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.
Yes, excellent way of summarizing it Edwyrd.
Edwyrd theurj Burj said:
DavidM's post from another thread is also relevant to this one. It discusses Trump from a Gebserian perspective as a deficient magical structure. For this thread the point is the return of repressed prior structures in a "double movement," akin to the fold. The mental structure, when faced with this, has two options: 1) regress to the previous level and its deficient phase or 2) integrate it into a healthy integral-aperspectival awareness.
Also see this post on the difference between structure and form. It relates back to the initial post in this thread on Bryant's work on the difference between endo- and exo-relational structures.
I came upon this source by 'accident': Dynamic Systems of Development: Change Between Complexity and Chaos, Paul Van Geert. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994. Of particular interest to this thread is the section on "the dynamic system as a folding procedure" (58 - 61).
The following is a brief, edited excerpt from this thread addressing a few specific points
The subtle, causal and nondual states are basically the result of meditative training which consciously accesses and integrates the dreaming and deep sleep states. However the fulcrum between pre/transrational states is the synthetic ego stage which does the witnessing and integrating.
Starting at the end of p. 2 Engler (2003) said: "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).
On p. 3 of the thread Engler (2003) goes on to note that some forms of meditation uncover psychodynamic processes but that in itself doesn't facilitate insight into them. The meditative traditions often discourage working with such contents, instead seeing them as manifestations of delusion (43-4). It seems the same is thought of the 'ego' when seen as just an illusion (bathwater), hence little effort was put into its other and non-illusory aspects (baby) necessary for healthy functioning.
In discussing a non-dual state he said "the ego functions as a synthetic principle without organizing experience around a self" (58). (This section also reminds me of Damasio's different selves and Thompson's (Lutz et al, 2007) use of that work.) On 68 he talks about how we access no self via meditation, how we observe the actual process of constituting our self representation from moment to moment. Through this we see the self is not only constructed but requires continual reconstruction from one moment to the next via memory. This process goes 'back' or 'deeper': "The nanas or 'stages of insight' in vipassana practice actually represent progressively earlier stages in the entire sequence of information processing, pattern recognition, and conceptualization by which we bring a self and a representational world into being each instant" (68).
Recall Epstein (1988): "The development of mindfulness...involves a 'therapeutic split in the ego' in which the ego becomes both subject and object, observer and observed. […] Advanced stages of insight meditation involve profound experiences of dissolution and fragmentation, yet the practitioner, through the practice of 'making present,' is able to withstand these psychic pressures. It is the ego, primarily through its synthetic function, that permits integration of the experience of disintegration. In true egolessness, there could be only disintegration, and such a state would manifest as psychosis. […] Thus, mindfulness is not a means of forgetting the ego; it is a method of using the ego to observe its own manifestations" (66 - 67).
Wilber (2006, p. 22) also asserts that it is the self-system (aka rational ego) that integrates all of the various aspects of psyche. And that a strong, healthy ego is prerequisite to take such a journey into transpersonal nonduality, lest the trip be into psychotic dissociation. But again, Wilber is a mixed bag here, often framing such transpersonal integration within traditional views and their own confusions, particularly with reference to states.
To clarify, according to Cook-Greuter (2013) the ego itself has stages. The synthetic ego function appears in all of its stages. My guess is that it takes at least a formal operational cognitive level per Piaget, which is closely correlated to Cook-Greuter's conscientious (or achiever) ego stage. This is where the abstract ego stabilizes and can take a 3rd person perspective on itself, which is in both Engler and Epstein's descriptions above. I claim that this is the witness of meditative awareness, hence it is historically that such traditions emerged when this stage of ego development was also emerging. It might even have been Cook-Greuter's self-conscious (expert) stage, when the 3rd person perspective first appears.
As noted, the term 'ego' has many different meanings depending on the context. I'm using it in the context of developmental research. Even there the ego has different levels. There's body ego and emotional ego and rational ego. It is the last to which I refer when I speak of the synthetic ego. The first two egos also function integratively, hence the general 'synthetic' function. But it's at the rational egoic level that we consciously begin to integrate the previous egos, or ipseity, as Thompson (Lutz, A. et al, 2007) calls it. We see the same with Levin's (1988) work, where we spiral back down to more consciously integrate the previous levels. So this is why I use the rational ego as that fulcrum into the transrational. Only in this case the transrational means consciously integrating the previous state-stages through meditative discipline.
One can go transrational in this definition but still have a metaphysical view. The postmetaphysical view could also be considered a different kind of post-rational (postformal) development in terms of the cognitive line. So we can and do have those who are postformal in terms of cognitive development but not in terms of conscious state-stage development via meditation. And also those who are transrational in terms of state-stage development but not in terms of postformal cognitive development. These two 'lines,' if you will, are not the same. But both indeed require the rational ego to go postformal or transrational. That's why I use it as the fulcrum between pre/trans as well as between formal and postformal. But note that different aspects of the rational ego are highlighted and utilized for each of those two lines.
And of course there are some who go post and trans in both lines, but that is a very nascent development and at this point there is much legitimate debate as to its meaning and definition. Hence places like IPS forum where we explore and iron out those details. We're still infants in this process. That's why I agree with some researchers that the so-called postformal cognitive developments like systemic, meta-systemic, paradigmatic and cross-paradigmatic might be more lateral extensions of formal logic so place them laterally on the Wilber-Combs lattice where the states are usually placed. And the states are then placed above the formop level, not as higher cognitive stages but as the folded and consciously integrated earlier, preconscious levels.
One reason I put the Model of Hierarchical Complexity definitions of postformality as horizontal extensions of formal operations is because, as I've explored in depth in the IPS real/false reason thread, they still have the same metaphysical attachments as formop. I use the metaphysical-postmetaphysical distinction to differentiate this difference. There's a lot of supporting research in that thread to justify this placement, to be explored later.
Cook-Greuter, S. (2013). "Nine levels of increasing embrace in ego development." From her website www.cook-greuter.com.
Engler, J. (2003). "Being somebody and being nobody: A re-examination of the understanding of self in psychoanalysis and Buddhism." Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Epstein, M. (1988). "The deconstruction of the self: Ego and 'egolessness' in Buddhist insight meditation." The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20:1.
Levin, D.M. (1988). The Opening of Vision: Nihilism and the Postmodern Situation. NY: Routledge.
Lutz, A. et al (2007). "Meditation and the neuroscience of consciousness." Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (edited by Thompson et al.) NY: Cambridge University Press.
Wilber, K. (2006) "An outline of an integral psychology." From his website www.kenwilber.com.
Also see this '09 Yahoo Adult Development Forum thread on states and stages. One has to expand the messages with the arrows to see them all. My post in message 34 follows:
Herb Koplowitz wrote:
"I would now say that the states that spiritual practices bring one to are pre-linguistic, not post-linguistic."
I'd have to agree, with a twist. In my research meditative states tend to move from beta to alpha to theta to delta brain rhythms, and correspondingly from frontal to temporal to limbic to brainstem brain areas. All of which strongly suggest that meditative training is going backward in development, not forward. However there is one important difference than just a backward trajectory; it is not simply a return to the primordial.
Transpersonal psychologist Michael Washburn suggests that in the process of development we temporarily repress from conscious awareness lower stages in order to develop a functional egoic-rationality, which leads to the typical either/or dichotomous thinking. This is not a "fall" from grace or "heaven" but a necessary step of our journey and of course led to the amazing discoveries of science. David Michael Levin seems to be in much agreement about this.
But we can take another step through meditation, one that looks back and now integrates what was necessarily and temporarily repressed from our former development. And in fact meditation requires an ego in the first place to dispassionately observe our bodies, emotions, thoughts. And according to Mark Epstein this abstract ego turns out to be the infamous Witness of meditation. Hence the process is one of return to and integration of the pre-linguistic, but also thereby a sort of movement into the "trans"linguistic only in the sense that it's not just the realm of the linguistic and rational ego.
I'll agree with Wilber that the stage of consciousness will interpret such "state" experiences in different ways. From the typical mythic-rational perspective such experiences indeed seem like something mystical and supernatural, like "enlightenment." (I say mythic-rational because in that transitional phase, when we've obviously developed a rational ego necessary for "witnessing," culturally one is still embedded in mythic interpretative structures.) From a more purely formal rational perspective perhaps we can rationalize such experience down to nothing but lower-brain fireworks. I think it takes at least a metasystemic perspective, combined with a meditative discipline, to integrate our lower state-stages, and such integration is what we might term "spiritual" in that it tends to lead more toward our humanity.
On the other hand one can certainly continue ever onward in cognitive complexity into systemic and beyond without ever reconnecting with and integrating our prior state-stage heritage, at least consciously. We can continue the primal repression into the far reaches of complexity much like the Mr. Spock archetype from Star Trek, but we'll always need Captain Kirk to steer our ship back into the humanity of integration.
Back in '09 I started a thread at the Yahoo Adult Development forum by asking these questions:
"Just curious, has anyone done hierarchical complexity testing on the AQAL model itself to validate its self-proclaimed status as a cross-paradigmatic model? If so, where does one find such research?"
There were 102 responses. The 1st came from Commons and he said: "It is not even paradigmatic. It is a comparison of systems, metasystematic, but not too carefully done."
You'll have to keep expanding the messages with the arrows to see them all.
Otto Laske said in the 3rd message: "I am glad somebody finally takes on AQUAL, the presumed peak of human thought. It is indeed not even paradigmatic, not to speak of meta-systemic or dialectical. It is also divorced from philosophical tradition trying hard to establish its own."
Granted the discussion veers from AQAL to a more general discussion of the differences in developmental modeling. But it's of historical interest due to many of the main players in the field dialoging with each other.
Commons said in message 24: "That is why he is transitional to metasystematic. He is at step5 in Sara's and my scheme. He has smashed together the elements and is making some hits and lots of overgeneralizations." FYI, see Sara's paper on transition steps w/in each level. This was back in '09, so the model has advanced further since then. I asked the forum if they had an update measurement.
And then there's postmetatheory as highlighted in the Introduction to "Metatheory in the 21st Century." I appreciate that Tom Murray's last chapter was valued for 'prepositioning' metatheory itself, something I've long harped on in the relationship of image schema to differance. Also how it anchors abstract metatheory in the body, for without that it's just more 'complex' but less 'real,' more metaphysical and less postmetaphysical. Of course if we use metatheory's usual definitions and assumptions then postmetatheory would transcend and include and thereby supersede metatheory, thereby outmeta-ing the meta. Poetic justice, that. E.g.:
"The final chapter of the volume is Tom Murray’s "Contributions of Embodied Philosophy to Ontological Questions in Critical Realism and Integral Theory”. This chapter takes a different approach than previous chapters in that it is less concerned with the relationship or possible synthesis between critical realism and integral theory. Instead, Murray draws on the field of embodied philosophy (a la Lakoff and Johnson’s position of embodied realism) to augment both CR and IT. He introduces a number of the core distinctions and findings of embodied realism and illustrates how these notions can ground integrative metatheories like CR and IT. He focuses on epistemological and ontological issues, which is quite useful given that it is within these contexts that most of the philosophical challenges and opportunities exist between these two approaches. In some respects this final chapter represents position 0 in that it foregrounds the process of integrative metatheorizing and helps establish the clearing of such metathinking and meta-practice" (28-9).
Murray reiterates some of Edwards' et al. points. E.g., that categories often overlap and that categorizing too rigidly leads to miscategorizing certain things to fit into a one-size-fits-all schema. Hence Edwards' far broader lens categories usually missing from AQAL. And as I noted previously, Edwards admits that all those lenses seem as if to be inherent in ontology itself due to their continual recurrence. Indeed, image schema preposition those lenses.
Murray also addresses that too much metatheory can obstruct what is feels like to examine what's behind it. We need to critically examine our assumptions and epistemic drives, to explore the unconscious metaphors we use in support of it.
"This is not a purely intellectual exercise, but a phenomenological process of feeling into the movement of such drives as sensations within the body, as they arise in the moments of thought and discourse" (14).
Here's another article on the neuroscience of the self. Like Damasio there are 3 selves: the experiential enactive self (EES, akin to Damasio's proto-self); the experiential phenomenal self (EPS, akin to the core self); and the narrative self (NS). These are roughly analogous to Wilber's anterior, proximal and distal selves, but not quite. The proximal or narrative self is where we get a stable sense of ourselves over time via memory and anticipation.
According to Wilber this is where we get self stages and this article seems to agree. However, within the narrative self "there may very well be distinct substrates across each domain as there is likely distinct forms of 'me-self' in as many social relationships as there are individuals who recognize each one uniquely." This again supports the MHC and Fischer's empirical findings, as the NS has different senses of itself in different domains and circumstances. Plus there are competing senses of self with the EES and the EPS.
The article goes into the neuroscience of meditation, its main theme. E.g., it also "suggests that an integrative network supported by mindfulness may improve efficiency and guide changes in self-specific, affect-biased attention by integrating information from the three self-specific networks [... it] is uniquely situated to integrate information coming from the other three systems and facilitate global reorganization or plasticity amongst the networks."
The take-away point is that this integrative network is NOT self-related, hence not about developmental levels of the narrative self. Meditation (meta-awareness) though develops this integrative network. The authors speculate that this network "may effectively facilitate context-appropriate switching between anticorrelated networks," the latter meaning the EES and EPS v. the NS. Hence once again the different aspects of the self are at various levels depending on tasks appropriate to the context.
Which raises another point, the relationship between this integrative 'state' of meta-awareness and stages of any line, including the ego or cognitive lines. Recall it is this 'state' that does the integration between the different selves, NOT one of the selves including the ego system. This requires some further pondering.
I've been enjoying the HBO series Westworld. One of its main themes is artificial intelligence achieving consciousness. The following video explains a lot of the season finale’s attempt to tie together the series themes, a major one being consciousness. It was one of the creator’s (Arnold’s) plan all along to have the hosts achieve consciousness, which Ford (Hopkins) eventually accepts and works further to induce. Ford built a host modeled on Arnold, the latter who figures out (5:25) that consciousness is not a pyramid like linear structure upward but one of folding inward. Hence the recurring symbol of the maze throughout the series, indicative of the hosts’, and perhaps even humanity’s, evolutionary process to achieving consciousness.
The following takes me back to the very start of this thread. An excerpt from Wahl's book Designing Regenerative Cultures can be found here. A whole system "is less a thing than a pattern of relationships and interactions--a pattern of organization of constituting elements." In defining something as a system we have to create boundaries between that system and its environment, but we need to keep in mind that its a boundary we created and that such boundaries connect as well as separate. Systems thinking also requires cross-disciplinary syntegration of data from specialists in their more narrowly focused paradigms.