Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I decided to move this post over to its own thread to work on this. I'll also move other related past posts over from other threads to riff on later.
The last post reminded me of something I've been working on using Bergson via Bryant. It's not completely thought through yet, with gaps still, but I thought I'd get it down here and then work on it further.
Now where Bryant might be akin to something like the MHC is in his endo-relational organizational structure. Recall in TDOO his distinction between exo- and endo-relations, and its correlation with intensional and extensional relations in a set (212). Endo-relations reside in the structural organization of its elements, the elements themselves not being autonomous entities. Hence the elements of this set cannot be otherwise; they must be in a relatively fixed pattern to maintain an entity's autonomy (214).
Bryant uses Bergson's diagram on memory to show how endo-relations are maintained (232).
It is similar to hierarchical nests but not quite. ABCD shows the unfoldment of an entity over time. A'B'C'D' show the memory of the entity, which feeds back into its unfoldment and also allows for future anticipation. But what is unfolded and remembered-anticipated is how an entity selectively organizes its structural elements in relation to its environment. This can and does change in response to these relations, but even when it changes it maintains a relatively stable endo-relational structure to maintain autonomy.
Where Bryant didn't go with this, and I do, is in relating this to the Wilber-Combs lattice. As I've laid out in different posts and threads, we might loosely correlate A'B'C'D' with our early development using MHC's stages with Gebser's, from pre-operational/archaic (D') to primary/magic (C') to concrete/mythic (B') to abstract-rational (A'). Formal rationality begins at A, which can be then trained to retrieve through focus and memory to integrate the previous levels throuch meditative or contemplative methods.
But here is where it diverges with the MHC and uses a twist or fold in the W-C lattice. I've claimed that the MHC continues to get more complicated with it's postformal stages, not fully remembering and then integrating the previous stages by not taking into account how the meditative process works. When integrated via meditation there is a fold or twist in both the W-C lattice and in Bergson's diagram above. Hence we get something more akin to Levin's bodies as the integrative process unfolds in reverse order, the prior magic and mythic becoming the transpersonal and the prior archaic becoming the ontological.
This relates to the W-C lattice in that the higher stages are the meditative integration of earlier state-stages in reverse order: gross-abstract, subtle-magic/mythic, causal-archaic. These are the third tier in the lattice. But whereas the lattice continues to differentiate states from stages in postformal levels a la the MHC, the states and stages undergo a transformation in the fulcrum of formal operations with meditation. i.e., they are heretofore more fully integrated and that differentiation is now replaced a la Gebserian IA awaring and the prior analysis-synthesis (de-re) above.
Relating this back to Bryant's endo-relational structure, the endo-relational elements are structurally organized in a specific and nested way akin to transcend and include. Wilber senses that there is a difference between enduring and transitional structures akin to Bryant's endo- and exo-relations. Wilber even uses Luhmann in ways similar to Bryant but not in this way, since Wilber's enduring structures are cogntive like pre-formal to concrete to rational. These would be more akin to Luhmann's independent and autonomous exo-relations.
Joe: "I now see stages as collective complexes."
That seems consonant to me with seeing levels as autonomous parts of an assemblage in Bryant's Luhmannian terms.
From this post:
More from TDOO on DeLanda:
"The attractors of a substance....are the generative mechanisms within an object that preside over the events or qualities of which the object is capable. However, while serving as the condition of these events or qualities, these attractors are not themselves qualitative or events. As DeLanda puts it, 'attractors are never actualized, since no point of a trajectory [of an object] ever reaches the attractor itself.' As such, the attractors or singularities inhabiting the endo-structure of an object are radically withdrawn. They are that which serves as the condition for the actual dimension of an object, for the local manifestations of an object, but are never themselves found on the actual side of an object" (3.3).
More from that section of TDOO:
"Here it is crucial to note that the concept of attractors is not a teleological concept. Attractors are not
goals towards which a substance tends, but are rather the potentialities towards which a substance tends under a variety of different conditions in the actualization of its qualities. [...] In this respect, DeLanda's attractors are extremely close to Bhaskar's generative mechanisms" (111-12).
I have a few thoughts on this but perhaps I should hold them back until you reply on our 'meta-thread'...
Meta-thread? Do you mean your MOA thread?
This recent post brought to light some previous posts/ideas applicable here. For example it noted:
"The ego system is certainly a target of these meditation practices, but what results is more properly conceived of as an intrasystemic reequilibration rather than a progression beyond an outmoded structure."
"Intrasystemic reequilibration" seems to be beyond the ken of formal rationality. It is the ego reflecting on itself via meditative (or other) discipline that develops it to an intrasystemic endeavor, which does seem more akin to at least a systematic postformal level. But in descriptions of the systematic level in the likes of the MHC this level doesn't require a meditative discipline but it does require some self reflection on our egos as objects, so it could very well be just a western version of a meditative practice?
But as I said, in both eastern and western interpretations at this point still retain a metaphysical interpretation. What moves one into postmetaphysics could very well be a meta-systematic outlook. But again, that in itself is no guarantee, since we see the same kind of metaphysics in the so-called meta-systematic or beyond measurements of something like the MHC. Which I think is where general complexity notions like DeLanda, Bryant, Deleuze, Cilliars, Morin etc. come in.
Thanks for the Alchemical walk-through, Joseph.
I think it wise to note that the distinction "[...] but what results is more properly conceived of as an intrasystemic reequilibration rather than a progression beyond an outmoded structure" is not so intense.
A structure is an example of a intra-systemic equilibration. When it no longer adequately handles what is going on... or when there is a chance to upgrade... a process of intra-systemic reequilibration can be produced which looks exactly like a progression beyond an outmoded structure. These are not alternatives to each other but complementary perspectives which are very near to each other but which attend to slightly different bits of what's going on.
Now when it comes to disentangling (or more intelligently entangling) the subject-object balance around affects in order to permit potential holonic upgrade we should look very closely at both the differences and similarities between paths that use "imagery" and those which stick more closely to reactions in life-situations. There is a lot of functional overlap but very little analytical comparison between these -- which are clearly favored temperamentally by different types of self-developmental groups.
Yes, the nonlinear nature of general complexity is what I've been getting at with DeLanda, Deleuze, Bryant etc. in this thread and elsewhere. One of its premises is that the strange attractors remain virtual (withdrawn) and are hence not available to present awareness, much like L&J's cognitive unconscious. We can speculate about it as a transcendental deduction but we still do not have direct access to it. So while I certainly think we can unlock some small yet significant aspects of our unconscious 'archetypes' and thus make progress, we should be careful about presuming to accessing them either directly or fully.
That is similar to Jung, actually, who also said that archetypes themselves can never be perceived, but only their effects (images, complexes). Some Jungians now also use the language of "attractors."
David Loy co-authored this article which begins with this quote from Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra:
"I saw that ordinary people believe they have a self and that everyone they meet has a self. They think of it as within the body. Because it is not like that, I have shown that the self is not there in the way it is thought to be. This is expedient means, the right medicine. But that does not mean there is no self. What is the self? If something is true, is real, is constant, is a foundation of a nature that is unchanging, this can be called the self. For the sake of sentient beings, in all the truths I have taught, there is such a self."
One interesting thing about the article is that an infant's brain operates in the delta frequency, a child in the theta. It seems it's not until the beta range in adolescence that we start to develop a rational egoic self. The we can develop a sense of ecological sense of self and finally a universal sense of Self, the latter equated with Buddha-nature and ground of all.
Recall earlier in the thread how I noted meditation tends to go from beta back to theta back to delta, a 'return' journey through the different selves. Is so doing it can then integrate the earlier selves and transform them into subtle (eco) and causal (universal) selves. And the fulcrum point between pre/trans ego is this synthetic ego.
I’m reminded of Cook-Greuter’s stages of ego development. An excerpt from the construct-aware stage:
“They realize that the ‘ego’ has functioned both as a central processing unit for all stimuli and as a central point of reference and self-identity. […] Unlike earlier stages, Construct-aware persons are aware of the ego’s clever and vigilant machinations at self-preservation. This is the first time in development that the ego becomes transparent to itself” (28).
To paraphrase Engler, it takes and ego to be transparent to the ego.
I also want to link to a couple posts on the ego in the Washburn thread here and here. In the first Wilber makes clear that it took psychoanalysis to originate aspects of the ego that are found nowhere else, including Buddhism. In the second Engler expands on this difference, agreeing with Epstein that Buddhism goes after the self-representation aspect which is different from the differentiated self.
Cook-Grueter's description of the construct aware sounds strongly akin to how Epstein defines the synthetic ego, as well as its capacity for self-reflection and transparency. Also see this post where Bonnie posted a CG article and my comments in the following post. I'm going to enclose that post below and comment later where I still agree and where I've changed my mind.
One immediate problem I see with CG's scheme is that despite her protects to the contrary she maintains the increasingly complex hierarchical scale from postformal into ego transcendence, as if one has to be postformal first before going post-symbolic. In other words, as I criticized Commons et al in the real and false reason thread, it extends this formal operational, linear progression into post (and post post) formal operations. Whereas I don't think it even requires postformal operations to go post-symbolic. However one can, and often does, interpret post-symbolic experience metaphysically so it does require a postformal interpretation to go postmetaphysical.
Now CG does go into the state v. stage differentiation, which is import here. Here she agrees with Wilber that the transcendental experience is available at any stage but only as a fleeting “state” experience. We then interpret it from the level of our ego development or “stage.” When one can stabilize these states they can become higher stages. Here she agrees with Wilber before he went postmetaphysical with the WC lattice, but she hasn't kept up with this last development. Hence she continues to interpret the post-symbolic with eastern meditative descriptions of ego transcendence in very metaphysical terms. At least Wilber is moving away from this, although not completely.
Now CG does note that Commons et al with their higher postformal stages are still stuck in more complex symbolical thinking, a criticism I also had in the real/false reason thread. And I agree with CG that there is a different kind of processing that happens in post-symbolism attained through methods like meditation. But where we part ways is when she continues to frame it in those traditional eastern, metaphysical ways. And she has this “stage” after construct aware, which most traditional meditators never reach.
Hence she starts conflating the construct-aware stage with some of the traits of the meditative tradition, like noting at this stage is the first time the ego becomes aware of itself, transparent to itself. I do not disagree that this stage is valid, or that one characteristic is indeed this ego awareness and transparency. It is indeed a further development over how most meditators interpret their nonetheless ego “transcendent” experiences. The latter thought does not equate to this level of interpretation.
CG's reasoning though is that such “state” experiences per above are only temporary for such meditators until they stabilize them in such higher stages. No, they never ever have to reach a higher than formal stage to stabilize such transcendent experience. Without the WC lattice and postmetaphysics her model is still quite limited about this apparent dilemma.
Another romantic and metaphysical notion CG maintains is that these “state” experiences are themselves the goal of enlightenment, and that they are what they seem on the surface: direct, immediate and unmediated by symbol, aka our friend the myth of the given all over again. All gift-wrapped in traditional interpretation that the symbolic ego is the bad guy here, the one that prevents us from this permanent, pristine, pure and ever-present experience of God. We see this in her unitive stage, where one merely accepts, and directly perceives, reality “as is.”
Again, I have no disagreement with even the unitive stage, just her metaphysical interpretation of it and its placement in the scheme (see references below). Another thing I noted in the real/false reason thread is that one can be partially post (or post post) formal in some domains or contexts while still remaining formal or metaphysical in others. Or even within the same domains in different contexts. There isn't a a monolithic one-size-fits-all “stage.” That in itself is still a formal characteristic carried over into an otherwise post (or post post if you're really into being superior, as developmentalists tend to be) view. All of which of course would say I haven't yet reached the unitive stage because of what I just said. In that they still remain like Wilber tied to their monolithic and hegemonic kosmic addressing.
My opinion if further reinforced by CG's concluding propositions, that we take up a traditional meditative practice and surrender to the guru to be properly “verified” in our ego transcendent experiences, and to help stablize them. Recall the traditions themselves are still stuck in metaphysical interpretations, interpretations that CG retains in describing the unitive stage and beyond. Still mix-and-matching like Wilber in this, but as I said, Wilber, while still guilty of it, has gone beyond it in ways CG has yet to fathom.
As to my own interpretations of all this, which are well know to long-time readers of the forum, see for example the referenced real/false reason thread as well as more recent threads like “what 'is' the difference,” “integral postmetaphysical nonduality,” or “kosmic addressing of mystical experience.”
Engler from Psychoanalysis and Buddhism:
"The first point I wanted to make [...] was that it takes certain ego capacities just to practice meditation or any spiritual practice. [...] Psychologically, this kind of practice [vipassana] strengthens fundamental ego capacities, particularly the capacities for self-observation and affect tolerance. It also increases the synthetic capacity of the ego. [...] 'Transcending the ego' [...] has no meaning to a psychodynamically oriented therapist for whom 'ego' is a collective term designating the regulatory and integrative functions" (36).