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.

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I'd agree that no one methodology can exhaust an object's agency a la OOO. However, how can we coordinate the various methodologies through a meta-paradigm? Isn't that one of the goals of an integral approach? We have AQAL, which does a gigi-glossary comparison, but that doesn't tell us much about how they interrelate, partly due to a lack of the 'you' dimension per Edwards criticisms. And it seems like at least some of these 2nd-person approaches are in fact the 'relational' and 'in-between' meta-methods by which to correlate the 1st and 3rd person. Again they don't exhaust or fully define an object yet they provide a more comprehensive coordination of multiple perspectives. In a less critical mood (like now) I might even suggest that this is one of the attributes of a cross-paradigmatic level of cognitive complexity. Except that (critic returning) such models of complexity themselves are sorely lacking in such 2nd person insights we see in this thread, with consequent gaps (more like gaping holes) in their cross-paradigms.

From Edwards' Ph.D. dissertation:

“Integration in the metatheory building context does not mean to create one super-theory but rather to bring many different viewpoints together so that their strengths and weaknesses can be recognized....Rather that simply reproducing dominant theoretical ideologies, metatheory undermines them through this reflexive raising of consciousness about the relationships between theories. And this is, in fact, why several metatheorists have argued that postmodernism is itself a metatheoretical enterprise” (13-15).

Chapter 7.5 goes into how the holon concept can be used to integrate the multitude on lenses he enumerates in the paper. More later.

In chapter 7.5 he discusses 4 types of holon relations: intra, inter, systemic and intersystemic. Intra shows the dynamics of a single holon (which could be an individual or a group). Inter shows how holons relate. Systemic shows the relationship between holons and the holarchy in which they are embedded. Intersystemic shows relationships between holarchies. Intra is typical of developmentalists. Inter is used by communication and mediation focuses, generally pomo. Systemic is where dynamic systems come in. And intersystemic shows relationships of the first 3. It appears this categorization could itself be seen as a developmental holarchy, like moving from formal to pluralistic to systemic to metasystemic cognition, but I don’t think that’s how Edwards presents it.

Figure 7.16 on p. 197 with accompanying text is interesting in that it shows an intersystemic relation between ecological holoarchy and perspectival lenses. The latter we’ve seen before in Edwards 1st, 2nd and 3rd person holons above. It is interesting though that the 2nd person perspective of “relationships” is also the inter-holonic pomo type above. That is, while it might be useful to categorize it into these boxes my sense is that it is, in itself, a metatheory that breaks out of these boxes and can itself organize all these various lenses within an overall general and semi-universal “super-theory.” God no, a metanarrative emerging from pomo! Say it ain’t so!

I’m also reminded of Edwards' statement from another source dated after the publication of his dissertation:

“I regard integral metastudies as a counterpart to the more typical forms of decentering and deconstructing postmodernism…. Decentering, pluralist postmodern research is not something I believe is to be integrated within an integral metastudies….an integral metastudies needs a decentering postmodernism that it cannot integrate, that lies outside of its scientific and systematic purview, which continually challenges it and is critical of its generalizations, abstractions, and universalizings. The decentering form of particularizing postmodernism is not something that integral metatheory can locate or neatly categorize somewhere within its general frameworks. Decentering postmodernism will always provide a source of critical insight and substantive opposition to the generalizing goals of an integral metastudies…. there is a danger that integral researchers can misrepresent…postmodernism as simple relativism.”

In the dissertation in the referenced section he notes how pomo can miss the developmental holarchy, just as the latter misses pomo insights on relations. I'm all for both and reiterate that pomo indeed makes a universal claim, but of a different sort than the formal developmentalists. And it is indeed a higher cognitive level in metasystems and cross-paradigms, at the very least a compliment to what Edwards calls integral metatheories.

Thanks for sharing this, Ed.  Harman's overview of objects' four modes of relationship at the conclusion of The Quadruple Object seems like it might provide a useful complement.  I'd already been intending to type it up (since Harman is clearly advocating for a type of integrative metatheory in his conclusion), so I'll see if I can do that this weekend.

Did you find the time for the above project. I'm curious how it relates to Edwards' ideas.

I started typing this up yesterday, but got sidetracked with the music project.  I finished typing it this morning, and have posted it here.  I'm concerned, though, that while the connection to an integral/integrative orientation will be clear, the links to Edwards' model will be less clear without more background on what Harman means by real and sensual objects and qualities (his fourfold distinctions).



theurj said:

Did you find the time for the above project. I'm curious how it relates to Edwards' ideas.

If I understand Harman correctly, and I may not, his fourfold sort of tracks to the inside and outside of agency and communion in this way. Real objects exist in the physical world so they're like the outside of a holon (right quadrant(s). The sensual object exists only on the interior, perhaps the left quadrant(s)? Whereas the sensuous qualities might be more the agentic endo-relations, as Bryant might say (upper quadrant(s)), and the real qualities more the exo-relations (lower quadrant(s)? I'm not clear if how they might be more specific to UL, UR, LL or LR.

Agentic sensual object UL; agentic real object UR; communal sensual object LL, communal real object LR? But could all this be one holon, as with Edwards?

Yes, I think there is some possibility for overlap with the quadrants.  He is certainly proposing something like an integral methodological pluralism in the above.  And he also sees these four poles as connected within, or as constituting objects: hence, the fourfold object, rather than the four objects.

Yes, and since any relationship between objects (holons) is also an object (holon), this would be like Edwards' mediating holons. It certainly seems like another form of an IMP, sans the super dominant ideology. Where Harman (and OOO generally) are more specific seems to be in the withdrawal aspect of objects a la Derrida. Edwards accounts for this by noting pomo cannot be assimilated in an overall integral paradigm but he hasn't articulated this particular aspect like the OOOers. Conversely, he seems to suggest that an object can exist without its (at least exo) relations (or is that just Bryant?), and that would be taboo in Edwards holons.

Here are some excerpts from the article on social neuroscience linked on p. 3:

"Principles of social neuroscience

The first principle, multiple determinism, specifies that a social behavior at one level of organization (for example, attachment at the dyadic level) can have multiple antecedents within or across levels of organization (for example, various hormonal influences on attachment).

The second principle, nonadditive determinism, specifies that properties of the whole are not always readily predictable by the simple sum of their parts.

The third principle, reciprocal determinism, specifies that there can be mutual influences among biological and social factors in determining behavior.

If the solitary computer is a metaphor for cognitive neuroscience, the Internet is a metaphor for social neuroscience.... Both perspectives can produce valuable insights into the functions of neural structures and processes, but the functions that each perspective reveals are different."

Just a note.  I've been asked to do a follow-up on my article for an issue of JITP which will be dedicated to Integral Religious Studies.  Specifically, they are looking for an approach which integrates history of religions, comparative philosophy of religions, and constructive theology (in a kind of "religious studies IMP").  I'm thinking of using Panikkar's work for the comparative philosophy section, but may also bring in something like the essay that was the genesis of this thread; and will likely draw on some of the essays from Polydoxy for the constructive theology component (though Panikkar will be good there as well).

In doing research this morning for another essay on integral religious studies, I came across an essay discussing Panikkar in relation to John Hick's work, and in it, I found the following passage, which I thought was worth sharing in light of some of our other discussions on this forum.


Too many critics lump together the different proposals of pluralism and most often attack all of them on the basis of the particular pluralist hypothesis made by John Hick. Panikkar’s pluralism is quite different, first and foremost because while Hick accepts the skeptical consequences of Kantian epistemology, Panikkar rejects the premise of Enlightenment epistemology and instead proposes discourse based on the relational ontology of the cosmotheandric intuition. Panikkar explicitly denies that pluralism means that there are many different truths or that there are different ways of expressing one truth (as Hick’s pluralism suggests). The word pluralism may not be ideal to suggest the posture he prescribes of openness to the mystery and contingency and freedom of reality to manifest itself. Terms like Trinity and Advaita express this non-objectifiable mystery in orthodox Christian and Hindu language. (Panikkar 1981, 24) Pluralism is not a theoretical system or an attitude that respects religious diversity, but an attitude that respects the freedom of reality to transcend our systematizing efforts to contain and define it. It actively resists the tendency to absolutize any claims to validity. Pluralism affirms that “there is a fluxos quo which will never permit us to freeze anything real, that reality and the logos itself are open-ended.” (Panikkar 1996, 255) Contra Hegel, Panikkar rejects a panlogicism and denies that logos is the whole of human truth, and with the spirit of Heidegger, he affirms the opacity of Being as it unconceals itself and yet maintains itself outside the light of logos. In Panikkar’s usage, then, pluralism becomes a rejection of a rational logocentrism. As he writes, “pluralism is not a supersystem, a metalanguage...an intellectual panacea. Pluralism is an open, human attitude, which therefore entails an intellectual dimension that overcomes any kind of solipsism, as if we - any we - were alone in the universe, the masters of it, the holders of the Absolute.” (Panikkar 1996, 257) For Panikkar, pluralism is a religious prescription of extreme humility and a reminder to live without total security, to dwell religiously in our vulnerability. He describes this in the paradigm of Christian mysticism as kenosis. “Only when a Man is completely empty of himself, is in a state of kenosis, of renunciation and annihilation, will Christ fulfill his incarnation in him. Only kenosis allows incarnation and incarnation is the only way to redemption.” (Panikkar 1981, 61) The exercise of self-emptying or deconstruction is a religious mandate, in a sense. This is why pluralism and intrareligious dialogue are necessary for Panikkar.

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