I posted the following in the Yahoo Adult Development forum and am cross-posting here. I'll keep you apprised of some key responses, provided I get any: 

Building on the post below* regarding Lakoff's embodied reason, he seems to call into question the type of abstract reasoning usually found at the formal operational level. This appears to be false reasoning based on the idea that reason is abstract, literal, conscious, can fit the world directly and works by logic (also see for example this article ). If formal reasoning is false wouldn't this call into question some of the assumptions of the MHC? That perhaps this "stage" is a dysfunction instead of a step toward post-formal reasoning? 

Now Lakoff has his own hierarchy of how embodied reason develops: image-schematic, propositional, metaphoric, metonymic, symbolic. (See for example "Metaphor, cognitive models and language" by Steve Howell.) So I'm wondering how the MHC takes into account Lakoff's work here and how it answers his charge of false reason? Terri Robinett noted in his Ph.D. dissertation (at the Dare Association site) that "work has already begun by Commons and Robinett (2006) on a hierarchically designed instrument to measure Lakoff’s (2002) theory of political worldview." So perhaps you can shed some light on this? 

* This is the referenced post: 

Since Michael brought up Lakoff as perhaps being "at right angles to the stage dimension" I read this by Lakoff this evening: "Why 'rational reason' doesn't work in contemporary politics." He distinguishes between real and false reason, the former being bodily based and the latter existing in some sort of objective, abstract realm. Very interesting indeed. Here are a few excerpts: 

"Real reason is embodied in two ways. It is physical, in our brain circuitry. And it is based on our bodies as the function in the everyday world, using thought that arises from embodied metaphors. And it is mostly unconscious. False reason sees reason as fully conscious, as  literal, disembodied, yet somehow fitting the world directly, and working not via frame-based, metaphorical, narrative and emotional logic, but via the logic of logicians alone."
"Real reason is inexplicably tied up with emotion; you cannot be rational without being emotional. False reason thinks that emotion is the enemy of reason, that it is unscrupulous to call on emotion. Yet people with brain damage who cannot feel emotion cannot make rational  decisions because they do not know what to want, since like and not like mean nothing. 'Rational' decisions are based on a long history of emotional responses by oneself and others. Real reason requires emotion."

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Here is a link to one of MJ's articles in Daedalus, 6/22/06, called "Mind incarnate: from Dewey to Damasio." It's pretty much a summary of his usual main points and handy in that regard. He also mentions Spinoza as part of the western nondual tradition, something of interest to the Spinbitz thread which develops Spinoza in this regard. Also another aspect of "continuity" is that the "body" is not limited to one's physical body but also includes socio-cultural and hermaneutic bodies. And my last point for this post is what he calls embodied values, where different cultures might have some shared commonalities based on our inherited embodiment and similar environmental factors, nonetheless there is no "absolute, universal or eternal" set of values. Rather he calls for a "value pluralism," akin to Balder's research on religious pluralism.
In my ongoing research I keep coming up with references to my own prior posts. Here’s one originally in the “embodied challenge” thread and relevant here:

Then again, embodiment isn’t restricted to one’s biological body. Hence such references as the above to the intersub-objective “lifeworld.” In The Meaning of the Body (U of Chicago, 2007) Mark Johnson talks about our different bodies: biological, ecological, phenomenological, social and cultural (275-8).

Tim Rohrer says in “The body in space: Dimensions of embodiment”:

“…embodiment means not just the physiological body…but the body-in-space, the body as it interacts with the physical and social environment….we are born into social and cultural milieus that transcend our individual bodies in time” (5).

In section 2 of the article Rohrer goes on to discuss the various meanings of embodiment depending on the context, from philosophical to phenomenological to socio-cultural etc. In section 3 he even has a chart illustrating which domains the different methodologies investigate, similar to Wilber’s zones. Section 4 shows how the diverse methodologies are linked and integrated.

Rorher goes into artifacts, including language, and how we interact with them as part of our socio-cultural embodiment. In that regard he discusses (with Johnson, cited below) the concept of continuity, originally elucidated by Dewey. This eliminates the dualism between inside and outside, or between body and mind, due to the foundations of mind in the basic bodily functions of perception and sensio-motor movement. However while grounded in these basic functions more complex functions evolve like abstraction and self-reflexivity that cannot be simply reduced to the earlier foundations. Here we are on the same page as Wilber and developmental studies in general like the MHC.

However continuity is also applied to the individual-social dimension, thus not maintaining this duality. That is where the socio-cultural meanings of embodiment come into play. They recognize that “cognition does not take place only within the brain and body of a single individual but is in part constituted by social interactions and relations.”

Mark Edwards criticisms are relevant here, particularly his three-part essay “The depth of the exteriors” (cited below). It becomes clear that Wilber and developmentalists generally see continuity within an individual but not in the individual-social matrix. Edwards sees this as an individual-interior reduction. This manifests in Wilber’s emphasis on Piaget with little to no integration of Vygotsky, Cooley or Mead etc. Not surprisingly there is also little to no integration of the modern-day heirs to that pragmatic tradition, the cogscipragos like Lakoff, Johnson and Rohrer. Edwards goes on to how this duality can be reconciled within the AQAL framework.

Edward, Mark (2003-04). “The depth of the exteriors” in the Reading Room at Integral World.

Johnson & Rohrer. “We are live creatures” in Body, Language and Mind, volume 1, Mouton de Gruyter, 2007, 17-54.
I've been circling around, trying to find something specific about how Lakoff and company view hierarchy based on embodiment and how that ties into basic-level categorization. I found this link which explores this topic from L&J's book Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Here are some excerpts that turns the usual notion of hierarchy inside-out from the middle. I don't quite get this yet but I'm tired and this is all I can do for the night.

Quoting the book:

Categories are not merely organized in a hierarchy from the most general to the most specific, but are also organised so that the categories that are most cognitively basic are ʺin the middleʺ of a general‐to‐specific hierarchy. Generalisation proceeds upward from the basic level and specialization proceeds down.

Authors's notes:

A basic level category is somewhere in the middle of a hierarchy and is cognitively basic.

It is the level that is learned earliest.

Usually has a short name and is used frequently.

Highest level at which a single mental image can reflect the category.

There is no definitive basic level for a hierarchy ‐ it is dependent on the audience.

Most of our knowledge is organised around basic level categories.
L&J use a lot of research by Rosch on prototype theory, which challenges classical category theory. For example this from the wikipedia article of prototype theory:

"prototype theory was a radical departure from traditional necessary and sufficient conditions as in Aristotelian logic, which led to set-theoretic approaches."

So we still have categorical hierarchies but not the the classical Aristotelian way (and its extensions in the MHC and by default Wilber's holoarchies). The basic-level, embodied categories are not first in the hierarchy but in the middle! I still don't get this yet but it is a very different kind (category) of bird indeed.
Here's an interesting description of the classical view of a nested hierarchy from this link. Sound familiar?

"The classical concept is defined 'by necessary and sufficient conditions' -that is, by set theoretic definitions on properties. It is an elementary theorem of logic that the whole of the operations of sentential logic, for instance, may be grounded solely in the primitive operations of intersection and complement. More generally, logical sets and categories are defined on presumed 'atomic properties' and are commensurable wholly based on the set-theoretic possibilities of those sets –i.e. union, intersection, complement, etc....

"This classical categorization therefore expresses an absolute, rigid and nested hierarchy of levels and containment. In Lakoff’s terms it expresses a hierarchical 'container schema.' Ultimately, (because they are nested), at the limits these processes specify (1) a largest concept: 'something,' (defined by no atomic properties), whose extension is 'everything,' and (2) a smallest concept: a particular 'object' in reality, (or possible reality), defined by all its atomic properties. Given the classical paradigm then, reason necessarily begins with 'something,' (the most general concept), and points, inexorably, to some 'thing,' i.e. a specific object."
So we begin in media res, in the middle of things and then "reason" both up and down the classical hierarchy, not realizing that the "base" of that hierarchy is not the real foundation, which is hidden "in the midst." Which reminded me of course, nondualist that I am, of the Madhyamka "middle way" between the categories of absolute and relative. Morrison's book Spinbiz also notes this and has his "resolution" of categories in the middle. Here are a few excerpts:

"Toward the goal of laying out a middle-path between these extremes of relative nihilism and absolute eternalism (or essentialism), Nagarjuna developed a concept he called sunyata, or Emptiness, which essentially means that all manifestations of existence, what we might call objects or modifications, are empty of their own self-contained essence (i.e. they are empty of the metaphysical essences which Plato called forms or ideas). Nagarjuna, like Deleuze, basically implores us to think acategorically, and he even titled one of his later books, Pulverizing the Categories. Indeed, this
common categorical, or essentialist thinking, is the “essence” (pardon the term) of the “forces of representation” which, Deleuze argues, have distorted the reading and interpretation of philosophy (mainly Spinoza and Leibniz, herein) throughout History via an essentialist and idealist (Platonic) lens" (61).

"Indeed, according to the interpretation herein, Spinoza does not begin logically, or even sequentially with a definition of God or Substance from which all else follows, and upon which all else logically rests. Rather, logically, he begins in the middle, with a critical definition of the finite in its own kind, as that which is limited or surpassed by another modification of the same kind. It is The Infinite (The Absolute), or Substance/God, which hinges or turns on this definition of the finite, the mode, or the relative, as that which is not limited by anything else" (98).

"In the real world, as individuals, we begin in the middle and work in both directions simultaneously—differentiating and integrating, transcending-and-including in both immanent and transcendent directions, and mapping it all out,
transitively and conceptually—creating the future at the same time we reconstruct the past, in this embryogenesis of the concept" (110).
So our basic categories are embodied in image schemas that arise from our interactions with the world. Recall that one characteristic of these basic categories is the part-whole gestalt, aka hierarchy. Since image schemas and basic categories operate below conscious attention we’ve come to assume that they are inherent to the world themselves and thus project this notion of “natural hierarchy,” with its most developed forms in Aristotelian nested, categorical hierarchies. All of which assumes a basic, particular and inherent “constituent” as foundation at the bottom and/or a general and inherent “being” as foundation at the top. Meanwhile the process actually begins in the middle of the classical taxonomy and we get more specific “downward” and more general “upward” from there on a useful but constructed hierarchy. This doesn’t necessarily eliminate hierarchy per se, just contextualizes it is a more naturalistic, nondual way and only eliminates its dualistic and metaphysical elements, elements which have some form of inclusivism and hegemony at its core. The notion of holons as involutionary givens is one of those metaphysical elements, and as we’ve seen this is much better explained by the part-whole gestalt properties of basic image schemas.
L&J discuss basic-level categories in PF (28-30), saying that it is the level at which we interact optimally with the environment and hence they are quite accurate. So much so that it appears as if our categories are actually representing that world as it is. Hence it is an easy step to metaphysical realism. These image schemas remind me of Dharmakirti's "pure particulars" from the prior "myth of the given" discussion, since they seem to function in much the same way, as the next of kin to reality as such and removed from it by the slimest of margins. However also like Dharmakirti anything beyond the basic-level category loses this almost direct connection.
I mentioned above how embodied realism does not fall prey to Meillassoux's criticism of correlationism. I found a relevant passage from Spinbitz that highlights this, in that cognitive science not only dispels the myth of the given the the given of the myth. The latter is how Morrison sees the correlationism (not his term) that begins with Kant. An excerpt:

"Kant wanted to find out what happens when 'pure reason,' beyond the limits of human experience, confronts only itself, but Kant’s own pool of experience was far more limited than ours today. Kant was unaware of the empirical facts of evolution and of the embryogenesis of the forms of the understanding far prior even to his a priori categories. In the light of this new experience with the natural world—e.g. evolutionary and cognitive science—we will find that experience and reason emerge together, symbiogenetically, or structurally coupled, in the very process of evolution. The 'fundamental' categories are themselves inherited from billions of years of experience with the problem-solving intelligence (primitive rationality) of evolution. The 'forms of sensibility,' we will see, are not ultimately a priori, in the anti-Copernican anthropocentric sense, but symbiogenetic with the sensations or experience of form. And one of the core elements of reason is the rational 'acategorical imperative,' which, by itself, pulverizes the categories required by dogma.

"Kant shattered the 'myth of the given,' and handed us merely the 'given of the myth,' the given of the ontic forms underlying the illusion of experience itself. His self-proclaimed 'Copernican Revolution' demonstrated that the world is not simply given to the mind as it is in itself, but that the mind, as it is in itself, is given to experience and interpret the world. The mind, according to Kant, generates and imposes its own pregiven a priori structure and order (e.g. the categories of Time and Space) on the world before it can experience anything" (46).

It is understandable that Wilber, Commons and anyone into Aristotelian metaphysical hierarchies (hidden in the given of the myth) does not even mention cognitive science in this regard, as it challenges the very foundations of its false (ie not embodied) reasoning.

Scribd has a copy of Lakoff's Women, Fire and Dangerous Things (U of Chicago, 1987).

From WFDT:

"The psychologically most basic level was in the middle of the taxonomic hierarchies....[and] is the only level at which categorization is determined by overall gestalt perception....[which is] perception of overall part-whole configuration" (46-7).

"The ability to categorize at the basic level comes first....basic level categories develop prior to classical taxonomic categories....classical taxonomic categories are 'later achievements of the imagination" (49).

"It is important to realize that these [basic categories] are not purely objective and 'in the world,' rather they have to do with the world as we interact with it.... 'It should be emphasized that we are talking about a perceived world and not a metaphysical world without a knower (Rosch 1978, p.29)" (50).


"The classical theory of categories provides a link between objectivist metaphysics and and set-theoretical models.... Objectivist metaphysics goes beyond the metaphysics of basic realism...[which] merely assumes that there is a reality of some sort.... It additionally assumes that reality is correctly and completely structured in a way that can be modeled by set-theoretic models" (159).

He argues that this arises from the correspondence-representation model.

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