Silow first conducts a neat UL-UR correlation of Gebser's structures with the functioning of the nervous system as understood through Polyvagal Theory (PVT), as also a phylogeny-ontogeny correlation:

1. The Archaic structure of 'deep sleep' mode with the Dorsal Vagal Complex effectuating a 'shutdown'

2. The Magic structure of 'minimal distancing from nature to control it' with the arousal of the Sympathetic 'fight and flight' nervous system

3. The Mythic structure of the 'imaginal soul' with the Ventral Vagal Complex that sets the 'social engagement system' into play. She adds 'For the social engagement system to come into action and regulate the organism, the experience of safety is essential.  If safety is not sufficiently present, then the fight-flight mechanism comes into action, or if a lack of safety is extremely pronounced or enduring, then the immobility response comes into action.' (p 17)

4. The Mental- Rational structure with Neo-Cortex driven functioning, where voluntary operations begin to supersede the autonomous system. This 4th correlation is proposed by Silow herself extrapolating from PVT.

 

Silow then weaves in the principles of Living Systems Theory - Fractals (self-similar replication), Patterns of Organization (autopoiesis), Dissipative Structures and the Embodiment Process into describing the Evolutionary/ Developmental Spiral - a 'continuing spiral moving from embeddedness to differentiation and integration, the sequence of which gets repeated again and again through the developmental process'. Wilber deals with this in great detail in his work.

Relevant points which relate to the Centaur paper theme i.e. the organismic grounding of stages of consciousness, and the IPS discourse currently are:

a) 'With the increased ability to name things, direct experience of the numinous is diminished' (p 9) because 'reason was put above revelation' (p 11), making rational consciousness 'the least participatory type of consciousness'. (p 12), and 'The rational structure has gone awry, largely due to the introduction and solidification of perspectivity' (p 27) pointing to the subtly suppressive ascendency of the vision-logic over the vision-image.

b) From the Gebserian integral perspective, 'there is no such thing as lower and higher' which Silow posits is a construct 'deeply wedded to a mental/ rational consciousness in its tendency for directionality, which always creates a hierarchical relationship'

c) 'Integration of all structures of consciousness is not to be confused with an “expansion of consciousness,” which would indicate a quantification of consciousness.  To the contrary, Gebser (1985) describes it as “intensification of consciousness” that is outside any quantitative or qualitative evaluation', such intensification requiring 'a complete letting go of a dualistic notion of body and soul towards an awareness of both as unified phenomena' wherein 'time is experienced as “intensity” that is not divisive' (p 28). As a result 'such freedom is not simply freedom from previous time forms, but rather freedom for all time forms, so that all earlier forms of time are co-existent' (p 29)

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Hi Neelesh - this is a great paper for where I am. I am glad you reviewed it here, giving me the impetus to read it. I wish I had been able to attend her presentation, rather than another. However, there is a you-tube video of her presentation (because of lighting, the visual quality is quite poor):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF23oeh-rX8

I have appreciated Stephen Porges' work and he has a very nice manner of presentation that makes his work quite accessible, though for plenty of people it may require a little more work to get up to speed on basic anatomy and physiology, especially neuro. He presented a couple of times at the 2013 Couples Conference and one can get the DVD's and continuing education units from the conference, and from his presentations specifically, if desired.

I thought Theresa did a wonderful job in making aspects of Gebser's work understandable and correlating it well with vagal functioning and the polyvagal theory. She brought in the rational and the integrative functioning of the neo-cortex (with its many specializations and specialties) to account for our leap in development beyond what the vagus provides. It had a nice holdable proportion and detail to my eyes, ears, gut and organs of grokking. I think my embodied understanding of how I am and how we are may have been richly enhanced.

You did a good job of summarizing as well. I'm glad you chose to include the phrase "intensification of consciousness", rather than the easier and more habitual expansion of consciousness. Gebser and she making that point will help me to articulate to others, and myself, more accurately I think those ongoing somewhat aware experiencings in the ebbing and flowing of parasympathetics, sympathetics, relational availabilities and enlivenings, and maybe conscious rationalities, despite tendencies for disconnections to our roots due to their coming online.

Good stuff.

I want to add that in my reading, I could feel questions arise in me as I might want to differentiate myself from Gebser in some details. Interesting. And yet in the overall huge, flowing, and integrative endeavor, it means next to nothing, so I mostly abstain. Furthermore, I ought to read his own work, like The Everpresent Origin, to get a better sense. Otherwise, maybe silly. Yet that was a bit enriching, too, to see how quickly our personal versions of how things are do differentiate, individuate.

Ambo Suno said:

Hi Neelesh - this is a great paper for where I am. I am glad you reviewed it here, giving me the impetus to read it. I wish I had been able to attend her presentation, rather than another. However, there is a you-tube video of her presentation (because of lighting, the visual quality is quite poor):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF23oeh-rX8

I have appreciated Stephen Porges' work and he has a very nice manner of presentation that makes his work quite accessible, though for plenty of people it may require a little more work to get up to speed on basic anatomy and physiology, especially neuro. He presented a couple of times at the 2013 Couples Conference and one can get the DVD's and continuing education units from the conference, and from his presentations specifically, if desired.

I thought Theresa did a wonderful job in making aspects of Gebser's work understandable and correlating it well with vagal functioning and the polyvagal theory. She brought in the rational and the integrative functioning of the neo-cortex (with its many specializations and specialties) to account for our leap in development beyond what the vagus provides. It had a nice holdable proportion and detail to my eyes, ears, gut and organs of grokking. I think my embodied understanding of how I am and how we are may have been richly enhanced.

You did a good job of summarizing as well. I'm glad you chose to include the phrase "intensification of consciousness", rather than the easier and more habitual expansion of consciousness. Gebser and she making that point will help me to articulate to others, and myself, more accurately I think those ongoing somewhat aware experiencings in the ebbing and flowing of parasympathetics, sympathetics, relational availabilities and enlivenings, and maybe conscious rationalities, despite tendencies for disconnections to our roots due to their coming online.

Good stuff.

From the FB IPS discussion:

Bonnitta: It will be interesting to see if/how mainstream (i.e. AQAL-based) theory survives a next wave of integralites coming to terms with just how severe a critique Gebser's work represents to IT. Gebser's description of the Mental structure of consciousness, with its preoccupation with "progress and development" and "categories and naming" and its pyramidal synthetic-dialectical structure of reasoning places IT in the deficient stage of the Mental structure -- not even the predecessor of the next, true Integral structure of consciousness, which would evolve from something like Critical Realism x Process Philosophy, leaving AQAL and its Habermassian-esque descendants (what we call green, teal, indigo and beyond ... ) out on the limb of extinction. Just sayin, as I have written about this long ago...

Me: Agreed, I've been saying that for ages too but from another angle. Not that anyone will ever read it...

The last part isn't true Ed . I've read most of Wilber and tons of your writing and I concluded that your take on postmetaphysics, especially , is more coherent, and logically sound without creating the cognitive dissonance that comes along with Wilber's stance on these themes .
Of course, I consider myself a post conventional theist and believe and experienced a sovereign personable being as more than mythological phantasm , whom, by the way, gets a good chuckle out of the tern assholon . There is ample evidence that Jesus is post conventional and that Constantine's Christianity and its branches are way off base when it comes to what they consider morally important.

It is interesting to note the prominence of Gebser's thought in 3 of the 4 papers discussed so far (and in mine too).

For those wanting an introduction to Gebser, Bonnita's youtube presentation on  Dialectical Reasoning and the Mental Structure of Consciousness is a good place to start.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIrTJaj8DTc

It cover's Gebser's notion of the Epochal Shift from Mythic to Mental Structure of Consciousness.

John David Ebert also has a great online series, introduced here on Beams & Struts.

I still need to finish reading the paper, but Theresa Silow's ITC presentation was one of the more memorable ones for me. This is a very interesting correlation between Gebser's mutations, Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen's work on developmental movement, and Polyvagal theory (the vagus nerve and vagal tone have been getting an increasing amount of attention - "a novel index of stress vulnerability and reactivity". Interview with Datis Korazian here where he explains the Brain to Gut axis (in addition to the gut to brain axis), and the role of the vagus nerve.

Silow's paper is a good contribution to the emerging, 'embodied spirituality' articulation of integral postmetaphysical spirituality.  While the enactive element of the Santiago theory has been strongly incorporated into integral thinking, and while the UR quadrant makes room for consideration of embodiment in any occasion of cognition and spiritual experience, discussion of the embodied dimensions of thinking, states, language, etc, is relatively under-emphasized in integral discourse (with some exceptions, such as Tom Murray's writings, or the various other engagements with Lakoff and Johnson's work, etc).  As Neelesh notes above, we might see this relative under-emphasis as related to Chris Dierkes' observation, in Searching for Centaur, that Integral thinking has gradually drifted from the broader, more embodied concept of vision image (with all that entails) to a focus on or preference for vision logic.

Regarding the Santiago theory, which is quite consonant in principle with the points Silow lays out in this paper, Francisco Varela identifies four “key points” that characterize the Santiago (enactive) model of cognition:  cognition is enactively embodied, enactively emergent, generatively enactive, and ontologically complex.  In brief, what these points entail, respectively, is that

1) cognition is not a product of isolated, autonomous mechanisms in the brain (as modern Cartesian or formalist theories contend), and is not merely “in the head,” but rather arises through, and embodies, our embodied coping with the world (where, here, Theresa's discussion of Polyvagal Theory illuminates important dimensions of this interface);

2) the global cognitive subject and the local neural structures of the brain are co-arising and co-determining (fractally related, as Theresa notes);

3) cognition is intersubjectively enacted, meaning self and other are also to some degree co-arising and co-determining (correlating, in part, to the myelinated Vagus nerve and Porges' social engagement system); and finally,

4) our understanding of consciousness is not reducible to either first- or third-person descriptions, but must involve both, in constant, co-informing circulation (Varela's neurophenomenology, to which Somatic Psychology might, in future, be a more significant contributor).

On a personal note, I was happy through this paper to learn more about Polyvagal Theory; I had only heard passing references to it before and I appreciated the education.  The correlation with Gebser's stages is compelling and worth exploring further (esp. in relation to the centauric dimensions of emerging integral being).

I appreciate that Silow brings in a discussion of living systems theory in conjunction with consciousness and somatic development.  She writes, "A living system is considered an 'open system' that continually needs to feed on a 'flux of matter and energy from their environment to say [sic] alive' (Capra, 1996, p. 48)"

Now, it's very tempting to read through that quickly and keep moving through the paper, but you know me, I think it's extremely important to pay attention to energetic needs, and that we too often assume that adequate energy is always going to be available, and we don't give it any more thought. And so I repeat: "A living system is considered an 'open system' that continually needs to feed on a 'flux of matter and energy from their environment to stay alive.' "

A very exciting new book has just come out by biochemist Nick Lane: "The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origin of Complex Life." This book represents the cutting edge thinking about the origin of complex life, and correctly, I think, brings the focus to the role of energy, and in agreement with Silow and Capra above, emphasizes the need for "a continuous energy flux from somewhere in the environment." Even more than that, he writes:

P. 13-14: “I believe the clue [to the origin of life] lies in the bizarre mechanism of biological energy generation in cells. This strange mechanism exerts pervasive but little appreciated physical constraints on cells. Essentially all living cells power themselves through the flow of protons (positively charged hydrogen atoms), in what amounts to a kind of electricity – proticity – with protons in place of electrons. The energy we gain from burning food in respiration is used to pump protons across a membrane, forming a reservoir on one side of the membrane, forming a reservoir on one side of the membrane. The flow of protons back from this reservoir can be used to power work in the same way as a turbine in a hydroelectric dam. The use of cross-membrane proton gradients to power cells was utterly unanticipated. First proposed in 1961 and developed over the ensuing decades by one of the most original scientists of the twentieth century, Peter Mitchell, this conception has been called the most counterintuitive idea in biology since Darwin, and the only one that compares with the ideas of Einstein, Heisenberg and Schrodinger in physics. At the level of proteins, we now know how proton power works in detail. We also know that the use of proton gradients is universal across life on earth – proton power is as much an integral part of all life as the universal genetic code. Yet we next to nothing about how or why this counterintuitive mechanism of energy harnessing first evolved. So it seems to me there are two big unknowns at the very heart of biology today: why life evolved in the perplexing way it did, and why cells are powered in such a peculiar fashion.

"This book is an attempt to answer these questions, which I believe are tightly entwined. I hope to persuade you that energy is central to evolution, that we can only understand the properties of life if we bring energy into the equation. I want to show you that this relationship between energy and life goes right back to the beginning – that the fundamental properties of life necessarily emerged from the disequilibrium of a restless planet. I want to show you that the origin of life was driven by energy flux, that proton gradients were central to the emergence of cells, and that their use constrained the structure of both bacteria and archaea. I want to demonstrate that these constraints dominated the later evolution of cells..."

Returning to the Silow paper. Following Fritjof Capra's book "The Web of Life" quite closely, she discusses 1. Fractals  - "patterns within patterns. Although similar, these patterns are never identical." OK, bonus points for discussing patterns, and then 2. "Patterns of Organization" (like PatternDynamics).

3. Physical Structures - "When dealing with living systems such physical structures are always also dissipative structures." Again, she mentions the need of dissipative structures for a continual flow of "air, water, and food [energy] from the environment...in order to stay alive and maintain its order." Maintaining order requires energy. 

Silow doesn't say this, but it would be good to point out that the reason Prigogine came up with this paradoxical term of 'dissipative structure' is because energy is being dissipated (2nd law of thermodynamics) at the same time as structure is being built (see Capra, p. 89: "dissipation becomes a source of order"). Much energy is needed, as a quantity of energy is expended to transform the remaining energy to a higher level of energy quality (my interpretation following H.T. Odum).

4. Process of Embodiment. "...the third essential element of a living system is its constant growth and development. Any living system is in a continual process of becoming embodied."  I like the last part of that statement, but I think it's a bit misleading to characterize it as constant growth and development.

I do like that she is tying in the structures of consciousness here - "The organization of self or consciousness - part of the same living system network - likewise is woven into this process of development. Embodied development links and shapes the particulars of the interior experience and the exterior structure... Stages of consciousness and physical structures are inextricably interwoven through an ongoing developmental unfolding." 

If this is so, then we also need to pay attention to the role of energy in developing our structures of consciousness. And if we're entering a world of energy descent, as my paper argues, where does this leave us in terms of consciousness development, and potential new structures of consciousness? I hope to have a subsequent paper at some point that discusses this in more detail. In short, can we increase our harnessing of subtle energies even as gross energy becomes more scarce?

As I am now taking the time to listen to Theresa Silow's you-tube presentation that I linked, I notice that it is not from the ITC 2015. Somehow I missed that in the title - excuse me.

Yet, as I listen to her in this presentation that is over an hour long, I seem to get a feel for her - very nice so far. She poses for consideration of what a 'somatics' orientation might mean, yes, something like body awareness, along side the somewhat commonly held 'spiritual' injunction, "You are not your body." It appears that she will be elaborating upon that. And more.

[I wish I could get the whole story in one gulp, rather than listen to the next hour. I am feeling restless in body-mind, probably largely since I didn't get in my usual alignment from surfing, in the ocean's viscous alignings. I feel a strong desire to both leave the coffee shop and move around the town and park and to imbibe of her lovely and equinanimous presence and manner of presentation. Ah, the usual multiple life pullings.]



Ambo Suno said:

Hi Neelesh - this is a great paper for where I am. I am glad you reviewed it here, giving me the impetus to read it. I wish I had been able to attend her presentation, rather than another. However, there is a you-tube video of her presentation (because of lighting, the visual quality is quite poor):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF23oeh-rX8

I have appreciated Stephen Porges' work and he has a very nice manner of presentation that makes his work quite accessible, though for plenty of people it may require a little more work to get up to speed on basic anatomy and physiology, especially neuro. He presented a couple of times at the 2013 Couples Conference and one can get the DVD's and continuing education units from the conference, and from his presentations specifically, if desired.

I thought Theresa did a wonderful job in making aspects of Gebser's work understandable and correlating it well with vagal functioning and the polyvagal theory. She brought in the rational and the integrative functioning of the neo-cortex (with its many specializations and specialties) to account for our leap in development beyond what the vagus provides. It had a nice holdable proportion and detail to my eyes, ears, gut and organs of grokking. I think my embodied understanding of how I am and how we are may have been richly enhanced.

You did a good job of summarizing as well. I'm glad you chose to include the phrase "intensification of consciousness", rather than the easier and more habitual expansion of consciousness. Gebser and she making that point will help me to articulate to others, and myself, more accurately I think those ongoing somewhat aware experiencings in the ebbing and flowing of parasympathetics, sympathetics, relational availabilities and enlivenings, and maybe conscious rationalities, despite tendencies for disconnections to our roots due to their coming online.

Good stuff.

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