Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I referenced this discussion recently on one of our OOO-related threads, but decided it might be interesting to look at this on its own. Wilber discusses the higher reaches of consciousness as different relationships to or with wholeness. It might be interesting, in this thread, to discuss wholeness as it is understood at different stages of development. One of my critiques of Wilber's presentation, on the referenced thread, was that his discussion seems to presuppose a uniform 'wholeness' running behind and through all different stages of development, without (apparently) taking into account the various critiques of wholeness-thinking, and the modifications of the understanding of wholeness, that show up in various postmodern and postpostmodern philosophies or models.
As I mentioned on another thread today, I have sympathy with, and have been a proponent of, views which emphasize the wholeness of reality (Bohm's views, Bon Dzogchen views). But I have also more recently been developing an integral postmetaphysical pluralism, which could be understood as a challenge to certain forms of wholeness (as you find in modern religious inclusivism, for instance; or in a postmodern Hicksian pluralism, where diverse religious ultimates are all understood as referring to the same basic underlying Reality), so I feel some ongoing tension and irresolution in relation to this topic.
To start, here is a quote from the Integral Life summary of Wilber's discussion:
You've probably heard Ken mention in previous discussions some of the highest structures of cognitive development —- Vision Logic, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind, and Supermind -— and you may have been left wondering what these structures actually look like from within. Listen as Ken offers a firsthand chronicle of each of these transpersonal stages, describing them as an ever-deepening relationship with wholeness -— that is, thinking wholes, seeing wholes, feeling wholes, witnessing wholes, and being wholes. Ken also describes how these stages have informed and influenced his own map-making and personal creativity, and how the capacity for pattern recognition and perspective-taking have been instrumental in his ability to traverse these highest reaches of human potential....
Is this an argument for pure presence (without absence)? Or for the priority of presence? Or for the inseparability of presence and absence?
So the absence, whatever it may be, is in any event present, yes? I mean, there is only the now such that everything, including the past, the future and every no and absent thing, must be present, always, no? I prefer to just call that presence. What else but something so ungraspable could be zero centimetres wide? What is---the present(ce)---is not a thing. You can't measure the present.
I'm not sure what has happened -- I've noticed that too, but not consistently. I will put up a question at Ning Creators to see if this can be fixed.
One thing I've always appreciated about Wilber is that he recognizes the critiques of the metaphysics of presence and the philosophy of consciousness and tries to deal with it. I've had my complaints with points in his efforts but he at least attempts to do so instead of just reducing it to negation etc., except in its extreme forms. He is in agreement with the general argument at least and it is a major part of his postmetaphyics.
In my research I came up this article by "accident." (Yes, I know Mr. Jung, there are no accidents). I've claimed this before but here's another who agrees. The abstract:
"As a method of oppositional reading, deconstruction argues that a text, and by extension any object of observation including the self, is characterized by disunity rather than unity. The present paper proposes that if we define the self as having a dimension that is not an object of observation, but is a pure witness, or what in Eastern cultures is known as ‘pure consciousness,’ then deconstruction can be seen to undo in practice what it claims to do in theory. This reversal has implications for the postmodernist self, which is thought to be fragmented by a multiplicity of social voices and the loss of a unifying depth of feeling. Through an analysis of the deconstructive notions of consciousness and language, this paper suggests that fragmentation can in effect take the postmodernist self toward a sense of wholeness. In theory deconstruction undermines the unity of language and consciousness, while in practice it invites a nonconceptual response similar to that of aesthetic experience. The deconstructive ‘freeplay’ of language empties out the meaning of a text and leads the reader toward a state of being anterior to thought, toward an experience of awareness itself as opposed to its phenomenal content."
After reading it I'm less enamored. Turns out there is a pure awareness of the present All involved. It reminds me of Loy's faint praise couching similar criticisms in this article.