Mark Edwards, in the first of a series of interviews with Integral Leadership Review, distinguished between a theory of everything and a theory for anything:


“I liked Clifford Geertz's distinction between a 'theory for' - which explicitly refers to the search for an imprecise but also useful form of knowledge and a 'theory of' - which harkens back to the grandiosity of the positivist search for complete explanations and exact predictions. As far as the 'everything' bit goes, I see integral theory as a set of lenses that can help me get a handle on any event rather than every event. By this I mean that I want to bring integral theory to the ordinary events of life rather than trying to fit everything into the theory. Hence, I have referred to my work in the development of an integral holonics as a 'Theory for Anything' as opposed to a 'Theory of Everything'. Although, I still find even the TOA version rather extravagant.... In any event, being aware of such distinctions is an example of how integral theory can gain from post-modern critical analysis of TOEs. The post-modern critiques of overarching theories are very relevant to this whole discussion and theorists working in this area need to be aware of such valid criticism.”


In Edwards' Integral World series called “Through AQAL Eyes” he explores this differentiation. In part two he notes the implications of the holon of everything often depicted in Wilber's diagrams:


“My contention is that, despite warnings by Wilber to the contrary, holons are often mistakenly assumed to be some sort of separate quasi-objective entities which develop against the background of the Four Quadrants.... This dualistic notion of how holons fit into the AQAL model derives from two main misconceptions. The first is that reality is 'composed' of holons and objective holonic categories. The second is that the AQAL model, particularly in its Theory of Everything (TOE) presentation of the Four Quadrants of Kosmic Evolution, is often regarded as a spatial-temporal map of Kosmic reality. The result of these interpretations is the view that a holon is some objectively definable whatsit which spirals and develops within a vast Four Quadrants map of evolution. This common, and almost unconsciously, accepted perspective of the relationship between the holon construct and the AQAL framework is in dire need of review.”


The only problem I see with Edwards' analysis is that 1) he correctly makes the case that the kosmic holon is reified as a spatial-temporal map of everything yet 2) still allows that we can retain the TOE holon. Whereas the point is that we can never get outside ourselves to posit such an whole of everything because that very idea is itself part of the dualistic, metaphysical problem that must be eliminated. When we see the holon as an interpretative lens rather than the entire thing-in-itself we in fact eliminate such a metaphysical construct, and to continue to allow it, while diplomatic, is not only not necessary but contradictory to his argument.

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Great series of posts, Ed.  I remember coming across that video illustration of the Moebius strip a year or two ago, when I was researching another topic.  These recent posts put me in mind of the thread I started on Terry Marks-Tarlow's work, since it centers around Varela's mathematics of re-entry (which has been connected with Lacan's work, the Moebius strip, etc).

In my research I've come upon a book posted online, Between Deleuze and Derrida (Continuum, 2003) edited by Paul Patton and John Protevi.  Chapter 6 looks relevant here, "Algebras, geometries and topologies of the fold." An excerpt on Deleuze:

"The Baroque is defined, above all, by both a separation and interactiveness of the material and the spiritual.... It expressed the transformation of (the Neo-Platonist) cosmos into into a 'mundus.' This architecture enacts a complex reciprocal interplay--interfold--of materiality and conceptuality.... It differentiates between, and yet also relates, 'folds' together.... The relation between them takes place through reflection rather than connection" (103-4).

Just a quick comment for the moment. In this section the author is noting how the material is heavily weighted and folded with the weightless "spiritual" plane. This reminds me of the gravity of mass in the "big stories" thread. And in the latter thread how the counterbalancing force to that is the circular or spiral (aka spiritual) motion of matter that keeps if from collapsing into a black hole.

Here's the flower of life in 3-D, more apt for how I envision holons:


And another version:


And this 2D image is supposed to be 3D if you relax the gaze, unfocus. I cannot make it jump out, never could with these kinds of images. Must be brain damage. Does anyone else see it in 3D. If so, how do you do it?


GOD I love this .gif . Crazy


In order to see the 3D Flower of Life you gotta practice. Until a significant change occurs.


Actually, you just have to relax your eyes a bit. And then, you should not want to see it at all cost, b/c then you're too nervous to attain it. Just give up control, let it happen.


It's a bit like entering   h y p n o t i c  t r a n c e



f  r  e  a  k      o  u  t 

"assholon." hahahaha. 

sometimes i wonder if some of my anarchism (which is not only my own, but was shared with neo and theos over at lightmind) may have rubbed off on u over the years.

theurj said:

Briefly perusing that thread I came upon yet another of my ingenious neologisms when I said:

"So perhaps we could describe a part that thinks of itself as the whole universe as an assholon?"

I like that for describing the AQAL holon of everything so from now on...

Yes, but I prefer a distinct, sacred kind of anarchy called hier(an)archy, a term coined by Caputo. Recall this from the Caputo thread in the old Gaia forum, referencing his book The Weakness of God (IUP, 2006):


To be sure, by advocating différance Derrida does not advocate outright chaos. He does not favor a simple-minded street-corner anarchy (nothing is ever simple) that would let lawlessness sweep over the land, although that is just what his most simplistic and anxious critics take him to say. For that would amount to nothing more than a simple counter-kingdom, a reign of lawlessness….Just like a simple totalitarianism…the opposite way, a simple anarchy would break the tension between the arche and the an-arche, erasing the slash between power and powerlessness….in “Force of Law” Derrida made it plain that deconstruction is not a matter of leveling laws in order to produce a lawless society, but of deconstructing laws in order to produce a just society. To deconstruct the law means to 'negotiate the difference' between law and justice, where the law is thought to be something finite, and ‘justice' calls up an uncontainable event, an infinite or unconditional or undeconstructable demand (27).

I've been exploring another version of this hier(an)archic maintenance of the tension between the arche and the an-arche in this thread with the "space between" and image schemas. And the images provided are to symbolically represent those interstices.

This one helps me to visualize it:


Clifford Geertz´s approach is too traditional american social-anthropology of the Chicago school, the too old symbolic interactionism and the social phenomenology of Alfred Shultz,  to "explain" the social space, the social factions struggling to gain cultural legitimity and domination (very evident in the field of integral studies), the construction of the objet of research and its interpretation.


I rather prefer the more radical and critical ethnography and sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. With his notion of field, praxis and habitus, we gain more intelligibility of  how the social body and its symbolic forms are constructed and reproduced by actors in action, instead of just hermeneutically interpreting symbolic forms which avoid revealing their social stratum.





I don't know to what degree Edwards' view on mediation is influenced by Geertz. The only relation I can find online between Edwards and Geertz is that the former likes the latter's idea of a theory for anything. I do know form Edwards' writings at Integral World that he talked a lot about Vygotsky, Harre, Mead and Cooley. See his 3-part essay on The Depth of the Exteriors.

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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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