In my previous blog post, I mentioned Paul Shepard. His theories are ones that I come back to every now and again even though its been quite a number of years since I’ve read one of his books. It conflicts with the more optimistic vision of most Integralists. However, I see potential truth in both of them. Shepard sees that a misdevelopment occurred in humanity’s early development. Wilber doesn’t see this early misdevelopment, but rather places the blame of misdevelopment on later stages such as his theory of Mean Green Meme.
I’ve heard of one theory that could bring the two together. It was brought up in a discussion on Wilber’s site. The person was speculating that maybe Spiral Dynamics should be seen as descriptive instead of prescriptive. It is an accurate model describing how social development has occurred so far (in Western societies and non-Western societies influenced by Western culture). But this doesn’t mean that development couldn’t have happened differently nor does it mean that Spiral Dynamics represents the best possible outcome of development. These are the types of thoughts that came to me when I first studied Wilber. It seems an obvious possibility, but it rarely comes up in discussion and I haven’t yet seen it in a book about Integralism.
This seems to bungle up the workings of Wilber’s aesthetically elegant model. If we can’t be sure that the development model we have is optimal, then it undercuts other theories such as the pre/trans fallacy. How can we be sure that we have it right? From one perspective, the model is prescriptive, but maybe from another perspective it could be proscriptive. So, is their a larger context in which to place this all? Is their a perspective of perspectives that transcends and includes both idealism and pessimism?
I must admit that I’ve been more interested in the potential of a Theory For Anything (TFA) and less interested in a Theory Of Everything (TOE). But I don’t know what a TFA would look like. I reference back to Jung’s archetypes and personality types because it seems to give something closer to a morally neutral perspective and less hierarchical. I especially find personality types insightful because it clearly shows how often differences are just differences. This fits in with my criticism of Wilber’s model and those attracted to it being more Apollonian (MBTI NT?).
All of this interesting enough, but my mind has been focused on another set of ideas. I’ve just started the book The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen (here is the author’s blog and here is an article by the author about skepticism). This book brings some important questions to rationality. I can’t summarize this authors views at the moment, but let me pull out some quotes and ideas to give a sense of where he is coming from.
Okay… many philosophers have considered the mind to be binary and this goes back to the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander. From this tradition, we get Aristotelian logic with its binary opposition (a or not a) and its “the law of the excluded middle”. And one end of the binary opposition is usually privileged. We enter a different perspective with the liminal (introduced by Van Gennep and further elucidated by Victor Turner). “When a structure is subverted or deconstructed, there is a reversal of the positions of privilege or a blurring or collapse of the line dividing the pair.” (p. 62) This liminal between is the space that post-modernists see as empty, but which earlier anthropologists saw as being where the paranormal and supernatural can be properly placed.
“Deconstruction calls attention to ambiguity and uncertainty, and at its core, it is about the problem of representationin all forms.” (p. 76)
“Like magic, the problem of meaning is banished from the consciusness of science. Deconstructionism raises the issue overtly. It points out that meaning is neither neutral nor transparent. It asserts that language precedes science and thus has primacy over it.” (p. 377)
“The Issue of power again leads back to Max Weber. Weber’s discussion of authority was about power and domination. He identified three types of authorrity: charismatic, traditional, and bureaucratic. Pure charisma, the most fundamental, involves supernatural power. The other types are rationalized forms of it. One need only recall Weber’s insight that the process of rationaliziaion calls for the elimination of magic form the world (in actuality, elimination of the conscious awareness of magic by cultural elites). With the process of disenchantment virtually complete in the academy, deconstructionists (and everyone else) display an almost complete amnesia as to the primitive foundations of their school of thought. Neary all have forgotten the taboo areas, the liminal regions, those betwixt and between categories, the anomalous, the supernatural.” (pp 377-378)
In this, we can see the questioning of dualistic models. This is where the questioning can also be turned to Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy. I don’t fully understand the implications as of yet, but it opens up some space for further discussion about experiences that may not be dualistic nor either pre or trans. If all it does is bring up more unanswered questions, then that is fine by me. I’m looking more for a model of questions than a model of answers.
What I’m trying to figure out is how can we step outside of Wilber’s models to see them objectively. To the extent that we commit ourselves to a model, we can’t see it clearly. This is a problem because we can’t understand a model either if we look at it entirely detached. Does the liminal provide a space where we don’t get stuck too far in either direction?