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. 

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In my Sophia Speaks paper, I discussed several ways we might interface prepositions with Wilber's four-quadrant pronouns for a number of different purposes, such as to analyze and clarify inter-quadrant relations.  I was reminded of this the other day when listening to Paul Smith lecture on Integral Christianity.  In his talk, he represented the quadrants themselves prepositionally:  "As" (UL), "To" (LL), "About" (UR, LR) -- specifically, as perspectives / prepositional relations to God, i.e., "Speaking/Relating as God" (first-person relation), "Speaking to God" (second-person relation), and "Speaking about God" (third-person relation).  But rather than converting the pronouns to prepositions, my suggestion was to use them in conjunction with the pronouns / quadrants, and I'm posting this here today to ask for your thoughts on this.  Does this work?  Will it be useful?

As Michel Serres has noted, prepositions are like mathematical variables.  As we currently use the quadrant map, it is as if the I, We, It, and Its arise in neutral, empty space together.  Buber’s hyphenated I-Thou suggests the same.  But when the person-perspectives – whether I-and-Thou or I-We-It-and-Its – co-arise, they arise already in a kind of relation, a space of vectors, flows, inclinations, pressures, gaps.  What is the nature of their togetherness?  This can be explored and evoked with the use of prepositions: I with Thou, I under Thou, I over It, I into It, We over I, I for (or against) Me, and so on.  Each clearly different.  The figure below graphically represents the relations and vectors among several first-person perspectives in an actual occasion.

The configuration of perspectives in Figure A is intended to suggest an occasion, or series of occasions, in which the I experiences itself as subordinate to the We, but in a way that is for or in the service of the self (as “Me”).  By changing the “for” to “against,” however, we can model an instance of destructive shaming, or the experience of an oppressive pressure to conform.  If we would like to map more complex relational configurations across multiple perspectival domains, we could use the prepositions in conjunction with the Lexi Neale's or Joseph Camosy's AQAL Cube models or Daniel O’Connor’s Triadic Quadratic Perspectives.

Figure B is a simplistic way of representing the 4Q dynamics that Joe (Fractal Organism) discussed recently:  "Ideology (LL) as the imposition of a false consciousness by the ruling classes (LR) is alienation from the lifeworld of intersubjective consensus (LL).  The alienation the worker has with regard to their labor (body, UR), its product, and their species-being (creativity, UL), is imposed by wage-labor (LR)."  I made the image in 2 minutes here at work, but there are subtler relations (and prepositional loops) that could be mapped out here.  

My thought is that thinking along these lines might also lead us into knot-theoretic representations: as we trace the prepositional relations among the quadrants, we may end up folding them into different knot-like topologies (representative of different tetra-dynamics [to borrow a term from Sean Esbjorn-Hargens].)

Your diagrams are starting to resemble Mark Edwards in this Through AQAL Eyes series and his dissertation. There may be some fruitful exchange between your ideas and his?

Good idea - I will look at them again.

Hi - the below-linked article and the referenced language analytic method seems to have some nice synergy with what Bruce and others have been up to. Good stuff, B.

Shakespeare is such a towering literary figure that any new insight into the man, or his work, tends to generate a jolt of excitement in academic and non-academic communities of Shakespeare aficionados. Applying psychological theory and text-analyzing software, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have discovered a unique psychological profile that characterizes Shakespeare's established works, and this profile strongly identifies Shakespeare as an author of the long-contested play Double Falsehood.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"Research in psychology has shown that some of the core features of who a person is at their deepest level can be revealed based on how they use language. With our new study, we show that you can actually take a lot of this information and put it all together at once to understand an author like Shakespeare rather deeply," says researcher Ryan Boyd of the University of Texas at Austin.

The study, conducted in collaboration with James Pennebaker, also at UT-Austin, goes beyond examining authorship from the standpoint of word counts and linguistic regularities, providing a deeper exploration of an author's psychological profile.

"This research shows that it is indeed possible to start modeling peoples' mental worlds in much more complete ways. We don't need a time machine and a survey form to figure out what type of person Shakespeare was -- we can determine that very accurately just based on how he wrote using methods that are objective and easy to do," Boyd explains.

Double Falsehood was published in 1728 by Lewis Theobald, who claimed to have based the play on three original Shakespeare manuscripts. The manuscripts have since been lost, presumably destroyed by a library fire, and authorship of the play has been hotly contested ever since. Some scholars believe that Shakespeare was the true author of Double Falsehood, while others believe that the play was actually an original work by Theobald himself that he tried to pass off as an adaptation.

Boyd and Pennebaker realized that using psychological theory to inform analysis of the playwrights' respective works may shed light on the authorship question. They examined 33 plays by Shakespeare, 12 by Theobald, and 9 by John Fletcher, a colleague (and sometime collaborator) of Shakespeare. The texts were stripped of extraneous information (such as publication information) and were processed using software that evaluated the works for specific features determined by the researchers.

For example, the researchers' software examined the playwrights' use of function words (e.g., pronouns, articles, prepositions) and words belonging to various content categories (e.g., emotions, family, sensory perception, religion). They had the software identify themes present in each of the works to generate an overarching thematic signature for each author.

They also examined the works to determine how "categorical" the writing was. Categorical writing tends to be heavy on nouns, articles, and prepositions, and it indicates an analytic or formal way of thinking. Research has shown that people who rate high on categorical thinking tend to be emotionally distant, applying problem-solving approaches to everyday situations. People who rate low on categorical thinking, on the other hand, tend to live in the moment and are more focused on social matters.

By aggregating dozens of psychological features of each playwright, Boyd and Pennebaker were able to create a psychological signature for each individual. They were then able to look at the psychological signature of Double Falsehood to determine who the author was most likely to be.

Looking at the plays as whole units, the results were clear: Every measure but one identified Shakespeare as the likely author of Double Falsehood. Theobald was identified as the best match only when it came to his use of content words, and even then only by one of the three statistical approaches the researchers used.

When Boyd and Pennebaker broke the play down into acts and analyzed the texts across acts, they found a more nuanced picture. For the first three acts, the analyses continued to identify Shakespeare as the likely author; for the fourth and fifth acts, the measures varied between Shakespeare and Fletcher. Again, Theobald's influence on the text appeared to be very minor.

"Honestly, I was surprised to see such a strong signal for Shakespeare showing through in the results," says Boyd. "Going into the research without any real background knowledge, I had just kind of assumed that it was going to be a pretty cut and dry case of a fake Shakespeare play, which would have been really interesting in and of itself."

By using measures that tapped into the author's psychological profile, Boyd and Pennebaker were able to see that the author of Double Falsehood was likely sociable and fairly well educated -- findings that don't jibe with accounts of Theobald as well educated but also rigid and abrasive.

Together, these findings clearly show that exploring the psychological dimensions of a literary work can offer even deeper insight in the process of textual analysis.

"I've always held huge admiration for scholars who grapple with literature -- there is a great deal of detective work that goes into figuring out who the authors really are 'deep down,' their motivations, their lives, and how these factors are embedded within their work," says Boyd. "We demonstrate with our current work that an incredible amount of this information can be extracted automatically from language."

Very interesting.  Thanks for highlighting this, Ambo.

Here is a new article on Integral World (not a very good one, but still relevant to the "Sophia Speaks" project) that (re)considers Integral's pronoun model.

Thx Bruce. Nicely done by Scott Preston.

I always felt a bit cognitively dissonant with how Ken finessed, vocally in the sounds true interviews of kosmic consciousness and in written word in various places, the 3 persons into 4 quadrants and specifically the you into we.

This writer gave some historical linguistic bases for plenty of why he thought as he thought. Tidy.

It was maybe difficult at first and then later a pleasure to discover that daddy isn't always right. I want to go easy on daddy who I have somewhat mythologized. I think I have some of this template still at work with Ken :) (though a bit more complex.)

I appreciated how Scott explicitly normalized this failure, this "deficient integral":
Nonetheless, one can laud the sincere impulse towards integralism therein and appreciate some of the valid insights. No truly new consciousness structure, however, is ever born fully articulate, mature, and well-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. It always struggles like any babbling newborn to become eloquent and to articulate itself. It often begins in weirdness and confusion, or in slang, slogans and graffiti."

A part of me whose phenomenal world is ameboid and of bits and pieces, at least, in shape, is still vaguely suspicious of the tidy and convenient symmetry of the modeling that might be more representative and useful of ...

Hmm - one could feel a bit lost in the maps of the territories.

Balder said:

Very interesting.  Thanks for highlighting this, Ambo.

Here is a new article on Integral World (not a very good one, but still relevant to the "Sophia Speaks" project) that (re)considers Integral's pronoun model.

As when once you own a new polka-dot dress, you begin to see them everywhere, in theory anyway :) , I am seeing more articles about the implications of parts of speech for worldviews.

Here linked is another about pronouns. It's not an especially new take, but it has a nice personal touch to it, and it is in the YES magazine that David Korten started and who you brought to our attention. T linked to YES and so I checked it out. DavidM brought more associational verve to my following up on Korten, as well.

Ambo, thank you for sharing the above article.  I came across it separately the other day, and not knowing you'd shared it here, I posted it on the Facebook IPS forum.  This is the conversation (primarily between me and Layman) that followed...

Layman Pascal: Bah! Flummery! Nonsense!

Sure, I love the terms "kith" and "kin" as much as the next asshole but language does not evolve by moralistic suggestions. It evolves by changes in the realities that us make express ourselves in this term or that term.

Here's another terrible thing! "It" is not necessarily problematic. The acolytes of "thou" are always bitching as though thing-ness was derogatory and dangerous. Perhaps they merely have to open their hearts to the fullness of "it".

Plus "thou" and "we" already solve 85% of the problems this joker is cringing about.

And another thing: It is not true that English does not treat human beings as "it". We do. We shift pronouns for each other all the time. I refer to a good friend as "that jackass". It. It is a gesture of trust that runs deeper than the mere positive/negative, inclusive/exclusive ripples on the surface of social communication. He & She are, virtually, "it" pronouns for people under all conditions.

Grammar provides an excellent tool for integrative analysis of inter-cultural reality but it sways into superstition when it accepts the premise that the conventionally perceived "charge" of popular social terminology magically creates the realities we inhabit.

When the geological oversight group failed to prevent the BP Oil Spill the US government leaped into action -- changing the name of the committee! Rebranding is considered to be a solution. But the switch from problematic to non-problematic terminology leaves the issues untouched. It may even conceal them more deeply.

Worrying about our pronoun usage "absolves us of moral responsibility" for changing the personal and collective realities that express themselves as grammatical choices.
Fuck language.


Bruce Alderman:  You like to make these wildly dismissive rants in response to my posts more than to others', I've noticed; I'll take that as a sign of endearment.

I also found the suggestion of "ki" a little silly, though I don't really know wny. "Ki" isn't any sillier than "he," I suppose.

As a regular "moral admonisher," instructing people on what we must do to enact a wisdom civilization, I'm not sure why you are allergic to another person's moral admonitions... In any case, language use *can* change through moral admonishment -- look at our changing use of the masculine pronoun, or the use of titles (the use of "Ms.", for better or worse, was inaugurated through several moral admonitions back in 1901). And now the LGBT community is attempting to encourage the use of alternative pronouns. But is changing a language enough? No, obviously not -- and like you say, it can also cosmetically mask the issue(s).

Is "it" necessarily a problematic pronoun? Not at all. But may it sometimes be, especially when it is primarily an unconscious vehicle for the perpetuation of deep cultural presuppositions? Yes, maybe so. We sometimes refer to people as "its" ("that jackass") but that's not really *treating* them as an it. Demeaning it-language can be used in a context of trust and good humor, but that "it" is different from the "it" used to refer to things that were never afforded intimacy or love or respect in the first place.

That's what I see this person really calling for in this essay - not imagining she is really about to change the English language through her tiny little article, but to call attention (as others have) to prevailing cultural attitudes (which we enact mostly unconsciously through language). Changing language doesn't magically change reality (New Age claims aside) but it can flavor perception, and it can be used as a tool in conjunction with broader cultural discussions and reflections.


Layman Pascal: I think the obvious reason why "ki" is a bit silly is that it is proposed hypothetically, outside the evolutionary mechanisms of language, and thereby lacks the normative influence of embedding.

Now I am not allergic to moral admonishment. I'm quite in favor of it. However I am challenging both this piece and a general contemporary attitude which links moral admonishment, phraseology change, social attitudes and the well-being of civilization. This chain of links strikes me as being as feeble in practice as it is popular in discourse.

Even if we lighten to her proposal and accept it merely as a "call to awareness" we must question (a) whether such calls to awareness are demonstrated to be helpful or whether they constitute part of the ideological apparatus of the current social system (b) whether this form of "awareness" is worthy of that name. The mere posture of turning to reflect upon language usage may be a helpful form of mind expansion for college kids but there are serious doubts whether it represents a responsible critical attitude toward social functioning. It is disturbing narcissistic (for the culture, not the essayist). Perhaps it even represents pathological evidence. Like the fake eye which deceives a predator might we not assume that apparent distortion in our conventional language usage stand out readily to critics so that they can be attacked WITHOUT modifying business as usual?

You note that the word "it" is unproblematic but that it may be problematic to treat people as depersonalized things. I see two things about this.

Firstly that makes a distinction between healthy and non-healthy it-ification that is missing from the article.

Secondly, this very thing is my point. The activity, not the word usage, is problematic. By referencing "that jackass" I hope to indicate precisely the fact that the difficulty reside in a domain outside of casual pronoun usage. None of the terminology needs be changed to improve the situation of humanity and nature -- while, conversely, there is a decided risk that we will change terminology without changing the situation.

Plus: It is fun to say "Flummery!" Other than Nero Wolfe I never hear it used...


David Masten: *grinds axe*


Bruce Alderman: We've had similar discussions before, where you've expressed similar misgivings about conlangs such as Esperanto, Lojban, etc. There have been several recent academic studies published, again positively considering the impact of language upon feeling, thought, and perception, so the general Whorfian hypothesis hasn't been wholly discredited. I agree that it is impractical, and not necessary, to create wholly new languages, but I don't see any particular problems with, or have misgivings about, general language experimentation as part of a broader project of cultural innovation and transformation. So, I wonder at your apparent language conservatism in this area -- siding against Bohm's rheomode, or the change of pronouns (whether by American Indian essayists or, I imagine, LGBT activists), etc -- while simultaneously creating your own dictionary full of novel terminology (not only re-interpreting familiar terms according to your understanding of our present level and needs, but introducing wholly new ones). Is your active language reflection, experimentation, and reinterpretation or change also little more than a college kid's meager (and fruitless) attempt to impact social functioning? Is your Christmas Wiki an unwitting vehicle for the pathological narcissism of our culture?

As for whether "it" should really be replaced with something else when we make reference to non-human entities, I don't see us presented with as stark a set of choices. I don't really think we need a new word. We could just as easily use "he" or "she" to refer to animals or other creatures (as we often do with animals familiar to us). Or we could deepen "it" (and our appreciation of "it"'s nuances), as you suggest. But I don't think there's any fault, or naivete, with naming the link between our unconscious and habitual use of "it" for much of the earth's beings and our relationship to them as "resources" and "objects" of instrumental use. The problem is not primarily "caused" by our pronoun usage, and shouldn't be naively or magically reduced to a question of linguistic determinism, but it isn't wholly separate from our language use either. Language use is part of a constellation of factors.


Layman Pascal: We agree that it (sic) is unnecessary to replace the pronoun "it" to produce a deepening and balance in human relations with other sentient creatures and biospheric ecosystems. We also concur that the common experience of the pronoun "it" can be rendered fuller and richer. It is not necessarily pejorative or dehumanizing.

Beyond that I am taking (half or even two-thirds seriously) a stand against certain naive ideological assumptions involved in the Age of the Linguistic Turn. This is not a challenge to that level of linguistic complexity but only to certain readily felt but seldom questioned links between meta-linguistics and social ethics.

Nearly everyone feels that we must be sensitive to contexts in our word usage AND that political correctness contains something rotten -- a throwback to the court speech of conformist orthodoxies. This same divergence of health extends to many forms of language tinkering. When you wonder about how my own radical languaging tendencies jive with my apparent linguistic conservatism, the answer is here: some types of this activity are progressive & some are regressive.

The Christmas Wiki is a encyclopedia of jargon and new concepts. It is not an ethical attempt to modify society via language-modification. Such attempts are not meaningless but they are, in my estimation, fairly insignificant in their efficacy and easily turned backwards in their outcomes. Yes, we have studies to show that our wording primes our brains in certain directions. Everything we think and see does likewise. And yet something in people, some people, some times, feels like the words are the very "levers" which run the machine.

And, on top of these very serious considerations, I add my notion of mythocolloquialism. That is to say we lose a great deal of the potential potency of our terminology every time we switch terms -- rather than building the new meaning back into the existing semantic segment of our field. We are not allow the flavors to develop. We are overstirring. And, as noted in posts above, we run a very grave risk of minimizing our action about social problems by starting out with "awareness raising" and "terminology tinkering". As far as I can tell these are minor activities which, like transfats, often inhibit our access real reforms.

Recently, I learned about an online contest called "Challenge for a New Religion," which requests people to submit a 300-word proposal for a new religion (or a new formulation of an existing religion).  Submissions with the most "likes" on Facebook will be evaluated by a panel of six judges and the winner may receive up to $5000 (and be interviewed on MSNBC).  I decided to submit something based on my Sophia Speaks / Integral In-Dwelling work.  Please "like" it (if you have FB access) so mine can be included in the final running!

A new religion of the Word

Very good, Bruce! A fun way to slice through the challenge. Some people from the past have heard and then suggested that in the beginning there was the word. You are suggesting celebration that one of our most human features, language, can recursively guide and inform our exploring edge, with quiet and with organizing construct, which seeks the taste and the knowledge of source and of ultimate concern. Cool.

I hope you snag the prize. The judging could be quite interesting, especially depending on the stated evaluation method and the people.

I think Layman should enter something too. If you hear or see of what he does, or what other people who catch your interest do, can you post them?

Yours is such an interesting approach and so consistent, so integral with one of your main curiosities. Bon chance.


In Evolution's Purpose, McIntosh -- following Frederick Turner, Allan Combs, and others -- suggests that values might be seen as akin to attractors in a chaotic system: produced by, or inseparable, from the system itself, but nevertheless also governing the system (and sometimes pulling it towards greater transformations). Such an attractor model of values (or virtues or 'spiritual beings,' in Turner's approach) offers a possible postmetaphysical take on Platonic ideals, and echoes Whitehead and MacIntyre both in the insistence that values (or virtues) are internal to social activities and embodied beings.

Here -- echoing Layman as well as McIntosh -- values might be seen as the qualitative, gravitationally attractive surplus of dynamic systems or processes: in other words, as abverbs. Not simply as 'accidental' (adjectival) qualities of a self-existing substance, but as the reciprocally formative effluence or radiance of events or processes.

And here, 'values' would be just one instance of an 'attractor model' of adverbial modes (which might include Whitehead's eternal objects, among other things). This really isn't very different at all from what I already argued in Sophia Speaks, but the attractor model offers a familiar and workable way to conceive of the role of adverbs, philosophically, as inseparable from and co-constitutive of process (rather than, like adjectives, accidental to substance).

Of related interest, I think, is Henry Nelson Wieman's 1936 paper "Values Primary Data for Religious Inquiry." 

He also emphasizes the important role of values as a connection between meaningful activities, which, if I understand correctly, is very much the role of adverbs. 

" Certainly every appreciable activity...will consist, of activities organized according to some system of interconnections. In the great enjoyments these connections reach very far and very deep ...

"All this points to the conclusion that value is not enjoyment, but it is that connection between activities which makes them enjoyable....And these connections can be extended indefinitely to render stable and progressive the order which we enjoy. Value, then, is that connection between appreciable activities which makes them mutually sustaining, mutually enhancing, mutually diversifying, and mutually meaningful."

"...We can now summarize...It is the principle of mutual support, mutual enhancement, mutual diversification, mutual meaning, and transformation of suffering into an experience which is positively appreciated. This fivefold principle is the principle of value."

Complete article attached. 


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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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