Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
We've all heard about Harris' scathing criticisms of religions of all flavor, including Buddhism. In this 2-part talk at You Tube he defends meditation and contemplation and criticizes the atheist community for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my atheistic mind this is indeed a step towards re-visioning the great traditions by nourishing the baby while also pulling the plug on the dirty bathwater.
Also of note is that he echoes kennilingus in claiming one must take up the injunction of meditation before one can criticize its phenomenal experience. He does qualify that one can certainly criticize based on reason alone the metaphysical accoutrements of those who have such experiences. Yet the experiences themselves cannot be refuted by reason alone. And that such experience must be translated into postmetaphysical terms shorn of religious dogma to be of pertinent use in today's world.
Secularism has become so toxic that even big corporate democrats see climate change and C02 pollution as nothing more than something to make money on. SICK!
Of course the rational immoralist, despite being a slight improvement on the mythical immoralist, is hardly cause for much rejoicing!
You ask why atheists would consider spiritual notions at all? Spirituality is an affair of individuals improving themselves inwardly. That is relevant to all beings. Your "materialist atheist" on the golf course wants to focus better, enjoy himself more, have access to all his parts, not sabotage himself, become more life-positive, become less reactive, etc.
Does spiritual post-metaphysics offer any guarantee of ethical behavior? No. Nothing provides a guarantee of ethical behavior.
Post-metaphysics describes part of a level of COGNITION. It is not a development of the ethical line. Neither is spirituality. These are relatively independent variables. However certain combinations encourage or make possible a higher ethical sensibility. You cannot be more ethical than your understanding of reality (cognition).
Why should an ethical atheist look "up" to an unethical but spiritual post-metaphysical thinker? The question is slightly misleading. It is like asking why a person with a nice pair of shoes ought to be impressed by someone else's jacket. The one does not have much bearing on the importance of the other and vice versa.
Post-metaphysics is cognitively more advanced but that is only one line. The ethical atheist should look upward to that but also should look downward to the unethical part.
The relative height/sophistication/desirability of a level on one line is mostly irrelevant to the height/sophistication/desirability of a level on another line.
I obviously think developing a postmetaphysical spirituality and religion are necessary or I wouldn't spend time here. But as I said, it's for a very few. And it's questionable whether it makes one whit in getting the majority of religious believers up to religious thinkers. Sure it sets up some parameters for after that, but before that there is a lot of work to be done to get religion up to the rational level. And by and large that is not even close to the case. That is where the likes of Harris, Batchelor and others come in. And God bless them every one (with tongue in cheek).
Exactly. My comments above on Harris should be taken as approval of his efforts which contribute to the development of a religiosity that is at least rational. That is a step forward in a very important battle. My only critique (and I especially note that it may be impractical for him to take it seriously) is that -- from our point of view -- he misconstrues the nature of religion in the traditional manner. What he thinks of as not-necessary-religious is among the very things which we wish to promote as essentially religious.
All cultural development and integration is essentially religious. And part of that involves the flourishing of rational and critical thoughts and independent spiritual practicality.
Why "should" a spiritually active and ethically developed atheist (sic) be impressed by post-metaphysical approaches? This is like asking why a catapult-builder should switch from Newton's physics to Einstein's physics. He shouldn't. Einstein's physics describes why and how Newton's physics are correct. If the catapult-builder runs into problems he cannot solve with his level of thinking or if seeks to more coherently comprehend the edges and paradoxes of his own understanding then he may need a more complex level.
Higher levels, despite their increased capacity to comprehensively address situations in a balanced way, are not requirements. Junior levels could not simply switch even if they wanted to. They may not even be able to comprehend the relative value of the higher. And yet if they continue to develop they will drift in that direction.
Postmetaphysics must more accurately and comprehensively describe why the atheist's spirituality and ethics are valid -- using sources of validity which transcend those which are in the atheist's mind. What the atheist should be doing is getting deeper and better at being an ethical-spiritual atheist. There is no reason why his No God cannot become luminous as a Name of God. If he gets deeper, smarter, more nuanced, more integrated then he will increasingly resemble higher levels on his various lines -- including those which are partly described as "postmetaphysical".
I happened upon this article by former US Senator Gary Hart called "The re-enchantment of the soul." Therein he has the usual critique of Enlightenment science descending into scientism and atheism, killing off faith. And how this has led to self-interested capitalism; no qualms there. He laments: "But what about the soul, the ultimate human mystery that cannot be measured, felt, isolated, operate upon, or quantified?" And therein lies the problem with a retro-romantic notion of soul. It's the old non-overlapping magisteria argument,* whereas both science and faith can temper and balance each other. I agree we need to reenchant the world (soul), but not that way.
* I'd add that kennilingus has its own version of this in the non-exclusion principle (Excerpt B, pp. 16-20). Unfoldment (pp. 20-26) shows levels within paradigms, but does not adjudicate between them. As I've criticized many times elsewhere, this system fails to show the connections and interactions of the quadrants/zones, merely giga-glossing them. All consistent with classical set theories.
The famous NON-OVERLAPPING MAGISTERIA argument is structurally "orange". It is conforms to the habit of Rational Enlightenment instincts to make divisions among the value-spheres. It is very much of the nature of Rationalists to wonder about the enchanting intensities they have left behind. And on the basis of this (what is actually the lack of completeness or comprehensiveness of their experience of rationalism) to use their burgeoning post-modern concepts to legitimate their underlying pre-rational sympathies.
Gary's remarks above make what is to my mind a classical mistake -- of conflating the Subtle & the Causal. The causal (including, say, any notion of essential differentials or pure subjectivity) is an ultimate mystery that cannot be quantified. The Subtle, including its soul-like particularities for the individual, is qualitative and massless but not therefore unquantifiable. In fact the whole premise of both quantum mechanics and informational models of physics is that we CAN use experiment and logic to define mathematical parameters for interactions with massless forces. Hegel might say this is the very purpose of historical human evolution (to bridge the gross and subtle, to cuturally technologize the Geist).
As anyone who is familiar with my integral currency (tetrabucks) suggestions will realize, I place a lot of credence and necessity into the issue of QUANTIFYING QUALITY. This procedure alone seems to promise an actionable transformation of human society in terms of new energy physics, non-metaphysical "soul" research, bio-friendly machinery and an economic system whose operations serve rather than collapse the worth of human existence.
Gary Hart's remarks are very much evidence of the problem. He is complaining about himself. It is the rational-modernist level that exaggeratedly over-separates the value-spheres and then realized in horror that it has lost touch with its former experience of the phenomenology of qualitative essences.
For reference also see this video with comments on Harris v. Haidt. Unlike forum threads the videos have the latest comments first on the first page, with the earliest comments last on the last page, ie in reverse order.
Here is a link to the SouthPark episode where Mickey kicks the crap out of the Jonas Brothers. Enchantment indeed!
Also recall this thread on Christian a-theism. And this post and following on Batchelor's essay on secular Buddhism. In the latter he emphasizes a pragmatic approach, which is akin to the American pragmaticism of Mead and Dewey. And the latter cognitive science approach of Lakoff, Johnson, Varela and Thompson etc. Like Harris we can keep and develop the compassion and love, the environmental sustainability, the social cohesion and democracy, develop the vision-logic. Even make it an eco-biospheric 'religion' with ritual. And drop the superstition and metaphysics.
The following is from Balder's blog post on Panikkar:
"This is not to say that the insights and criticisms of atheists and secularists are without value, or that they do not, in fact, serve a powerful corrective function, helping to dismantle mythic-level fixations and compensatory beliefs. Panikkar himself refers to the secular movement as a sacred one: he finds great value in the secular critique of traditional religions, agreeing with their diagnosis that these traditions have tended historically to exacerbate human alienation, fragmentation, and pathology. Theologically, as well, he believes the West took a wrong turn when it identified God, the depth dimension of reality, with a particular personality or entity. Panikkar's theology moves in the direction of non-theism, or what Wilber would call evolutionary panentheism. As Gerard Hall writes, 'The mistake of Western thought was to begin with identifying God as the Supreme Being (monotheism) which resulted in God being turned into a human projection (atheism). Panikkar moves beyond God-talk to speak of the divine mystery now identified in non-theistic terms as infinitude, freedom and nothingness...'"
Holy hydrogen Batman! Talk about the Ever Present Origin. The atomic One. The Son/Sun. Hydrogenesis.
Some excerpts from Balder's thread on meta-realism:
Balder: "Panikkar notes a similar deepening of the secular, another in-folding movement of fulfillment through reversal, where with the deep valuation of time and becoming bequeathed by an evolutionary understanding the saeculum becomes, again, sacralized in its secularity, strangely lit, an occasion of mystery."
theurj: "I prefer to (de-re)phrase it the saectum saectorum (from sanctum sanctorum), given my atheist bent, meaning the most common of the common. (In real terms this would be hydrogen.) Not to be confused with the rectum santorum.
"Pannikar's use of saeculum is interesting referring to mystery. That's why I chose my de-re Latin phrase based on that usage, as intoning resonantly in that language creates a mysterious aura about it (as in Church). It is not just the common usage of common but that which is most common, like the most holy. Hydrogen is the most common and prevalent element in the universe, the very foundation of All but particularly stars. It's the fuel of cosmic combustion and yet the most mysterious phenomenon of All.
"On a practical level, this is why hydrogen fuel-cell tech is on the forefront of clean, efficient energy. And no surprise that Rifkin plans to store energy as hydrogen once generated from his smart buildings. Hydrogen, the saectum saectorum, is the key to our sustainable future. It is quite literally hot stuff."
It's my god, my god, talkin' bout myyyy god, my god. Sung to the tune of My Girl.