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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And here is some initial discussion with Tim on Integral Semiotics (which we relate, at points, to ideas presented in his paper).  I'm presenting this as background and will turn to a more formal discussion of his paper next.

Bruce:  What do you think of his claim that the referent ("real object") exists in the LL?  (As opposed to the signifier and signified, which exist in the UR and UL, respectively.)

Tim:  I think an integral semiotic might work more like this: In the beautiful quote you posted from Calvino's "Invisible Cities" he relates how each signifier leads to a signified which is also another signifier (of some other signified) and so on. Footprints in the forest signal a creature (a lion is one of the examples, I think), but the lion signifies something else–"who knows what?" The lion is the empirical referent that shows up in the Lower Right, but this is where the lack of an explicit depth ontology limits AQAL Integral theory. The lion is not the 'real' referent, it signals something else, something more elusive, in the actual domain perhaps, which signals something in the domain of the Real. I'm exploring the idea that the Real is nondual (which cannot be conceptualised), but none the less needs to 'be' ontic and epistemic, and 'known' through ontological and epistemological means (or better perhaps pointed too). Thank you, Bruce, for pointing out these necessary distinctions. The question of whether Wilber's zone of subsistence and Bhaskar's intransitive domain have enough overlap to be related in this context and then further meaningfully associated with the nondual is another question, and may be the 'loose' thread in my argument that unravels the whole thing. Even if this is so, I have a feeling this is a useful direction to explore in the development of an integrative semiotic realism, and that that sort of realism has possibilities for forming the basis for generating collective meaning capable of unifying the diversity of current global world views under a 'planetary morality'

Balder:  Thank you for your response, Tim (glad to engage with you on this topic!). I agree that the lack of a well-developed depth ontology is likely limiting IT in this regard, and I welcome your efforts in your paper to further flesh out an integral semiotics by drawing more explicitly from Peirce, Bhaskar, and Morin. Wilber may not hold, as I suggested above, that the referent is primarily a LL-entity (he does say that at a few places in the essay, but then elsewhere says that the referent might be found at any location on the AQAL map). In any event, an interesting possible relation (in OOO thought) to Wilber's sometime-suggestion that the referent is in the LL, is Harman's idea that objects only ever meet and interact on the interiors of other objects. Here, though, what meets thusly are sensual objects, not real objects (which always withdraw). There is not an exact correlation to what Wilber is suggesting, but I think it's an interesting "kin" perspective that merits exploring -- especially since it acknowledges a quasi-pan-psychic (or pan-semiotic) enactment across objects and entities of all sorts, while insisting we must also acknowledge an ontic excess (or withdrawn depth) beyond the actual or empirical. I'm not really a Harmanian, preferring other models, but nevertheless I think this is worth exploring a bit. Regarding subsistence: subsistence, as Wilber is defining it, appears to be more of an epistemological than an ontological term: it posits multiple-appearances-for, here from a diachronic rather than a synchronic perspective (the over-lapping of retro-read higher perspectives and various lower or other perspectives). For instance, Wilber argues that atoms might be posited as subsistent elements of reality, but *only for the level of consciousness which enacts reality in atomic terms*, which then retro-reads that atomic reality back into the past and extro-reads it out into the world for all other beings. Higher beings will enact, and then posit the subsistence of, other elements. Thus, what is "subsistent" changes according to the level and mode of consciousness doing the enactment. To cite an example, on p. 251 of Integral Spirituality, Wilber notes that intrinsic features are not pregiven but are interpretive and constructed; they are "the *products* of the highest level of consciousness making the claim" (emphasis mine). In other words, in this passage, he still appears to be identifying the being of things with (or at least limiting his discussion of the being of things to) the (epistemological) mode in which they are accessed. Which is a move that Bhaskar, among others, criticizes. This is why I suggest it is a bit problematic to associate Wilber's zone of subsistence with Bhaskar's intransitive domain. What do you think?

Tim:  Harman's approach is interesting. Like Wilber he is working both sides of the ontic/ontological vs epistemic/epistemological fence, so to speak. Unlike Wilber, Harman (like Bhaskar) brings ontological depth into the picture–the 'withdrawn' aspect of the real object and the determination that an asymmetry must exist because a relation between objects can only take place where the sensual more epistemic surface as an object is the only way to encounter the real (withdrawn depth) as another. The reason I've rejoined the onto/episto distinctions you made earlier is that one of the things that happens when we make these finer categorisations is that it reifies their perceived primariness, and I have the feeling that in some cases this is somewhat misplaced, especially when one fully recognises what I think of as the core contribution of the post modern turn. Harman does a better job of this than Wilber in that the relational element is considered a third real thing that relates objects (in their asymmetrical encounter). Wilber does not have a 'third'–the quadrants represent different aspects of an indivisible wholeness of any occurrence. But, it is Peirce's idea of 'thirdness', that allows for the integration of the general notion of process philosophy as an interpretive/semiotic act with ontological and epistemological (or ontic/epistemic) arguments. I think this is the biggest contribution to philosophical discourse in the modern era, and that it has as yet unrealised and profound implications for humanity. I think the semiotic approach brings the three fundamental categories of reality–interiors (the episto), exteriors (the onto) and time (the dynamo)–into alignment as logic. Wilber is clearly deeply influenced by this and you could look at the development of his latest work to be an (epistemologically and diachronically orientated) interpretation on this move.

Therefore, the ontic/epistemic vs ontological/epistemological distinctions are really only helpful when we are focusing on them and more usually on which one has foundational primacy: Is the 'episto' to be seen within a foundationally ontic universe as a real thing, or is the 'onto' to be apprehended as a construct of a foundationally epistemological reality? For mine this is often a distraction from the main game, given the importance of post modern insights. From a Peircian, post modern perspective this posturing is misplaced. Any occurrence/object is both constructed and real. The bus is a 40 seater yellow school bus to me and a strange large yellow animal with four round black legs to someone who has lived their whole life in a different context (the Equidorian rainforest for instance), but if either one of us steps out in front of it we will be injured in exactly the same way. The withdrawn real 'onto' aspect and the constructed/constructing sensual 'episto' exterior cannot in fact be separated. As Harman relates, even rocks and rain can only encounter each other in ways that are limited in the extent as to what they can know of each other, but there is indeed a 'real' (withdrawn) fullness with real impacts. I consider the fact that Wilber does not fracture the onto and the episto to be a strength in his approach. The weakness, as I see it, in Wilber's scheme is that dynamic thirdness is only brought in diachronically (through evolution/involution) in a vertical fashion. The more horizontal synchronic aspect is missing, or relegated to a large basket of secondary 'types'. Also, the enactive addressing system is too epistemologically weighted (I agree with Bhaskar here), as you have pointed out, Bruce. While Peirce brings forth the importance of the process of interpretative thirdness necessary for any 'habit' or pattern of existence, as I would interpret it, I don't think he took or developed a full enough realist stance–or at least I have not encountered this in his work so far.

So, can Wilber's subsistence and Bhaskar's intransitive be shown to have and an efficacious association? If we conceive of the fact that all elements of reality have 'onto' and 'episto' aspects then what subsists a 'construction' and what is intransitively 'rea'l are not so far apart. In this respect they are different aspects of the same thing. At this point we can get pulled into a hall of mirrors type argument about which of these is primary and should define the other, or we can shift to a conception where all subject/objects encounter all other subject/objects and form some sort of real 'system' or 'habit' or 'pattern of form' through the ongoing (synchronic) more horizontal dynamics of a relational/interpretive act (thirdness) which also evolves (diachronically) in a vertical fashion. This is a pathway to a strong integrative (pan) semiotic realism, as opposed to Wilber's weaker version of (pan) psychic/semiotic post metaphysical philosophy. Another way of looking at this is that in the subsistent/intransitive, these categories collapse. Emptiness is form and form is not other than emptiness. In fact the integration of the post modern dynamic third with the onto and the episto into the Peircian notion of semiotic also collapses.

Does this approach work? So far it does for me, but a) I'm not sure I'm explaining my position well enough, and b) I could be making some errors in terms of how I understand the important distinctions here and how I'm purporting to relate them. What do you think, Bruce?

Further to the above, when we integrate the post modern conception of the dynamic interpretive/relational 'third' as a process enacting/creating real things (in the actual and manifesting in the empirical) then it becomes clear that getting stuck and reifying either the episto, the onto or the dyno is less effective than retaining an agility that allows us to shift our perspective to the aspect of a habit or pattern of form or real thing that is most prominent at any given moment in its iterative synchronic (horizontal) process of 'ex-isting'. At least the ability to 'shift' with a certain agility becomes a consideration as an inclusion in the methods we use to investigate the possibility of a viable integral semiotically informed realism. (This should include, of course, the more horizontal diachronic consideration we are more used to in Integral thought.) This proposal is based on the assertion that in the intransitive/subsistent depth of reality all three categories collapse into the one without a second. This collapse where the three are no longer distinct is the unifying factor that makes this 'shifting' possible. If there was not unity aspect at depth there could be no shifting on the surface. Bhaskar has a similar conception of the nondual aspect of the intransitive making any kind of empirical connection or relation possible at all. I'm proposing that a method of shifting on this basis has great pragmatic effects–at the very least mitigating the cultural warfare often spawned by the arguments about the primacy of the episto, the onto or the dyno. All three are 'unified' (not two is a better way to signify here) at depth, enactive in the actual and enacted in the empirical. In any given (synchronic/diachronic) moment in any given context it may be pragmatically useful to reify any of the three actualising distinctions, but in the next moment it may be useful to shift, even fairly radically to discussing the same thing/occurrence as if it had a completely different nature. For instance we might talk about the different buses enacted (episto aspect) by me and the Equidorian rainforest dweller as it travels toward us, but in the moment we must judge whether we should get out of its way, it is more useful to discuss the impact that its 'real' (onto) depth may have on our own 'real' depth. Rather than relying on an epistemologically orientated enactive paradigm, or an ontic (her the distinctions are most useful) realist paradigm (or a process philosophy bias in fact).

I'm proposing we move to an agile 'shifting' approach that allows us to investigate more of the complex aspects of any reality (thing/occurrence). It is probably the best we are going to do in the empirical domain where we are all interpretively enacting somewhat different aspects of the withdrawn reality of any situation. This is the great promise of the post (or what I refer to as 'late') modern turn. That we find a way to have conversations about our realities that avoids the violence of inhabiting entrenched positions. Whether Peirce saw this possibility or not in his philosophy (I suspect he did) is hard to know, but it is in my view a real possibility and the biggest lever I can see in the contemporary philosophical/theoretical landscape for making a real difference to the human condition. Morin, more than anyone, understands this and provides us with the method (which is exactly the 'shifting' I'm talking about) and living exemplar of how to do this. The diagram of integral Semiotic Realism (iSR) on Page 29 of my paper is a way that we might conceive of a heuristic for methodologicalizing this agile 'shifting' approach.

Continued...

Bruce: Harman's approach seems to have an interesting resonance with yours, in my opinion, since the object inside of which a "meeting" of sensual objects takes place is not in one or another of the objects, but in the relational field which is established between two real objects. This relation is a new object. I see this as possibly akin to the outer "enactive" ring of your integral semiosis diagram.

Therefore, the ontic/epistemic vs ontological/epistemological distinctions are really only helpful when we are focusing on them and more usually on which one has foundational primacy: Is the 'episto' to be seen within a foundationally ontic universe as a real thing, or is the 'onto' to be apprehended as a construct of a foundationally epistemological reality? For mine this is often a distraction from the main game, given the importance of post modern insights. From a Peircian, post modern perspective this posturing is misplaced. Any occurrence/object is both constructed and real.

I want to focus on this quote a bit because I think the issues you've highlighted here are quite important for the whole IT / CR debate, both with regard to semiotics and with regard to the question of the so-called epistemic or ontic fallacies. My thinking is still in flux on this, so I'm sharing this in the spirit of our collective inquiry rather than trying to lay out a definitive position. But I'll tell you where I am with this for now. First, concerning the point you raised about arguing for which element has foundational primacy, such as whether the 'episto' is to be seen within a foundationally ontic universe as a real thing, or whether the 'onto' is to be apprehended as a construct of a foundationally epistemological reality, I think there is a subtle confusion here which the distinctions among ontic, epistemic, ontological, and epistemological could help us avoid. When you say, "foundationally epistemological reality," that is actually to mix and/or conflate categories, since "epistemology" is the study of how we know; it is *not* a type of metaphysics or ontology. When someone says, "a foundationally epistemological reality," I think what they are meaning to argue for is a particular type of metaphysics or ontology (say, Idealist or consciousness-centered or whatever). But neither the critique of the epistemic fallacy, nor the suggestion I made to distinguish among the ontic, epistemic, ontological, and epistemological, depend on (nor are directly concerned with) the adoption of a *particular* metaphysics, whether materialist, idealist, or other.

The critique of the epistemic fallacy, for instance, is not so much a critique of a type of metaphysics, as it is a critique of certain postmodern tendencies either to banish ontological speculation altogether, or (in neo-Kantian fashion) to always reduce ontological questions to epistemological ones. In weak form, this is to argue that we can only ever talk about what and how we know, and any speculation about the nature of reality apart from human beings is pointless; in stronger form (tending towards a closet metaphysics), this is to argue that *what* things are is subordinate (or identical) to *how* they are known.

At minimum, the critique of the epistemic fallacy (as I think you know) challenges the coherence (or necessity) of attempts to banish metaphysical speculation, but it does so *in light of* (rather than in contrast to or disagreement with) important postmodern critiques of traditional metaphysics. And in more robust form, it challenges the coherence of approaches which suggest that *what* beings are is entirely a product of, or dependent on, *how* they are known or accessed.

And this is where (I am suggesting) Morrison's four distinctions become quite relevant and useful. Even (or even especially) in an approach where we want not to fracture epistemology and ontology, I think the four terms allow us to make some important and necessary distinctions -- particularly if we want to argue for any kind of realist metaphysics. I'm not sure if you've read my "Sophia Speaks" paper, but in it I talk about a Bhaskarian / OOO-based definition of the "real," which is, essentially, the irreducibility of things to our knowledge of, or access to, them. This does not require or presuppose a particular kind of metaphysics (whether materialist or idealist, as it would apply to either); it simply suggests that whatever "is," exceeds or withdraws from or cannot simply be reduced without remainder to our knowledge of it. The reasoning behind such an argument is spelled out by Bhaskar. Without acknowledgement of such an ontic excess, or such an elusion of our present perspectives, we can hardly make sense of our experimental, inquiry-centered, exploratory, and injunctive knowledge disciplines; or, as Harman argues, we could not make sense of process or change. Thus, I am suggesting that the 'ontic' aspect of Morrison's 'ontic-epistemic' vertical axis be read, at minimum, as an acknowledgement of this withdrawn depth, this 'excess' which escapes reduction to any present act of knowing. This kind of distinction can still be made within a nondual, pan-semiotic worldview, so it is not an advocacy for any kind of 'fractured' or flatland metaphysics (which is one of Wilber's concerns). And the epistemic is the *real* domain of our modes of knowledge, both our models of "how we know" (epistemology) and our models of "what we know" or "what exists" (ontology). Here, epistemology and ontology are rightly seen as inseparable (aspects of the epistemic/semiotic); they co-arise, dance together, and mutually influence each other in semiotic interplay. This is compatible with an enactive orientation, which argues that "what ex-ists" for us (or any sentient being) is inseparable from the who and how of knowing. But the epistemic / ontic distinction which underlies or supports this (but which does *not* stake out any particular *kind* of ontology) allows us also to avoid reducing or conflating "what ex-ists" (a sensual appearance on the plane of the epistemic or empirical) with the real being of that with which we interact. About the latter, the most this model says is, "do not reduce what beings are entirely to how they are known and enacted (the epistemic/semiotic play of epistemology and ontology); there is a hidden ontic depth or excess which must be acknowledged as well."

Relating this to your chart, the black dot at the center lead down, 'inwardly,' towards this ontic excess. If we rotated your chart, to put your circle 'on edge,' there would be a vertical line running down and through the center black dot, and the ontological and epistemological halves of your figure-eight would be whirling like a propeller at the top.

I hope this clarifies where I am coming from in my use of these distinctions and allows us to make some headway.

Tim:  Yes, thanks, Bruce. The clarification is useful and I think using these distinctions in the spirit of shifting among them in the agile fashion I'm advocating is where they come into their own, so to speak.  I love your idea of including a vertical semiotic to compliment the horizontal one I've drawn. Initially I identified a semiotic approach with this a more typologically based, horizontal, synchronic approach. Mostly as a reaction to the mono verticality and lack of explicit semiotic in Wilber's work. Now I see that semiosis has both diachronic vertical aspects (Peirce's chain of signifiers/signifieds) and synchronic (Peirce's idea of habit formation or enduring form), so a propeller diagram might be a better heuristic. The way I conceived of this graphically was to indicate another horizontal diagram superimposed, but moved slightly in one direction, in relation to the first. Yours is a much better solution, I think.

Thank you Bruce for reposting my questions here.

First, I want to share that I think the best background pieces to read in preparation for this paper would be Tim's 2010 paper "Pattern Dynamics TM: Creating Cultures of Sustainability" (this was a 'best paper' award winner at the 2010 ITC). Especially pay attention to the 2nd half of the paper on 'A Theory of Meta-types', 'Semiotic Enactment', 'Integral Pluralism' and 'Cosmic Positioning System'. This should be read in conjunction with Esbjorn-Hargen's paper "An Ontology of Climate Change" for full context.

For a less academic overview of PatternDynamics, you might also check out an article I co-wrote for Integral Leadership Review (Notes from the Field): Tim Winton's PatternDynamics Workshops in USA and Canada.

Full disclosure: I'm currently studying PatternDynamics, doing a Level II Training with Tim. More later...

Thanks Bruce for initiating the discussion on that fascinating paper. I was experiencing some difficulty in recasting or reconciling Pierce's triadic formulation with Integral Semiotics, and incorporating methodology (in this case, signification) as the 'point of transmutation that precludes any real dualism' into an otherwise noun-adjectival syntax. Your posts above begin to thaw the ice a bit - especially with the distinction made between ontic-epistemic and ontology-epistemology. But some miles to go before I sleep!

The other deeply intriguing subject of the paper is that of Energy quality, information entropy, emergy and the 4th law of thermodynamics:  ‘In order to exist, dissipative systems are driven to continually invest their harvested energy in complexifying (increasing their energy quality) in order to maximize their rate of continuing to harvest that energy flow).' This reminds me of the ‘explore exploit’ dance and dilemma in complex adaptive systems which is becoming a matter of increasing importance in places like Santa Fe and Ann Arbor, and with the work around the torus (refer figure 7) and vector equilibrium in alternative energy research. 

But the most important and urgent matter that comes up for me personally is: ‘Modernity is providing the evolutionary requirement to transcend significations of spirituality that do not have the capacity to be meaningful to all world-views’. While I also think that Sheldrake's formative causation along with the superposition principle is a strong element in the agenda for a comprehensivist cosmology, I wonder if that is enough. Something else with higher scientific and philosophical rigour will need to constitute an equally comprehensivist framework within which the ostensible 'dependence on spiritual significance' can be mitigated, as required for the meaning-making outposts of modernist consciousness. The former (scientific) may or may not come from the physics and engineering of new energy sources, (check video and site just as illustrative examples) and the latter (philosophical) from Morin's La Methode (I hazard these correlations whilst being aware of their speculative status as of today's academic reach and acceptance).

The above, to my mind, arguably constitutes the biggest academic-scientific-philosophical research AND design project for our times, and kudos to Tim for highlighting the same in this paper.  

Finally I request if anyone can expatiate a bit more on what 'signified' comes up for them from this Wilber signifier quoted in the paper: ‘The meaning of a statement is in the injunction of its enactment’.

Unpacking that in appropriate language may help in the mission of providing a new source of ultimate meaning to a modernity bereft of a cosmology of meaninglessness. (as I type this sentence I realize how controversial the various assumptions underlying this very aspiration could be!).

Hi Neelesh,

I agree this is a fascinating paper, and am also intrigued and stimulated by the discussion on energy quality, emergy, entropy, and the 4th law of thermodynamics (and the 5th law, which wasn't discussed).

I do have to say, however, that I do not believe the claims made from Foster Gamble, et al regarding new energy sources. I have looked into various claims of free energy breakthroughs, attempting to keep an open mind. However, each time the claim has been disproven, often in embarrassing ways (example here).

I'm very interested in Rupert Sheldrake's theories on morphic resonance, but I was disappointed to hear the way he questioned the laws of thermodynamics with the question of free energy. They may be more cosmic habits than laws, but at least the first three of them have shown to very deeply worn grooves.

As Odum has shown, to increase energy quality, it takes a lot of energy quantity, most of which gets lost to entropy in the process of being transformed. Higher quality means lower quantity. I don't foresee a future of abundant clean energy to continue to power growth of industrial civilization. Instead, I see less and less available gross energy as fossil fuel sources decline. However, I do see the possibility (partially through the process of building emergy) that we learn to better harness higher quality/lower quantity subtle energies - bringing more power to the noosphere and theosphere while at the same time experiencing declining gross energy in the physiosphere. 

Even if the "free and clean energy" sources were to become available, I don't see it as necessarily a good thing. If Odum's 4th and 5th laws hold up, all that energy would be used, and we humans would grow ourselves off of the planet. One of the patterns in PatternDynamics is that of the Pulse - "repeated rhythmic surges of activity related to resource flows and exchanges." Everything that goes up must come down, and the higher you climb, the bigger the fall - so I don't see it as realistic or natural to have growth forever, even if that has been the experience of industrial civilization over the last 200 years.  I wrote articles on The Wave/Pulse of Human History and Principles for the Pulse That is Peak Oil, posted at Resilience.org. Perhaps I'll repost them here at some point to see what kind of integral discussion might develop.

I don't think this is the appropriate place to digress into a pro/con discussion about free energy/overunity devices. I just wanted to provide my perspective that I think Tim's use of a Torus diagram (or Lemniscate as The Urg mentioned) has more comparisons for me to C.S. Holling's 4 phase adaptive cycle of growth, conservation, release, and renewal. 

Winton, Figure 3 (p.20)

C.S. Holling Cycle of Adaptive Change

The concept of dissipative structures is itself quite instructive; as Fritjof Capra has pointed out in The Web of Life, that what Ilya Prigogine was attempting to convey with this concept was that systems are dissipative (implying entropy - coming apart) at the same time as they are building structure (Odum's fourth law - coming together in higher complexity). This seems to imply a steady state, but see Holling's contribution above, where it's more about a flowing exchange between four cycles.

This last post reminds me of lot of Jeremy Rifkin, which we've been exploring in this thread. Later in the thread his latest book is referenced, The Third Industrial Revolution. Have you read it?

Yes, I have read the Third Industrial Revolution.  I found it a bit schizophrenic. He has a lot of great understandings, and a lot of great ideas, and yet they are mixed with what I felt were contradictory ideas around continued growth and this idea of another industrial revolution. I'll take a look at that thread when I have some time, thanks.

Thanks David for pointing to your extremely well researched and synthesized articles. I have to say the energy subject is worth a week long get-together somewhere for a multi-disciplinary deep dive.

Somewhere, someway there may be a 'meeting point' between the exterior and interior energy domains, I intuit!

Rifkin has piqued my curiosity largely due to his philosophical-scientific treatment on the very notion of 'progress'. In many ways, I detect bright glimpses of meta-systemic thinking in his work, though I haven't grokked it in much detail, yet. His The Empathic Civilization is on my reading list, to which Odum's book is the latest entry. I suspect he does understand the problems with the conventional growth paradigm, but tactfully stays clear of direct denouncement as he is mindful of the average centre of gravity of the audience. Which brings us back to the central theme of the paper - the cosmology which can gently deflect the agentic energy of modernity towards growth with a different meaning!

I've also had my criticisms of Rifkin in the linked thread. E.g. in the initial post for retaining the name 'capitalism,' which has specific meaning counter to the P2P meme he espouses. I did note further on though that perhaps he is taking account of the transition phase from capitalism to P2P. Also see this post and following for a critique of Rifkin's use of capitalism. Also later in the thread I provided quotes where Rifkin clarifies the term more in line with P2P. In this post I criticized his support for Germany's austerity program. As to a spiral dynamics view of his 'center of gravity,' see this post.

As for growth I only see he references 'sustainable' growth, so not sure what specifically he's said to indicate the same rate of unsustainable growth inherent to the 1st two industrial revolutions? I did point to the growth issue in this post, Krugman commenting on another author into the 3 revolutions, Robert Gordon. Gorgon thinks the 3rd revolution will have far less growth, though Krugman questions this given the current socio-economic paradigm. Rifkin though is high on the socio-part of the paradigm changing as well, the nature of P2P distribution, which values sustainable economic growth.

Neelesh and theurj: Great comments on Rifkin, and I concur with your analysis. It's been a year and a half since I read that book, and I'm sure I mis-spoke regarding his take on growth. I took notes, but I can't find them now. I also have The Empathic Civilization on my reading list, but not The Hydrogen Economy. We can use the other thread if we want to continue to discuss Rifkin.

Back to the questions at the top of the thread.  Balder, thanks once again for reposting these, and your thoughtful responses. I don't feel fully qualified to answer a lot of these questions myself, but I'll offer a few comments.

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?

My exposure to Bhaskar is extremely limited, but I like the way Tim layed this out. As Balder stated, "viewing them together, in a complementary way, is fruitful."

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

I appreciate the important contribution you've made here Balder, regarding the distinction between the "ic" and the "ology," though I can't honestly say I fully grok it. It still feels a bit hazy to me.

I like Tim's statement that "It is through a method of inquiry that the 'sign-ificance' of the relationship between epistemology and the ontology can be transformed into a dynamic pattern of order. This is the essence of semiotic enactment." (emphasis his)

This gives me another little window of insight into how he sees his pattern diagrams as a methodology to  create cultural meaning - a "dynamic pattern of order.' 

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

I don't really have a specific question about the diagrams...am trying to remember why I asked this question. I think I just found it interesting to see the Semiotic Enactment overlaid on the quadrants. As Tim says, a "more dynamic, semiotic, feminine/relational, perspectival systems view" overlaid on the Integral Theory quadrants diagram, which is "a more static, theoretical, masculine/distinction-making, perspectival 'map' (cartographical) view."

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."

Balder wrote: "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..."

It is beyond my pay grade to begin to comment whether it works to put "semiotic," "intransitive domain," and "zone of subsistence" at the center of the circle. What comes to mind, however, is the idea that we don't necessarily need to try to synthesize these things as referring to exactly the same thing ("an easy identification" as you say), but perhaps they work as being very roughly parallel? That by touching in with each of them from the perspective of their own systems provides a useful process, or that at different times using different models might be useful, depending on the situation and context? If so, it might be useful to put them side by side in one diagram such as is done in figure 7. I looked at some of the slides from Sean's keynote presentation - wasn't he suggesting using these models as parallel perspectives rather than trying to synthesize them into 1 grand unified system?

 

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 came into Tim's paper sympathetic to anything coming from Whitehead, and I have enjoyed reading Ken's related ideas around prehension. However, I find Tim's ideas about pansemiotics to be equally intriguing, and I really like how he has articulated material, efficient, formal, and final causes.

I am eager soon to have a discussion around questions 6 though 9.

Hi, David, thanks for offering your own thoughts on your questions, and for keeping this thread "warm."  I spent today, on breaks at work and at home this evening, re-reading Tim's paper.  I find I still have some of the same questions I raised initially (I think I am dense and it takes a little time for things to percolate through), but this weekend I will try to write a little more.

In the meantime, I wanted to provide two resources to this thread -- one an article that I had intended to recommend to Tim at the ITC, if I had had a chance to talk to him after his presentation (I did not); and one a video I found featuring Tim in conversation with others on his Pattern Dynamics model.

David Bohm's Soma-Significance: A New Notion of the Relationship between the Phy...

and ...

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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?

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