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.

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From Mark Epstein: The psychodynamics of meditation.


"The path of concentration involves the stabilization and quiescence of the mind through the development of one-pointedness and absorption in a single object of meditation. Attention is repeatedly restricted, narrowed and focused until a kind of oneness or merger is achieved in a series of trance states known as the eight "jhanas" or realms of absorption. The experience is of progressively more sublime feelings of relaxation, tranquillity, contentment and bliss, culminating in "formless states" of infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, and "neither perception nor non-perception" (Goleman, 1988). A certain degree of training in concentration, or "samadhi," is seen as indispensable in Buddhist meditation, but the development of only concentration is recognized as a temptation to be avoided because of the seductive and deceptive nature of these states.

"The path of concentration on a single object remains the most familiar description of meditation for Western psychodynamic interpreters of the meditative experience. Analysts have tended to focus exclusively on the oncentration practices, describing a process, in dynamic terms, of fusion of ego with ego-ideal, a merger with that aspect of the psyche that has continued to embody the lost perfection of the infantile state with which the person longs to reunite. This is grandiosity realized in full, absolutism par excellence. The self is cast off in favor of the "surround" (Wilber, 1984, p, 89), a progressively more ineffable other into which the meditator can dissolve. Some analysts have seen only narcissistic omnipotence shining through this oceanic feeling" (Freud, 1930).

"For the danger in the path of concentration is of misunderstanding emptiness as a real nothingness, of seeing egolessness as self-annihilation and of setting up an ineffable absolute as something to be united with" (23-4).

Cilliers, P. (2001). "Boundaries, hierarchies and networks in complex systems." International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 135–147. An excerpt:

"In the first place it must be underscored that systems cannot do without hierarchies. [...] Problems arise, however, when these hierarchies are seen as either too clearly defined, or too permanent. The classical understanding of hierarchies tends to view them as being nested. In reality however, hierarchies are not that well-structured. They interpenetrate each other, i.e. there are relationships which cut across different hierarchies. These interpenetrations may be fairly limited, or so extensive that it becomes difficult to typify the hierarchy accurately in terms of prime and subordinate parts" (7). 

In line with my 'middle-out' hypothesis in this thread, I'm reading an interesting article on homeostasis as the basis of evolutionary biology. It is criticizing standard Darwinian models based on a 'vertical' approach, whereas what is suggest here is a "middle-out approach across spatio-temporal ontogeny and phylogeny is more in concert with the effects of environmental forces as the Sun (above) and gravity (below). Seen as a vectorial product of these forces, evolution would be propelled horizontally from generation to generation, constantly gaining information from the environment in the process."

The Cilliars article above has a broken link. This one works.

From Integral Renewal: A Relational and Renewal Perspective by Lassem and Schieffer, Routledge, 2016, p. 391:

"Instead then of seeing the world in terms of conceptual categories of a logic of contradiction [...] we view it in terms of a logic of dialectic, in which opposites interpenetrate. We become aware of the interfusion of dynamic events in mutual exchange, the interpenetration of cause and effect."

Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? It depends, of course. Ideally rationality works with feelings to make the best decisions. Too much in either direction can lead us astray. Unbalanced rationality can lead to ad-hoc rationalizations or justifications. Unbalanced feelings can lead to us to overindulge or maintain in-group biases. Balancing them is dynamic, with one side weighing more or less heavily depending on contextual factors.

But interestingly, these two systems are distinct and uncorrelated, each operating on their own. So while we can balance them they are not part of the same processing continuum. I.e., thinking doesn't transcend and subsume feeling in a nested hierarchy. They are more like the structural coupling of systems science discussed here where I said:

Different domains in a human being are different systems that have to communicate with each other via structural coupling.

"In Luhmann's theory the 'human being' is not conceptualised as forming a systemic unity. Instead it has to be understood as a conglomerate of organic and psychic systems. The former consists of biochemical elements, the latter of thoughts. Both systems are operatively closed against each other: no system can contribute elements to the respectively other system. The systems are however structurally coupled; i.e. their respective structures are adjusted to each other in such a way as to allow mutual irritations" (9-10).

Only with integral-aperspectival awareness do we 'integrate' the various levels-systems, not by subsuming them into the higher or unitary level but by the levels now structurally coupling with and communicating with each other. Our consciousness is now an hier(an)archical multiplicity with many often irritating voices.

Thanks for sharing this, Edward; good stuff.

Especially liking your closing paragraph, so I will repeat it here for emphasis:

"Only with integral-aperspectival awareness do we 'integrate' the various levels-systems, not by subsuming them into the higher or unitary level but by the levels now structurally coupling with and communicating with each other. Our consciousness is now an hier(an)archical multiplicity with many often irritating voices."

So the challenge is to learn to balance and integrate these "often irritating voices" for better health and generativity in our "hier(an)archical multiplicity"?

I'm also reminded of this post earlier in the thread.

"To read Gebser in a Hegelian manner, as Ken Wilber does with his popular slogan 'transcend and include,' is, in a sense, to grasp the letter of Gebser while missing the living spirit of his work. Gebser himself discussed the limits of the famous Hegelian dialectic. He said that because mental thought tends to be dichotomizing, it necessitates the generation of a third term to move toward reconciliation. But even this third term (the Hegelian 'synthesis') is in turn split again as the overall process marches onward. Gebser saw this dialectic as an unsatisfying expression of the deficient phase of the mental structure of consciousness.

"Weiss said that Gebser was clear that his work did not describe a linear evolution, development, or progress of consciousness. [...] Gebser used the term 'mutation' to describe the process of moving from one consciousness structure to another, but this was not intended to reduce the development of consciousness to a biological metaphor. Rather, he used this term to emphasize the discontinuous nature of the various structures of consciousness. The word 'mutation' connotes the sense of a leap that is more sudden in comparison to the gradualism of Darwin's biological evolution. [...] But crucially for Gebser, the later mutations do not 'transcend and include,' as in Wilber's model of evolution. Instead, they are discontinuous and autonomous modes of awareness, each of which has its own intrinsic validity."

From this source:

"It’s important to understand that when two autonomous systems (e.g., two psychic systems or two different function systems) structurally couple, there is not a third system that emerges through combination. That is to say, contrary to some sociological theory, the two systems are not integrated. Two or more psychic systems cannot share the same thoughts, feelings, or perceptions. And the political system and the economic system do structurally couple, but they cannot form a third function system that combines the functions of politics and economics. That is to say, there is no third system that contains economy and politics as parts. A third system would cause the two systems to 'stick together' and so [lose] their autonomy."

From this source:

"Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991), from the perspective of cognitive science, described this process as 'structural coupling.' The brain is structurally coupled to the body, and the body is structurally coupled to the environment. The dynamics of these three coupled systems enact the lived body-environment. This viewpoint implies that the brain is not a conductor hidden within the head; rather, the nervous system is one of a group of players engaged in jazz improvisation, and the final result emerges from the continued give and take between them. In other words, adaptive behavior is the result of the continuous interaction between the nervous system, the body and the environment, each of which have rich, complicated, highly structured dynamics. The role of the nervous system is not so much to direct or program behavior as to shape it and evoke the appropriate patterns of dynamics from the entire coupled system… As a consequence, one cannot assign credit for adaptive behavior to any one piece of this coupled system (Chiel & Beer 1997, p. 555). Merleau-Ponty (1968), in a Phenomenological context, introduced the term 'intertwining–the chiasm' to describe this kind of coupling."

Also see Maturana's seminal paper "Organization of the living." Therein he notes that all the subsystems of an organism are subservient to the autopoiesis of the system, yet each of those subsystems have their own operationally closed function that must structurally couple with the other subsystems to achieve that organismic unity. He uses the nervous system as an example of one of those subsystems. E.g., from the conclusions section (p. 167):

"If the organism and its nervous system are structurally plastic, the continuous realization of the autopoiesis of the organism necessarily results in a structural coupling of the organism and the nervous system to each other, and to the medium in which the autopoiesis is realized."

I also recommend Levi Bryant's free e-book, The Democracy of Objects. He frames organizational closure in terms of endo-relations, and structural openness in terms of exo-relations, which I discussed at the beginning and throughout this thread.

"Structural coupling is a relation in which two or more objects constantly perturb or irritate one another, thereby making contributions to the local manifestations of each other and the evolutionary development of one another. The key point here is that while these systems or objects perturb or irritate one another, each system relates to these perturbations according to its own organization or closure such that we can't treat relations between objects as simple input/output relations" (218- 9).

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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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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