Joe: If I've understood your themes correctly, I see the need for some kind of feedback mechanism built into the basic set of recommendations - either shadow work or some kind of group work, group feedback, mentoring or coaching. In fact, it might also be advisable to always preface a discussion of translineage practice by recommending that it should take place within the context of Integral Life Practice as well.
Yes, I agree -- in looking at translineage practice as a whole, I think these sorts of feedback mechanisms are essential. In the paper, I was limiting myself just to some "ontological speculations," so it doesn't represent for me a full statement on the nature, scope, or requirements of translineage spirituality.
Joe: This has significant implications for interfaith dialogue between groups as well. I would be curious to see your 2011 paper on this topic to see how you would approach this.
I have emailed you a copy of the 2011 paper. In it, I focus primarily on the common orientations of exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism in interfaith relations, and attempt to articulate an integral orientation that moves beyond the problems of each.
Joe: Given the above situation, Interfaith dialogue could be analogous to two Super-Dreadnoughts coming together for a "talk" with neither side being open to having any of their presuppostions getting challenged by the other. About all that I could see happening would be that if each side had sufficient empathy to be interested in understanding more about the other, (about the other's worldview), then they could listen to each other's narratives and perhaps look for those things which they do have in common. The only dialogue which could then take place would be a possible dialogue about those things which each side thinks they have in common - those areas where they can agree to agree, and those areas where they can agree to disagree. As limited as this might appear, there is value to this.
Yes, given the orientation you described above, that does seem like a possible outcome. It's not all bad -- something of value might still arise from such encounters between two closed Super Dreadnoughts, as you say -- but it's arguably also less than ideal, from an integral perspective. I hope that my post above clarifies that I do not interpret the principle of irreduction in a way that would support such an orientation, but I acknowledge that someone could attempt to apply it in the way that you have.
Joe: In other words, even if one builds for themselves a strong generative enclosure, if they enter into a real dialgoue (and not just parallel monologues), there is always the possibility of changing and being changed in the interaction. To put it bluntly, you are likely to trigger their complexes, and they are likely to trigger yours. In intergral terminology, what's going to happen in a true dialogue is that while you and the other person are having one level of dialogue, both of your shadows are going to be having a dialogue of sorts of their own as well!
One of the aspects of a generative (en)closure, as I was attempting to define it in my paper, is that it is generative of difference, of information and change, in the world -- not only internally, within its own system, but in its way of interacting with, relating to, and affecting other beings and systems. As with the Gendlinian understanding of "body formation" I mentioned, or as with a generally enactive understanding of autopoiesis and self-world evolution, entity-and-environment are co-generative, co-arising, where this mutual flow of influence and creative "generation" of change is both intersubjective and interobjective (or "intersuobjective," as we sometimes say in shorthand on my IPS forum). In this mutual interchange, yes, there will be both interactions and changes that register "in the light" of awareness, and unconscious, shadow interchanges as well. From this perspective, this would happen even in the case of two Super Dreadnoughts meeting, but in a setting that is likely more guarded, less open to receiving or entertaining the material that arises.
Bruce: "When you argue that a complex is a "mediating holon," this appears to situate complexes "within" the (already ontological) holon model. However, given the broad, all-quadrant reading you give to "complex" (as dissipative structure, etc), I think it may be more profitable to hold Wilberian and Jungian models in parallel (rather than trying to reduce one to the other)."
Joe: I was a bit confused when I read this, as I did not see the contradiction. Do holons only exist in the right hand quadrants? When I think of AQAL I'm thinking of both the quadrants (the perspective that the "thing itself" actually has) as well as quadrivim (the perspective which we can look FROM and see that "thing")
What I meant was that, if a complex is understood as a type of holon, and if holons are already understood in Integral thought as ontological while also possessing a subjective interior, then a complex couldn't really be seen as a missing link which re-introduces ontology to Integral Theory. Rather, it would be one type of ontological reality recognized by Integral Theory. But in addition to this, I was also responding to the suggestion that Kosmic Habits are really just Complexes. In that case, while I think you can make that argument, what I was saying was that I thought it might be more profitable to hold the Kosmic Habit model and the Complex model side by side, using either one as appropriate, rather than trying to reduce one to the other.
Joe: In one sense a complex (as an autonomous complex) is like a subpersonality or living thing, but it's not necessarily a physical "thing" (it doesn't have its own physical body) and it's not a type. Could then a complex be how we choose to look at something (quadrivium), when we are looking at it as if it were a dynamical system? On the other hand, when a complex constellates in the UL quadrant, the person experiences affect which gives rise to emotions, thoughts, feeling-tones, and enacts the phenomenal experience of a world-view or value system for the person during the duration when it is constellating. It's like a subpersonality. Thus we must ask, do other "things" in the other quadrants express characteristics which can be likened to a personality?
There are a couple ways I can see going with this, depending on how we are using the word, "complex." First, regarding whether or not a complex has a body: in Integral thought, I think you'd say that a complex at least has a subtle body. But I'd say it's probable that, when we experience or are under the influence of a complex, something is going on in our brains and bodies as well that correlates to this activity or event.
But while I believe that many of the psychological and even subtle or archetypal dimensions of the human being that have traditionally been described in a disembodied way, will be found to be embodied within our own physical systems (as neuroimaging increasingly reveals), I think the views we are exploring on the Integral frontiers do indeed suggest that many things we normally considered inanimate and inert are more "ensouled" and entitative than we have imagined. This, at least, is one of the suggestions of the OOO-influenced Integral thought I've been exploring in my paper and in this discussion (and in depth with members of the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum).
Joe: In other words, if a complex possesses all the quadrants, doesn't this imply a kind of personification of everything - that everything has a kind of consciousness or personality? AND if it has a personality, does it have a kind of soul?
Here are some notes from a talk I gave last year, where I was asked to talk about care of the soul, and I brought in an OOO way of looking at things that relates to "soul" as I understand it:
Soul is not a word I personally use very often, but I have been reflecting on it lately. For instance, walking down the street the other day, I pronounced the word ‘soul’ to myself, trying to find a ‘fit’ for it in my experience, and out of nowhere I felt a deep stirring – an intimation of depth of feeling that, lightning-like, lit up the whole body, edged with joy and longing at once. It’s like listening to sublime music, the meaning of which issues from we-know-not-where, and touches us we-know-not-how, and yet there we are: transfixed by the grace of this, the inexplicable gift of the moment.
In one of its early meanings, according to the etymological dictionary, soul meant, “of or coming from the sea.” The idea apparently was that the soul stopped at the sea prior to an individual’s birth, and also on its way “out” after an individual’s death. What has the soul to do with the sea? I do not know the mythology around this, but taking poetic license, I’ll mention two associations that have arose for me as I contemplated this. In the first, I see the sea as our evolutionary bed of origin. As if the soul, in coming to birth, recapitulates that great journey from mineral bed, to sea creature, to mammal, to human being; and as if, on passing out again, it stops at the sea again to honor that fertile womb... [I edited out a discussion of the Sufi notion of seven souls here.]
Another association that arises when I think about the soul’s journey to the sea is the notion of the soul as a dweller in the depths. Nietzsche, Heidegger, David Michael Levin, Raimon Panikkar, and many others have referred to ‘soul’ as the depth of the body – not as some disembodied ghost temporarily inhabiting the body, but as the mysterious depth of the body itself. The Sufi notion of seven souls (mineral, vegetable, animal, etc) speaks in one way to this depth in the body.
But there is another approach to considering the body’s depths that I am interested in mentioning today, an approach which also suggests other dimensions to the notion of ‘care of the soul.’
[Briefly explain OOO.]
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
Although seeing relationally is an advance over seeing the world as just so many objective parts, the threat of nihilism lurks at the heart of our relational view, if we think the 'being' of our client is exhausted by that relationality -- if their 'whatness' is fully commensurate with and 'nothing more than' those relationships. As if "who" can be summed up, fully grasped or apprehended, and (though we might not consciously put it this way) explained away by "context." This, for me, is where an appeal to "soul" comes in -- the acknowledgement, as Tim Morton, might say, of a 'freshness' and/or 'strangeness' -- an inaccessible, unmasterable, withdrawingly mysterious, integrity -- deep down things.
As Henri Bortoft says, the whole is an active absence. We cannot find the 'whole' arrayed alongside other things; it forever escapes that sort of gaze. And yet the particular is where the whole 'bodies forth.' Here, whole is not 'entirety' but, in some sense, inexhaustibility. And what allows us to apprehend that wholeness, that deep integrity, but care -- that light by which the gaze opens itself to receiving the inexhaustible gift of the other. Can we live in light of the inaccessibility of the other?
This inaccessibility is of a piece with integrity: the soul is autopoietic, as Almaas suggests, a site of both opening and closure. That closure, when we encounter it, draws us forward, in invitation: but the gift is in its final unmasterability: it invites us to openness, to ongoing receiving, which is a way of seeing that flowers in care.
Care is an attitude of openness. In caring, we open to ...
Humans are beings for whom "to be" is an open question. We care for our humanity by keeping open to this questioning.
As I wrote once to my wife...
as suddenly as you appeared
in cottonwood drift, gold-limned
at the edge of day
I have never caught up
with your newness
or touched the bottom
of the gift of your eyes
that still invite
and surprise me with
the unbidden water
as much as I have traced
the drift of your skin, gold-brown,
at the fall of night,
I still delight at the way
you exceed me;
like a deer in a garden
chase, you lead me
and surprise me with
the undoing shudder
of your embrace
In the above, I talked mostly about "withdrawal" as the intimation of the unmasterable, evolutionarily open depth dimension in the human being, but in OOO thought, this withdrawal is a feature of all objects. All things exceed present relations, retaining a hidden depth, a "night side," which is a fount of unique evolutionary potential and untapped power; all things, allo- or autopoietically, translate and interface with other beings in their own ways, with affective fields that constitute or define their present relations with other beings (their power to affect and be affected), but which recedes into depths which exceed other- and self-apprehension at any time. This night side of things, when recognized and attended to, summons us to a way of seeing marked by care, as Heidegger argues. But this view also situates us in a world where objects are not simply inert, blank "screens" awaiting human projection; they are "actors" in the world in their own right, responding, affecting, constraining, and enabling us and each other*. This is a kind of integral neo-animism -- not anthropomorphically reading a "human interior" into things, but very definitely an acknowledgement of a world teeming with active beings or "singularities" that shape evolutionary unfolding as we do and that harbor unexpected, "esoteric" powers (meaning, withdrawn or untapped fields of potential). As Levi Bryant likes to say, No one knows what a body (complex?) can do.
Joe: So where's the missing link? Is the world composed only of a series of artifiacts plus those physically-bodied things which are obviously sentient or is there more sentience going on than meets the eye? In other words, is the world ensouled? If the complex is the missing link, then it's the missing link because it implies that there is a soul somewhere that's not being taken into account. It implies that there is more sentience taking place in the world than is currently being shown in the standard representations of AQAL charts and in integral theory in general. In moving to a post-metaphysical spirituality something had to go. Was it the soul?
In the view I'm presenting here, I do not think a postmetaphysical spiritual approach requires the exorcism of the soul. Soul as inner ghost, instead, dies, and is resurrected as the secret depth dimension of all beings -- even so-called inanimate artifacts. This is not to say that there aren't important qualitative differences between human beings and tools or social systems, but this is not an absolute, dualistic difference in "kind": the boundary is blurred in interesting ways.
All the best,
* Entities and objects and artifacts act on each other in profound ways, such that the sharp eye of the Bushman embodies the endless plain, or the crooked pines of Korea embody and express the wild winds of the Sea of Japan, or the bodies and brains of our children are learning to embody the peculiar objects and demands of high-speed gaming.