I'm not sure about the term 'post-metaphysical' - does it mean trying to find a ground for 'spirit' without appeal to unknowable special qualities. Or does it mean finding a place holder for that mystery other than 'God'. Or what? I'd appreciate a straightforward explanation of what is meant by the term. Or, a link to such a discussion. 


I should say I come with the bias that I believe the height and the core of being alive is to surrender to mystery, that, indeed, the world is unknowable in any final sense. That said, I'm prepared to entertain other views. Or, it may even be that my views and 'post metaphysical' are compatible? 



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I accept the general definition of metaphysics, as a branch of knowledge concerned with fundamental questions of being or the nature of existence.  But this definition can be refined.

For instance, here's something I wrote in the paper I delivered last summer at the 2010 Integral Theory conference:
Concerning the relationship of Integral Theory to the approaches of Cobb and Heim, the first point I would like to emphasize here is an aim or a functional orientation that I believe is common to all three:  the desire to construct a model which is able to honor, preserve, and integrate as much religious "truth" or particularity as possible. In the cases of Cobb and Heim, [snip]....In contrast, the Integral approach advocated here proceeds on both meta-metaphysical (post-metaphysical) and metaphysical levels simultaneously. Meta-metaphysically, the Integral approach embraces metaphysical pluralism, viewing metaphysical systems as enactive operators which play a role in the enactment of particular, ontologically rich worldspaces. In this context, post-metaphysics, as Joel David Morrison (2007) well describes it, "is not ultimately a feature of the metaphysical system itself, but a cognitive or conceptual aperspectival stance which imposes an acategorical imperative — a meta-metaphysical and metacategorical framework — in which the absolute truth claims of any metaphysics are suspended in the relative world of justification, partly through the rational truth that all truth claims may be subject, endlessly, to further analysis" (p. 50). Specifically, as discussed above, an Integral post-metaphysical approach will insist that metaphysical systems and ontologies be framed injunctively......On the metaphysical level (in both inter-religious and Integral Spiritual spheres), Wilber (2006) has proposed a powerful, integrative framework: an approach he calls the Three Faces of God (or Spirit). This metaphysical framework -- which, like Cobb's and Heim's, is capable of non-reductively accounting for and integrating a variety of the 'ultimates' and 'ends' described and pursued in the world's major religious traditions, as well as enacting new soteriological horizons within the traditions that adopt it -- is suggested by Integral Methodological Pluralism itself, the enactive, meta-paradigmatic "engine" of Integral Theory, but it avoids being "merely metaphysical," in the sense Wilber criticizes, through the injunctive framing called for by the post-metaphysical, acategorical imperative described above.

In this light, metaphysics might be defined as that discipline which concerns itself with the most general of categories, and with their relationship both to each other and to less general categories.  Ed might have to chime in here to correct me, but in my understanding, this is why Derrida says metaphysics is inescapable: our knowledge systems necessarily rest on and variously 'work out' or embody these (implicit or explicit) relationships.

And an integral postmetaphysical approach is aperspectival and acategorical: not anti-categorical, but a-categorical and thus meta-metaphysical.  Postmetaphysics accommodates metaphysical pluralism, polydoxy (where, in Wilber's framing, metaphysical category-systems are like 'programs' one may 'run').

Yes, I think that's a good question -- one worth digging into a little bit.  My sense of this approach is that the injunctive emphasis is not, or should not be read, merely as a requirement for 'empirical support.'  To emphasize injunction is to acknowledge the performative and embodied nature of our claims.  It is to acknowledge the intertwining of epistemology and ontology in actual occasions.

What do you think?

Yes, I agree that empiricism is based on faith (metaphysics), in the sense you mean.

How do you view your earlier observations that intuitional, implicatory tracing is 'the way forward' for a new paradigm of science (and more), in relation to the notion of 'injunction'?  Is an 'intuitional approach' one that can be distinguished from other possible approaches, and if so, do you see it as a sort of 'injunction'?

Tom:  An intuitional approach could probably be called an injunction, depending of course what one means by intuition.  For purposes of personal realization, I prefer to call the intuitional mode self-trust, which is what I take Tolle to mean by acceptance of what is.

There are multiple ways to read this, but there seems to be an implicit injunction here:  Trust yourself, accept what is.  The yoga of trust.

I believe I understand your concern here, however, which is that an injunctive framing seems to suggest a linear, paint-by-numbers approach to knowledge or understanding.  I also would like to avoid that, which is why I defined injunction previously the way that I did.

And yet it still makes sense (in my view) to appeal to or connect knowledge claims with injunctions.  You wrestled intensively with contradiction, then understanding suddenly dawned; and you see Bohr having done something similar, wresting with quantum puzzles and then suddenly 'breaking through' to (or being graced by) sought-for/unexpected insight.  And Bohr's wrestling was in the context of other particular (and sophisticated) injunctions: to learn about the quantum world, perform the double-slit experiment, study black body radiation or the photoelectric effect. 

Wilber has a saying, "The meaning of an assertic or ontic statement is the means of its enactment."  More cautiously, we might simply say, "The means of an assertic or ontic statement is inseparable from the means of its enactment."  Quantum understanding is inseparable from its injunctions, interiorly and exteriorly.

In Zen, this is presented holistically. You don't sit shikantaza in order to cause or produce enlightenment, 1-2-3.  Sitting shikantaza is enlightenment.  This is a kind of wholeness insight.

Hi Balder,


Yes, I agree that empiricism is based on faith ...


But so is everything else.  There is no self-evident, axiomatic truth that we can point to or communicate that does not invoke at least some faith.  Relatively speaking, however, a claim with empirical support seems more reasonable than something without.

Yes, I agree; I didn't mean to suggest otherwise, nor to say that empiricism is thereby invalidated or non valuable.

Interesting -- this links, in my mind, to something I was reflecting on this morning.  I was making a connection between my observations on injunction in the previous two posts, an early post I wrote to you on the Machine thread (where I talked about non-linear structural coupling), and Goethe's notions of Bildung (self-cultivation) and the growth of new organs of perception.  I'm busy at the moment, but will return to flesh that out...

Thomas said:

Bruce: There are multiple ways to read this, but there seems to be an implicit injunction here:  Trust yourself, accept what is.  The yoga of trust.


Try this.  Assume I could trust more deeply, and that by that deeper trusting would more deeply understand how my life and feelings and thoughts and relations were all informed---structured---by that previous, lower-degree trust. 


How I think is how I am.  What I enact is how I am.  What I say can be read as a signal of my integration-quotient, my self-trust of being just who I am.


Pure allowing, the return of the given and of the magic of life-myth as: I give me.

Tom:  Assume I could trust more deeply, and that by that deeper trusting would more deeply understand how my life and feelings and thoughts and relations were all informed---structured---by that previous, lower-degree trust.

Tom:  Most people call that which underlies thinking "the unconscious" and further assume that that underlay "causes" awareness.  That's a Newtonian notion, and obsolete.  The idea performed its necessary developmental function and now has been released into pasture.

Tom:  You can see from this that my thinking is not representational in the normal vein.  It's meta-representational, which is appropriate to its non-causal, non-Newtonian, non-reductive, non-materialistic, non-historicalistic style.

The bolded phrases in the first two quotes appear to suggest a historical or quasi-historical perspective.  In your speech, are you making concessions to historical-type language, and so not fully representing your present understanding (your how-you-are-ness), or are you using and interpreting these phrases in a way that is consistent with your non-causal and non-historical outlook?




P.S.  I quite enjoyed Bohm's Thought as a System.  I read the unpublished post-workshop materials that were circulating around for awhile before I read the book (they had a copy at the Krishnamurti Library in Rajghat, India), and actually liked that rough, unpublished version better.

Tom:  That would be non-causal history, Bruce.  That's a very different perspective from saying an historical emergent is caused in that Newtonian linear way---the unconscious "produces" consciousness, matter "produces" awareness, etc., the usual materialist reductions.  History doesn't simply disappear in the move to a non-linear understanding.  It becomes radically revisioned.  Because it is radically revisioned, it itself is not historically produced or caused.

Thanks for your clarification, Tom.  I agree -- I do not think, either, that the notion of history drops entirely out of the picture with the move to an integral aperspectival or complexity view, which you are calling non-causal and non-historical; rather, as you say, it is reinterpreted, re-envisioned.

Tom:  Let's put the history matter this way.  If archetypal elements repeat in history---if history comprises a show of, among other things, archetypal themes---those elements or themes are not produced by history.  They're given.  Any emergent is an emergent in that.  At its broadest reach, that that is wholeness.

Are these historically repeating givens, in your view, given-for-all or given-for-some (e.g., some relational subset of wholeness)?  In other words, are archetypes themselves relational?

Tom:  And so far as emergence is emergence of something new---the emergent appearance of difference---emergents are themselves not produced.  Difference---its appearance---cannot be linearly caused, per Nagarjuna, etc.

Nagarjuna would agree that emergents are not produced, but would go on to argue that they are also not non-produced, not both, not neither.

Tom:  If causation is infinite, movement, emergence and appearance are better called something like bootstrapping correlatedness, a movement of the holoflux in the manner of self-same differencing.  Quantum physics says about such movements that there is only relatedness among any relevatables isolated by analysis or view.  That super-relatedness itself develops, but that development is not causal because, by being infinite (non-definite, unlimited), causation has been negated.  Causation is therefore a relevate-subset of relation.  And relation, by its very nature, implies wholeness: I become I as you become you.

Yes, this is quite close to the Bon view I have described previously, which is also radically relational: differencing, multiplicity, plurality, do not deny but rather imply or 'testify to' wholeness.

Tom:  Notice that the typically-used notion of historical is a form of causation analysis or viewing.  It's but a practical tool for influencing matter-bits, that influence being of course of the nature of relation-differencing, a self-saming differencing where what appears appears only as it is in relation to what everything else is as it is.  The sameness in self-same is this wholeness fractal pattern.  The difference that appears appears always-already so patterned.  And all such differences, being absolutely unique, themselves cannot be accounted for causally.

While also not embracing or endorsing a simplistic linear-causal understanding of 'history,' I find historical referencing still relevant in an integral postmetaphysical frame.  Relation-differencing influence appears to follow an arrow of time, at least in certain relevant domains.  I do not come out of the womb writing essays on philosophy forums; I have to learn words and phrases first; perhaps read books or study with teachers.  I don't run 5 K's before I can toddle to my feet.  There's a relational pathway we can trace out that is not entirely arbitrary (I don't start speaking Areminian or Uighur spontaneously in a culture of English-only speakers).  And historical tracing is useful also for deconstructing certain social 'givens,' as Nietzsche and Foucault have shown:  we may take our present social or sexual mores as timelessly given, always-already truths, while a genealogical analysis can show how the narrative stream has shifted over time, how the current narrative 'gestalt' highlights or privileges certain themes over others, etc.  I do not take the 'pathway' traced out by such analysis to be 'the' actual linear pathway that led deterministically to the present; I agree that another individual can just as well trace out another lineage of decisions and narratives.  The value of such an exercise, for me, is not in 'finding' the actual Newtonian-linear 'explanation,' but in both disturbing certain sedimented and recalcitrant views, and inviting an opening, a clearing, for the new.

The value of such an exercise, for me, is not in 'finding' the actual Newtonian-linear 'explanation,' but in both disturbing certain sedimented and recalcitrant views, and inviting an opening, a clearing, for the new.

You're sounding more and more like a Derridude all the time man! ;)

Damn!  In spite of my own recalcitrance, too.  I may have to break down and read the dude.

Yes, certainly, I accept that there are multiple modes of knowing.  But even so, if wholeness cognition is situated in the brain, as you have said before, then I don't think you can get away from 'interpretation'/'hermeneutics' in the broad sense that I mean it, e.g., that your knowing (tacit and explicit) intimately bears the stamp of you. 


Your own posts here testify to that: the vision you are articulating is distinctly Tom-ish.

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