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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Re-reading a section of the  OOO thread I came upon this post, relevant excerpt below:

And while I'm on Latour's independent modes, he said something on p. 331* [of The Speculative Turn] that reminded me of our earlier discussion about the different systems in a human being suobstances in themselves requiring translation between each other.**

* Where Souriau talks of a human being composed of the independent modes of body, mind and spirit.

** P. 72: "In Luhmann's theory the 'human being' is not conceptualised as forming a systemic unity. Instead it has to be understood as a conglomerate of organic and psychic systems. The former consists of biochemical elements, the latter of thoughts. Both systems are operatively closed against each other: no system can contribute elements to the respectively other system. The systems are however structurally coupled; i.e. their respective structures are adjusted to each other in such a way as to allow mutual irritations" (9-10).

I'm moving this post over here too, since it's relevant to this enquiry. In response to Joe's comment at the start.

"The Cube of Space provides one data set of attributions and relationships, the Tree of Life another, Esoteric Astrology another, Numerology another, etc...   I see this as being analogous to having some N-dimensional hyper-geometric model of reality and then by fixing certain sets of parameters at a time creating projections of this model into 2d and 3d space so that we can see the multitude of relationships between variables in a way that's visually understandable.  Yes all the models have some cross correlations, but each model also reveals additional relationships which the other models don't show. "

Ah, so the Cube of Space is not the final arbiter of description? And that there may be other '2nd-tier' models that fill in its gaps? And even 3rd or 4th tier models that enfold it? Or using spatial terms, the cube is 3-D, so perhaps there are 4-D models that transcend and include it?

Along these lines I have some visual images to depict what I'm getting at. Recall I said somewhere that there was a difference between a theory for anything and a theory of everything. The former allows for  infinite progress, as well as regress. The latter seems more to have a beginning and end point, both being the fundamental thing in itself, or as I call it, an assholon. So for example, we might have an integral cube of space and an integral tree of life, which some correlative overlaps but also offer spaces not in the other, like a vesica pisces.

This is instead of the image of nested spheres, which indicate that one is completely subsumed within the other, or at a 'higher level' of awareness or consciousness, whereby one is transcended and included within the other. The latter is typical of TOEs and looks like this.

I'm just using spheres because its easier to graph (for me) than cubes, but the latter would work too. So for example in the interaction of a 2nd tier cube with a 2nd tier tree, using your integral cube attributions, the shared space might be that only the lower right cuberant (instead of quadrant) of the entire cube interacts with just the top three sepiroth of the tree. Granted this is just a simple example of the overlaps to get a 'picture,' and not likely accurate to the details.

Perhaps a more accurate example might be using a word in a sentence in a paragraph, etc. The word's meaning will be in relation to how it's use in a particular sentence, so there is overlap between the two. Granted in a size scale the word is just one thing and the sentence is several words so 'larger.' Still, the word is not subsumed in the sentence like a nested sphere, since it can and does form other meanings in other sentences. So in our vesica pisces the word might be a 'smaller' sphere sharing space with the 'larger' sphere of the sentence. But to show the relational shared spaces of that word with other sentences we might need an image like the flower of life.

Choose any sphere/word and one can see the virtually infinite ways it can interact with other words in other sentences in other paragraphs, etc. Say that the above flower is one 2nd-tier model, like your integral cube (noting how this flower is in the shape of a cube). Let's call it a 'holon' to keep within a kennlingus framework. This sort of image allows the 'smaller' holons within it to be related by overlaps instead of subsumptions; the same with the models interactions with other models. And again fitting more into a TFA instead of a TOE, the latter of which often gets caught in 'altitude' wars and pissing contests.

And by the way more akin to something like the OOO/SR notion of a strange mereology and a democracy of objects. All of which, to enter the pissing, to me seems more post-metaphysical and hence more altitudinally 'integral.' And not at all akin to the aperspectival madness Kennilingam associates with pomo. Hence my extended ruminations in the real/false reason thread over the legitimation battle for what constitutes post-formal cognition.

Also see this post from another thread. Actually the whole thread is relevant to this discussion but the linked post gives an indication of how that relates to the thread.

See this post and and following posts discussing Ross's paper on fractal transitions. They describe the differences between restricted and general complexity and lay the foundation for what follows below:

See this post on Commons' own description of the metaphysical basis (both Platonic and Aristotelian) of the MHC. Furthermore, see this from the article cited:

"In the early 1960s, many others’ work introduced the representational theory of measurement. It is the basis for the Model of Hierarchical Complexity" (315).

And of course the latter is also a fine example of a metaphysical system. Compare with Cilliars in Complexity and Postmodernism:

"Models of complex systems will have to be as complex as the systems themselves. They will also have to emulate these systems’ capacity to encode and remember information pertaining to their environment and how to cope with that environment. We have suggested that classical theories of representation do not provide an adequate description of this process. [...] The symbols of mathematics have no meaning by themselves. They are provided meaning by means of a definition (e.g. let x stand for the temperature of the water). The symbol is then said to ‘represent’ that which it stands for. In well-defined problems the relationships between symbols and that which they represent can be specified unambiguously and it is easy to interpret the results. Unfortunately, the ease with which symbols can be made to represent something vanishes when we deal with complex problems, problems for which clear definitions and well-defined borders are less easily found" (58).

He then discusses how Putnam later refuted his own functionalism, the latter of which was taken up by Fodor and Chomsky in their computational and representational models. And which Cilliars describes as having "the embedded metaphysical loyalties [...] not only to a kind of Cartesian dualism, but also to an abstract, ahistorical idealism" (60-4). We see both types of metaphysics in Commons' own descriptions. And in Ross's use of the representational fractal complexity models.

Cilliars then goes on to show in great detail over many pages and chapters how the 'distributed' model of intra-brain and inter-brain/environment interaction is not a metaphysical model of either kind. And how it uses the science of dynamic systems to support that claim. But again, as noted in the earlier linked posts, there is also a split on which form of complexity is being used in dynamic systems.

Some excerpts of this article follow: "Is mathematics invented or discovered?" Recall my criticism above of the math basis of the Model of Hierarchical Complexity, which has metaphysical, Platonic bases.

"A recent development within the last century was the discovery of fractals. Beautiful complex patterns, such as the Mandelbrot set, can be generated from simple iterative equations. Mathematical Platonists eagerly point out that elegant fractal patterns are common in nature, and that mathematicians clearly discover rather than invent them. A counterargument is that any set of rules has emergent properties. For example, the rules of chess are clearly a human contrivance, yet they result in a set of elegant and sometimes surprising characteristics. There are infinite numbers of possible iterative equations one can possibly construct, and if we focus on the small subset that result in beautiful fractal patterns we have merely seduced ourselves.

"The non-Platonist view is that, first, all mathematical models are approximations of reality. Second, our models fail, they go through a process of revision, and we invent new mathematics as needed. Analytical mathematical expressions are a product of the human mind, tailored for the mind. Because of our limited brainpower we seek out compact elegant mathematical descriptions to make predictions. Those predictions are not guaranteed to be correct, and experimental verification is always required. What we have witnessed over the past few decades, as transistor sizes have shrunk, is that nice compact mathematical expressions for ultra small transistors are not possible. We could use highly cumbersome equations, but that isn't the point of mathematics. So we resort to computer simulations using empirical models. And this is how much of cutting edge engineering is done these days.

"The realist picture is simply an extension of this non-Platonist position, emphasizing that compact analytical mathematical expressions of the physical world around us are not as successful or ubiquitous as we'd like to believe. The picture that consistently emerges is that all mathematical models of the physical world break down at some point. Moreover, the types of problems addressed by elegant mathematical expressions are a rapidly shrinking subset of all the currently emerging scientific questions."

Some excerpts from Otto Laske’s article in the Aug/Nov ’13 issue of ILR follow. The first 2 paragraphs question the scientific or ‘objective’ facts claimed by developmentalists and see them more as a product of their unconscious societal biases. One of those biases is that very blindness in accepting the modernist (formal) premises of a pure objectivity apart from more subjective biases, as if science or math could get outside of context and determine the final ‘truth’ of things. Such a blindness then doesn’t even recognize the societal shifts necessary for personal transformation, instead assuming that it’s all a personal quest and responsibility, the very values inherent to that status quo, modernist and capitalist system that only accepts personal responsibility as legitimate via this formal and metaphysical logic. All we need do is get them to personally grow and send them back into the shark-pit of the capitalist workforce, as if they then have the personal power and will to overcome it.

Another example of that is the incessant obsession with classification in the 3rd paragraph, and that those classes are rigidly structured with clear dividing lines: you’re either in the classification or not. Laske doesn’t see this a representative of dialectical thinking but a continuation of formal logic. And this maintains the hierarchical status quo of business as usual, with the ‘leaders’ in charge as they should be. However once we ‘enlighten’ them with personal growth this will of course trickle down to the rest of us and make our lives better? Instead it reinforces the very formal and modernist notion of hierarchical business relationships in the first place and completely misses the P2P boat of the actual next phase of societal development. 


“In this paper, I am taking a critical, socio-historical perspective on what is presented today as ‘factual’ insight into the structure of the development of adults, both social-emotional and cognitive. I intend to show that the scientific construct of ‘adult development’ is actually an affirmative codification of a historical situation [….] the higher intellectual faculties, often addressed as ‘reason’, are held in check by instrumentalist strategic designs and goals that individuals internally reproduce as their own, in most cases without realizing that many of these goals and designs are not beneficial for the quality of their life. In this perspective, ‘scientific’ information about adult development, while giving insight into the status quo of the individual simultaneously covers up the wounds of historical progress and the limits of the mental space reserved for individual development, and is thus a part of the affirmative culture by which present society reproduces itself in individuals. 

“If as suggested adult developmental theory is not a neutral theory, but a codification of what historically has become of members of Western society, then it might be timely to begin thinking about what its social-emotional stages and cognitive phases really indicate in terms of people’s social existence, and to ask whether the human potential the theory espouses is more than what an individual can realize within its own limited mental space, in an ideal world, rather than supported by social reality at large. […]Are we doing harm to them by making them fit for society through coaching as was once said of psychoanalysis? How can we be ‘helpers’ if we are not guided by the utopia of restructuring social reality in terms of stopping or modifying the endless ‘progress’ we seem to be caught up in, which, ultimately, amounts to nothing (or very little) a soul can be nourished by? Can we actually give our clients critical resources that transcend optimal work performance by which the status quo is confirmed?” 

“When trying to decode how cognitive development is conceived by adult-developmental theory, one usefully distinguishes between formal-logical and dialectical thinking. As long as we restrict cognitive development to formal logic, we are essentially endorsing the social status quo whose hallmark is classification up to the meta-systemic level of individuals’ life. Classifications easily develop into control schemes, which indeed is their main purpose. In a totally administered world such as we live in, such classification is of the highest value for suppressing any thought of what could be different. Classification assures us that everything is well and could not be otherwise.”

Speaking of Laske, here are some of his comments from the Adult Development forum (link), the conversation which began this thread 3 years ago. Quote:

In regard to Michael’s and Edward’s question, we risk getting into ideological conversations if we accept the concepts used as they are offered.

The issue is deeper, and has to do with what concepts are able or not able to articulate. To say it right away: concepts cannot render development which is something intransitive, not within the reach of concepts. It is a real occurrence!

“Development” happens to be a dialectical concept in many senses, and these are never fully spelled out by any theory. So rather than being bound by some theory or methodology, which is closed system, I am concerned about the thinking that is done with it and on account of it.

I think that a healthy distrust of theories is the first step (methodological skepticism). In the developmental field this is healthy because the real issue is not a third-person understanding of development, but the difficulty of access of development for the person who is “in” or “under” development. And while conceptual clarifications can help, if all the theory does is to “pin down” a person “at” at stage or “between” stages (as most stage theories do), then we have already lost the dialectics that is relevant here. For this reason, I don’t think of development in terms of tasks or performances which is a constraint imposed by our present society and more or less blindly carried into the theory as a methodological constraint.

I would suggest, then, that we take dialectics out of the developmental field to begin with and become aware that it focuses on non-identity (that which does not fit our concepts), negativity (absence, pain, discrepancy, or repression), totality (a dynamic big picture), and transformative praxis or agency (most often curtailed by social constraints) . In this broader sense, dialectic is:

A logic of argument
A method of immanent critique (of theory)
The dynamic of conflict (in the real world)
The node of change for which it prepares the mind
and, as Roy Bhaskar (1983) puts it, the axiology of freedom (in the most elementary way because it eliminates constraints one’s thinking has been fettered by).

This is a handful and not for timid minds.

It seems to me that before “classifying” human development in these terms or those, we need to be as presuppositionless as possible, being very aware of our biases and the history of our profession. If we decide that development is about “tasks,” so be it, and we have to bear the consequences. If we decide that it is rather about the description of the mental processes, as processes, by which development occurs – which cannot be done within a closed system such as a “theory” -- that is another topic which has its own consequences.

In volume 2, I am thinking through cognitive processes in human development as dialectical processes. I cast them as “performances” only to evaluate transcribed interviews and give helpful feedback to clients. More important to me than mere results (scores, etc.) is the interviewing – the conversations – that result(s) once this is done, -- the practice that results. As said above, dialectics is foremost about human agency and the transformation of the social world. If one wants to carry that into the world, then the “theory” one sports has to be written and taught in accordance with that. In short: dialectic is not a methodology.

More from Laske in that thread. Quote:

You are right, Michael, about “the closer one looks the less closed a system is”. This is also demonstrated by logical (“closed system”) thinking being overcome, eventually, by “post-“formal thinking or dialectical thinking (you say “metasystematic” which is close but not the same as dialectical, in my view). I call this property of systems to be pervaded by absences their negativity (to speak with Bhaskar), and this absence will eventually catch up with systems (including theories) – as it does with the real world, too -- and make it break down or be seen more clearly as limited (which is the same thing, one ontological, the other epistemological).

So it is this negativity of systems (such as “theories”) that I am concerned with. I am also concerned with effects of systems on human agents because systems are typically used to classify, constrain, and subdue individuals, often with the pretension of “helping” them (as in “developmental coaching”). Now of course there are two aspects we should not mingle, one is epistemic – how we know – and the other is ontological – what there is. And the dialectical assumption is that what we know – through categories and concepts – always falls short of what is, which is often expressed – e.g. by Adorno – as the NON-IDENTICAL which escapes human concepts. Therefore, he spoke of “negative dialectics”, meaning a dialectics that honors what does not fit into concepts and thus remains non-identical. (For instance, if we use the concept “Dalia”, this concept is a mere label that does not even begin to exhaust the richness of the dalia that is.).

Now, when you look into this non-identical further, you come upon exactly those ABSENCES I spoke about above, gaps that changed thinking or real change will fill – there would be no change without absences pervading reality. This then leads to the distinction Bhaskar makes between “reality” and “actuality” where all that the sciences deal with is actuality but never reality which is a deeper concept.

So, I guess I am looking for a developmental science – not just of humans – that can cope with Absences and is dialectical enough not to mistake actuality (which is transitory) for reality (which is violently transitory). And it seems to me that “open systems” like a beehive or a human are transformational, and can’t be fathomed by logical or closed-systems thinking because that kind of thinking does not honor negativity (absences) which lies at the bottom of what is conventionally called “change”..

We owe it to Basseches to have put this to the test first, by gathering “schemata” or thought forms from the history of philosophy and science, to ask the simple question: How does dialectical thinking develop, really? – instead of making an ideology of it which easily happens. And that’s what I am continuing to ask in my volume 2 where I bring together the “ Kohlberg School ” which does not think dialectically, and the Frankfurt School which does but does not think developmentally. So when I say “Kegan finally met Basseches,” I could have said “Kegan finally met Adorno (or Hegel or Bhaskar), and once that happens we are living in a different “developmental” world than before, it seems to me. We are not just paying lip service to a “dialectical context” as Kegan does (1982, 1994), we are actually spelling it out.

And if we go further, we are called upon to do the same with Wilber’s work whose quadrants, in my view, are based on the quadrants of dialectic, in the sense that each of the Wilber quadrants – UL, UR, LL, LR – ought to be spelled out and used dialectically, and this never or rarely happens, depending on the level of cognitive development of the Wilber “follower”.

I was perusing the Yahoo Adult Development forum and came upon this post by Eeva Kallio who said:

"Of the term 'postformal' there are many conceptual analyses, in which severe criticism has been laid, as Deirdre Kramer, Helena Marchand and me. So far nobody has been able to reject these articles as far as I know."

Here is her academia.edu website with some of her papers.

For example, the abstract from "Integrative thinking is the key" follows:

"Post-formal relativistic-dialectical thinking has been widely claimed to be a new developmental stage of intellectual development. Other theoretical models come very close to post-formal thinking with overlapping features, such as the study of wisdom and epistemic understanding, as well as models of expertise, critical thinking and skepticism. No coherent theory exists in fields of post-formal and relativistic-dialectical thinking,though scholars have claimed that there is some similarity between the models. While empirical evidence of interconnectedness between them exists, a major difficulty lies in the theoretical definition of concepts. We critically assess the definitions of relativism and dialectical thinking and show these to be ambiguous and weakly defined terms.Instead we argue that the notion of ‘integrative thinking’ should be used instead of ‘post-formal’ or ‘relativistic-dialectical thinking’. Integration can be additive or transformative. Transformational integration of various psychological domains seems to be the core component in models of adult cognitive development."

Of relevance to recent posts in this thread (here and above/below), more from the above article:

"An important question remains: from which standpoint are knowledge and thinking relativized in adult reasoning models; from a logical, subjective, or socio-cultural viewpoint? In addition, it has to be noted that these standpoints are not exclusiveto each other (Pojman, 1999). Commons’ GST model focuses on the causal thinking domain, and reasoning is relativized from a logical standpoint with other concurrent models aiming to explain the same phenomenon. The other post-formal thinking models have gone beyond causal reasoning. In Labouvie-Vief’s model (Labouvie-Vief & Diehl,2000) relativism is understood as co-existing in different forms of ‘logic’: the logic of emotion and volition and the logic of intellect, which may differ from each other. Relativism is, here, seen from a subjective standpoint" (16).

Out of curiosity I posted an inquiry on the adult development forum asking about Morin, what they think about his version of complexity. I provided a couple of his works as examples, "restricted complexity, general complexity" and "from the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity." Eeva Kallio, whom I've quoted in the thread above, said: "Love this kind of analyses." Not surprisingly, Commons marginalized it away with this: "This is about Horizontal Complexity, well known and well worked out." It's the MHC version of "it's the green meme stupid."

Which led me back to this blog post, "what is postformal enaction?" Btw, the referenced "postformal dialectics" series in that post can now be found at the new Open Integral archive here, November 2007.

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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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