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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Theurj:

Wonderful work you have done here - diving into the cauldron where all of our mind stuff stews seems to me to be the Real Work today.

Question: You mentioned "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."

Do you know if Lakoff subscribes to a recognition of stage levels of reasoning? Does "formal operational level" mean anything to him?

Am not a Lakoff expert, but my sense is he is what Wilber would call a "Flatlander." Am not seeing where he parses out "different rules for different levels."

Regardless, what's exciting about Lakoff is how he is calling for the Wizard of Oz to come outside and explain himself.

Where it seems to get dangerous is when Lakoff's call to embrace "reason founded in emotion" leads to a call to follow the "reason of emotion." I may want to have another box of chocolates before bedtime, but that cold analytic voice tells me what will happen, and I listen to it. Usually.

What troubles me about most Integral discourse is that it employs the default mode of formal operational reason to point. Where are the exemplars of pluralistic reason or ethnocentric reason or God forbid 2nd Tier reason? If Integral wants to be famous for its enactment injunction, it could get a start on this by demonstrating through presentation of its "Theories for Anything" how the rules play out from the different levels.

It always comes back to the tired old academic debates about spirit which themselves do not remotely inhabit the realm of spirit in order to have legitimate voice to say anything.

Has anyone ever asked Lakoff what he thinks of Integral Theory?

I've not seen that Lakoff thinks or talks in terms of cognitive levels. Or that he's even aware of integral theory. But that is in no way prerequisite in order to demonstrate said levels in certain lines or contexts. I'm reminded of the following comment about Jennifer Gidley's work near the end of this post:*

"Gidley talks about the difference between research that identifies postformal operations (PFO) from examples of those that enact PFO. And that much of the research identifying PFO has itself “been framed and presented from a formal, mental-rational mode” (109). Plus those enacting PFO don’t “necessarily conceptualize it as such” (104), meaning the way those that identify it do, i.e., from a formal operational (FO) mode. Which is of course one of my key inquiries: Is the way PFO is identified through FO really just a FO worldview interpretation of what PFO might be? Especially since those enacting PFO disagree with the very premises of the FO worldview and its 'formally' dressed PFO?"

* I also cited the above earlier in this thread too.

Theurj:

"Which is of course one of my key inquiries: Is the way PFO is identified through FO really just a FO worldview interpretation of what PFO might be? Especially since those enacting PFO disagree with the very premises of the FO worldview and its 'formally' dressed PFO?""

Great question and it cuts straight to the heart of the issue.

Wilber seems to work from a model where we have "different eyes." We know spirit via a spirit eye, or we know mind via a mind eye (discursive thought about thought), or we know matter via what?

Here is where it gets confusing. Is the "different eye" referring to the way we know (the organ we use) or to the object that is known?

For example, can I use eye of the flesh to know spirit? Can I use eye of the spirit to know matter? And, are these eyes referring to "in the moment" apprehensions of experience in the flow, or are they referring to post-facto interpretations of previous experience?

It is almost a given that any academic "research" on anything is going to be framed and presented from a formal-op mode. Isn't it?

As for the enactment of PFO, when it comes time to "identify" it they fall back on use of formal-op modes. But, what would be the alternative?

The alternative would be to bust the given of academia and establish a new "way" of sharing "knowledge."

I keep asking a fundamental (in my mind) question: can we share in agreement about the "way" we are to know anything before we start talking (or doing anything else) to refer to it?

What I hear Lakoff saying is: all knowledge is embodied, and to be embodied means to be informed by affect/emotion. Any pretense of standing above the body and emotion (and the grounding metaphors that frame how we know anything) is false reason. My suspicion is that Lakoff would say: I don't need to know what level/stage you are talking about. I just need to know "are we dealing with a human being?" If so, the rules on embodiment apply.

What do you think?

Hi - Lakoff's thinking and sense of embodied reason being a superior quality of reasoning resonates with that of a woman who I studied with for 17 years, until she died at nearly 100. Charlotte Selver, who Ken has mentioned, taught/invited experimentation in sensory awareness frequently at Esalen and Green Gulch Zen Center, as well as around the world from the early 60's onward.

I count her among the few teachers who have had quite a big impact on me, somewhat rescued my ass, quite ungifted though I have been with almost every teacher and discipline that has 'graced', perhaps, me.

Suzuki Roshi of SF zen centers felt resonance with and supported what she was offering. If you click on this wiki link and on the bio page you will get a brief sense of some others who have been influenced by her and by the underlying explorations.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Selver#Biography

Charlotte spoke often about allowing reason and speech to arise out of, blossom out of sensed experience. She didn't value so much the culturally prevalent and facile abstractions and disembodied thoughts that people wanted to use as currency in her classes and in the world more generally. I think I have this more or less accurate. Just adding to the conversation :)

Hi Ambo:

Thanks for sharing that. Seems like a very unique woman and a teacher like that can have a lifelong impact I suspect.

There might be a subtle distinction here however. The references to Lakoff and embodiment don't necessarily imply greater awareness of the senses qua senses.

In Lakoff's view, the very way we know anything is shaped by certain foundational orientations. Life is a journey, we grow like plants grow, night is the end of life, dark is death, there is inside and outside, etc. What he seems to be saying is that the very vessels available to us to know anything are shaped by the fact that we are embodied. And, what he seems to be asking is - can we please be honest and stop pretending that there is this elegant edifice of a priori cool reason that we access by our minds.

So, the issue is - if our capacity to know anything is by definition shaping that knowing via metaphors that involve our embodiment, then when we are not aware of (or honest about) the true nature of the metaphor (dictated by bodily processes and orientations), we end up lying and creating false reason.

Does this make sense?



Ambo Suno said:

Hi - Lakoff's thinking and sense of embodied reason being a superior quality of reasoning resonates with that of a woman who I studied with for 17 years, until she died at nearly 100. Charlotte Selver, who Ken has mentioned, taught/invited experimentation in sensory awareness frequently at Esalen and Green Gulch Zen Center, as well as around the world from the early 60's onward.

I count her among the few teachers who have had quite a big impact on me, somewhat rescued my ass, quite ungifted though I have been with almost every teacher and discipline that has 'graced', perhaps, me.

Suzuki Roshi of SF zen centers felt resonance with and supported what she was offering. If you click on this wiki link and on the bio page you will get a brief sense of some others who have been influenced by her and by the underlying explorations.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Selver#Biography

Charlotte spoke often about allowing reason and speech to arise out of, blossom out of sensed experience. She didn't value so much the culturally prevalent and facile abstractions and disembodied thoughts that people wanted to use as currency in her classes and in the world more generally. I think I have this more or less accurate. Just adding to the conversation :)

I want to add some more commentary that includes my own tentative and quite unformed views that need to make some quite tentative room for even relatively untethered abstraction and types of mental activity that are more complex than 'pure' sensory data.

Obviously, even some of  what Charlotte and others would want to call "sensory" awareness, beyond sole activation of the variety of specialized sensing cells, involves some level of processing and integration, such that experience comes into or near the zone of what might be called perception. It seems to me to be impossible for this early complexity not to be so because processing is so rudimentary, instantaneous, spontaneous, and beneath or outside of most of our even quite refined awareness and 'consciousness'.

I also would like to add my ongoing wondering about when the leveraging can occur for good, health, and aesthetic enrichment through involvement of other mental and maybe proto-mental functioning like image, metaphors, and even valuable seeming higher ideas, at least as inadvertent occurrences and as bases for inner experiment.

A basic image of lightness, a metaphor of wings, wind, or 'bubbles', might, judiciously experimented with, lead to discovery of a healthy new, maybe refined, way to stand and move.

I want to add that probably in addition to the reality-basis of thinking from our more fundamental inherited processes of embodiment, a clearer, cleaner thinking would be part of the states that co-arise from the process of "attending to" (as often distinguished by Charlotte from concentration or focus - think Krishnamurti, too) the larger sense experience. Vipassana, zazen, and other meditative traditions are likely in some ways not that different from coming at life through attention to the sensory.

Charlotte's work was probably influenced by the people around these fertile hubs at that time - like gestalt and the valuing/honoring of wholes and of what spontaneously moves foreground in awareness.

Hmm.

Ambo Suno said:

Hi - Lakoff's thinking and sense of embodied reason being a superior quality of reasoning resonates with that of a woman who I studied with for 17 years, until she died at nearly 100. Charlotte Selver, who Ken has mentioned, taught/invited experimentation in sensory awareness frequently at Esalen and Green Gulch Zen Center, as well as around the world from the early 60's onward.

I want to add some more commentary that includes my own tentative and quite unformed views that need to make some quite tentative room for even relatively untethered abstraction and types of mental activity that are more complex than 'pure' sensory data.

Obviously, even some of  what Charlotte and others would want to call "sensory" awareness, beyond sole activation of the variety of specialized sensing cells, involves some level of processing and integration, such that experience comes into or near the zone of what might be called "perception". It seems to me to be impossible for this early complexity not to be so because processing is so rudimentary, instantaneous, spontaneous, and beneath or outside of most of our even quite refined awareness and 'consciousness'.

I also would like to add my ongoing wondering about when the leveraging can occur for good, health, and aesthetic enrichment through involvement of other mental and maybe proto-mental functioning like image, metaphors, and even valuable seeming higher ideas, at least as inadvertent occurrences and as bases for inner experiment.

A basic image of lightness, a metaphor of wings, wind, or 'bubbles', might, judiciously experimented with, lead to discovery of a healthy new, maybe refined, way to stand and move.

I want to add that probably in addition to the reality-basis of thinking from our more fundamental inherited processes of embodiment, a clearer, cleaner thinking would be part of the states that co-arise from the process of "attending to" (as often distinguished by Charlotte from concentration or focus - think Krishnamurti, too) the larger sense experience. Vipassana, zazen, and other meditative traditions are likely in some ways not that different from coming at life through attention to the sensory.

Charlotte's work was probably influenced by the people around these fertile hubs at that time - like gestalt and the valuing/honoring of wholes and of what spontaneously moves foreground in awareness.

Hmm.

Below is Charlotte and her husband Charles Brooks who wrote a book about Sensory Awareness, at Green Gulch Zen Center, probably in the late 80's.



Ambo Suno said:

Hi - Lakoff's thinking and sense of embodied reason being a superior quality of reasoning resonates with that of a woman who I studied with for 17 years, until she died at nearly 100. Charlotte Selver, who Ken has mentioned, taught/invited experimentation in sensory awareness frequently at Esalen and Green Gulch Zen Center, as well as around the world from the early 60's onward.

Hi Lucy. I think what you say makes plenty of sense and, yes, that seems to me to be a worthy issue to ponder - what effect and additional meaning does metaphor bring to our experience and particularly to clear, reality-based reason. I do like how Lakoff presents the reality of fundamental physio-mental schema that organize our rawer data to orient us and help us to survive, and more. Yeah.

As you can see from the recent wee morning hours post, in SoCal, I also wanted to make room for more inherent complexity, though I seem to keep a tentativeness to the meaning, implications, and certainly conclusions about what constitutes and contributes to clear beneficial reasoning. As always, IOMH - and hopefully sometimes sufficiently In Under My Head as well :)

Lucy Summers said:

Hi Ambo:

Thanks for sharing that. Seems like a very unique woman and a teacher like that can have a lifelong impact I suspect.

There might be a subtle distinction here however. The references to Lakoff and embodiment don't necessarily imply greater awareness of the senses qua senses.

In Lakoff's view, the very way we know anything is shaped by certain foundational orientations. Life is a journey, we grow like plants grow, night is the end of life, dark is death, there is inside and outside, etc. What he seems to be saying is that the very vessels available to us to know anything are shaped by the fact that we are embodied. And, what he seems to be asking is - can we please be honest and stop pretending that there is this elegant edifice of a priori cool reason that we access by our minds.

So, the issue is - if our capacity to know anything is by definition shaping that knowing via metaphors that involve our embodiment, then when we are not aware of (or honest about) the true nature of the metaphor (dictated by bodily processes and orientations), we end up lying and creating false reason.

Does this make sense?



Ambo Suno said:

Hi - Lakoff's thinking and sense of embodied reason being a superior quality of reasoning resonates with that of a woman who I studied with for 17 years, until she died at nearly 100. Charlotte Selver, who Ken has mentioned, taught/invited experimentation in sensory awareness frequently at Esalen and Green Gulch Zen Center, as well as around the world from the early 60's onward.

I count her among the few teachers who have had quite a big impact on me, somewhat rescued my ass, quite ungifted though I have been with almost every teacher and discipline that has 'graced', perhaps, me.

Suzuki Roshi of SF zen centers felt resonance with and supported what she was offering. If you click on this wiki link and on the bio page you will get a brief sense of some others who have been influenced by her and by the underlying explorations.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Selver#Biography

Charlotte spoke often about allowing reason and speech to arise out of, blossom out of sensed experience. She didn't value so much the culturally prevalent and facile abstractions and disembodied thoughts that people wanted to use as currency in her classes and in the world more generally. I think I have this more or less accurate. Just adding to the conversation :)

Hi Lucy,

A lot of ancient esoteric lineages hold that understanding is necessarily an interplay/harmonization of data from our embodied sensing, emotional affect & intellect.  Together these form authentic cognition. Otherwise -- in their imbalance -- our ostensible attitudes are false relative to our own nature.  "Ego" can have many meanings but it has often meant narrow, imbalanced or disembodied, non-affective conclusions.

Postformal or meta-level reasoning has several anticipated characteristics.  It combines, exceeds and adjudicates between opposed horizontal evaluations (left/right).  It founds itself on a syntactical-existential slippage (we cannot ultimately decide to separate or unify "objects that get known" from "ways we know".  The "different eyes" cannot be decided for one or the other.  Without this slippage we are dealing only a complicated theory... not a metatheory/postformal model).  And thirdly it teases apart and attempts to useful integrate multiple systems or sources of cognition.  It expands the circles of what we understand Understanding to mean.

Body-based metaphors either play a partial role in the processes of cognition or they must be defined so broadly that they exceed most people's assumptions and include much material that is conventionally associated with "other realms".  We are lying when we lose touch with this process but not necessarily when we do not foreground it.

"We are lying when we lose touch with this process but not necessarily when we do not foreground it."

Same goes for the likes of Lakoff and company when they don't foreground cognitive levels. That is in no way necessary to enact real reason or integral vision logic.

Layman:

Which ancient esoteric lineages are you thinking of? 

I know it's hard to talk about this, but you said "data" that is harmonized from the body, emotions, and intellect. I don't want to be contrary, but you raised the specter of ancient esoteric lineages, and then point to how they harmonized data. This seems like a disjoint.

If the data from intellect has to be harmonized, then before it is harmonized there is the potential that it will just wheel along in a purely intellectual realm, and never meet up with emotion or embodiment?

Did the ancient esoteric lineages say that the harmony of these 3 "things" led to "authentic cognition." I guess I am wearing my George Lakoff hat here, but he would say that the assumption that these 3 things even exist is a bad one that leads to false reason.

You said that without the harmonization the attitudes we adopt are false relative to our nature. I can think of a lot of intellectual "data" that does not need to be harmonized with emotions, and it doesn't lead to false attitudes about anything.

Postformal reasoning adjudicates between opposed horizontal evaluations? Am not sure what this means.

You said that we cannot separate objects that get known from the ways we know. Am not sure about this. Seems to be that it is completely plausible to identify the faculties that are in play when we know certain things. I can know about justice without invoking a sense of pity for the person who is going to be punished (rational application of rules).

You said that, "Body-based metaphors either play a partial role in the processes of cognition or they must be defined so broadly that they exceed most people's assumptions and include much material that is conventionally associated with "other realms".  We are lying when we lose touch with this process but not necessarily when we do not foreground it."

When you say a partial role in the process of cognition, are you using the word 'cognition" to mean "knowing" or "rational thinking"?

I think Lakoff would say that a. embodiment metaphors are the only way anyone ever knows anything and that there is no time when we have ever known anything that was grounded in bodily orientation, and b. you don't have to define embodiment metaphors too broadly because they are a foundational given for the very capacity to know anything and as for "other realms" of material, what does this even mean?

Much of what you said is just vague enough to be too vague to understand. I mean, we can go into this but I need something that I can understand.



Layman Pascal said:

Hi Lucy,

A lot of ancient esoteric lineages hold that understanding is necessarily an interplay/harmonization of data from our embodied sensing, emotional affect & intellect.  Together these form authentic cognition. Otherwise -- in their imbalance -- our ostensible attitudes are false relative to our own nature.  "Ego" can have many meanings but it has often meant narrow, imbalanced or disembodied, non-affective conclusions.

Postformal or meta-level reasoning has several anticipated characteristics.  It combines, exceeds and adjudicates between opposed horizontal evaluations (left/right).  It founds itself on a syntactical-existential slippage (we cannot ultimately decide to separate or unify "objects that get known" from "ways we know".  The "different eyes" cannot be decided for one or the other.  Without this slippage we are dealing only a complicated theory... not a metatheory/postformal model).  And thirdly it teases apart and attempts to useful integrate multiple systems or sources of cognition.  It expands the circles of what we understand Understanding to mean.

Body-based metaphors either play a partial role in the processes of cognition or they must be defined so broadly that they exceed most people's assumptions and include much material that is conventionally associated with "other realms".  We are lying when we lose touch with this process but not necessarily when we do not foreground it.

Theurj: My sense of Lakoff is this. He hasn't said or written anything that I know of about stages of cognitive development.

My sense is that Lakoff would say, "This notion of stages of cognition seems to be a once-removed form of thinking. Even Mr. Wilber says that no one experiences stages. They are an intellectual classification system used by outside observers after witnessing someone do something. So, my interest is in saving the outside observers themselves, as well as the objects of their observation, as they tool along thinking that they are doing something pure and good and true with their intellects while slipping in fantastic amounts of false reason in the process."

He would probably be more diplomatic about it, but that is my sense.

When you say Lakoff does not "foreground" cognitive levels, I wonder if he even accepts that the notion is a valid one. I suspect he isn't even worried about it, since the production of meaning is always coming from the embodied, and the only thing worse than someone engaging in false reason is someone self-assigning themselves as a 2nd Tier adjudicator of someone's else's stage, and engaging in the very same false reason himself in the process.

I am deeply suspicious of the implications of the Integral fascination with stages (color codes for the rungs on the evolutionary ladder.)

People seem to glibly throw around color labels they have no business touching. And, they don't even differentiate among the various "lines" or "ways of knowing" that are the true object of their fuzzy observation.

Can we get an edict banning this? It is such an arrogant game. The very application of the stage color labels to others by definition presupposes that "I am already beyond the stage I am talking about." Otherwise, how could I even talk about it? That may be the perfect exemplar of self-aggrandizement.



theurj said:

"We are lying when we lose touch with this process but not necessarily when we do not foreground it."

Same goes for the likes of Lakoff and company when they don't foreground cognitive levels. That is in no way necessary to enact real reason or integral vision logic.

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