Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This is an extension to my previous blog post about Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs and a partial response to Balder’s blog The Wilber-Combs Lattice and the Pre/Trans Fallacy.

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?

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Prerational and Transrational Spirituality: The Difference Is?

That old discussion on the Integral Pod hit upon something that is on my mind.  I think that its easy for the rational to be confused with the transrational when someone is trying to differentiate their experience from the prerational.  This reminds me of the analysis of the theory of the Mean Green Meme.  Here is what I said in the Integral Ideology thread in the God Pod:

“Jim linked to an article about the Mean Green Meme.  In that article, Todorovic looked to the statistics to see if it supported this hypoethesis.  According to this view, the criticisms of Green Meme are more likely to come from Blue and Orange than from Second Tier Yellow.  She explains that the supposed Second Tier criticism is actually First Tier criticism masking as Yellow which she calls Yellow False Positive.”

Many people are attracted to Integralism because its a very rational model.  It does give room for the non-rational, but still its primarily rational.  I don’t know if a transrational model is possible.  So, if we become too identified with the model, we by necessity become stuck in the rational.  Where does this leave the transrational?  Can the the term ‘transrational’ within a rational model be anything more than a placeholder for the unknown, a finger pointing at the moon?

The nonrational is another category I’m interested in.  There may be some states that are neither specifically prerational nor transrational.  How does Integralism deal with this possibility?  So far in my research, I’d say it doesn’t to any great extent.  I’ve done some web searches about Integralism and Wilber using terms such as ‘paranormal’, ‘supernatural’, and ‘liminal’… but not much came up in the results.

My sense is that Wilberian Integralism hasn’t yet fully come to terms with the nonrational.  Even the category of the transrational feels somehow inadequate.  I think part of the problem is the medium.  Rational language and linear modelling are inherently limited.  I suppose poetry and art more capable of expressing the transrational and nonrational than any Integral theory ever will be able to do.  This is why I’ve been thinking about how can the imaginative and playful be emphasized more within Integral theory.  And in general I’ve been wondering how the rational and nonrational can be experienced without conflict, without either trying to supplant the other.

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 19 hours later

Balder said

Hi, Marmalade,
An interesting post!  Thanks for your reflections here – they resonate with a number of my own interests and concerns.
Was the person who was suggesting that Spiral Dynamics might be better understood as descriptive than prescriptive possibly me?  I don’t expect I’m the only person to have thought of this or discussed it, but this is something I explored on the Integral Multiplex (and possibly also the I-I pod) a number of months ago.  My suggestion was that typical descriptions of Orange, for example, often appear to presuppose elements that might be better regarded as historical accidents rather than developmental necessities, and that there may be a wide number of “ways forward” as Amber societies mature – that, while there are social and cultural constraints that might work to encourage development in a particular direction, there still may be a wide degree of freedom in how a post-Amber society takes form (wider than conventional descriptions of Orange appear to allow for).  I was using these two particular levels just as an example; the suggestion would apply across the board.  Though conceivably, the lower levels are likely harder to shift, just because they have greater historical force behind them.
I agree with you that possibilities such as this do have the potential to “bungle up” the pre/trans fallacy – or, rather, the application of the pre/trans fallacy.  But I do think that it would still be a valid tool.  Because even if a particular trajectory isn’t the only available one, it would still be possible to distinguish – and also to potentially confuse – earlier and later stages of that trajectory.
You wrote:  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.
This is an interesting idea and I’d like to hear more about what you mean here.  I relate it to another “vision” with which I’m involved – the Time-Space-Knowledge vision, which I have practiced for a number of years and which I’ve also explored in relation to Integral Theory.  Where it differs primarily from Integral is that is more a visionary mode of inquiry and “engagement” with experience than a “map” of the world.  With Integral Methodological Pluralism, we get more into the territory of active exploration and engagement (and begin moving away from strictly “mapping” the world or various worldviews).  This is why I became interested in exploring Integral in relation to TSK, because TSK already has this open-ended, inquiry-centered orientation.  Starting with basic “elements” of reality (time, space, and knowledge), without taking any of them for granted or at face value, it opens various ways to explore the nature and dynamics of our world, ultimately with an interest in the potential of transformative vision.  It is a “way” that invites intimate engagement with reality through radical questioning and inquiry, and so in that sense serves (for me) more as a theory for everything rather than a static representation of everything.
Concerning your discussion of George P. Hansen’s perspectives on models and rationality, I am also interested in these questions.  If you’re interested, I have a paper online which looks at some of them from the points of view of Integral and TSK.  Here is a link to the relevant section of the paper:
TSK and Instrumental Knowledge.
Best wishes,
Balder

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 19 hours later

Nicole said

Bruce and Ben, thanks, I tend to side more and more with Ben in these discussions. I guess it’s because he is so darned persuasive! Or something.

I’d really like to hear your take on TSK, Ben, as I have been meaning to dig into it, but this week will not be my chance…

Ben, does this discussion here help? http://multiplex.integralinstitute.org/Public/cs/forums/50052/ShowThread.aspx

or what about this application here? http://www.quantumintegralcenter.com/articles.cfm?mode=display&article=4

this looks like a good article: http://www.integralworld.net/chamberlain3.html

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 22 hours later

Balder said

Bruce and Ben, thanks, I tend to side more and more with Ben in these discussions.

Gee, thanks, Nicole!

Seriously, I assume you mean side with Ben against any number of others, since I’ve only had a couple conversations with him so far…

And for the record, I appreciate his perspective as well.

Best wishes,

B.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 23 hours later

Marmalade said

Balder, so far we seem to agree on some things.  Its hard for me to say what I agree or disagree with at the moment.  I’m presently in exploratory mode and it will take me a while to get my bearings… if ever.  😉  There is so much out there about Integralism that I can feel lost and confused sometimes.

“Was the person who was suggesting that Spiral Dynamics might be better understood as descriptive than prescriptive possibly me?”

It might’ve been.  I can’t remember when it was that I noticed those ideas.  Would you mind linking to your comments from there?

I’ll be getting back to this blog soon… maybe this evening.  For right now, I’ve been reading through and formulate a response to Julian’s blog post about Christianity. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

I can’t speak for Nicole, but my guess is that her agreement is partly with my view of personality types.  It seems to me that certain types have more of a preference for certain kinds of thinking such as NTs preference for rationality.  From this, I conclude that some differences are just differences.  Nicole and I have been discussing typology quite a bit lately and she seems to find it helpful.

BTW there is a particular theorist within the typology field who interests me the most.  Her name is Lenore Thomson.  She wrote the book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual, and there is a wiki about her work.  Her view of typology touches upon my own thoughts about a TFA.  Basically, a TFA to me is a perspective of perspectives.  Some relevant pages from the wiki:

Rhetorical Stances

Beyond Personality

Philosophical Exegesis

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Here is the first thread I started at Open Source Integral.

TFA and Perspective of Perspectives

Discussion didn’t really get going in the thread and I never came to any conclusions.  I was just throwing around ideas and possibilities.  And that is still what I’m doing.  I gave up on the idea of a TFA, but I’m glad its come up again in this discussion.  It seems some kind of TFA should be possible.  I probably should first figure out what purpose a TFA should serve.

Balder, I looked at your paper.  I’m curious about it, but it will take me a while to process it.  Its a nice addition to Wilber’s models.  Time and space also come up in explanations of typological function-attitudes, but typology is less abstract in how it speaks about them.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Yes, Ben, your ideas on typology but so many more, actually. Funny since in many ways we are so different, but I had a long chat with Centria (Kathy) last night on the phone, and of course you were one of the people who came up, since we both think you’re so interesting and intelligent. I was saying that to me you have felt like a soul brother, and she said she saw that energy in some of our blog discussions, like the Rilke ones…

And yes, Bruce, I can see you appreciate Ben as well. Good! I appreciate you too, very much, I hope you know. For example what you offered in balance in that very immoderate Mod Pod discussion lol.

Ben, I will wait to hear more about your thoughts on TSK, it does seem very intriguing for you.

Perspective of perspectives eh? :):) Yes, that’s my Ben… 

Balder : Kosmonaut

1 day later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

Thanks for introducing me to Lenore Thompson.  Her work seems very promising and interesting to me.  The typological system I’ve studied the most is the Enneagram.  A thought that has occurred to me from time to time is that Integral needs to better integrate typology.  It does explicitly include it – AQAL (or AQALALASAT) stands for all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types – but I have noticed that, in typical discussions in Integral circles, the only types that get much mention are masculine / feminine.  I have also found that frequently, when people are “assessing” or categorizing each other, they will go very quickly to labels which describe level or altitude, apparently not considering that there may be different typological expressions of the same level.  In my case, I have looked at this through the Enneagram, talking about how certain features of a 9 or a 3, for instance, might give the impression of a level, but that actually it’s just more of an overall mode of interaction that can be expressed at any number of levels.

If you haven’t already, and if you’re interested, I think you should write something on Lenore’s work to introduce it to the Integral community.

Personally, I have doubts that a type model is sufficient in itself, and would not expect it to work well as a theory for anything.  I don’t think everything can be reduced to or explained in terms of horizontal types.  But I do think that it is a very valuable lens you can adopt – one of several different perspectives on perspectives that AQAL incorporates.

Best wishes,

Balder

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I find it difficult to speak about any particular thing using only one model.  It often leads to making exaggerated claims.  We need multiple models in order to fine-tune our ability to discern differences and to discern their potential meanings.

I was feeling challenged to speak clearly in one of Julian’s blogs.  Rational can mean so many things to so many people even within the Integral community.  There is this idea that if someone is being rational they must either be orange or second tier, but nobody at green could be rational.   

Why do some people seem to think that second tier is just a more complex version of orange with green being a temporary irrational blip in development?  And why do so many equate rationality with a materialistic worldview?  Why do people who idealize rationality feel such a strong need to deny anything spooky?  How would someone act if they were well-developed in orange and yet had come to be centered in green?  Or, considering someone who is a more intellectual type (ie NT), how would they think rationally if they were strongly green? 

I’ve noticed too that the only type that gets much Integral discussion is gender.  Here is something I said about it in another thread at OSI:

There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.

For instance, how the Judging functions(Thinking and Feeling) have much similarity with Gilligan’s work on gender differences and the hierarchy of development that either gender will tend to follow. Typology brings a slightly different slant to this. Statistics have shown that their is a slight preference of males for Thnking and females for Feeling. Also, Thinking males tend to have stronger Thinking preferences than Thinking females, and Feeling females tend to have stronger preference for Feeling than Feeling males.

However, this gender preference is only around 60-70%, and that leaves a good portion that doesn’t fit the social expectations. David Deidda recognizes that gender patterns are only general. He says that his advice for men doesn’t apply to less masculine men and does apply to more masculine women. As a Feeling guy, I don’t entirely resonate with his advice.

———-

Here is something Wilber said about gender in

“Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility.”

That makes me wonder.  A tendency towards the abstract is considered more masculine and I’ve heard people make this observation before.  But the MBTI research has shown no correlation between abstract cognition and gender.  My theory on this is that there are different types of abstraction.  An NF appears less abstract because their way of abstracting is less structured as they aren’t Thinking types.  So, the definition of abstract used in gender studies is probably NT biased… maybe because most scientific researchers are NTs (?).

Anyways, you’re probably right that a type model couldn’t be a TFA.  But it could be a decent model of a Theory Of Theorizing (TOT).  Typology gets at the intricacies of our cognitive and perceptual biases.  For instance, personality research has shown that certain types and traits are most prevalent in certain professional fields.  That is partly the basis of my suspicion that Integralism has a personality bias.  Different types of personalities will tend to be attracted to different types of theories, and some types of personalities won’t like abstract theorizing whatsoever.  And none of it necessarily has anything to do with what developmental stage they’re at.

I’ll start a thread about Lenore Thomson soon, but not today.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Balder, I noticed you started a thread about AQAL and TSK at the II Multiplex.
And another thread of yours about TSK.
I noticed you’ve blogged about TSK.
And so has Davidu.
Ronpurser has some videos about TSK on youtube.

Also, is this the thread you were referring to earlier about Spiral Dynamics?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Ben, when you put it like this, it does seem very odd! supposedly so advanced and not really dealing with personality types, and generalising in such limited ways about men and women…

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

Thanks for collecting all of those links together.  Yes, I’ve talked about TSK (by itself and in relation to Integral) on a number of forums online.  I also have a TSK pod here on Gaia.  I am also friends with both Davidu and Ron Purser.  A small world!

And yes, that thread on Spiral Dynamics is exactly the one I was thinking of.

Best wishes,

B.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole,

Integral has such a focus on development that types can get short shrift.  I think Wilber was trying to remedy that with his further developments of the quadrant model, but I’m still uncertain what I think of the quadrants.  The quadrants are useful, and the same probably goes for other similar models.  In some ways, quadrants seems more of a convenient way to categorize things than necessarily an accurate representation of fundamental structures.

It might be helpful to compare certain aspects of integralism and typology.  Wilber uses internal and external as categories, but in some ways it feels like a crude division.  OTOH Introversion and Extraversion are attempts to explain how the human brain actually processes information.  And yet there seems a basic conception that both systems are getting at.  Introversion/Extraversion is likely the most accepted and understood traits in all of personality research.  It touches upon something fundamental to human experience.  I get the sense that Wilber is trying to get at this same human experience but coming at it from a standpoint that emphasizes objectivity (ie categorization).

I don’t know if that makes sense.  Its just something that has been on my mind for a long time.

For whatever reason, I have a bit more interest in types than in developmental lines and stages.  Types can speak more to our immediate experience… whereas development speaks more to potential future experience.  As long as someone is moderately intelligent and aware, they can grasp the fundamentals of a system such as MBTI.  But a system such as Spiral Dynamics is only meaningful to someone who is already fairly developed.  I think Spiral Dynamics requires more abstract thinking to understand it than does MBTI.  MBTI has its complex abstract theorizing, but it has been honed for the purposes of therapeutic insight and so has been designed in a very user-friendly fashion. 

So…  MBTI is a system that can be understood by all of the types it describes.  Spiral Dynamics can’t be understood by all of the vmemes that it describes.  That isn’t a weakness of Spiral Dynamics, just a challenge of any developmental model.  MBTI is also a developmental model, but in its most basic form the developmental aspects aren’t directly emphasized.

I’d love to see someone attempt to create an integral theory of types similar to how Wilber has created an integral theory of development.

Balder,

Your welcome.  I like collecting links.  Its a hobby of mine.  🙂

BTW I don’t think it was your Spiral Dynamics thread where I saw these criticisms/questions being brought up.  If I remember correctly, it was an older thread.  Anyways, I was happy to read your comments about this.  I haven’t yet read through the whole thread, but I plan on doing so.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Yes, yes, Ben, I agree totally.

While I was looking for more useful links I found this about Haridas_Chaudhuri

Are you and Bruce familiar with him?

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

Yes, I’m familiar with him.  His integralism is rooted more in Aurobindo’s model, which was initially one of Wilber’s big influences as well.  Wilber ended up going in other directions, though recently he has returned to Aurobindo, using a number of Aurobindo’s stages of consciousness as the highest levels of his model of development. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nope, never heard of him.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I just commented on Julian’s blog The Transformative Power of Development: A Three-Part Distinction:

Balder, I appreciated what you said here:
“If rationality begins with 3p, and transratonality begins at 5p (or expanded 4p), then it just isn’t correct to call a temporary state experience at a rational level (3p) transrational.  Because transrational is a structural designation, not a state designation.”

I’m starting to understand the importance of separating states and stages.  So, if transrational is a structural designation, then does that mean the pre/trans fallacy doesn’t apply to stage designations?  If transrational isn’t the correct label for a temporary stte, then what is?

Even though I didn’t mention it in my comment, I was thinking about the category of the nonrational.  I was considering that it might be appropriate to speak of rational and nonrational in terms of states.  But if states are differentiated from stages, then pre/trans doesn’t apply.  This makes sense to me. 

My understanding of the nonrational is that it isn’t specifically developmental in Wilber’s sense, but it does relate to the process of development as the liminal is inherent to initiation rituals.  States aren’t static even if they aren’t dynamic in terms of linear development.  Maybe states follow more of a cyclical pattern.  This could help to show the connection between the theories of Grof and Wilber.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

interesting! but i am being called away … back later or tomorrow

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Leaving?  You just got here!  Called away… sounds mysterious.

Oh well… I hope the rest of your day goes well.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

ah, just family. i urgently was required to watch a Nicholas Cage movie, light and funny. not much punishment there lol. and then to bed.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I see.  Just spending some quality time with family and Nicholas Cage.
What movie was it?
I’m watching some Outer Limits episodes right now.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

cool! It was um… hang on… LOL! I remember the second part of the title – Book of Secrets – anyway you will find the whole title somewhere else – i know i mentioned it earlier to you. you see the depredations of old age, Ben. 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

You have depredations?
Sounds horrible.
Is that a medical condition?
You probably should see a doctor about that.
I hope they find a cure for it before I get old.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

LOLOL!

One thought on “Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

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