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 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."
"Human representations are best accounted for by the structure of the environment rather then by nature of abstractions imposed on the environment. [...] Rosch's theory stresses an environmental determinism absent in Piaget. [...] Because the world has some but not complete structure, categories lack sharp boundaries. Categories also have an internal structure in which no one intensional property defines the set and creates equivalent instances. [...] In summary, natural categories are not defined in terms of a set of necessary and sufficient features but in terms of features that are more or less characteristic of overlapping distributions. Categories are detected, not abstracted" (49).
Murray also has a draft paper available for the upcoming volume on critical realism and integral theory. This is interesting from p. 3, in that Bhaskar said "categories are not to be viewed as something which the subjective observer imposes on reality; rather categories such as causality, substance, process, persons, etc. — if valid — are constitutive of reality as such, irrespective of their categorization by observers or thought." L&J explicitly state in PF that our basic categories are part of human embodiment and not outside us in reality. I questioned that though in this post which may be more akin to Bhaskar.
Compare the following in the section "are categories in nature?" with my linked post above:
"My current interpretation of Bhaskar's 'categories are real' is that the categories we perceive (and enact) are not arbitrary and that they arise from mechanisms, processes, and structures in the Real. Nature does not produce trees vs. shrubs—it does not contain these human-invented categories. But there is something in nature (having to do with how genetics and reproduction work) that clusters
living objects with similar properties, such that our perception of the world as containing trees and
shrubs is mostly accurate. [...] Yet, to follow Embodied Realism, any category that we actually have or use, such as tree or force, can only be an approximation of what exists in nature. It is misplaced concreteness to assume that objects in nature are constrained to manifest according to any known
category — though we can assume that nature produces different types of things and thus contains
The Challenging Piaget chapter then goes into basic categories, derived from image schema, that are the most concrete and are typically found in the middle of classification hierarchies. The latter are linear and arise from the sort of formal logic of necessary and sufficient conditions used in set theory. There is a unique particular at the lower end and a universal general at the other, with an evolutionary development from one to the other. To explain how we even got to the lowest point a metaphysical skyhook is used: something 'involves' from the highest plane. This is found in both Wilber and the Model of Hierarchical Complexity, the former with Spirit's morphogenetic gradient and the latter with ideal Platonic forms and abstract Aristotelian categories.
The basic category structure though is more grounded in natural empiricism. Yes, the hierarchical structure is still there, but it starts in the middle of the classification with the most concrete categories expressed in the human-environment relationship and builds to the more abstract categories at both the most particular and most general levels. In this case the holarchy (if you prefer that word) is not a linear logic from top to bottom and back again, but from the middle out in both directions, in media res, so to speak. Such an approach turns the typical neo- Piagetian systems inside out (unfolding) and outside in (enfolding) based more on the fold than the ladder. A good visual of that is here. And the implications are profound.
E.g., from the 3rd source listed above:
"There has been a profound, even revolutionary, shift in our theory of developmental psychology. The revolution began with challenges to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, particularly his views of infancy. As everybody who has attended scientific conferences, read technical journals, or monitored the popular media knows, modern research has discovered that young children know more at earlier ages than had been predicted by classical theory. These new findings led to the gradual weakening, and finally the collapse of, classical Piagetian theory."
Some more resources for this thread:
From the latter:
"The major models of development describe psychological structure in static, formal terms. Concepts like universal stages, innate linguistic modules, and innate cognitive competencies portray psychological organization as fixed and unchanging, insulated from variation in context and feedback from activity" (313-14).
"Structure refers to the system of relations. [...] Form is an abstraction from structure—a fixed pattern that can be detected in a dynamic structure. [...] The concept of sphere is an ideal form that applies across myriad realities. [...] A structure/form problem arises when an abstraction used to describe reality is confounded with the reality described. People commonly expect patterns of phenomena in the world to conform to their underlying abstractions, instead of determining which patterns fit an actual object or experience. [...] The spherical shape is an abstraction of a common pattern across different objects, not an independently existing form that somehow dictates what the objects should be like" (314-15).