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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DGA On Wilberism

Daniel Gustav Anderson has this to say about post-Wilberian integral theory in a recent blog post over at For The Turnstiles:
My position is that Wilber's doctrine is untenable as academic work. It is simply not reasonable; it cannot tolerate the scrutiny of reason. If integralism is predicated on what he calls "orienting generalizations," as they are described in Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, then it must be said that integralism is not predicated on science or reason as such, but on blind faith in these abstractions. One may say that the orienting generalities are themselves a useful fiction; I respond by saying that Wilber does not mark them as such fictions, he accepts them as proven fact and moves on without examining them, and for that reason his work is sunk from the start if it is to be taken seriously as knowledge, as reason. But but but! It does not matter, because it is a doctrine that appears reasonable at first glance and claims to point toward means of verification beyond reason. It goes for transrationality without actually getting to the rationality part: it is a prerational cult of the transrational, unmediated by the rigor of reason, fact, or accountability to method. To use a Wilberism: Wilber is guilty of the Pre/Trans Fallacy, or rather, his writing insists on readers who are willing to absorb that fallacy. This explains the shrill freakings-out that go on and on and on when Wilber's basic premises are examined with care. It is assumed to be personal, because it is Wilber's person (the figure of the one who has achieved something beyond reason) that guarantees the validity of this "knowledge." It is a kind of self-fashioning, a rhetorical game.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 3x3 Faces of God: The Holy Ideas of A.H Almaas

The three faces of God each have facets.

The first person experiences of God include:
I am the non-dual unity of all that is.
I am the intrinsic positivity of presence.
I am the luminous perfection of now.

Almaas calls these experiences Holy Truth, Holy Love, and Holy Perfection.

[More below]
The second person experiences of God include:
I relate by surrendering to the unfolding flow of Being.
I relate by articulating the self-arising of Being.
I relate by harmonizing with the dynamic pattern of Being.

These are Holy Will, Holy Origin, and Holy Law.

The third person experiences of God include:
I recognize the interconnected multiplicity within unity.
I recognize the creative design of transformation.
I recognize the essential nature of all things.

These are Holy Omniscience, Holy Wisdom, and Holy Faith.

[From Facets of Unity]

Loss of contact with a Holy Idea results in a particular delusion about the Kosmos. The nine delusions are interconnected, and they are the basis of all egoic activity. In an individual, one particular delusion is usually strongest, resulting in a certain ego fixation which forms the core of the personality. Each fixation represents one way in which the ego tries to manufacture a substitute for the Holy Idea:

[From Enneagram Institute]

In regard to spiritual practice:
  • Spiritual traditions emphasize not only different faces of God, but also different facets thereof. Christianity, for example, emphasizes the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity -- the central triangle of the enneagram.
  • Certain spiritual practices will feel easier or harder depending on how central to your personality a particular point of the enneagram is. Enneatype 7 with an 8 wing, for example, will find practices concerning Holy Wisdom very difficult, and those concerning Holy Unity nearly so. Thus, we will feel more "at home" in certain spiritual traditions than others.
  • The Holy Ideas are interconnected, and each leads to the others. Thus, practices focused on one Holy Idea are "true, but partial." An integral spirituality would "transcend and include" each Holy Idea, emphasizing their interconnectedness.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Morality of Growth To Goodness

From Live and Evolve:
“In the contemporary ideological climate it has become imperative that we perceive all the terrible things that happen to us as ultimately something positive—say as a precious experience that will bear fruit in our future life. Negativity, lack, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, are perceived more and more as moral faults— worse, as a corruption at the level of our very being or bare life. There is a spectacular rise of what we might call a bio-morality (as well as morality of feelings and emotions), which promotes the following fundamental axiom: a person who feels good (and is happy) is a good person; a person who feels bad is a bad person. It is this short circuit between the immediate feelings/sensations and the moral value that gives its specific color to the contemporary ideological rhetoric of happiness. This is very efficient, for who dares to raise her voice and say that as a matter of fact, she is not happy, and that she can’t manage to—or, worse, doesn’t even care to—transform all the disappointments of her life into a positive experience to be invested in the future? There is an important difference between this and the classical entrepreneur formula according to which we are always broadly responsible for our failures and misfortunes. This classical formula still implies a certain interval between what we are and the symbolic value of our success. It implies that, at least in principle, we could have acted otherwise, but didn’t (and are hence responsible for our failures or lack of happiness). The bio-morality mentioned above is replacing the classical notion of responsibility with the notion of a damaged, corrupt being: the unhappy and the unsuccessful are somehow corrupt already on the level of their bare life, and all their erroneous actions or nonactions follow from there with an inexorable necessity.”

—Alenka Zupančič, The Odd One In: On Comedy

Ah, how the metaphorical journey of growth from here to the place where I can be a good person rankles my spirits. I'll take "different metaphors" for $500, Alex.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

What Constitutes A Perspective?

At the very least, these all seem to be linked to the idea of individual perspectives:
  • Embodiment
  • Unconscious Junk, Shadow
  • Emotions
  • Language
  • Past History and Memories
  • Personality
  • Conscious Thoughts, Beliefs, Narratives, Conceptualizations, Theories


How much of that can we change? Some of it, I think.
How much of that are we stuck with? Some of it, I think.

Given that we are stuck with some of it, to what extent is it meaningful to think about generating, considering, or enacting other perspectives? It seems that any perspective we attempt to take on can only be taken on partially, and always within a context constrained by whichever parts of our perspective we can't willfully change.
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Transparency Is The New Objectivity

I found this blog piece quite interesting, since the argument it makes concerning the shift from "telling how things are" to "telling how they appear to me and why I see them that way" parallels the shift from metaphors about objects and their actual properties and relationships to metaphors about perspectives and the effects they have on what is perceived.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Structures of Integral Theory

When blue's polar, dichotomous, either/or thinking proves insufficient, there are two primary approaches to providing additional flexibility.

First, you can blur the boundaries between pairs of opposites, creating a gradual trade-off between the two. This results in a spectrum, usually conceptualized as a line between two points. From here, it's a short leap to spectra that extend infinitely away from a single end-point, or infinitely in both directions without any end-points.

Second, you can keep sharp boundaries, but extend the number choices beyond two. This results in clearly defined categories, usually conceptualized as containers that particular things go "in." From here, it's a short leap to categories of categories and so on, which are thought of as nested containers.

These two extensions of blue thinking are orange's primary conceptual tools.

Wilber's AQAL model makes heavy use of categories and spectra -- every major element of the theory is structured in one of these two ways. Quadrants, levels, states, and most types use the category structure, while masculine/feminine, transcendence/immanence, and lines of development use the spectrum structure.

This is somewhat surprising, when you consider the relatively scarce inclusion of green perspectival and contextual elements. The primary examples are the lower quadrants, which in a fashion consider the context of the individuals in the upper quadrants. Still, the perspectival and contextual observations are placed into quadrant categories, subordinating them to the orange conceptual structure of the quadrants.

Does integral theory really represent a step forward from green thought? I'm starting to question. While it is certainly non-materialist, and therefore solves some of the problems of "flatland" rationality, I don't see much that convinces me that it "transcends and includes" post-modern green. The more I recognize the same structures I see in materialist science popping up in integral theory, the more integral theory looks like a very comprehensive incarnation of the orange meme, stretching up to green for a few bits here and there.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Trans-rationality As Empiricism

Trans-rationality is sometimes understood as a special kind of vision which allows one to see what is really there. This is the conception that underlies the idea of the Witness, for example.

This understanding supposes that there is a spiritual subject, capable of accurately seeing real spiritual objects and their actual spiritual properties, just the way they are in themselves.

In other words, this is orange empiricism dressed up with spirituality.


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The Myth Of Perspectival Freedom

While there are an infinite number of perspectives humans can take, we cannot take an infinite variety of perspectives.

By way of analogy, consider that there are infinitely many real numbers between 1 and 10, and yet this set of numbers still has edges, boundaries, limits.

Similarly, our physical embodiment constrains the potential variety of human perspectives. We are not observers separate from the world, who happen to have vehicles called bodies to walk around in. Our bodies and our thinking are not separate and autonomous. We can only think in certain ways, which bear the indelible stamp of immanence and physicality.

In that sense, the post-modern deconstruction of all meaning through endless re-contextualization is as much a fool's errand as the endless search for objective truth -- which is to say, half-way.

Sure, we can re-contextualize something as many times as we want, but we can only recontextualize it in certain ways.


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Art of Hosting Murals

Colleen Stephenson created a created a fantastic set of Art of Hosting murals from the work done at the "Hosting Artful Collaborations Across Communities and Agencies" module at ALIA West, hosted by Chris Corrigan and Jennifer Charlesworth.


[Images below]

(Click on the images to enlarge.)








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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spirit, Essence, Kosmos

Spirit is the essence of the Kosmos.

This common sense proposition is sometimes taken as a literal truth that describes the actual nature of reality. Is this simple statement really as straightforward as it seems? What else must one accept for this statement to make sense? Where does it lead?

On closer inspection, the idea that Spirit is the essence of the Kosmos is quite complex, highly metaphysical, and heavily reliant on metaphor. In Philosophy In The Flesh, Lakoff and Johnson point out that there are several assumptions that must be made to arrive at such a concept.

[Read the rest on IL]


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