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.
And another thing. Post-formal operations involves going postmetaphysical. As I've amply documented in the real/false reason thread, the creators of the MHC, themselves supposedly postformal thinkers, still adhere to metaphysical postulates. And those very postulates are how they measure postformality and complexity! Whereas the type of postformal operations we've explored in the forum all have gone postmetaphysical, from L&J to Levin to Bryant to Derrida, etc. A large part of the metaphysical post-formalists, given their 'false' reasoning, fail to understand the likes of the aforementioned postmetaphysicists and can only label them green or pluralist. So there's also this real/false, healthy/unhealthy aspect to rationality that must be considered in the lateral phases of this level. Which of course will change drastically what it means to go postformal if we're using postmetaphysicality as a significant element.
Yes, I thought it might have come up earlier in this thread, but I didn't have time to search. Sorry about that, Edward.
Layman, it sounds like an important idea. I look forward to reading more.
Sometimes I wonder whether the metaphor horizontal works because it seems we could also consider those lines minor vertical lines. That seems to be kind of what you are getting at in some places.
I also wonder whether at some point we have to turn around and work on those subphases we passed over to build a more stable foundation.
In this post Balder reminded us of Bhaskar’s critique of IT in that it fails to recognize the generative mechanisms driving development. I.e., IT has a morphogenetic involutionary groove pulling it up, a skyhook. Whereas for Bhaskar development is more driven by contingent environmental and social forces, not by some teleological and metaphysical skyhook. In this post and the one following DeLanda too has the virtual realm acting as a bootstrap, but not from the sky. Bryant from 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).
"This is one reason I’ve elsewhere proposed that the proper being of objects has the status of a ghost or a poltergeist. The proper being of an object is not its parts (other objects), but is rather a ghostly endo-relational structure that cannot directly be perceived but only inferred.... It is that assemblage of powers, attractors, or singularities (tendencies presiding over the entity as act) that make up its proper being."
So it is at this precise point where the bifurcation occurs in real (postmetaphysical, transcendental) and false (metaphysical, transcendent) reasoning. And in how postformal stages are described and enacted based on the view. Another element in this difference is the metaphysics of presence, which is maintained in a metaphysical view and not in the real postmetaphysical view. The former skyhook is directly perceived via the highest state-stage: “The net result, at supermind, is that all of the basic rungs or basic structures—and all of the major states—are still in existence, and now fully integrated [my emphasis]; but any exclusive identity with any of them is negated, transcended, let go of” (see this post). Which is still the same claim the Lingam made about nirodh (causal) states as direct access to the transcendent (see here). And which are still part and parcel of a metaphysical view.
So how this plays out in the lateral sub-phases of post-formal reason is critical on the above point, since they do not continue on in the linear fashion of a hierarchical and restricted complexity a la the MHC but rather an involved and integrated form of general complexity like in this thread. And all related to the virtual yet constructed endo-structural relations of elements. More later.
Another blast from the past to highlight the difference between metaphysical and postmetaphysical views. Recall one definition of metaphysics is in seeing a distinct or clear separation between the absolute and the relative, the first being transcendent cause and the latter immanent effect.
From the opening of the Desilet thread:
"A restricted economy imposes a structuring principle that establishes a strong polarity of opposites and clear lines of choice. The structural tension between opposites such as true and false or fact and interpretation operates with a clarity that facilitates either/or alternatives and simplified decision-making. In a general economy, however, every oppositional structure submits to a reversal and a displacement. This displacement involves an extraordinary reconfiguration of the structure or dynamic play between opposites.
"General economy displaces discrete and essential difference between opposites with a new structure that sees the opposition as presenting a tension between elements both different yet connected, both penetrated to the core each by the other yet irreducible one to the other. Plotnitsky calls this structure complementary—after Niels Bohr and the quantum theory of wave/particle duality.
"Applying the principle of complementarity to any oppositional pair yields a structure in which the two sides of the opposition penetrate each other in every instance such that there is no pure instance of either. As will be discussed in the next section, this complementary structure of oppositional relations has profound consequences for the concept of transcendence.
"In a general economy there is no crossing over from one pure instance to another pure instance since no clear boundary separates one instance from the other. This circumstance of structure supports the notion of a universal law of contamination. This universal contamination cannot be explained in simple degrees of mixture, gradation, or shades of difference. Instead, this law of contamination presents the circumstance of superposition—superposition of continuity (irreducible dependence) and discontinuity (irreducible separation).
"The possibility for unique and irretrievable loss inherent in a general economy is theorized at the philosophical level by Derrida in his notion of the trace—a term he uses to describe the nature and quality of being. The trace is an absenting presencing, disappearing as it appears.
"From the language Wilber uses in characterizing his view of Spirit and his view of enlightenment it becomes clear that his spirituality remains within what Derrida calls a restricted economy. There are two primary indicators for assessing Wilber's approach to spirituality as consistent with a restricted economy: 1) the implicit assumptions about the deep structure of basic oppositions such as Emptiness and Form, timeless and temporal and 2) the dominant role of notions such as unity and union.
"Wilber speaks of the overcoming of this dualism in the union of Emptiness and Form and time and timelessness as if each side in the pair were in some sense separate, as if the Emptiness and Form aspects of Spirit could be approached separately in paths that then lead to partial enlightenment. The mere notion of the possibility of partial enlightenment in the sense Wilber suggests is symptomatic of an organization or structuring of oppositional relation in a manner consistent with a restricted economy."
From Cook-Greuter's ITC '13 paper:
"I suggest that a more complex view must include notions of fundamental 'uncertainty', existential paradox, and the nature of interdependent polar opposites as a basis for making its claims. In terms of its understanding of humans, integral evolutionary assertions sound more as coming from a formal operational, self-authoring, analytical, and future-focused mindset than a truly second-tier one despite 'postconventional' content and worldcentric values" (17-18).
Some more info from our historical archive to provide context for this latest tangent.
This post quotes Habermas on the lifeworld from Postmetaphysical Thinking (MIT Press, 1992):
"This background...constitutes a totality that is implicit and that comes along prereflexively--one that crumbles the moment it is thematized; it remains a totality only in the form of implicit, intuitively presupposed background knowledge. Taking the unity of the lifeworld, which is known only subconsciously, and projecting it in an objectifying manner onto the level of explicit knowledge is the operation that has been responsible for mythological, religious and also of course metaphysical worldviews" (142-3).
And this one from Martin Morris, “Between deliberation and deconstruction” in The Derrida-Habermas Reader, U of Chicago Press, 2006, 231-53.
“The lifeworld reveals only a portion of itself in any dialogue because it exists as a phenomenological ‘background’ of pre-theoretical, pre-interpreted contexts of meaning and relevance….the vast proportion of lifeworld convictions always remain in the background during any discussion…. The lifeworld itself cannot be the proper them of communicative utterances, for as a totality it provides the space in or ground upon which such utterances occur, even those that name it explicitly….it remains indeterminate” (235-6).
Speaking for the lifeworld as if one could step outside of it and know it directly inevitably leads one to “invoke a cosmology,” a “metaphysics of the thing-in-itself” (239).
Recall this post, From Deconstruction in a Nutshell (Fordham UP, 1997). Note not only the a-dualist (nondual) view but also the notion of indeterminate time in this place, very much akin to Torbert's triple-loop. And how it is a kissing cousin to the withdrawn. And its likeness to the Buddhist unborn, and the modern terror trope of the undead. I also like how the Demiurge is responsible, one of the God/desses invoked by theurj via “a hybrid or bastard reasoning.”*
“When we think of Plato we think of the two worlds or regions allegorized in the cave: the upper world of the intelligible paradigms, the sphere of invisible and unchanging being in the sun of the Good that shines over all, as opposed to the sensible likenesses of the forms in the changing, visible world of becoming.... When presented with a neat distinction or opposition of this sort—and this distinction inaugurates philosophy, carves out the very space of 'meta-physics'—Derrida will not, in the manner of Hegel, look for some uplifting, dialectical reconciliation of the two in a higher third thing, a concrete universal, which contains the 'truth' of the first two. Instead, he will look around—in the text itself—for some third thing that the distinction omits, some untruth, or barely remnant truth, which falls outside the famous distinction, which the truth of either separately or both together fails to capture, which is neither and both of the two.
"In the Timaeus the missing third thing, a third nature or type—khora—is supplied by Plato himself. Khora is the immense and indeterminate spatial receptacle in which the sensible likenesses of the eternal paradigms are 'engendered,' in which they are 'inscribed' by the Demiurge, thereby providing a 'home' for all things.... This receptacle is like the forms inasmuch as it has a kind of eternity: it neither is born or dies, it is always already there, and hence beyond temporal coming-to-be and passing away; yet it does not have the eternity of the intelligible paradigms but a certain a-chronistic a temporality. Because it belongs neither to the intelligible nor the sensible world Plato says it is 'hardly real.' Moreover, while it cannot be perceived by the senses but only by the mind, still it is not an intelligible object of the mind, like the forms. Hence, Plato says it is not a legitimate son of reason but is apprehended by a spurious or corrupted logos, a hybrid or bastard reasoning. Khora in neither intelligible being nor sensible becoming, but a little like both, the subject matter of neither a true logos nor a good mythos” (83-4).
* This hybrid, bastard reasoning, in my twisted postmeta parlance, is the ego turned back to its roots in the body, the centaur that is neither and both, again "in the middle" way of my mad, madhyamaka kaka.
This post is also relevant to recent ruminations above.
Rather than looking upward toward the emergence of a new regime we can certainly look "around" and discover, in our act of deeper inspection, a new relationship which seems to depend, at least in part, upon the encounter with (and attempted articulation of) a slippery obstruction which eludes the pattern of logical distinctions which we have hitherto been using. The ego certainly does turn back upon its roots in order to produce the uncanny effect of a novel rearrangement-merger. It does this not only by turning upon itself but upon the others, systems and worlds which are also its roots. However I would again observe that this does not imply any special status for the ego. In fact 'ego' more generally must signify the part which performs this activity at every phase. Or ego names the accumulating series of successes produced by this generative enfoldment but may, with equal legitimacy, be described as an emerging sequence of increasingly rich enfolds to which the ordinary social experience of a conscious ego progressively ceases to apply.
When we envision teleonomy or various kinds of prognostication we do not need to fantasize an extended future writ in stone. Rather we need only the merest reflective phantasm of a next moment... a kind of advance-wave temporal membrane that half-hovers in the almost future and feeds back (into the present) the accumulating momenta of traces from the "past". This generative-reflective advance wave is a kind of analogy to what the Wilbersaurus calls the Promixal Self. It enacts the up-to-date conscious generative-re-inspecting which produces the future self and newly consolidates the past selves.
But it seems only locally contingent to connect this with the so-called 'rational human ego'. We current have a network of advanced 'forward' brain systems which support this egoic consciousness but it is also feasible that a kind of evolutionary neuroplasticity has formed these structures as a result of the constant use of their minimal predecessors. A plant may be presumed to have a leading-edge-feedback surface which advances itself by an new "owning" of the existing structures. It just isn't very impressive.
If "ego" applies to this faint aspect of this plant then, okay, it is simply a facet of generalized Selfhood, but it seems to me that over time this function predates and also exceeds what most people would accept as the definition of ego. The common definition of ego seems to be the one which is uniquely appropriate to the production of the 'centaur'... where the intimacy of a bodymind & mindbody intensifies the functional adjacency of the egoic-mind and the semi-civilized human body-complex.
So, just as Zizek would argue that Derrida in fact articulates the mechanism which Hegel is describing, I think this fold-back appears to articulate the pattern of the emergence of higher and higher levels. Yet this must clearly be mitigated by the so-called "horizontal" elaborations possible at each stage.
The relationship between philosopher-sages and yogi-mystics seems to pose a riddle about where nondualism (and other high conditions) are showing up in the individual. The mystic may argue that he is ascending vertically while the sage is only complicating his reasoning mind in a "sideways" direction. Yet this is supremely uncharitably to the great pondering minds like Socrates and Nagarjuna who seem to repattern their logic after the style of the higher powers which they encounter by pushing thought to its own edge in themselves. We can perhaps short-circuit this with the suggestion I have recently been making that spirituality is progressive blending which enacts the blended condition of nonduality... and that different types of blends could theoretically be assigned a quantitative intensity-value. These values would then constitute one particular developmental scale in which new levels would emerge relatively indifferently to issues like "elaborated rationality vs. trans-rational absorption".
However we would still expect the fold-back to be involved in this intensification... whether it occurs within the elaboration of a level or the transcendence of a level.
In terms of what I mean by 'ego' is the rational (formop) ego. Cook-Greuter lists various stages of 'ego' development in the usual broad range. Or what Damasio might call the narrative self in distinction from the proto self or the core self. Thompson also explores Damasio's ideas through what he calls ipseity. And I'm taking my cue on how the rational ego looks back to go forward from Washburn, Goddard and Levin, cited earlier in this thread with links. This egoic process (it is not a static entity) is precisely what you describe as "advanced forward brain systems" capable of neuroplasticity, which indeed "exceeds what most people would accept as the definition of ego." I'm not using "most people's" descriptions here but the more precise definitions of my neuroscientific, and meditative in the case of Thompson, brethren.
Recall Levin from this post:
Body Levels: 1 - primordial; 2 - pre-personal; 3 - ego-logical; 4 - transpersonal; 5 - ontological.
"Development from stage 1 to 3 is normal and typically completed when the child becomes an adult. Stages 4 and 5, however, represent stages of individual development that require special effort, commitment, and maturity. Stages 1 and 2 are basically biological. Stage 3 is distinctively cultural.... The ego-logical body is the body shaped according to the ego's image of itself. But stages 4 and 5 go beyond what society requires. We might call them 'spiritual' stages.
"Normal development (stages 1-3) is always, more or less, a linear progression, but the progression beyond 3 is not; it is essentially hermeneutical, involving a return, a turning into the body of experience, to retrieve a present sense of the earlier stages. Beyond 3 it is necessary to go 'backwards' in order to go 'forwards.' Stage 3 is the moment when, for the first time, this return and retrieval is possible."
Also for reference see Goddard's e-book Transpersonal Theory. From chapter 1:
"The neo-Jungian view articulates the intuition that something of great value has been lost—something that we once experienced, however dimly, and with which we were once connected. Furthermore, due to the dialectical polarity of consciousness and unconsciousness, this 'something' was inevitably lost in the process of taking the next developmental step—the birth of self reflexive interiority and individual autonomy out of prior collectivity and the largely unconscious group mind. But to move on from here, to move beyond our present critical and severely imbalanced condition, we must reclaim and embrace that which we have lost. [...] The path of ‘individuation’ as originally articulated by Jung describes a developmental movement from a condition of identification with the centre of consciousness, an ego which had originally differentiated out from the matrix of collective unconsciousness, toward a realization of the ‘self‘, the centre and circumference of the psyche as a whole including and uniting both conscious and unconscious elements. Such a conscious-unconscious integration is not merely a modification of the ego and its drive to greater self actualization, but a radical transformation which necessarily accesses the transpersonal dimensions. We are speaking here not of a recovery of a buried aspect of the personal self, but of an archetypal dimensionality."