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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See Chris Dierkes' blog on pluralism and relativism as fodder for this conversation.

As to a post-pluralist notion of a "Kingdom Come" see this from the IEP entry on Derrida:

"Derrida’s call to the wholly other, his invocation for the wholly other 'to come,' is not a call for a fixed or identifiable other of known characteristics, as is arguably the case in the average religious experience. His wholly other is indeterminable and can never actually arrive…. The messianic structure of existence is open to the coming of an entirely ungraspable and unknown other…. The messianic refers predominantly to a structure of our existence that involves waiting – waiting even in activity – and a ceaseless openness towards a future that can never be circumscribed by the horizons of significance that we inevitably bring to bear upon that possible future. In other words, Derrida is not referring to a future that will one day become present (or a particular conception of the saviour who will arrive), but to an openness towards an unknown futurity that is necessarily involved in what we take to be ‘presence’ and hence also renders it ‘impossible.'"
His wholly other is indeterminable and can never actually arrive…. The messianic structure of existence is open to the coming of an entirely ungraspable and unknown other

Sounds good. How about if we label this "infinite horizon" Infinity... or how about we call this Spirit. Who says that this abstract notion has to be a "fixed and unchangable concept"? Why would we always be waiting for the future to arrive?... unless we were afraid of actually living in "the present" or being creatively inspired towards the future?

"Ungraspable" doesn't have to mean that we always have to have existential doubt about a unified reality, or that a sense of certainty doesn't arrive with our own self fulfillment by being up to the challenge of our infinite potential. Why would the term "to come" mean "impossible", unless we were doomed to always wait in unfulfilled uncertainty?
How is that open? "Where is the invitation, when you are condemmed to always waiting?"

How about we term it, "Kingdom arrived" or "Kingdom arriving"

The Kingdom is forever extending because it is the Mind of God. You do not know your joy because you do not know your own Self-fullness. Exclude any part of the Kingdom from yourself and you are not whole. A split mind cannot perceive its fullness, and needs the miracle of its wholeness to dawn upon it and heal it. This reawakens the wholeness in it, and restores it to the Kingdom because of the acceptance of it's wholeness. The full appreciation of the mind's Self-fullness makes selfishness impossible and extention inevitable. That is why there is perfect peace in the Kingdom. Spirit is fulfilling its function, and only complete fulfillment is peace." -ACIM
Did you delete your other post, RL? I was coming here to re-read it this morning and cannot find it.

My general response to it, as I recall it, was that we appear to have somewhat different interpretations of what Wilber is up to in Wilber V / postmetaphysics.
I re-read your paper, getting a bit more familiar with the terminology this time. You start with the two types of inclusivism, hierarchism and perspectivism. The former includes the views of other traditions but places itself at the pinnacle. The latter replaces other views altogether. As I said earlier, this can be related to Wilber's distinction between basic and transitional strucutures, since the former are included in subsequent transformations while the latter are replaced. And the latter category includes worldviews, hence even an integral worldview replaces previous worldviews with its "perspectivism." It might include elements from basic structures but worldviews are not basic structures. And it might allow a context for other worldviews but they are superceded by its own.

Granted I've argues against Wilber's monolithic worldview replacement theory, and as your paper notes Wilber at times seems to support a more (orange) rationalist form of inclusivism. But as we've discussed above referencing Batchelor, and as I referenced how Dierkes sees varous worlviews represented in Batchelor, we can also see the same in Wilber's work. Neither Wilber nor his work "come from" strictly one level or one worldview, itself a holdover notion of a strictly rationalist, inclusivist frame.
Yes, Balder, I deleted it... (Congradulations on submitting it by the way). I deleted it because I felt it might be misconstruded as something hostile, when in fact I am only looking to talk about Wilber's view of reality and Wilber phase V as it relates to spirituality. I have a different view of Wilber's phase V work... and perhaps this isn't the thread to be discussing it, but...

I'll just give you the short version...

I'm pretty sure a "post-metaphysical integral spirituality" doesn't work, because the term "post-metaphysical" is in definition hostile to spirituality, and this is exactly because as Wilber uses the term Post-metaphysical to refer to the reflective paradigm and "myth" of the the "given," as well as the label of post-metaphysical as well as a dismissive gesture to deny non-local phenonmenon. Yes, I'm fully aware that spiritual experiences are interpreted through sociological belief systems...but I don't think that it should be reduced to those factors alone.

There are also numerous difficulties with Wilber's phase V model, not to mention the neo-Kantian type model that puts "pre-given" or "pre-inclined" type perspectives into place, one that you said had some problems with it... I can talk about all the things unstable with Wilber's V model elsewhere...

I don't believe as you term it, a "foundationless" spiritual inclusivism can stand without a foundation...unless that foundation is "an empathic civilization" or it leaves room for also an "essence"/context or shared world that is through causal inference is a "pre-given." I believe that a "given" "shared" world is at the heart of the Integral method...and it is by recognizing we live in a shared world, although not shared worldspace or perspective, that we come to understand each other.

I believe that there is an inclusivism that accepts everybody...but that it's members don't always have to believe the same things... I don't believe that a scale of consciousness, or with perspectives, or other worldviews is necessarily exclusionary for people's innate value or worth...but that there exist "larger" contexts or value systems that offer each person the opportunity to grow into. I think that there exists better worldviews or perspectives that offer more opportunities or that see everybody as equal. I believe that as our worldviews become more "encompassing" we learn to see people as more and more our very own Self, or "part of ourselves."

I think that, on one hand, it accepts all people as Itself, it allows for the opportunity to move into other more encompassing worldviews. I think that there are (to put it politically incorrectly) better worldviews...although not better people. A person is not their worldviews, nor is their worth tied to their worldview/ perspective. I think only on moving into these other perspectives/consciousness/worldviews though, that we are able to see and express that.

As a personal note, I'm also curious as to how you taught your Integral Spirituality class.
The Dalai Lama has a new book out -- Toward a True Kinship of Faiths -- that offers an approach to interfaith and interreligious relationship, which may relate to some of the themes and questions explored in my paper. I'm reading it now and will return with a review once I've finished it.
If anyone is interested, the following is a final, concluding section I added to my conference paper, in which I try to extend my ideas and outline more concretely what I believe an Integral postmetaphysical approach can contribute to this field. I may take this post down after a time, since my paper is still in the review / editing process, but I'll leave it up for awhile and will welcome feedback.


[Edited out (for now)]

A couple of quickies:

You seem to keep equating a postmetaphysical approach with Wilber's interpretations of such, trying to fit what he says into your own ideas about it. Wilber's work often does not fit into the way you want to use it so I suggest that you take personal credit for the ideas rather than giving the credit undeservedly to him.

As to your point that there might be a common, ultimate ground across traditions, but that it should be limited to those sub-groups within traditions that achieve the proper Kosmic address, i.e., "a transconceptual, unqualifiable absolute," seems to beg the question. We've discussed many times before whether this very notion isn't itself metaphysical and you're argued that it isn't per se. And you might have a point, that this type of "experience" can be conceived postmetaphysically, but I'm still highly skeptical that any of the religious traditions have done so, even and especially the elite cream-of-the-cropers positing an "transconceptual, unqualifiable absolute." I really think that here again you'll have to come up with your personal way of postmeta explanation for this rather than relying of any tradition or Wilber.

Which brings me to my final point about Kosmic addressing as a postmeta solution. In the IPN thread I've reiterated an old argument about how the unqualifiable absolute, conscioussness per se, is the measure of the altitude aspect of any such address. It assumes a metaphysical entity to define a postmetaphysical enactment?
Hey, Edward, thanks for your feedback. Posting that this morning, after skimming through it again, I actually had a thought similar to your first point, and wondered whether I would be called on it: I've got a particular postmetaphysical "reading" of Integral, and I'm trying to make this Wilber's position, when it actually isn't clear that it is or that he would agree with it. In which case, my position would be a critique or a modification of "Integral postmetaphysical spirituality." I think you're right that I need to probably just take more credit for where I differ and to state that more clearly. I understand that Wilber may be reading my paper, so I will get to find out from him directly whether he agrees with it or not. What I'm trying to do in the paper is make a case for that I think a viable "Integral postmetaphysical" approach to (inter-)religious studies could be, rather than simply report on what it actually already is (since I don't think it has been articulated yet).

About recognizing a common "ultimate ground" across traditions, my emphasis is not really on the existence or reality of the "ground per se," but just on allowing for the legitimacy of correlating those traditions which both 1) posit such a ground and 2) have a practice for "experiencing" or "realizing" it. In terms of a theoretical or philosophical approach (rather than an "Integral Spiritual" one), I think an Integral Postmetaphysical approach would not concern itself with whether this ground really is "the Ground," and would instead focus on correlations between modes of praxis, phenomenological reports, possible homeomorphic equivalencies among key terms or concepts across alien "visions" or worldviews, etc. Such correlations (of similar "enactments" and "views") can ideally allow for further dialogue and perhaps also the unfolding of new practices, insights, "enactments," etc, among traditions.

Regarding your last point, if you haven't noticed, I had commented on just that issue earlier this morning on your "integral postmetaphysical nonduality" thread.

All the best,

I can appreciate the usefulness of having a comparison (measuring stick) across traditions and that it might allow for much needed dialogue between them. And that an integral meta-model might be able to provide that measuring stick. But when the stick itself (AQAL) is based on the "ground per se" and its metaphysical commitments it indeed becomes a circle jerk. As I'm indicating in the IPN thread the measuring stick sans the metaphysics might indeed provide this function but as you noted in that thread it has to itself come from a cross-paradigmatic meta-model beyond just AQAL.

Why not consult with Mark Edwards on your project? He is respected by Sean and the Journal and maybe even Wilber, since he invited Mark to an Integral Naked dialogue. And at one time he was working on a book along similar lines, comparing the spiritual traditions in an integral frame.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie has an interesting piece in the Huff Post called "Why interfaith dialogue doesn't work, and what we can do about it." An excerpt:

I have been participating in interfaith dialogue as a rabbi and Jewish leader for more than 30 years, and most of the time it just doesn't work.

Most of the time -- and it is painful for me to admit this -- it is terribly boring. Most of the time there is a tendency to manufacture consensus, whether it exists or not. Most of the time we go to great lengths to avoid conflict. Most of the time we cover the same ground that we covered last month or the month before. And far too often we finish our session without really knowing the people across the table and what makes them tick religiously.

Meaningful dialogue happens when the conversation turns to our religious differences. Platitudes are set aside when, as representatives of our faith traditions, we cease to be embarrassed by the particular; when we put aside the search for the lowest common denominator that most often characterizes -- and trivializes -- our discussions; and when we recognize that absent a clear affirmation of who we are, how we are different and what we truly believe, all our conversations are likely to come to nothing.

Interreligious dialogue truly touches us when we can discuss what we all know to be true but what we rarely say: that, in some ways at least, we all believe in the exceptionalism of our own traditions. We all tend toward the conviction that there are some elements of our religious beliefs and practice that stand above and apart from what other religions offer, and it is liberating when we are able to acknowledge this and then explain why we think that way, without apology but open to the honest reactions of those around us.


Thanks for that, Edward; I agree with him.  If there's no risk involved, either of saying something the other finds objectionable, or of exposing oneself to "conversion of view," interfaith dialogue isn't that rewarding.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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