Derrida's descriptions of khora and differance superficially appear to be like Wilber's description of consciousness per se in Integral Spirituality (Shambhala, 2007). For example Wilber says in Chapter 2:

"This happens to fit nicely with the Madhyamaka-Yogachara Buddhist view of consciousness as emptiness or openness. Consciousness is not anything itself, just the degree of openness or emptiness, the clearing in which the phenomena of the various lines appear (but consciousness is not itself a phenomena—it is the space in which phenomena arise)" (66).

Compare with this from Deconstruction in a Nutshell (Fordham UP, 1997):

“But something like khora is 'indeconstructible' not because she/it is a firm foundation, like a metaphysical ground or principle... Rather her indeconstructibility arises because she is...the space in which everything constructible and deconstructible is constituted, and hence...older, prior, preoriginary. Far from being a likeness to the God of the monotheisms...[it] is better compared to...the incomparable, unmetaphorizable, desert-like place without properties or genus....which is not be to confused with the Eternal, Originary Truth...of the intelligible paradigms above” (97-8).

I went into an exploration of Wilber's use of CPS on pages 4 and 5 of the IPN thread, how I think he uses the distinction metaphysically. So let's see how Derrida might be different. “Let us then, like the fool...ask 'what' differance 'is,' in a nutshell....[it] doesn't 'mean' anything at all” (99). After that quote Caputo launches into a discussion of linguistics, about how any word can only be defined in context with other words, and how that definition will change depending on the context of different words around it. In that sense meaning is all within relative context, and yet that differential between meanings, that space or interval in which meaning takes place, is itself not part of the context or meaning. Thus there is not one “essential” meaning of any word because it is contextualized within this play of differences, the play itself being a groundless ground in which meaning takes place.

This seems different than Wilber's metaphysical ground wherein all forms arise. The latter seems much more like Plato's archetypal realm of Ideal forms that step down into the sensible world and “in”form it. Granted Wilber doesn't see them as “pre-formed” but rather much more amorphous involutionary and morphogenetic “potentials.” Still, it seems this is part of the involutionary versus evolutionary dualistic scheme with one side being origin and absolute, with the other being result and relative. Derrida's differant khora is both outside and within that duality, not taking sides, as it were, but providing the stage upon which they play out their differences and similarities.

He does not stake out the ground of a higher principle but concedes a certain an-arche at the bottom of our principles. Derrida is not denying that we have 'principles' or 'truth'.... He is just reinscribing our truth and principles in the an-arche of differance, attaching to them a co-efficient of 'contingency.' For the only 'necessity' he acknowledges is the necessity that precedes all oppositions...inscribing them in a vast and meaning-less receptacle called differance. This is why you cannot ask what differance 'is,' for its 'meaning' or 'truth'....[it] but points a mute, Buddhist finger at the moon” (102).

This differant khora is thus a way to keep meaning open so that it doesn't become fixed and rigidified. All possibilities reside therein so that different contexts as yet unseen will provide new meaning. It requires that we are ceaselessly pushing out boundaries and testing our limits, boldly going where no one—except perhaps Jean Luc and crew—have gone before.

Or maybe those Buddhists to whom Wilber refers? Balder and Bonnitta have made the case for a similar type of open, groundless ground that is in Dzogchen. Maybe so. And that perhaps Wilber, while using that Buddhism, still retains some metaphysics in his interpretation?

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This interesting article investigates the political "science wars" between the feuding factions of chaos theory, between Prigogine's philosophical approach, which sees correlations with pomo cultural theory, and the more objectivist and applied approach of Mandelbrot et al. Seems to me that the former is a more integral, pluralist and interdisciplinary thinker whereas the latter was more of a paradigm absolutist imposing one methodology on all others. Interestingly, Prigogine is comfortable with and acknowledges that metaphor is essential to not only scientific theory but all theory, given theory's embodied root in it. Whereas the idealistic (and perhaps Platonist?) objectivists abhor such metaphoric contamination amongst its ranks, so much so that Prigogine has become persona non grata within their ranks. Which is all the more interesting since "Prigogine is the only man to have to have thus far won the Nobel Prize for work related to non-linear dynamics" as of the writing of this article.

I find this run-through of Derrida and Merleau-Ponty quite rich and suggestive. I have a number of questions, however: First, is deconstruction really the praxis that an Integral thought requires? – it might be the praxis that a philosopher working with texts might need, but don’t we need to go further/look elsewhere? I mentioned in another thread how David Loy envisages the concepts of Eckhart, Dogen and Hui-neng in comparison to Derrida.

Dogen’s Buddhism and Eckhart’s Christianity are religious because they offer much broader critiques of attachment intended to inform and alter the ways we live in the world…… part of of a larger, indeed holistic practice – including moral precepts, ritual, meditation exercises etc. – that develops non-attachment in all our activities and is therefore able to discover and liberate the ippo-gujin (realization of buddha-nature) in all of them.

 

How exactly would you argue for deconstruction as being a genuine praxis that has effects beyond how we respond to written texts? How would you argue for thought alone having effect on more than thought alone? How does deconstruction move the body? How does it develop non-attachment in all our activities?

And, if we do accept the limitations of thought: how can we relate the purely intellectual to other registers? Is it sufficient to merely think concepts for those concepts to work their way down and out into our bodies, actions, and enactments in the world? Perhaps deconstruction has virtues akin to the trickle-down effect in economics – working its down and out to the rest of us? (!) Although, such a top-heavy conception doesn’t seem to have much accord with an OOO’ democracy of objects,’ or an ANT ‘parliament of things’.

And then, of course, there is the expertise and knowledge that Derrida brings. How many can follow where he goes? Deconstruction is notorious for the tension between Derrida claiming it’s not a method and numerous Derrideans applying it as exactly that.

To read Aristotle and Plato well one must learn Greek, learn as much as possible about their predecessors, contemporaries and successors, about their religions, social, historical and political presuppositions, understand the complex history of subsequent interpretations of their works, etc." (78).

It is this type of thorough understanding of Plato that Derrida brings with his deconstructive reading, and the implications are right in Plato's text. "The very idea of a deconstructive reading presupposes this...classical reading....only after that reading, or through it, or best of all along with it, does a deconstructive reading settle in.... The idea is not to jettison the classical discipline but to disturb it by way of exploring what systematically drops through its grid and, by so disturbing it, open it up" (76-7).

In fact, I think this seemingly impossible task that gives rise to so much awful deconstruction is an important clue on how to relate deconstruction to other registers: We need to develop expertise in our own particular field of play. I’m with Ranciere and his innocent school-master in this: we can all learn. We can all deconstruct our way to an-arche. The key is to choose our battle-field and then engage. Do what we do, and with the aid of  Merleau-Ponty’s hyper-reflexivity, scrutinize the accord between intention and outcome. My guess is that a praxis, and an ethics, and an understanding of an-arche would arise from that. Or, as Derrida, might say, the deconstruction is always already right there in the text. In what way, then, is deconstruction useful?

Lots of questions, not all of which I can deal with at present. So I'll make a humble start. I've asserted many times in many places that deconstruction is indeed a praxis. And certainly one that deals with far more than language or text but with being and the thing in itself. So as a practice it can be applied even to the body, even though Derrida did not seem to specifically apply it in this way himself.

How so? For example I've discussed iterability recently in a few threads. In my dance and very subtle body movement exercises I am continually refining structure and technique while simultaneously allowing for it to be open to innovation. I retain and expand on existing structural patterns yet tap into that withdrawn and mysterious excess via the aesthetic sensibility. Dance literally transports me into that space-time beyond linguistic signs into being a dynamic, open, performance art object. And learning deconstruction first as a linguistic practice aided me to carry this into dance practice. Granted this was also aided by years of tai chi chaun training, but that's another story.

And let us not minimize the benefits of deconstruction as a linguistic practice. One of my favorite Loy quotes follows (source), and I see the practice of differance in it, even if Loy himself cannot.

"Well, this relates to the way we understand spirituality and meditation. For example, we often tend to understand meditation—in Zen especially—as getting rid of thoughts. We think that if we can just get rid of thought, then we can see the world as it is, clearly, without any interference from conceptuality. We view thinking as something negative that has to be eliminated in order to realize the emptiness of the mind. But this reflects the delusion of duality, rather than the solution to duality. As Dogen put it, the point isn’t to get rid of thought, but to liberate thought. Form is emptiness, yet emptiness is also form, and our emptiness always takes form. We don’t realize our emptiness apart from form, we realize it in form, as non-attached form. One of the very powerful and creative ways that our emptiness takes form is as thought. The point isn’t to have some pure mind, untainted by thought, like a blue, completely empty sky with no clouds. After a while that gets a little boring! Rather, one should be able to engage or play with the thought processes that arise in a creative, non-attached, nondualistic way. To put it in another way, the idea isn’t to get rid of all language, it’s to be free within language, so that one is non-attached to any particular kind of conceptual system, realizing that there are many possible ways of thinking and expressing oneself. The freedom from conceptualizing that we seek does not happen when we wipe away all thoughts; instead, it happens when we’re not clinging to, or stuck in, any particular thought system. The kind of transformation we seek in our spiritual practices is a mind that’s flexible, supple. Not a mind that clings to the empty blue sky. It’s a mind that’s able to dance with thoughts, to adapt itself according to the situation, the needs of the situation. It’s not an empty mind which can’t think. It’s an ability to talk with the kind of vocabulary or engage in the way that’s going to be most helpful in that situation."

Nice... I'm going to borrow that!

Lots of questions, not all of which I can deal with at present. So I'll make a humble start. I've asserted many times in many places that deconstruction is indeed a praxis. And certainly one that deals with far more than language or text but with being and the thing in itself. So as a practice it can be applied even to the body, even though Derrida did not seem to specifically apply it in this way himself.

How so? For example I've discussed iterability recently in a few threads. In my dance and very subtle body movement exercises I am continually refining structure and technique while simultaneously allowing for it to be open to innovation. I retain and expand on existing structural patterns yet tap into that withdrawn and mysterious excess via the aesthetic sensibility. Dance literally transports me into that space-time beyond linguistic signs into being a dynamic, open, performance art object. And learning deconstruction first as a linguistic practice aided me to carry this into dance practice. Granted this was also aided by years of tai chi chaun training, but that's another story.


Dare I say, I find this answer rather affirming. I think you do, in fact, offer pointers to where an IPM, or rather an Integral thought should go. One that consists in using concepts to open up a space into which the body may go in a way that concepts alone cannot. A body space that thought can model for the body, but not outright occupy in place of the body - if you grasp my distinction. My view would be that while concepts can bridge the body mind gap - e.g. via rhetoric/style as per Morton, Harman, Proust, Neitszche, Dogen et al - there is a language the pertains to the body alone which is part of being - ie. which is 'integral to being. And which, in the face of, thought must be humble as it cannot fully go there. Only the body can speak the body. Truly humble - akin to Wittgenstein's - whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent. This sort of humility seems almost entirely lacking in Integral thought, which attempts to speak for the entirety of reality from one, more often than not, highly analytic, vantage point.


What you evidence - even if you don't fully acknowledge it - is that you have constructed your own assemblage of mind and body practices with which to enter into an-arche. Practices which refract off each other to both inform and be informed. If Dogen, Hui-neng, and Eckhart are both heirs of, and grand contributers to, religious traditions that include bodily practices to perform and enable non-attachment, then a fully fledged Integral Post Metaphysics must include bodily practices that leave thought behind. It may be that they emerge from and return to thought, however they neither rest in that thought, nor leave it unchanged. There must be a dialectic. And that dialectic as vigilant as Merleau-Ponty would have it.


I would suggest that one expression of an Integral thought - an Integral Post Metaphysics - would be a presentation of a dialectical assemblage that would include your dancing, your Tai-chi, perhaps your thoughts on Derrida's an-arche, and Merleau-Ponty's dialectic, and.... I don't know. Perhaps some explicit religious practices you incorporate, perhaps how you enact your social and political views, perhaps text on those views. Or maybe something that is able to enact and capture metonymically what is fundamental to that assemblage. A 'show' that includes all its various registers from linguistic, to bodily performance, to everyday action, to.. again, I don't know - I ­­­­haven't thought it through. I would suspect, though, the latter would be an art work of some sort. An installation, or a performance, perhaps. It's not for nothing that Schelling claimed the art work to be evidence of the absolute in everyday reality.


I feel I have now answered my own question regarding the use of deconstruction. It can work to take part in the training of one's sensibilities. Your own answer tells us, however, that alone, it is not sufficient to that training...


Tentatively, where that leaves an IPM is one that knows when to fall silent and welcome other forms of expression. When to bow it's head to the expertise of otherness. I don't think we ever saw that in the old IPM. It also suggests that an IPM is not solely a linguistic performance, but a bricolage consisting of various aspects. To attempt to reduce this to an indexical analytic is a wrong-headed will to power. As Integral Post- metaphysicians, we are, then, bricoleurs, and most likely artists, too. There is nothing else for it. 

That second longish excerpt from Loy is, frankly, f@$#% fabulous. 

Bryant's comment to his recent blog post seems relevant to the latest turn here:

"Take my poor garden. A linguistic idealist might claim that the things of the world are nothing but effects of linguistic categories that cut up the world in particular ways (they’d never express their thesis this crudely, of course). My garden suggests otherwise. Were my garden simply an effect of words or signifiers I could speak it into being however I like without any resistance from the garden itself. But in gardening I find something different: I encounter the essential weakness and impotence of language and social forces. For my garden to be 'true' or to stand, I have to surrender myself to the soil, plants, fences, manure, compost, shovels, hoes, rabbits, birds, worms, insects, weather patterns, light, water, etc., so that they might be brought together in cooperation in the formation of an assemblage that’s able to sustain itself. I don’t have mastery over any of this, but can only collaborate with all of these entities and negotiate, opening myself to surprise and the tendencies of these agents."

Yes, Bryant's been hitting them out of the park, lately. Or, is it that it's just been a while since I last read him. Phenomenal.


And yet, I feel compelled to say there is still an aspect that is not there in his thinking for me. A limit formed by it's very intelligbility and systematicity. Loy's healing words are again a useful measure. See the exchange between Fragile Keys and Bryant in the comments for this post. While I may not agree with, or follow, all of the points FK makes, I think it is exactly this lack/aspect that he is trying to express. Be forewarned, the exchange ends in a rather brutal - and undeserved, I feel - savaging. 

My translation-transformation-distortion of the exchange is that FK asked for it with his condescending, passive-aggressive attitude. I especially appreciated Bryant's point that "no translation can be true to the original that it translates," given each object (mis)translates another. This is also a Derridaean point much maligned with the consciousness and presence crowd, the latter often making statements that this is what so and so really meant. As if they had an pure, undistorted and proprietary grasp of the totality of another's meaning. (Let alone such a grasp of the totality of Reality, another story.)

Well, that's clearly how Bryant read it. I've seen this aggressive impatience on the part of both Bryant and Harman several times and I can't say I warm to it. I gather there's a history where both were harassed by a number of highly critical and - to use Bryant's word uncharitable - readers, so that may account for a certain sensitivity. Myself, I didn't read FK as passive-aggressive but that may be because I share his sense that Bryant is essentially spinning his wheels, albeit, in a way that is tremendously informative, able, astute, etc, in short, quite brilliantly - and which we can all learn from, at least some, if not most, of the time. Or, to put it another way, if reality isn't an ass-holon, why should Levi Bryant get to be? 

What I find intriguing about Bryant - quite apart from his excellent thought - is that he contains a blind spot both at odds with, and entirely in keeping with - that thought. Wilber has the same. Indeed, I don't find it so much 'intriguing' as sobering. At the risk of descending into homily, let me say that Merleau-Ponty is onto something with his 'hyper-reflexivity' - we all need it, even the very very smartest among us. 

Even though any given interpretation is prone to mistranslation, it seems a matter of degree. Some are certainly better or closer to the author's stated intent.* Some are just plain terrible. So I get why Bryant got pissed, as FK kept bugging him about points Bryant had already made, and in some cases agreed with  FK. I understand the sentiment, as there are/have been a few unnamed posters in this forum who have been so egregiously off in (mis)translating me through their own ideological commitments that I tend to get just as upset.

* Not that this is not the sole, or even most important, criteria in evaluating one's assertions, given the majority of anyone's cognition is unconscious. But bracketing that for another day...

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