 

Melancholy starts to tell us the truth about the withdrawn qualities of objects. OOO thus differs from theistic ecophilosophy that asserts, “There is a Nature.” It maintains no absolute distance between subject and object; it limits “subject” to no entity in particular. Žižek's suspicion of SR to do with the “feminine” self-absorption of objects: precisely what he doesn't like about Buddhism. Changing “self-absorption” to “withdrawal” or “operational closure” discloses what's threatening about Buddhism: an object-like entity at the core of what is called subjectivity. Like ecomimesis, Harman's passage affirms a real world beyond mentation. Unlike ecomimesis, this world doesn't surround a subject--it's a world without reference to a subject.

 

If OOO construes everything as objects, some may believe that it would have a hard time talking about subjects--indeed, Slavoj Žižek has already criticized SR in general along these lines. This subjectivity is profoundly ecological and it departs from normative Western ideas of the subject as transcendence. Thus we see off Nature and its correlate, the (human) subject. I argue that OOO enjoins us to drop Matter just as we must drop Nature, and that this means that it can save the appearance of the most coherent and testable physical theory we have, namely quantum theory.

 

Let's turn our attention to... things....how far “down things” does OOO really go? Are these things made of some kind of substrate, some kind of unformed matter? Does “withdrawal” mean that objects are impenetrable in some non-figurative, nonhuman sense? Do objects have a spatial “inside”? Surely they might. But the principle of irreducibility must mean that this inside is radically unavailable. It's not simply a case of the right equipment passing through it, like a knife through butter. Even a knife through butter would not access the butter in all its essential butteriness. The proliferation of things that ecology talks about--from trees to nuclear power--do not compromise a holistic Nature. Nor yet are they comprised of some intrinsic, essential stuff. To dispatch Matter, we must explore the most rigorous and testable theory of physical Matter we know: quantum theory.

 

Unlike some thinkers who discovered OOO in spite of deconstruction, I backed into OOO through deconstruction. SR tends to mistake deconstruction for nominalism, subjectivism and Meillassoux's correlationism.... Contemporary physics concurs with a principle tenet of Lacan and Derrida: there's no “big Other,” no device, for instance, that could measure quantum phenomena without participating in these phenomena. All observations are inside the system, or as Derrida puts it, “There is nothing outside the text” (or, in Gayatri Spivak's alternative, which I prefer, “There is no outside-text”). Arkady Plotnitsky has traced the affinities between deconstruction and quantum physics. People commonly misconstrue “there is no-outside-text” as nominalism: we can only know things by their names. Far more drastically, the axiom means: (1) Any attempt to establish rigid boundaries between reality and information results in unsustainable paradoxes; (2) Language is radically nonhuman--even when humans use it. It would be a mistake to hold that (1) is correlationism. “There is no outsidetext” occurs in a passage in which Derrida is analyzing Rousseau's position on Nature, so it's worth pausing here since this issue is directly relevant to ecocriticism. Derrida tacks close to the text he’s analyzing, which is why he appeals to close readers in the first place. He is not making a sweeping generalization about reality. Derrida is only saying, “Given the kind of closed system textuality that Rousseau prescribes, there is no outside-text.” That is, Rousseau can’t go around making claims about nature, not because there is nothing out there, but because the way he models thinking sets textuality up as a black hole....[but] Derrida abstained from ontology: he considered it tainted by the generalization-disease. Unfortunately this defaults to various forms of antirealism. Derrida's is a sin of omission.... OOO shares one thing at least with deconstruction--refraining from assertions about some general essence or substance at the back of things that guarantees their existence.

 

OOO is troubling for materialisms that rely on any kind of substrate, whether it consists of discrete atoms or of a continuum.... Certain uncontroversial facts, demonstrable in highly repeatable experiments, shatter essentialist prejudices concerning Matter.... Quantum phenomena are not simply hard to access or only partially “translated” by minds and other objects. They are irreducibly withdrawn.

 

OOO is form of realism, not materialism. In this it shares affinities with quantum theory. Antirealism pits quantum theory against its opponents, since quantum theory supposedly shows reality is fuzzy or deeply correlated with perception and so forth. In fact, quantum theory is the only existing theory to establish firmly that things really do exist beyond our mind (or any mind). Quantum theory positively guarantees that real objects exist! Not only that--these objects exist beyond one another. Quantum theory does this by viewing phenomena as quanta, as discrete “units” as described in Unit Operations by OOO philosopher Ian Bogost. “Units” strongly resemble OOO “objects.” Thinking in terms of units counteracts problematic features of thinking in terms of systems. A kind of systems thinking posed significant problems for nineteenth-century physicists. Only consider the so-called black body radiation problem. Classical thermodynamics is essentially a systems approach that combines the energy of different waves to figure out the total energy of a system. The black box in question is a kind of oven. As the temperature in the oven increases, results given by summing the wave states according to classical theory become absurd, tending to infinity.

 

By seeing the energy in the black box as discrete quanta (“units”), the correct result is obtained. Max Planck's discovery of this approach gave birth to quantum theory. Now consider perception, for the sake of which antirealism usually cites quantum theory. What does quantum theory show about our mental interactions with things? Perceptual, sensual phenomena such as hardness and brilliance are at bottom quantum mechanical effects. I can't put my hand through this table because it is statistically beyond unlikely that the quanta at the tip of my finger could bust through the resistance wells in the quanta on the table's surface. That's what solidity is. It's an averagely correct experience of an aggregate of discrete quanta. This statistical quality, far from being a problem, is the first time humans have been able to formalize supposedly experiential phenomena such as solidity. What some people find disturbing about quantum theory (once in a gajillion times I can put my finger through the table) is precisely evidence for the reality of things. (This is a version of an argument in Meillassoux, AF 82–5).

 

Quantum theory specifies that quanta withdraw from one another, including the quanta with which we measure them. In other words quanta really are discrete, and one mark of this discreteness is the constant (mis)translation of one quantum by another. Thus when you set up quanta to measure the position of a quantum, its momentum withdraws, and vice versa. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that when an “observer”--not a subject per se, but a measuring device involving photons or electrons (or whatever)--makes an observation, at least one aspect of the observed is occluded (QT 99–115). Observation is as much part of the Universe of objects as the observable, not some ontologically different state (say of a subject). More generally, what Niels Bohr called complementarity ensures that no quantum has total access to any other quantum. Just as a focusing lens makes one object appear sharper while others appear blurrier, one quantum variable comes into sharp definition at the expense of others (QT 158–61). This isn't about how a human knows an object, but how a photon interacts with a photosensitive molecule. Some phenomena are irreducibly undecidable, both wavelike and particle-like. The way an electron encounters the nucleus of an atom involves a dark side. Objects withdraw from each other at a profound physical level. OOO is deeply congruent with the most profound, accurate and testable theory of physical reality available. Again, it would be better to say it the other way around: quantum theory works because it's object-oriented.

 

Probing the quantum world, then, is a form of auto-affection. Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This “quantum coherence” applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the “same” thing.

 

Implication and explication suggest Matter being enfolded and unfolded from something deeper. Even if it were the case that OOO should defer to physics, in the terms set by physics itself objects aren't made “of” any one thing in particular. Just as there is no top level, there may be no bottom level that is not an (substantial, formed) object.

 

To this extent, “object” (as a totally positive entity) is a false immediacy. Positive assertions about objects fail because objects have a shadowy dark side, a mysterious interiority like the je ne sais quoi of Kantian beauty. Is this nothing at all? Is there a path from the carnival of things to a bleak nothingness? Nihilism, believing that you have no beliefs, maintains that things emerge from an impenetrable mystery. Nihilism, the cool kids' religion, shuns the inconveniences of intimacy. We have objects--they have us--under our skin. They are our skin. OOO can't be a form of nihilism. It's the opposite view (relationism) that tends towards nihilism. Relationism holds that objects are nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects. This begs the question of what an object is, since the definition implies a potential infinite regress: what are the “other objects”? Why, nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects--and so on ad obscurum. At least OOO takes a shot at saying what objects are: they withdraw. This doesn't mean that they don't relate at all. It simply means that how they appear has a shadowy, illusory, magical, “strangely strange” quality. It also means they can't be reduced to one another. OOO holds that strangeness is impossible if objects are reducible to their relations. Since relationism is hamstrung by its reluctance to posit anything, it tends towards obscurantism. Relationism is stuck in a Euthyphronic dilemma: objects consist of relations between other objects—and what are those objects? An object as such is never defined. So while ecological criticism appears to celebrate interconnectedness, it must in the end pay attention to what precisely is interconnected with what.

 

This radical finitude includes a strange irreducible openness.

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After a long (forced) absence from reading Sloterdijk's Bubbles, I picked up the book again and read the two following paragraphs, which seem to strike a note similar to notes being struck in recent posts in this thread.  I'll post both paragraphs below.  The second one is more relevant, but the first sets the context somewhat. 

 

~*~

 

"There is no doubt: on our phenomenological expedition through the formal sequence of bipolar closeness and intimacy spheres, we have now passed the threshold to the narrower center of gravitation and gravidity.  From here on, intimacy means proximity to the barrier which seals off the inside of the mother from the public world.  If a confrontation occurs between the eye and the womb's entrance -- recall Hindu sculptures at cave entrances in the spape of the yoni-vulva -- the examination of the field of intimacy enters its critical phase.  This is where it transpires whether subject and object separate in the sense of the classical knowledge relation, or whether the subject enters the object to such an extent that the latter gives up its object character, indeed its presence and capacity for oppositeness as such.  On the second of these paths, a bizarre epistemological affair develops between the vulva and its observer that will put an end to all externality and concreteness.  In its own precarious way, the vulva belongs to those ungiven objects -- Thomas Macho calls them "nobjects" -- that we shall discuss directly here, and indirectly in all subsequent chapters.  At the "sight" of them, the observer can be sucked in or de-positioned -- up to a point where there is no longer anything concretely present before him.  He only sees the woman's thing as long as he stays before it as a formal observer.  If he chose this as his final position, he would not be a seeker in the sense of a para-metaphysical striving to contemplate the basis of things, but an observer, a voyeur, a naturalist, a scientist -- for example, a gynecologist, who studies the female genital system unimpressed by all effective metaphors of homecoming.  At most, he could provide -- as Hans Peter Duerr demonstrates in his book Intimitat [Intimacy] -- a baroque ethno-history of vulva-related ideas, practices and affects in different cultures.  With this relatively young cognitive attitude, it is possible to treat the vulva, as an anatomical or ethnographic object, descriptively and operatively without motivational derivatives of the post-Neolithic pushing and pulling behavior at the cave entrance coming into play.  What sets positive gynecology -- essentially a product of Aristotelian thought and its continuation in the neo-European life sciences -- apart from older traditional wisdom is that it can stand fast before the once so magical female and maternal portal in an objectifying, and thus emancipating, certainty of distance.  Where the investigative eye penetrates deeper, it simply produces additional surface views of levels situated further inside: uteroscopy is simply the continuation of vulvoscopy by technical means.  One could call the organ image gained through this view a vulvogram.  Where this is made proficiently using the imaging procedures available, the observer is not given any reason whatsoever to doubt his impartial eyesight.  The visibility of the vulva as a facing object ensures that the observer is not absorbed by it.  Seeing here means having the calm freedom to attain, in accordance with the axioms of the Greek epistemes and at the necessary distance from things, a dispositionary knowledge of them.  It is quite different with the old para-metaphysical reverence before the gate to the inner world of the mother.  Whoever believes in ritual acts of approach that they are standing before this entrance of all entrances, or envisages it in symbolic imagination, is immediately affected by a suction that is meant to make the beholder's senses reel. Where the real Baubo -- Nietzsche's crown witness to a theory of truth made discreet once more -- comes into view, seeing itself has little future.  The seeker's eye here wants to, and must, be broken by its object. The pupils dilate before the sucking portal.  As he comes closer, the beholder will feel as if a powerful warning legend had just glided past him: the last object before the great attainment of knowledge!  And in reality, as soon as the entrants had passed through the grotto gate, they would encounter the tropical night; and the fall of this exquisite night would mark the end of everything based on clearing, distance and concreteness.  From now on, asking about the intimate has its price for the analytical intelligence too.

 

In the following, we shall weave the fiction that we are able to split our adventurous intelligence in such a way that one half of it takes up a position at the entry ramp to the mystical cave -- still viewing it from the outside, that is -- while the other half is initiated to enter the homogeneous totality of darkness.  The two halves should remain in contact during the excursion -- the one inside by reporting its states in the objectless sphere to the outside, and the one waiting ante portas by sending suggestions for the verbalization of the indescribable into the cave.  This split arrangement takes into account that the focus of our investigation does not lie in the aim to produce mystical experience here and now, but rather in the project of advancing a theory of dyadic intimacy to the point where speaking theory has normally turned into silent theory.  The all-too-familiar phenomenon of mystical muteness is due here to the fact that because of the observer's coalescence with the most intimate sphere, the bipolar structure of cognition and relation fades in his perception.  Once the point of being-inside has been reached, all language games of observing and facing must indeed come to an end.  A critical theory of being-in-the-cave only becomes possible through the introduction of a third element -- in our case that means the doubling of the cave explorer, with one going bravely ahead and the other cautiously staying behind.  This leads to a division of labor between yearning and skepticism, fusion and reserve.  This arrangement involves conceding to the mystical tradition that the one inside will, indeed, inevitably repeat the insurmountable cave truth: that here, the One is everything.  Someone who were truly all the way inside could only affirm the basic monistic doctrines of the last millennia, which the mystically interested from all areas so like to say are the same in all cultures.  The observing partial intelligence at the cave entrance, on the other hand, here in the role of participating third part, insists that whatever things the exprerimental mystic experiences in the cave can only be aspects of the dyad.  If the pioneer claims to have found unimpaired unity within, one can tell him outright about the biune nature of the situation.  In this manner, the union-mystical semblance to which the coalesced witness is exposed in the cave can be simultaneously respected and dethroned: interest in the progress of the dual theory is satisfied without having to deny the insights of mystical monism.  Then the acute appearance of unity without a second element as a form of consciousness can even be understood as the most revealing figure of the bipolar-spheric coalescence taking place in actu.  The reality of the relationship between the mother and the unborn includes, in a certain sense, the inexistence of this relationship as such for the child. As long as it is living inside the mother, it in fact floats in a sort of non-duality: in the perception, its containedness in the "mother" is confirmed by the termination of that connection as an acute proof of the given fusion.  Whoever experiences the scene is either primarily or secondarily an infans, that is to say a fetus or a mystic, significantly speechless in both positions and with no connection to a facing opposite.  The relation itself only exists in moments when it has to be denied or de-thematized. Part of the reality of this singular relationship is that where it exists, it precisely does not exist for the one contained: for the fetus there is no counterpart to which it might be interpersonally or inter-objectively related; there is nothing else to confirm its real being-in.  The same applies by analogy to the mystic; in proximity to the actually present nobject, the subject too is disarmed and dissolved.  Taking up Thomas Macho's observations on the logic of basic psychoanalytical principles, we will examine this logical oddity -- that one class of closeness relationships with the other is only real if these are denied or erased as relationships -- more closely in the following...." (Sloterdijk, Bubbles, pp. 280-289)

theurj,

forgive me for not articulating myself well.  My somewhat throwaway, but well intended quip about 'salsa' was a reference to an exchange we had some time ago in which you revealed Salsa, among other physical activities, as an important part of your 'spiritual' practice/being in the world. I was admiring  on the basis that action/doing/moving the body is a key mode of being in the world, and that any truth telling should involve 'bodying'.


Integral affirms this when it says the only spirit is embodied spirit. OOO does the same when it dismisses ontotheological conceptions that have no basis in actual experience. Rather it views reality as a flat ontology of material and  immaterial objects impacting upon each other.

 
The logical trajectory of thought that evolves from these suppositions is toward an embodied thought. This would include, but cannot be restricted to, the analytical laying-bare-of-all type of intelligibility that Bryant and IPM often seem to be aiming for. I can't help but suspect that as 'looking for knowledge in all the wrong places'. And, as Neitszche suggests, precisely so as not to find it, and by such means maintain an imagined control.


If we cannot muster an embodied thought - myself, included - then can we at least have a discussion on what an Integral thought should aim for. Or, perhaps, how should an Integral thought that knows its own defeat conduct itself? Might there be an overcoming there, even?

 
My own small take on embodiment is that your Salsa should inform your thought here. And not tangentially/obliquely,  but directly within the dynamics and structures of that thought. And, perhaps, in a way that can be expressed as body but not fully articulated as thought.  And, likewise your thought here should be found in your Salsa, arising and falling as it goes, sometimes articulate and informing, sometimes falling silent as it reaches  that realm of  movement where movement alone can speak.
 

Balder: Thanks for the Sloterdijk. Yes, indeed, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Brilliant.

And here we find the thought of Levi Bryant:

Where the investigative eye penetrates deeper, it simply produces additional surface views of levels situated further inside: uteroscopy is simply the continuation of vulvoscopy by technical means.  One could call the organ image gained through this view a vulvogram.  Where this is made proficiently using the imaging procedures available, the observer is not given any reason whatsoever to doubt his impartial eyesight.  The visibility of the vulva as a facing object ensures that the observer is not absorbed by it.  Seeing here means having the calm freedom to attain, in accordance with the axioms of the Greek epistemes and at the necessary distance from things, a dispositionary knowledge of them

Ah, I more generally partner dance but do not like or do salsa, hence my confusion.

You've complained before about a lack of embodiment in integral and OOO thought in general, and in my writing as well. I just don't see it, as that has always been one of my main focuses and is a near constant recurring theme. If you're referring more generally to style instead of content, I don't see the criticism their either. I am quite proud of my clear, concise, and aesthetic rhetorical acumen that embodies the content. Much like dance I've invested quite a bit in developing this artistic form. (As have both Bryant and Wilber, part of why I like them both.) Granted you might find other authors like Bennett more to your tastes in this regard, but that is more a matter of preference than of any lacking in those referenced.

Also keep in mind Morton's comments on rhetoric in the very first post in this thread.* While I often do not like or prefer Morton's rhetoric, I nonetheless acknowledge his able rhetorical style that embodies his content.

* "Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger."

 Here is some more of Morton:

 

[Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature]...

 

Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger....[it] amplifies imagination rather than trying to upstage it, and it revels in dislocation, not location.... Harman's imagery differs from ecophenomenological ecomimesis that confirms the localized position of a subject with privileged access to phenomena.... Harman's rhetoric produces an object-oriented sublime that breaks decisively with the Kantian taboo on noncorrelationist scientific speculation....ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien.

 

I am curious how you square the above with your comment below. Perhaps also keeping in mind some of the distinctions Sloterdijk is making between 'dispositionary knowledge' and that knowing where the 'seeker's eye is broken by the object'

I am quite proud of my clear, concise, and aesthetic rhetorical acumen that embodies the content.

 

I don't need to square anything with Morton or Sloterkijk, since I don't accept their dichotomous framing. Like Bryant I don't see such clear boundaries between these modes but rather their porous and permeable interrelations. And which can be expressed clearly, concisely and aesthetically simultaneously. Recall above this was one difference between Bryant and Harman/Morton regarding the withdrawn, which I then related more generally to the shentong/rangtong debate.

That said, I agree with Morton in some regards; dislocation is important, but not to the exclusion of location; there is no absolute, privileged access to phenomenon (hence withdrawal); rhetorical affective-comtemplative techniques to contact the strange stranger. The last though does not necessitate something like traditional meditation. Rhetoric itself, i.e., aesthetic and persuasive language, can transform one's state of consciousness and motivate one to compassionate action without ever sitting on a cushion facing a wall and masturbating the (non)self. And, as I said above, such rhetoric can cross the boundaries between so-called exposition and aesthetics, not seeing them as dichotomous, as if we must first do one, then the other, and somehow 'integrate' them via some Hegelian sublation or Vedantic 'nondual' inclusion. The latter is still caught in a metaphysical trap, subtle as it may be even to the most sophisticated philosophers and meditators, Morton included.

A dance metaphor is that the best dancers combine both exacting technique with artistic and emotional expression in one performance. And that those boundaries interpenetrate.

Sloterdijk is not a shentong, and is not arguing for a shentong metaphysics in his book. 

 

One thing I'm concerned about in what you write above (especially when you frame rhetoric in empowering language and dismiss meditation as masturbation) is that arguing for porous, non-absolute boundaries between these domains (with which I generally agree) can perhaps slip, intentionally or unintentionally, into the absolutization of one's own preferred mode (here, rhetoric), since it, being porous, has "access" to the enactions of all other injunctive modes.  "Good language can achieve anything you meditating wankers can achieve."  A subtle logocentrism or language-centrism, it seems, is a potential here.  I agree that language has the ability to shift consciousness and to inspire compassionate action, but would not go so far as to say that language can achieve anything any other mode of enaction can.  I'm not sure if you even intended to suggest that, but the critical division in your comment above (rhetoric as skillful-aesthetic-transformative, meditation as masturbatory) prompted my concerns.

On a related note, Lakoff broke with Chomsky and was participant in the 'linguistic wars' on the very relation between syntax and semantics. Recall for Lakoff metaphor is more than just an aesthetic or rhetorical trope but empirically validated via quite precise 'scientific' modes. Hence syntax (form) itself is infected from its origin with semantics (meaning), and vice versa.

I understand your concerns Balder. I know Slot is not arguing for a shetong metaphysics. For the most part it seems to the contrary. But on that one recent quote provided there does seem to be a more strict division between "dispositionary knowledge and that knowing where the seeker's eye is broken by the object." Granted they are not identical but the issue for me is how they remain distinct yet related, how those boundaries are crossed while still retaining them.

In terms of contemplative praxis, of course solo meditation techniques are not identical with rhetoric. And yet I think similar, dare I say homeomorphic equivalencies (HE), might be drawn as to their contemplative goals? Yes, I went too far in my hyperbole calling it (non)self masturbation, but that is in response to what I perceive as a hegemonic meditation fetish in integral more generally, with its emphasis on Buddhism. We do not need to meditate in that way as part of an ILP and can find a HE path, which rhetoric more broadly construed might accomplish?

Perhaps in light of this recent turn we should revisit "the world is made of stories" thread?

"David Loy explores the fascinating proposition that the stories we tell...become the very building blocks of our experience and of the universe itself."

Therein I also referenced an IO thread on Loy called "The dharma of deconstruction," where Loy asks: "Do Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Derrida also help to liberate us from such problematic ways of thinking?"

I'm also reminded of Derrida's bastard reasoning to apprehend khora and Merleau-Ponty's hyper-dialectic, which serves a similar function, also referenced in that thread.

Slot's cave/vulva trope is, in its formulation, a little strong in its dichotomy, but I think his aim is to suggest a way of seeing in which both approaches are held at once, as distinct but related.  In the enaction of their co-relation, neither remains the same (as when they are imagined to be independent or unrelated); the givenness of the phenomena yielded by both is challenged, de-throned, without reductively dismissing either domain.

 

Concerning the possible existence of HEs between rhetorical and contemplative disciplines, yes, nice -- I agree.  That's a good point.  I am not sure we can say the two approaches (meditation and rhetoric) yield HEs at all points (they would be redundant, if so), but I certainly think that such points of resonance are present.

 

I do not think everyone needs to practice traditional meditation to have a "complete" spiritual practice, or to realize meaningful forms of transformation or "soteriology."  So, I agree that the Integral over-emphasis on (Buddhist/Hindu) meditation is in need of challenge.  But I think meditation, as a means of enactment, has its own unique fruits that cannot (and should not) be reduced wholly to the terms of other injunctions.

 

I am liking this tangent (including your Loy reference), and think we maybe should collect a few of the recent posts and start a new thread (maybe "Post-metaphysical Nonduality" or "Post-metaphysical Realization")...?

Perhaps a better metaphor is both the penis in the vagina and the vagina around the penis?

Yes, please start a new thread but keep in mind this existing (and excellent) thread for reference, integral postmetaphysical nonduality.

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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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