Tim Winton's The Meaning of Planetary Civilization: Integral Rational Spirituality and the Semiotic Universe (download here) is the next paper up for discussion.  Since we had already begun discussing it earlier on this forum, before beginning the systematic review of ITC papers, I'll start this unconventionally and will open with a few relevant posts from that discussion.

DavidM58 raised the following questions about the paper (see his full post here), which I think are good orienting questions for discussion:

1) As Balder summarized [in a discussion of Integral Semiotics], "he [Winton] finds that both Wilber and Bhaskar fall short of embodying, in their actual theoretical constructs, the nonduality they espouse -- subtly privileging the epistemological or ontological domains, respectively." Do you agree?

2) What do you think of his "methodogolical" solution rather than a metaphysical one, following Morin?

3) Do the diagrams signifying Semiotic Enactment make sense (figures 4 and 5)?

4) There's been discussion here about the interpretation of Pierce's foundational categories, but I'm wondering if you think that broadly speaking Tim has effectively "located a realist approach to pansemiotics."

5) Do you agree with the statement on p. 31 that "The advantage of this type of pansemiotics over Wilber's Whiteheadian panpsychism is that thought (subjective interiority, psych or 'mind') does not need to be carried down into the physical domain to do duty as a partner to material and efficient causes to explain the self-organizing capacity of an early evolving universe." ?

6) What do you make of what I see as a ground-breaking stance regarding the role of energy, drawing from Stanley N. Salthe and Howard T. Odum's Maximum Power Principle? ("In order to exist, dissipative systems are driven to continually invest their harvested energy in complexifying (increase their energy quality) in order to maximize their rate of continuing to harvest that energy flow. Their very evolutionary persistent existence (sustainability) depends on it." p.34) And "Could the 'aliveness' of energy and its proclivity to 'wind up' not be our source of telos or final cause, which is ultimately to return to its own nondual source?" (p. 35)

7) What do you make of the comments on p. 37 that "Within iSR [integral Semiotic Realism] nondual realization is not signified as a spiritual realization: it is signified as Realization itself. iSR takes the pragmatiasist route and (all other references being equal) rejects a 'spiritual' signification of the nondual by virtue of its effects."

8) Does Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields effectively fill the role of a convincing naturalistic means of 'formal cause'?

9) Finally, would you agree that the destructive pathology of modernity is largely due to the "lack of  a cosmology that demonstrates a place and a belonging in the universe in a way that is convincing and meaningful within the rational paradigm of modernity," and do you see the possibility that iSR might have the capability "to provide a  Grand Story that has the capacity to unify, while respecting the diversity of, the major worldviews". (p. 43)

And here are my initial responses to the first five of the questions:

1) As Balder summarized, "he [Winton] finds that both Wilber and Bhaskar fall short of embodying, in their actual theoretical constructs, the nonduality they espouse -- subtly privileging the epistemological or ontological domains, respectively." Do you agree?

Yes, I think mostly so, though I appear to have a somewhat different take on their relation to each other.  I definitely agree that viewing them together, in a complementary way, is fruitful (drawing, respectively, on the strengths of their epistemological and ontological models).

2) What do you think of his "methodogolical" solution rather than a metaphysical one, following Morin?

I'm sympathetic to it; this is the strategy of Francisco Varela, as well.  However, I sometimes feel (following a formulation by Joel Morrison) that this discussion is hampered because it makes insufficient distinctions.  For instance, it is helpful to distinguish the ontic and epistemic from ontolology and epistemology.  In this view, ontology and epistemology are both actually ways and forms of knowing (-ologies); and as "ways," they are naturally co-implicated in "methodology."  But as ways of knowing, they both operate on the "plane" or in the field of the epistemic.  Epistemology and ontology inhabit a horizontal relationship (which Winton's model also depicts), but the epistemic and ontic inhabit a vertical relationship:  the epistemic transcends and includes (and thus necessarily requires/presupposes) the ontic.  As Joel puts it, the -ic suffix is an indicator of a domain of the "real" (meaning both ontic and epistemic domains are real), just as the -ology suffix indicates a domain of knowledge, i.e. a divisions within the epistemic.  When this differentiation isn't made, I think you run the risk of various forms of conflation (such as I discuss below).

I plan to explore this more fully later in a more developed exploration of possible intersections of Bhaskarian and Wilberian thought (with Morrison's model as one possible means of interface).

3) Do the diagrams signifying Semiotic Enactment make sense (figures 4 and 5)?

I'd like to hear if you have any specific questions about either.  In general, yes, both make sense to me.  At first blush (to me), it appears they could be seen as mapping perspectival / epistemic systems (at Bhaskar's level of the empirical), and not (yet) touching on the domain of the real (at least as Bhaskar or OOO would define it).

4) There's been discussion here about the interpretation of Pierce's foundational categories, but I'm wondering if you think that broadly speaking Tim has effectively "located a realist approach to pansemiotics."

This is one of the questions where I'm going to have to return to the paper to review it more carefully before I'll feel confident answering it.  Yes, I think he has made valuable and promising steps towards a realist semiotics (especially as he connects it to energy and the fourth law of thermodynamics).  However, I'm not convinced (yet) by his depiction of semiotic realism in Figure 7.  I can see how his model depicts the Bhaskarian domains of the empirical and the actual, but I'm not sure if his identification of "semiotic," "intransitive domain," and "zone of subsistence" at the center of the circle works.  For instance, I don't think an easy identification can be made between Bhaskar's intransitive domain and Wilber's zone of subsistence (although Wilber suggests that), since Wilber still largely defines the latter in epistemic terms.  (I can give support for this claim in another post.)  Similarly, I'm not yet sure the identification of semiotic with the nondual and Bhaskar's intransitive domain works.  I really appreciate and resonate with what he is attempting, but my recent excursions through SR and OOO leave me with some questions about some of the identifications he is making.  I will take some more time with this and will respond more later.

5) Do you agree with the statement on p. 31 that "The advantage of this type of pansemiotics over Wilber's Whiteheadian panpsychism is that thought (subjective interiority, psych or 'mind') does not need to be carried down into the physical domain to do duty as a partner to material and efficient causes to explain the self-organizing capacity of an early evolving universe." ?

I am sympathetic with this view, yes.  I have some open questions on this, myself, but I think what he is suggesting here is pretty much how OOO handles this: autopoietic "translation" happens ubiquitously among objects, but this is not always "psychic" or "cognitive" -- it can be energetic / material, for instance.  Wilber doesn't always define himself as a panpsychist either; sometimes he has referred to his model as pansemiotic, instead.

 

 

 

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Neelesh, that's a nice idea.  I have not yet had an opportunity to see the utility of PD applied to concrete contexts and would like to see what it can bring.  Because I am still not very familiar with PD, I am not the right person to lead such an inquiry, but I would be happy to participate in one (and to learn more about it in the process).  If you are interested in starting a thread on the new FB forum, I think it would provide a nice opportunity both to explore the framework and to work through and process some of the recent events at the AQAL Integral Scholars group.

'New' Facebook forum? You mean an alternative to the AQAL Integral Scholars? If so, perhaps a thread at IPS on it so that we can cross-communicate?

Yes, Mark Forman created a new Integral forum a couple days ago called "Integral Scholarship and Practice" (and actually appointed me as an administrator without asking me; but I am happy to do it).  I will be happy to post parallel threads here (and vice versa) to keep the groups in communication.

Bruce and Neelish,

I am not by any means proficient with PD, however I would love to sandbox the approach in a collaborative manner with a test group, so if you would like to join me up, I will contribute what I can. Meanwhile I can offer to host a peer learning journey into a more intimate understanding of the PD 'language' on the site I mentioned earlier http://metacogs.wordpress.com/ if anyone cares to become more involved with the process :) I set up the site with the intention of holding space for a community of practice to develop methodology and contribute to the theory/practice interface in support of Tim's work, I hope this will support our endeavour to apply our learned skills on the fly, either explicitly stated or implicitly as a facilitative capacity.

Let me know if this is something you would like to do and we can begin :)

Neelesh,

Certainly a very worthwhile project you propose! However, like theurj, I am not a member of Facebook, for a number of reasons (glad I'm not alone). I think it would be a good idea to touch in with Tim and get any suggestions he might have about how to proceed.

Here are my thoughts:

It would be really interesting in seeing PD used in dealing with the eruption of friction that can happen in online forums. I think the first step would be to find a reasonably trained PD facilitator. The second step would be for the participants feeling tension around a certain issue to come to agreement to commit to work together on using this tool, and that the goal is not to determine "who's right" in regards to the issue causing tension, but rather to explore a process whereby we can see and appreciate the various perspectives held, and to discover a way forward together to better balance and integrate the various perspectives for the greater enduring health of the whole (Tim calls this "perspectival systems thinking").  

In PD, this is called a Source agreement. The pattern Source represents the origin and purpose of an organization, and any learning group coming together will have a better chance of success if there is a clear agreement on the purpose of the organization.

There can be lots of challenges in undertaking a project like this. First would be that this is still a fairly new tool/language, with not a lot of people very fluent. Second, the feedback given to the group via written words on the screen is very limited and prone to mis-interpreting energy and tone. Third, the timing of peoples input can vary widely (Rhythm), and this can be problematic if you're attempting to understand all perspectives and yet move forward in a reasonable manner.

I'm interested, but not sure how much time I would be able to devote to this right now. And I am just now undergoing training - not yet ready for prime time.

Am copy-pasting a post made on the Integral Scholarship and Practice forum: lets see what emerges!

Dwelling on the hypothesis that perspectival disharmony OF, and conflict of methodological approaches TO problems is a bigger bummer than the problems themselves, four technologies come to mind that seek to address the inevitable polarization propensities in ‘we spaces’:

1) The Third side strategy that has been employed in international political imbroglios with seemingly impressive results.

http://www.ted.com/talks/william_ury.html

2) The Integrative Decision Making governance process from Holacracy which seems to resolve the troublesome contradiction between multiple tension-processing (giving everyone a voice) and getting tyrannized by consensus in organizational contexts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG-9fgSNLDQ

3) The Deep Dialogue process of the Global Dialogue Institute which transforms the monological nature of interactions to dialogical, to open pathways to the Common Ground of the Logos.

http://www.globaldialogueinstitute.org/document/a-prologue-to-enter...

4) The Pattern Language Tool of PD that uses a horizontal meta-typological construct to enact meta-meaning and facilitate deep design with and across participants in various stages of development

http://www.patterndynamics.com.au/about/introduction/

 

Now most probably, these technologies or processes are typically used in in-person, physically proximate set-ups. But we do see that global collaboration on a wide range of issues can no longer only rely on that, don’t we?

Can these technologies (or others), either individually or in some onto-choreographed synthesis (Bruce, I owe you for adding to my vocabulary on that one!), be customized for perspectival harmony and generativity in virtual forums?

If so, how about using them to dissolve the ideological blood-clots in the integral community as evidenced in web-forums, as an integral enactment project? Would that qualify as a suitable ‘dojo’ before one gets into the messy world where ‘COG’ diversities are much larger and more challenging? 

I love the idea, and have proposed similar myself over the course of time, these processes are wholly dependant upon participants being willing and dare I say it, devoted to, the process - no amount of 'moderation' will accomplish the desired outcome.

The questions I have been left with after several attempts in this direction is, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions (compelling incentives) to create successful enactment of any or all of these proposed methodologies for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of virtual forums?

I wrote many comments directly on the pdf of Tim's paper, and also a Word doc commentary, and both are too long to copy in here. If anyone cares to wade through them,here they are via Dropbox link. I will be back to this discussion to catch up on the 31 replies as soon as I can!!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7xqelqoq29leck1/1Winton_ITC2013%20with%20...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gwc56a429o8wr3v/Alia%20Aurami%20Response%...

I'm not going to leave them in my Dropbox forever, because of space limits, but certainly for some months. 

Would LOOOOVE to have comments on my comments!!!

P.S. for readers here, it might be easier to start with the word doc, which is a narrative commentary on my main points. The pdf is full of "popcorn" comments!

Hi Alia,

Your word doc is so meticulously and painstakingly compiled - I appreciate your effort, your process and attention to detail. Thank you. 

A few points which come up for me as I read the word doc:

1) I think the paper seeks to create a cosmology for modernity (remember both orange and green are included here, not just orange, as the paper clarifies) that is 'de-spiritualized', to dissolve emotional barriers to understanding and acceptance. So yes it is a downward translation, not an upward one (from blue).

2) I think both oneness and non-dual (including slight differences between their meanings, as you narrate) won't do as terms in the modernist cosmology, because they've already accumulated some spiritual baggage which anyone without causal energy (or even subtle energy) access will tend to reject. May be terms like whole-brained awareness, subject-object move, deep thinking, root-cause understanding, embodied response etc will need to come into the modernist cosmology.  Formative causation is a good one, though a bit heavy. There is an evolutionary movement with language as well, on what is fresh and what is passe. Eventually these terms may also acquire some baggage, especially if they aren't understood well, and will have to make way for new ones. 

3) More than words though, pattern diagrams carry greater power, I intuit. So the subsequent effort beyond this paper, would be to analyse how the 56 patterns (Peter Senge uses a term called 'system archetypes', albeit in a different context) could be used to create a modernist dictionary of sorts, that generate holistic and unitive UL and LL meanings and 'feelings'. Therein lies the power of a semiotic process, because it is simultaneously descriptive and enactive.

1. Neelesh, has there been any response on the Facebook page to your suggestion to try any of the four strategies for dealing with disharmony there?

 

2. For anyone interested in learning PD, one can start online at the PD website page "Learn".

 

3. The next step would be to attend a Level 1 One Day Workshop.  These are few and far between at this point, but 2 coming up on the west coast of the U.S.  One in Oakland on January 18th, and another in Bellingham, WA on January 26th. I'm organizing the Bellingham workshop, so please consider attending - I'd love to meet all Integral Post-Metaphysics participants. :)

 

The One Day Workshop is cool because it integrates a number of learning methodologies, from lecture presentation to embodied movement to participatory / exploratory / meaning-making conversations. The focus is on the primary 7 first order Patterns. See here for more info. The day begins with a PD over-view like this one:

 

4. After completing a One Day Workshop, the Level II training is done in an online setting with a small group cohort, with a deep dive into the second order Patterns. Below is a sample of an online class in the PatternDynamics Level II Training Course. Our topic is the 7 Second Order Patterns of Creativity: Seed, Bifurcation, Adaptation, Growth, Emergence, Evolution, and Elegance (these patterns were more completely defined in a previous lecture - this is the follow-up conversation).

 

Hi Neelesh, I am not sure why I am not getting notifications from this discussion, so I am just now seeing your response to the word doc part of my communication to Tim. Thanks so much. Yes, it's so true that the languaging is a huge issue, in "translating downward." I am not sure why you referenced translating upward from Blue, as that was not part of my thinking. ?? I too am in agreement that "oneness" and "nondual" won't do as terms; I hope I didn't imply that I thought they would. I really like your candidates of terms, and yes, language is always evolving; we can try to keep up, and we can even try to lead or further that evolution!!

If I understand your suggestion, you are adding a resource for Tim to draw from? For the final presentation to the final audience, words seem to me to carry much more impact than presenting them with a diagram. A lot of people just don't grasp or resonate with diagrams, but every at least has the ILLUSION they understand the meanings of words being used, haha.

Really resonating with this

modernist dictionary of sorts, that generate holistic and unitive UL and LL meanings and 'feelings'. Therein lies the power of a semiotic process, because it is simultaneously descriptive and enactive.

That simultaneity is excitingly creative!

I am signed up for the Bellingham workshop that David mentioned above. Hope to meet others there!

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