Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I noticed Bhaskar referenced in a recent article I posted, and decided, given the frequency with which his name pops up in Integral literature -- including Bonnitta Roy's -- that I should take some time to look into it more. I'll start with an interview of him regarding a post-critical realist (nondual spiritual) philosophy he is developing. Just based on the first part of it (which is all I have read so far), it appears to repeat Wilber's scheme to a large degree...
Here's the introductory text to the interview:
In his new book, Reflections on Meta-Reality (RMR), Roy Bhaskar claims to articulate a new philosophy that transcends critical realism, while preserving its insights. And indeed it proceeds by immanent critique of critical realism, thereby extending critical realism’s systematic attempt to think being. With the demise of historical socialism and the rise of bourgeois triumphalism in the late eighties and the nineties, the deficiency, absence or lack Bhaskar has pinpointed in the discourse and practice of critical realism and the Left in general is that insufficient attention is being paid to the spiritual dimension of human life, with the consequence that the Right is hegemonic in that area. So he self-consciously set out to remedy this lack, embarking on ‘the spiritual exposition of being’.
Bhaskar’s previous book, From East to West (FEW), offered ‘a theory of the necessary spiritual presuppositions of emancipatory […] projects’, adding a fifth aspect (5A) to the MELD schema as a further transcendental and dialectical development and deepening of his system, introducing or extending notions of ultimate alethic truth or god at 1M; creativity and transcendence at 2E; love at 3L; spontaneous right-action and cosmic consciousness or enlightenment at 4D; and fulfilled intentionality or self-reflexivity at 5A itself.
RMR both systematises and develops what was initiated in FEW. Its basic line of argument is that a non-dual world or ultimate zone of being underpins and is co-present in an occluded way in the dual world of alienation and contradiction in which we live, as a condition of its possibility, and that this requires a new philosophy of identity for its exposition. Realism about this world, about transcendence, thus entails the self-transcendence of critical realism itself, which is a philosophy of non-identity or duality. Bhaskar calls this non-dual world the cosmic envelope (in which the deepest natures or ground-states of all beings sit and are connected), describing it also as Bohm’s implicate order of pure enfolded being, of pure potentiality, of ‘Platonic anamnesis’, involving ‘a level of consciousness beyond thought itself’. Other key figures, elaborated from FEW, are generalised co-presence or synchronicity and the inwardness of being (everything is implicated or enfolded within everything else); and transcendental identification in consciousness between entities and beings within the explicated or become dual world we inhabit.
The following (linked) document includes Bhaskar's discussion of "three ways nonduality underpins the ordinary world of duality," beginning on page xi. I appreciate his focus on the "nonduality of ordinary experience," but overall I find his presentation of nonduality to be rather dualistic.
Bhaskar was interviewed at the recent ITC per this ILR article. Video below.
I just got word that my paper proposal for the international Critical Realism conference has been accepted, so it looks like I'll be presenting it in the UK this summer.
Congrats. Give us a report on the conference and your UK trip. Like who you met, any interesting conversations, how your paper was received, if any others there are trying to bridge CR and IT, etc.
Balder: "Overall I find his presentation of nonduality to be rather dualistic."
Did you address this in your paper?
Yes, I look forward to it, and I'll be sure to give a full report. The plan for the post-conference symposium I'll be attending is for each of us to present on another's paper, and then all of us to offer each otehr feedback on each others' papers, to help refine our respective contributions to the forthcoming "MetaTheory for the 21st Century" anthology. The paper I'll be presenting is the same one you read a few months ago. In it, I did not take up the question of the "dualism" of Bhaskar's approach to nonduality, in part because I've revised my views on that the more I got to understand his model, and in part because I was focusing more on other topics. But I'm planning to bring up this topic for discussion at some point during the conference or symposium.
How have you revised your views on his dualistic nondualism?
On the one side, I find he leans too much in the direction of a Romantic/perennial "original (nondual) goodness" (where our fulfillment consists primarily of getting rid of ego obscuration), and in that sense I'm still cricital of his model. I think Levin could help him frame that in a better, more postmetaphysical sense -- which still recognizes a primal condition to be recovered, but not in this Romantic way. On the other side, as I got to know his concept of the cosmic envelope better, I found it subtler than the summaries of his model I read convey -- more participatorily framed, more amenable to a postmetaphysical interpretation than I first suspected.
I just received the sad news that Roy Bhaskar passed away last night.