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 is 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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I recall a recent thread linking to an Beams and Struts post that says Wilber, while trying to include a lot of different topics and fields, just gives a general overview of them and doesn't go into their details. And the devil (and god) is in the details and hence some of what Wilber "includes" is partial at best and often so incomplete as to challenge the very broad generalizations he makes. So let's return to the basis of thought in the body.

Wilber's infamous 4-quadrant graph shows the progression from prehension to irritibility, sensation, perception, impulse, emotions, symbols, concepts in the upper left quadrant. And indeed this is the hierarchy that L&J also recognize from their research. But unlike Wilber, in their detailed study of the specifics of this early development they uncover many things Wilber glosses over or ignores. (Or perhaps he just skimmed the material for a few choice quotes or ideas that fit his preconceived agenda and moved on?) For example, due to the structure of our brains perception requires that it reduce the multitude of sensations into smaller units for processing via categorization. And this inherent, biological, neural categorization is the very basis for all further developments into the more abstract kinds of thought like symbol and concept.

L&J get more refined that Wilber's general graph above as elucidated in this article. The basis of their hierarchy is the image schema involving sensori-motor and proprioceptive experience. These basic categories include part-whole realationships via gestalts and mental imagery. So here we have a physiological basis for the holon concept Wilber is so fond of. Holons aren't an apriori part of the structure of the universe apart from the brain that perceives them, just as math is not. Holons and math are not involutionary* but evolutionary givens firmly grounded in the body and its interactions with the environment. We can eliminate the metaphysical underpinnings of Wilber's edifice by simply going into the details of his own sources.

*You can also see from the footnote cited above how Wilber lists the 20 tenets as part of the involutionary givens, which are based the holon concept.
And another things occurs to me. From above we can see how later concepts like math and holons arise from very primitive brain and consciousness structures. All of which supports my oft-repeated thesis that as we meditate we go backward into these previous evolutionary structures but mistake them for involutionary or ultimate/absolute structures of the universe itself. Naturally these early brain and consciousness structures made no such claims. It was only at the latter levels of abstraction that we confused this, not having the benefit of such neuroscientific research to which L&J refer. However the likes of Wilber did have such access and if he'd taken the time to go into the details instead of shaping the broad generalities to fit his metaphysical agenda this wrong track could have been avoided. But he is not alone in this; the general developmentalist path did so too, like Commons et al but instead through the metaphysical math route. But both false reasonings arise from the same deficient-rational, formal-operational level and they don't have to with a few minor tweaks.
Correction to the above. When I brought up Lakoff's work in the Yahoo adult deveopment forum it seemed that Commons and Ross were not familiar with his work. Or if they were it did not support the metaphysically math basis of the MHC so was ignored. I asked the entire forum,which numbers in the hundreds, if they were familiar with the work and there was not a single response. As for Wilber, I don't recall him ever discussing L&J's work. He might have used them in a bibliography but cannot verify that, since I no longer own any of his books. (Can anyone verify?) Even if so he has apparently not addressed the challenge it represents.
I don't recall any reference to Lakoff and Johnson's work in Wilber's books, though I do know their work is used in various "Integral education" programs, including Integral Coaching Canada and in classes at JFKU. Given what Wilber has written about the dissociation of value spheres that occurred at the Enlightenment (the enthronement of False Reason?), and what he is now attempting with post-metaphysics, I believe Wilber would likely be sympathetic to the distinction Lakoff makes between Real and False reason. Regarding holons, Wilber has elected to regard them as involutionary givens -- without fully clarifying why, to my knowledge -- but I think not without also acknowledging (in a few brief remarks) that holons are "perspectives" first. Perhaps, as with a few other things in his model, he stops short of fully embracing the implications of his commitment to postmetaphysics because of the extent that that would likely "rock the boat" he has built thus far. I'm not sure. Perhaps he just likes the story he can tell with them.
Yes, on an intellectual level I think Wilber would agree with the false reason idea but this doesn't stop him for committing it in the various ways outlined. I'm with him on the postmetaphysical project and just trying to tie up several loose ends --to paraphrase Captain Picard--to "make it (more) so."
theurj said: "L&J get more refined that Wilber's general graph above as elucidated in this article. The basis of their hierarchy is the image schema involving sensori-motor and proprioceptive experience. These basic categories include part-whole realationships via gestalts and mental imagery. So here we have a physiological basis for the holon concept Wilber is so fond of. Holons aren't an apriori part of the structure of the universe apart from the brain that perceives them, just as math is not. Holons and math are not involutionary* but evolutionary givens firmly grounded in the body and its interactions with the environment. We can eliminate the metaphysical underpinnings of Wilber's edifice by simply going into the details of his own sources."

Thanks Ed, this is a great insight and expresses one of my own misgivings about Wilber's work far more clearly than I ever could. I especially like the final sentence (my underline).

I agree with you on this too: "Wilber, while trying to include a lot of different topics and fields, just gives a general overview of them and doesn't go into their details. And the devil (and god) is in the details and hence some of what Wilber "includes" is partial at best and often so incomplete as to challenge the very broad generalizations he makes."

I appreciate your insights and your sharing of them.

Thanks for your appreciation James. It seems at times I'm just whistling in the wind when I get no feedback.
I quoted a bit from an MHC article above but in light of my recent comments would like to provide an extended quote from the same source which speaks for itself, pp. 113-15:

“Here, the ideal truth is the mathematical forms of Platonic ideal. An essential element of science is direct observation and interaction with the world. But Plato set forth a very different doctrine, to the effect that knowledge cannot be derived from the senses; real knowledge only has to do with concepts. The senses can only deceive us; hence we should, in acquiring knowledge, ignore sense impressions and develop reason. In codifying such logical reasoning, Aristotle (384–322 BC) set down rules of inference and recognized the importance of axioms for logic, postulates for the subject at hand, definitions of terms, and the importance of giving logical arguments that start with the postulates. By combining Aristotle’s precise formulation of logic with Thales’s method, the main elements of modern science were then in place. Most philosophic analyses of the philosophy of Thales come from Aristotle. Thales is credited as the first person about whom we know to propose explanations of natural phenomena that were materialistic rather than mythological or theological. Because his views of nature gave no role to mythical beings, Thales’s theories could be refuted by evidence. Arguments could be put forward in attempts to discredit them. Thales’s hypotheses were rational and scientific.

“The MHC is a mathematical theory of the ideal. It is a perfect form as Plato would have described it. It is like a circle. A circle is an ideal form that exists. Once one draws a circle, something additional and different has been created. The new creation is a representation of a circle, but it is not, itself, a perfect ideal circle. The lines have width whereas a circle does not, and thus cannot perfectly represent the perfect form itself. The representation is not perfect nor can a drawn circle be perfectly round. This distinction between the ideal form and representations of the ideal is important for understanding the MHC and its relationship to stage of performance.”
And from p. 306:

"Four basic terms are essential in discussing the Model: orders, tasks, stage, and performance. The orders are the ideal forms prescribed by the theory’s axioms. They are the constructs used to refer to the Model’s levels of complexity. The orders of hierarchical complexity are objective because they are grounded in the
hierarchical complexity criteria of mathematical models and information science…. The term stage is used to refer to an actual task performed at an order of hierarchical complexity: order is the ideal form, stage is the performed form."
Lakoff's challenge does not negate hierarchical complexity. Recall L&J also have a hierarchy based in image schemas up to symbols, with the higher progressively building on the lower. Hence our minds are grounded and "embodied." But L&J's hierarchies are 1) not ideal or transcendent based on false reason and/or math and subsequently 2) said higher levels do not completely subsume lower ones in the kind of mathematical set theory used by the MHC. The latter is challenged by L&J's empirical evidence that the kinds of lower functions represented by categories within any given mathematical set cannot be reduced to such "ideal" categories via nested hierarchies, since such physical functions are much more open ended. Only part of their functions can be represented by any given categorical, mathematical set. Hence they can fit into multiple categories and sets depending on the focus, and said alternative sets might well differ in results or even be contradictory to an ideal set. In fact, setting up such ideal sets with only one way to view them is what L&J criticize as hegemonic, and what Wilber might refer to as a dominator hierarchy (even though he is guilty of it too).
Here’s a link to a summary of L&J’s Women, Fire and Dangerous Things (UC Press, 1987) with quotes and comments. Some relevant excerpts:

Some cognitive models are classical; that is, they have rigid boundaries and are defined by necessary and sufficient conditions. They can be the source of prototype effects when their background conditions are partly consistent with our knowledge about certain given entities.

The predicate calculus view of science "characterizes explanations only in terms of deductions from hypotheses, or correspondingly, in terms of computations. Such a methodology not only claims to be rigorous in itself, it also claims that no other approach can be sufficiently precise to be called scientific."

Sets are at the heart of all modern versions of classical theory of categorization and formal semantics. This is true throughout generative linguistics. "A language, within generative linguistics, is defined as a set of sentences, and a grammar as a set of rules that characterizes the set of sentences…In virtually every respect, generative linguistics rests on the classical theory of categorization as it has been interpreted in the Fregean tradition--the assumption that the humanly relevant notion of a category can be adequately represented via a set-theoretical version of an objectivist theory of categories."

"The paradigm in which generative linguistics is defined absolutely requires a strong assumption of the autonomy of syntax from semantics and of the language faculty from any external cognitive influence." This idea "derives from the attempt to impose the structure of mathematical logic on the study of human language and human thought in general. In mathematical logic, there are an independently existing 'syntax,' independently existing model structures, and principles for mapping the syntax into the model structures. The 'semantics' consists of the model structure plus the mapping principles. It is a consequence of the definition of this kind of system that the syntax exists independent of the semantics, but not vice versa." But "formalist 'syntax' and 'semantics' in the tradition of mathematical logic are artificial constructions invented to serve certain mathematical purposes. They are not about natural language syntax and human reason."

[The discussion of set theory in relation to linguistics gets at the heart of the "classical" nested hierarchy of letter, word, sentence, paragraph etc.]
I'm curious whether L&J can be challenged by, or whether they can offer a cogent critique of, what folks like Meillassoux or (critical realist) Roy Bhaskar are up to since (I believe) both still rely on math as a means of "getting at" the pre-human and trans-human world.

Here's an excerpt from a discussion of After Finitude:

Facticity is the point of departure for gaining access to this absolute: Meillassoux shows that it is not the correlation, but rather the facticity of the correlation, that constitutes the absolute. This entails changing the function facticity has had for correlationism, insofar as it has to be understood not as limiting our knowledge of the absolute, but instead as granting us knowledge of it. In the end, facticity amounts to unveiling the in-itself. The proof of this follows from Meillassoux's demanding argument designed to exhibit correlationism's blind spot and open a path out of the "correlationist circle." The absolute is the possible transition, the becoming devoid of reason, with the proviso that for the speculative materialist, unlike for the agnostic or skeptic, it is a possibility of knowledge, and not an index of ignorance. Furthermore, facticity is finally transformed into the real property of everything that is capable of "actually becoming otherwise and without reason." (52) This is so because the absolute is "the possible transition, devoid of reason, of my state towards any other state whatsoever" (56). The consequence of facticity consists in asserting the actual contingency of the laws of nature, a seemingly odd consequence if one keeps in mind that one of the book's goals is to provide a foundation for scientific knowledge. The absolutization of facticity -- the idea according to which Meillassoux posits the absolute impossibility of a necessary being -- entails a shifting away from the principle of sufficient reason into an anhypothetical and absolute principle of unreason.

Nevertheless, if facticity allows for a way out of correlationism, the primary absolute that results from its absolutization cannot function as a foundation of scientific knowledge. This is because this absolute appears as an extreme form of chaos ("hyper-chaos"), as a time that is "the eternal and lawless possible becoming of every law." (64) Moving away from this primary chaotic absolute into a secondary and mathematical absolute entails a closer look at the transformation that the notion of facticity underwent once it was finally extricated from the correlationist circle. This transformation allows Meillassoux to introduce a new notation, factiality [factualité] or the principle of factiality, which indicates that facticity is no longer conceived as an intra-worldly thing, but rather as a speculative transcendental principle. Furthermore, two propositions are derived from this principle -- the principle of non-contradiction, and the necessity of the "there is". These propositions, in turn, enable the author to defend Kant's thesis concerning the existence of the thing-in-itself.

By claiming that physical laws are contingent, Meillassoux proposes in chapter 4 a speculative solution to Hume's problem of primary and secondary qualities. The author's treatment of what at first could have passed for an innocuous metaphysical non-problem is implemented in order to transform our outlook on unreason. A truly speculative solution to Hume's problem must conceive a world devoid of any physical necessity that, nevertheless, would still be compatible with the stability of its physical laws. Here contingency is the key concept that, insofar as it is extracted from Humean-Kantian necessitarianism and thus distinguished from chance, enables Meillassoux to explain how and why Cantor's transfinite number could constitute a condition for the stability of chaos. Here we find the transition from the primary absolute to the secondary or mathematically inflected absolute. The demonstration thus consists in implementing the ontological implications of the Zermelo-Cantorian axiomatic as stipulated by Alain Badiou in his Being and Event. This axiomatic enables Meillassoux to show that for those forms of aleatory reasoning to which Hume and Kant were subservient, what is a priori possible can only be conceived as a numerical totality, as a Whole. However, this totalization can no longer be guaranteed a priori, since Cantor's axiomatic rules out the possibility of maintaining that the conceivable can necessarily be totalized. Thus Cantor provides the tool for a mathematical way of distinguishing contingency from chance, and this tool is none other than the transfinite, which Meillassoux translates into an elegant and economical statement: "the (qualifiable) totality of the thinkable is unthinkable." (104) This means that in the absence of any certainty regarding the totalization of the possible, we should limit the scope of aleatory reasoning to objects of experience, rather than extending it to the very laws that rule our universe (as Kant illegitimately did in the Critique of Pure Reason), as if we knew that the these laws necessarily belong to some greater Whole.

In the end, the non-dogmatic affirmation of the existence of primary qualities amounts to positing a mathematical absolute and rehabilitating its validity beyond or on the hither side of fideism, idealism, and metaphysical dogmatism. The book's goal thus consists in "re-absolutizing the scope of mathematics -- thereby remaining . . . faithful to the Copernican decentering -- but without lapsing back into any sort of metaphysical necessity, which has indeed become absolute. It is a matter of holding fast to the Cartesian thesis -- according to which whatever can be mathematized can be rendered absolute -- without re-activating the principle of reason." (126) This re-absolutization of mathematics seeks to reconcile thought with the absolute, two terms that were severed by what the author calls the "Kantian catastrophe," and which he describes as a kind of epistemological regression (Ptolemy's Revenge" is the title of the book's final chapter) into a philosophical model that was not up to the consequences of the Galilean-Copernican Revolution. For this reason, Meillassoux continues the war against Kant waged by Alain Badiou (Meillassoux's mentor) that began in Being and Event with the mathematization of ontology and the re-ontologization of the consequences of Cantor's legacy, thus giving way to a speculative materialist philosophical discourse. For Meillassoux, "Galileanism" names a situation according to which the mathematizable world becomes autonomous, separated from man. It is in the Galilean-Copernican revolution that Meillassoux locates the moment when diachronic statements reveal thought's contingency. In Meillassoux's exact words, the "Galilean-Copernican decentering wrought by science can be stated as follows: what is mathematizable cannot be reduced to a correlate of thought." (117)

Meillassoux's approach to what seemed to be an innocuous metaphysical issue -- Hume's problem of primary and secondary properties -- allows him to uncover a more originary comprehension of the in-itself, and to subtract it from the framework of Kantian transcendentalism. Equipped with the ontological consequences of the Cantorean axiomatic, the author engages in a philosophical argumentation that, at times, as he himself acknowledges, borders on sophistry; his exposition at times looks like a contemporary adaptation of Platonic dialogics, in which the conceptual persona of the philosopher dismantles the adversary with the same tools the latter has employed in his refutations of the former. The book's meticulous argumentation is not for the logically faint of heart. There are passages of logical exasperation that at times may work against its own objectives, thus reinforcing a reactive skepticism. In spite of the absence of resolution to the absolutization of mathematics, the book succeeds in articulating the problematic and in mapping a new field of inquiry. For this reason, After Finitude will certainly play a central role in ongoing debates on the status of philosophy, on questions pertaining to epistemology and, above all, to ontology. It will not only be an unavoidable point of reference for those working on the question of finitude, but also for those whose work deals with political theology, and the status of the religious turn of philosophy. After Finitude will certainly become an ideal corrosive against too rigid assumptions and will shake entrenched positions.

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