Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I noticed Bhaskar referenced in a recent article I posted, and decided, given the frequency with which his name pops up in Integral literature -- including Bonnitta Roy's -- that I should take some time to look into it more. I'll start with an interview of him regarding a post-critical realist (nondual spiritual) philosophy he is developing. Just based on the first part of it (which is all I have read so far), it appears to repeat Wilber's scheme to a large degree...
Here's the introductory text to the interview:
In his new book, Reflections on Meta-Reality (RMR), Roy Bhaskar claims to articulate a new philosophy that transcends critical realism, while preserving its insights. And indeed it proceeds by immanent critique of critical realism, thereby extending critical realism’s systematic attempt to think being. With the demise of historical socialism and the rise of bourgeois triumphalism in the late eighties and the nineties, the deficiency, absence or lack Bhaskar has pinpointed in the discourse and practice of critical realism and the Left in general is that insufficient attention is being paid to the spiritual dimension of human life, with the consequence that the Right is hegemonic in that area. So he self-consciously set out to remedy this lack, embarking on ‘the spiritual exposition of being’.
Bhaskar’s previous book, From East to West (FEW), offered ‘a theory of the necessary spiritual presuppositions of emancipatory […] projects’, adding a fifth aspect (5A) to the MELD schema as a further transcendental and dialectical development and deepening of his system, introducing or extending notions of ultimate alethic truth or god at 1M; creativity and transcendence at 2E; love at 3L; spontaneous right-action and cosmic consciousness or enlightenment at 4D; and fulfilled intentionality or self-reflexivity at 5A itself.
RMR both systematises and develops what was initiated in FEW. Its basic line of argument is that a non-dual world or ultimate zone of being underpins and is co-present in an occluded way in the dual world of alienation and contradiction in which we live, as a condition of its possibility, and that this requires a new philosophy of identity for its exposition. Realism about this world, about transcendence, thus entails the self-transcendence of critical realism itself, which is a philosophy of non-identity or duality. Bhaskar calls this non-dual world the cosmic envelope (in which the deepest natures or ground-states of all beings sit and are connected), describing it also as Bohm’s implicate order of pure enfolded being, of pure potentiality, of ‘Platonic anamnesis’, involving ‘a level of consciousness beyond thought itself’. Other key figures, elaborated from FEW, are generalised co-presence or synchronicity and the inwardness of being (everything is implicated or enfolded within everything else); and transcendental identification in consciousness between entities and beings within the explicated or become dual world we inhabit.
Hey all, Trish Nowland is starting a learning circle around Bhaskar's meta-Reality (for the first half) and then Panikar's Rhythm of Being (for the second half) of a Magellan track starting at the end of May. This is a great opportunity to participate in a learning circle with like-minded, spirited people. Let me know if you would like to join up and I will set you up at the on line course site and FB group page.
That sounds great. You may know I've been something of a champion of Panikkar's work to/for the Integral community for the past few years, so I'm definitely interested in being part of that half, and I'm also interested to learn a bit more about Bhaskar. I'm so busy, it's hard to keep up with online intensive classes (I just dropped one on TSK I've been participating in), but I'll give it a shot.
Awesome! And no, I never even heard of Panikkar until Trish suggested this track - and I will definitely try to be there in full participation-- but like you are getting over committed!
I am going to write you in for the track. Some interesting fans of Bhaskar are going to be involved. Should be "berry interestink"
A meditation on nonduality by Roy Bhaskar was posted recently on the Integral Alive website. To me, this reads/feels like straight (neo)Vedanta. It also, oddly for a realist philosopher, seems to downplay or want to bracket out the physical, setting up a duality between the physical and the ground.
I had a series of recent posts on Bhaskar's neo-Vedantic turn in the OOO thread, not at all consistent with his former critical realism. (And hence his former students abandoning him due to this.):* See the following: p. 59, May 10, 2012 at 9:17am; p. 60, May 10, 2012 at 9:58am, May 10, 2012 at 4:49pm.
* And no, just because these new views come later in the development of his thought does not mean that the previous views are superseded and integrated into some now higher synthesis or superior and more inclusive worldview. Yet this is precisely Bhaskar's own reasoning on the topic, much akin to Wilber in this respect and his own neo-Vedantic synthesis. I of course also show how this is related to the shentong Buddhist view, which is heavily influenced by Vedanta- and Iranian-Buddhist strands, both of which are consistent with the duality Balder mentions.
He also seems to be arguing a version of the philosophy of consciousness. So far, from what I've seen of his work, I agree with your assessment: his spiritual turn is not necessarily an advance. It seems to be simply a turn to a fairly typical neo-Vedantist orientation.
As one example of an emergent, post-metaphysical interpretation of such states of consciousness, see this post and the preceding from the OOO thread.
See this OOO thread post. Ironic that Bhaskar is now committing the epistemic fallacy from the other end.
It does seem -- to me, too -- that he is doing that. I've yet to read Meta-Reality, though, to see how he might support or defend such a move...
Recall this post and the 2 following from the OOO thread. The second has a link to a chapter in Meta-Reality.
Reply by theurj on May 10, 2012 at 9:17am
At the end of Brant's post on materialism I asked him about Bhaskar's turn to meta-reality, and how this might or not relate to his onticology. He merely responded with a short clip from a more recent post on hominid ecology, basically implying (I guess?) that Bhaskar's new stuff sees nature and culture operating as two completely different paradigms, and that the former is "governed entirely by brute matter (a now outmoded conception of matter) and mechanical causality (an outmoded notion of causality)."
Reply by theurj on May 10, 2012 at 9:58am
In this chapter of Reflections on Meta-Reality I haven't yet seen the above treatment of matter as brute, but I'm only skimming at this point. However I find this interesting:
"The retreat from content into pure form results in a mode of consciousness that can only be characterized by formulae as sat-chit-anand--blissful consciousness of existence (or being or truth). This is that transcendental consciousness of the ground-state, at a level of supra-mental consciousness, awareness without thought or mental (or emotional) content, which underpins all other levels of consciousness" (212).
Apparently it is this causal state only that is non-dual. Just like we've explored in the Batchelor thread, this sets up a duality with the conceptual and/or relative state. The relative state is criticized for its duality, while not seeing that setting up a pure nondual state in opposition to the dual/relative is itself a duality. The causal and relative are not mutually entailing: the causal is origin of the relative.
Reply by theurj on May 10, 2012 at 4:49pm
This is interesting, Bhaskar speaking from The Formation of Critical Realism (Taylor & Francis, 2009):
"All matter has consciousness enfolded in it. But the converse does not apply.... We have a view of matter evolving through time-space into a point where it becomes conscious and we have paradigms of consciousness without matter enfolded in it. But having evolved from matter, consciousness does not need to go back to matter. It is not the case that all consciousness has matter enfolded within it: some consciousness might have, but most of what we call high consciousness does not.... You can make sense of this by thinking of an evolution where matter becomes more and more self-aware and when it gets to a certain point of self-awareness you do not actually need to go back to the level of brute, inanimate matter.... At a certain threshold of evolution, you have consciousness without matter: consciousness that is no longer tied to matter" (186).