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 Wilber from Integral Psychology (Shambhala, 2000) on the different aspects of ego, and what is transcended and included or replaced in its stages:
"There is persistent confusion in the literature about whether, for example, the ego is retained or lost in higher development. Most transpersonal researchers refer to the higher stages as being 'beyond ego' or 'transegoic,' which seems to imply the ego is lost. But this confusion is almost entirely semantic. If by ego you mean the exclusive identification with the personal self, then that exclusiveness is almost entirely lost or dissolved in higher development. [...] But if by ego you mean a functional self that relates to the conventional world, then that ego is definitely retained (and almost always strengthened). Likewise, if you mean--as psychoanalysis does--that an important part of the ego is its capacity for detached witnessing [my emphasis], then that ego is definitely retained (and almost always strengthened). [...] Also, if by ego you mean--as ego psychology does--the psyche's capacity for integrating, then that ego is also retained and strengthened. In short, the exclusiveness of an identity with a given self (bodyego, persona, centaur, soul) is dissolved or released with each higher stage of self growth, but the important functional capacities of each are retained, incorporated (holarchically), and often strengthened in succeeding stages" (91).
I must not get out much. I can hardly think of a "contemporary theorist" who proposes a developmental scheme in which meditation systems develop 'beyond the ego'. The few that I can think of don't strike me as "contemporary theorists"!
Most of the 'beyond ego' explainers seem to posit some kind of 'higher self'. They affirm a self-structure beyond what they mean by ego. That doesn't seem to be the part they are missing. People with an enriched understand of the word 'ego' take exception with trans-egoic models but in most cases something ego-like, under a different name, is retained in those models.
However what seems to be missing from such visions is the developmental link between the higher and lower self. The element of the practice efforts and progress which mutates one into the other is absent even in models which, in whatever terminology, keep something ego-ish on the far side of conventional levels of consciousness.
And the contemporary evolutionary enlightenment crowd is rampant with that 'beyond the ego' crap.
That's why I say that I must not get out much. I feel like there are crowds of people in which such theorizing is rampant but I never seem to encounter them.
I find it hard to believe that most people who use the phrasing "beyond the ego" could not be sat down and questioned in such a way that they would basically articulate a view of higher states which is very similar to advanced ego -- regardless of what they think that they think about it. But I suspect that underlying their reluctance to frame in that way is an exaggerated feeling about the discontinuity between lower and higher forms.
The question for me is whence cometh the reluctance to use "more ego" rather than "beyond ego" as a description of post-conventional activity. And I imagine that a lot of it resides in a lingering sense of good/bad disconnect between their notions of small mind & big mind.
From Desilet's "Derrida and Wilber at the crossroads":
"This 'double I' structure, as described by Wilber (1996, pp. 179-181) [...] establishes a contrast between a normal self or ego and a higher self or witness. [...] The normal self always manifests as a construct and thereby remains open to deconstruction whereas the witness self emerges as the performing agency or medium of deconstruction and therefore remains undeconstructible. The witness can never function as the object of its own gaze because the very act of turning inwardly on itself requires a witness. The witness is always there as the background of every act of gazing. This witness has no content and is therefore [...] completely empty, pure, and whole.
"Consciousness can never be readily halved into normal and witness compartments with the latter as the undeconstructible portion. In this halving of consciousness the normal or ego self retains the structure of being and is in this respect no different from the witness self. The persistence of the so-called witness self in the background of every gaze is itself confirmation of the inherent divisibility of consciousness, the inherent contamination of consciousness by an othering principle.
"The division of the self into normal and witness parts is not peculiar to Wilber's version of spirituality or to integral theory. Integral theory acknowledges a debt to perennial philosophy and ancient spiritual traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Consistent with these traditions, the witness self is elevated to transcendent pure consciousness as the higher self and plays the dominant role in the quest for enlightened awareness and oneness with Godhead. As a result, the normal self, the ego, descends into the role of a lower self, which can then be held to account for human shortcomings."
The following are still in the Integral Glossary at Integral Life:
proximate self: One of the three major aspects of the overall self, along with the distal and anterior self. The proximate self is the intimately subjective self, which is experienced as an “I” or “I/me.” It is also the equivalent of the self-identity stream. Wilber’s fulcrums of development refer to the stages of proximate self-sense development.
distal self: One of the three major aspects of the overall self, along with the anterior and proximate self. The distal self is the objective self, which is experienced as “me” or “mine,” in contrast to the proximate self (“I” or “I/me”) and the anterior self (“I-I”). See proximate self and anterior self.
anterior self: One of the three major aspects of the overall self, along with the proximate and distal self. The anterior self is a person’s sense of the Witness, the pure Self, or “I-I,” shining through the proximate self at whatever stage of self-development. See I-I.
I-I: 1. Sri Ramana Maharshi’s term for the Witness, or the root of attention. The Witness is an “I-I” because it witnesses or reflects the little “I”: the ego or small self. See anterior self. 2. I-I is also an abbreviation for Integral Institute.
This quote from "Your brain on metaphors" supports Desilet's criticism of Wilber, but from this other paradigm: "Lakoff and Johnson’s program is as anti-Platonic as it’s possible to get. It undermines the argument that human minds can reveal transcendent truths about reality in transparent language."
And here's the full text of Lakoff's 2012 paper referenced in that article.
The following from this post on Integral Spirituality confirms the Lingam still adheres to this transcendent/immanent divide between the I and the i, whereas this can be explained much more accurately (and postmetaphysically) with ego psychology as earlier in this thread:
Here's Wilber's essay on integral spirituality that predated the book on the topic. Much of the text in the essay is repeated in the book almost verbatim. [...] What if anything integrates the different levels and lines, thus making it an 'integral' IMP? Since each line has levels, but levels are not the same in different lines, Wilber introduces 2 candidates that can measure altitudinal levels generally, the cognitive line and consciousness per se (CPS) (29). I actually appreciate the rationale for the cognitive line be necessary but not sufficient for all other lines, including the so-called spiritual. Thing is, he conflates it with his notion of consciousness per se. The cognitive line is described as what one is aware of, i.e, conscious of. He readily admits that CPS is basically the Madhyamake-Yogacara view of consciousness as the empty vessel in which objects arise, thus itself is empty of content (30). And this is precisely the very same satori that can be directly experienced in zone 1 meditative states. Also see the Appendix starting at 106, confirming the metaphysical separation of CPS with the relative world and its absolute source.
And if one thinks that's old school Wilber IV, recall this from his recent video on the fourth turning: "The idea being to clear the mind of any and all concepts about reality so that reality itself could be directly experienced" (5:20). Immediately following Kennilingam goes on to say that every branch of Mahayana agreed with the last above statement. (Wrong, see the Batchelor thread.) And he then admits that the third turning was Yogacara, which also is in agreement with that statement. That is true, but again it is a continuation of a of metaphysics of presence, not at all the kind of postmetaphysics Batchelor talks about. Or Nagarjuna or Tsongkhapa, for that matter. At 7:00 he notes it's time for the fourth turning, and with that I'll agree. But it's Batchelor's sort of postmetaphysical turning, not the metaphysical rehash he's talking about in the above quote that he apparently wants to retain.
Some more from the FB discussions, parked here for now:
In this post I discussed Graham Priest's article on Buddhist logic, which argues around Aristotle's excluded middle. The latter is prerequisite to the claim of performative contradiction, whereas Priest's Buddhist logic doesn't accept that premise. Priest's logic is what he calls paraconsistent, and I of course twist and fold it even further to show how their is an ultimate truth, but not in the metaphysical sense.
PS: accepting the excluded middle is a hallmark of formal operations with its bivalent either/or, and in that sense is 'metaphysical.' Postformal dialectics of the kind Priest discusses goes 'postmetaphysical' in that sense, while still making metaphysical (ontological) claims as to the nature of reality. I've also weaved this into Lakoff's work on embodied realism in various threads (especially real/false reason), another story, but 'on topic' to this thread.
You'll have to read the linked Priest article on Buddhist logic. It's only a contradiction to formal logic that accepts the excluded middle. Recall in Wilber's intro to the fourth turning the 4-fold Buddhist logic: something is, is not, is both, is neither. And used it to justify nonconceptual direct experience as the answer. Priest does a far better job on explaining this. Interestingly, and more than just a pun, it's no accident that Madhyamaka is called the 'middle' way.* It's between conceptual and nonconceptual, absolute and relative etc. in how it mediates these same/differences. Like Desilet and Derrida, not coincidentally.
Or that Lakoff's image schema are in the 'middle' of classical hierarchies, thereby changing the naive set theory and false reason upon which mathematical models of hierarchical complexity are founded. The latter have the same metaphysical notions of you're either in or out of a category, hence the hierarchy has a lowest concrete particular and a highest generalization that are bivalent and disconnected (or 'transcended and included'). Image schema are the middle foundation for both, another form of embodied middle way not caught in formal performative contradictions. Lakoff & Johnson do an excellent job in Philosophy of the Flesh on how this (formal) false reasoning was the foundation for much of western philosophy and metaphysics. (Eastern too, but they didn't address that.) It's so ingrained in us from the start that we cannot even see it.
*The Prasangika Madhyamaka is broadly defined by two camps: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa. See The Two Truths Debate by Thakchoe in the Batchelor thread. This debate is pivotal to the connection between metaphysical (false) and postmetaphysical (real) reasoning.
Balder linked to the attached interesting article. I commented:
Kakol handles well Hartshorne's criticism of Nagarjuna, but it's the same criticism of which I accuse the Lingam in another thread: “The truth about relations transcends discursive thought and can only be possessed by those whose meditation or intuition carries them beyond the rationally statable.” This is typical of the Gorampa camp.
Plus Kokol's defense of Naggie is similar to my exegesis of Priest's take on Buddhist logic, in that the relational truth value also serves as functional truth value, i.e., it is the asymmetrical basis of an absolutely relative truth.
I also appreciate his connection of pomo deconstruction to this thesis. And that there are no assholons. And this concluding sentence, supporting my notion of de/re. Though I'd add “and deconstruction” to the sentence after "Madhyamika."
“That Madhyamika is often characterized as being deconstructive in nature and process philosophy as being constructive ignores the fact that both philosophies simultaneously deconstruct symmetrical abstractions that have become unjustifiably reified and reconstruct a process-relational worldview of asymmetrical interdependence.”