Tag Archives: Ken Wilber

Wit, Spiritual Technologies, Turning Away from thin brands

EmptyToday

A note from Frank Visser*, who has used a graphic I created to head a reposting of an article, THE ‘SPIRIT OF EVOLUTION’ RECONSIDERED Relating Ken Wilber’s view of spiritual evolution to the current evolution debates, had me thinking for a moment about Wilber and Integralism.

This coincided with a minor bit of cultural synch, when the following video ended up in my Facebook news feed.

There is a lot more glorious cynicism and Zen slapping from JP.

Also, because of the guileless way youtube throws click bait on video pages, JP’s funny parodies lead to sidebars chock full of the didactic presentations of new age guru Teal Swan. She might as well claim the role of being the female Ken Wilber.

The problem is: after a little JP, her stuff comes across as parody. I laughed out loud. This is ironic, and doubly so because the Daily Evolver newsletter is similarly, mostly, humorless.

AN ARCHIMEDES LEVER FOR GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION

WHAT IS TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?

Robb Smith – July 29th, 2015

Said simply: TransTech helps people evolve. Meant literally.

If successful, it can help the species evolve. It’s what Google should really be doing but doesn’t know to. It’s what one of the most important companies in the world will be doing a decade from now; which company that will be is up for grabs. It’s what I’m doing now because no matter which domain I was working in, and over the past 20 years I’ve worked in a bunch—venture capital, university research, healthcare, corporate leadership development, metatheory, conscious capitalism, climate change, spiritual development, publishing, family development, etc.—they are all far less effective and authentic than they could be otherwise, if they had TransTech working right in the center of their disciplines.

Said simply, if we could liberate the world’s scientific knowledge of human transformation—all its wisdom, research and practices—into a real-time format available everywhere and always, and that helps people build mindfulness, skills and habits, than we can influence every known problem on the planet. It’s true that it’s a crazy vision. But it’s also true that there are only a few levers long enough to effect global transformation. And those are worth a lifetime of failure if there’s a possibility that even one succeeds.

Back in 1994, in the momentous meeting that kicked off my relation ship with my mentor, Judith Buerkel, we both learned our fundamental, influential shared affinity, was the work of Gregory Bateson. But, she was heavily into Ken Wilber, and I, by then, was no longer a Wilberian.’ (Albeit, I had been following Wilber’s work since Up From Eden was published in 1981.) By contrast, I was a student of the Analytical Psychology founded by Carl Jung, whereas she was not, and, Judith wasn’t so to the extent that she would sometimes ask me not to make everything ‘a Jungian moment.’

I came to respect her wish, while her referencing Wilber a bit too much for my sensibility also came back to pinch her as she came to understand that I silently thought Wilber to be far from ‘the smartest man in the world,’ and the ‘Twentieth Century’s greatest philosopher.’ For me, both characterizations qualify as ludicrous misestimations of Wilber and the heft of his body of work.

Then, as the 20th century ended, the arc of Wilber’s vision bent away from his hoping to bring his Integral Philosophy into the academy, and curved toward developing his philosophy into a spiritual technology. This caused his philosophy to also severely bend away from contact with: various core scholarly disciplines, meta-sociologies, inter-disciplinarities and transdisciplinarities given by the contemporary developmental courses of the crucial disciplines of the social and psychological sciences, and, philosophy. Although I wasn’t in the academy, I had hoped Wilber’s Integral philosophy would, as it were, ‘pro-create’ with the related academic disciplines, and then bubble up my way.

(It also bent away from ever daring to come close to (my own ground) of outlying fields General Systems Theory, 2nd Order Cybernetics, 3rd Order Social Cybernetics, Systems-ordinated Constructivism, Biosemiotics, Enactivist Neurophenomenology, and, conventional Experiential Learning Theories. Oh well.)

My own view today is that WIlber, the Wilberians, and the Integral Communities most associated with Wilberian ‘normativity,’ have mostly managed to turn the post-conventional thrust of ‘Integralism’ back into a conventional brand of new age transpersonalism focused on practices aimed to support positive adult development. PAy your entry and coursework fees, and Integral practices apparently capably support advanced development of consciousness and of the personality.

But, is there also a kind of masculinist Saturnian Messianic flavor to the thrust of the Wilberian spiritual technology that accompanies all this cha-ching?

Said simply, if we could liberate the world’s scientific knowledge of human transformation—all its wisdom, research and practices—into a real-time format available everywhere and always, and that helps people build mindfulness, skills and habits, than we can influence every known problem on the planet.

This is to say that the philosophical position of Integralism, having divorced itself from any messy entanglement with mainstream fields of study and scholarship, and with multi-disciplinarity, came to focus its normative system on developmental applications. And, so, it misses completely–nowadays–any opportunity for it undergoing ‘Kuhnian’ or theoretical, revolutions due to the radical imposition upon it of other perspectives and theories. My own sense is that this provides for a defense against the Wilberian Integral developing into anything which might attenuate its stable potential to generate profitable product lines.

Hey, I’m cynical too! The unironic spiritualization of the Integral probably requires the Wilberian Integral ‘system’ to morph into just another shelf full of stuff to buy, check out, identify with, and, realize all the other steps which come to my cynical mind.

I have greatly reduced my contact point to the Wilberian community down to a single email newsletter The Daily Evolver. Every now and then it leads me to other short engagements. So, caveat emptor; although I can hope for JP to have his way with “Wilber World’ someday.

*Frank Visser, is a post-Wilberian Integral Thinker, intellctual biographer of Ken Wilber, and, builder of Integral World, an outpost for post-Wilberian thought.

addendum:

Mr. Visser in November 2014 added REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD Years of Application and Assessment A New Online Chapter ofKen Wilber: Thought as Passion. This brings the intellectual biography begun in his book Thought As Passion, up to 2014. It is an excellent piece.

On the other hand, I personally have no time for discussions of scientism v. eros. From my perspective, it is fine to locate eros in biological mindedness and per force in high order consciousness; and then grant this meta-field of differentiating beingness its dynamic extension outward through the world, through the cosmos, maybe even through the multiplicity of universes. If you see what I am doing here you won’t need to be told I am forging a ‘sense’ from my ‘belief’ that my, yours, our, his, her, various projections from our interiority outward is enough qualification of the aspect of eros. Heck, it qualifies logos, too.

The bottom line is: differential economy, that is the ontologically real, (and existentially phenomenal,) cost of difference. My post-Integral musing is predicated on there being no free lunch! Yet, probably, I’m wrong all the way up through all the turtles!

note — I would suggest there are no worthwhile fields-of-study that are stable only because the discipline’s essential canon is largely the work of a single person and his or her social experience. The downfall of Wilberian Integral’s effective engagement with other disciplines has already come about due to this insularity and a kind of intellectual solipsism–for lack of a better term. Except, now I read Joe Perez, where he writes as part of his multipart response to Visser,

It is through construction and extension and expansion and embodiment that integralists are offering their boldest critiques of Integral Theory.

My contact point is exceedingly thin, then, in light of advancements about which I am unaware. Again, caveat emptor.

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Having It All – Meshwork’s Ultimate Cha-Ching

Ken Wilber's cash register

Received a marketing piece from Ken Wilber:

Supermind is the epitome of freedom and responsibility. You, and in the deepest sense you alone, become responsible for the entire planet and all of its beings. Immanuel Kant beautifully defined a “cosmopolitan” as one who feels that, “when anyone anywhere suffers, I suffer” — a profound world-centric awareness. And the ultimate cosmopolitanism is when one feels that, when anyone or anything anywhere suffers, I suffer, because I am them.

Supermind is that type of all-inclusive, all-pervading, all-embracing responsibility. And it starts with being able to hold the entire Kosmos in your awareness without shutting out so much as a single item. Absolutely everything entering your field of awareness, with no exceptions whatsoever, is fully and totally embraced, saturated with love, radiating from the infinity of your own heart-space, streaming from the radical fullness of your very own being, and reaching out to each and every thing and event, in each and every direction in the known ends of the Kosmos itself. There is simply nothing anywhere, at any time, on the outside of this awareness. It is “one without a second.” And having no outside, it has no inside either, but simply is.

To contract at all in the face of this undivided wholeness awareness, this total painting of all that is existing in this timeless all-inclusive present, is to set in motion the self-contraction, the separate self-sense that latches onto the relative, finite, conventional small self — a necessary functional entity for this manifest world created by the True Self itself, along with the rest of creation — but latches onto that small self, or “I”, as if it were itself the True Self, or “I-I”, thus setting in motion the entire train of events known as ignorance, illusion, Maya, deception, the fallen world, the world of the lie. This is transmitted in each and every lower structure present, and the radically enlightened nature of Supermind becomes lost and obscured in wave after wave of avoidance.

And that avoidance rests on this, what we might call “primordial avoidance” — the very first subtle looking away. If we go back to the single, indivisible, total painting notion, there is some element, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that for whatever reason I don’t want to look at, to be aware of, to notice, to allow into my awareness — that single, primary turning away, looking away, moving away. That primordial avoidance sets in motion the events that are, at this level, the dominant cause of the world of Maya, illusion, ignorance, deception. And every level, top to bottom, is infected with this delusion.

—Ken Wilber, Supermind and the Primordial Avoidance

FULL TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE FOR PREMIUM MEMBERS.

I–for the life of me–cannot determine whether Ken Wilber’s desire to steward into existence the final-by-definition religion represents the apotheosis of the New Age or of Neo-Liberalism. His terrible writing style doesn’t help me figure it out.

(Alternately, I am unwilling to ante up and get my hands ‘integral dirty’; although I did so, for years.)

Consider this description of the highest level of Spiral Dynamics development:

Turquoise: A “grand unification” is possible in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; see multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics; the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power. -Mark Michael Lewis

Do we know anyone who has gotten to the following optimal kosmic perch?

“And it starts with being able to hold the entire Kosmos in your awareness without shutting out so much as a single item. Absolutely everything entering your field of awareness, with no exceptions whatsoever, is fully and totally embraced, saturated with love, radiating from the infinity of your own heart-space, streaming from the radical fullness of your very own being”

This also strikes me as being a ripe example of the PRE/TRANS fallacy. Plus: there’s a total erasure of irony!

from Craig Thompson's Space Dumplins (used without permission)

from Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins (used without permission)

Is Ken Wilber thinking about his assets and retirement? Certainly, if you wish to develop to become a part of this different kind of elite one percent, it will cost you.

Order-right-now

(I added the pitch for the free app because I couldn’t help but think of a TV infomercial.)

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Sam Harris Solves the Problem of Islamic Faith

Shortly after viewing the intensely puerile tag team tussle betwixt Affleck/Kristof/Steele and Maher/Harris (on Real Time With Bill Maher, October 3rd,) I knew it would take a little while, but that I would soon get an email sent from the ramparts of the Integral Empire pointing out that the Real Time combatants just don’t get religion like the Wilberians in actuality do get it.

Sure enough, on the 18th, Dustin DiPerna weighed in on The Daily Evolver (email newsletter) with Bridging the Chasm: Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, and a Needed Dose of Integral Theory. In turn, although the link back is not available in the newsletter, Mr. DiPerna contributed a longer article to Integral World, the safehouse for heterodox views of the integral. Finally, at The Daily Evolver itself is Jeff Salzman’s article/podcast Dog and God.

Predictably, came the appeal to the integral framework’s notion of levels in the flux of person and religious system.

DiPerna: Islam, like all of our world’s great religious traditions, is enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved. To be sure, Islam has a particular shape and flavor that has consistency throughout all interpretations. Folks like Harris tend to emphasize the consistent dimensions of faith, often intentionally highlighting the aspects that many consider the most challenging to stomach, as a methodology to provoke or even dismiss entire traditions as “bad ideas”. But just as each tradition has a flavor and shape itself, it is equally true that every human being has a lens and worldview that brings forth particular elements of the tradition according to the world that he or she can see. There is not one version of Islam that is either “Good” or “Bad” but there are at least five versions of Islam, all dependent upon specific levels of interpretation. Each of these levels is not arbitrary. The levels are consistent across traditions and can be correlated with very specific stages of psychological development.

Whether we use the work of Harvard researcher James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or the early models of developmental progression found in the works of Jean Gebser, we see a very similar metric that can be used to explore five basic levels of development. These levels can be referred to using the shorthand terms: magic (Stage 1), mythic (Stage 2), rational (Stage 3), pluralistic (Stage 4), and integral (Stage 5). Each level has particular characteristics and hallmarks of how it shows up in the world. Furthermore, each level has both moderate and extremist orientations.

If an interpretation is dependent, and decisively dependent upon the lens and worldview discoverable at the scale of the individual–and this is implied by religion enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved–then there are as many versions of a religion at such a scale as there are actors.

This follows from DiPerna’s organic analysis that uses the blunt conceptions, via Jean Gebser, of integral analysis. A reader such as myself then can anticipate the arrival of the prescriptions.

DiPerna. Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development. In doing so, this stage of religious orientation seeks to build bridges connecting various levels of interpretation. Understanding that everyone starts the developmental process at stage 1, this level sees the importance of building conveyor belts of potential growth and development in each tradition. Rather than merely sitting in a circle in dialogue (as the Pluralistic level might do) the integral stage combines discernment and compassion acknowledging that some views are broader, more compassionate and more inclusive than others.

In his podcast, Dog and God, Integral insider Jeff Salzman will get to this same Stage 5. (His discussion of religion in the context of stage of development begins at 11m into the podcast. download )

A reader such as myself, (having followed along with the Integral framework since 1979,) can anticipate the arrival of the prescription.

DiPerna. Rather, what is needed is the critical comprehension that individuals, with different levels of development, are enacting Islam (and all other religious traditions) according to their own worldviews and levels of development. And even more importantly, we must come to the understanding that there are paths that can be highlighted that can help individuals move along that developmental spectrum from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral versions of each tradition. As development unfolds, interpretations of faith move from being more restrictive, ego-centric and ethno-centric in view to orientations that more compassionate, open, and world-centric.

Sam Harris, transcript of the clip: 

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim, who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up, and let them reform Islam.

Harris’s view is obviously crude and unreal, and, for someone who spins dimes into bullion on the anti-mythic religion trail, his prescription is shockingly and shamelessly a product of his being deeply ignorant about what religions generally are about, and how religions come to change–let alone, be reformed.

Salzman’s cop from DiPerna is less crude but is no better:

Integral teacher and scholar Dustin DiPerna, also inspired by the Maher/Harris/Affleck flap, wrote a terrific essay for Integral Life on how development trumps religion.

Were Salzman, DiPerna, and Harris deep critics of their own biases, I’d have some hope for the development of better prescriptions with regard to the problem of religiosity and its variable contexts. Although, I don’t know of anybody in the post-conventional community who is so devoted to such radical solutions that he or she is willing to evangelize for free, directly to the target audience. As far as I can tell, Harris mostly preaches his degenerate prescriptions for religion to people who already have ejected themselves from religion’s clutches, or, have little experience with religion.

It would be quite remarkable for it to someday be demonstrated to be the true case that religions actually are driven to evolve in the direction promoted by the Integral idealization, an idealization itself rooted in the nowadays diffuse and defused transpersonal and noetic counter-culture of the late sixtes and early seventies. Wilber’s own philosophy soon enough came to be reactionary, constitute a logo-therapeutics, realize a messianic brand and industry, and engage a magnificently one-sided, touchy but no feely, developmental track today termed the Super Human Operating System. Could this be the inkling of the first world post-religion?

This is to suggest that those higher Integral stages are themselves geared to enlighten, but, at the same time, in the shadow of those later, higher stages, are currents strong enough to evoke the clearly promethean demiurge that supposes the point of a human life is superior development, and, this is given so as to, among many effects, trump religion, blind the religious as it were by the light of higher consciousness, bend the lower stage aspirational wills by contact with consciousness liberated from its worldly objects.

This leads to the chicken/egg problem that can bias investigation of religion. This problem is in extremis in the Integral milieu. The problem clearly comes to the surface when, for example, Harris offers a potential for reform of Islam to be caused in the crucible of ambivalence. I take this lightly to be a person speaking about changing something he is innocent of. Do we understand what the amiable endpoint of Islam will be, from being able to conjure a Fifth Stage?

I consider the Integral view on religion to be largely incapable as a hermeneutical tool. Still, it would be a remarkable coincidence if it turns out Ken Wilber has in fact discovered the optimal stages of human development, and these, as DiPerna states, have come to trump religion!

Harris? Salzman? DiPerna? Wilber? Does such a person carry close to them a criticism of their own prescription? After all, at least with all the starry-eyed advocates for centauric development, it can be presumed he or she has developed powerful tools with which to deconstruct and parse via the AQAL, and further analyze, and, process via the ironic turn, the beneficial and costly ramifications of their own prescription, and such prescriptions would be born from their own experience, biases, expertise, and ignorance.

The complexity of human and social phenomena was long ago subsumed by the abject claim, given here by DiPerna, “Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development.”  Certainly, as a social cyberneticist and Batesonian, the analytic operating methodologies for systematically evaluating spectrums of growth and development as expressed in Wilber’s own body of work is amusingly and ironically reductive, naively one-sided, rarely counter-factually argued in a very spotty literature, and, is shamelessly innocent of the apparently dull details of, to name two gigantic fields of study, psychology and religion.  So, you say “entire” and I hear: gigantic.

There was a time around the turn of the century when Ken Wilber’s vision for the Integral Theory was that it needed adherents to go into the academy and become better schooled and eventually some exchange and synergy and informed evolution on both ‘sides’ might result. But, then stuff happened, and Wilber didn’t ever lead this charge. Instead, he built with help, the Integral Technologies, technologies just recently termed the Super Human OS.

Install this OS and trump really old stuff?

schuon_esoteric_exoteric

Meanwhile, neo-traditionalist, ‘not-of-the-world,’ radical Takfiri Salafism, can’t be understood to center Islam, but, those particular jihadi offshooters are on an intensely devotional mission to convert the unbeliever everywhere, or be martyred making the attempt.

I doubt a unitarian-like revolt from the fringes could make a difference, Mr. Harris.

My own prescription only has to do with what anybody might decide to do in taking initial steps for the purpose of understanding any complex human matter, such as religion, or a religion.

First, how do you identify what your tool set will be?

What are the given problems and opportunities given by where you start your investigation from?

What are the nature of your biases ?

What frameworks and tools for knowledge/sense-making are congenial or seem to carry a prospect for intrinsic motivation?

What do you need to know firstly?

Where will you start, and why start there?

How will you gather up resources and mentors?

What will be the qualitative measure of your inevitable partial understanding?

What will you not understand if you are unwilling to “do” or experience the religion?

Second, speaking very broadly, there are fields for investigation of religion, and religions. For the anthropologist, religions are largely in the local context of historical and present-day development and concrete practice at the small scale where individual, family, community practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions are able to be studied. How is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

For sociologist, religions are largely in the larger scale context given by how institutions and relationships between social groups come to bear upon both local practice and the organization of local practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions into the larger social scales, and, organizational practices and routines, of a society or well-defined group. How is this all to be understood as a driver and sustainer of institutions and their practices?

For modern historians, the development of a religion asserts how a religion came to center or otherwise instantiate crucial social impacts and changes at the scale of community or tribe or group or nation or region or continent or planet, and, at all of those scales altogether.

Psychologically or social-psychologically, the nature of religion refers to its aiding cognitive cum psychological organization of individual and intrapsychic and intersubjective and group: identity, meaningfulness, symbolic systems, inheritable interpretation of history, ethics, birth/life/death, family, theories of mind (or consciousness,) development, aspiration, and relations to the profound objects and possibilities larger than one’s own single mortal self. In a psycho-anthropology, how is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

There are also many other fields and disciplines, like philosophy of religion, plus, all the various fields possess lots of disciplinary subsets.

My gloss here is intended to sketch lots of choices, showcase complexity. Also, this gloss supposes all sorts of tacit relations and subject matters between the disciplinary fields. Obviously, I recognize my own investigations are at the level of what is called the ‘folk,’ and so I also recognize whatever I do happen to know is more lightly disciplined and more subject to error than that of most masterful experts.

As far as I know, most of the thrust of Integral investigators is inexpert too. There is to my knowledge not a single deeply informed integral treatment on the subject of religion, (or on any other subject for that matter!)

I sense the deep irony unintentionally embedded in the various Integral prescriptions.

It is clear to me that even if the post-religion implicit in the higher stages of Integral development drives the good will of those who urge upon Islam reform for the sake of Islam evolving to become trumped by the Integral (!), the various Integral self-proclaimed scholars do not yet seem to me to be at all conversant with religion as a social scientific object of study, let alone conversant with Islam proper.

As for Bill Maher, I enjoy his New Rules, but he is, in the main, an asshat and charlatan.

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Rabbit Holes

Enactivist Grid - a form for a heuristic inquiry

Enactivist Grid – a form for a heuristic inquiry

I’ve been reviewing current so-called Integral literature over the last few weeks, but it was Ken who had much earlier got me going back toward that development dynamic when I toppled over ‘into it’ in the intellectual sense from our discussing Giegerich’s critique of classical Analytical Psychology.

I’m not an Integralist.  Understanding in a meta-systems sense that the best and the lesser are sometimes necessarily retained, and, transcend-and-include turns out to be an arbitrary imposition if it then, at times, results in the baby following promptly the bathwater, highlights the fundamental points of distinction between my messy/rigorous viewing site and the seemingly reductive AQAL territories.

I note as much when I peruse the neatly reductive diagrams that have been recently multiplying; and most strike me initially to be graphical, intellectual kitsch. But then I get out my scraper.

Vision-Logic

 

I’d be very interested in scratching beneath the surface of the presumably poetical ” ‘live eros,’ springing forth from chaos.”

What a human system apparently is (to a degree mediated by a, or several, or all domains,) is what he or she entails, and what he or she can possibly entertain, and, so, what I and you feel, and, that which I and you may create from the, my/your, our, current entailment, and, also, how future potentials are foresight worthy. In a nutshell, this is a (my own,) provisional perspective that, at least and as far as I do foresee, is able to encompass just about any ol’ additional perspective which could be tossed toward it, at it, into it, or, even land neatly and dynamically as a tangent, and with enough energy in such a circuit to cause further differentiation and a foundation for adaptation or sudden evolution.

Development is often non-linear.

Horizon is the root of horizontal.

We, you and I, are able to discuss the future. (Maybe this is among the most singular human features.)

The Map never gets close, and that it gets closer is an illusion provided by what I term the sunk perspective. In noting this, at the same time, all sorts of adventurous turns may tumble out of the dynamical interplay caused by being gripped and enthused by the current sunk perspective! Such perspectives then become relativized–and this is may be much different than being transcended and included.

Someday my squaring of radical empiricism and human (or social,) cybernetics will fall down the hole too.

If you should speak and try a hundred ways to express it,
‘Tis useless; the mystery becomes no clearer. …
A horse of wood is useless on dry land,
It is the special conveyance of voyagers by sea.
Silence is this horse of wood,
Silence is the guide and support of men at sea.
This Silence which causes you annoyance
Is uttering cries of love audible to the spiritual. (Rumi)

THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FALLACY by Wolfgang Giegerich

One conception of the psyche that one can get from studying Jung’s work, above all the work of early Jung, is that the psyche has a clear- cut orderly structure that can be presented in the geometric forms of concentric circles (the ego as the center, surrounded first by the realm of consciousness, then of the personal unconscious and finally of the collective unconscious) or of a cone (with different layers, the deepest of which would be that of the collective unconscious whereas the tip would represent the ego) as well as in the imaginal form of personified figures (ego, persona, shadow, anima/animus, self). To this conception, Jung’s psychological typology with its compass-like representation of the four orientation functions fits very neatly. The crux of this conception is that it starts out from the human person. The human being is here the container or vessel of the soul and accordingly also the horizon of psychology A psychology based on this fantasy clearly operates with the division between man and world, subject and object, inner and outer, psychology and physics and feels competent for only half of this divided whole.

Psychology’s belonging to one side manifests for example in the concept of “extraversion” and in the “object-level” method of dream interpretation. Psychology is here what goes on inside the human person, which is why I speak of the anthropological fallacy. This fallacy is of course by no means a specialty of (the early) C. G. Jung. It is, and has been, the generally accepted, conventional idea about psychology ever since there has been a scientific discipline by this name, an idea that seemed so natural, so self-evident that it was not felt to be in need of any argumentative justification.

In depth psychology the anthropological fallacy had the practical consequence that the individual was urged to turn inwards and, in the case of Jungian analysis, to develop his or her self and to strive for his or her wholeness. Not only the “individuation process,” but Jung’s adamant emphasis on the individual as “the measure of all things” (CW 10, par.523) and “the makeweight that tips the scales” (par. 586) affirmed and highlighted this concentration on the person. It is true, Jung repeatedly insisted that “individuation” and his psychological stance in general does not exclude, but include, the world. But such a semantic statement does not undo the underlying structure or syntax of this thinking, namely that it irrevocably starts out from a human being who has the world (“external reality”) outside and vis-a?-vis himself. Even synchronicity as the meaningful coincidence of an inner and an outer event still has the anthropological conception of psychology as its background and precisely by trying to overcome the opposition of psychology and physics in the direction of the idea of unus mundus once more confirms the anthropological stance.

A serious consequence of this methodological standpoint is that the soul is logically relegated to second rank, as much as it may be prioritized, semantically and emotionally. The human being is here the substrate or actual substance and the psyche is merely one of the attributes of this substrate.

But the human being as the substrate personality is not itself the topic of psychology. It lies outside psychology’s field of vision. Psychology’s topic is the soul, is psychic life (which, however, often manifests in people). The moment psychic life is defined as being the life of the substrate personality, psychology has the task of exploring something (namely, psychic life), whose actual substantial reality (namely, the human being) is pre-supposed as lying outside (“pre-”) its own precincts of competence and responsibility…. The soul, not the person, is what I have to focus on.

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Planet of the Snake-Oil Loving Apes

Lowland-Wilber.jpg

David Lane takes Ken Wilber to task, Frisky Dirt, Why Ken Wilber’s New Creationism
is Pseudo-Science
, for reprising his odd views on evolution. Those views can be encapsulated in quotes from The Guru and the Pandit. Eros, Buddha, and the Spectrum of Love, from the new issue of Andrew Cohen’s magazine EnlightenmentNext.

It’s evidence of a force that is pushing against randomness in the universe.

The fact that such a thing can happen is a miracle. It’s just unbelievable.

All of this, without exception, is driven by love.

Lane’s takedown of Wilber’s ‘esotericistic’ intelligent design is okay, but let’s face it, all the varieties of intelligent design and creationism present low hanging fruit. The abstract for the article is telling:

Love is a hot topic in the world of progressive spirituality, but you haven’t heard anyone discuss it like the Guru and the Pandit. Distinguishing between love’s personal, cultural, and cosmic dimensions, they explore how this primordial force gives rise to every new emergence in the evolutionary process.

Wilber has spelled out what he means by speaking of love’s primordial force. This can be put differently without error, and on offer then is the context, a context many times more interesting than Wilber’s new age creationism.

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in “Ken Wilber.”

Or, ending up in the Centauric Integral, another term for “Ken Wilber.”

This developmental outcome is very ironic if you’re aware of Wilber’s antipathy toward baby boomer solipsism.

As a thinker and quasi-philosopher, Wilber’s development peaked fifteen years ago. At the time he had sketched out an interesting, even compelling, albeit rudimentary, transdisciplinary methodology. It required proponents to get down to the brass tacks of formulating a sharp critical culture.

In 2001, he told Jordan Gruber,

>E.com: In the meantime, though, the grants that people could write to I-I for, none of that’s happening?

KW: No, what’s happening right now is that one of the main things we wanted to do with the original one hundred million dollars was to get it to as many people as possible doing work in this field, the general field of integral studies and integral endeavors. That’s one of the reasons that I started Integral Institute, to act as a funding source for people doing this kind of work because the marketplace doesn’t reward truly integral studies as all. It rewards New Age approaches to it, it rewards the experiential workshop approach, as it were, it rewards the green meme and the purple meme and everything in between, but it does not reward truly integral studies.

So, the only way we’re going to get real work done in this field is, frankly, if we have funding agencies that will do it. And once the real work is done, and the research is done, and we start producing really solid texts, and presentations, and articles, and research, then we can create a market off of that. That’s going to be probably three years from now.

So, what we’ve done at Integral Institute … the biggest change in our orientation happened not because of the market, but quite independent of that, a change we would have made whether the market went up or down. And that is, we went from being a kind of community of some four hundred founding members to focusing more on producing what we call “integral product,” actual books, texts, academic material in each of the ten branches. So we’re working on books in, for example, What is Integral Politics? What is Integral Business? Integral Medicine? Integral Law? Because what we found was that there were no really strong statements about an integral approach to any of these fields.

E.com: Which is one of the reasons academia can ignore it completely.

KW: It can ignore it completely, and the other things we found is that most people with very very good intentions would simply take what they’re doing and call it integral when it really wasn’t. They were leaving out certain aspects of the human condition that ought not to be left out. We could demonstrate that to them, and they would say, “OK, I guess what I’m doing is not integral.”

So before we can build community, or create a market, or have a web presence, or have conferences, we have to produce specific texts in each of these ten branches, put together by one of our core teams of recognized scholars and researchers, saying “This is our best shot as an opening statement about what integral business is, integral politics, integral education, integral medicine, integral law, integral psychology, integral spirituality, and so on.”

Actually, what happened was this was inverted. Wilber created a community, a web presence, conferences, and, crucially, a market. Wilber’s Integral has been regressing ever since. Only The Integral Leadership Review, (itself mostly off the Wilberian reservation,) regularly publishes something like scholarship. Elsewhere there isn’t a body of Integral scholarship in those other nine branches, where the scholarship works to, as the Wilberian principle goes, keep the good and throw out the bad. So, without having enabled a keen critical culture to negotiate disciplinary fields using a robust and sophisticated Integral criteria, the Integral methodology was sunk.

Wilber’s creationism is interesting because its context is not Integral biology, but rather its context (and purpose) is the yoking of Wilber’s product lines to the biggest, most fantastic, view of that which can be the reward for buying Wilber’s spiritual technologies. This value-added idea is simple:

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in your ability to realize your cosmic integral love-vitalized high consciousness nature.

One has to buy a ticket, or otherwise pony up.

As for biology and science, Wilber has time and time again, in interviews with Larry Dossy, and other new age thought leaders, proposed that what is bad about science, methodological materialism, needs to be reformed and revolutionized, and, he’s implied, transformed into something altogether more ‘integral-mystical.’ (Magical!) Needless to say there aren’t any cogent Integral philosophers of science. Nor is there–as far as I know–any scholarly Integral biology, Integral physics, Integral anthropology, etc.. Also, the varieties of integral-like interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship found in some fields is not under review by Integral scholars.

No, there is only the facile spiritualizing of the Wilberian spiritual technology put up for sale. ‘Adeptitude’ has taken over; sadly. The strange, anti-intellectual case is that as much as this high-minded technology harps on getting right with The Shadow, science itself is smack dab in the middle of Wilber’s own shadow. I suspect love is stuck there too because the self-agrandizing, primordial move is too easy, compared, say, to the necessarily unsparing, perspective of Rilke.

To reconfigure Carl Jung’s famous insight,

…where power marketing predominates, love is lacking.

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Why not open source the integral movement?

Visit Integral Life, the main outpost for the Ken Wilberian revolution, and see how new age it’s become. (Integral Life is the leader of the deep lifestyle movement, helping people live more free and whole lives using integral philosophy, the first genuine world philosophy for the 21st century. from the site) Having tracked Wilber for 30+ years, I find the uncritical panoply of new ageism to signify Wilberian integralism to have come full circle and returned to its transpersonal, counter-culture, origins.

Wilber and his marketers have been building this brand and its product line for some time. The more developed the brand has become, the more his framework has atrophied. Its almost as if the Wilberian integralists can’t do two things at once. So, I suppose the decision was made. And then the cash registers were installed, and so it has gone.

What it looks like is this: kitschy self-realization resources and pay-to-play products dominating critical culture to the point one can’t find the critical culture anywhere. (How is this not egocentric?)

For example, wrap your discriminating intellect and eros around this:

2012, the Aquarian Age, and the Nature of Evolution (November 19th, 2009 by Darrell Moneyhon)

Regarding Ken’s very valid point addressed in his upcoming book, that indiscriminate democracy could be disastrous, given 70% of the population is at amber or lower, I think I have a solution – a broad strategy that could avert that catastrophe. I call it 3 S, for Sustainable Social Selection. It hinges on the idea that optimal human collective adaptation is based on effective utilization of human resources – no longer on selection via organisms dying off, the old “survival of the fittest” thing.

3 S adapts by finding the right person for the right “assignment”, or “engagement”. “Survival of the fittest is replaced with “survival of the fitting-est” – not meaning that whole groups of individuals (or even organizations or ideologies) will adapt or die from not fitting in with the requirements of the times (although such a selection may occur), but meaning that collectives which are able to get the right persons in the right job will adapt best. The ability to harness the various natural aptitudes and personality orientations, or roughly speaking, “gifts”, is what helps social groups survive and prosper. When the right gifts are placed in the right niches, a kind of workable egalitarianism is formed.

Why? Because gifts will sort out the best thinkers for thinking tasks, the best dreamers/intuiters for creative tasks and early stage innovation, the best relaters for healing and facilitation of social well-being, and the best do-ers for getting projects done in an efficient and effective manner. Those “gift” catagories are mainly types, but line competencies could also be used. Gift-in-niche assignments could be made based on performance (or observed proficiency) on certain lines of development, based on some form of multiple intelligence assessment, etc.. “Gifts” in general could include, then, a blend of type and line “intelligence” – a type-by-line “fit” factor.

Because all major types and all kinds (lines) of intelligences would be utilized, productively engaged, and cherished, no gift would be considered higher than other gifts. No gifts would be given better living standards than other gifts. To favor certain gift-sets would violate the very core of the Sustainable Social Selection strategy. All gifts, all people, would be needed in such a strategy. Every one would, therefore be “equal”.

But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things. “Each according to her gift” is a 3 S motto. The foot of the collective body does not have the same (equal) access to forks as do the fingers. Nor do the fingers have equal access to shoes. Those would be poor “fits” in a survival-by-the-fitting-est scheme. The understanding and practice of intrinsic power would replace the lust for extensic power. A finger would not want access to shoes (except to help tie shoe laces!), nor would feet want to hold forks. Those “powers” would be extrinsic to the nature of the respective gifts.

Because of the respect given to all the gifts, and because of equal provisions, there would be no press for every person to have equal say in social problem-solving or social planning projects. There would be no advantage or incentive for a do-er to pretend to be a social mapper, etc. If the standard of living is equal, then do-ers would have no incentive to do what they don’t do best! They would naturally prefer practical projects over big-picture pattern analysis, etc.

While I read this, I was thinking to myself, ‘Here’s an old Greek idea!’ Then I get to the point where ‘no gift would be considered higher than other gifts’ is contradicted by this: ‘But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things.’ This is garden-variety incoherence. Later, in an addendum, the writer suggests:

The key is get a modified democratic system which gives weighted voting privileges according to gifts, according to the person’s line strengths and/or type. This way, the “fingers” of the collective “body” aren’t voting about shoes. And the”feet” aren’t voting about eating utensiles. A thinker would have, say, one and a half vote, for big picture social policy votes. A relater would have, say, one and a half votes on specific issues related to health care.

The author contributes, by way of contextualizing this suggestion, some thoughts about an assessment regime which would sort out the overt typology of his scheme. Then at the end of his comment he sort of peels away to his core moralism.

But there is no guarantee that the behavior is following an optimal course which is in line with a person’s potential. Accordingly, both individual and collective behavior must be looked at in a dynamic, unfolding, genetic, sort of way, if we are to “behave” ourselves, and to live up to our potential.

Is the author really suggesting that by using typological assessments based in ‘moralized’ categories having to do with capturing in some definitive way a strict monological estimation of individual potential, there could then be a evolutionary progressive integral politics anchored to these behaviorally dispositive moralistic, performative, and structural identities?

The problem of the poverty of critical culture in Wilberian integralism comes to the front in Wilber’s musings.

Here is the idea that the integral world view will be, (or could be,) imposed as a matter of the natural superiority of the second tier moral consciousness. But I have a question, if the integral system hasn’t engendered a critical culture, in what way could I be convinced that second tier moral prescription isn’t, in actuality, massively egocentric, or otherwise darkened?

 

Don Beck on the 2nd Tier:

3. Do I accept that individuals, organizations, and societies must acquire these All Quadrant capacities in a step-by-step or developmental process?

6. Have I, personally, learned “when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em, and when to walk away?” Can I resist the need to control or engineer people?

9. Can I think systemically by addressing complex issues from a multi-case [multi-cause?] perspective rather than isolate a single culprit.

(2nd Tier, to me, is rigorously self-critical. Obviously this means I’m a charlatan or innovator or heretic.)

So, rather than develop a critical culture able to contest and refine and configure a future integral politics, what has come about is a product line wed to an inchoate “system,” itself born in top down elitism, and wildly over-generalized and simplistic estimations about political behavior. And, these products are tasked with pulling people into this uncritical socio-political sphere; all the while the cash registers ring.

This calls into question the Wilberian Project, almost in-total. One repetitive bit is a pisser in all this: when the second tier maestro, goes about reminding that he or she ‘is not judging,’ or refers to transcend-and-include as a work-around. This may fool people. But, I’m hearing an indelicate mash-up of Plato, Hegel and Mao!

Should one take the blinders off, now, many decades into the Wilberian Project, it is fairly obvious what pseudo-second tier seeks to showcase: an ability to do some educative banking, where you get to buy some old ‘vertical’ thought forms and climb up a little closer. (The idea that a spiritual elite possess the most able political consciousness is especially appealing when one can buy their way in, master the vocabulary, and learn how not to get passionately angry about anything.)

I state this obvious implication of enterprising integral politics with a sense of delighted irony. After all, there isn’t any substantive integral political philosophy–how could there be given what’s being recycled, heck, time shifted! here. And, it is deliciously ironic that Mr. Moneyhon has made an attempt to figure out the ‘assessment’ requirement, since, after all, there isn’t also a substantive integral psychology, let alone an applied integral psychology, upon which to build his mash-up of typology and assessment of aspirational potentials. Of course, with good reason, Centauric political leadership is yoked to integral spirituality, but this sure looks different when there comes the top-down proposal to assess somebody else’s spiritual stage using the potted categories given by integral spirituality.

(Might as well mention, there’s no methodology for doing these assessments; nor is there even a basis for a methodology. It’s a different kind of pipe dream.)

With respect to this latter field, it’s important to point out Wilberian integralism has wed its centralized entrepreneurial focus with (mostly) digital evangelism for its technology of enlightenment. Well, there’s nothing integral about the Wilberian style of commerce.

Full circle we go: how to account for the re-introduction of new age hucksters and thought leaders into the integral mix? What you get with this is a lot of free floating folk metaphysics and magical doctrines, and, above all, you get the utopian ethos built upon a future “Self-developmental” payoff. Cha Ching.

There’s little harm that can come from any of this. When Wilber shifted direction–years ago–and worked to create a marketable new age self-help technology, it became clear the ‘early alpha’ integral analytic framework would either be advanced by others, or, not.

***

Daniel Gustav Anderson has contributed an excellent piece at Integral World, Integral Theory After Wilber. His blog is thought provoking and a favorite.

From his excellent essay, one I take as a beginning:

Integral theory should be critical. By this I mean it should be dialectical; it should be scientific and examined as such, rather than transmitted as a belief-structure or a cult object. Universal and essentializing claims should be eschewed in favor of properly warranted, demonstrated, and delineated ones. If one is inclined to speculate and explore ideas with a freer hand as I myself often do, or when one sees that evidence is lacking for an idea that may reward further investigation, such speculations and ideas should be marked for what they are: explorations, thought experiments, provisional claims, possibilities for future inquiry, or (to borrow from David Lane) an instance of unknowingness. In short, integral theory should be critically self-aware of how it makes knowledge, and how that knowledge functions politically and socially. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School has much to offer in this regard, as does the pedagogy of Paulo Freire.

(There’s a lot of integral thinking and writing by persons who knew nothing, may have predated, the Wilberian ‘integral.’ I’ve come to respect greatly the variety of superb descriptive and analytic work which wanders in disciplined ways through various subjective and objective perspectives. On the web, Integral World, provides a portal for post-Wilberian thought–although quality varies a great deal. IW authors )

The spell that binds us today consists not least in the fact that it ceaselessly urges people to take action that they believe will break the spell; and that it prevents the reflection on themselves and the circumstances that might really break it. (Theodore Adorno)

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The Da Wilber Code

Barry, a psychologist, has on his blog created a fantasy about a conversation between new age gurus Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen.

It’s short and strikes the bullseye, and, is very very funny. Great timing too because Barry’s parody is in the context of up-and-coming performances like this one, Conversations With the Masters. The answers to important questions such as:

* Would you like to learn the critically essential keys to human growth?

will be explored. The event is free, but bring your checkbook.

Daniel Gustav Anderson on his for-the-turnstiles blog declares:

For the purposes of scholarship and making knowledge, it is over for Ken Wilber.

This is hard to argue with after the travesty provided by Wilber’s book, Integral Spirituality, with its appalling instantiation of integral mathematics.

What jumps out for me, aside from the evidence found in Wilber’s recent books, is how completely disinterested Wilber is in the integral-like scholarship that has followed from psychological and anthropological and post-modern turns in a number of fields—over forty+ years.

Three of which, among many, are: organizational development, semiotics, and anthropology. Karl Weick has for years surveyed and analyzed the organization by galumphing through the quadrants, except his important work isn’t unfolding in integral terms or from an integral framework.

Earlier this year a colleague turned me onto the semiotician Paul J. Thibault’s Brain, Mind And the Signifying Body: An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory. It’s not technically a work based in wilberianism’s model, but it fits the bill for an integral scholarship in the superior terms offered outside of Wilber’s badly aging model.

Just sayin’.


See article about Dr. Weick, Karl Weick and the Aesthetics of Contigency (pdf) – Eisenberg, E. (2006). Organization Studies, 27(11).

Weick is author of three essential books in organizational studies: Sensemaking In Organizations; The Social Psychology of Organizing; Making Sense of the Organization: The Impermanent Organization.

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The Sweat Lodge of World Transformation

Scary, but also worth a read: For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End John Doughtery – New York Times: October 21, 2009

The story summarizes the horrific manslaughter that resulted from a sweat lodge conducted by new age con man James Arthur Ray in Sedona, October 8. Three died, eighteen were hospitalized, and, Ray has yet to be charged. Ray herded paying customers into a dangerous environment and then—literally—allowed three to perish. His state of consciousness can easily be characterized: oblivious. On the website for the deadly new age huckster Ray, he offers bona-fides.

Throughout his life, James Arthur Ray has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers – from his collegiate learning and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru, Egypt and the Amazon. Armed with this comprehensive and diverse background in behavioral sciences, coupled with his experience as a successful, entrepreneur, and an avid thirst for spiritual knowledge, James boasts the unique and powerful ability to blend the practical and mystical into a usable and easy-to-access formula for achieving true wealth across all aspects of life.

I’ll return to this shortly.

Speaking of hucksters, here’s some excerpts of a pitch received from Ken Wilber, October 15.

This is Ken Wilber, and I wanted to take a moment to write you and tell you of the first and only organization that is the exclusive outlet of my Integral work and all projects connected with it. The organization is called Integral Life, co-founded by myself and my CEO, Robb Smith.

I’m truly excited by this organization and its development, because for the first time in history, although there are hundreds of projects and organizations and websites inspired by my work, this is the first one that has my personal seal of approval. The projects, partner organizations, academic journals and books, blogs and forums all have a quality checked by me to personally guarantee that my Integral model is being used accurately. That’s the problem with these hundreds of other applications of my work. As much as I truly appreciate the inspired use of my model by them, there are often misinterpretations of its leading ideas, resulting in less than truly Integral results.

What is an ‘integral result?’

Here’s what it looks like, symbolically speaking:


(more…)

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