Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
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."
To put this in kennilingus, since I must speak the language of the restless natives in this land, perhaps so-called metasystematic thinking and above is more 'complex' in terms of hierarchical complexity. But as I've investigated in this thread it is still tainted by this sort of false reasoning. This is missed by kennilingus which equates that sort of complexity with the integral. Whereas the likes of Bhaskar, Morin, Lakoff, Gebser ad infinitum point to an entirely different sort of complexity and meaning for the term 'integral,' having uncovered and superseded this false reasoning.
I think this is an interesting thread, Edwyrd. We wouldn't want to dissociate with emotion, would we. However, there are different levels of emotion -- from proto-emotions like fear, rage, and satisfaction; to 2nd degree emotions like anger, wishing, and liking; to 3rd degree emotions like joy, depression, and hate; to 4th degree emotions like universal affect, global justice, and care; to high subtle emotions like all-human love and world-centric altruism; to even higher subtle emotions like all-species love and compassion; to the most subtle emotions like bodhisatvic compassion (see Integral Psychology. p. 198).
I think we would want to interface our cognition with the higher emotions, right? Not disassociate with emotion or repress emotions, but associate with and transmute into the higher and more subtle forms of emotion. We also wouldn't want to confuse "real reason" with endocept "felt meaning" or felt-meaning cognition. That would be a real catastrophe. Endocept, as Wilber writes, is the "link between felt-meaning and thought-mind." He goes on to say:
"Gendlin's 'felt meaning' has often been confused with centauric awareness, whereas it is basically typhonic (i.e., it is pre body/mind differentiation, not trans body/mind differentiation). This confusion, in my opinion, is based on an under appreciation of the cognitive component of panoramic awareness offered by vision-logic. Endoceptual awareness is, by definition, part of centauric awareness (which transcends and includes all previous structures), but does not define it." (Integral Psychology, p. 244)
So it could be a problem dissociating with emotion -- but it could also be a problem remaining fused with lower-order emotions (failing to differentiate) or confusing lower-order emotions with higher-order emotions. The difference between proto-emotion anger (first tier, pre-personal) and Buddha anger (third tier, post-personal) is quite profound, and I think even the better spiritual teachers can confuse these two. The latter would not be impulsive or unkind and would include all-species care and compassion. It would have a different quality altogether than cognition interfacing with proto anger and would surely yield better results all around.
It's also very dangerous to work with Buddha anger or tell yourself that you are, in my view. That's the sort of thing that gets these gurus in trouble. All the troubled gurus we discuss confuse these lower emotions with higher emotions, often routinely it seems. I think the proper understanding is that the lower-order emotions need to be transmuted into the higher-order emotions. I think the Mahayana notion of transmuting anger into clarity (not repressing or dissociating but transmuting) is particularly good. But even if we think wild Vajrayana ideas about this are good (and I think they have often been confused) we would also want to remember that Trungpa's Vajrayana, for example, was built on top of Mahayana. Done properly it wouldn't confuse proto-emotions with the very subtle emotions of alaya-vijnana developed as a stage, for example, even though I think that confusion is probably the norm when people attempt that kind of spirituality.
We should, I assume, be assuming that we all intend to have higher levels of reason and emotion be evoked and integrated. The proto-emotions of sentient creations give way to the spectrum of sapient feelings just as the calculations of simple organisms can become the exalted computations of the highest see-ers. And, as I have mentioned elsewhere, we want to make sure we know the difference between COGNITION and INTELLECT.
The only other thing I'll add is that the confusion about the confusion of Gendlin's 'felt meaning' has often been confused. It sounds to some people that the complaint that endocepts are part of centauric awareness conflates proprioceptive awareness with emergent embodied wholistic intuitions. But of course, as usual, the idea that people have differing opinions on this subject is short-sighted. For the endocepts cease to be "mere endocepts" as soon as they are experienced/interpreted by the reason which uses them to bring forth centauric awareness.
Lakoff & Johnson also recognize the above, using the word cognition for the entire process from the bottom up and the top down. They don't differentiate the orders of emotion since that is not the purpose of their work, but they do not confuse lower order emotion for higher emotions. They address orders of cognition starting with image schema up to abstract thought, and the body and emotions underlie and intertwine with that. They are just making the more general point that a certain kind of abstract thought is divorced from--or dissociated from, in kennilingus--body and emotion and thus false reason.
However, it's clear that this is not an accurate criticism of Wilber. Endoceptual awareness is, by definition, a feature of all types of vision-logic and other conventional and post-conventional cognitions in integral except in pathological conditions, as the quotation I gave clearly stated. Affect, emotional intelligence, etc. are also important lines of development that are included in AQAL. So there is no dissociation or "divorce" of body and emotion aside from pathological conditions. There is also talk about transmuting anger into clarity and various other related subjects in the literature.
Just because Wilber can say those words and manipulate those concepts doesn't mean he isn't affected by false reason. I've given plenty of evidence in this thread on how it plays out, but I'm pretty sure you're not going to see it.
False Reason is an interesting topic.
Like the presentation of "false consciousness" in Marx's work, it pertains primarily to the LR quadrant. That is to say it measures levels of systemic complexity in a manner that buffers it from subjective impressions.
As I say in my previous post that it is both technically correct to point out that endocepts are more primitive than ordinary reasoning AND technically correct to observe that their enfoldment within higher experience is not only necessary but implied by most people making assertions about the emergence of embodied reasoning.
However, that is a little aside from the question of false reason...
We might supposed that false reason appears as a kind of phantom or cul-de-sac at the level of formal cognitive operations. Just as dead-end relativism appears for the unwary pluralist. However this may be too simplistic. Clearly "amber" agents tend to presume that their comprehensions and assertions are quite reasonable. The apparent irrationality of the foreign and the alien is part of what enables the dogmatist to dismiss it as evil/unnatural.
Wilhelm Reich was of the opinion that the psycho-organism is "cut" horizontally by the constrictions of its armoring. The result being an apparent dichotomy between "the reactive gut" and "the dissociated sentimental intellect" (with left/right groups emphasizing one against the other). This provides a nice image of the pathological genesis of a type of thinking which acts as if it were a technical sanity, free from the world, waiting just be recognized by the ignorant.
Clearly that is not so. But just as clearly the presence of reliable self-authenticating boundary patterns which operate in tandem with embodied experience cannot, and should not, be reduced to a mere extrapolation. There is something like a "free reason" enacted as differing levels of complexity. However it cannot be presumed as primary in the case of organisms.
I think there is no debate about whether the value of endocepts in higher forms and the need to account for communication beyond "false reason" are present, in various ways, in Wilber's work. But that does not prevent people from getting a sense that he is misleading on this topic and that the he frequently gives an impression which is consonant with false reason.
I was dismissive above because David enters the thread with quotes from the Holy Bible of Kennilingus as if that somehow dismisses everything in this thread. And yet not one rationale or source from the thread was addressed. To my mind it was an appropriate response.
I don't think it was energetically inappropriate. Charge-meets-charge is one of the forms of balance.
Well, first of all, Edwyrd. I think Lakoff, the embodied mind, embodied metaphor, etc. are really interesting and important inquiries. I do think this is a very interesting and important thing to look into, and your posts here have inspired me to look into it more deeply. I have dabbled in Lakoff in the past and discussed embodied metaphors with people like Brendan, but I think it would be a good thing to study in great depth and ultimately situate in integral theory.
I have a number of criticisms, however. For one thing, you say, "I've given plenty of evidence in this thread on how it plays out, but I'm pretty sure you're not going to see it." But I did, in fact, look at every page of this 19-page thread before I posted that first response. I can't say I read every word in that first run through, but I looked at every page. I also looked through every page again after your response and again today. And it's a little short on argument and evidence, in my opinion.
For one thing, the entire framing or dichotomy between "real" and "false" reason isn't substantiated and is taken uncritically. I went reading what I could find about it, including an article and excerpts from Lakoff, and still find it unsubstantiated. I am not saying there is nothing important in there, just that Lakoff's conclusions about his research are unsubstantiated as far as I have read. You certainly haven't substantiated that basic framing in this thread or even tried to. You've provided evidence that there are important truths to the idea of the embodied mind and embodied metaphor, but you haven't provided any evidence that every other kind of reasoning is "false." Lakoff, as far as I have seen, hasn't either, but perhaps I just haven't found it yet. But my working theory of Lakoff is that he is a really cool researcher, but not a particularly good philosopher and a lousy meta-theorist. Meta-theory just doesn't seem to be his thing, as far as I have read, but if I have missed something I would certainly like to see it. I haven't studied him comprehensively.
You also make virtually no argument that Wilber is actually guilty of this "false reason," even if the dichotomy holds up (which I doubt it will from an integral perspective). You touch on it a little bit at one point but don't prove anything (holons), but there is never an examination of Wilber's prose and whether it includes embodied metaphor. Also, as I've said, there is a "physiological basis" for integral thinking from a holarchical, structural (unfoldment, enfoldment) standpoint, aside from pathology; that shouldn't be disputed. But whether 1) the only kind of "real" reasoning involves embodied metaphors; and 2) whether Wilber actually avoids these embodied metaphors or embodied reasoning hasn't even been discussed, let alone proven. Those are two different subjects, just to be clear: 1) whether integral structures have a basis in physiology (they do); and 2) whether Wilber speaks in "embodied language," if such a thing is the only "real reasoning" the human mind is capable of (doubtful). There's also the false dichotomy between Gebser and Wilber again, though Gebser aligns himself with Aurobindo almost completely and so does Wilber. This also hasn't been substantiated, and I've shown that on other forums.
Basically, it looks to me as though Lakoff is looking at one very important part of the human mind, human knowledge, and communication and taking it to be the whole. Does he have a materialist or physicalist bias or agenda? Some of the difference between he and Wilber could be due to Wilber's pan-interiorism. Wilber's integral methodological pluralism seems also to be a substantial difference. Another issue is the three bodies of Vedanta/Vajrayana and whether they are ontologically dependent on the gross body as I imagine Lakoff thinks (and which is Wilber's official position) or whether they are only dependent on the gross body for expression per Hypothesis #4 in Excerpt G.
It just seems to be as though Lakoff is guilty of some pretty severe reductionism with his black-and-white theory of "real" and "false" reason. If we just take the medieval scheme of the three eyes to illustrate the point -- eye of the flesh, eye of the mind, eye of the spirit -- Lakoff appears to want everything reduced to or subordinated to or "grounded in" the eye of the flesh. The eye of the flesh is real reason; that other stuff is false reason. I certainly haven't seen any reason or argument to believe that myself. From a variety of perspectives we could discuss, it looks like it misses out on some important perspectives. These embodied metaphors remain very powerful, particularly politically, because they have such great span -- everyone can resonate with them and understand them. But that doesn't mean they're the only kind of "real reason." They're deeply compelling and important, but the gross body may not be the only way we are embodied, and even if we are it hasn't been substantiated that we can't take other perspectives or framings. You say:
"With formal operations differentiation goes into dissociation with the kind of “false” reasoning we’ve been exploring above. Hence the prior levels are not adequately integrated and we get this sense of a separate and transcendent rational ego. Development can go on into postformal operations from here but it is tainted by this dissociation and infects all postformal operations with this same dissociation. This is what seems apparent in my discussions with Commons et al."
But you don't substantiate this either. It's simply an opinion without argument or evidence, as far as you've shown in this thread. The argument may exist somewhere in your mind or somewhere in Lakoff's canon, but you haven't laid it out here in Lakoff's words (you've simply stated his conclusions) nor in the myriad other voices you have quoted in this thread. Some of those things may prove something, but I don't think they prove what you say they prove. There is a difference between argument and opinion. There is a difference between proving something and stating a conclusion. You've mostly done the latter here in both cases.
Then the issue of "appropriateness" comes up. Well, Jesus and Raimon Pannikar and I think many others are grateful for that. Is it really appropriate, Edwyrd, to refer to Ken Wilber has "Kennilingus" or "Lingam" year after year after year? Is this kind of name calling really consistent with pluralism or inter-faith dialogue? I can't recall anyone on an integral forum holding onto a joke for this long. I can't remember anyone in my childhood holding onto a joke for this long. It is looking like a real fixation and not a very kind one, either. It certainly isn't compatible with any kind of mature dialectic or inter-faith discussion or integral ethics.
You may say it's just good-natured ribbing or an endearment or a funny joke, but I certainly don't buy that. I've been reading this forum since its inception, and I know your attitudes. Any attempt to explain this away as something nice and friendly would surely be gaslighting, and it certainly isn't more clever than the name calling I heard in high school. And have you thought how this might affect Bruce's reputation as an expert in inter-faith communication and world spirituality? Have you noticed how he doesn't call people names, aside from friendly jest? And why is it only Wilber that you've singled out for this friendly, respectful treatment? Why don't you call Bruce Blowj** or Derrida Derriere or Chomsky Chumpsky? I'm sure Bruce wouldn't like to be called Blowj** for seven years straight, so why would Wilber or anyone who likes him or anyone who simply wants to have a mature discussion?
You've been riddling the Facebook forum with these names as well. "Lingam" is obviously a euphemism for "dick," and you write that and the "Cult of Kennilingus" in the Fourth Turning thread. I can't imagine anyone thinks this is cool or clever, especially repeated so many times. I know one person from the Wilber camp who said he was going to leave because of the tone in that group; I imagine Bruce talked him into staying. But I'm sure there are many more who wouldn't even stop in as a result, who would simply roll their eyes and go somewhere else for a mature, integral discussion. It doesn't affect me, but it tends to distract from the discussion, and I am pretty sure it keeps some people away. It's just not very pluralistic or integral or friendly to persist in that kind of name calling -- year after year. At the very least I think you might consider confining that kind of affect and name calling to this forum and letting the Facebook forum try to develop a more mature mode of discourse.
I appreciate your perspective David but am not interested in discussing it with you. You can conclude from that what you will, and I'm sure you will. Take care.
PS: And yes, Bruce is much more open to that sort of dialogue and I respect him for it. That's not my bag, so to speak.
I moved the ensuing discussion above to a new thread here. Please pick it up there.