Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I just came across an essay on religious pluralism which appears to touch on some of the themes we've explored here in the past (I've read the abstract and conclusion so far, and will dig in to the rest tomorrow.)
The Postmetaphysics of Religious Difference
For those interested, here's the abstract:
This article contests the dominant paradigm in the theology of
religions which promotes a type of pluralism purporting to recognise a
limited form of “otherness” and “difference” but which emerges upon
analysis to obviate these by incorporating religions into a single theological
or philosophical schema, reducing their concrete plurality and
particularity to an abstract unity based on ontotheological
presuppositions. It therefore proposes a perspective that draws upon
contemporary postmetaphysical thought, particularly the work of
Rosenzweig and Levinas. It suggests that the appropriate posture in the
face of religious difference is one that valorises otherness and nurtures
and sustains religious difference.
I too just read the abstract and conclusion so far. From that I glean this to be akin to your paper on religious pluralism. So I ask how has your view of kennilingus changed from the exploration of the other? It still seems to me that at root of kennilingus is exactly what this article, and religious polydoxy, criticizes. That is, an ontotheology of the one true reality at base of all religions within which all else must be 'transcended and included' (subsumed).
Also of note from the conclusion is the emphasis on the ethical as first philosophy, including justice. And how we've recently seen this apparent lack in kennilingus through the eyes of the critical theorists noted in that thread.
And also how this type of ethical pluralism seems more in line with some of the main tenets of OOO.
PS: It also seems that the type of QM Tom promotes also has this ontotheological base in positing a Universal Reality of All.
Just reading a few paragraphs into the section on abstraction he makes points I've made in the real/false reason thread. For example, ontotheological (metaphysical) arguments assume a disembodied ideal form at root of phenomena. "Such abstraction is executed and justified as if the perpetrators occupy an independent, overriding, or 'meta' position." Kennilingus par excellence, such abstract reasoning the root of hierarchical complexity, distinct from the strange mereology of OOO.
I like this definition of the other from footnote 27, p. 9:
"The term refers to a notion of the other outside the binary opposition between self and other, an independent and autonomous other with its own qualities and attributes. The other is outside of, unpredictable by and ontologically prior to the subject."
Sounds like OOO again.
I like this quote from p. 15, again reminiscent of OOO and interesting in its use of the word integral. Indeed it seems trademarked integral partakes of the type of Hegelianism that in this section Rosenzweig criticizes.
"In opposition to the integral, self-identical totality of Western metaphysics, Rosenzweig proposed the notion of constellation, according to which reality is not totalised as a fully integrated system but preserved in its variegated and irreducible multiplicity and plurality against the imperialistic incorporating grasp of Reason."
And Levinas' definition of the Other on p. 21 as "another category of understanding, a ‘mode of intelligibility’, a way of indicating a subject/object relation beyond/ before the formal relations of logic."
I am reminded of a document which I like to share in one of my classes. It's a document on interreligious dialogue put out by The Dialogue Institute.
SEVEN STAGES OF DEEP-DIALOGUE
Global Dialogue Institute
RADICAL ENCOUNTERING OF DIFFERENCE:
SELF FACES THE OTHER
This first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of an Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpretation. With this primal encounter there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot make sense of this Other. This radical encounter with Difference -- a different world, a different way of making sense of and experiencing the world -- is disconcerting, sometimes threatening, and evokes a vulnerability to this alien presence. I have a new sense of delimitation and I feel challenged to change, to revise my way of relating to this Other. I realize now that my habit of translating the Other into my pattern of "minding," of appropriating the Other to my worldview, is dysfunctional. So I face a sudden silence, pause, opening -- an open horizon of uncertainty and risk. I must make a decision to move forward -- or draw back.
CROSSING OVER--LETTING GO AND ENTERING THE WORLD OF THE OTHER:
SELF TRANSFORMED THROUGH EMPATHY
After the initial shock and realization that I now face an alien world, a worldview very different from my own, I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I need to stand back and distance myself from my former habits and patterns of minding the world. I begin to realize that this other world organizes and processes the world very differently from my way. I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world. I must learn a "new language." Indeed, I must translate myself into a different form of life that sees the world differently. This involves a bracketing of my prejudices.
INHABITING AND EXPERIENCING THE WORLD OF THE OTHER:
SELF TRANSFORMED INTO THE OTHER
I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I want to let myself go -- free myself to enter, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being. I hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but I do advance in a conservative fashion. Still, I experience an excitement in discovering, in inhabiting a new and different worldview. I have a new profound realization of an-Other, an alternative reality and form of life. But in the end I realize this is not my home.
CROSSING BACK WITH AN EXPANDED VISION:
SELF RETURNS HOME WITH NEW KNOWLEDGE
I now cross back, return, to my own world, bringing back new knowledge of how to think and act -- and may even wish to adopt/adapt some of it for myself. As a result of this Primary Encounter with the world of the Other, I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. I encounter my Self and Culture anew, with a newly opened mind. My encounter with radical difference now challenges my former Identity, and everything begins to appear in a new light. There now begins a dramatic deepening of my sense of my Self, my Identity, my Ethnicity, my Lifeworld, my Religion, my Culture... There is no return to my former unilateral way of minding.
THE DIALOGICAL AWAKENING:
A RADICAL PARADIGM-SHIFT SELF INWARDLY TRANSFORMED
As a result of this new encounter with Self, when I cross back from my deep encounter with an Other I begin to experience a profound shift in all aspects of my world -- in my inner experience, in my encounter with others, in my relating to the world. I begin to realize that my encounter with the Other has shaken the foundation of my former worldview, my former identity. For now that I am mindful of the living reality of other worlds, other perspectives, I can no longer return to my former identity and forget this living presence of the Other. Indeed, I now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me. I now open to a plurality of other worlds and perspectives and this irrevocably changes my sense of Self. I feel transformed to a deeper sense of relation and connection with my ecology. I feel more deeply rooted in this experience of relationality and community. I now see that my true identity is essentially connected with this expansive network of relations with Others. This is the ignition of the Dialogical Awakening.
THE GLOBAL AWAKENING:
THE PARADIGM-SHIFT MATURES SELF RELATED TO SELF, OTHERS, THE WORLD
In my transformed dialogical awakening I discover a deeper common ground between the multiple worlds and perspectives that surround me. I have a new sense that Self and Others are inseparably bound together in a boundless inter-relational web. I realize that multiplicity and diversity enriches my Self and my World. I now see that all worlds are situated in a common ground of reality and that radical differences are nevertheless situated in a field of Unity. I experience three related dimensions of global dialogical awakening:
a) An ever deepening discovery of Self: I become aware of a deep inner dialogue within my Self. I discover a rich multiplicity and diversity of perspectives within my own inner world. In this inner dialogue I feel increasingly more deeply rooted and grounded in my world. My Identity is enriched with multiplicity and I experience a more potent sense of my uniqueness as I celebrate my expanded world of relationality with Others and with the Ecology.
b) A dynamic dialogue opens with Others in my Community: As my new inner dialogue evolves I find myself in a new and transformed relation with others who share my world, my tradition, my religion, my culture. This new phase of relations with my peers can be disorienting and disconcerting, for as I now dramatically grow in my Identity I find myself in an estranged distance from many of my peers, even as I discover a deeper affinity and embrace of my community, my polis. I face a new turbulence -- miscommunication and misunderstanding with my colleagues-and a challenging and dramatic dialogue unfolds in my polis.
c) A global awakening emerges in all aspects of my life: As this inner and outer dialogue matures I realize that my understanding of my world enters a new "global" light: I realize that I am surrounded with many worldviews. I enter a global horizon and a global consciousness in which inter-religious, inter-cultural, inter-ideological, inter-disciplinary, inter-personal dialogues abound in all directions. I now have a new globalized sense of reality -- a dialogical domain in which multiple alternative worlds are situated in dynamic ever-deepening relations. With this understanding comes a new attitude to life and to ethics.
PERSONAL AND GLOBAL TRANSFORMING OF LIFE AND BEHAVIOR:
SELF LIVES AND ACTS IN A NEW GLOBAL DIALOGICAL CONSCIOUSNESS
As this paradigm-shift in my life matures I realize that there is a deep change in all aspects of my life -- a new moral consciousness and a new practice. As my new dialogical consciousness becomes a habit of life I find that my behavior and my disposition to Self and Other has blossomed. I feel a new sense of communion with my Self, with Others and with the Ecology. I realize that the deepest care for my Self essentially involves my care for Others and for the environment. I have a deeper sense of belonging to my world, to my community, and with this a boundless sense of responsibility in all of my conduct. I now realize that I am transformed in the deepest habits of mind and behavior. I find a deeper sense of Self-realization and fulfillment and meaning in my life and my relations with others and the world around me.
Theurj: So I ask how has your view of kennilingus changed from the exploration of the other?
In my paper, as you know, I tried to reason from certain principles within recent Integral thought towards a conclusion which really is not embraced by Wilber at this date -- one which is more "pluralist" and less "ontotheological" than the official version of Integral remains.
Right now, I find myself in an uncertain place, still aligned with the overall intent of my paper, and in general agreement with some of the critiques offered by Levinas and OOO (among others), and yet also wanting to honor unity experiences. For instance, on the one hand, an argument for the irreducibility of otherness and difference seems to provide ethical protection against totalizing metaphysics which would seek to absorb all others into its own understanding or form (and this was largely the thrust of the argument in my paper); on the other hand, there is a kenotic, self-emptying movement, a movement towards union with or deep opening to other in which self is released and something greater is birthed, and in light of which an insistence on irreducible difference could be seen as a reactive movement of self-preservation, of self-contraction in the face of a progressive dissolution.
If pressed, I think I'd still want to say that particularity is not lost even in such a movement. But there's that death moment in kenotic agape, and orgasmic release, in which dissolution of self is blissful, desired, fulfilling. Insistence on absolute otherness can be related to as the inverse of the demand for the inviolability and impregnability of "self" (no one will make demands on, or ever "have," me!), and the history behind God-as-inscrutable Other is not without its own problems*, so I'm leaning in the direction of a (paradoxical) holding of both otherness and union+.
* God's inscrutability and resistance to reason has, in the past, been used to prop up, or enforce, doctrinal absolutes, and to insulate them from rational critique.
+ Or, negatively framed, settling neither for oneness nor manyness as a metaphysical absolute.
I saw the movie A Dangerous Method yesterday. There is much to explore about it and I may start a thread later, but I want to bring up a couple of its points here. Freud keeps bringing up to Jung the significance of his Jewish heritage distinct from his Aryan milieu. This is also a point in Bendle's article with Rosenzweig and Levinas, that having survived the holocaust makes concrete the devastating reality of what comes from an Aryan totalitarian paradigm and hence their response to it. One of the ways this plays out is Freud's insistence that psychoanalytic interpretation stick to the concrete, like sexuality, whereas Jung keeps searching for 'mystical' unities, rather endemic in the German idealists.
Another interesting relevance in the movie is the idea of the death wish, which apparently Freud got from Fraulein Spielrein, once a rather disturbed but 'cured' patient of Jung. Like what you note above she talked of the dissolution of self during the sexual orgasm, and that this wish for union was indeed a wish for the death of the ego. But again, she seemed to side with Freud on this one, that this was not some sort of metaphysical or religious union with a totalizing All but rather a more concrete notion of putting aside one's individuality in service of a broader, social self. This is something we see playing out with Bendle and the religious polydox in general.
The quotes I culled from the article above make clear though that this pluralism of the other is not an other in distinction from the self, as if they were opposites in a formal logic. It comes from "another category of understanding, a ‘mode of intelligibility’...beyond/ before the formal relations of logic." This is not to say that it is sans some kind of unity experience, for there is the mix of the death and sex instinct per above that leads to a more just social polity. It is just sans the ontotheological kind of unity that totalizes and subsumes difference. Just as there is a form of unity in OOO's strange mereology that also resists this totalitarianism. And just as there is a sort of paradoxical holding of unity and diversity, self and other, sameness and difference in the likes of differance, it is of a different kind than that of the Hegelian dialectic. And yes, it too is a kind of absolute (or perhaps ontology), but again a bird of a different feather fully amenable to rational critique.
From p. 24: "For Levinas, 'political totalitarianism and violence...were inseparable from the ontological totalitarianism of Western philosophy.'"
I'm also reminded of the work of another Jewish philosopher, David Michael Levin. Recall this thread, an extension of an earlier Gaia thread. In particular this post, and the few following, highlight some of the topics in this thread. For example this quote, taken from a reference Balder provided above it:
"What I want to argue here...is...the voices of the non-identical: what cannot be subsumed and contained...by the 'sober,' tone-deaf concepts produced by our strictly 'rational' understanding—a hearing in excess of, or say beyond, our concepts for grasping and comprehending them; a hearing impossible within the ontologies codified by both rationalism and empiricism, both of which enshrine in reification the structure that positions a subjective interior opposite an objective exterior” (65-6).
I recall in our previous discussions of Levin that he too saw a postformal means of apprehension after formal rationality. But it too was also not of the Hegelian and kennilingual transcend-and-include variety. Rather in his stage 4 we (re)turned inward and downward, more fully incorporating (embodying) the always already with the not yet, in a sense a much more transformal move like we see above than one of an extended, formal rationale of increasing complexity.
Levin also wrote chapter 14 in Postmodernism and the Holocaust (Rodopi, 1998) on how that event haunted Derrida's work, another Jew. It is interesting, and apt, that such an event would lead to a complete transformation of the prevailing philosophy.
Nice link to Levin's work. I'd forgotten that text, and now am interested in seeing if I can locate a copy of it. (The darned Nook, cool as it is, doesn't have a lot of the texts I'm interested in available for it.) Levin, of course, references an all-encompassing Nature, which OOO folks would reject, but his discussion of the voice of the other (inspired as it is by Levinas) is certainly relevant to this thread. I'm reminded of my recent conversation with Tom, regarding the present (very high) rate of extinction. I understand, I think, what Tom is saying regarding accepting this as in some sense "natural" and understandable in light of the transitions now taking place, but I nevertheless feel concerned for those many voices and beings that we are forever silencing through our present exploitative, resource-oriented relationship with the earth and its non-human inhabitants, and feel it is also right to speak out for them in some way -- to let ourselves be existentially and ethically confronted, and challenged, by those faces, those others, as one might do symbolically in a Council of All Beings retreat. I take it that that is what Levin is doing in his book, and Abram, Swimme, and Berry are doing in theirs.
I'm not sure if you're aware of the study course that Bonnie is about to lead -- The Magellan Courses -- but one of the authors she is recommending, the architect Christopher Alexander, argues that we have largely forgotten how to build and design communities and structures which are self-(re)generating living systems, i.e., truly in relationship with and responsive to their particular environments. (He started out trying to understand the nature of, and the generative patterns that inform, constructed environments that are nurturing and life-giving for human beings, and found eventually that he could not do so without also considering the conditions, needs, etc, of surrounding non-human living systems). It seems to me that this call for such a non-anthropocentric, "democratic" approach to design is in line with Levinas' ethics and the OOO concern with articulating and realizing a post-anthropocentric democracy of objects.
Theurj: Like what you note above she talked of the dissolution of self during the sexual orgasm, and that this wish for union was indeed a wish for the death of the ego. But again, she seemed to side with Freud on this one, that this was not some sort of metaphysical or religious union with a totalizing All but rather a more concrete notion of putting aside one's individuality in service of a broader, social self.
I'd like to see that film; I will soon, I hope. Concerning this union being social rather than mystical, I don't see it in either/or terms. I don't think there's just one type of "real" union. I think there is value in both mystical (UL) and sociocultural (LL) experiences and expressions of unitive events, which can be mutually informing but which are also both irreducible objects (in OOO terms) in their own right.
Theurj: The quotes I culled from the article above make clear though that this pluralism of the other is not an other in distinction from the self, as if they were opposites in a formal logic.
Yes, I can see that in the text -- and in Levinasian ethics, or Buber's existentialism, for instance (or Panikkar's perichoretic philosophy). I'm not sure, however, this is really sustained in the OOO account. To speak of other and self as mutually determining or co-constitutive is to privilege a relational view.