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 An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either....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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Nice...

This sounds familiar:  "By comparing conflicts of values in pairs – scientific versus religious, for
example, or legal versus political, or scientific versus fictional, and so on – we
shall observe very quickly that a large proportion of the tensions (tensions that
explain in part the opacity I mentioned above) stem from the fact that the
veracity of one mode is judged in terms of the conditions of veridiction of a
different mode."

While you're recovering (in bed?), Ed, a video gift for you:

Wow, thanks. That's going to take a few listens, quite deep. Do you know who wrote and produced this?

Also, for those Gaga critics who don't get her, she is quite aware of serial media remixing and does it to make a statement. No, she isn't deep into onticolology and doesn't understand it like this presentation, but she enacts it via her art replete with the implications so elucidated. Gaga is not only a product of her culture but produces and remixes that culture.

As for the sickness I spent a few days in bed in the beginning, and am now on a slow road to recovery. Still weak but at least can get out to work and go to the store etc.

Never mind, the beginning of the video says who produced it: Shane Denson at Leibniz Universitat Hannover. I missed it first time around.

I'm reading Michel Serres for my paper (and enjoying it): 

‘Nature’ inseminates itself with programmes. Things, dual, manifest both causation and coding. We are in want of a general theory of marks, traces and signals to go with the physics of forces, to teach us to remember the world and remember as it does, to write on it and like it. Things are also symbols. There is more than chemistry in chemistry. Why does this element react or not in the presence of some other element? Why does it choose it in this way? What ‘faculty’ in it makes election? Large masses write, molecules read. And, even more than inert matter, living matter writes, reads, decides, chooses, reacts – one would have thought it long endowed with intentions. An hour of biochemistry will quickly persuade one of the exquisite astuteness of proteins....  The wind forms blades in the sea like lines on a page; the current traces its passage along the talweg and the glacier in a valley; the axle projects on the sundial the exact latitude of the place; the stylus scars the wax and the tip of the diamond inscribes its trace on the glass. Let us not pretend that we alone write. Oil and water do not mix; bodies choose their partners in combination while excluding other elements; crystals characterised by impurities straighten the course of certain flows. It is not just we who are concerned with acts of choosing. Islands, cliffs, radioactive bodies engrave memories. Let us not pretend that only we remember. In short, things themselves, inert as well as organic, exchange elements, energy and information, conserving, diffusing and selecting this last. Let us not pretend that only we are given to acts of exchange. This inscription, these decisions, these mnemotechnics, these codings, along with many other examples, give to objects quasi-cognitive properties. There is an ‘it thinks’, in the sense of ‘it rains’ as well as an ‘I think’ or ‘we think’ (Michel Serres, L'Incandescent)

In a word, rhetaphor.

I wanted to share the following two (longish) passages for an interesting compare-and-contrast.  In thinking about forms of "pronoun philosophy" other than Wilber's, I recalled an essay I read years ago by Beatrice Bruteau, in which she elaborates upon a person-centered metaphysics originally discussed by a Catholic theologian (Dan Walsh, I believe), and describes various forms of relations (I-I, I-It, etc).  In the following passage, you will see she is attempting to articulate a vision of manifold (ultimately, nondual) personhood, where persons are unique and distinct, but non-contingent and not defined in (negative) contrast to others. 

 

Of interest (for this thread) are her discussions of the being of persons as mutually affirmative, as opposed to mutually negating, and her descriptions of the ontology of persons being non-qualitiative or deeper than qualities.  There are near-parallels here with parts of OOO, it seems, though with some important differences (some of which I'll discuss later).  But it also seems to me that she is not clearly distinguishing between epistemological and ontological descriptions, as Bryant does, and this muddles her account (in my view).

 

Bruteau:  "It is not satisfactory, it seems to me, to say that the 'many' are illusory and an error of perception or judgment.  Nor is it satisfactory to say that the "oneness" is illusory or imperfect or partial.  To me, such arguments seem to sacrifice the empirical reality of the mystics' lives to theoretical tidiness in a system of abstract concepts.  Experience is what we really have; models of explanation or interpretation must be in service to experience and judged by it, not the other way around.  At the same time, we must keep in mind that a transformation is involved: The experience itself shifts; those who have not 'seen' come to 'see.'

My way of dealing with this dilemma is to try to find another way of conceiving "oneness" and "manyness" themselves, so that they are not exclusive of each other.  Usually, we think that manyness implies that beings are exclusive of each other:  this one is unambiguously not that one.  What makes them exclude another?  We can tell them apart because this one has some feature that the other one lacks.  It is the not-having that gives each being its claim to separate and definable being.  This negation determines the separate being to be what it is.

But this is looking at the situation from the outside, from the point of view of someone who is none of the beings concerned, who looks at them.  What happens when I am one of the beings?  I think we do the same thing: We pretend to look at ourselves as if at some outside being, in the same way we regard 'other' beings.  And so I see that 'I' have certain qualities that distinguish 'me' from all others and establish me in my own reality.  Thus, we identify our reality with this set of distinguishing qualities, and it is the habit of identifying ourselves in this way that produces fear and disorientation as we approach mystical experience:  We find our 'qualities' slipping away, and consequently we do not know who we are anymore -- at least in the way we used to know who we are!  So we feel that we are falling into emptiness, losing ourselves.

On the other hand, as long as we do not live in mystical realization it seems perfectly obvious to us that we must protect our 'qualities' in order to sustain our being.  Survival, self-defense -- these are fundamental principles of living. And this, paradoxically, leads to all the selfishness and consequent greed and cruelty that we denounce, while at the same time we rationalize and justify them (for our 'self-esteem,' for our 'national interest,' for 'corporate solvency'), even while suffering from their grave consequences.

But suppose that instead of looking at my 'I' this way -- from the outside, as if it were an inert object -- I experience existing from the inside, as being a living subject.  Experienced this way, I am not a collection of qualities but an activity.  (However, we must guard against looking at the activity, conceptualizing it, and again endowing it with distinguishing qualities.)  When we do this, we experience ourselves in 'real time,' not as abstractions, not as something confined by concepts or fixed in a given definition and character.  From the very fact that we are living activity, we are not defined or definable.  What is usually called 'change' from the point of view of fixed characteristics -- the moving from one definition or description to another -- here has dissolved all the fixed points; only the flow itself is real.  These fixed points are abstractions, artificially frozen stills that are unreal as soon as they are snapped.  In real time I experience living, existing itself, 'in the first person,' as I -- by being/doing it, not by reflecting on it -- 'in the third person,' as an it -- talking about it, describing it.

If 'manyness' has been realized by defining beings that are outside one another by virtue of their mutual negation of each other's combination of qualities, is 'manyness' still there if I do not perceive/conceive myself in this way?  If there is no difference between us (if you don't have what I lack and vice versa), then do we all not collapse into identity?  That would follow only in a scheme in which the sole reality that any of us can claim is vested in our possessed qualities, in our descriptions.  If our reality is instead our activity of actually living in real time -- something experienced from the inside, not looked at from the outside, then 'collapse into identity' is not the only alternative to 'difference.'  We can be nondifferent (because not defined) and still be ourselves (the subjects who are actually existing), because our reality is our act of existing.

We can indicate 'manyness' by a different kind of 'difference.'  To make the idea clearer and easier to understand, I will define a specific terminology for it.  Let differentiation be the general term, and difference and distinction be species of it.  Difference is established by the assertion that I am my description and my description excludes your description: I am I because I am not-you, and you are you because you are not-I.  This is mutual negation, and it suggests that we define distinction in terms of mutual affirmation.  Could our act of being, of living in real time, experiencing ourselves from the inside, be an act of affirming another?  This other, of course, would also be an act of subjective living in the same real time.  It would be necessary to avoid turning that other subject into an object -- abstracting it from the act of living in real time -- by looking at it in terms of defining qualities attributed to it.

But if our act of living could also be an act of affirming the act of living of the 'other,' then we would establish our distinction without creating or referring to any difference between us.  It is especially interesting that such an act simultaneously establishes 'oneness' for us, a oneness that does not contradict or abridge our 'manyness,' and also establishes the 'manyness' that in turn does not prevent the 'oneness.'  (Bruteau, The Other Half of My Soul, pp. 270-272)

 

Levi Bryant (in The Speculative Turn):  "Second, for Hegel our attempt to think pure being leads us to the negation of being or the thought of nothingness. In attempting to think ‘being pure being’ we are led to think nothing. This observation leads Hegel to inscribe negativity in the heart of being. However, this inscription only arises when we begin one step removed from being, treating being in terms of our relation to being rather than in terms of being simpliciter. For us this is an illicit move. Xavier Zubiri makes this point compellingly in his magnificent On Essence. Zubíri asks,

can it be said that to be, that reality itself, is constitutively affected by negativity? This is impossible. Reality is that which is, and, in that which is, there is distilled all its reality, no matter how limited, fragmentary and insufficient it might be. The negative, as such, has no physical reality whatsoever […] Of two real things we say, and we see with truth, that the one ‘is not’ the other. This ‘is not’ does not, however, affect the physical reality of each of the two things, but it affects this physical reality only insofar as it is present to an intelligence, which, when it compares those things, sees that the one ‘is not’ the other.11

 

The plant does not ‘negate’ the soil or seed from whence it comes, and to speak in this way is to speak metaphorically and without precision. Therefore, we cannot share the thesis that omni determinatio est negatio. It is only from the standpoint of a consciousness regarding objects and comparing them to one another that the differences composing objects are taken by reference to what objects are not. Ontological, as opposed to epistemic difference is, by contrast, positive, affirmative, and differentiated without being negative. The temperature of boiling water is not the negation of other degrees. Philosophy perpetually conflates these epistemic and ontological registers, requiring us to untangle them with the greatest care if we are to understand anything of the real.

Where Hegel demands the inclusion of the subject in every relation — his famous identity of substance and subject — we are content to let difference belong to the things themselves with or without the inclusion of the subject in the relation to things. However, with regard to pure being and things-in-themselves, we have learned Hegel’s lesson. There is no ‘pure being’, no ‘being as such’, for being and beings only are in and through their differences. Likewise, when we are told that the thing-in-itself is beyond all knowledge, that it has none of the properties presented to us in phenomena, this thesis is to be rejected on the grounds that it conceives the things-in-themselves as things making no differences. Yet there can be no coherence in the notion of an in-different being for ‘to be’ is to make a difference."

 

 

 

I'm not sure where to share this, but this thread seems like as good a place as any.  In my research, I came across an essay by Roland Faber on Whitehead (in light of Deleuze, Derrida, and others):  Whitehead at Infinite Speed.

Bryant has yet another rant against academia because it doesn't deal with the material infrastructure of the circumstances of our lives. Perhaps so for academia but this is not the case in politics, which he seems at times to lump in to the same category. Politics is all about policy, which isn't just theory or ideology but how to enact the very infrastructural material of our lives via tax codes, economic stimulus, job creation, the later of which includes building and repairing the very types of infrastructure Bryant talks about, like roads and bridges. Ironically it seems Bryant is often guilty of the very thing he criticizes about academia when it comes to politics, for he addresses it merely as an academic exercise instead of getting involved in the grit of getting politicians elected that would enact the very sort of policies that change the infrastructure of the lives of the 98% while making the 2% pay their fair share.

Bryant's recent post on social ecology and entropy is instructive. He acknowledges that entropy is a determining factor, not just in terms of decay but as how assemblages are ordered to ward it off. And such order requires huge amounts of energy to do so. In current industrial societies that energetic engine that runs everything is fossil fuels, which of course doesn't just enable certain enactions but constrains them as well. And it is here that Rifkin's renewable energy infrastructure program indeed changes a host of the dynamics constraining the basics of how we might make a living and the time constraints on our lives. Rifkin's whole distributed paradigm changes how energy is owned, stored and operated, which in turn changes society's power relations. Also if we are generating our own energy source's it changes how much we need to work to pay for corporate energy prices, thereby having more leisure time to inform ourselves to be responsive and responsible citizens. By changing the energy infrastructure we change everything.

Of course, to do so we need our political leaders to get with this program. And for that we need political activism to the max in all forms to force this change. This ranges from the simple act of making conscious buying choices and engaging in voluntary simplicity to getting quite active in the political process of championing candidates for office that will enact this agenda. And here Bryant seems to confuse the issue. He says:

"Rather than seeing social relations as purely arising from beliefs and ideologies such that we see our activism largely as a matter of debunking ideologies and persuading, rather than seeing political engagement solely as a matter of enacting new laws, we can instead begin to look at feedback relations, paths, energetic requirements that lock people into forms of life and begin to devise strategies to create alternatives."

This is exactly what Rifkin is doing, but as I said, he is only succeeding to the extent he is by forming political alliances with the European Union, for example. This kind of society shift requires the governments of the world to take action. And this is part and parcel of enacting laws to enable such a shift. Which of course requires candidates and leaders open to such a shift. We simply are not going to get to changing energetic "pathways" to liberate our lives without politics. Bryant gives an alternative example outside politics where people are buying up debt and forgiving it. Great. But much live individual voluntary simplicity is that on a scale that can compete with what governments can do to effect societal change? I think not, and to not see the primary need of law to make such a societal shift is missing the dominant gravity of this infrastructural boat.

Bryant's recent post on cynicism is interesting. As he was criticizing academic critique I kept thinking that in a way it sounds a lot like one of my criticisms of religion, including Buddhism. I.e., religions tend to be based on sin, or at least that this world is fallen, or perhaps that our regular mind is obstruction, etc. Sure enough he makes this connection, in that every position one might take is rife with hidden motives and agendas, "that everything is stained and dirty" and therefore pomo critique has "become the mirror image of the theologians." The difference of course is that pomo finds no transcendent truth that one can apprehend behind the facades, whereas theology (including Buddhism) posits such a Reality with direct access.

Bryant finds the obsession with critique to be counterproductive, in that it never makes the leap into the thing in itself (TII). Hence he thinks we need to "believe a little, to affirm a little, and to commit a little." He is adamant though that unlike theology this is not through a transcendent realm. And interestingly, he finds that critique in general, divorced from the TII, is stuck in the epistemic fallacy. While he doesn't then specifically apply this to theology, we might do so as well, as he did heretofore with sin. For it seems the epistemic fallacy is what in fact provides the tool by which we can go in the opposite direction of a transcendent realm with direct access.

How then do we "believe a little" without the epistemic fallacy and its resultant no/full access dichotomy? We've said plenty about this in the many pages above in the thread, so catch up on reading it if you have yet to date. The answer(s) lies therein.

I found this Bryant talk on You Tube: Texts are a factory. It's a common theme in his blog but an important one, and to see and hear him adds a personal dimension otherwise missing. Basically text as factory is how texts disseminate or not, and how academia in particular is a very insular world that does not disseminate ideas antithetical to its program.

This is why I think Balder is a pivotal player, since he is now publishing in academia and has a wonderful opportunity to bring in texts such as this forum, typically ignored in academia in general and kennilingus in particular. Of course this is what Bryant does with his blog and open access publishing, and talks such as this, opening the discourse. But Balder is one of the few who might bridge this gap in the integral world. I'm hopeful that IPS might get its ipseity some dissemination.

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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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