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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From the 6/13/08 blog entry at the Blue Hour Collective:

"How, one might wonder, does Category Theory relate to a Tibetan commentary on Nagarjuna?

"Well, it works like this: Nagarjuna's metaphysics is all about working out the implications of the Buddha's notion that all beings are, to their very core, 'dependently arisen' - conditioned by their relations to other beings. He comes, famously, to conclusion that being is, at its heart, emptiness. Now, Category Theory is a way of looking at mathematical objects which seeks to describe them entirely in terms of their relationships to other mathematical objects, emptying them out - so to speak - of any internal content. Put another way, Category Theory is a very Mahayana Buddhist way of looking at mathematics and maybe more. (There is another interesting connection here with the work of French philosopher, Alain Badiou, who argues that the void that generates Set Theory is the central truth of ontology. Someone must have already drawn the parallel between Badiou and Nagarjuna but I have not been able to track a reference down. In any case, a new volume by Badiou will soon be published in English extending his thoughts from Set Theory to Category Theory but that is more properly a candidate for next summer's reading list.)"
From The logic of unity: the discovery of zero and emptiness in Prajnaparamita thought by Hosaku Matsuo (SUNY, 1987):

"It would seem to me that there is a basic difference between formal logic and dialectial logic based on the realization of the mind-base.... The above analysis could easily be expressed in the form of a mathematical equation. For example, the equation 1 + 2 = 3 takes on at least the form of western dialectic in the nature of thesis-antithesis-synthesis and is accepted as a mathematical truth. On the other hand, when the equation is transformed into the following, (1 + 2) - 3 = 0, a unique dialectic is seen.... In this situation, the zero is never meant as non-being (i.e. literal nothingness). In other words, the emptiness of prajna-intuition and the discovery of the mathematical zero concur in that they are founded on the realization of the mind-base and not on the dichotomous oppostion between being and nonbeing" (114-15).

My translation: Hegelian dialectic is a formal logic of sets that sees the dualistic synthesis of being and nonbeing a la Wilber and Commons et al. Buddhist dialectic is a postformal (ana)logic that goes under the dualism in the empty set.
So what is this "mind base?" And how does it relate to real and false reason? You've heard Capriles talk about the "base" in his terminology. John Reynolds discusses it too in his article "Dzogchen and meditation." I've brought this up before in various bygone thread but it's pertinent here. He talks about the levels of mind or consciousness. Level 1 is immediate experience in the stream of consciousness. Leve 2 is where perceiving, thinking and judging arise. Level 3 is ego identification and emotional reactions. Level 4 is discursive thought and cultural programs. But beyond or beneath all of this "mind" is the nature of mind in level 0. He says:

"We may ask, what lies below or beyond this Level 1? That is Level 0 or what is called in Buddhist terminology Shunyata. This term literally means “emptiness”. But this does not mean just nothingness or mere absence. Rather, it means the pure potentiality for all possible manifestations. This level may be compared to an empty mirror that has the capacity to reflect whatever is set before it. Whereas the other levels, primary and above, are referred to as mind (sems), this level is referred to as the Nature of Mind (sems-nyid). The distinction between mind and the Nature of Mind are like the reflections and the mirror. This Nature of Mind has the capacity to be aware of whatever may arise or manifest. This capacity is called Rigpa or intrinsic awareness. Whereas Sutra meditation and Abhidharma psychology is concerned with the phenomenology of consciousness (Levels 1-4), Level 0 is accessed directly through Dzogchen practice."

I've criticized such language in the past, seeing a remnant of metaphysics in such ideas as the pure potentiality from which phenomenon arise, as if it were the kind of being and presence that Badiou avoids. Recall for the latter that “a subtractive ontology is to be distinguished from a discourse which pretends to convey being as something present and substantial, something accessible to a sort of direct experience or articulation.” But there's no reason we cannot recontextualize Reynold's notion of level 0 to fit a more postmetaphysical formulation like Badiou's.

One way is to not make such a sharp division between mind and nature of mind, aka false reason. My spin on L&J's embodied mind is that level 0 is the return to primodial brain states and structures, but not as they were before the other levels but rather integrating it from those higher levels. Such embodied integration is real reason and nondual postmetaphysics to boot.
Related to this, I came across an article other day which supports the idea of a continuous "base state" in the brain, even through deep dreamless sleep. I do not know if this can be correlated with the phenomenological/experiential reports, or the spiritual realizations, of contemplatives, but it's a possibility.
Good find Baldero. An excerpt I find relevant:

"Although the brain's different specialized regions can be considered as a collection of physical structures, functional architecture instead focuses on metaphorical structures formed by brain processes and interactions among different brain regions. The 'foundation' highlighted in the new study is a low-frequency signal created by neuronal activity throughout the brain. This signal doesn't switch off even in dreamless sleep, possibly to help maintain basic structure and facilitate offline housekeeping activities.

"In the past decade, though, scientists have realized that deeper structures underlie goal-oriented mental processes. These underlying brain processes continue to occur even when subjects aren't consciously using their brain to do anything, and the energies that the brain puts into them seem to be much greater than those used for goal-oriented tasks."

A few points about the above. This "foundational" state has a low frequency, which relates to previous threads pointing out research on brain wave frequency over a low-to-high continuum from the unconscious (dreamless sleep, deep meditation) to subconscious (dream, reverie, lighter meditation) to conscious (rationality etc.). Also note that this state is "metaphorical" and below conscious awareness, supporting L&J's contention about the cognitive unconscious and how it builds on basic level categorization via image schemas that develop into metaphor. And also note that this state is not located in a particular area of the brain, like the brainstem which is usually associated with very slow waves and primitive drives like survival. This state operates though the brain as a whole, also supporting my contention of integration of all prior brain structures-states.

And said integration can only occur after the emergence and development of the ego-witness, which does the "observing" and the integrating, though possibly not until at least a systematic, postformal, (aka postmetaphysical) operation (aka false and real reason). Ironically, prior to this integration formal operations tend to see such states metaphysically, as this is the very nature of formal operations. Yet it is this level that provides the ego-witness to begin the process of differentiation-observation.
Sidebar. L&J uses the terms false and real to differentiate these reasonings. I don't take this literally, as if the formal operation is not valid or purely dysfunctional. Per previous discussions it seems a natural development to view the world metaphysically from this cognitive structure, even a necessary step of temporary dissociation, as Goddard says. Or its dignity and disaster, as Wilber says.
Good, I'm glad to hear you make that qualification. I've had some concerns about these terms, "real" and "false," particularly in relation to distinguishing between formal and post-formal operational reasoning.
And of course we do need to distinguish between healthy and dysfunctional aspects of a given cognitive frame, so in that sense the real and false qualifiers have pertinence. I have yet to fully differentiate the healthy-unhealthy aspects from the formal-postformal aspects.
Returning to the Meillassoux criticism of correlationism because it supposedly can only relate human consciousness to the thing itself, and cannot account for the thing itself that existed before human consciousness in the "ancestral," I bring up again something I recently posted in the Emerson thread. I will post again below and comment later.

Johnson, M. and Rohrer, T. “We Are Live Creatures: Embodiment, American Pragmatism, and the Cognitive Organism.” In Body, Language and Mind, vol. 1, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007, pp. 17-54 (limited preview from Google Books).


The philosophical tradition mistakenly asks how the inside (i.e., thoughts, ideas, concepts) can represent the outside (i.e., the world). This trap is a consequence of the view that mind and body must be two ontologically different entities. On this view the problem of meaning is to explain how disembodied “internal” ideas can represent “external” physical objects and events. Several centuries have shown that given a radical mind-body dichotomy, there is no way to bridge the gap between the inner and the outer. When “mind” and “body” are regarded as two fundamentally different kinds, no third mediating thing can exist that possesses both the metaphysical character of inner, mental things and simultaneously possesses the character of the outer, physical things.

Embodied Realism, in contrast to Representationalist theories, rejects the notion that mind and body are two ontologically distinct kinds, and it therefore rejects the attendant view that cognition and language are based on symbolic representations inside the mind of an organism that refer to some physical thing in an outside world. Instead, the terms “body” and “mind” are simply convenient shorthand ways of identifying aspects of ongoing organism-environment interactions - and so cognition and language must be understood as arising from organic processes. We trace the rejection of this mind-body dualism from the philosopher psychologists known as the early American Pragmatists (James and Dewey) forward through recent cognitive science (such as Varela, Maturana, Edelman, Hutchins, Lakoff, Johnson, Brooks). We argue that embodied realism requires a radical reevaluation of the classical dualistic metaphysics and epistemology - especially the classical Representationalist theory of mind - and we conclude by investigating the implications for future investigations for a new, pragmatically centered cognitive science.

In the following sections we show how the Pragmatist view of cognition as action provides an appropriate philosophical framework for the cognitive science of the embodied mind. We begin by describing the non-dualistic, non-Representationalist view of mind developed by James and Dewey. Their understanding of situated cognition is reinforced by recent empirical research and developments within the cognitive sciences. We cite evidence from comparative neurobiology of organism-environment coupling ranging from the amoeba all the way up to humans, and we argue that in humans this coupling process becomes the basis of meaning and thought.
It seems to me Meillassoux in a way frames correlationism as a dichotomy between mind and being and given this separation has them interrelating. But the pragmatic nondualism does not posit a human consciousness over and against a thing it itself, so it's not so much a correlationism in that sense. Rather it's a correlationism only in that the mind is based in the body/environment interaction. And the human body itself went through a long evolution long before so-called rational consciousness, reaching back into this ancestral. Human evolution goes all the way back to ancestors in the primordial soup, e.g., "ranging from the amoeba all the way up to humans." So this type of correlationism does not assume or retrofit a "human consciousness" as it is now backward but rather the result of a long history of predecessors in antiquity. And what "relations" it has even in its current state cannot escape that history, as if thought or contemporary "consciousness" is a thing in itself relating to an objective thing in itself. M's criticism seems more aimed at Continental philosophy and a very specific, limited brand at that and doesn't apply to this American nondual tradition. The cogscipragos seem in fact to share M's criticisms of such philosophy.
Also in J&R's article they go on to talk about Dewey's principle of "continuity," which is basically the evolution of the more complex from the simple via hierarchical transcend and inclusion. But my sense is that it is not of the total subsume and include holonic variety we see in kennilingus. I am ordering Johnson's latest book* from the library wherein much of the above article is included and when I have more info I'll share.

* The Meaning of the Body, Aesthetics of Human Understanding, U of Chicago, 2008.
From Johnson's book MB:

"The embodied character of reasoning and logic is perfectly consistent with the fact that logical relations can seem to transcend particular situations and have a universal or transcendent character. We tend to abstract structures from situations and then apply them to situations that seem to us to be similar in kind to the former ones. Sometimes this will work, especially when the context we have to think about is mostly stable and continuous with previous contexts in which the logical relations arose. The mistake...is to think that just because certain logical relations 'transcend' particular instantiations by applying to many different situations, it would be possible to erase the embeddedness of thought in concrete, actual situations and their concrete qualities" (104).

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