Report from Critical Realism Integral Theory Symposium

The symposium was intense and I think caused a shift in integral thinking. There were integral theorists in one group, Roy Bhaskar and his students of Critical Realism in another group, and Gary Hampson and I played the role of meta-theoretical referees of sorts. I had the benefit of having read just about all of Bhaskar’s work before I went, so the discourse was very rich and meaningful for me, where others seemed to be struggling with basic concepts (on both sides )  I will try to outline some of the main ideas that I took away from it.

Bhaskar  talks about philosophy as “under-laboring” different disciplines or fields.  Critical Realism’s focus is to under-labor science  (physics, biology, sociology)… which means that it can point out the hidden assumptions  or embedded frameworks which “under-lay” the science, thereby pointing to inconsistencies or falsities of theories that are created from within that discipline. To this effect,  Critical Realism (CR) has a broad criticism of empiricism, which says that within any given empirically-driven theory, there are a set of assumptions outside of which the theory doesn’t work. In other words, all the truths that arise from empirical science is constrained by the framework from which the science is conducted, and therefore the “truths” are relative, not universal. One easy example of this is if you go to an Indian reservation and do “empirical science” you can “prove” that Indians are more lazy, less intelligent, more prone to alcoholism and crime, more degenerate, etc… than the general white population. It is easy to see that these “facts” appear only because an Indian reservation has a history that explains why these are contingencies of that history, not “facts” about native Americans. CR says all empirical science has this kind of blind spot, and that the role of philosophy is to contextualize what is “outside” the purview of the science, and the role of science Is then to advance its theory to include what was previously outside. This is a never-ending process, and puts philosophy right at the side of science (which is very cool I think.)

The method that CR uses is a dialectical method that has 3 major “steps” (there are several more steps in his system, I am generalizing). First there is what he terms “immanent critique”. This is where you critique the system from within the system’s own understanding.  An important part of immanent critique is pointing out what is absent from the system/theory. The second step is “explanatory critique” which explains the system’s inconsistencies by pointing to what is left out and explains why the “truths” that arise within the system are merely “apparent truths” when the greater view is taken into account.  The third step is an emancipatory “leap” --  which is an axiological step, or relates to values. The emancipatory leap asks what has to be “absented” from this line of reasoning to redress oppression or to transform the system toward greater liberation. This last step relies on principles Bhaskar calls “co-presencing” or “transcendental identification.”

When we applied this type of analysis to Integral Theory (IT) , we got the following key problem areas:

  1. IT commits the epistemic fallacy: IT confuses the “known world” from the “real world”, resulting in a “many worlds” view. In the symposium we talked a lot about the differences between CR’s one(shared)world versus IT’s  many –worlds view. IT describes all these “worlds” that are enacted at different altitudes across different methodologies. This is problematic, because all those worlds are actually world*views – or known worlds. This is the epistemic fallacy. On the other hand, CR must account for separate world*views, and it does this through the notion of the stratification of the actual world. (CR makes a distinction between the actual and the real – the “real world” is a unity of transcendental co-presence, whereas the actual world is stratified by structures that arise from social processes, biological processes, etc…) Whereas IT gives the impression that the transcendentally unified world obtains at the end of a process of greater and greater embrace of “many-worlds” in a single consciousness, CR begins with the unity of the real world, and adopts the role of explaining why the actual world is stratified.

[An interesting aside is that Wilber writes from a spiritual wisdom of the abosolute unity of consciousness, and then goes on to fashion of theory that emphasizes the discordance of the world; whereas Bhaskar tells us how he began with this notion of critical naturalism, and ended up with the philosophy of meta-reality and its spiritual notions of transcendental co-presence. Many of the core constituents of Critical Realism denounce Bhaskar’s spiritual turn, and ridiculed him about attending a symposium with IT.]

  1. IT is based on the notion of broad empiricism. This was an intense discussion that took place between Bhaskar and Zak Stein. Bhaskar ‘s understanding of philosophical arguments is unparralleld, and Zak held his ground around questions of Kantian idealism and the kinds of American pragmatism that grew out of neo-Kantian approaches such as Dewey, Piaget, James and Pierce. When Bhaskar tagged the American pragmatists as “closeted neo-Kantians” Zak identified himself as proud to be a neo-Kantian! The level of discourse between them, with intermittent contributions by Michael Swartz, was truly a meeting of the minds. All the discourse proceeded in a space of open hearts – which Roger Walsh commented on several times – and I think this had a lot to do with the space/subtle field that Sean Hargens was careful to set, and hold. The shifts in understanding were challenging, difficult, but also real and palatable.  The ramifications of this critique is huge for IT. it suggests that all the developmental theories – which derive their validity from empirical research – are lacking a key explanatory critique. This is also true for Wilber’s state theories since, being based on the injunctions of science are also empirically-bound.  So, for example, development theory says that the ego goes through certain stages from simple to more complex, in various ways, as part of development. People like Zak Stein and Suzanne Cook-Greuter differ about their taxonomy, but the basic process of diversification, complexification, integration is true throughout. The same is valid for Lovenger and Kegan’s moral stages. CR says : but you are lacking an explanatory critique about *why* the stages are the way they are. The empiricist in you says only “that they are” and posits that this is a deep truth about the universe. The CR “underlabors” and says, but these stages *are the way they are* because of *structures* that are contingent and are operating outside the field that you are studying. What are these structures? They are structures like the dominant geo-social-political economy that constrains development in just these ways, such that to *survive* the ego must constantly become more and more complexified along just these lines. The CR say, indigenous cultures are not “lower in the developmental scale” *because the developmental process is what you say it is* but they appear to be “lower” because they exist outside the geo-socio-political economy that constrains your system. In other words- without the explanatory critique, the broad empiricism is like a self-fulfilling hall of mirrors.
  2. IT has a monological ontology (or alternately, has a hidden “shadow” ontology).  The mono-logical ontology of IT is “reality is composed of perspectives all the way up and all the way down.” Remember, this commits the epistemic fallacy. But since it over-determines all of reality, then it becomes impossible to anchor disparate “truths” through appeal to a greater or separate fact-checker. IT checks “facts” by appeal to “a community of the adequate” except that the community itself is deemed adequate according to the premises produced by those very same “facts” – the ordering of the perspectives. So having a mono-logical ontology means having no way to really assess the validity of what you are saying or taking as truth or real. The hidden ontology of IT turns out to be the system of eros, agape, phobos and thanatnos, but from a philosophical rigor point of view, these are highly problematic. First, they are either metaphysical ideas (hence inconsistent with IT’s post-metaphysical empiricism) or psychological constructs (hence, contingent, not absolute truths). If they are contingent, then they themselves require an explanatory critique (the history of their use in western literature, for example, and how they were appropriated by the perennial philosophy, etc…).  The explanatory critique points out the need for a greater (more diverse) ontology.
  3. IT has a seriously problematic developmental bias. On the third day there was a discussion point around the difference between individual and social holons. Sean had prepared some documents detailing the brilliant work he had done in Integral Ecology around this question, noting that individual holons have parts, social holons have members; and the way depth and span change differently between them. These explanations were well done, and the CR people plodded through trying to understand them. After a while, I played my meta-referee role and asked – why is it that IT goes through all these complicated hoops to make social holons fit the theory in a way that it does not reduce people in societies to “parts”? since it seems to me that the more elegant solution would be to say that development a la holarchy is a suitable dynamic for individual interior growth, but not a suitable dynamic for the LL quadrant (or perhaps for any of the other quadrants) Why is IT not able to incorporate multiple process dynamics across the 4 quadrants? Why does it seem so “costly” to change the theory but not so costly to over-complexify the theory to make things fit neatly with Ken’s vision? This was a very emotional moment, and the energetic shifted strongly when I made the suggestion that perhaps Ken himself was limited by his cultural conditioning of the white-western-male dominant metaphor of development (think of economic development, ecological development, and the strongly transcend-and-include hierarchy they manifest) –  I suggested that the system was so insidious, that here we are today, as proponents of a liberation theory (liberation theorology) but still inside the oppressive container that is contingent with the dominating socio-cultural narrative. It was at this point that one of the CR told the story about how we as “thrown into the world” as it is, already pre-constrained, with all kinds of non-access to what is outside of the world we have come into as conditioned beings. That if any one of us were born in a poor village in Nigeria, or in the fields of Cambodia – we would be so very different than what we suppose people are like, so very different our understanding of the human condition and human nature. This led to a heart-felt sharing of how destructive this dominant narrative is. Zak Stein outlined the atrocities he witnesses in the intentional misuse of resource into the education and testing system that advances the military-industrial program at the expense of the arts and children gifted in these areas. He described the federal education system as the neuro-pharmacological engineering of children, that our children were being instrumentalised as “brains” in the same way that workers were instrumentalised as “labor”, except now the people in power realize that the tipping point in the human capacity for knowledge-making, and they want that all applied to the old value-system of military-industrial (and financial) control of geo-politics. I offered that this is precisely why I never had children, because I could not see my way out of having my children being appropriated by the state in this way, and he also shared similar conversations he has had with his wife as a young married couple. This was very intense! And then I interjected the point – that this process of indoctrination was sooooo insidious, that here we are, as integral thinkers, outlining a developmental theory that is based on the same embedded notions of ego-development, what it is to mature as a human, etc….  It was truly a defining moment in the week. Sean asked us all to note what was happening in the larger, subtle field, but also to check in with ourselves, our own heart energy, what had shifted, etc…
  4. Bhaskar has a working metaphor (heuristic model) for three levels of reality. Our everyday reality he calls the “actual”. Basically this level is the same as world-views, and Bhaskar has a taxonomy of how the actual is stratified (the structural conditions of stratification) and and explanatory critique of how that arises. The greater reality he calls the “real”. It is easy to see how in one sense the actual is always ontological part of the real. But the real can be an outlier to any particular actual reality. Even so, the real is always causally effecting the actual – it comes up in cognitive dissonance and cultural discordance, scientific anamolies, etc… and shows us time and time again that the actual is part of an open system (the real). When Wilber writes about the “IOW” that every perspective adds to the kosmos, he is basically making the same distinction between the actual (perspectival world) and the real (what is owed or outside). Finally, there is the “demi-real” which are errors, falsities, or illusions. These are really interesting in Bhaskar’s philosophy, because he describes a very important feature of these illusions – he says that the demi-real is the world of “causally effective illusions.” What does he mean by this? Think of the famous Buddhist story of the man who mistakes the rope for a snake. This is an illusion. Nevertheless, the man takes caution in approaching the rope. Therefore the illusion has effected the man and changed his behavior – the illusion is causally effective. Once you get the hang of this idea, you realize that much of our world is actually run by causally effective illusions. All of advertising, political slogans, propaganda. The Ego is a causally effective illusion. Pride, prejudices, object-relations of all sorts. It just goes on and on and on. For Bhaskar, this is all contained in this realm of demi-reality. Unlike the notion of maya, however, fortunately for us, Bhaskar also describes the world of the real and the actual.  Like Wilber’s taxonomy of methodological perspectives, this heuristic device is extremely helpful when disambiguating domains of knowledge and discourse. It creates a logical progression from demi-real > disembed > actual > disembed > real > disembed > meta-reality. The realm of meta-reality is the real outside of all our apperception of it, one might say the aperspectival realm or “view” as I have described elsewhere, or think of it in terms of that part of the real that has not been enacted (a la Hargens’ enactment theory). The meta-real is also closely associated with the non-dual (level, not state-experience).
  5. In this area of the meta-reality, Bhaskar really starts to shine. He talks about transcendental identification that underlies the ability for two people to communicate or understand each other. He talks about the non-dual self as one’s ground self or ground of being, and the possibility for two selves to co-presence at this ground state. He describes various conditions for being alienated from one’s ground-state, although all ground states co-presence in a kind of “cosmic envelope” as he terms it. Here though the Integral group was able to make more distinctions between different types of state experiences. Unfortunately there was a sense of “show-manship” or “one-up-manship” going on from those practitioners who had greater and rarer state experiences. Whereas the CR had an intellectual propensity towards appreciating the non-dual ground, IT practitioners had more first-hand experience of those interior territories. Paradoxically, however, those who claimed higher first-hand experience had more difficulty appreciating the notion that everyone is always already coming *from * their ground state, even though they may have not had conscious, first-person phenomenal experience of such. In general terms, IT people were thinking of spiritual aptitude (there again the developmental bias) as the capacity to look over, above, or down from, where the CR were thinking of spiritual origination, as the ever-present shared ground of co-presence.
  6. Roy Bhaskar has a number of phrases that are like poignant koans. He likes to say that “no one can ever teach anyone something.” He gives an example of a teacher trying to teach an algebraic formula. If someone is “not getting it”  no matter how many times and different ways the teacher says it, she cannot control whether the student learns or not. At some point the student just has to “get it” – the teaching happens somewhat spontaneously in that ahha moment. From this Bhaskar talks about how dysfunctional the education system is, and likes to describe how the environment can be designed to facilitate the ahha momement, rather than how education is usually approached.
  7. Bhaskar has a phrase “the higher the transcendence, the deeper the immanence” – which is a kind of ethical commitment for his philosophy. It entails what he calls “Theory-Practice Consistency” – that what you espouse in your theory must be backed by your actual practice. He is fond of telling the story of Hume who said that it made no difference if you walked out of the building from the 3rd floor window or the front door – yet Hume always himself exited through the front door. He describes theory-practice inconsistency as a lack of seriousness – and noted that like his own CR philosophy, integral theory is serious. Both CR and IT came to see the ethical component of seriousness as being serious about individual liberation and social emancipation, and a key moment in the group process came when one of the IT people suggested that being serious about liberation and emancipation should be the ultimate test or determination for the validity of the theory; as opposed to the theory limiting or otherwise detracting from its originary moral or ethical seriousness.
  8. There was several rounds of discussion around application and instrumentalization of the two theories. CR finds itself constrained by a too secular, too-academic milieu, and found themselves wanting to do more of the process/meditation/grounding/ presencing exercises that Sean, Roger, Vernice and others presented. Sean made noise on his violin one morning, and one of the CR sang for us. These were very powerful, significant, meaningful and important moments. On the other hand, IT could boast of a diversity of intiatives (JITP, Inegral Life, II, SUNY books, etc…) in which IT was promoted and branded to a diverse and large community. This is turns out was at the cost of sacrificing some of the rigor in Roy’s work, although the CR were envious of the larger following/ greater movement that IT seemed to have created. The peculiar American way of branding touching on commercializing IT theory was painfully pointed out to IT by CR.
  9. I had several personal reflections during and after the symposium. First I noticed how much chance and contingency were responsible for any given theory. The contingency of being born in a certain place and time, with a  given culture and a language, and how that shapes one’s philosophy. The contingency of Wilber’s health and his inability to be at the symposium. The fact that I was able to attend because Mark Edwards had a personal emergency and didn’t. The way the group process morphed around each others ideas, and the particular roles each individual played as if only this special configuration of individuals made it possible for the process to presence itself. I spoke with a CR student who follows Andrew Cohen and we talked about the potential for the marketplace for spiritual materialism and commodification of spiritual energies. Being a Critical Realist thinker, She had a much different understanding of Cohen’s evolutionary spirituality, as more like “emergence spirituality” ie. evolution without the teleological imperative. We talked about the dangers of a teacher/guru being able to bring up, point out, and induce state changes, which are universal, and the ethical choice of the appropriate narrative that would be liberating or emancipatory. Finaly, on the flight home, I was dogged by something Bhaskar writes about, but didn’t say at the symposium. He writes how/that the master-slave relationship depends upon the creativity of the slaves. Now when I read that, I of course thought of all the third-world people, or working poor, or immigrants that labor to keep the world’s wealthiest and powerful in their positions (including myself as an American). But on the plane home I got hit with a HUGE ahha! And started thinking about ego development itself *as the creativity of the slaves!* I began to get this feeling that if our society, culture, educational system were not embedded in its particular history of modernity (neo-Kantian enlightenment project and the western canon), then maybe ego would not need to go through these stages of hyper-complexification in order to make meaning (Suzanne Cook-Greuter describes developmental theory as the way ego makes meaning). Perhaps the very notion of ego, hyper-reified as it is post-Descartes, would not be the causally effective illusion that has driven western imperialism until the entire planet has become monological. Then I began to see that in this sense, everyone was a creative slave, in service of this monological ego… and began to see how/that/why the entire system has become, as Gebser predicted, deficient, and is transitioning. I was happy to be able to walk through this time of change, with the tools and language of both IT and CR.
  10. Finally, some thoughts about meta-theory that came out from this symposium. First, meta-theory has the characteristic tendency to “exit its own domain” – so that time and time again, we found ourselves caught in philosophical minutia, having exited the domain of “being in service to people.” Talking about theories of ecology is not the same as doing ecology. Talking about theories of theories of ecology is not doing ecology—its doing meta-theorizing. Secondly, two meta-theories at the same level can “see” each other. This is a counter-logic. It’s like saying A>B>A. But meta-theory does uphold this anti-logic. For example, CR could “see” and “contextualize” IT as part and partial to CR (ie could see how/that CR was a greater whole to IR); but likewise, turning the tables around, IT could contextualize CR as the lesser part to itself. The idea here is that being able to subsume any given meta-theory is not a valid test to whether one meta-theory is “more inclusive” than the other. This has serious philosophical ramifications when you think about it. Lastly, I was aware of the peculiar relationship meta-theory has with embodied reality. There was a huge and somewhat chaotic point in the symposium when people were talking about the map not being the territory, that the territory the map is *in* is meta- to the territory the map points to, etc… and the discussion seemed to have been transported into the realm of intellectual trance dancing. Not that I don’t like trance dancing .. but that’s another story altogether….

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Bhaskar's notion of "under-laboring" sounds much like Collingwood's metaphysics as the science of absolute presuppositions. Collingwood's is one of the more effective critiques of positivism and empiricism.

Bhaskar's three realities has a lot in common with the developed Advaitin theory of illusion (not the archaic naive version that speaks only of maya and brahman). However, I fail to see the actual line separating the actual world from the demi-real. The developed Advaita theory distinguished transcendental illusion from what we normally think of as illusory, such as the rope/snake or silver/nacre. The rope snake theory is just too simplistic to account for transcendental illusion.  Advaitins also talk about illusions being causally effective (they need to since avidya is in some sense creative for them). The classic example is the hot dream chic who appears in a man's dream and causes him to ejaculate. In any case, much of what Bhaskar calls the demi-real, Advaitins might say belongs to the the realm of transcendental illusion.


Given all of this, both parties still seem to be indebted to Kantian Philosophy. OOO would probably call both correlational. I have serious doubts and reservations about any way of thought that starts to divide the world up into multiple universes.



The distinction between real and actual is interesting. And the terms themselves, actually – since the point of distinction is to shift the distinction (to include integrated perspectives ? theres the difference between integrated perspectives and perspectives all the way up and all way down, and the need to account for separate world views , but that’s another matter)

Perhaps a distinction is to eliminate an unacknowledged boundary, at which point the distinction becomes irrelevant. The point here though is the overview, the usefulness of loops or an intrinsic non linearity irrespective of context. A loop could underlabor the real and find itself where the real uderlabors the actual . the loop will obviously have to be a continuum otherwise a linear imposition presents itself.

continuums like events could have an independence from context and experience, in their path. I digress a bit here but its related to the search for context transcendent meaning – in different instances, there is a tendency for thinning contexts if not absence of them , the tendencies having a potential of arrival

I like the term actual because *act* implies an enacted paradigm, or is related to performative acts. Since that is too narrow a premise for the real, the emphasis is likely more on energy expended for action than action itself. Cause sort of assumes precedence over action in the context of the real, but closer to home, it does so within the usefulness of context as such. Like how distinction is usefull to negate itself. So there is a deconstruction of cause, enacted paradigms and context. Action though emerges as progressive free of the performative perspective. Free of perspectives action and cause are less problematic. Iam crossing threads a bit, but the proximity of cause and action may be a lead….



yes, i like the distinction ,too. Bhaksar uses the phrase "when it is important to disambiguate" -- in other words, he knows there is no actual distinction between the actual and the real (well, actually, the distinction exists only in the actual, not the real... haha) ... anyway, he says this is a tool that is useful when it becomes necessary to disambiguate what we are talking about. the same he says of the world and the known world -- the epistemic fallacy is only relevant when it becomes useful to disambiguate the epistemic from the ontological. this is much more post-metaphysical than Wilber's tetra-arising quadrants, which reek of ontic-ally real structures.




Which reek of ontic-ally real structures

Ha ha ah . that feels right……. if epistemic fallacy is a defence of perspectives way up and down, there is the emergence of ontological fallacy in defence of the reeky - as a way out of the former and correlationism at that.

With a movement in distinction between the actual and real – we have a realm of distinctions and a realm which is free of distinctions. The real is also subject to distinction in the sense it has to have validation.  Is validation key to causality, ontology and experience/existence  et al ? a question in the other thread too . Anyway about a realm without distinctions , I want to say something about  the metaphysical and formlessness charge and the nature of the collapse of distinctions, which is misunderstood. This is a shift to dimensional entry which is an axilogical access for form, which makes form sharper, exponentially definitive kind of works – say infinite definition of the indefinable - - description of it might fall short :)  but it is easy enough to observe (it is the regress of effort really) analogously a collapse of distinction is a leap in distinctivity.

This issue has come up any number of times, I think UL perspectivalism is a misnomer. Perspectives have interiors . they are barely interior if at all. I’m suggesting its just a matter of location, quantity all the way




The Integral Research Center has posted a summary of the Critical Realism / Integral Theory conference that took place last year.  Two audio files, one of Bhaskar's introduction to CR and the other of Sean's introduction to IT, are available for download at the bottom of the page.

Sean has a blog called critical realism 101 here.

Ah, thanks, I was going to post about that today.  There are two articles on CR and IT linked on the blog; I'll link to one of them here.

In re-reading this thread Bonnie's statement below struck me that she has no idea what the OOO crowd has said on this topic. It is obvious to anyone who has that Bryant for example, using Bhaskar no less, is well aware of this distinction between the real and the actual. And has written quite eloquently and accurately on it. And yet she makes statements like this, quite willing to pigeonhole the entire field with little to no knowledge on the subject.

bonnitta roy said:

maybe there was a confusion. Bhaskar DEFINTELY says there is only one real world.

he *might* warn the OOO that "their world" is the actual world (which is an incomplete description of the real) and CR would be happy to "underlabor" them for that reason (supply either an immanent critque pointing out the internal inconsistency, or explanatory crituqe pointing to the incompleteness -- which of course is how good science proceeds, anyway)




theurj said:

But on the other side, we have only one real world.

And that is where the likes of Bryant and perhaps Morton (OOO thread) might disagree with Bhaskar.

Following up on the last post, here's Bryant from The Democracy of Objects, section 1.5:

"Here it is necessary to clarify what the epistemic fallacy is and is not about. A critique of the epistemic fallacy and how it operates in philosophy does not amount to the claim that epistemology or questions of the nature of inquiry and knowledge are a fallacy. What the epistemic fallacy identifies is the fallacy of reducing ontological questions to epistemological questions, or conflating questions of how we know with questions of what beings are. In short, the epistemic fallacy occurs wherever being is reduced to our access to being. Thus, for example, wherever beings are reduced to our impressions or sensations of being, wherever being is reduced to our talk about being, wherever being is reduced to discourses about being, wherever being is reduced to signs through which being is manifest, the epistemic fallacy has been committed.

"We have seen why this is so, for our experimental practice is only intelligible based on a series of ontological premises and these ontological premises cannot be reduced to our access to being. They are ontological in the robust sense. These ontological premises refer not to what is present or actual to us. Indeed, they refer, as we will see, to beings that are radically withdrawn from any presence or actuality. And as such, they are genuinely ontological premises, not epistemological premises pertaining to what is given.

"In recognizing that the epistemic fallacy emerges from foundationalist aspirations on the part of philosophers, Bhaskar hits the mark. It is the desire for a secure and certain foundation for knowledge that leads philosophy to adopt the actualist stance and fall into the epistemic fallacy. These decisions, in turn, ultimately lead to correlationism. In raising the question, “how do we know?” and seeking an argument that would thoroughly defeat the skeptic or sophist, the philosopher concludes that only what is present or given can defend against the incursions of the skeptic. But what is present or given turns out either to be mind or sensations. Therefore the philosopher finds himself in the position of restricting all being to what is given as actual in sensations. From here a whole cascade of problematic consequences follow that increasingly lead to the dissolution of the world as a genuine ontological category.

"However, once these foundationalist aspirations are abandoned, the nature of the problem changes significantly and we no longer find ourselves tied to the actualist premise that generates all of these issues. And indeed, these aspirations should be abandoned, for foundationalism is premised on the possibility of absolute presence, absolute proximity, the absence of all absence, and we have now discovered that it is being itself that is split between generative mechanisms or objects and the actual. Difference, deferral, absence, and so on are not idiosyncracies of our being preventing us from ever reaching being, but are, rather, ontological characteristics of being as such. Moreover, this split at the heart of all beings is not simply characteristic of those objects that we would seek to know, but are also characteristics of the peculiar object that we are. We ourselves are split. If, then, this split is a general ontological feature of the world, then the dream of presence required for any form of foundationalism is a priori impossible. We are then left with two paths: to persist in the correlationist thesis that would reduce ontological questions to epistemological questions and which is itself implicitly premised on the ontotheological assumption of actualism, or to investigate the split in being in a post-humanist, realist fashion that is genuinely ontological. It is the second of these two paths that I here attempt."

Continuing from the FB discussion on the above fallacy, part of the problem with the epistemic fallacy is actualism. Now Wilber does account for the non-actual via the timeless, changeless Causal real which subsists the actual, but then turns around in the next breath and asserts we can directly access the Causal via a non-dual meditative state (aka satori), the Absolute side of the equation. Which is exactly what Bryant is criticizing, that we can directly and accurately 'know' not just this state, but that this state directly accesses that Causal realm underlying the actual.

So yes, it's a fixation on enacting the interior state(s), because this 'consciousness per se' IS the metaphysical foundationalism of ALL, "for foundationalism is premised on the possibility of absolute presence." Bryant (and Morton) have the good sense to carefully read and understand Derrida on this metaphysics of presence.

In a way it's akin (aken?) to the magical thinking of New Age positive thinking, in that our thoughts, or mystical states in this case, is all we need do to effect societal change. Which is of course a bastardization of even Buddhism, for most adherents are required to directly engage with the world of suffering to alleviate it. And not just by teaching people to achieve a state of equanimity but by feeding, clothing and sheltering the poor, etc. Only in America can we think that just attaining a special state handles everything.

I'm reminded of the back and forth between Joe Corbett and Jeff Salzman on exactly this lack in AQALingus. The AQALack? If it quacks like a lack...

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