Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Six grammatical categories that underpin philosophical approaches: pronouns, nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and prepositions – are understood individually and then woven into a quasi-holographic, integrally philosphemetic formulation of metaphysical pluralism, enacting the principle of non-exclusion.
Some questions and comments that come up for me both for personal clarification from you Bruce and potentially useful for the discussion forum:
While the role of Integral calculus in dispelling the ‘myth of the given’ is commendable, does IT manage to avoid the epistemic fallacy which occurs wherever 'being' is reduced to our 'access to being.'? Students of Bhaskar may throw some light please. This was a stated objective of ITC 2013, was n't it? I wonder if any other paper covers this.
Is OOO, by virtue of its centrality of the object, positing that even heaps and artefacts have all four quadrant dimensions of being (proto-consciousness etc)?
Adjectival philosophy treating quality as primary – here does a distinction need to be made between inanimate objects such as the 'warm, yellow sun', and a sentient person (3p) with essence (A.H. Almaas) that is both unqualifiable and a verb-noun? I think that distinction is made later with reference to Cittamatra and bundle theories?
Also the attributed nature of quality is necessarily linked to state (or the temporary mediating endo-structure) of the ‘attributor’ at the time of attribution?
The differences in the emphasis on the person vis-à-vis the situation between the English and the Japanese could be a good indicator of the individualist/ collectivist tenor of the culture? (Hofstede’s IDV dimension, and perhaps even MAS and PDI)
If we subscribe to the ‘illusion of free will’ theory, then in some sense, all processes are ultimately non-owned processes in an individual level, but perhaps co-owned at an supra-individual level (dominant monad of a socio-cultural holon, which essentially self-organizes without an agentic central controller)? This also seems consistent with Being singular pluralism and centrality of the ‘with’ in co-essentiality.
Big question: can the embodied and enactive role of grammar in being ontologically resonant and potentially revelatory, move the needle a bit on what is mystically referred to as the ‘ineffability problem’? Matters that need deeper study – perhaps while dwelling on other papers, include Whiteheadian concrescence, Bonnitta Roy’s processual model, Latour, and the effectiveness of Rescher’s process semantics and Bohm’s Rheomode in helping us create a new language to shift our narrative?
I have to say that personally for me, just dwelling on the adjective-noun-verb inter-linkage in silence offered a fabulous meditation experience in which all three parts of speech blended into a phenomenological experience enormously rich, multi-dimensional and ineffable beyond the grammatical categories themselves. Perhaps with some more state-and-stage training, the simultaneous contemplation of all six will take 'the bottom out from under the bucket'!
Thank you Bruce for this gift.
Thank you for these stimulating reflections, Neelesh. I'm really impressed by how quickly you can read through and digest these papers...
Since I'm the author of this paper, I obviously won't be giving a review of it; I hope others will read "Sophia Speaks" and comment here. But I will be happy to respond to any comments and questions (and will be doing that for yours in my next post).
Thank you for your feedback; I found your reflections and questions helpful and stimulating.
Neelesh: While the role of Integral calculus in dispelling the ‘myth of the given’ is commendable, does IT manage to avoid the epistemic fallacy which occurs wherever 'being' is reduced to our 'access to being.'? Students of Bhaskar may throw some light please. This was a stated objective of ITC 2013, wasn't it? I wonder if any other paper covers this.
Yes, a good question. In the writings in which Wilber has presented his postmetaphysical model, he does appear to commit the epistemic fallacy (in my opinion), or he gets close to it. If you take a fuller view of his writings, I believe IT at least has the resources to avoid the fallacy, which is why I was somewhat tentative in my criticisms in the paper. At the least, I think Wilber's grappling with this issue (say, in his recent writings to and on Bhaskar) is still muddy and further clarification is needed.
As it is, Bhaskar's students generally find that IT does privilege epistemology in a problematic way (Nick Hedlund's ITC paper, for instance, offers such a criticism).
I have discussed this issue in some depth with Tim Winton (in response to his ITC paper) as well as several members of this forum. I will bring some of these points in, possibly, when we get to Winton's or Hedlund's papers in our review. But if any students of Bhaskar are here, or any folks have an opinion on this either way and would like to comment now, that would be welcome.
Neelesh: Is OOO, by virtue of its centrality of the object, positing that even heaps and artefacts have all four quadrant dimensions of being (proto-consciousness etc)?
Yes, in a sense. OOO is sometimes said to be akin to panpsychism, in that it contends that all objects uniquely translate each other. The distinctions it uses don't exactly line up with those used in IT, so there is some incommensurability here, but in general I think it would contest the Integral claim that there is a distinct metaphysical difference (and gulf) between holons and artefacts. In some forms of OOO (such as in Levi Bryant's work), a distinction is drawn between autopoietic and allopoietic objects, but both exhibit features common to objects: both having a withdrawn depth or 'substance,' both contributing and translating differences in the world, etc.
Here's also a relevant quote from Mark Edwards on this topic:
Wilber and Kofman think that there are some groups of stuff in the Kosmos that don't have any capacity for internal organisation or interior cohesion or transformational capacity and that true holons need to be distinguished from these random piles of stuff . As a result they created an insentient category of entities that can accommodate all the inert, lifeless, random piles that surround us everywhere. This might include much of what makes up our observable world - piles of dirty clothes, sand, dust, leaves, rotten wood, rocks, garbage, car bodies, rocks, bricks, interstellar material, galaxies and junk and whatever. The funny thing is that when you draw boundaries around these inconspicuous and apparently boring piles and blobs and observe them closely strange things happen. They become very interesting and begin to show very transformative properties. It may take a little time, maybe a few years, maybe even a few billion years, but watch long enough and out of these piles of dust and heaps of useless crap the unexplainable Kosmic Drive of Eros raises its eyebrow and suddenly micro-ecosystems evolve, planets form, life assembles itself, landscapes appear, oceans arise, and out of these dirty little random puddles of stuff little bugs drag themselves out on the dry land and stand up and say, "Let's hear it folks for all those random piles of insentient crap".
The truth is that each and every aspect of the Kosmos, in all its permutation and combinations, has the capacity for transformation and can be seen to contain interior levels of organisation and developmental potential. Seeing piles and heaps as interiorless and lifeless has more, I would say, to do with the ignorance of the observer than with anything else. The basic principles of the AQAL framework affirm that, wherever and whenever we draw boundaries, creative potential appears, and that potential can be best described, disclosed and appreciated through the application of all its principles/tenets of quadrants, levels, lines and holonic dynamics. Insentience does not come into the picture, but the potential for fundamental holons to get together and boogie certainly does. Integral theory does not need the category of insentient holonic heaps any more than it needs a category of transcendental, vengeful, demon holons to explain the presence of evil in the world. (Edwards, Through AQAL Eyes, Part 1)
Also, see this summary post by theurj in our OOO thread for a brief discussion.
Neelesh: Adjectival philosophy treating quality as primary – here does a distinction need to be made between inanimate objects such as the 'warm, yellow sun', and a sentient person (3p) with essence (A.H. Almaas) that is both unqualifiable and a verb-noun? I think that distinction is made later with reference to Cittamatra and bundle theories?
Also the attributed nature of quality is necessarily linked to state (or the temporary mediating endo-structure) of the ‘attributor’ at the time of attribution?
Yes, it seems adjectival philosophies distinguish at least between sentient beings and qualitative appearances-for sentient beings, with some regarding even the apparent differences between (and existence of) multiple sentient beings as also but an appearance (such that there is ultimately only one sentient being or mind or spirit).
As for the attributed nature of quality being linked to the state or endo-structure of the attributor, yes, that is my understanding -- this recognition of intersubjectivity shows up, at some level, in several sophisticated versions of adjectival philosophy (and usually entails, as you also noted above, integration with a verbal or verb-nounal -- gerundal -- ontology as well).
Neelesh: The differences in the emphasis on the person vis-à-vis the situation between the English and the Japanese could be a good indicator of the individualist/ collectivist tenor of the culture? (Hofstede’s IDV dimension, and perhaps even MAS and PDI)
I am not familiar with the IDV dimension or MAS and PDI. Where would I look to learn about this?
Neelesh: If we subscribe to the ‘illusion of free will’ theory, then in some sense, all processes are ultimately non-owned processes in an individual level, but perhaps co-owned at an supra-individual level (dominant monad of a socio-cultural holon, which essentially self-organizes without an agentic central controller)? This also seems consistent with Being singular pluralism and centrality of the ‘with’ in co-essentiality.
Could we also speak of such co-ownership at the individual level? Co-ownership as non-ownership (in the conventional sense of there being a central 'willing' homonculus).
Neelesh: Big question: can the embodied and enactive role of grammar in being ontologically resonant and potentially revelatory, move the needle a bit on what is mystically referred to as the ‘ineffability problem’? Matters that need deeper study – perhaps while dwelling on other papers, include Whiteheadian concrescence, Bonnitta Roy’s processual model, Latour, and the effectiveness of Rescher’s process semantics and Bohm’s Rheomode in helping us create a new language to shift our narrative?
I don't know, but I like this question! I share Almaas' basic idea that the ineffability of mystical phenomena is due, not to their inherent unsayability, but to there being no final limit on what can be said -- no final, decisive, unambiguous framing. Which basically applies to all descriptions of experience. Ineffability being a function, one, of the ambiguity of all experience; and, two, in the case of mysticism, of our trying to communicate experiences that are unfamiliar to most people (and thus are lacking in common culturally accepted signifiers). And perhaps a third criterion as well: 3) due to the subtlety of the subject matter and the forms of perception involved.
All of this, to say: Yes, I think new modes of languaging can be developed (and are emerging) which can make mystical modes of experience more accessible and familiar to people. If the proposals in Sophia Speaks can contribute to that (at least in the form of facilitating increased contact and communication among the various approaches you mentioned), I would feel very rewarded.
Neelesh: I have to say that personally for me, just dwelling on the adjective-noun-verb inter-linkage in silence offered a fabulous meditation experience in which all three parts of speech blended into a phenomenological experience enormously rich, multi-dimensional and ineffable beyond the grammatical categories themselves. Perhaps with some more state-and-stage training, the simultaneous contemplation of all six will take 'the bottom out from under the bucket'!
Wonderful, Neelesh. I'm pleased to hear about your experiments with this, since this sort of experimentation is something I have done as well, and was in fact something a friend and I had planned to introduce at a workshop on this topic that we were unfortunately not able to produce (but which we may do in the future). I practice the Time-Space-Knowledge vision, which involves (in one of its elementary practices) attending concurrently to the time, space, and knowledge (knowing) aspects of our experience; and ILP involves a similar experiential exploration of person-perspectives. I see a fuller 'onto-epistemo-grammatical' inquiry, such as you have described, as a fruitful (and psychoactive) form of practice, which I hope to explore further as I continue with this project (and I would love to hear from others who do the same).
Neelesh: Thank you Bruce for this gift.
You're welcome! I hope this project is useful for people. At the least, I have enjoyed exploring it.
One outstanding question I have is what you, or anyone else who has read the paper, think about the several charts I introduce at the conclusion of the paper: namely, the table of the Six Views and the two experimental modifications of the quadrants. Especially regarding the latter, do you think something like that is worth developing further?
Balder and I had a long email exchange about his paper but unfortunately neither I nor he can find it. However one can see several posts related to it when he first got the idea in this post of the OOO thread. Also see this post in the same thread, where I address some of Balder's work in the last paragraph. Balder responded in the following post. Granted its not a lot but it might trigger some memories of past discussions.
Thank you, David!
I'll copy and paste a few excerpts of posts from here on, perhaps to expand on this previous discussion related to Balder's paper:
theurj: The preposition acts like khora in that it is that withdrawn core that prepares the space-time for actual occasions and is coterminous with them, a la Whitehead. Hence I'm wondering if prepositions, while parts of language, aren't themselves something prelinguistic and which tie language back to that basic categorical embodiment via image schemata? If I'm right about prepositions being more akin to objet a than being an actualization or local manifestation of a particular paradigm, then they might be more of an meta-paradigmatic function.
Balder: Here is one more post in this thread of speculations, from page 68. As I mention in my paper, it was reading this chapter by Latour on prepositions, plus watching the back and forth between several OOO and Whiteheadian philosophers, not to mention our evolving conversation in this epic thread, that planted the seeds for my paper. I had forgotten your linking of prepositions to the khora, but that makes sense to me -- esp. the way Nancy and Serres use them -- and I think it is worth exploring and developing further (I don't in my paper). I also like your suggestion, in our email exchange, that prepositions -- in this light -- are perhaps pre-linguistic operators "which tie language back to that basic categorical embodiment via image schemata." I do touch on the image schemas which may inform prepositions, but don't draw the connections you are making here.
theurj: Here's Shaviro's blog post on the Harman-Latour debate book. I addressed the debate earlier in the thread, some of which was linked above yesterday.
Balder: I think they make a good point that objects are detachable from (many) present relations, and therefore aren't wholly and exclusively determined by or reducible to them, but in my view there are other ways they remain related -- internally (to their own parts and processes, to the larger universe which provided the parts that constitute them, therefore to their own and to other objects' past(s); and for living systems, to the ongoing circulation of elements which are necessary to their autopoiesis or self-making, etc).
I'd like to read more of Shaviro on his understanding of eternal objects. Harman objects to the idea that eternal objects explain change and creativity, insisting instead that eternal objects are unchanging and that they only allow for new arrangements of eternally existing qualities rather than for anything genuinely new.
The emphasis on vectors above aligns not only with Latour/Souriau, but also with Serres (another prepositional philosopher).
"Eternal objects thus take on something of the role that universals...Platonic forms and ideas played in older metaphysical systems. But we have already seen that, for Whitehead, 'concrete particular fact' cannot simply 'be built up out of universals'; it is more the other way around. Universals...can and must be abstracted from 'things which are temporal.' But they cannot be conceived by themselves, in the absence of the empirical, temporal entities that they inform. Eternal objects, therefore, are neither a priori logical structures, nor Platonic essences, nor constitutive rational ideas" (18).
Balder: Oh, yes, I actually read that chapter when researching one of the sections of my paper. (You'll see in that paragraph that he references the part of speech for which I used this). Harman thinks this is an incorrect reading of Whitehead (and apparently Hartshorne, one of Whitehead's leading interpreters, would agree with Harman on this. I believe I reference this disagreement in the paper). So, it's something I need to study in more depth. I prefer Shaviro's reading, and would be happy if he is correct on this (since I've been uncomfortable with this Platonic-seeming aspect of Whitehead).
Thank you for highlighting these previous posts, theurj. I am going to try to locate our past email exchange.
Prior to the posting of this thread (and our beginning of a review of all of the ITC papers), my paper received a little feedback and commentary from several people on Facebook.
Happily, Bonnitta agrees with my placement of her work primarily within the "verbal" lineage. From a Facebook discussion:
BR: Bruce Alderman has me pegged as a 'verb' philosopher... I see myself as a verb, with adverbial overtones. I think my ground state is verb, but when I begin to make distinctions, then it's adverbial. It's interesting, because in my own presentation, I said that onto-logics would be associated primarily with two philosophical streams -- process philosophy (verb) and buddhist process thought (adverb).
Joel Morrison has used the grammatical lenses to describe his Interface Philosophy:
JM: Almost finished with a first rough pass of your paper (having my phone read it to me), and I am finding it extremely useful for my own onto-choreography, as well as a lens on my prior and current work. So I'll definitely be incorporating it into SZII, of course with references to your own work which I think is a significant advance for Integral Philosophy beyond the limits of AQAL. I am seeing Interface Philosophy largely as a prepositional, or even meta-prepositional philosophy, with a nounal languaging, "the interface" being the "between" of positions, perspectives, and critically directions. But the interface mediates other key prepositions couched in nouns, such as Substance (within, below, or Immanence) and God (without, above, or Transcendence). The work I am doing also emphasizes an Aspect-Oriented Philosophy, (adjectival) the aspects being abstractions of and from infinity. Adjective or qualitative lenses reaching into and pulling out qualities from the absolute in univocal integration. But, as in Aspect-Oriented Programming, it does so in conjunction with objects (nouns) and methods, algorithms and procedures (verbs). I still need to grok the adverbial stuff, I think, to put your work to better use. So when I go through it again, I'll make sure to spend more time there. Thanks so much for sharing this with me!
JM: ...AQAL is one particular evolutionary foray into the field of onto-epistemic lenses (generated and generative maps), which does indeed represent a significant portion of the evolving Story of Philosophy, even if it has inherited shadows and blindspots from an Orthodox and Mythic collective reading of History (center of gravity). But given the AQAL map itself, and KW's own words, we should indeed expect to see a distorted image of the Rational in the social holons of a proto-Rational age.
In such an age, however, AQAL's power and freedom stems from its focus and limitation in the categorical simplicity of its form (mythemes). To the extent that it speaks at the dominant level(s), it gains traction. But AQAL is only *locally* simplex, in the interfacing here at the mythic-rational collective interface and transition. There are deeper and wider simplexes in its vicinity.
A key one that I just got excited about comes from the limits on what I'll call the "linguistic lens," in an "Aspect Oriented Philosophy". Bruce Alderman's recent article, "Sophia Speaks: An Integral Grammar of Philosophy" (ITC 2013) has really inspired me here. [[I got a sneak peak and highly recommend it. And I hope you don't mind my sharing of enthusiasm for it here prematurely, Bruce.]] So according to Bruce's Integral Grammar method/model, and as should be apparent, AQAL is essentially a Pronoun Philosophy, in emphasis not in exclusion or principle. It is simply an exemplar of the form. And such a philosophical focus represents only one type of onto-epistemic lens in the whole landscape of an implicit and embodied (and embryogenic) integral grammar, which Integral Philosophy (the *involutionary mode* of philosophy in this global transition) in general is exploring.
As a testament to the generative capacity of Bruce's work, I am seeing my own work in Interface Philosophy through a very helpful new onto-epistemic lens. I see it more clearly now as what Bruce calls "onto-choreography" and "heno-ontology" (iirc) with a (heretofore largely implicit) "aspect oriented" focus on the linguistic lens and grammar primitive in many of its forms. Most clearly, however, it appears largely as a Prepositional, or even Meta-Prepositional Philosophy, with a visual and nounal languaging: An "interface" being the dynamic "between" (cultivating third) of positions, perspectives, and critically directions and motions. But the prepositional interface also mediates other key prepositions couched in nouns, such as Substance (within, below, or Immanence) and God (without, above, or Transcendence), as well as critically, the absolute and relative scopes. And I also use it to interface the AQAL pronouns, in SpinbitZ.
Anyway, that's what I am seeing now, and I'm pretty excited about all the new bits and pieces coming together from all over.
And Michael Schwartz posted the following remarks on my Facebook page:
MS: Let me be naked in my gratitude and appreciation: as I see this work as a landmark in meta-philosophical engagement. A paper on the deep grammars of the various logoi of Sophia. For as the leading philosopher John Sallis has shown how from the inception of Western philosophy, one of the central themes has been the question of being and logos - logos as the gathering force of speech in the revealing and concealing of what is. This paper shows brilliantly that this gathering force of speech has various "grammars" -- enabling us to gain a meta stance on pretty much all the strains of Western and contemporary philosophy. Brilliant. Landmark. At least for me. In any case, this how it has helped me. I know others will benefit in their ways.
From Balder's paper in reference to my selected excerpts:
"Bruno Latour (2011) considers the primary domain of concern opened by prepositional reflection to be the modes of existence that beings might occupy in relation to one another. But since prepositional phrases also function adjectivally, a prepositional orientation cannot be considered to be exclusively dedicated to a process orientation. Instead, it moves in zones of concern that touch on substances and processes equally, without absolutizing either narrative" (59).
The previous excerpts also highlight this notion of prepositions as what pre-positions the modes of existence. I.e., I'm seeing that while they are also parts of speech they also act as that which ties the other parts of speech into an embodied and coherent grammar. They are linguistic (metaphoric) extensions of the major pre-lingusitic image schema.
On 65 Balder notes Serres as interested in, among other things, "adjacency." Which reminds me of Layman's "Principles of adjacency." In that thread I made the principles concrete in embodied tai chi practice, showing how our boundaries are that pre-positional differance.
As prepositions denote both temporal and spatial relations (and differences), they appear, to me too, to be a close grammatical analogue to différance. I hesitate to identify prepositions with image schema in any exclusive sense, but I agree that prepositions, as relational elements within grammar, contribute in important ways to the coherence of our grammatical constructions -- and as such, by extension, are an attractive metaphor or philosphemic "base" for synthetic, integrative, and meta-paradigmatic philosophies. All of the examples of prepositional approaches mentioned in my paper (and others we know about, such as Joel's Interface Philosophy, Layman Pascal's Metaphysics of Adjacency, or your own reflections on khora), in fact, appear to be (post)postmodern, meta-paradigmatic and/or vision-logic expressions.
From the abstract of this MA thesis:
"When an entity or a scene of a physical relation between entities enters into human mind, an image schema (the prototypical schema) comes into being, so as to generate a concept accompanied with its primary sense which is used to express that relation. The prototypical schema, so to speak, give birth to a spatial preposition (as a concept) and its primary sense [....] To sum up, image schemas provide the root for semantic extensions of spatial prepositions."
Yes, I don't think there is any question (from a cognitive linguistic point of view) that image schemas provide the root for spatial prepositions*, as they also support or engender other basic parts of speech.
* for instance, through source-path-goal and containment image schemas.