Kingdom Come: Postmetaphysical Inclusivism? (My Conference Paper)

Per Ed's request, I'm posting a copy of the paper I just submitted for the upcoming IT Conference.  I only had 3 days to work on it, so I ended up rushing on it and I'm not entirely satisfied with the end.  I went in the general direction I wanted, but in the presentation I'll definitely try to clarify my proposal more and provide more concrete suggestions.  If you've read some of my old blogs, you'll see (in the interest of time, since I had so little of it; and also in the spirit of Wilber!), I've used material from some of them to flesh it out ... but there is still a good bit of new material in it!


Technically, this paper is not supposed to be published anywhere.  I don't think a forum really counts as "publication," but just in case, I'll leave it up only for a short time.  You will find it attached below.


Best wishes,




P.S.  I have removed the attachment and replaced it with a link (above) to the pdf of the paper which is posted on the ITC website.



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I will read it and comment later. For now, why aren't you allow to publish it? Or just not before the conference? Or after also? That's why I asked about the copyright issue in the Batchelor thread. I remember in the old days of I-I seminars one had to sign away any rights to anything that was presented through I-I, as they retained "ownership."
Oh, no, I don't think that's an issue here. They don't want something that was previously published as a submission for the conference, but we are allowed to publish it afterwards. I think they are requesting this up front because they intend to select a handful of the papers and publish them in a book, if the authors agree.

theurj said:
I will read it and comment later. For now, why aren't you allow to publish it? Or just not before the conference? Or after also? That's why I asked about the copyright issue in the Batchelor thread. I remember in the old days of I-I seminars one had to sign away any rights to anything that was presented through I-I, as they retained "ownership."
Thanks Bruce!
I'll be sure to forward any copies with the 'no publish' proviso.
Looking forward to the presentation! :)

And by the way: is this forum still here? Perhaps that's a strange question to ask, but I'm wondering how I'm able to read this and reply on a thread . . . on June the first . . .

My initial impression. I’m unfamiliar with the categories listed so had a lot of difficulty keeping them sorted, especially when some were combined and seemed counter-intuitive. This is one reason I didn’t particpate in your prior Gaia discussion with kela on inclusivism, since it required familiarity with the terms and ideas, as does of course any specialty. I couldn’t keep up, not through lack of intellect but lack specific training. Your point though was well taken, that it behooves integral theorists to understand and use these categories since they are established in religious scholarship. Maybe a few charts to sort of sum up the players, categories and general characteristics would be helpful?
Thanks for taking the time to look it over, Edward. If you had a hard time following it, I definitely wouldn't attribute that to any intellectual shortcoming on your part; I think that's probably more of an indication that I wasn't entirely successful with the paper. Halfway into it, with my 40-plus reference texts or whatever, I realized I'd gotten into something that I'd really need a lot more space to unpack, but I just didn't have time to rework it, or start over and maybe narrow it down a bit; so, I did my best to "wrap up" the threads I'd introduced. In the presentation, I'll definitely try to bring in some illustrations and make the terms and the overall theoretical landscape clearer.

One problem was that I'd started out wanting to show how Integral was a "step beyond," or at least could provide a way out of, some of the shortcomings of earlier approaches. But I found that actually, while I believe it has the potential to do that (IMO), I was finding different indications in Wilber's writings and elsewhere that seemed to show it was aligned more with a position that had been found to be problematic in Religious Studies circles. But I hadn't started out to do a critique paper. So, I introduced a critique in a more oblique way. In the conference, I'll try to spell that out more.

And maybe I'm missing something, too -- not taking enough of Integral sources into consideration, for instance. If that's the case, hopefully someone at the conference (if not here) will be able to point that out.
I'm moving the last few posts from the Batchelor thread over here, as this seems the more appropriate place for this discussion:

Reply by theurj

Given the categories of religious scholarship you discussed in the conference paper I thought I’d offer the following from Batchelor. How would you classify him Balder, given the information in this thread?

“The very fact of seeing Buddhism as a contingent, historical process might already be affecting the ways in which the dharma assumes form in the modern world. We may be learning to celebrate the diversity of traditions rather than to insist that each school be measured against the others on a hierarchical scale of authenticity. Instead of gauging the success of Buddhism in terms of the mounting size of its achievements (numbers of followers, sales of books, extent of properties, height of statues, etc.), we might come to see it in terms of individual fulfillment and empowerment, the emergence of small-scale, autonomous communities, and genuine commitment to a beginner’s mind. Far from endorsing an 'anything goes' pluralism, this historical and evolutionary perspective also recognizes how the survival of a tradition depends on its ability to meet and respond to criticism both from within and outside its own ranks. In an increasingly interconnected and transparent world, no form of Buddhism can afford to be an island.”

Reply by Balder

Hi, Ed, that's a good question. My initial impression, from the quote, was that he was suggesting something like the second-generation pluralism or post-pluralism I was describing in my paper. So, I looked around on the web and found another discussion of his, in which he also appears to be arguing for a non-relativistic pluralism. Based on this, I'd say, yes, I think his position is similar to the neo- or post-pluralist position I advocated in my paper: he rejects modernist inclusivism, and would probably have the same criticisms of the identist pluralism of John Hick (and Fritjof Schuon and Huston Smith) that I described in my paper (particularly given his agnosticism and eschewal of metaphysical ultimates).

Reply by theurj

While such generalizing categories are at time helpful to get a sense of things, no one's entire worldview fits nicely into one of them. Hence there are some views that fit into one box in one way but in another box in another way, with lots of hybrids and cross-overs. There could even be a view that was both inclusive and exclusive, depending on the given line or context, a point made repeatedly in the "real and false reason" and "transitional structure" threads. Hence my confusion in trying to pin down any view into one category, which is sometimes what I sense is the unconscious motivation with such "theories of everything."

Another point is that it also depends on who is doing the categorizing as to which view will fit into which box or boxes, i.e., who is doing the "kosmic addressing." For example, Wilber would likely put Batchelor into the green meme relativist box, although I have no textual evidence that he's ever said so.* And from our discussion you get the sense, as do I, that Batchelor general frame is not so defined. And again one issue is which overall, general view is relatively (if not absolutely) "better" or "more inclusive" or "more comprehensive" or at least more useful, and it what contexts? Or in the case of those with an IPS agenda, which is more postmetaphysical. Or perhaps which is so in one way while not in another, allowing for all of the above.

* Wilber did say a lot about Boomeritis (green relativist) Buddhism though in Chapter 5 of Integral Spirituality. And part of what makes it so is its unacceptance of Wilber's duality of "emptiness and view are not two" veiw, which view is supposed to be integral or non-dual.

Reply by Balder

Yes, these labels are broadly useful, but I agree that there are lots of hybrids and cross-overs and lines can be pretty blurry, clarifying differently in different contexts. Among the "differential pluralists" that Griffin identifies, for instance, there are already a number of different versions of that -- some which deny an ontological ultimate, but posit a near-universal soteriological one (like Ferrer, who stresses the "common ocean" of "liberation from self-centeredness"); or contrarily, who posit an ontological ultimate but insist there are multiple soteriologies (e.g., some Christians who believe that the "Trinitarian" nature of Godhead allows for different types of salvation). Heim, as you saw in my paper, juxtaposes inclusivism and pluralism; D'Costa insists that pluralism often amounts to a covert form of exclusivism, and therefore moves to re-assert an exclusivistic approach without apology. Etc. And, as you say, an approach which is "pluralist" in one regard, or in relation to one particular concern, may be exclusivist or inclusivist in others. (Incidentally, some of the "post-pluralists" I mentioned have begun to call into question the validity of the basic exclusive / inclusive / pluralistic trichotomy.)

About Kosmic addressing, yes, I think you have a problem if you take kosmic addresses to be inherent properties of the objects so identified. At some point in my Integral degree program, I read a study that was done relatively recently that demonstrated the ambiguity of the assessment of the "address" of various statements. They took a range of sentences and had people identify what "level" they thought the statement was coming from. The results were all over the map.
Yes, in Wilber's addressing system he does account for the one assigning an address, but he also seems to assume there is an inherent or "given" address to the object. Again it seems set up on the same duality I was discussing in the Batchelor thread, that while there is a relative view dependent of altitude (among other things) there is also an ultimate realm juxtaposed with it. And if you don't accept this premise you are ultimately "address"ed a relativist of the most heinous variety (MGM).
I also like how you wrap up your paper, with the post-pluraralist (or non-relativist) notion of "transcendence" as openness to novelty, hence the title "Kingdom come." This is also how some pomos envision a non-foundational "quasi" trancendental*, like Caputo, Derrida and Desilet. More later but one can see lenthy previous discussions from those threads:

Desilet and synergist spirituality

* Noting that the relative is also "quasi" in relation thereto.
Here are a few relevant, select quotes from the Caputo thread:

“Events, unlike names, are uncontainable and unconditional, open-ended….‘an irruption, an excess, an overflow…which tears open closed circles’…. It’s more like the whisper of a voice just out of earshot, or an indistinct blur on the horizon at twilight. ‘It is more like a ghost, the specter of possibility…a thin thing…of a call rather than a causality, of a provocation rather than of a presence or a determine entity.’

“I steadfast oppose a two-worlds theory, in which the kingdom of God is one thing and the world is entirely separate…. The opening verses of Genesis make no use whatever of a metaphysical distinction between an eternal, infinite and supersensible being creating finite, temporal being, which is an un-Hebraic conception that is inconceivable outside of the two-worlds schema that Christianity inherited from Hellenistic metaphysics.”
I'd like to bring to this discussion Jackson's essay "In search of a postmodern middle". In one section he goes into the various ways the different Buddhist schools have defined the "middle" between the "two truths." And like the general tone of the essay, given pomo's plurarlity, how does one choose the better view? And can there be a better view? In every context? And for the purposes of this forum, which of those views are "postmetaphysical" (eschewal of metaphysical ultimates) since we seem to at least agree that it is an at least relatively better overall frame for comparison. And which might be "post-pluralist" as Balder describes? Is Jackson's view post-pluralist?
Thanks for highlighting this article, Ed, here and on the other thread. I've begun reading it and will write more once I've had a chance to finish it.

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