Bundle Theory: Embodied Mind, Social Nature

“I is another.”
~Arthur Rimbaud

I was listening to the audio version of Susan Blackmore’s Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction. It’s less than five hours long and so I listened to it multiple times to get a good sense of it. I’ve read plenty about the topic and I’m already generally familiar with the material, but it was still helpful getting an overview.

One part that interested me was about split brain research, something that always interests me. The roles of and relationship between the hemispheres indicates much about how our minds operate. Blackmore discussed one often referenced study where split brain patients had information given separately to each hemisphere in order to see how the individual would explain their behavior. As the left hemisphere typically controls linguistic communication, individuals couldn’t give accurate reasons for what was done by their right hemisphere.

The author wrote that (pp. 72-3),

“In this way, the verbal left brain covered up its ignorance by confabulating. It did the same when the other half was shown an emotional picture – making up a plausible excuse for laughing, smiling, blushing, or whatever emotional reaction had been provoked. This might help to explain how these patients can appear so normal. But it should also make us wonder about ourselves. Our brains consist of lots of relatively independent modules, and the verbal part does not have access to everything that goes on, yet it frequently supplies convincing reasons for our actions. How many of these are plausible confabulations rather than true reasons, and can we tell?

“From these experiments, Sperry concluded that his patients had two conscious entities in one head; each having private sensations and free will. In contrast, Gazzaniga argued that only the left hemisphere sustains ‘the interpreter’, which uses language, organizes beliefs, and ascribes actions and intentions to people. Only this hemisphere has ‘high-level consciousness’, leaving the other hemisphere with many abilities and skills but without true consciousness.”

She points out that there is no way to resolve this issue. We can’t prove what is really going on here, even as it touches upon our most personal experience. But she adds that, “Bundle theory does away with the problem altogether. There is neither one self nor two selves inside the split brain; there are experiences but there is no one who is having them” (p. 74). What this means is that our experience of an egoic consciousness is overlaid on the entire experiential field, one experience presenting itself as all experience. Or else an interpretation of experience that alters what we experience and how we experience it. The self as coherent individuality is a mirage. That isn’t to say it is meaningless. Our minds naturally look for patterns, even or especially within our own minds. Meaning is always what we bring to our experience.

As for actual reading, as opposed to listening to audiobooks, my focus has still been on Daniel Everett’s recent publication, Dark Matter of the Mind. It is a difficult read in many parts because much of the linguistics scholarship goes over my head and the academic language can get tiresome, but I’ve been determined to finish it and I’m now near the last chapter. Parts of it are quite interesting, such as his mentioning the theory that “gestures and speech were equally and simultaneously implicated in the evolution of language” (Kindle Location 5102). He then details the relevance of gestures and the embodied communication (Kindle Locations 5108-5111):

““Mead’s loop,” wherein one’s own gestures are responded to by one’s own mirror neurons in the same way that these neurons respond to the actions of others, thus bringing one’s own actions into the realm of the social and contributing crucially to the development of a theory of mind— being able to interpret the actions of others under the assumption that others have minds like we do and think according to similar processes.”

That is what came to mind while listening to what Blackmore had to say about bundle theory of experience. The parts of the ‘self’ don’t form a coherent whole so much as they are involved in intimate contact and communication.

Our experience is social at the most fundamental level, a social phenomenon within each person’s body and social connection to the bodies of others. Our embodied selves are shifting realities with blurred boundaries, out of which forms patterns of social order and social identities. As others have argued, we develop a theory of mind within ourselves by first sussing out a theory of mind about others. So, our sense of self is built on our sense of others, which is to say we understand the relationships between experiences within own embodied minds as an inseparable understanding of our relationships with the larger world.

It’s hard to get at what this might mean. But one important factor is that of language. As Julian Jaynes argued in his book about the bicameral mind, “language is an organ of perception, not simply a means of communication” (p. 50, Kindle edition). Perception is always embodied. In The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist offers a summary that resonates with what I shared above by Everett (pp. 122-123):

“language originates as an embodied expression of emotion, that is communicated by one individual ‘inhabiting’ the body, and  therefore the emotional world, of another; a bodily skill, further, that is acquired by each of us through imitation, by the emotional identification and intuitive harmonisation of the bodily states of the one who learns with the one from whom it is learnt; a skill moreover that originates in the brain as an analogue of bodily movement, and involves the same processes, and even the same brain areas, as certain highly expressive gestures, as well as involving neurones (mirror neurones) that are activated equally when we carry out an action and when we see another carry it out (so that in the process we can almost literally be said to share one another’s bodily experience and inhabit one another’s bodies); a process, finally, that anthropologists see as derived from music, in turn an extension of grooming, which binds us together as physically embodied beings through a form of extended body language that is emotionally compelling across a large number of individuals within the group.”

Both Everett and McGilchrist are concerned with the evolution and development of language. They see it as inseparable from the embodied mind and the enculturated self. As Everett discusses the importance of gesture, McGilchrist explores the role of music and poetry. There is a strong argument that non-linguistic communication (gesture and/or poetry-music) was well established and highly effective among the earliest hominids, including pre-linguistic homo sapiens. It seems likely that this was the base upon which was built language as we know it.

Jaynes argues that written language was one of the factors that weakened the bicameral mind, a particular pre-egoic bundle theory. Prior to that, oral culture dominated; and in oral culture, language is intertwined with other aspects of human experience and behavior. Some of the evidence supporting this is how ancient humans sometimes spoke of body parts as having their own minds (a way of talking that continued into late Axial Age such as the New Testament canon, such that hands and eyes aren’t necessarily considered part of an integrally whole self; and it should be noted that the New Testament tradition was passed on orally for a number of generations before being written down). This is an experience still spoken of by some of those with schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. Even otherwise normal people will have voice-hearing experiences where the voices heard aren’t located in the head, sometimes in or around other parts of the body.

Most of human cognition and behavior is unconscious. The same goes for most of human communication and much of that non-conscious communication is also non-linguistic. This is the bodily or embodied unconscious. This relates to the social nature of our psyches, as with rapport where people mimic each other unawares (gestures, posture, breathing, etc) along with how yawns and laughter can be contagious. What I’m wondering about is how does the body-mind create rapport with itself in order to coordinate its vast multitudinous complexity.

Because of hemispheric divisions, for example, parts of the mind act rather independently. The corpus callosum doesn’t just allow the hemispheres to communicate for it also inhibits and restricts that communication, in ways and for reasons we don’t yet fully understand. Even when the corpus callosum is entirely cut making direct neurological communication impossible, the two hemispheres are able to coordinate behavior such that a person appears normal, even as two separate minds seem to be operating within the skull. Without directly communicating with one another, how do the hemispheres accomplish this?

The simplest answer is that both hemispheres have access to the sensory organs on the opposite side of the body and so can indirectly observe what the other hemisphere is doing (and, in the case of the left hemisphere, hear it’s explanations). But interestingly the two divided hemispheres can come to different conclusions based on different their separate input and processing. They can also act independently, a literal scenario of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Here is a different kind of example from Everett (Kindle Locations 5071-5076):

“At age nineteen, IW suddenly lost all sense of touch and proprioception below the neck due to an infection. The experiments conducted by McNeill and his colleagues show that IW is unable to control instrumental movements when he cannot see his hands (though when he can see his hands, he has learned how to use this visual information to control them in a natural-appearing manner). What is fascinating is that IW, when speaking, uses a number of (what IW refers to as) “throwaway gestures” that are well coordinated, unplanned, nonvisually reliant, speech-connected gestures. McNeill concludes that at a minimum, this case provides evidence that speech gestures are different from other uses of the hands— even other gesturing uses of the hands.”

So, gestures are connected to speech. And gestures happen spontaneously. But even without proprioreception, other senses can be used to bridge the gap between conscious and unconscious expression. There are clearly different areas of behavior, cognition, and communication that relate in different ways. We are embodied minds and we know our minds through our bodies. And most of what our mind does is never accessed or controlled by consciousness. As research has shown, consciousness often only plays a role after behavior has already been initiated (less a power of will than a power of won’t).

So, what kind of mind is it that we have or rather that has us?

More Notes for Enactivism and Related Subjects

More Notes for Enactivism and Related Subjects

Posted on Aug 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram (1996)    

Edmund Husserl: experience is embodied and we experience the bodies of others, and through associative empathy we experience these other bodies as multiple subjectivities thus avoiding isolated solipsism. intersubjectivity, Lebenswelt, “life-world”, direct experience, felt-sense of reality before thought and largely unconscious, commonsense assumptions and expectations based on personal experience, indeterminate and open-ended, layers of experience and overlapping lifeworlds, cultures have different lifeworlds and species have lifeworlds, the most basic lifeworld is earth because it frames all ofther lifeworlds but science proves that the earth isn’t the center of the world.    

p.42: “A profound schism was thus brought about between our intellectual convictions and themost basic conviction of our senses, between our mental concepts and our bodily percepts.”    

Merleau-Ponty: “body subject”, can’t expain world with an ultimate theory because no external standpoint to make objective observations, instead can only give voice to our situation within the world    

p. 54: “In the act of perception, in other words, I enter into a sympathetic relation with the perceived, which is possible only because neither my body nor the sensible exists outside the flux of time, and so each has its own dynamism, its own pulsation and style.  Percpetion, in this sense, is an attunement or synchronization between my own rhythms and the rhythms of the things themselves, their own tones and textures…”    

p. 56: “Merleau-Ponty writes of the preceived things as entities, of sensible qualities as powers , and of the sensible itself as a field of animate presences, in order to acknowledge and underscore their active, dynamic contribution to perceptual experience.  To describe the animate life of particular things is simply the most precise and parsimonious way to articulate the things as we spontaneously experience them, prior to all our conceptualizaitons and defintions.

   Our most immediate experience of things, according to Merleau-Ponty, is necessarily an experience of reciprocal encounter–of tension, communication, and commingling.  From within the depths of this encounter, we know the thing or phenomeon only as our interlocutor–as a dynamic presence that confronts us and draws us into relation.  We conceptually immobilize or objectify the phenomenon only by mentally absenting ourselves form this relation, by forgetting or repressing our sensuous involvement.  To define another being as a n inert or passive object is to deny its ability to actively engage us an to provloke our senses; we thus block our perceptual reciprocity with that being.  By linguistically definging the surroundnig world as a deteminate set of objects, we cut our conscious, speaking selves off from the spontaneoous life of our sensing bodies”    

pp. 57-59: “Some insight into the participatory nature of perception may be gleaned by considering the craft of the sleight-of-hand magician.  For the conjuror depends upon this active participation between the body and the world for the creation of his magic.  Working, for instance, with a silver dollar, he uses his sleights to enhance the animation of the object, generating ambiguous gaps and lacunae in the visible trajectory of the coin.  The spectators’ eyes, already drawn by the coin’s fluid dance across the magician’s fingers, spontaeously flill in those gaps with impossible events, and it is this spontaneous involvement of the spectators’ own senses that enables the coin to vanish and reappear, or to pass through the magician’s hand.     

  After flourishing a silver dollar in my right hand, for example, spinning it a few times to catch the audience’s attention, I may suddenly hide that coin behind the hand, clipping it between two fingers so that it is no longer visible to their gaze.  If, an instant later, I reach into the air on the other side of my body with my left hand, and bring into view another silver dollar that had been clipped behind that hand, the audience will commonly perceive something quite wondrous.  They will not perceive that one coin has been momentarily hidden while a wholly different coin, in another place, has been brought out of hiding, although ths would surely be the most obvious and rational interpretation.  Rather, they will perceive that a single coin, having vanished from my right hand, has traveled invisibly through the air and reappeared in my left hand!  For the perceiving body does not calculate logical probabilities; it gregariously participates in the activity of the world, lending its imagination to things in order to see them more fully.  The invisible journey of the coin is contributed, quite spontaneously, by the promiscuous creativity of the senses. The magician induces us to assist in the metamorphosis of his objects, and then startles us with what we ourselves have created!    
  From the magician’s, or the phenomenologist’s, perspective, that which we call imagination is from the first an attribute of the senses themselves; imagination is not a separate mental faculty (as we so often assume) but is rather the way the senses themselves have of throwing themselves beyond what is immediately given, in order to make tentative contact with the other sides of things that we do not sense directly, with the hidden or invisible aspects of the sensible.  And yet such sensory anticipations and projections are not arbitrary; they regularly respond to suggestions offered by the sensible itself.  The magician, for instance, may make the magic palpable for the audience by follwoing the invisible coin’s journey with the focus of his own eyes, and by imaginatively “feeling” the coin depart from the one hand and arrive in the palm of the other; the audience’s senses, responding to subtle shifts in the magician’s body as well as to the coin, will then find the effect irresistible.  In other words, it is when the magician lets himself be captured by the magic that his audience will be most willing to join him.   

    Of course, there are those few who simply will not see any magic, either at a performance or in the world at large; armored with countless explanations and analyses, they “see” only how the trick must have been accomplished.  Commonly, they will claim to have “caught sight of the wires,” or to have seen me clandestinely “throw the coin into the other hand” although I myself have done no such thing.  Encouraged by a cultural discourse that disdains the unpredictable and puts a premium on detached objectivity, such persons attempt to halt the participation of their senses in the phenomenon.  Yet they can do so ony by imaginatively projecting other phenomena (wires, or threads, or mirrors), or by looking away.   

    In truth, since the act of perception is always open-ended and unfinished, we are never wholly locked into any particular instance of participation.  As the spectator can turn away from the magician’s magic, we are always somewhat free to break our participation with any particular phenomenon.” … “We always retain the ability to alter or suspend any particular instance of participation.  Yet we can never suspend the flux of participation itself.”    

p. 60: “…our primordial, preconceptual experience, as Merleau-Ponty makes evident is inherently synaesthetic.  The intertwining of sensory modalities seems unusual to us only to the extent that we have become estranged from our direct experience (and hence from our primordial contact with tthe entiries and elements that surround us)…”    

p. 66: “In his final work, The Visible and the Invisible (a work interrupted by his sudden death in 1961), Merleau-Ponty was striving for a new way of speaking that would express this consanguinity of the human animal and the world it inhabits.  Here he writes less about “the body” (which in his earlier work had signified primarily the human body) and begins to write instead of the collective”Flesh,” which signifies both our flesh and”the flesh of the world.”  By “the Flesh” Merleau-Ponty means to indicate an elemental power that has had no name in the entire history of Western philosophy.  The Flesh is the mysterious tissue or matrix that underlies and gives rise to both the perceiver and the perceived as interdependent aspects of its own spontaneous activity.  It is the reciprocal presence of the sentient in the sensible and of the sensible in the sentiet, a mystery of which we have always, at least tacitly, been aware, since we have never been able to affirm one of these phenomena, the perceivable world or the perceiving self, without implicitly affirming the existence of the other.  We are unable even to imagine a sensible landscape that would not at the same time be sensed (since in imaginging any landscape we inevitably envisage it from a particular perspective, and thus implicate our own senses, and indeed our own sentience, in that landscape), and are similarly unable to fully imagine a sensing self, or sentience, that would not be situated in some field of sensed phenomena.”    

p. 84: “What Merleau-Ponty retains from Saussure is Saussure’s notion of any language as an interdependent, weblike system of relations.  But since our expressive, speaking bodies are for Merleau-Ponty necessary parts of this system–since the web of language is for him a carnal medium woven in the depths of our perceptual participation with the things and beings around us–Merleau-Ponty comes in his final writings to affirm that it is first the sensuous, perceptual world that is relational and weblike in character, and hence that the organic, interconnected structure of any language is an extension or echo of the deeply interconnected matrix of sensorial relaity itself.  Ultimately, it is not human language that is primary, but rather the sensuous, percpetual life-world, whose wild, participatory logic ramifies and elaborates itself in language.”    

p. 89: “We may very briefly summarize the general results of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological investigations, or at least our own interpretation of those results, as follows:  (1) The events of perception, experientially considered, is an inherently interactive, participatory event, a reciprocal interplay between the perceiver and the perceived.  (2) Perceived things are encountered by the perceiving body as animate, living powers that actively draw us into relation.  Our spontaneous, pre-conceptual experience yields no evidence for a dualistic division between animate and “inanimate” phenomena, only for relative distinctions between diverse forms of animateness.  (3) The perceptual reciprocity between our sensing bodies and the animate, expressive landscape both engenders and supports our more conscious, linguistic reciprocity with others.  The complex interchange we call “language” is rooted in the non-verbal exchange always already going on between our own flesh and the flesh of the world.  (4) Human languages, then, are informed not only by the structures of the human body and the human community, but by the evocative shapes and patterns of the more-than-human terrain.  Experientially considered, language is no more the special property of the human organism than it is an expression of the animate earth that enfolds us.”    

p.108: “It was not unitl the early fourth century B.C.E. that such numinous powers, or gods, were largely expelled from the natural surroundings.  For it was only at this time that alphabetic literacy became a collective reality in Greece. ”  (Axial Age)    

P. 109: “Although Socrates himself may have been able to write little more than his own name, he made brilliant use of the new reflexive capacity introduced by the alphabet.  Eric Havelock has sugegested that the famed “Socratic dialetic”–which, in its simplest form, consisted in asking a speaker to explain what he has said–was primarily a method for disrupting the mimetic thought pattrns of orla culture.  The speaker’s original statement, if it concerned important matters of morality and social custom, would necessarily have been a memorized formula, a poetic or proverbial phrase, which presented a vivid example of the mater being discussed.  by asking the speaker to explain himself or to repeat his statement in different terms, Socrates forced his interlocutors to separate themselves, for the first time, from their own words–to separate themselves, that is, from the phrases and formulas that had become habitual through the constant repetition of traditional teaching stories.  Prior to this moment, spoken discourse was inseparble from the endlessly repeated stories, legends, and myths that provided many of the spoken phrases one needed in one’s daily actions and interactions.  To speak was to live within a storied universe, and thus to feel one’s closeness to those protagonists and ancestral heroes whose words often seemed to speak through one’s own mouth.”    

p. 110: “Prior to the spread of writing, ethical qualities like “virtue,” “justice,” and temperance” were thoroughly entwined with the specific situaions in which those qualities were exhibited.  The terms for such qualities were oral utterances called forth by particular social situations: they had no apparent existence independent of those situations.  As utterances, they slipped back into the silence immedately after they were spoken: they had no permanent presence to the senses.  “Justice” and “temperance” were thus experienced as living occurrences, as events.  Arising in specific situations, they were inseparable fromt the particular persons or actions that momentarily embodied them.”    

p. 144: “Nevertheless, more recent research on the echoic and gestural significance of spoken sounds has demonstrated that a subtle sort of onomatopoeia is constantly at work in language: certain meanings inevitably gravitate toward certain sounds, and vice versa.”    

The Transcendent Function by Jeffrey C. Miller (2004)    

p. 87: “Winnicot viewed the intermediate area between reality and fantasy as necessary not only to child development but also to adult mental health, particularly in locating what he called the “True Self.”  He felt that without being able to experience the liminal space between reality and fantasy, a person would develop a false self, either overly concretized in reality or separated from reality in fantasy.  Thus, Winicott saw transitional objects and phenomena both as early developmental tools and as ongoing mechanisms that create an intermediate area between reality and fantasy, self and other, inner and outer, a liminal space that has a crucial role in mental health.   One can see here the direct analogy to the transcendent function.  Winnicott’s formulation of transitional objects/phenomena and the importance of play are analogous to Jung’s formulation of the transcendent function and the importance of symbol and fantasy.  The transcdndent function is a transitional phenomenon and transitional phenomma are examples of the transcendent function.  Both describe a mediatory space where opposites are suspencded or united: Winicott’s play and Jung’s fantasy are the terrain upon which the phenomena occur.  Both serve as bridges between ontological antagonisms such as self/other, subject/object, inner/outer through a liminal experience that allows the opposites to be held side by side.  As Barkin (1978) says, “By definition, then, the transitional object is neither inner nor outer but rather partakes of both, i.e., is at the border between them, in an intermediate area” (p. 515).”    

The Love of Nature and the End of the World by Shierry Weber Nicholsen (2002)    

pp. 80-81: (In speaking about Paul Shepard, The Others: How Animals Made Us Human) – “Shepard draws on his understanding of hunting-gathering societies to outline the ideal-typcal calendar of human development.   The natural world is used for both emotinal and coginitive development.  Young children in their imitative play draw on the various qualities of the animal world around them, qualities they will also find incorporated in the dances of the adults.  Through what they see around them, they are able to grasp the individual qualities of feeling and action that they might find in themselves at a particular time– a “personal inner zoology.”  “Play is an imitaion,” Shepard explains, “starting with simple fleeing and catching, going on to mimic joyfully the important animals, being them for a moment and then not being them, feeling as this one must feel and then that one, all tried on the self.”  This is using animals, through play, for a knowledge of the internal workld of the self.  But for children, animals are also concrete physical beings.  They are used in all the variety of their physical form for the development of thinking.  Their similairities and differences provde the material for the categorical thinking that Piaget calls concrete operations.    
  Adolescence, in contrast, coincides with the development of what Piaget calls formal operations.  The internal world opens up, and abstract, philosophical, metaphysical thought becomes possible.  The initiation ceremonies of adolescence put the natural world to a new use: nature is contemplated as “a poem, numinous and analogical, of human society.”  The adolescent does not leave his childhood interests in the natural world behind, Shepard tells us, so much as graduate into its significance as the metaphorical correlation of interior and exterior worlds and their emerbent qultiy become apparent.  Adolescence ushers in, in his words, “a lifelong study, a reciprocity with the natural world in which its depths are as endless as his own creative thought.”  Maturity represents a continued deepening of this reciprocity rather than an alientation.  It “celebrates a central analogy of self and world in ever-widening spheres of meaning a nd participation,” Shepard writes, “not an ever-growing domination over nature, escape into abstraction, or existential funk.”    

p. 81: “From within our limited and limiting cultural perspective, we imagine ourselves nostalgic for the richness of childhood.  But Shepard’s vision informs us that it is not childhood we have lost, but maturity.”    

p. 109: homelessness, Buddhist groundlessness, to be at home in the whole field (ie the situation one finds one in)    

The Melancholy Android by Eric G. Wilson (2006)    

pp. 68-69: “Heidegger defines individual being, what we would normally term a “self,” in terms of its temporal and spatial “thereness,” its implication is irreducible networks of history, culture, economics, enviroment, and so on.  This situation –“being there”–Heidegger characterizes as “throwness,”  Each individual is always thrown into a “there,” a series of preexisting conditions that shape and bind one before one even becomes aware of them.  Before one can gain a sense of one’s own uniqueness, one’s unrepeatable possibiilities for existence, one is already defined by the world into which one has been thrown.  One is subjected to “Others,” the “they,” all the impersonal forces that flatten events to things that have “long been well known,” all phenomena to commodities to be “manipulated,” all secrets to cliche’s.  Ruled by idle chatter, crass curiosity, and superficial vagueness, this “they” works to fix indivduals into an “inauthentic” mode of existence bereft of manifod potential, of intractable mysteries, of unsolvable riddles.”    

p. 77: “In Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795), Schiller argues that the greatest moments of human beings occur when they achieve mercurial play.  Most people limit themselves by fixating on one of the two primary poles of existence, the sense drive or the form drive.  The person overcome by the sense drive is concerned with his “physical  existence” and thus set “within the bounds of time.”  This person is little different from matter, from physical necessity.  In contrast, if one is bent on form drive, one associates with a rational principle above the vicissitudes of time.  One believes that the ego is an eternal substance untouched by matter.  But this formalist is moored to concepts, to the mind.  The only way to escape these binds is to embrace play: the contemplation, embodiment, or creation of beauty.  Engaging in aesthetic activities, one finds oneself in “a happy midway point between law and exigency.”  The playing person draws from the powers of the sensual and the formal “since the former relates in its cognition to the actuality” and the “latter to the necessity of things.”  This person is bound, though, to neither.  The sensual, measured against ideas, becomes “small.”  The reason, related to perceptions, grows “light.”  The person playing places the formal and the sensual into a creative conversation in which one side delimimts and enobles the other.”    

Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur (2003)    

p. 49: “This sense of anima in Nature, shivering with vibrant life, is pejoratively called animism by Western culture, which has long since emptied Nature of soul and reduced it to dead matter obeying mechanical laws.  The word “animism” effectivley writes off what it claims to describe.  But to cultures we describe as animsitic, there is no such thing as animism — there is only Nature presenting itself in all its immediacy as daimon-ridden.”    

p. 52: “In all this we see the polarizing tendency of Christianity which removes the category of intermediacy from daimons and makes them either purely spirutual or physical, compelling them the while to be in both cases literal beings.”    

p. 232: “We may wonder what the consequences are of losing effective official rites to render our biological changes significant and to stamp us with the mark of adulthood.  Isn’t there a danger that we remain childish, selfish, dependent, mere victims of whatever life throws at us?  Many people, of course, are unwittingly initiated by the exigencies of their lives, such as family catastrophes, bereavement, or even by the ordeals of schooling.  Initiation depends less on the experience itself than on what we make of it, how we use it for self-transformation.  But without traditional rites that both induce and channel suffering, it is difficult to use it correctly — we are encouraged instead to seek a cure for it.”    

p. 252: “In reality, there is only a single ego, but with two perspectives: the waking, conscious, rational, literalizing ego is simply another aspect of the dreaming, unconscious, irrational, daimonic ego, as if they were two sides of a single coin.  But the shape-shifting daimonic ego can assume any number of different perspectives, all more or less daimonic, all members of the same family as it were, like the heroes of Greek mythology.  Only the rational ego promotes its own single, literalistic perspective as the only perspective, while simultaneously denying — demomizing — all others.”  

Archetype Revisited by Anthony Stevens (2003)  

pp. 61-62: “Physics, at the time when psychology seized upon it as the only scientific model worthy of emulation, demanded that we believe in a material world which could be viewed with total objectivity.  Biology, on the ocontrary, holds the view that every individual of each species inhabits an essentially subjective world — what Jacob Johann von Uexkull, the founder of ethology, called the organism’s Umwelt — and our perception of it is dependent upon processes of which we are largely unaware.  Thus biology, like Jungian psychology, asserts that we receive knowledge of the world through perceptual process which are mostly inaccessible to consciousness and which have evolved in a manner appropriate to our environment of evolutionary adaptedness (i.e., the environmental circumstances in which our species originally evolved).   

    The term Unwelt is in many ways preferable to ‘environment’ because it streses the essentially subjective quality of the world which each animal species inhabits.  The Umwelt in which all creatures live is highly specialized, and what renders it so specialized is less the actual physical configuration of the ecological niche (i.e., the organisms’s environement of evolutionary adaptedness) than the highly selective and idiosyncratic way in which this configuration is percievecd.  We, like all other animals, percieve only what we have been equipped to perceive; and only recently have we begun to recognize that our perceptions llike many of our patterns of behaviour, have been programmed by evolutionary pressures.”    

p. 63: “Such selectivity is inevitable: any physical environment possesses immense perceptual complexity and it is essential that the organism should confine its attention to those aspects of the environment that are most relevant to survival  Thus, etthology teaches that all organisms are programmed to perceive the world in specific ways, to select and respond to key stimuli which possess special significance within the context of the organism’s Umwelt.  This hightly specialized abillity depends on the existence of central mechanisms for receiving and processing informaiton so that all the stimuli bombarding the organismsm at any moment can be ‘filtered’, the significant stimuli eliciting attention while the rest are virtually ignored.  In all species, stimuli capable of passing the filter possess the power to release certain specific patterns of behaviour in the organism perceiving them.  It was to explain this process that Niko Tinbergen proposed his hypothesis of an innate releasing mechanism (IRM for short).  It is through the operation of such innate mechanisms that ethologists believe many patterns of social behaviour to be activated.”    

Philosophy in the Flesh by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1999)    

p. 28: “The philosophical significance of these results follows directly.  First, the division between basic-level and nonbasic-level categories is body-based, that is, based on gestalt perception, motor programs, and mental images.  Because of this, classical metaphysical realism cannot be right, since the properties of categories are mediated by the body rather than determined dirrectly by a mind-independent reality.   

    Second, the basic level is that level at which people interact optimally with their environments, given the kinds of bodies and brains they have and the kinds of environments they inhabit.”    

p. 29: “Third, basic-level categorization tells us why metaphysical realism makes sense for so many people, where it seems to work, and where it goes wrong. Metaphysical realism seems to work primarily at the basic level.  If you look only at examples of basic-level categories, at the level of category where we interact optimally with the world, then it appears as if our conceptual categories fit the categories of the world.  If you look at categories at other levels, it does not”   

    “Fourth, the properties of the basic level explain an important aspect of the stability of scientific knowledge.  For basic-level physical objects and basic-level actions or relations, the link between human categories and divisions of things in the world is quite accurate.”    

The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen (2001)    

Speaking of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-05) and Economic and Society (1913) Weber’s idea of charisma relates to Victor Turner’s ideas of liminality, anti-structure and communitas. Opposite of charisma is rationalization which relates to social hierarchies and the systematization of rules and abstractions but also to the disenchantment of the world (demystification, secularization, and attenuation of charisma). Maybe rationalization has been a process of culture increasing its focus on what Lakoff and Johnson call basic-level categories. Rationalization is a process that happens over thousands of years, but probably first started with the first settled civilizations and took strong hold with the emergence of written texts during the Axial Age.  The formation of monotheism is part of this rationalization, but rationalization has occurred within Christianity itself.  The Catholic church is more rational than the previous oral tradition of the early Christians, and Protestantism’s (because of its stronger focus on knowing God through the Bible’s text) is more rational than Catholicism.  Of course, Christianity set the stage for the scientific outlook which lead to Cartesian mind-body dualism and its concommitant Cartesian anxiety.  Hansen thinks that Postmodernism represents the furthest point of rationalization which then leads one to wonder what is next.  Enactivism seems to be partly a response to Postmodernism connecting the mind and language back to concrete reality.    

pp. 110-111: “Wallace defined his concept of the “mazeway” as a person’s “mental image of the society and its culture, as well as of his own body… it includes perceptions of both the maze of physical objects of the environment (internal and external, human and nonhuman) and also of the ways in which this maze can be  manipulated… The mazeway is nature, society, culture, personality, and body image, as seen by one person.”  In essence, it is a person’s picture of the structure of his or her existence.  The metaphor of the mazeway is particularly apt for our consideration because a maze is simply a combination of passageways delimited by boundaries…    
  Wallace chose an organismic analogy for human society, which he viewed as composed of, not only individuals and groups but also the very cells and organs of people’s bodies.  He described his framework as “holistic” saying ti assumed a “network” of intercommunication (years later the New Age movement used the same terms).  He went on to explain that a stress on one level would stress all levels.   

    When society or some part of it is subjected to high stress, there will be an effort to ameliorate it.  During the stress, not everyone attemtps to change; reactionary forces try to maintain the status quo.  In what could have been written by psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann 35 years later, Wallace comments: “Rigid persons apparently prefer to tolerate high levels of chronic stress rather than make systematic adaptive changes in the mazeway.  More flexible persons try out various limited mazeway changes in their personal lives.”    

  As people with thinner boundaries can act as change agents for society as a whole, so also can methods and substances that cause thinning of boundaries help individuals to change.  This may be why certain mental illnesses such as addiction can be improved by certain psychedelic drugs.  Of course, after any state change, a thickening of the boundaries is necessary to establish that change as a permanent stage of development.  This could relate to the importance of environment with the use of psychedelics.  Traditionally, there was a trusted authority figure who would establish structure via tradition and act as guide while the initiate undertook the ritual use of a drug.  Without a thick boundary within a social context, a thinning of the boundary of an individual is less likely to produce positive change.   

Ethnomethodology, like Enactivism, can be traced back to the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.    

p. 280: “Ethnomethodologists took as their subject matter the interactions of everyday social life and how people make sense of them. That sounds innocuous enough, but ethnomethodologists probed foundations.  They recognized that for orderly common activity, people must share a large body of assumptions, meanings, and expectations, though these are not consciously recognized.  In order to make them explicit (i.e., bring them to conscious awareness), breaching experiments were invented, and those involved violating, in some way, typical patterns of behavior.” … “These breaching experiments have commonalities with anti-structure and the trickster; they all violate boudaries that frame experience.”    

p. 281: “Ethnomethodologists pointed out that one is part of that which one observes, i.e., one participates in processes of observation.  The issue of participation has some intriguing connections.  At least since Levy-Bruhl’s How Natives Think (1910) it has been associated with the nonrational.”    

p.282: “Mehan and Wood say that their theoretical perspective “within ethnomethodoology commits me to the study of concrete scenes and to the recognition that I am always a part of those scenes.  Social science is commmitted to avoiding both of those involvements.”  They are correct, but few social scientists wish to acknowledge the consequences.  The abstraction and distancing found in all science endow a certain status and privilege from which to judge and comment on others.  In order to maintain that position, sicientists must not get too “dirty,” too closely associated with their objects of study.  Ethnomethodologists understand they necessarily participate in the phenomena they observe.  Mehan and Wood comment that “Ethnomethodology can be seen as an activity of destratification.”  This destratification is a leveling of status, and that is also associated with limimal conditions (a.k.a., anti-structure).  Thus social leveling via paticipation and reflexivity has been recognized by theorists from entirely separate disciplines, demonstrating its validity.”    

sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK)

p. 285: “Participaton is of theoretical interest in SSK.  In much of sociology, participant-observation is carried out among marginal or low-status groups such as religious cults, the poor, or ethnic minoriteis.  Sociologists dare not undertake comparable research with bankers, CEOs, or college presidents.  Likewise, anthropologists may study primitive peoples, i.e., socially distant and “inferior.”  However with SSK, there is not so much social distance between the observers and the observed.  In fact the status of the objects of study may equal or exceed that of the researcher, at least initially.  Scientists traditionally are assumed to be the final arbiters of scientific knowledge.  But when they become objects of study and are described (represented) by sociologists, their legitimacy and reliability are called into question.  Sociologists demonstrate that scientists are not as objective and rational as many people thought and that they are influened by subjective and social factors in evaluating data  This naturally calls into question the authority, objecitviy, and rationality of science, and it has potential of reducing the status of scientists.  As in liminality, there is a leveling or even inversion of status.  Again we see the connection between reflexivity, status reduction, and participation — a connection also found in ethnomethodology.  It is no accident that participation arose in Levy-Bruhl’s discussions of primitive mentality.  Participation raises issues not only of status but also of the basis of rationaltiy.  These are discomforting matters, and Woolgar admitted that “Most social scientists tend to steer well clear of any sustained examination of the signivicance of reflexivity, despite frequently acknowledging its relevance in general terms.””    

p. 285-286: “Latour concludes that when reflexivity is applied on a limited basis in the academic enterprise, it is often sterile and leads to little productivity.  However he suggests that greater application of it should produce interdisciplinary pollination.  Hybridization and increased understanding across academic boundaries should result.  I was very pleased to see this conclusion, because my own readings convinced me that an interdisciplinary approach was required to make progress with the topic of reflexivity (and of psychic phenomena).  His expllicit mention of “boundaries” (and their disruption) confirms the importance of them for understanding the repercussions of reflexivity.  In short, Latour’s essay marks him as a major theorist of the topic.   

    Replication of scientific experiments is one of the thorny problems tackled by SSk.  It is a foundational issue of science.  Most scientists accept the simple idea that valid experiments must be repeatable by others.  But when the matter is closely examined, all sorts of complexities arise.  What is replication?  Who determines whether it is acomplished?  How is it described?  In controversial areas, simply doing more experiments doesn’t resolve issues about putative effects; there are continuing arguments about what is required for a satisfactory experiment.  Slight changes in conditions may have important cosnequences, and those can be debated endlessly.  conducting more experiments can lead to what has been termed the “experimeter’s regress.”  Do objective observations establish fact, or is it only social agreement?  Further, written reports are not always sufficient to explain an experimenter’s procedure.  Sometimes direct personal training is required to teach the skill and convey the necessary information for successful replication.  Abstract text is inadequate.  SSK raises all these issues, and in a subtle but profound way it strikes a blow against the foundational myth that science is a fully objective process.”    

p. 287: “While Robert Rosenthal was analyzing an experiment for his Ph.D. dissertation in the mid-1950s, he was dismayed to discover that his data indicated that he had unintentionally biased his subjects (he had inadvertently “participated” in the experiment).  This intially unwelcome discovery shaped his career, and he went on to study experiment expectancy effects.  After completing his doctorate, he conducted experiemnts with several lower ehelon researchers.  Each carried out the same procedure, but they were told to expect different results.  Rosenthal demonstrated that significant biases could be thereby induced.   

    Experimenting on experimenters is innately reflexive, and it raises the question of whether experimenters can objectively investigate the world.  How extreme are their biases?  The philosophical point disconcerted many psychologists, and Roseenthal received some sharp criticisms.  In addition, some researchers claimed that they were unable to repeat his results (the replication problem).  In the end, Rosenthal largely prevailed, and the experimenter expectancy effects are now accepted as real.  Nevertheless, his work raises questions about the ultimate validity of experimetation, but as with ethnomethodology, the especially troubling ones, the true foundational issues, are largely ignored.   

    Rosenthal went on to investigate how teachers’ expectancies influence their pupils.  In a number of studies, grade school students were given an intelligence test, and afterwards teachers were told that some of them should intellecutally bloom in the coming months.  Unknown to the teachers, the “bloomers” were not selected by the test, but instead were designated randomly.  Months later, another test was administered, and the randomly selected bloomers had increased their objective test scores more than the other students.  Somehow the teachers had unconsciously trasmitted their expectations to the students, who fulfilled them.  This has sometimes been referred to as the Rosenthal-Pygmalion effect.”    

p. 289: “In summary, meditaion has a number of liminal features.  It blurs the boundary between conscious and unconscious; its traditional schools warn of dangers; it is associated with mysticism and paranormal abilities.  Many forms are inherently reflexive.”    

p. 308: “At risk of being repetitious, I want to briefly list again some of the links between the trickster (and liminality) and reflexivity.  The trickster blurs the distinction betweeen subject and object, and so does reflexivity; both thereby subvert objectivity.  The trickster is a paradoxical creature, and reflexivity generates paradox.  The paranormal has trickster qualities, and it is found in the vicinity of applications of reflexivity.  The trickster has deep religious implications, and reflexivity evokes religious issues; both are pertinent to the numnious.  Manifestations of reflexivity generate ambiguity, paradox, and uncetainty; they provoke feelings of unease, worry, and even paranoia.  The trickster does too.  The issue of limits is fundamental to the trickster, and reflexivity reveals limits.”

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 1 hour later

Nicole said

so, so much cool stuff here. thank you….

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 8 hours later

Marmalade said

You can see from all of my notes, how much I left out from what I actually wrote.  I had bigger plans than I had time to accomplish.  I’ll blog further about it with time.  I’d still like to bring in Philip K. Dick into all of this.  I was reading some commentary on PKD in one of my friend’s books.  It was comparing PKD’s ideas with those of Merleau-Ponty which is precisely the kind of connection I was looking for.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 17 hours later

Nicole said

i think you needed weeks of blogs to cover it all, not just a day – hugs

buddhacious : Human Being

15 days later

buddhacious said

Thanks so much for these excerpts, Ben. it is great to see the overlap in all these thinkers. I was especially impressed with Rosenthal’s findings concerning  experimenter expectancy. Very interesting!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

15 days later

Marmalade said

Hello!  I still don’t know what to make of it all.  I was being too ambitious for too little understanding, but I swear to you that one of these days I’m going to understand what this enactivism thingie is.

The experimenter expectancy issue is quite intriguing and also its relationship to reflexivity.  It would be interesting to see what might result if enactivism was applied as a model to research researchers.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

16 days later

Nicole said

I’m sure you will, one day, Ben! You are one determined guy, lol, hugs!

Hmm, who will research the researchers eh? and how :):):)



Posted on Aug 21st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

There are three aspects to the symposium.  I can’t say much about 21st century spirituality, but I am a 21st century person with an interest in spirituality and so that should count for something.  As for integral theory, even though I’ve studied it off and on for years, I can’t say I’m an expert — just another one of my many interests.  Now for the last… I hadn’t even heard about enactivism until a couple of weeks ago.  Researching about it, I realized that I already understood the basic concept and had a passing familiarity with some of the authors who came up.

Others have already given useful intros to all of this, and so I’ll skip the basics.  Instead, I’m going to try to connect these ideas to my own understandings.

I was reading Philosophy in the Flesh by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.  In it, they describe basic-level categories which seem quite similar to some explanations of archetypes.  What enactivism seems to bring to the table is a deeper understanding of biology.  Jung saw archetypes as having an instinctual component, but biological understanding was pretty limited at that time.  Some more recent theoreticians have looked at archetypes in terms of science and there does seem to be an evolutionary component to archetypes (e.g. Anthony Stevens).  The ideas of enactivism and autopoiesis seem particularly relevant to understanding archetypes.

Related to archetypes are Jung’s personality types which were systematized with the MBTI.  Several different theories have been put forth in how typology correlates to brain function.  Furthermore, MBTI has been correlated with the Five Factor Model (FFM) which is a traits theory (i.e. behavioral).  Traits theory has been shown to be partly based on genetics.  All in all, this seems to fit into the whole body-mind viewpoint, that evolution created these basic structures of the mind which determine how we perceive and relate to external reality.

A recent discovery of mine is research showing that the MBTI correlates with Ernest Hartmann’s boundary types.  Let me go into more detail here because this is an important part of my viewpoint.  There are four components to the MBTI: Introversion vs Extraversion (E/I), Sensation vs Intuition (S/N), Thinking vs Feeling (T/F), Judging vs Perceiving (J/P).

(1) Introversion and Extroversion seem to have the least correlation to boundary types, but there were some aspects to it that seemed to fit.  Introverts tend to have more of an ability to focus intensely and for long periods of time, and they tend to be more territorial about personal space.  Extraverts, on the other hand, are drawn outwards and so are more easily distracted by their environment.  Here is a relevant quote from Hartmann’s book Dreams and Nightmares:

“Those who have taken psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, report that under the drug’s influence they have thinner boundaries in a number of senses.  On the other hand, taking stimulants such as amphetamines, or for some people, antidepressants, definitely produces a thickening of boundaries.  In the most extreme case, people given large doses of amphetamines first become intensely focused; they are the opposite of distractible, keeping their thoughts entire on one line of thought.”

(2) Sensation and Intuition have the highest correlation to boundary types according to the studies.  Simply put, you can think of the difference here being between those who tend towards the concrete and those who tend towards the abstract, but there are many other dimensions to it.  Another interesting aspect is that Sensors tend to be more conservative basing their decisions on past experience, whereas Intuitives are more innovative because they can more easily see future possibilities.  Obviously, Sensors (and in particular the SJ temperament) are the practical sort of person who sees reality for what it is (based on what it was).  Some Intuitives, on the other hand, may seem like daydreamers, but Intuives also tend to be the innovators.

The concrete preference of Sensors is what makes them thick boundary types.  Things are clearly what they are and each thing is clearly distinct from other things.  Sensors have commonsense.  The abstract preference of Intuitives lends them to thin boundaries.  Distinctions are more blurred.  Because they can more easily shift distinctions, they can see new relationships between things.

In this symposium, I’ve definitely noticed the contrast between the practical-minded realists and those drawn to more theoretical understandings and far-reaching (or over-reaching if you prefer) possibilities.  As I believe, its not a matter of either style being more correct.  To speak from a green vmeme perspective, it takes all types.

(3) Thinking and Feeling are slightly less correlated to boundary types, but there are some important connections.  Thinking is about principles and rules with a focus on autonomy.  Feeling is about values and morality with a focus on relationships.

There is a fairly strong split with most Thinking types being male and most Feeling types being female.  This same division comes up with boundary types.  Thick boundary types tend to be male and thin boundary types tend to be female.  To understand this archetypally, this relates to the animus and the anima.  To understand this in the real world, this relates to the conflict between Integralists and New Agers.  It has been pointed by others how the Integral movement is dominated by men.  Also, you could think of this division in terms of Ken Wilber’s Grace and Grit or the movie The Fountain.

(4) Judging and Perceiving are an interesting division that was origial to Jung’s typology.  Studies have shown that J/P doesn’t test as separate from S/N with young children, and so there is some developmental aspect to this (whether biological or psychological).  In MBTI, J/P simply determines which function you Extravert, but it can be looked at as its own category and there is some correlation to boundary types.  Judging types like order and conclusiveness.  Perceiving types are more about creative chaos and they prefer to keep their options open.

With J/P, I sense a similarity to a division between two kinds of thinkers which brings me back closer to this symposium.  I’ve seen distinctions (here and here) made between Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson.  This partly seems like a difference between a systematizer and a bricoleur.  Interestingly, William Irwin Thompson’s son (Evan Thompson) co-wrote some books with the enactivist crowd.  So, this made me think of the possible differences between enactivism and tetra-enactivism.  From what I’ve read, Varela seems to have intentionally avoided systematizing his ideas, but then Wilber took Varela’s ideas and systematized them for him.

The bricoleur is a term I’m using in its relationship to the George P. Hansen’s book The Trickster and the Paranormal(2001).  Hansen uses the term bricoleur as one way of describing the Trickster archetype.  Hansen also brings up Victor Turner’s ideas of liminality, anti-structure, and communitas.  Enactivism questions the traditional assumptions of science and so blurs the boundaries somewhat.  Varela was influenced by phenomenology, and Hansen says that ethnomethodology was similarly influenced.  Ethnomethodology (along with sociology of scientific knowledge and studies of experiment expectancy effects) puts the scientific endeavor into a very different context.

p. 280: “Ethnomethodologists took as their subject matter the interactions of everyday social life and how people make sense of them. That sounds innocuous enough, but ethnomethodologists probed foundations.  They recognized that for orderly common activity, people must share a large body of assumptions, meanings, and expectations, though these are not consciously recognized.  In order to make them explicit (i.e., bring them to conscious awareness), breaching experiments were invented, and those involved violating, in some way, typical patterns of behavior.” … “These breaching experiments have commonalities with anti-structure and the trickster; they all violate boundaries that frame experience.”

p. 281: “Ethnomethodologists pointed out that one is part of that which one observes, i.e., one participates in processes of observation.  The issue of participation has some intriguing connections.  At least since Levy-Bruhl’s How Natives Think (1910) it has been associated with the non-rational.”

p.282: “Mehan and Wood say that their theoretical perspective “within ethnomethodology commits me to the study of concrete scenes and to the recognition that I am always a part of those scenes.  Social science is committed to avoiding both of those involvements.”  They are correct, but few social scientists wish to acknowledge the consequences.  The abstraction and distancing found in all science endow a certain status and privilege from which to judge and comment on others.  In order to maintain that position, scientists must not get too “dirty,” too closely associated with their objects of study.  Ethnomethodologists understand they necessarily participate in the phenomena they observe.  Mehan and Wood comment that “Ethnomethodology can be seen as an activity of destratification.”  This destratification is a leveling of status, and that is also associated with limimal conditions (a.k.a., anti-structure).  Thus social leveling via participation and reflexivity has been recognized by theorists from entirely separate disciplines, demonstrating its validity.”

The last part about the leveling of status directly relates to the Trickster archetype, and status relates to hierarchy.  Scientists often are seen as final arbiters in many matters, and traditionally science saw itself opposed to nature, above the object it studied.  This, of course, relates to the problematic relationship of body and mind in Western thought.  Varela mentions Cartesian anxiety, a desire for a clear ground to our knowledge.  Cartesian anxiety is a condition that most of us have experienced, but it would be felt most acutely by a thick boundary type.

Where did this Cartesian anxiety originate?  I think its part of Max Weber’s theory about rationalization and the disenchantment of the world.  My knowledge of Weber is limited, but I suspect his theory relates to Karl Jasper’s theory on the Axial Age.  Several centuries before Christianity, the oral tradition was in decline and alphabetic literacy was becoming more common.  This created an increased ability of reflexivity by allowing someone to see words objectively on a page and also it gave people the ability to think abstractly (become more conscious of basic-level categories?).

The oral tradition was based on specific memorized sayings that were connected to whole systems of mythology, and mythology itself was grounded in the specific places in the world.  This brings to mind Julian Jayne’s theory that early myths show that man didn’t have a single sense of self, but that the self was more fluid and embedded in the culture.  An ancient person didn’t just remember what a mythological character said but actually heard that character speaking.  The world was alive with mythology.

Animism is no longer a respectable philosophy, but there is something to the animistic experience of the world.  From a phenomenological standpoint, there is an animistic sense to our relationship with the world which isn’t just our mind projecting (maybe something more like the imaginal).  We are a part of the world in a very fundamental way.  In The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram says:

P. 56: “Merleau-Ponty writes of the prereived things as entities, of sensible qualities as powers , and of the sensible itself as a field of animate presences, in order to acknowledge and underscore their active, dynamic contribution to perceptual experience.  To describe the animate life of particular things is simply the most precise and parsimonious way to articulate the things as we spontaneously experience them, prior to all our conceptualizations and definitions.
  Our most immediate experience of things, according to Merleau-Ponty, is necessarily an experience of reciprocal encounter — of tension, communication, and commingling.  From within the depths of this encounter, we know the thing or phenomenon only as our interlocutor — as a dynamic presence that confronts us and draws us into relation.  We conceptually immobilize or objectify the phenomenon only by mentally absenting ourselves form this relation, by forgetting or repressing our sensuous involvement.  To define another being as an inert or passive object is to deny its ability to actively engage us an to provoke our senses; we thus block our perceptual reciprocity with that being.  By linguistically defining the surrounding world as a determinate set of objects, we cut our conscious, speaking selves off from the spontaneous life of our sensing bodies”

This participatory relationship to the world one is immersed in can be carried forward when we consider how the earth is a co-evolution rather than species being separate groups fighting for their respective niches.  For instance, plants form a very tightly woven community such that plants of different species communicate with one another through chemicals given off in the air and in the soil.  Research has shown that other plants will respond when something happens to a plant nearby (such as it being eaten).  Even though we don’t see it, plants respond to us.  Also, plants have a very powerful influence on us as they are the chemical factories of nature.  There is some truth to the notion that we are what we eat.  The chemicals that we take in through plants (or through animals that ate plants) effects our minds and our perception.

There are many more subtle examples, but the most well known examples are psychedelics.  A chemical in many ritually-used plants is DMT and its very common in nature.  What is interesting is that our brains produce this in small doses.  Our brains are designed to make use of this chemical, and people under the influence of higher doses of DMT have very similar experiences.  DMT is a component of the co-evolution of life on earth.

Psychedelics, along with other methods, have been used by humans longer than recorded history.  In fact, animals also are drawn to consuming psychedelics and they show signs of being similarly effected (Animals and Psychedelics, Giorgio Samorino).  Why is their a biological drive to alter consciousness?  Possibly its because it thins boundaries and thus opens the mind to new possibilities which might translate into real-world advantages for survival.  How might this thinning occur?  One possibility is that the brain structures used to categorize our experience are altered or even suppressed.

Of course, there are many different ways of altering the mind and modern man has become quite adept at this.  We have a whole field that is dedicated to researching how chemicals effect people’s minds.  A very large portion of people nowadays are on some psychiatric drug or another, and certainly plenty more people are self-medicated in various ways.  On top of this, we’ve begun to do more direct alterations of our biology by putting technology into the body (such as for heart conditions or for epilepsy).  We’ve learned a lot about the body-mind by messing around with it, but in the process the questioning of our sense of self-identity has become more pertinent.

The issues of the body-mind became more personal to Varela towards the end of his life after he had a liver transplant.  In a paper he wrote about his experiences, he confronted his own mortaliy but in a very peculiar light.  My sense is that he was trying to bridge the gap between his personal experience and the ideas he spent his whole life writing about.  In the last paragraph, he spoke of the future but ends in saying: “Somewhere we need to give death back its rights.”  What did he mean by this?  What are the rights of death?

I can’t speak for him, but I’ll add some of my own thoughts.  Its at boundaries that we find the liminal, where things become unclear, where new possibilities present themselves.  This symposium is partly about enactivism which speaks to the boundary of body and mind.  The body-mind is this life we know… even if only imperfectly.  We strive in life to understand, to make a difference.  Yet, we all shall face death, the final boundary which science can’t probe beyond.

To contemplate our place in the larger world is to come face to face with the closeness of life and death.  We are embodied in a world where life arises (autopoietically one could say) out of seemingly inanimate matter and then returns to it just as easily.  That is an insight I often catch hold of when I’m walking alone through the woods.  Life and death seem to blend into each other… plants luxuriously growing out of billions of years worth of decay.  Even dead matter is dynamically animate.

Notes and more notes for this blog.
(theoretical context, background info, related ideas)

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Balder : Kosmonaut

about 2 hours later

Balder said

A wonderful contribution, Ben!  I really enjoyed this.  What I especially appreciated was the self-reflectiveness it encourages for all of us, inviting us to consider some of the factors at play in the very intersubjective space we have enacted here in this symposium.  You’ve also woven together a number of interesting voices, some of whom I am familiar with and similarly appreciate, such as Abram and Merleau-Ponty. 
Your highlighting of animism is also interesting to me, because, while enactivism doesn’t involve or lead to an animistic belief in tree-spirits or whatever, there is still a strong sense, for me – when I am more fully immersed in the enactive perspective – of an intimate and dynamic vitality which is “flesh of my flesh” and “flesh of the world.”  A feeling both of intimacy and dynamic involvement or relation.
There’s more I’d like to write but I wanted to check in first with this acknowledgement, and to thank you for this beautiful offering.
Best wishes,

Julian : integral healer

about 2 hours later

Julian said

ooooh so glad to see you bringing in typology ben – very cool. i’ll have to get salima over here tout suite!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 2 hours later

Marmalade said

My goal wasn’t to argue for the validity of the ideas based on rational argument.  Instead, I wanted to find the ground of experience that makes sense of enactivism from a more personal view.  Also, I wanted to include the divergent psychological tendencies that predispose people to view the world in divergent ways.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 2 hours later

Marmalade said

Hey Julian!  Nice to have you for a visit.

The typology summary is kinda simplified for the purposes of the symposium.  I was just using it to show some broad tendencies.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

There is one thing that would be useful to clear up.  Types (both personality and boundary) are just general categories.  MBTI and Hansen both agree that everyone has access that which lies outside of their supposed type. 

Hansen wrote about the difference between boundaries as experiences versus as more permanent structures.  Also, he wrote of two aspects of how boundaries play out in individuals.  People can have one kind of boundary for their internal experience and another kind for their external experience.  He hypothesized that internal boundaries probably are those that we are born with or develop when very young, and that the external boundaries have more to do with the development of social relationships later on in life.

buddhacious : Human Being

about 3 hours later

buddhacious said

Thanks for bringing a different angle to this symposium, Ben. I really enjoyed the non-rational way you attempted to approach the ideas we’ve been discussing. I especially enjoyed the mention of Merleau-Ponty’s work, when Abram discussed how our immediate sensory experience reveals a “field of animate presences,” and that if we “linguistically define them as a set of determinate objects” we get cut off from the “spontaneous life of our sensing bodies.” This simple realization of the power language has over our experience goes a long way toward solving (or rather, dissolving) the mind-body problem, doesn’t it? I mean that it almost makes the problem appear to be purely a conceptual confusion, whereas on the level of embodied experience, everything fits rather nicely.

Much thanks, Ben!


adam : revolution

about 3 hours later

adam said

perfect : )

the psychology of predisposition and typology angle was one i’ve only been hinting at, and without it the symposium wasn’t complete. nice one ben : )

the enneagram personality type model is also one i’ve found devastatingly useful for self-observation and awareness of strategies and tendencies in myself and clients.
i relate to animism as well, especially in the way that animism can encourage honouring environment as self in some ways. strong pantheism may also encourage this kind of honouring awareness, in contrast to the detached victorian scientific view of man reigning supreme over mother nature.

there’s plenty to chew on here… cool!

take a bow mister marmalade : )

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

Hello Adam,

Feel free to speak about the enneagram if you wish.  I don’t know a whole lot about the enneagram, but it is another useful factor to consider.

With animism, I see it as an experience and as an attitude.  It doesn’t precisely matter if its true in an objective sense.  I think of animism in a more practical way.  When I have this animistic sense of the world, I act very differently.  It brings me to an alert awareness of my being-in-the-world.  As such, I’m more conscious of my actions and their results.  Conversely, when I experience the world as an external environment of objects, I start treating people more like objects and my personal subjectivity feels cut off, isolated.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

Yeah, Matt, the power of language is something I wanted to clarify.  Its a difficult subject because we use a particular language and a particular style in discussing it.  I’d like to read more of the writings of phenomenologists so that I can a better sense of this.

This is a very personally important subject for me.  My experience of the world has much to do with my sense of depression.  I’ve dealt with depression for many years now and it has made me very sensitive to my experience.

adam : revolution

about 3 hours later

adam said

the enneagram is just a set of potentials, covering the full range of health and pathology, to reflect aspects of psychology and personality back at one.

i relate to the experiential/attitudinal aspect of relation-to-being via conscious concept usage. it’s a similar experience to adopting the enactivist bodymindset in some ways.

in the integrative orientation that we’re exploring, i’m looking at ways in which all the aspects and apparent conflicts raised can be resolved and integrated. your piece is a grounding and profound reminder to me personally, and a great way to round out the symposium.


Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

I need to get to work here shortly, but I’ll be back tomorrow.  I just want to add one last thing.  My understanding of enactivism is very much incomplete and so I’d love to hear what others have to say about examples of enactivism that might apply to the subjects I brought up. 

Based on my general comprehension of enactivism, I was trying to weave in many elements.  I don’t know how successful I was.  I wanted to show further directions in which enactivism could lead.

Anyways, have a lovely evening everyone!

adam : revolution

about 4 hours later

adam said

and if one of our senior number isn’t an enneagram nine, i may need to change career… ; )

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 6 hours later

Marmalade said

I forgot that this is one of the later work nights for me.  Let me add one last last thing before I go.

I appreciate both integralism and typology for the same basic reason.  They both allow me to see the differences in people in a less judgmental way.  In particular, learning about typology has been immensely helpful to me.  I do feel that I have more genuine understanding of people than I did before learning about it.  I don’t try to type every person I meet, but its useful being able to discern such things as a background context.  Typology gives me a language to understand my own experience and how my experience relates to the experience of others.

I think enactivism could potentially be helpful in this way.  If we remember how we are part of the world we are enacting, then it gives us pause before judging others.  It gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves what we are bringing to the situation, how our perceptions are coloring our perceptions.

Julian : integral healer

about 6 hours later

Julian said

oh shit!

look at your notes post dude – how fun and impressive!

also – nice pic of dionysus…

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 10 hours later

Balder said

Yeah, I wonder who might be a 9 around here…

sandy : Activist and Ambassador

about 11 hours later

sandy said

All I can do is to praise the quality and depth of your writing-
it is immense,thankyou.

David : ~

about 11 hours later

David said

Great blog, Ben. I especially liked the part about introversion and extroversion and how they relate to boundary types, LSD, gender, etc. That’s really interesting.

I also loved the part about the oral tradition and the emergence of the written word and how that enabled additional perspectives. I think we can see the 4-quadrant aspect of enactivism right there: without the emergence of the writing implement, the “paper,” and such those new perspectives couldn’t have been enacted.

Great symposium, everyone! Bruce, James, Matt, Adam, Julian, Ben—I enjoyed everyone’s contributions. Quite an interesting, challenging subject. I was a little late getting involved, thought I might be like one of those marathon runners who crosses the finish line in darkness, after everyone else has left. But I ran really fast, and here I am.  🙂

A couple of things from Bruce’s blog come back to me (please forgive me if my timing is wrong here):

I am aware that whatever I write today will not be the “truth,” in the sense of simple correspondence; it is not simply an uncovering of “what is there,” but an evocation of “what can be.”

The “what can be” part is especially cool. That really brings the evolutionary perspective into it and also the importance of individual and collective choice and development in terms of “what is there.”


Just reflecting on this subject this morning had me inhabiting my body differently.  There is a feeling of opening which does not erase boundaries or render them meaningless, but which nevertheless leaves them translucent and calls attention to the creative enactment of experience which echoes and embodies a particular lineage of appearance while also opening into the novel, the new.

It’s funny—I was thinking something very similar to that as I read the opening paragraphs of your blog. It seems to me that enactivism enables a kind of vertical liberation. Once you understand something very simple such as “the sky isn’t necessarily blue,” the whole visual field has less of a hold on you. You take the whole thing less seriously in a certain way. Perhaps it can also be an aid to horizontal liberation, but I feel that if I really downloaded enactivism into my blood and bones I would be a different, more vertically liberated person. The effect that would have on language would also be interesting to look into.


adam : revolution

about 18 hours later

adam said

thing about healthy 9’s is they can be so uppity…

Daate : Cheerio

about 23 hours later

Daate said

where has this been all my life? 🙂

this is very cool, thanks so much. i admit to not having completely finished your post yet ben, but i will. a fascinating angle and one right up my alley….i use myers briggs all the time, and like to cross-pollinate it with the enneagram sometimes. many NT’s seem to be 5’s, for example. i bet there are a lot of 5’s around here.

adam, are you by any chance a 5? and in what sense do you mean “clients?” are you a therapist or do you mean that some other way?

also, ben, i’m interested in your comments about gender. would you consider that the enthusiasm for this kind type categorization is primarily a feminine thing? i’ve been curious as to why on many of these previous posts and blogs (especially the heated ones) simple things like typology weren’t taken into perspective—i often feel two people mean the same thing and are coming from within very obvious typlogical mindsets that, if brought into the light, would illuminate a common ground more easily. and that often objective opinions that seem absolute and inflexible are all coming from within a distinct personality that has a unique way of processing input. how can we miss things like that? i guess in the search for the growth of critical thinking, which is also important, and which in these blogs has been the domain of the autonomous NT’s?

 i’ve noticed that the women in my life seem much quicker to catch on to and utilize things like enneagram and myers briggs, for whatever reason. do you think it’s because it’s biologically natural for women to be hunting for understanding of perspectives in the first place? 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Thanks Sandy, David, and Daate!

Daate, MBTI was created by two women.  I’m sure such systems favor certain views (like, for instance, the views of women) more than others.  That said, there is an INTP forum that is extremely popular.  The other extremely popular forum is an INFP forum.  Going by that, it would seem that IXNPs favor MBTI… at least online.  In general, I think your observation is correct.  Women do seem to be more focused on relationships than men or focused on relationships in a more obvious way.

debyemm : Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

1 day later

debyemm said


I really appreciate the approach you took for this topic and found your information to be helpful to understanding other areas of my life not directly related to this symposium but also, to issues I’ve noticed there as well.
I found your essay very readable and easily understood.  I share with you the awe of the forest cycles.


1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

Late to the party and can verbalize only a smattering of my responses right now.

Howsomever, I do win our non-bet, Ben !!!! 🙂 (Inside joke from Gaia Networking pod.)

The weaving you have done is awesome and exciting and worth much more exploring, and the perspectives offered FEEL great !!!! You’ve taken a lot of the ideas being discussed here, and polished different facets of them, really really admirable and valuable !!

I would need a glossary to understand the first half completely, perhaps combined with 3 readings…. But I got the gist. You really do use a lot of terms like liminal and some other terms I don’t know, though of course some I do. Perhaps these were all defined on previous symposium contributions, but if not, it would help future readers understand and appreciate what you are saying, to do a little glossary.

As others have said, you opened up a lot of interesting perspectives. The relationship to nature or external world you describe so beautifully is awesome, and your characterization of what takes us away from it seems right on.

I would like to clarify re the Ennegram that it most fundamentally is NOT a personality typology but a SOUL typology. Its historical roots seem to point to that, and Sandra Maitri and Almaas have done well in clearly laying out how the Spirit-level choices and decisions flow down into personality. Without that basic level, the ennegram just doesn’t make much sense, seems arbitrary. [I say Spirit, they say soul, they mean Spirit, in MY jargon !!!]

Sandra Maitri, The Spiritual Dimension of the the Enneagram. It’s in our book database here. But even she stops shy of the deepest (or highest) level of characterization. In a word, one’s Ennegram type flows from the (incorrect) answer one’s Spirit makes up after it first goes (voluntarily, but it’s forgotten that) into the illusion of Separation from All That Is. To the Spirit, the current unpleasant state of affairs demands an explanation. The Ennegram types each have a different “story” about what that explanation is: God is bad, or I am bad, or I am defective, or I have been abandoned, etc. And there is a healed version of each type, as well as an unhealed version. The “story” can become a truth, a wisdom, from another perspective.

As I said on the other blog, Enneagram One, the Perfectionist/Improver at your service.

I am moved toward trying to post my looooong paper The Healing of Enneagram One, my own personal journey’s summary, as a blog. Don’t know if blogs can cope with something 12 pages long…..

I believe there’s a fair amount of research done by many different kinds of sciences and folks, not to mention lots of our personal experiences, haha, whose findings have the effect of backing up Ken’s characterizations of women as naturally focused on, expert in, what he calls communion, and men as naturally focused on, expert in, what he calls “agency” which we might call the power of action. And of course he’s not the first to note those differences…..
I just love all the positive things said about your blog by the commenters above, and I vociferously underline and echo them, said more eloquently than I could.

I won’t have more than a few moments in the community til maybe Monday, so won’t be able to read Julian’s contribution til then.

Thank you for this, from the bottom of my heart, I am inspired and uplifted,
OM Bastet

~Kes : be cause

1 day later

~Kes said

Thanks for your Blog Ben.  
When you commented: “I appreciate both integralism and typology for the same basic reason.  They both allow me to see the differences in people in a less judgmental way.  In particular, learning about typology has been immensely helpful to me.  I do feel that I have more genuine understanding of people than I did before learning about it.  I don’t try to type every person I meet, but its useful being able to discern such things as a background context.  Typology gives me a language to understand my own experience and how my experience relates to the experience of others.

I think enactivism could potentially be helpful in this way.  If we remember how we are part of the world we are enacting, then it gives us pause before judging others.  It gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves what we are bringing to the situation, how our perceptions are coloring our perceptions.”  

I could think with this and like a great poem could see underneath a depth of understanding.  I have been following you and out of respect and admiration for the way you write, I read this part of the symposium because I do want to understand the concepts – so this is from the outsider that had no clue of what this subject was about, and decided to give this write up to help other new people have a greater understanding grasping these concepts.  The new words I listed below were the ones I had to look up.  I recommend reading this symposium and use the dictionary and Wiki… which does bring about a clearer picture of helping all to help change things if that is what is wanted or to help with what is the intention behind the blog.  

I name what I hope is a help flow to new readers:
Athena (n.) – Glossary for reading the blogs about Enactivism in the computing environment; appropriately named after the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Almost every time I read a blog of an in depth interaction like this, I find myself mentally translating certain Enactivism concepts or words when I’m learning a new subject with friends. Things like “I just read about the aspects to the symposium on Enactivism, Integral Theory, & 21st Century Spirituality ” (Enactivism
or “I have just learned more about Dionysus” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysus 
or even 
“I’m doing a MBTI research in “ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator
or I’m mid learning the translation o what an Enneagram Type Nine is.” (http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/typeNine.asp

These technical names don’t mean much to people who’ve never been exposed to Integral or Enactivism studies. To Integral studies, those words and abbreviations and numbers are part and parcel of our culture, with unambiguous and precise meanings. But to my friends and even, to some extent, to my family, it’s like I’m talking a foreign language – speaking in Enactivism-ese or Integral-ese.

But what else would you expect from a subject where virtually everything, is from so many different sources?  Hence a symposium where newbies and those that have read and can apply the theory in practice can offer hyperlinks which define what the concepts are all about. The hyperlinks and words I had to look up to have this enlightenment are below and I hope help others to be able to understand and find something within the subject to relate to and apply to any area of survival and application.

One reason I’m writing this entry is to help bridge the gap between Enactivism-ese and “regular” English. And beyond that, I also want to showcase this phenomenon of “speaking in Enactivism-ese,” because I personally feel it’s one of Gaia’s more interesting – and yet also most understated and sometimes not – features. (no glossary)

Keep in mind that this guide is just an introduction; I chose to focus on the aspects of Enactivism-ese that are (in my opinion) universal across Gaia and of particular interest to prospective students of Integral Theory, and incoming friends that would like to be able to interact such as me.

More comprehensive guides do exist from viewing tags and those that have been involved in this symposium, where a new glossary could now be built upon to help more interact while online.

With that said, enjoy this glimpse into the wonderful if sometimes confusing world of understanding a new (to me) subject Enactivism-ese!
Below are sites I visited to better understand the blog:

The Essentials Start of Glossary from this blog…

Animism: is derived from the Latin word anima meaning breath or soul. The belief of animism is probably one of man’s oldest beliefs, with its origin.  Animism commonly refers to the belief systems that attribute souls or spirits to animals, plants and other entities, …en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
ar·bi·ter  (ärb-tr) n. 1. One chosen or appointed to judge or decide a disputed issue; an arbitrator. 2. One who has the power to judge or ordain at will: an 

arbiter of fashion. See Synonyms at judge.

archetype |ˈärk(i)ˌtīp| noun a very typical example of a certain person or thing : the book is a perfect archetype of the genre. See note at model .• an original that has been imitated : the archetype of faith is Abraham.• a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology : mythological archetypes of good and evil. • Psychoanalysis (in Jungian psychology) a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.

Body schema is a system of processes that constantly regulate posture and movement– sensory-motor processes that function without reflective awareness or the necessity of perceptual monitoring.

Bricolage, pronounced /ˌbriːkoʊˈlɑːʒ/, /ˌbrɪkoʊˈlɑːʒ/[1] is a term used in several disciplines, among them the visual arts and literature, to refer to:The construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things which happen to be available; a work created by such a process.It is borrowed from the French word bricolage, from the verb bricoler – equivalent to the English “do-it-yourself”, the core meaning in French being, however, “fiddle, tinker” and, by extension, “make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are to hand (regardless of their original purpose)”. The original engineering meaning of hacker is a similar American term.  Bricolage as a design approach – in the sense of building by trial and error – is often contrasted to engineering: theory-based construction. A person who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur: someone who invents his or her own strategies for using existing materials in a creative, resourceful, and original way.

Cartesian anxiety named after Descartes because of his well-known emphasis on “mind” as different from “body”, “self” as different from “other” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_anxiety

Cognitive Sciences:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_scienceEcological. Paradigm. Big words, but don’t let them intimidate you.  “Ecology” is a branch of science that is concerned with the relationships between organisms and their environments. In our case, we are trying to place agriculture in balance with its environment.  “Paradigm” is simply an example, pattern, or model.

Empathy (Not to be confused with Pity, Sympathy, or Compassion,) is the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”, or to in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself.  It is important to note that empathy does not necessarily imply compassion. Empathy can be ‘used’ for compassionate or cruel behavior.

Enactivism:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enactivism

Ennagram of personality:  The Enneagram system describes nine distinct personality types and their interrelationships, mapped around an ancient symbol of perpetual motion.  The term “enneagram” derives from two Greek words, ennea (nine) and grammos (something written or drawn). The Enneagram is a nine-pointed figure inscribed in a circle. The meaning of the symbol itself, together with the personality types organized around the nine points, convey a system of knowledge about nine distinct but interrelated personality types, or nine ways of seeing and experiencing the world.  The Enneagram of Personality is generally presented as a psycho-spiritual system for mapping the nine possible personalities, like nine facets of a stone that develop through the natural growth of the human psyche.
eth·no·meth·od·ol·o·gy  (thn-mth-dl-j)n. The branch of sociology that deals with the codes and conventions that underlie everyday social interactions and activities.

Integral – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_movement  – Integral theory seeks a comprehensive understanding of humans and the universe by combining scientific and spiritual insights  [http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=related:integralwiki.net/index.php?title=Integral_theory]

Intersubjectivity is “The sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals.  The term is used in three ways.  1. in its weakest sense it is used to refer to agreement. There is said to be intersubjectivity between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or definition of the situation.    2.  and somewhat more subtly it has been used to refer to the “common-sense,” shared meanings constructed by people in their interactions with each other and used as an everyday resource to interpret the meaning of elements of social and cultural life.  3.  the term has been used to refer to shared (or partially shared) divergences of meaning. Self-presentation, lying, practical jokes, and social emotions, for example, all entail not a shared definition of the situation, but partially shared divergences of meaning. Language is viewed as communal rather than private. 

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator en.wiktionary.org/wiki/MBTI – The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological differences according to the typological theories of Carl Jung as published in  Psychological Type.

Phenomenological    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_ (philosophy)  The constructive contribution of phenomenology involves more than simply identifying correlations between experience and neuronal processes, since, in fact, correlations can only move us close to the precipice of the explanatory gap.  Body image is a (sometimes conscious) system of perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs pertaining to one’s own body.  “Philosophy In The Flesh”  A Talk With George Lakoff on google search is an interesting read.  http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lakoff/lakoff_p1.html

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Reciprocal altruism – considered is tit for tat, a strategy that involves being altruistic on the first encounter with another individual and doing whatever the other did on the previous encounter in subsequent encounters with the same individual.

Schism (religion), a division or a split.

Solipsism is a philosophical theory that everything is in the imagination, and there is no reality outside one’s own brain.

Trickster:  is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and norms of behavior.

“Typology” literally means the study of types. More specifically, it may refer to:  Typology (anthropology), division of culture by races, Typology (archaeology), classification of things according to their characteristicsTypology (theology), in Christian theology the interpretation of some characters and stories in the Old Testament as allegories foreshadowing the New Testament, Linguistic typology, study and classification of languages according to their structural features, Morphological typology, in linguistics, a method of classifying languages, Typology, in psychology, a model of personality types (see Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram of Personality). 

I am so new to this subject that please feel free to delete if I am way off base in working to understand.  But I must say that after using the tools available on the web I can now reread your blog and talk about your write up.   Thanks for all of the research and blazing a trail for us. 

I see how enactivism goes with body and mind but I appreciate how Gaia takes the inter-active writings to include all three…body, mind and spirit.  

adam : revolution

2 days later

adam said

hi salima

yeah – i can behave in quite a 5ish way. the themes in my writing have some correspondence to one of the enneagram types in particular.

am i a therapist? u haven’t read my essay! ; ) i’m just starting out, having found a powerful synthesis of modalities which lets me incorporate all my other experience.

i use personality typology as a tool in psychotherapy work, but there are the usual caveats regarding forer effect, autosuggestion, subjective validation etc etc, which are important to remember both for self and others. i find the enneagram useful, but i try to hold it lightly, knowing that while it may suggest possible relationships between identified psychological aspects, and can inform approaches to individual clients, and may inform future patterns of potentialities, it’s not “reality”, and i don’t want it in the way of immediate experience, self-responsibility, or identification of atypical psychodynamics etc.

i’m developing my own flavour of integration therapy, focusing on trauma recovery/integration, the dynamics of belief, emotion, experience, cognition, peak states, and self-esteem.

and debating philosophy/psychology/consciousness on the web. yep – pretty 5ish ; )

best wishes


Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Deborah – Yeah, I thought it might be nice to speak about nature to balance out all of the abstractions.

OM – I am truly sorry that I didn’t provide appropriate definitions.  I was planning on adding hyperlinks, but certain circumstances made that difficult.  I finished the first draft and was going to work on it some more, but I wasn’t able to get on the computer much the last 2 days before I had to post this.  Also, I was just feeling tired out by the whole symposium.  However, I did post all of my notes for this blog (here and here)… which I just now added to the end of the above blog entry.

Kathy – Thanks for doing all that research and posting it.  I hope others find it helpful.

What looks like another good reference for the theories of enactivism and authopiesis is the Encyclopaedia Autopoietica which Matt linked to in his symposium entry.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I was glad to be the last in the symposium as it gave me more time to prepare, but there were some disadvantages.  The symposium participants were mostly tired out by the time I presented.  The other thing is that the most active participants were already locked into a specific dialogue with eachother before I got a chance to add my voice in. 

This whole symposium was mostly about the debate between Julian and Bruce which is something I knew from the get-go.  Julian and Bruce made minor comments in this blog and then immediately went back to Julian’s blog to continue the exact same discussion as if nothing I said applied.  I was hoping to shift the energy of the debate between the Julian types and the Bruce types, but it seems I had no effect.  Julian and Bruce do seem to have come to a temporary truce probably motivated by the simple fact that both are feeling too tired to continue debating at the moment. 

My sense, though, is that nothing has fundamentally been resolved.  The point I was trying to bring up is that the disagreement as demonstrated in this symposium probably has very little to do with rationality or evidence.  Julian and Bruce seem locked into an interpersonal pattern and the medium of the internet makes it difficult for them to relate differently.  I’m sure this symposium would’ve been immensely different if it had been held in person while sipping coffee in someone’s living room.

I know that Bruce really wanted to try to resolve that fundamental conflict of views and he seemed quite determined.  Both Bruce and Julian put a lot of energy trying to relate differently and bridge the gap.  I applaud the effort.

Even if nothing has really been resolved, I think the symposium has been successful in the sense of it being an interesting debate of views.  The conflict may not be resolved, but maybe there is slightly more understanding of what the conflict is… I don’t know, maybe?

adam : revolution

3 days later

adam said

hi ben

i’m reluctant to agree with your observations entirely…

all the dynamics you mentioned i also think were there – pre-existing julian/bruce dynamics, fatigue.

i don’t think your entry had no effect at all – i think the processional effects of the intense focus of the symposium will continue for a good while, and i do think resolutions will occur out of it. all of the entries contain keys to unlock potentials i think.

in some ways, your entry and julian’s were the “quietest”, yet i think they hold two very important invitations for theoreticians – whether deadlocked or otherwise – possibly in the two most important areas for theorists to remember.

– firstly, being human in a human body, alive to the senses now, and the immediate experiential reality of that  

– secondly, being aware of the universe of subconscious psychological constellations exerting their gravitational pull on our thinking, feeling, and being, towards which psychology and typologies can help to point. this is why i was so glad you wrote about this.

i do think that there is much material for all concerned to draw from, taking a step back and looking for underlying dynamics and commonalities, and although it has been a draining exercise with disappointments and disillusionment, i think it has been – and continues to be – very valuable, with potential still for the kind of fundamental resolution that i think we’d all like to see.



Balder : Kosmonaut

3 days later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

I understand your concern about the dynamics between Julian and myself.  I personally do not think this symposium was just about “us,” though.  Julian and Matt have had differences of opinion around these issues as well, and I have dialogued at length with Adam on a number of different blog posts, so I think we (at least Julian, Adam, Matt, and myself) thought it might be worthwhile to try to approach this in a more systematic way, in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of each other’s positions and possibly also some common ground.  I also do not think I’m “locked” back into the “same old” exchange with Julian; I feel something has shifted.  And I hope it continues to.  I also intend to carry on conversations on several of the blogs.  I’ve started a post to Adam several times, for instance; I just haven’t finished one I’m ready to post yet.  I also expect James and I will possibly carry on our conversation once he gets back.  So, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize this whole event as a Bruce-Julian exchange – although I acknowledge that the “history” of our debates over several months probably does carry a distracting weight in the overall discussion.
For what it’s worth, I felt you responded rather coolly to my initial post here, which is one reason I haven’t been as engaged in this portion of the discussion.  (Admitting this could be projection on my part; it’s hard to tell when our communication is restricted to print.)  But a bigger reason is that I don’t know much about Myers-Briggs types and don’t have much to add, except to say that I think you are right that this also plays a role, both in individual “worldview” preferences and in our interpersonal exchanges here.  I resonated with your description of boundary types and thought it was both instructive and useful. 
About reaching a resolution or agreement out of this – I’m not sure we will.  An enactive view, which doesn’t presuppose “one right view of the world,” wouldn’t demand that identical agreement on all points be reached.  But being a 9, I do hope for an increase in mutual resonance and understanding.  🙂

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said


It certainly wasn’t my intention that my first response would sound cold.  My first response was only slightly to you, but was more a general first post about my intention behind my entire entry.  I would’ve given you a more full and direct response if I realized how you might perceive it, and if I realized you weren’t going to post a second post immediately.  I was waiting for your second response that I assumed would be posted shortly after the first, and so I was somewhat waiting to give you a further response.

We seem to rub eachother strangely.  We have very different personality types.  You want to stay solely focused on a single idea or set of ideas, and I want to consider all possibilities.  Whenever I’ve brought up different viewpoints, I often don’t feel you respond with delight and wonder.  You’re a very focused person as if in these discussions you are in teacher mode with a pre-set class plan.  This is probably good for the symposium because you help to keep things focused, but it just ain’t my style. 

It can annoy me when I bring up some interesting idea and you say maybe this isn’t the right time (or worse you ignore it), and if my curiosity is thwarted enough I find the whole discussion boring.  If something is interesting, its always the right time.  I just want to consider all possibilities.  I don’t really care if they were on the original agenda. 

I’m sure I likewise annoy you for various reasons.  You seem to want to keep the personal out of the debates (Thinking type?) and I’m always making everything personal (Feeling type all the way!).  For me, there is no discussion without meta-discussion.  Its hard to read your emotions in a discussion, but mine are all too obvious.  You want to keep things simple and focused (Judging type?), and I want to continually make everything more complex and follow every divergent pathway (Perceiving type).  People like me make it diffiult for you to keep the discussion in line.  You seem to have a specific goal you want to accomplish and you seem to have a strong desire to stay on target.

As for characterizing this whole event as a Bruce-Julian exchange, all that I meant by that was the distracting weight of previous months that you mentioned.  The symposium wasn’t just about you two, but I felt that it constellated around the dynamic between you two if that makes sense.  In this way, I felt that the polarization of views (and psychic energy so to speak) was a major issue.  I agree that an enactive view wouldn’t presuppose one right view, but neither does it presuppose a polarized dynamic of social interaction.  How do we get beyond this polarizing tendency.  You and Julian may polarize somewhat, but definitely you and I have a polarizing effect on one another to maybe an even greater degree.

Its partly styles as I see it.  You and Julian seem to enjoy debate in a way that I don’t.  I prefer just considering possibilities, and debate is secondary to that.  I have a set of somewhat consistent interests, but I don’t particularly favor one view over any other.  Part of my problem was that I was in an integral symposium with people who value integral theory probably way more than I do.  I like integral theory as far as it goes, but its just another theory to me.  You and Julian may disagree about certain things, but you both highly value integral theory.

The main reason I have less interest in integral theory than some is because the people who like integral thoery tend to have a different focus than I do.  That was my struggle with this blog.  I went to great effort to understand enactivism, but most integralists only seem to have a vague interest in many of the subjects that excite me.  In discussions with integralists, I feel a lack of reciprocal interest… and understanding.  There is a gap and I don’t know how to bridge it. 

I’m not entirely sure what it is.  I’m sure it has a fair amount to do with personality types.  I became aware of the immense sway type has over our way of relating when I joined some type forums.  I totally meshed with other INFPs (on an INFP forum) in a way that was quite strange, and INTPs (on an INTP forum) would just rub me wrong no matter how hard I tried to connect with them.  I’ve suspected for a long time that many Integralists are NT types.  I find it much easier to talk with people on the God Pod.  Why might that be?  I started a thread there about MBTI and many who posted there said they were NFs.

This symposium was a Thinking type event.  I enjoy the debate because it challenges me with new possibilities, but the energy of it is hard for me to deal with in large doses.  I prefer more collaborative conversations where how things are being discussed is as important as what is being discussed.  At the INFP forum I belong to (globalchatter), almost every discussion involves the analysis of interpersonal dynamics.  INFPs love to make everything personal including abstract ideas.  In some ways, integralists are interested in the interpersonal, but to a much lesser degree in my experience.  The main tool that integralists use for discerning personal differences is developmental stages but that isn’t a very subtle tool when dealing with nuanced interpersonal relationships.

So, how do Thinking types and Feeling types relate well especially in an abstract discussion where the differences are magnified?  That is something I’ve been trying to figure out for years.

Thanks for listening anyhow,

Balder : Kosmonaut

3 days later

Balder said

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being frank with me.  We’ve had some misunderstandings in the past, and I haven’t found a way to get entirely past them.  You perceived me awhile back as intentionally ignoring you and looking down on you, for instance, and neither was the case, as I’ve tried to assure you, but I think it will take some time for us to develop more affinity and trust.  I am open to that – I value what you bring to these discussions, in spite of impressions to the contrary that I have apparently given you.
It is interesting to me – and useful feedback – that I come across as a teacherly thinking type in these discussions.  I think this voice comes across most strongly in my discussions with Julian, actually; because I don’t really relate to or identify with the single-track, thinking/judging, teacherly description.  This is a “voice” I have developed, as I’ve attempted to master philosophical and intellectual topics after having spent most of my writing life as a poet and short story writer (and reader).  It was actually a real change of gears for me to learn to communicate like this, and maybe it comes across as “heavy” here because it isn’t completely natural.  I don’t know.  I’ll sit with this some and see what emerges for me.  Is it possible for someone to change types in mid-life?
When I mentioned to you on the other blog that I didn’t think this was the place to discuss my dynamics with Julian, I was mostly trying to avoid focusing on the history of “Bruce and Julian,” since I thought this was a publically advertised event about a particular topic and I felt self-conscious about getting into personal issues that weren’t related to the theme of the symposium.  I do think personal dynamics are important, as are communication dynamics, types, etc.  So maybe I shouldn’t have tried to avoid the conversation at that point.  But honestly, I was feeling a little defensive too.  I had read both your and James’ characterizations of my interactions with Julian, and I picked up (rightly or wrongly) that both of you were more sympathetic to him than to me (I felt a little caricatured), so I was feeling vulnerable.  I was still willing to discuss and explore these things, but in a place that felt safer and more intimate to me.
In my experience of interacting with you, I do feel that some of the “psychic baggage” interfering with our communication comes from you – from your reactions to my voice (especially when in intellectual mode), and the stories you may have built out of it.  I think this actually goes directly to thr “enactivism” question, not only for you but for all of us.  Varela says we need hardly any excuse at all to start building worlds.  With even a little input, we start putting together a whole complexly layered, storeyed structure.  In this case, he’s talking about even minimal sensorimotor stimulation leading to world-building.  But it’s clear we do this psychologically, too – building stories, constructing worlds of meaning, out of a few verbal or gestural cues.  There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, as long as we remain open and stay in communication, instead of taking past enactments for a given reality.
Thank you for listening to me as well, and I hope we find ways to communicate more fully and richly.
Warm wishes,

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks for the reply.  I’m getting a better sense of all of this. 

I get the feeling that you present a more one-sided face when in these discussions.  Maybe, as you say, its because this is less natural to you which has interesting similarities to what Julian has said.  So, maybe both of you are using a less natural voice when in an intellectual debate.  You occasionally speak about another side of yourself, but I rarely see it in your recent blogs.  I’ll check out your older blogs sometime to see if I can get a better sense of the other aspects of your personality.

Maybe you aren’t a Thinking type, but have developed a Thinking persona.  Or maybe you have switched types… whatever that might mean. 

I know that I’ve developed a Thinking persona that I use sometimes, but even when I’m using the persona my Feeling nature shows through.  I know that my Thinking persona isn’t quite natural and it can be taxing.  As I was raised in a New Agey church, I have an inner green meme New Ager that is always trying to get out.  I’m an INFP which means that I’m good at hiding my idealism behind abstractions, but it also means that I’m in the category of being the most idealistic of idealists… I want to believe in something… damn practicality, full speed ahead!

I don’t know about James, but I wasn’t meaning to caricaturize you.  I was going out of my way to be sympathetic to Julian.  However, the reason for this is because I agree with you more than Julian and so was trying to bridge the gap between myself and Julian.  I was trying to understand him and I was trying to be careful in how I described him.  Despite our difficulties of communicating, I get the sense that we have much in common.  Part of the problem is that I see you most often when you’re relating to Julian and so I tend to only see your debating face.  Or else I see you on your post-metaphysical pod and there you seem to be acting as the professional arbiter.  In all the places I interact with you here on Gaia, you seem to rarely let your hair down and show that other side of yourself that you speak of.  As my experience of you is under unusual circumstances, I’m sure my sense of you is quite distorted.  I’d love to clarify my distortions by getting to know that other side of yourself.

I know that I have much psychic baggage.  I’m very upfront about that.  Part of our difficulty is that I get the sense that your uncomfortable with my being so forward about my psychic baggage (dumping it like a pile of garbage on the table of discussion).  I have many messy emotions and I’ve become used to them.  I’ve realized its pointless pretending they’re not there.  I’m not always direct in dealing with them, but I’ve given up on trying to hide them.

I get the sense that you also have your own psychic baggage (who doesn’t?), but that you’re less willing to show it directly.  Maybe you’d prefer to process your issues privately in meditation or whatever, or maybe you think its a moral weakness to air one’s issues openly.  I get the sense that my style of processing emotions in my interactions grates upon you or somehow seems wrong to you. 

Whatever is the case, my style is somewhat typical for an INFP and so once again it might have a type component to it.  INFPs can come off very cold sometimes, but they can also come off as emotionally reactive (going on tirades isn’t uncommon).  To give a comparison, INFJs can be much more controlled in their emotions and more interpersonally subtle.

Do you think my analysis is somewhat correct?
Or do you think I’m still projecting?

Another thing… I’d love to bring this blog discussion back to the topic of enactivism and integralism.  I was hoping that there might be someone who could help me bridge the subjects I brought up here and the subjects of the symposium.  I see how it all connects in a general way, but I’d like to understand the details better. 

I realize, Bruce, that you may not understand typology well enough to say much about it, but what do you think about archetypes and how they relate to enactivism and integralism?  I appreciate your comments about the stories we tell and the worlds we build.  Are there any examples from Varela that would expand upon that?


Daate : Cheerio

3 days later

Daate said

hi ben,

i wanted to add a bit of a reply here. i’m grateful that you brought up these interpersonal differences and difficulties, because, as an INFP, that is what automatically interests me and gives me energy. 

first off, i think your entry has tremendous value, and would especially so if more people and feeling types were to see it. i know that the women who sometimes pop on here and end up exhausted because of all the theorizing would love the experiential visual feel that you and julian brought to your posts. you speak in a clear, poetic, very human style that comes across as embodied and rich, and can feel very refreshing for a feeling type amid what can often feel like too much “headspace”. that’s how i’ve felt before anyway, and before your entry, i once tried to point out the reality of myers briggs types in reference to debate difficulties. for NT’s, typology can (often, not always) seem like an interesting idea, something to muse about, whereas to me it seems absolutely central, especially in a debate. i’ve been amazed at some of the intense, heated discussions on these blogs without any thought of typology—it seems to be missing half the point, so i’m so glad you reminded us all.

a while back mr. teacup and i had a bit of a debate (if i figure out where it is and how to hyperlink it, i will) in which, if i recall, i believe we both had the same point of view—only i was scared of rational thinkers disregarding the compassion that a situation might require, and he (correct me if i’m wrong, teacup) was scared about feeling types within the new age climate making impetuous judgments and decisions without forethought. both are harmful, but because of our typology we had specific fears that polarized our discussion. i knew we were trying to say the same damn thing and that if, faced with any number of similar situations, we would have reacted in a very similar way—because our fundamental principles are the same. but because of language and the fact that on these blogs, we can’t even hear important things like voice inflections, it looked like a fight. the fears are superficial and related to types, and are what cause a reactionary climate.
i knew that if i met teacup in person i would really like him, we would agree on most things, and that any interpersonal differences could be addressed with humor and generosity.

honestly, if i didn’t understand typology i would think many NT’s are stubborn bastards (sorry boys—i do love you), but as it is, my strength is not theorizing with the same facility they do, so i’m grateful for the challenge and the backup in areas in which my thought process is often diffuse and filled with a sense of artistic meaning and portent which might create a damn good painting, but not much else, and which these boys articulate beautifully in a way to eventually concretize the abstract. that’s kind of how i see these symposiums—efforts to create a sustainable model of some kind from which people can benefit.

that being said, the language of theorizing still makes me tired, because i talk about it in a totally different way and have a feeling you do too. i’ve met so many NT’s who say talking about emotions makes them tired, and vice versa with NF’s.

without sounding condescending, i hope, i’m glad you’re taking your own typology into account here. i think that yes, NT’s do love debate in a way that exhausts me, and they derive energy from it. i think too that NF’s tend to internalize childhood trauma in a very different way from NT’s too. even the NF’s that were totally supported and encouraged in childhood can feel a sense of sadness when what they have to offer isn’t received the way they would like. in my experience, NT’s, even ones who have been traumatized, tend to think other people might be idiots for not getting their point of view. in your response to bruce and to the tension in the symposium, i sense a bit of emotional baggage in addition to being naturally sensitive.

i think what might have been perceived as tension between julian and bruce was, in my view, really just two intelligent guys with large capacities for emotion and an interest in theory making themselves vulnerable to possibly changing. both have genuine curiosity about the other’s perspectiv, and as far as i’ve seen they’ve been generous with each other even when completely disagreeing. as for bruce being methodical, i always actually saw him as emotional, sensitive, and responsive to others’ feelings. i think what you might mistake for “teaching mode” is actually his carefully trying to articulate his ideas in a way that is accessible and understandable. maybe this is what comes across as “teaching mode?” he’s usually the first to acquiesce or apologize if he thinks he’s hurt someone’s feelings, and the open and direct way in which he’s willing to address underlying emotional issues in his post above are not the mark of someone stuck in teaching mode, or that of an NT, for that matter.
i hope it’s in some way helpful to consider that what joys you might derive from the symposium are different from some of the other bloggers. i kind of see this place as others’ turf that i come to check out, but i understand that i can’t expect it to function in a way that would be completely rejuvenating to me in particular, because it wouldn’t be what it is, then. i think there is actually less stress and more genuine wonder in these blogs than you might be perceiving—-i think that amid all the arguing and debating these are a handful of intelligent people who are deeply concerned about the world and are bringing their subjective experiences to the posts, and are all the time trying to sift through what may be cloudy because of personal experience and what may be useful because of it.

and thank you for bringing up your concerns, this is the most open and honest way i’ve seen someone do it in a while, and gave us all the opportunity to think on it in a constructive way. and thanks again for your great posts, it was one of the most accessible and personable that i’ve read, without lacking any intelligence or capacity for theorizing at all.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Daate! 

Exactly, you understand what I’m attempting to do.  I’m not seeking agreement, but a common ground for discussion that allows both the personal and impersonal to merge.  The desire for this merging is more of an NF thing (N – abstraction and F – interpersonal), and maybe its unfair of me to want to force my style onto the discussion.  Really, though, I just want to be heard.  I know that I’m sensitive, but I also know its not all projection. 

This conflict between Bruce and I started with a blog where I brought up similar ideas as this blog and he completely ignored it, but gave lengthy responses to every other person who commented.  Bruce later admitted that he ignored my comment intentionally because he didn’t want the discussion to get derailed.  He could have acknowledged my comment, and it wasn’t as if he lacked time since he gave lengthy replies to everyone else.  Is that me being sensitive or is it me expecting common courtesy?  Maybe my perception of not being heard is me being overly sensitive, and maybe my complaining lacks tact.

I know that Bruce is a nice guy.  Part of his style of niceness is what annoys me.  It somewhat reminds me of FJ style behavior.  FJ types especially if they’re Introverts can be very sensitive to complaining and will play the mediator.  To an INFP, this can feel like a withholding because the IXFJ uses Feeling as a public way of relating rather than as a personal sense of self.  Another thing that might relate is that INFJs are the most intellectual of the NFs (because Intuition is their primary function and because Thinking is they’re tertiary function).  Maybe what felt like teacher mode wasn’t precisely Thinking and maybe more Extraverted Feeling (?).

I understand the others’ turf view of the situation.  That has been part of my wondering.  Is integral just a Thinking thing and that is just the way it is.  However, if that was the case, then it wouldn’t be very integral.  I know from dealing with many NTs that INFPs have a particular way of conflicting with Thinking types (at least on line).  INFJs always fit better into a Thinking forum.  Maybe the INFP style and integralism just aren’t all that compatible, and any INFP who wishes to be a part of integralism should curtail their natural style to fit in.

I don’t know about the stress, but I do perceive the genuine wonder in these blogs.  Oddly enough, its because of Bruce that I’ve become interested in integralism on Gaia.  I like Bruce as a person, but I don’t like the strange dynamic I feel between us which preceeded any complaining on my part.  I’d love to resolve it because otherwise I’ll just avoid the integral crowd around here entirely.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

I’m aware that some may think I put too much stock into typology, but I think it has been researched thoroughly enough to show that there is something fundamentally true to it.  My understanding of typology isn’t abstract, and I don’t limit myself to a type. 

I’m very clear in my knowledge of the INFP type.  I know what fits me and I know what doesn’t.  As I’ve spent much time on an INFP forum, I understand the nuances of INFPs… how they interact with eachother, how they interact with other types.  I know what has to do with my type and I know what is just my personal idiosynchrocies.  When I speak of INFPs, I’m referencing my actual experience of hundreds of INFPs and hours of detailed analysis of the INFP type.  I know more about typology than any other subject… which is saying a lot!

Even so, typology is just a subset of my larger interest in archetypes.  I do think that at least some parts of typology touch upon a deeper archetypal level.  This is where I see the connection to enactivism (and integralism). 

The problem here is that even though this connection seems extremely obvious to me, it doesn’t apparently seem all that obvious to others.  In my websearches, I haven’t found anyone who has made a direct connection between enactivism and archetypes.  Why?  Enactivism seems more focused on the cognitive-behavioral aspects of biology, and so doesn’t seem as interested in larger contexts of meaning. 

Integralism is more interested in these larger contexts, but even there its hard to find much info about Jungian archetypes.  Why?  Wilber claims its a matter of the pre/trans fallacy, but others have argued that Jung doesn’t fall into that and certainly many later Jungians don’t.

There seems a disconnect of worldviews here.  I’ve tried to make some tentative connections on my own with this blog, but I’m working with limited info.  I was hoping others would contribute, but none of the commenters so far have shared any further possibilities about archetypes.  For instance, I know that Julian knows a fair amount about archetypes and knows as much if not more about enactivism than I at this point.  So, why hasn’t Julian followed this avenue of discussion that I’ve offered up?  I don’t mean to pick on Julian, but he was the most obvious example I could think of.

Maybe everyone was distracted by all of the discussion of typology.  I, however, consider the archetypal issue the more fundamental.  I only used typology as an example of how archetypes might relate to enactivism in the context of this symposium.  Maybe I need to start a second blog that clarifies this relationship.  I think this is important because I think its the archetypal angle that could help to bring enactivism into a larger integral viewpoint.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

There was another angle to this symposium that I hadn’t yet brought up.  I think enactivism gives a further understanding to a different view of integralism that I’ve been trying to figure out for a while now.  Integralism as its normally presented is a Theory of Everything (TOE), but this view interests me less in recent years.  Some time ago I came across the idea of a Theory for Anything (TFA). 

There are two ways a TFA could be considered. 

First, as a practical model of relating diverse information.  In this case, it doesn’t matter if the model correlates to reality but rather that its practically useful.  Even so, it has to be a very flexible model to work in all situations. 

Secondly, is more in line with what I’m trying to get at with the relationship between archetypes and enactivism… and also Wilber’s Kosmic habits.  The idea here is that there are fundamental structures in the mind that we use when categorizing or modelling any information no matter what it is.  Its not so much that the information needs to directly correlate to reality in a simple manner, but that the modelling process itself correlates to our very perception of reality.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

A mind-blowing aspect to enactivism is how fundamental are these body-mind structures we bring to our engagement to the world, and this is only looking at a small portion of what we filter reality through.  The psychological concept of projection is an understatement of immense proportions.  Even people who spend their whole life meditating and in therapy, barely are aware of all the factors that go into their sense of identity and their sense of reality.

The aspect of socially-constructed self and social roles brings and even more complex dynamic into the mix.  To what degree am I a specific type and to what degree have a learned various roles.  We engage eachother here, but we engage in a very one-sided way.  Authentic communication seems nearly impossible, and rational debate is mired in the process.

Bruce did affirm my sense that he was somewhat in teacher mode with his concern that students might read what he says here.  Julian has also said how he ends up playing the rationalist role.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sure  the same goes for everyone.  It makes me wonder what role(s) am I playing?

To complexify this further, I can see where Arnold Mindell’s ideas about the dreambody fits in.  Mindell does work as a psychologist of sorts but also does work as a group mediator.  He has some very insightful theories about group dynamics.  He brings the idea of social roles to a whole new level.  His ideas fit into enactivism as he theorizes how our experience blends with the experience of those we interact with.

Balder : Kosmonaut

4 days later

Balder said

Bruce did affirm my sense that he was somewhat in teacher mode with his concern that students might read what he says here. 

What I meant by that was just that, because students in my classes (or my employers) might be likely to visit a site like this, I am a bit careful about how much personal material I disclose.  But not too careful … that would be boring!

I think your points about social roles and group dynamics are interesting and pertinent here too.  Not only are there individual “types” at play in our exchanges here, there are group-level roles we may unconsciously adopt.  I just went in the archives of an old Integral forum and dug up an old post on these issues that I wrote several years ago. 

I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on this.  According to the materials on this that I’ve studied, a number of recurrent roles have been identified by group process therapists and facilitators, which remain pretty constant even though the “faces” change.  Here is a list of some of the group roles identified by therapists such as Yalom, Agazarian, Beck, etc. 


Task Leader
Information Seeker
Information Giver
Consensus Seeker


(these are roles, which can serve to promote or
obstruct group development, depending on their

Shy One
Recognition Seeker


Socio-Emotional Leader
Gate Keeper
Agazarian, a prominent group process theorist, talks about groups “boundarying” – establishing and dissolving boundaries as a means of self-regulation.  The above roles are understood as each contributing to this living process.  When a person filling a particular role leaves, another will very likely find themselves consciously or unconsciously filling it.  From my perspective, awareness of the power of certain roles to polarize energy or bring forth shadow takes on alchemical significance if we can become cognizant, as a group, of these things on the level of process.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

That is very very interesting, Bruce.  I don’t think I’ve heard of Yalom, Agazarian, or Beck.

This reminds me of Mindell, but I don’t know if Mindell details specific roles like this.  Mindell does say how certain roles must be filled in a group for the dynamic to work effectively, and someone taking on an unrepresented role can shift the whole group energy.  Mindell also writes about how we can play out eachother’s unconscious aspects.  For instance, a therapist listening to a patient’s dream might find themselves starting to unintentionally acting out one of the characters of the dream.

To bring this back to archetypes, have you heard of Carol S. Pearson?  She wrote some books about how archetypes play out in terms of our sense of identity and our behavior.  There was a test that she helped to develop: the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI).  She has also done work on how archetypes apply to organizations which would relate to group dynamics.  I haven’t studied her work carefully yet, but I have been meaning to. 

I’m still trying to figure out how this fits into an enactivist paradigm.  Do you know if any of the enactivist crowd (Varela, Maturana, Rosch, Lakoff, etc) has theorized about social roles and group dynamics?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

I just wanted to add some side commentary.  I was at first reticent upon seeing Bruce’s comment because I worried that it might be a continuation of the conflict between us, but I was glad that it wasn’t.  Instead, he offers me intriguing info, and I was immediately excited.  Oh boy, new ideas, new names!  I’m easily frustrated, but I’m also easily excited when it comes to certain things.  Offering me another viewpoint is like throwing a dog a bone.  I’m happy and contented.  If I had the time, I could sit here for the rest of the day gnawing on the ideas that Bruce posted.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

5 days later

starlight said

Ben, this was a totally different perspective, with new ideas to consider…i found myself as i was reading trying to type me…LOL…no could do…maybe i am just to damn complex to be confined, but i noticed that you touched on this…

i liked especially the part about the plants; this gave a down to earth example of how plants, we, and everything else interacts whether we are aware of it or not, and of course, as you stated, most of it we are definitely not aware of…but it is cool, like you, while taking my walks, to contemplate this in a scientific way…i have always felt it strongly….and knew it intellectually, but your presentation brought it together even more…

i found myself laughing at all the references to lsd and chemicals…and also thankful that today any opening up of the mind that is done, is not done with any assistance from anything other than what is naturally ingested through what i eat…LOL…but then again, i imagine that we take them in even through our breathing…

anyways, you certainly took a diferent view…thnx for sharing it with us…good job! 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

Howdy Starlight,

Some people fit more closely to a particular type than others.  I just see types as tendencies, but INFP does fit my tendencies pretty closely.  The other aspect that can confuse matters is that type isn’t static but allows for development into our non-preferences.  Still, there are particular ways that types will tend to develop.  Of course, real life makes everything more complex than any theory.

I liked the part about the plants too.  The example I mentioned about plants communicating through chemicals came from a book I read that utterly fascinated me, but I couldn’t remember which book it was.  Its somewhere at home.  I’ll find it eventually.

The reference to lsd wasn’t necessary, but I thought it was an easy example to use.  I haven’t used psychedelics in many years.  I do use plenty of other substances to alter my consciousness though.  I particularly like this one drug that is called caffeine.  Its good stuff!

starlight : StarLight Dancing

5 days later

starlight said

lol…you are funny…

what do you think constitutes our different experiences with say caffeine?  i mean i know a lot of people that can drink coffee all day long, and then go straight to bed…then there’s me…if i drink it past a certain time of day, or intake to much, b/c i have such a sensitivity to it, i’ll be up all night…and there are times, i have noticed that it really makes me nutty if i take in to much…do you think this has to do with our biological evolution and with enactivism indirectly?  i never did lsd, however, i knew lots who did, and some would have good trips, and then some would have bad trips…another thing that is interesting, at least to me, that if our evolution does, and i am convinced it does, have anything to do with it, the fact that my brain and body act differently to alcohol and drugs then ordinary people, would speak to that evolution…

i have a bit of Cherokee in me, and it is a known fact that early Americans traded alcohol to Native Americans for their goods…and Indians were known for their addiction to alcohol…and their tendency to alcoholism…i would think that to be relevant here…wouldn’t you?  just some thoughts…*

Daate : Cheerio

5 days later

Daate said

hey all,

ben i’m glad you feel “back in the game.” yeah, i find the archetype ideas intriguing too….and will have to read up on carol pearson.

Balder : Kosmonaut

5 days later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

The individuals I mentioned in my last post (Yalom, Agazarian, and Beck) are all therapists, and they have written about these “roles” in the context of group therapy.  I am not aware of whether or not Varela or Maturana have explored social roles or group dynamics in any detail, but I believe Lakoff and Johnson have used their cognitive linguistic model to explain social patterns and dynamics (see Metaphors We Live By and Moral Politics). 

A central theme in Lakoff and Johnson’s work, as I expect you know, is that a great deal of our thought is metaphoric, much of which is rooted in metaphors provided uniquely by our form of embodiment, so I think their work is directly relevant to – and, in some ways, an extension of or complement to – Varela’s model of enactive cognition.

I have not thought through some of these questions in relation to typology, but intuitively, it seems that these approaches can be mutually informing – that typologies might be rooted in embodiment and embodied metaphors, as emergent patterns of cognition influenced by particular forms of embodied experience and the metaphors they provide; but once established, they are likely also contributors to the co-enactment of our individual and social meaning spaces.  What do you think?

Best wishes,


starlight : StarLight Dancing

5 days later

starlight said

bruce, i think it is also amazing to look at these metaphoric experiences through a culteral context too…it is systems theory…everything continuously has affected everything else…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

6 days later

Marmalade said


I don’t know what the cause of caffeine differences, but I could imagine there might be some evolutionary aspects.  Supposedly, people from cultures where agriculture was developed later tend to have wheat allergies and inability to easily digest milk.  But caffeine is a bit different than wheat and milk.

I’m of European stock, and I’m not sensitive to caffeine at all.  I can drink coffee and fall right to sleep.  My mom also isn’t sensitive to caffeine and she has German heritage. 

As for lsd, I never had any bad trips.  In fact, I had many nice trips, and I had nice trips with other substances too.  I took mushrooms once and went for a walk in nature.  I viscerally felt the whole world breathing with me in a single breath, no separation between internal and external, the world animistically alive.  Now, that is embodied perception.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

6 days later

starlight said

rotflmao…WOW…i have had similiar experiences, but most of mine surprisingly enough, given my history of chemical substance abuse, were without any outside stimulants…

seems that those mind-experiences are strongest, in my experience, because they are only limited by mind, and not chemicals…maybe the chemicals did break the initial barrier…but it is the mind that actually has no limits…i don’t have a clue if what i just said makes any sense to anyone but me…LOL

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said


If you find anything interesting about Pearson, please share it.  I’ll look at her theory again and see if any of it fits in with this symposium.


On Wikipedia, Lakoff and Johnson aren’t listed as enactivism philsophers, but they (along with the enactivists) are listed under embodied philosophy.  I’ve been somewhat aware of their ideas as I read Metaphors We Live By years ago (during a phase when I was interested in NLP).  The reason I brought them up in my above blog was because I owned one of their books and they kept coming up in my websearches for enactivism.

“intuitively, it seems that these approaches can be mutually informing – that typologies might be rooted in embodiment and embodied metaphors, as emergent patterns of cognition influenced by particular forms of embodied experience and the metaphors they provide; but once established, they are likely also contributors to the co-enactment of our individual and social meaning spaces.”

As typology seems to be cognitive-perceptual structures rooted in the body (ie genetics and brain structure), it made sense to me that there probably was a fairly direct link to enactivism which considers another type of cognitive-perceptual structure rooted in the body.  The difficulty in following this line of thought is that most typologists haven’t theorized in terms of embodiment, and embodied philosophers apparently haven’t theorized about types.

Jung was aware of a possible connection between typology and physiology, but he never pursued this.   

“The Significance of Constitution and Heredity on Psychology” (1929):
“I personally have the impression that some of Kretschmer’s main types are not so far removed from certain of the basic psychological types I have enumerated. It is conceivable that at these points a bridge might be established between the physiological constitution and the psychological attitude. That this has not been done already may be due to the fact that the physiological findings are still very recent while, on the other hand investigation from the psychological side is very much more difficult and therefore less easy to understand.” (Coll. Wks, 8, p. 108)

Tyra and James Arraj have explored this area.  They’ve written some books and have a nice website that goes into great detail.

Another MBTI theoretician is Jonathan P. Niednagel.  He developed the system called Brain Types.  He theorizes that type correlates to not only body type but also behavior and physical ability.

Socionics is the Russian version of MBTI, but it doesn’t directly correlate to MBTI even though it often uses the same letter code.  Socionics is a set of separate theories which includes what is called Visual Identification (VI).  VI is a theory that says that type can be observed by physiological appearance and behavior, but I don’t know if its similar to Niednagel’s Brain types.

I couldn’t begin to guess how such theories might correlate with enactivist notions of embodiment and the embodied metaphors of Lakoff and Johnson, but it would seem to fit into the general category of embodied philosophy.  Of course, the above theories are probably more hypothetical because I’m sure the scientific evidence is limited.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said

“seems that those mind-experiences are strongest, in my experience, because they are only limited by mind, and not chemicals…maybe the chemicals did break the initial barrier…but it is the mind that actually has no limits…i don’t have a clue if what i just said makes any sense to anyone but me…LOL”

I think I get what you’re saying.  In this context, I was considering how mind and chemicals interrelate. 

In my blog, I gave an explanation: “One possibility is that the brain structures used to categorize our experience are altered or even suppressed.”  I just was thinking of something opposite to this.  Instead of the cognitive-perceptual structures being altered or suppressed, maybe they’re more fully engaged and magnified.  As DMT already resides in the brain, there are already specific functions for DMT.  The increase of DMT wouldn’t change the brains functioning but simply increase the normal functioning of DMT.

However, this theory wouldn’t apply for other psychedelics which aren’t naturally produced by our own biology.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

6 days later

starlight said

ben…that is an excellent point…i was aware of that chemical that is similiar to heroin already being present in the brain, as it has been studied in relation to addiction for sometime now,  but i did not connect it till just now reading your post…so, the actual chemical in lsd is also present in the brain already…right?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

6 days later

Marmalade said

Yeah, Starlight, heroin would relate to endorphins.  They are named after morphine (endorphin: indwelling morphine).  I suppose a similar thing is true for other psychoactive drugs.  They can effect the brain so powerfully because there already are similarly structured chemical compounds in the brain.  What is interesting is that there is so much crossover between chemicals in our brain and chemicals in plants.

andrew : ~SmAsHInG dUaLiTy~

6 days later

andrew said

yes, i’ve had that trip too ben; in fact, the last time i did mushrooms i was taken on a guided tour of unconscious physiological processes at the nano level which were shown to me to be sentient and intelligent……hmmm…….certainly no credibility here…lol

here is a link to the paranormal and as much as i admire david hawkins as a teacher i do think that when he claims that kinesiology is the way to discover truth and falsehood; well, that claim needs to be verified or falsified……my own feeling on that issue is if kinesiology is the way the universe has decided to enlighten us then we are in serious trouble, in my opinion……..
i liked your blog because it seemed to me to offer tons of info. on the complexities of horizontal type phenomenon. i find too much of the integral discussions overly concerned with altitude and coincidentally those people in those discussions always seem to imply that they are of high altitude……hmmm……
by the way, i made a comment on a recent blog about how i perceived a discussion between bruce and adam a while back and my perception was based on a general orientation, to borrow a method from wilber. was i correct? or are general orientations not all that useful in a a specified culture, especially in the sciences. now i didn’t mean to label adam or bruce, but at the time the labels did seem appropriate, to a point….did i just make a point?lol

Marmalade : Gaia Child

8 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Andrew,

So much for credibility.  Its overrated anyways.

I’ve looked into one of David Hawkin’s books about kinesiology.  I was left unconvinced.  If it were true though, it would be easy to test scientifically.

I’m more interested in the horizontal than the vertical.  Even human social development isn’t necessarily vertical.  There isn’t any particular reason to assume there is a telos to development nor that a later stage is hierarchically better than previous stages.  Yes, there is an order to development, but our value judgments of those stages can’t be scientifically proven.  They’re just beliefs.  To me, the horizontal is the more fundamental category and so it is the most relevant to our everyday experience.  The vertical is interesting but more speculative.

Balder : Kosmonaut

9 days later

Balder said

I would agree the higher end of the vertical spectrum is more speculative, but I think the “lower range” (pre-operational, concrete operational, formal operational) is well researched and well substantiated.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

11 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Balder, I hear what you’re saying.  I didn’t mean that the developmental spectrum isn’t substantiated by objective observations.  I was pointing out the subjective side of things, all of that which we project onto development: hopes and expectations, value judgments and hierarchies of experience. 

Most people turn to development schemas with some ideal or agenda in mind.  We want those models to explain more than they’re capable of.  We want them to tell us a grand narrative.  But all they can fundamentally tell us is that this comes after this, a set of behaviors that seemed to follow a predictable pattern.  The correlation is substantiated, but the causal speculations aren’t as strongly substantiated.  But most humans aren’t contented to stop at mere observation.  I know that I’m not.  🙂

I don’t see the vertical and horizontal as that clearly differentiated.  I suspect that much of what is attributed to the vertical is really just a subset of the horizontal.  Change can occur on the horizontal.  Change only becomes a vertical phenomenon when we attribute a causal schema to it, give it a story so to speak.  Most change in life is just change without a specific direction or purpose.  And some change that seems to have a direction probably could also be understood in non-hierarchical terms.

All of this isn’t to deny the vertical as a category, but I’m just a bit wary of all the projections that I see mixed into various explanations of it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Telos to the universe or at least many telai.  We do experience life as a one way trip and so we seem designd to perceive the world according to explanatory narratives.  Are we designed that way because there actually is a Telos?  Or are we designed that way because its just an accident of evolution that turned out to have some survival value for the species?

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

19 days later

1Vector3 said

Ben, this comment isn’t necessarily about your particular contribution to the Symposium; it is a comment about the entire Symposium, so I am just adding it here at the latest official point of the whole thing.

I still haven’t read more than half of the whole, and I still owe a lot of responses, and sooner or later, I shall finish reading, and do them…..

But this little bugger would not be denied this morning, it shoved itself into my mind, into my fingers, onto my blog, very rudely cutting ahead of the rest of the items in the line of Pending and Underway Blog Entries.

It is very long so I am just going to put a link here. It is on the subject of “What is Reality?” and how I believe differing answers to that question interfered with this Symposium in some ways both emotionally and communicatively/cognitively.

I prefer responses to it there rather than here, pretty please.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

19 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks, OM!  I’m really glad you brought this up.

Notes For Enactivism And Related Subjects

Notes For Enactivism And Related Subjects

Posted on Aug 15th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

COTENTION AND BODILY AWARENESS ‘FROM WITHIN’: Concepts of Embodiment of Trigant Burrow and Elizabeth Behnke, by Lloyd Gilden


Nonduality and Phenomenology

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (links)

Intimate Distances – Fragments for a Phenomenology of Organ Transplantation
  III: Frame, Paradox

As I peer inside me (but which me?) at the other’s liver, the medical gesture explodes into a hall of mirrors. These are the points where the transplantation situation can be carried to the sentimental extremes of either having being touched by ‘a gift’ (from somewhere, from ‘life’ or ‘god’), or else the simplicity of the doctors who remain set at the level of their technical prowess. In between lies the lived phenomenon, that must be drawn out otherwise, in other parameters.
Transplantation creates and happens in a mixed or hybrid space. There are several subjects that are decentred by exchanging body parts; or decentred as the ‘team’ that makes the technical gesture, or even further, as the distributed network of the National Graft Centre who that fateful day decided it was my turn. At the same time this is an embodied space, where my body (and his/her now dead) are placemarkers, experiencing the bodily indicators of pain and expectation. As if the centre of gravity of the process oscillates between an intimate inside and a dispersed outside of donor, receiver and the ‘team’.
We can start with the embodied sentience of the organism, the ‘natural’ basis for the study of lived events. Sentience, in this sense, has a double value or valence: natural and phenomenal. Natural because sentience stands for the organism and its structural coupling with the environment, manifest in a detailed and empirical sense. It thus includes, without remainder, the biological details of the constitution and explanation of function, an inescapable narrative. Phenomenal, because sentience has as its flip side the immanence of the world of experience and experiencing; it has an inescapably lived dimension that the word organism connotes already. Moreover, that the organism is a sentient and cognitive agent is possible only because we are already conscious, and have an intrinsic intuition of life and its manifestations. It is in this sense that ‘life can only be known by life’ (Jonas, 1966, p. 91). This intertwining can be grounded on the very origin of life and its world of meaning by the self-producing nature of the living. Given that the scientific tradition has construed the natural as the objective, and thus has made it impossible to see the seamless unity between the natural and the phenomenal by making sure they are kept apart, no ‘bridging’ or ‘putting together’ would do the work. The only way is to mobilize here a re-examination of the very basis of modern science. But this gets, all of a sudden, too ambitious.
Exploring the phenomenal side of the organism requires a gesture, a procedure, a phenomenological method, contra the current prejudice that we are all experts on our own experience. Little can be said about this lived dimension without the work that it requires for its deployment. (In a basic sense, this is also close to the recent interest in ‘first-person’ methods in cognitive science.) And therein resides its paradoxical constitution: our nature is such that this gesture needs cultivation and is not spontaneously forthcoming. This is why it is appropriate to reserve the name of feeling of existence (sentiment d’existence, a term I borrow from Maine de Biran) as the core phenomenon here, the true flip side of sentience.
The feeling of existence, in itself, can be characterized as having a double valence too. This is expressed as a tension between two simultaneous dimensions: embodied and decentred. Embodied: on the one hand examining experience always takes us a step closer to what seems more intimate, more pertinent, or more existentially close. There is here a link between the felt quality or the possible depth of experience, and the fact that in order to manifest such depth it must be addressed with a method in a sustained exploration. It is this methodological gesture which gives the impression of turning ‘inwards’ or ‘excavating’. What it does, instead, is to bring to the fore the organism’s embodiment, the inseparable doublet quality of the body as lived and as functional (natural/phenomenal; Leib/Körper). In other words, it is this double aspect that is the source of depth (the roots of embodiment go through the entire body and extend out into the large environment), as well as its intimacy (we are situated thanks to the feeling-tone and affect that places us where we are and of which the body is the place marker). Decentred: on the other hand, experience is also and at the same time permeated with alterity, with a transcendental side, that is, always and already decentred in relation to the individuality of the organism. This defies the habitual move to see mind and consciousness as inside the head/brain, instead of inseparably enfolded with the experience of others, as if the experience of a liver transplant was a private matter. This inescapable intersubjectivity (the ‘team’) of mental life shapes us through childhood and social life, and in the transplantation experience takes a tangible form as well. But it is also true in the organism’s very embodiment, appearing as the depth of space, of the intrinsically extensible nature of its sentience, especially in exploring the lived body.
These parallel themes serve as the hidden scaffolding for the analysis here. First, the lived body as focus: the intrusion, the alien as flesh, and the always already mobile subject of enunciation and hence the mobility of the lived body’s identity. Second, the networks of dissemination playing in unison: the social network of the gift, and the imaginary circles of the images that give this inside a metaphorical concreteness.

Ken Wilber 891, William Irwin Thompson 4
jonny bardo

Anyways, about four years ago I was in a used bookstore in Nevada City when I picked up a copy of Thompson’s Coming Into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness and, as I was prone to do at the time, immediately went to the index and looked for “Wilber, Ken,” to see what this Other author had to say about Old Chrome Dome. Thompson mentions Wilber in his first chapter, “Our Contemporary Predicament,” contrasting him unfavorably with Jean Gebser:

[Gebser’s] high cultural European approach to the evolution of consciousness makes it difficult for Americans to appreciate his work. We have so replaced culture with psychology, psychotherapy, and simplistic workshops on how to fix the depressive flats of our lives that we prefer the compulsive mappings and textbook categorizations of Ken Wilber to the poetic insights of Jean Gebser. Wilber seeks to control the universe through mapping, and the dominant masculinist purpose of his abstract system is to shift power from the described to the describer. As an autodidact from the Midwest, Wilber wants to promote himself as “the Einstein of the consciousness movement” and so he is announcing a trilogy of thousand-page tomes that will explain everything once and for all. This form of scholarship is really a mode of psychic inflation and self-magnification; it is a grand pyramid of systems of abstract thought, piled on other systems of abstract thought, with Wilber’s kept for the top. Never does one come upon a feeling for the concrete, a new look at an individual poem, a painting, or a work of architecture. Gebser, in contrast to Wilber, is a genuine article, a grand European thinker with a grand vision, but one who comes upon his general insights through a loving attention for particulars: through an understanding of the role of adjectives in the poetry of Rilke, the resurgence of a prehistoric matriarchy in the surrealistic line drawings of Garcia Lorca, the meaning of an ancient Chinese mask that has no mouth, or the social significance of the lack of perspective in the paintings of Picasso. It was a Sisyphean labor to get my San Francisco students to read Gebser, for they all preferred the undergraduate textbook generalizations of Wilber, but characteristically the members of my New York Lindisfarne Symposium loved Gebser’s masterwork and felt that his Ever-Present Origin was the kind of book that changed one’s life. Precisely because Gebser’s rich high European culture takes for granted not just a knowledge of poetry and painting but an instant recall of famous poems and canvases, New Yorkers, who live in a museum-rich culture, can recall the pictures and understand the argument. The “New Edge” Californians think that  a color-degraded image of a Monet on CD-ROM or the World Wide Web is better than the real thing.

Upon reading  this I thought, MEAN GREEN MEME ALERT! What arrogance, what gall to criticize the Master–simply perposterous! Now my view had changed: while I think Thompson may be a bit too quick to write Wilber off, I think he makes a very important and cutting observation.

William Irwin Thompson on Ken Wilber and Jean Gebser

An excerpt from Twilight of the Clockwork God: Conversations on Science & Spirituality (1999) which some might find interesting:

JE: In your book Coming Into Being you compare the work of Jean Gebser with Ken Wilber. Can you discuss the differences that you see in the approaches of both of these men to the evolution of consciousness?

WIT: Oh, it’s almost classic cultured European versus Midwestern American hick. You know, I think people like Terence McKenna and Ken just grew up in Eastern Colorado and Nebraska in such culturally deprived areas that they get captured by a kind of abstract construction of what they imagine the big European thinker is, or the psychedelic hero in the case of McKenna. And Wilber, as I say in Coming Into Being, is just very abstract but Gebser is an artist. He has an incredible insight, for example, into the role of adjectives in Rilke, and what it means when you use language in a particular way to create an imaginative landscape that’s more processive and less prospective of composed object nailed down into perspectival space. So there’s an amazing senstivity to art and poetry and painting and the richness of European culture. But when I was teaching temporarily at the California Institute of Integral Studies, all the students didn’t like Gebser because they can’t remember a painting of Cezanne; they don’t read Rilke. They’re just into drugs and taking Extasy and going to Raves, and looking for some kind of psychotherapy technique. And so Wilber is their hero because he just gives them all these maps and charts, this Michelin guide. He’s a control freak. There’s no sense of humor, there’s no sense of art, it’s all just sterile and masculine in a very dry and abstract way.

I didn’t want to be an egomaniac and say, well, my culture history is better than Wilber’s. I didn’t want to go into that. So I went out of my way to use Ken Wilber’s Up From Eden as a textsbook, and had everybody read it in my Lindisfarne symposium at the cathedral. But when I did that, and went out of my way to give equal time and to really be open to Wilber, and read the book, and underlined it, I just thought, God, the difference between this and The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light–they cover exactly the same turf–is the difference between a textbook and a work of art!

And then I went back because I wanted to be fair, because I knew Treya Wilber and was corresponding with her when she was going through her crisis. She was also a friend of my wife’s, and I had cancer, and so Treya and I were talking a lot about cancer. I’ve never met Ken face to face, but I knew Treya before she married Ken, and I wanted to go out of my way to be fair to Ken. So I got the new book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, and I thought, God, this is ridiculous! Three-thousand pages that are going to explain everything. You know, this kind of German nineteenth century scholarship, that’s over. I don’t have the time to read 3000 pages! Then when he kept using this little slogan that his literary agent, John White, put on all his books: “the Einstein of the consciousness movement,” I was revolted by the vulgarity of it. And then when he went beyond that to go and put his picture on the front of the book and say, “A Brief History of Everything!” Ken Wilber explains the entire universe to you, everything you wanted to know about everything. And I thought, this is just inflation; this is an ego that’s just suffering from a hernia.

The interviewer, John David Ebert, comments in the end-notes:

It occurs to me that Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson are modern incarnations of an archetypal dichotomy of intellectual temperament. Aristotle and Plato are perhaps the earliest manifestation in Western culture, but it has continued right down the line in such pairs as Newton and Leibniz, Kant and Goethe, Hegel and Schopenhauer. The Wilber type is the Systematist for whom the world is capable of reduction to a single clear architecture. There is one set of truths, eternal and unchanging, which the Systematist, whether he is Kant or Hegel, Newton or Aristotle, believes he has been uniquely privileged to discover. Everything is assigned to its niche, like the saints and apostles in a Gothic cathedral, and one system contains all the necessary answers for any question that should arise.

For Wilber, consequently, there is only one theory that is articulated over and over again in each of his books, all of which repeat the same schemas and diagrams endlessly. His work can be neatly divided in two halves, for Sex, Ecology, Spirituality marks the birth of his new Final Theory, in the light of which his earlier works are to be taken as precursors. Everything since that book contains a carbon copy of the same four-fold diagram of quadrants, as though consciousness can be mapped as neatly as the trajectory of a parabola on a Cartesian grid.

For the Thompson-Schopenhauer-Goethe-Leibniz-Plato type, the world is in flux and its truths are changing along with it. The ideas of these thinkers are never finished, always subject to revision, and constantly undergoing transformation as new truths are tested, or new theories acquired. The world is a state of perpetual Becoming and no system or body of knowledge can ever hope to be complete, capturing all that there is to know at last. No scholar has ever succeeded, for example, in capturing the fine nuances of Plato’s ideas as they evolve through the course of his dialogues. Nothing but actually reading them through chronologically can replicate the experience of watching his thought ripen to its full maturity. Plato, like Nietzsche, was not afraid of contradicting himself, for the two were alike in their manner of constantly trying out new ideas on themselves to see what the resulting points of view would look like.

Something of this dichotomy is embodied, also, by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. For the former, working in the medium of stone meant the production of complete masterpieces. Michelangelo almost always finished what he started–until later years, that is–and consequently we possess only a handful of unfinished works. The Sistine Chapel constitutes a veritable System of the Christian cosmos, complete in every respect from Genesis to Apocalypse. For Leonardo, on the other hand, the world was ever changing and so were his views. Rarely did he finish what he began. Each painting is a sort of test of an entirely provisional theory. His notebooks are unsystematic and no one has ever really managed to capture their full complexity in a synopsis.

Thompson, likewise, must be read in his entirety, every book, in order to grasp the substance of his vision, which is always changing. He is unsystematic, but always innovative, incorporating fresh insights with each new volume. Every book is a unique experience. For him, consequently, Wilber personifies that which Thompson most dreads: the Final Theory Engraved in Stone.

Some brief comments of my own to follow. First, those who know me probably can see why I’ve been more drawn to Thompson of late–especially from how Ebert characterizes it in the last sentence, for I too have a “dread” Of the Final Theory Engraved in Stone Razz

But it should be mentioned that while I generally agree with Thompson and Ebert, I think Wilber does at least give lip-service to the kind of dynamic approach that Thompson advocates and embodies. Wilber says that his theories are changing and open to revision, although what he actually does is a bit different. He seems to be the classic example of giving lip-service, but then not (totally) following through.

It is interesting to note how with his more recent “post-metaphysical approach,” Wilber is moving towards a more dynamic-processual approach, yet still through systematizing. There is a sense that he believes that he is discovering something new, when it may be that he is merely coming around to where people like Thompson have been for some time, yet through his own systematic approach. Actually, it isn’t unlike how the new physicists “re-discovered” spirituality, yet only really begin to approach what mystics have been exploring for millenia. The problem being, as Wilber himself says, that they approach the mystical through a materialistic lens, and in so doing “materialize” (reduce/flatland) it, ego-ize it, co-opting it into their own language.

 Integral Ideology

Christian de Quincey, Radical Nature

Excerpt C: Intersubjectivity and Interovjectivity in the Holonic Kosmos
or without highlighting

Quadrants as categories of identify and relationship:   http://www.integralworld.net/edwards23.html  

Integralism and Intersubjectivity

embodied perception, consensual reality, interbeing, intersubjectivity, Sheldrake’s morphic fields, Kosmos, mazeway, holons,
post-/structuralism, postmodernism, ethnomethodology, sociology of knowledge cartesian anxiety, reduction, emergence, language, movement, interaction, meaning vs information, closure
Weber’s Rationalization and Disenchantment of the World  

“morphic field” group: Ilya Prigogine, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, Erich Jantsch  

Willian Irwin Thompson, narrative imagination, marginality, innovation, paradigm shifts, Thomas Kuhn
Lakoff & Johnson
Levi-Strauss, Animism, Totemism, Folk Taxonomies  


Boundary types are related to many other categories (maybe including ascender/descender types, transcendence/immanence, abstract/concrete) Dreaming, nightmares, anxiety  

Ernest Hartmann’s Boundaries in the Mind (online book) http://www.questia.com/library/book/boundaries-in-the-mind-a-new-psychology-of-personality-by-ernest-hartmann.jsp?CRID=boundaries-in-the-mind-a-new-psychology-of-personality-by-ernest-hartmann&OFFID=se2qbp&KEY=%22Ernest%20Hartmann%22%20%22Boundaries%20in%20the%20MInd”  

Ernest Hartmann’s Dreams and Nightmares (online book)

p. 228-229:
  “Although having thin or thick boundaries appears in most ways to be a personality “trait” — a long-term characteristic — it is worth noting that we are not stuck in the same boundary state all the time.  We all have dreams, though some of us have more than others, and we function in a “thinner boundary” way at that time.  Similarly, daydreaming and the other states to the right in our coninuum can be considered to be somewhat thinner boundary states than ordinary waking.  Biological and chemical factors can play a role in shifting our boundaries as well.  Some people find that their boundaries are quite thin when they are tired, and then they find that their boundaries have thickened again the next morning after a good night’s sleep.  Those who have taken psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, report that under the drug’s influence they have thinner boudnaries in a number of senses.  On the other hand, taking stimulants such as amphetamines, or for some people, antidepressants, definitely produces a thickening of boundaries.  In the most extreme case, people given large doses of amphetamines first become intensely focused; they are the opposite of distractable, keeping their thoughts entire on one line of thought.  Eventually, with more amphetamine, they insist on imposing their one line of thought even in a situation where others cannot see it.  They become suspicious and eventually frankly paranoid, insisting against all evidence that a certain pattern of thought or a certain idea is absolutely true. They are stuck in a rigid one-dimensional line of thinking, which is characteristic of extremely thick boundaries.”

Review of Hansen’s book

Part 3

The issue of boundaries is central to understanding the trickster. Hansen targets the psychological research of Earnest Hartmann, a psychiatrist at the Tufts University School of Medicine and author of Boundaries in the Mind (1991), to illustrate the concept of boundaries as a useful framework for understanding personality and its relationship to psychic phenomena.
Throughout extensive studies with sleep disorders, Hartmann noticed that some people were more prone to freely reveal their innermost secrets and behave fluidly while others appeared more organized and revealed rigid psychological defense mechanisms. This discovery led Hartmann to create �thick� and �thin� boundary personality types. Thick-boundary people tend to fixate on definitive goals and anchor themselves to the sensory world. Conversely, thin-boundary people act with apparent detachment. Corporate managers are likely to have thick boundaries, and artists, writers and musicians tend to have thinner ones. Thin-boundary types also tested significantly higher for clairvoyance; thus supporting connections between thin boundaries and the paranormal.
Hansen finds that the thin-boundary personality types have much in common with those characteristics found in the Greek trickster, Hermes, who is also a god of boundaries. Some of these shared attributes are instability, unpredictability, rebelliousness, unreliability, and spontaneity. However, personality characteristics of individuals only partly explain trickster manifestations. The following theories from anthropology expand upon the significance of boundaries.


Due to the elusive nature of psi phenomenon, Hansen uses an abstract concept known as Reflexivity to clarify it. Reflexivity is �the turning of some function or process back upon itself, as if using awareness to learn about awareness or using logic to study logic.�
A popular example is Epimenides’ paradox: “This statement is false.” If it is true, then it’s false, and vice versa. The distinction between the subject and object is blurred just as it is in the liminal and paranormal circumstances explored earlier.
Hansen remarks that reflexivity can point to paranormal experiences practically because we have an opportunity in some cases to observe the results of its application. When reflexivity is evident, some aspect of the paranormal frequently appears in the vicinity.
Meditation, for example, often facilitates psychic experiences. It is reflexive in many cases because in its practice consciousness is used to observe consciousness.
Using science to study science is another reflexive process. In the practice of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), sociologists become participant-observers in scientific research. SSK practitioners have demonstrated the subjective and ambiguous aspects of science, much to the chagrin of many scientists. Some of the most eminent
SSK researchers have also been involved with parapsychology.
Reflexivity courts disruption, another trickster quality. It is antithetical to order, structure, boundaries, classification, foundations and limits. It is a source of paradox and ambiguity with problems generally avoided by scholars. First, it poses problems in scientific experiments, particularly when replicating them while encountering the Rosenthal-Pygmalion Effect ~ experimenter expectancies that thwart objective outcomes.

Second, it exposes limits to logic, objectivity, knowledge, communication, representation and so on.
Third, it inverts social status of scientists who dare to chance their reputations for applying science reflexively, using science to study science. Finally, but not conclusively, it exposes foundational assumptions, particularly religious issues, which are usually veiled from conscious awareness.
The life of Martin Gardner is an instructive example of the trickster personified. Hansen spotlights his work in the fields of mathematics, magic, literary criticism, the paranormal, religion and paradox which, according to Hansen, �exemplifies the cross-pollination and hybridization that accompanies reflexivity.� Gardener often overlaps academic boundaries, freely mixing the above areas of study while simultaneously extolling the scientific method except when he attacks the merits of religion and the paranormal.

Though an aggressive debunker of psi, he writes lucidly of its significance. Through Gardener, Hansen shows how individuals can be interstitial or anti-structural in character and living marginally on the fringe of conventional civilization.

In effect, Hansen writes, �Manifestations of reflexivity generate ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty; they provoke feelings of unease, worry, and even paranoia. The trickster does to. The issue of limits is fundamental to the trickster, and reflexivity reveals limits.�
Literary Criticism
Since the trickster lies at the heart of meaning, it even touches the soul of literary criticism. Hansen points out that the term hermeneutics (the study of interpretation) is derived from the name Hermes, the trickster of the Greeks: �Meaning is the explicit concern of literary criticism, an innately reflexive discipline � it uses language to study language.� Since literary critics have long pondered the limitations of language, they have found critical insights about the trickster.
Trickster manifestations are more commonly evident in the smaller part of literary criticism involving structuralism and its intellectual descendants � deconstructionism and post-structuralism.
Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist and forebear in the structuralism camp showed language to have a betwixt and between quality where thought and sound were separated by a nether region and linguistics works �where the elements of sound and thought combine.� Likewise, semiotics is the study of signs and symbols � where binary opposites, the signifier and the signified, produce meaning. Both structuralism and semiotics show the relationships between literary ideas and social structure. It is a system of communication used to study patterns in order to clarify and organize.
In psi experiments, meaning is ascribed to a relationship between a random process in the outer world and a mental image, impression, or intent inside a person. The person perceives a relationship, but there is no physical cause for it. Psi is inferred when meaning is found.
The successor of structuralism, namely deconstructionism, attests that the relationships between objects and the perception of them are ambiguous and, consequently, the observer often implies meaning inconsistent with that of other observers.

Deconstructionism, founded by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, attempts to confront the issue of representation. But it is also reflexive and leads to paradox. For if it is supposed that no objective meaning can be found in any text, then that applies to deconstructionism as well.
Hansen laments that the subtle detachment by deconstructionism not only confuses the meaning of language, it further deludes our awareness regarding the trickster�s
Hansen often refers to the �betwixt and between� as the realm of the trickster.
Accordingly, the imagination is an integral part of the trickster�s modus operandi.
Whereas, psi interacts with the mind and the objective world with binary oppositions such as internal-external, subjective-objective, and fantasy-reality, Hansen maintains that its existence blends fact and fiction through imagination.
From primate behavior to religion to fiction, Hansen observes that the imagination is often associated with paranormal experiences in these areas. Remarkably, the imagination is more developed in anti-structural conditions and persons. Sociologist John Macionis (1989) attests that �persons in socially marginal positions have an above average ability to take a sociological perspective and understand patterns that are not immediately observable� particularly when the established patterns of society begin to shake and crumble.� Both marginality and periods of transition are hallmarks of the paranormal, which in this case, underscore anti-structural and liminal aspects of the imagination.
Additionally, Hansen cites psychologist James Hillman that primitive imagery-based perception thrives today in such areas as Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Rosicrucianism, and Alchemy. This points to significant commonalities that tie imagination to tricksterism: lowered social status, pervasiveness of fantasy in marginal groups, low imagery ability among the professional elite, and the prevalence of sociological imagination during societal transitions.
Hansen claims that a comparative observation of the nuances of the imagination helps to understand psychic phenomenon. �There are deep evolutionary connections among mental representation, imagination, awareness, simulation, pretending, and deceit� Thus the imagined realm is a liminal area, and it is governed by the Trickster.�
A lesser-known link to paranormal phenomena is paranoia. Examples include fear of being watched by ESP, witchcraft accusations, ideas that occult societies rule the world, and conspiracy theories of government cover-ups of UFOs. Hansen advocates that the study of paranoia helps to explain fear of the paranormal and opposition to psychic research.
Paranoia, Hansen explains, is not necessarily, or even primarily pathological. It occurs in intermittent growth stages of self-awareness � a period of confusion between self and other, between dream and reality, and between internal and external. The separation of the binary opposites — of distinguishing ourselves from others or finding a niche in society — is a liminal process, and fears naturally arise.

Detailed Analysis of Boundary Types (comparison to precursors and personality measures including MBTI)
II. Precursors of the Boundary Concept
Nothing under the sun is entirely new.  The concept of thin and thick boundaries is related in some way to a number of previous dimensions and dichotomies.  For instance, William James (1907) divided people into “tough minded empiricists,” and “tender minded rationalists.”  Kurt Lewin, in the 1930s diagramed the mind as a number of regions acting on one another, separated by divisions of various thickness (Lewin, 1936).  Freud discussed boundaries only a few times, especially when he speaks of the stimulus barrier or “reitzschutz” – a protective shield against stimulation.  He referred to the entire ego as initially a body-ego derived from the body surface (Freud, 1923).  Many of Freud’s followers did explore boundaries in more detail (see for instance Federn,, 1952).  There is an entire literature on “ego boundaries” which definitely form part of what we are speaking of here.  In the psychoanalytic literature, solid ego boundaries are considered a kind of ideal, and the emphasis is on defects and weaknesses in ego boundaries which lead to psychosis or other pathological conditions (this is quite different from the view of thin and thick boundaries as a value-free personality dimension, which we develop below).  A French psychoanalyst, Anzieu has worked clinically with the concept of the “ego skin” (moi pau) as an “envelope for the ego,” (Anzieu, 1987).  He is obviously speaking of boundaries too.
Clinical psychoanalysts have generally made no attempts to quantify these boundary measures.  Such attempts have however been made by such as Blatt, and Ritzler  (1974) using the Rorschach test.  Peter Landis has studied ego boundaries in detail and developed some ingenious tests for ego and interpersonal boundaries (Landis,1970).  All of these measures can be related to thin versus thick boundaries. Fisher and Cleveland (1968) have worked extensively with two measures, “Barrier,” and “Penetration,” based on the Rorschach test.  Theoretically, “Barrier” ought to be closely related to thick boundaries and “Penetration” to thin boundaries.  However, empirically, this is not the case.  The “Barrier” and “penetration” measures  turn out not to be opposites (Fisher and Cleveland, 1968), and further, neither seems closely related to thick and thin boundaries (Fisher, 1992, unpublished manuscript).
Rokeach (1960), in his work on the “open and closed mind,” was clearly dealing with an aspect of boundaries as were Adorno and his colleagues in their classical work on the “authoritarian personality” (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik,, Levinson,. & Sanford, 1950).  The “closed mind” and the “authoritarian personality” definitely describe aspects of people with very thick boundaries.
Finally, thick and thin boundaries may be relevant to different styles of organizing mental contents.  In different ways, Mednick (1962), Spence (1964) and Broadbent (1971) distinguish between a conscious, logical, hierarchical style of conceptual organization, on the one hand, and a preconscious, connotative, parallel processing style of conceptual organization on the other.  Each style may serve important defensive as well as adaptive purposes.  By being neat, explicit, and well organized, people with thick boundaries can reduce the chances of different concepts becoming confused with each other; perhaps at the cost of not seeing novel connections between them (Mednick, 1962).  Thick boundaries can be used defensively to avoid seeing connections between related ideas.  While thin boundaries between concepts permit novel and sometimes creative associations between normally unrelated ideas, thin boundaries may be implicated in confused and autistic thinking.  In this regard, a cognitive style, category width, (Gardner, Holzman, Klein, Linton,, and Spence, 1959) has to do with the number of diverse objects a person can tolerate as belonging to the same category or group.  To consider two different things as belonging to the same group, the conceptual boundaries between them must be relaxed.  Thus, we believe that thin and thick boundaries represent an important and pervasive personality dimension.
IV. The Relationship of the BQ to Other Personality Measures

When the BQ was first used in 1985, it appeared to be a new dimension of personality, not clearly related to any of the then standard personality measures.  Thus, there are only low and non-significant correlations between BQ and Eysenck’s personality dimensions, although one study found some relationship between thin boundaries and Neuroticism in a small group (Sand and Levin, 1996).  There were also no clear relationships to Cloninger’s three dimensions of personality.
The BQ did show some relationships with MMPI scales (Hartmann, 1991).  In 299 subjects, relationships found were very consistent with what we had predicted on the basis of the definition of boundaries.  Sumbound correlated positively (r = 0.32) with the F (“atypical response”) scale, and this appeared to be a valid relationship.  Subjects scoring thinner on the Boundary Questionnaire did frequently report and discuss the unusual experiences described on the F scale, for instance, “I have a nightmare every few days.”  Sumbound showed a negative relationship (r = -0.37) with the K scale, which measures “defensiveness,” which can be considered an aspect of thick boundaries.  Sumbound correlated positively (r = 0.41) with Pa (paranoia), which is not surprising, since it is accepted that Pa in normal groups measures a kind of sensitivity rather than blatant paranoia.  Finally, Sumbound correlated positively (r = 0.40) with the Mf scale in males – consistent with the view that thin boundaries involves the ability for males to be interpersonally sensitive, and to see feminine elements in themselves.  Although these were highly significant correlations, all p < .001, the modest size of the correlation suggests that the BQ is obviously measuring something different than these individual MMPI scales.
Significant positive correlations have been reported between Sumbound on the BQ and several measures of hypnotizability and suggestibility (Barrett, 1989, Rader, Kunzendorf, and Carrabino 1996), as well as measures of creativity (Levin, Galen, & Zywisk 1991).  An especially strong correlation (r = 0.67) has been found between Sumbound and Tellegen’s Absorption Scale (Barrett 1989).  Again, these relationships were as predicted from our description of thin boundaries, above.
On the Rorschach test, subjects with thinner boundaries were found to have significantly higher boundary disturbance scores, and also significantly lower form quality scores (Levin, Gilmartin, & Lamontonaro 1998-1999).  Recent studies have established a relationship between thin boundaries and a number of other measures relating to personality, including certain forms of anxiety.  An especially strong relationship is found between Sumbound and Insecure Attachment, measured on the Bell Object Relations and Reality Testing Inventory (Bell , Billington & Becker 1986). (Hartmann and Zborowski, 2001).  Thin boundaries are also positively related to measures of connection-seeking, at least in women (Bevis, 1986).  And there is a high correlation (r = 0.51) between thin boundaries and rated openness in an interview study (Zborowski, Hartmann, & Newsom 2001 Manuscript submitted for publication).
There have been two separate investigations relating the Boundary Questionnaire to the Meyers-Briggs Inventory.  In both studies the most striking finding was a positive correlation(r between 0.4 to 0.5) between Sumbound and “Intuition,” and a somewhat smaller correlation with “Feeling” (Erhman and Oxford, 1995, Barbuto & Plummer 1998, 2000).
A few preliminary studies suggested that the BQ was unrelated to Norman’s basic Five-Factor structure of personality.  However the Five Factor Model has evolved, and the more recent model championed by Costa and McRae (1992), includes, as one of the five dimensions, “Openness to Experience.”  McRae (1994) has recently reported a very high correlation (r = 0.73) between thinness of boundaries on the BQ (Sumbound) and Openness to Experience.  We have attempted to further examine this surprisingly high correlation.  Indeed the Boundary Questionnaire includes at least two items “I am a very open person” and “I am a very sensitive person” which plainly relate to items in “Openness to Experience.”  And in fact, factor VI of the BQ was named “open-ness” long before the relationship of the BQ to “Openness to Experience” was known.  A detailed examination of the items in the “Openness to Experience” scale is also revealing.  The items involve several aspects of boundaries, but emphasize the desirable or positive aspects of thin boundaries.  For instance, “I have a lot of intellectual curiosity,” “I often enjoy playing with theories or abstract ideas,” and (scored negatively) “I have little interest in speculating on the nature of the universe or the human condition.”  Openness to Experience does not include any of the less attractive aspects of thin boundaries, such as feeling overwhelmed by input, vulnerability, becoming over-involved in a maladaptive way, etc.  Thin Boundaries and Openness to Experience are obviously closely related, but in our opinion thick versus thin boundaries represents a broader and perhaps more useful measure since it is neutral or value-free and covers both adaptive and maladaptive features.
In this connection it is interesting that BQ shows close to 0 correlation with the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale (Earle 1992).  Overall, neither thin nor thick boundaries are considered more desirable than their opposite.  However, a careful examination of the answers and a series of interviews has convinced us that by and large people consider their own type of boundary structure as most desirable.  Thus, people with very thick boundaries tend to use terms for others with thick boundaries such as “solid,” “reliable,” “lots of perseverance,” etc., while they characterize people with thin boundaries as “flaky,” “far out,” “unreliable.”  People who themselves score very thin on the BQ speak of those with thick boundaries as “dull,” “rigid,” “unimaginative,” while they think of those with thin boundaries as “exciting,” “creative,” “innovative.”
V. Thin Boundaries and Unusual Sensitivities
There are a number of suggestive studies indicating that people with thin boundaries may be not only creative and open, but may have a series of other interesting and so far poorly understood characteristics.  For instance, there appears to be a relationship between thin boundaries and multiple chemical sensitivities (Jawer, 2001).  There is also a correlation between thin boundaries and a belief in or tendency to experience paranormal phenomena. Factor V of the BQ – see table 3 – appears to pick up this aspect of thin boundaries and has been labeled “clairvoyance.”.  Groups of people who characterize themselves as shamans or psychics score thin on the BQ (Krippner, Wickramasekera, Wickramasekera, & Winstead, 1998).  Thalbourne and his collaborators, in their studies of persons who experience paranormal phenomena, have devised a “Transliminality scale” to measure these traits ( Lange,  Thalbourne, Houran, & Storm 2000;  Thalbourne, 1991).  Preliminary analysis suggests a high correlation (r = 068) between thin boundaries and the Transliminality Scale.
These relationships may be worth exploring further, since two very different hypotheses may explain them.  The most parsimonious view would be that all “paranormal” phenomena are imaginary, and that people with thin boundaries simply have better or looser imaginations, are more suggestible, or are more sensitive with a tendency to elaborate creatively on their sensitivities.  On the other hand, we could consider the possibility that phenomena such as telepathy, now considered paranormal could be related to transmission of information using perhaps portions of the electromagnetic spectrum which we are not usually able to detect.  Under unusual circumstances our ability to detect such information could be altered slightly, and quite possibly there might be inter-individual differences in the ability to detect information of this kind.  If so, it is possible that persons with thin boundaries who are sensitive in so many other ways, may also be sensitive to detecting such portions of the spectrum.

Boundary Types, Personality, New Age
or without highlighting
Paranormal and mystical beliefs are closely related. The personality factors most consistently associated with paranormal beliefs and experiences are the interrelated cluster of absorption, fantasy-proneness, and temporal lobe symptoms. All three of these personality constructs involve a high degree of imagination and fantasy. These factors generally correlate in the .5 to .6 range with each other and with mystical and paranormal experiences (summarized in Kennedy, Kanthamani, & Palmer, 1994).
Thalbourne (1998; Lange, Thalbourne, Houran, & Storm, 2000) found that mystical experience, belief in paranormal phenomena, absorption, and fantasy proneness actually constitute a single factor. He proposed that it reflects a tendency for unconscious processes to emerge into consciousness and called the factor transliminality. Hartmann’s (1991) earlier concept of thin boundaries of the mind is the same idea and has been associated with paranormal experiences (Palmer & Braud, 2002; Richards, 1996) and with the transliminality scale (r = .66) (Houran, Thalbourne, & Hartmann, 2003).
Based on his work with the Myers-Briggs personality model, Keirsey (1998) stated that people having intuitive, feeling (NF) personality types are mystical in outlook and often explore occultism, parapsychology, and esoteric metaphysical systems. Those with NF dispositions aspire

to transcend the material world (and thus gain insight into the essence of things), to transcend the senses (and thus gain knowledge of the soul), to transcend the ego (and thus feel united with all creation), [and] to transcend even time (and thus feel the force of past lives and prophecies). (p. 145)

Research studies have found that belief in paranormal phenomena is associated with the N and F personality factors (Gow, et. al., 2001; Lester, Thinschmidt, & Trautman, 1987; Murphy & Lester, 1976). In a study of a technique attempting to induce a sense of contact with someone who had died, 96% of the participants with NF personality types reported after-death contact experiences, whereas 100% of the participants with ST (sensing, thinking) personality types did not have these experiences (Arcangel, 1997). In a survey of parapsychological researchers, Smith (2003) found that the F factor was associated with experimenters who were rated as psi-conducive. Temporal lobe symptoms have been found to be associated with the N and P Myers-Briggs personality factors, and to a weaker extent with F (Makarec & Persinger, 1989). Thin boundaries have been found to be associated with NF personality dispositions (Barbuto & Plummer, 1998).
Taken together, these findings indicate that certain people have innate interests in and motivations for mystical and paranormal experiences. Behavioral genetic research indicates that absorption, the Myers-Briggs personality types, and interest in spirituality all have significant genetic components similar to other personality factors (Bouchard & Hur, 1998; Cary, 2003; Hammer, 2004; Tellegen, et al., 1988).
The Rational Scientific Personality
Keirsey (1998) described the development of rational scientific understanding and pragmatic application of science as the central motivations for people with intuitive, thinking (NT) personality types. People with these dispositions are naturally attracted to the process and results of the scientific method. Of course, experiencing scientific culture presumably enhances rationality and empiricism. The tendency to elevate a rational, scientific, mathematical style of thinking to an almost religious-like level of commitment and faith is widely apparent in scientific writings.
The inability to reliably control, predict, or understand psi may exclude paranormal phenomena from the interests of many who have pragmatic, scientific orientations. From this perspective, it is not surprising that scientists tend to be skeptical of psi (McClenon, 1982; McConnell & Clark, 1991). Prediction is the foundation of science, and control and application provide the most compelling evidence and value. For example, the concepts of quantum physics are as radical as the ideas of parapsychology; however, quantum physics has provided numerous successful applications, including lasers and transistors. If psi experiments produced reliable results, and particularly if they produced useful applications, scientists would likely accept the phenomena and begin developing theories for further control and application.
Skeptical scientists tend to explain belief in psi as due to a failure of rational, empirical analysis (e.g., Alcock & Otis, 1980; Blackmore & Troscianko, 1985; Gray & Mill, 1990). These explanations often imply that all people should share the scientist’s devotion to rational, empirical analysis. The possibility that alternative values, personalities, and ways of processing information may also have value is rarely acknowledged in these writings.
Skeptics also tend to have a greater internal locus of control (belief that they control the events in their lives) than those who believe in psi (summarized in Irwin, 1993). This is consistent with a stronger motivation for control by skeptics or possibly with less belief in supernatural influences.
I suspect that there is a closely related motivation for rational explanations but with less emphasis on pragmatic application and empiricism. This motivation would underlie the
pursuit of philosophy and the more abstract, intellectual approaches to religion. However, I have not found a specific personality description that aligns with such a motivation.
Superiority Through Authority and Dominance
Keirsey (1998) described the sensing, judging (SJ) personality types as materialistic, distrusting of fantasy and abstract ideas, and tending to feel a duty to maintain traditional rules of right and wrong. These personality types focus on external authority and tradition rather than internal experience.
People with STJ personality types tend to rise to positions of leadership and authority in hierarchical organizations (Keirsey, 1998; Kroeger, Thuesen, & Rutledge, 2002). Fudjack and Dinkelaker (1994) noted that the masculine “extraverted/rational-empirical/pragmatic/materialist” ESTJ personality is prominent in western culture and tends to prefer hierarchical organizations that emphasize power and control rather than creativity and flexibility. Kroeger, Thuesen, and Rutledge (2002) administered the Myers- Briggs personality test to over 20,000 people in all levels of a wide variety of corporate, government, and military organizations. Across these diverse groups, they found that 60% of 2,245 people in top executive positions had STJ personalities (ESTJ or ISTJ). The proportion of STJ types increased as the level on the management hierarchy increased.
On the other hand, only about 1% of top executives had NFP personalities, which would be more interested in psi and mysticism. For comparison, general population samples have found STJ for 26%-43% of males and 18%-29% of females, and NFP for 6%-12% of males and 9%-18% of females (Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986). Kroeger, Thuesen, and Rutledge also commented that 95% of top executives were T (thinking) types rather than F (feeling) types.
This rational, pragmatic, materialist personality bias in the upper echelons of power and status may be a major factor in the institutional skepticism and resistance to psi described by Hansen (2001). This value system may also be associated with the “hypercompetition” and “hypermaterialism” that Schumaker (2001) believes prevail in modern society and contribute to depression and anxiety. Somit and Peterson (1997) discuss the evolutionary and social aspects of the biological basis for dominance and hierarchy.
Abductions: The Boundary Deficit Hypothesis by Martin Kottmeyer

It seems logical at this point to ask if the psychology of nightmares can throw any light on what is happening in alien abduction experiences. While not all the puzzles of nightmares have been solved, psychology has recently made significant strides in understanding why some people develop them and others do not. In building a profile of nightmare sufferers Ernest Hartmann developed a conceptual model termed boundary theory which expands on a set of propositions about boundaries in the mind formulated by a handful of earlier psychoanalytic theorists. It is from Hartmann’s study “The Nightmare” that we will develop the blueprint of our argument. (8)
Boundary theory begins with the axiom that as the mind matures, it categorises experiences. It walls off certain sets to be distinct from other sets. Boundaries become set up between what is self and what is non-self, between sleep and waking experiences, between fantasy and reality, passion and reason, ego and id, masculine and feminine, and a large host of other experiential categories. This drive to categorise is subject to natural variation. The determinants of the strength of that drive appear to be biochemical and genetic and probably have no environmental component such as trauma. When the drive is weak the boundaries between categories are thinner, more permeable or more fluid. When the boundaries become abnormally thin one sees psychopathologies like schizophrenia. Hartmann discovered individuals who suffer from nightmares have thin boundaries. >From this central mental characteristic one can derive a large constellation of traits that set these people apart from the general population.
>From earliest childhood, people with thin boundaries are perceived as “different”. They are regarded as more sensitive than their peers. Thin character armour causes them to be more fragile and easily hurt. They are easily empathic, but dive into relationships too deeply too quickly. Recipients of their affection will regard them as uncomfortably close and clinging and they are thus frequently rejected. Experience with their vulnerability teaches them to be wary of entering into relationships with others. Adolescence tends to be stormy and difficult. Adult relationships — whether sexual, marital or friendships — also tend to be unsettled and variable. A slight tendency to paranoia is common.
One-third will have contemplated or attempted suicide. Experimentation with drugs tends to yield bad trips and is quickly abandoned. They are usually alert to lights, sounds and sensations. They tend to have fluid sexual identities. Bisexuals are over-represented in the nightmare sufferers’ population and it is rare to find manly men or womanly women in it. Macho pigs apparently do not have nightmares. They are not rule followers. Either they reject society or society rejects them. They are rebels and outsiders. There is a striking tendency for these people to find their way into fields involving artistic self-expression; musicians, poets, writers, art teachers, etc. Some develop their empathic tendencies and become therapists. Ordinary BLUE or white collar jobs are rare.
Hartmann believes the predominance of artists results from the fact that thin boundaries allow them to experience the world more directly and painfully than others. The ability to experience their inner life in a very direct fashion contributes to the authenticity of their creations. They become lost in daydreaming quite easily and even experience daymares — a phenomenon people with thick boundaries won’t even realise exists. This trait of imaginative absorption should also make nightmare sufferers good hypnotic subjects. (9)
Boundary deficits also contribute to fluid memories and a fluid time sense.

To be considered a candidate for the hypothesis that one is a victim of alien abduction a person must present certain symptoms. Among the factors which are looked for are conscious memories of an abduction, revealing nightmares, missing time, forgotten scars, or dramatic reactions to seemingly trivial stimuli like distant nocturnal lights. The last four factors act as screening devices to yield a population of boundary deficit individuals. This is blatant in the case of people whose candidacy is based on nightmares of aliens. It is subtler in the other symptoms.
People who have thin boundaries in their time sense virtually by definition will experience episodes of missing time. People with fluid memories could easily lose track of the event that led to the creation of a scar. People with weak ego-id boundaries and a sense of powerlessness probably would over- react to distant inexplicable lights as symbols of power. These candidates, in turn, are subject to further screening by their performance under hypnosis. The thicker the boundary, the less likely it is that a convincing narrative will emerge or be accepted as emotionally valid. We would predict the final population of abduction claimants would be biased in favour of a high proportion of boundary-deficit personalities.
The evidence that abductees have boundary-deficit personalities is, if not definitive, reasonably convincing. The points of correspondence between abductees and nightmare sufferers are several and consistent.
Ufology regards the Slater psychological study of nine abductees as an experimentum crucis for the view that abductees are victims of real extraterrestrial intrusions. It affirmed not only the normality of abductees, but offered a hint of traumatisation in the finding that abductees showed a tendency to display distrust and interpersonal caution. It is time to remind everyone, however, of what Slater’s full results were reported to be. Slater found abductees had rich inner lives; a relatively weak sense of identity, particularly a weak sexual identity; vulnerability; and an alertness characteristic of both perceptual sophistication and interpersonal caution. (10)
All four of these traits are characteristic of boundary-deficit minds. Clearly the abduction-reality hypothesis is, in this instance, unparsimonious. It fails to explain the presence of rich inner lives, weak identities and vulnerability. (I reject Slater’s post hoc attempt to account for the weak sexual identity via childhood trauma induced by involuntary surgical penetrations as undocumented, and just plain weird.) It should not be over- looked that Slater volunteered the opinion that her test subjects did not represent an ordinary cross-section of the population. She found some were “downright eccentric or odd” and that the group as a whole was “very distinctive, unusual, and interesting”. (11)
This nicely parallels Hartmann’s observation that boundary- deficit personalities are perceived as “different” from “normal” people. Slater’s study does indeed seem to be an experimentum crucis, but the conclusion it points toward is perfectly opposite from what ufologists have been assuming.
The boundary-deficit hypothesis evidently can also be invoked to explain the unusual proportion of artist-type individuals that I discovered in testing Rimmer’s hypothesis. Roughly one-third of abductees showed evidence of artistic self-expression in their backgrounds in my sample population, as you may recall. Hartmann’s study would also lead us to expect an unusual number of psychotherapists among abductees. In a recent paper, Budd Hopkins reported that in a population of 180 probable abductees he found many mental health professionals: two psychiatrists, three PhD psychologists and an unstated number of psychotherapists with Master’s degrees. (12)
Trauma, Transitions, and Thriving

Childhood Trauma and Transliminality http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/datingoffice08/childhoodtraumarelationships.html#1  

Problems with Pathologizing the Transliminal

Transliminal as Spirituality within Psychology http://cache.search.yahoo.net/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=%2Btransliminal&norw=1&fr=yfp-t-501&u=www.thespiritual.org/texts/guestTxt/guestIsabelClark.pdf&w=transliminal&d=eS6_6S72Q8sU&icp=1&.intl=us  
Thin Boundary Types, Transliminality, and Psychosomatic Plasticity http://cogprints.org/4862/1/Psychosomatic_Plasticity_-_Paper_in_Explore.pdf  
Proceeding from this framework of mind-body unity, let us return

to the Boundaries concept propounded by Hartmann. The

mind of the thin-boundary person, he suggests, is “relatively

fluid,” able to make numerous connections, more flexible and

even dreamlike in its processing than the thick-boundary person,

whose processing is “solid and well organized” but not prone to

meander or make ancillary connections.23 It is not surprising,

therefore, that thin-boundary people exhibit the following characteristics1:
● A less solid or definite sense of their skin as a body boundary;

● an enlarged sense of merging with another person when kissing

or making love;

● sensitivity to physical and emotional pain, in oneself as well as

in others;

● openness to new experience;

● a penchant for immersing themselves in something-whether

a personal relationship, a memory, or a daydream;

● an enhanced ability to recall dreams; and

● dream content that is highly vivid and emotional.
The fluidity evidenced by the thin-boundary personality

roughly equates to Thalbourne’s concept of “transliminality,”

defined as “tendency for psychological material to cross thresholds

in or out of consciousness.”24 Thalbourne has found that

the following are part of the personality cluster of the highly

transliminal person:
● creativity;

● a penchant for mystical or religious experience;

● absorption (a bent for immersing oneself in something, be it a

sensory experience, an intellectual task, or a reverie);

● fantasy proneness;

● an interest in dream interpretation;

● paranormal belief and experiences; and

● a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimulation.

Environmental Sensitivity

Michael Thalbourne  transliminality   

(literally, “going beyond the threshold”) was a concept introduced by the parapsychologist Michael Thalbourne, an Australian psychologist who is based at the University of Adelaide. It is defined as a hypersensitivity to psychological material (imagery, ideation, affect, and perception) originating in (a) the unconscious, and/or (b) the external environment (Thalbourne & Maltby, 2008). High degrees of this trait have been shown by Thalbourne to be associated with increased tendency to mystical experience, greater creativity, and greater belief in the paranormal, but Thalbourne has also found evidence that transliminality may be positively correlated with psychoticism. He has published articles on transliminality in journals on parapsychology and psychology.  

Schizotypy is a psychological concept which describes a continuum of personality characteristics and experiences related to psychosis and in particular, schizophrenia. This is in contrast to a categorical view of psychosis, where psychosis is considered to be a particular (usually pathological) state, that someone either has, or has not.  


Enactivism: no “core” self, anti-dualist, b/t the extremes of solipsism and representationalism, reality is a mixture of regularity and mutability,  


Interdisciplinary Thought, Bricolage, Et Cetera http://www.iomas.com/gina/ultrahiq/MI/megarchive/Noesis/Jan01_2.html#BeadGame  

Varela and the Emergent Self

Organisms have to be understood as a mesh of virtual selves. I don’t have one identity, I have a bricolage of various identities. I have a cellular identity, I have an immune identity, I have a cognitive identity, I have various identities that manifest in different modes of interaction. These are my various selves. I’m interested in gaining further insight into how to clarify this notion of transition from the local to the global, and how these various selves come together and apart in the evolutionary dance. In this sense, what I’ve studied, say, in color vision for the nervous system or in immune self-regulation are what Dan Dennett would call “intuition pumps,” to explore the general pattern of the transition from local rules to emergent properties in life.

Beyond Reductionism: Difference, Criticality, and Multilogicality in the Bricolage and Postformalism, Joe L. Kincheloe

The alternative cognitive practices that emerge in these diverse contexts are often grounded in cooperative interaction between and among diverse peoples. In this cooperative domain individuals are privy to the various forms of interrelatedness. Attending to the characteristics of such connections, individuals come to see order instead of chaos. The concept of interconnection provides moves postformalists to bring Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s cognitive theory of enactivism into the bricolage. In such interconnections and the patterns and processes enfolded within them we begin to discern one of the most amazing phenomena uncovered in recent times. Francisco Varela (1999) writes that as unlikely as it may seem  

    Lots of simple agents having simple properties may be brought together, even in a haphazard way, to give rise to what appears to be a purposeful and integrated whole, without the need for central supervision (p. 52).*

      In this simple statement we begin to uncover a whole new dimension of not only cognitive activity but also of the character of “the self.” In this domain we blaze new trails into the epistemological and ontological domains. In the epistemological domain we begin to realize that knowledge is stripped of its meaning when it stands alone. This holds profound implications in research because European science has studied the world in a way that isolates the object of study, abstracts it from the contexts and interrelationships that give it meaning. Thus, to be a multicultural researcher in a manner that takes Varela’s enactivist notion into account, we have to study the world “in context.” Bricoleurs understand that they have to search for the interrelationships and contexts that give knowledge meaning while avoiding reliance upon decontextualized study. The notion of difference directly references the relationship of different entities. Thus, the bricoleur’s concern with difference gains its cognitive and epistemological power in these relationships. 
*Varela, F. (1999). Ethical Know-how: Action, Wisdom, and Cognition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 

Bricolage and the Quest for Multiple Perspectives: New Approaches to Research in Ethnic Studies, Joe L. Kincheloe

Concerned with the limitations of monological approaches to knowledge production, we all subscribe to the “practical reason” of the bricolage that operates in concrete settings to connect theory, technique, and experiential knowledges. Here the theoretical domain is connected to the lived world and new forms of cognition and research are enacted. This improvisational enactment of the bricolage, buoyed by the insights of Francisco Varela and Humberto Mataurana’s Santiago Theory of Enactivism, moves research to a new level. This is the place where the multiple inputs and forces facing the researcher in the immediacy of her work are acknowledged and embraced. The bricoleur does not allow these complexities to be dismissed by the excluding, reducing impulses of monological methodology coming from particular power blocs (Fischer, 1998; Weinstein, 1995, Mataurana and Varela, 1992; Varela, 1999; Geeland and Taylor, 2000). Such a refusal is in itself an act of subversion. 

      The subversive bricolage accepts that human experience is marked by uncertainties and that order is not always easily established. “Order in the court” has little authority when the monological judge is resting in his quarters. Indeed, the rationalistic and reductionistic quest for order refuses in its arrogance to listen to cacophony of lived experience, the coexistence of diverse meanings and interpretations in a socially, culturally, economically, and ideologically diverse world. The concept of understanding in the complex world viewed by bricoleurs is unpredictable. Much to the consternation of many there exists no final, transhistorical, transcultural,non-ideological meaning that bricoleurs strive to achieve. As bricoleurs create rather than find meaning in enacted reality, they explore alternate meanings offered by others in similar circumstances. If this wasn’t enough, they work to account for historical, social, and cultural contingencies that always operate to undermine the universal pronouncement of the meaning of a particular phenomenon. When researchers fail to discern the unique ways that historical, social, and cultural context make for special circumstances, they often provide a reductionistic form of knowledge that impoverishes our understanding of everything connected to it–the process of research included (Burbules and Beck, 1999; Marijuan, 1994; Cary, 2003). 

      The monological, monocultural quest for order so desired by many social, political, psychological, and educational researchers is grounded on the Cartesian belief that all phenomena should be broken down into their constitute parts to facilitate inquiry. The analysis of the world in this context becomes fragmented and disconnected. Everything is studied separately for the purposes of rigor. The goal of integrating knowledges from diverse domains and understanding the interconnections shaping, for example, the biological and the cognitive, is irrelevant in the paradigm of order and fragmentation. The meaning that comes from interrelationship is lost and questions concerning the purpose of research and its insight into the human condition are put aside in an orgy of correlation and triangulated description. Information is sterilized and insight into what may be worth exploring is abandoned (Simpson and Jackson, 2001). Ways of making use of particular knowledges are viewed as irrelevant and creative engagement with conceptual insights is characterized as frivolous. Empirical knowledge in the quest for order is an end in itself. Once it has been validated it needs no further investigation or interpretation. While empirical research is obviously necessary, its process of production constitutes only one step of a larger and more rigorous process of inquiry. The bricolage subverts the finality of the empirical act.  

      Bricoleurs make the point that empirical research, all research for that matter, is inscribed at every level by human beings. The assumptions and purposes of the researcher always find their way into a research act, and they always make a difference in what knowledge is produced. Even in the most prescribed forms of empirical quantitative inquiry the researcher’s ideological and cultural preferences and assumptions shape the outcome of the research. Do I choose factor analysis or regression analysis to study the relationship of a student’s SAT score to college success? The path I choose profoundly affects what I find. What about the skills and knowledges included on the SAT? Are they simply neutral phenomena free from inscriptions of culture and power? How I answer such a question shapes how my research proceeds. 

      Such inscriptions and the complexity they produce remind critical multicultural and ethnic studies bricoleurs of the multiple processes in play when knowledge is produced and validation is considered. They understand that the research process is subjective and that instead of repressing this subjectivity they attempt to understand its role in shaping inquiry. All of these elements come together to help bricoleurs think about their principles of selection of one or another research perspective. Such decisions can be made more thoughtfully when a researcher understands the preferences and assumptions inscribed on all modes of inquiry and all individuals who engage in research. Thus, an important aspect of the work of the bricoleur involves coming to understand the social construction of self, the influence of selfhood on perception, and the influence of perception on the nature of inquiry (Richardson and Woolfolk, 1994; Pickering, 1999; Allen, 2000). 

An interobject is a phenomenon of dreams, in which there is a perception of something that is “between” two objects. The term was coined by Blechner in his book The Dream Frontier. Interobjects differ from typical dream condensations in which two objects are fused into one. Instead the condensation is incomplete. Some examples from the literature on dreams include “a piece of hardware, something like the lock of a door or perhaps a pair of paint-frozen hinges,” [1] and “something between a record-player and a balance scale.” [2] Interobjects are new creations derived from partially-fused blends of other objects.
Interobjects, like disjunctive cognitions, would sound bizarre or psychotic as perceptions in waking life, but are accepted by most people as commonplace in dreams. They have implications for both the theory of dreaming and the theory of categorization. Interobjects show the dreaming mind grouping items together whose connection may not be apparent to the waking mind. “Something between an aqueduct or a swimming-pool” [3] reveals the category of “large man-made architectural objects that contain water.” “Something between a cellphone and a baby”[4] reveals a category combining a relatively new piece of technology and a live infant: both make noise when you don’t expect it, both are held close to your body, and both can give you a feeling of connectedness.
We do not know if interobjects occur only in dreamlife or may occur as unconscious categorizations during waking life. Freud [5] called interobjects “intermediate and composite structures.” He thought they were inferior mental constructions and were scrupulously avoided in waking life.

Interobjects may have an elementary function in human thought. By transgressing the normal mental categories described by Eleanor Rosch, interobjects may be the origin of new ideas that would be harder to come by using only fully-formed, secondary process formations. They may be one example of “Oneiric Darwinism” [6] in which new thought-mutations are created during dream-life and rejected or retained in waking life depending on their usefulness.
disjunctive cognitions  

A common phenomenon in dreams, first identified by psychoanalyst Mark Blechner [1], in which two aspects of cognition do not match each other.

Disjuntive cognitions can tell us much about how the brain is organized. Blechner has suggested that whenever disjunctive cognitions occur, the two aspects of cognition that are disjunctive are handled in different parts of the brain whose mutual integration is suppressed or shifted during sleep. Disjunctive cognitions between what the person looks like and who the person is suggest two brain systems for those aspects of perception.[3] This is supported by research in neuropsychology and neurobiology. For example, some people who have suffered strokes or other brain damage have a syndrome known as prosopagnosia. A prosopagnosic man may look at his wife of 50 years, see all of her features clearly, and yet not recognize who she is. In such people, the process of seeing is intact, but the process of facial recognition is damaged [4] There is also the phenomenon of Capgras syndrome, in which a person may feel that a close relative is actually an impostor. The features of the relative are recognizable, but the person’s identity is not. And there is also Fregoli delusion, in which a person may mistakenly identify strangers as people he actually knows. In all of these syndromes, there is a disjunction between the appearance and perceived identity of the person.[citation needed]
Neurobiological research has identified separate areas of the brain responsible for recognizing faces. In humans, identifying unfamiliar faces activates one region of the brain (the fusiform region) while recognizing familiar faces also activates another area of the brain (in the lateral midtemporal cortex).[5] A similar division of function is found in macaque monkeys. [6] Such findings indicate that the process of recognizing faces may be achieved by special parts of the brain that are diffent from the brain areas involved in analyzing the general visual features of things.
Since the brain has separate systems for deciding what a person looks like and who the person is, this division of labor may be responsible not only for disjunctive cognitions, but also the phenomenon of transference. In psychoanalytic treatment, patients frequently experience transference, in which the psychoanalyst is perceived to be very much like someone from the patient’s past. As in disjunctive cognitions of dreams, the patient may feel “You look like Dr. X, but you feel like my mother.” The separate areas of the brain involved in telling us what the person looks like and who the person is may give a neurobiological basis for transference, the phenomenon in which we know who a person is, yet we react emotionally to that person as if they are someone else.

Evan Thompson (son of William Irwin Thompson)  
Humberto Maturana  

2.1 Constructivist epistemology  constructivist epistemology  (radical constructivism, constructivism and constructionism are interchangeable)
Maturana and Varela wrote in their Santiago Theory of Cognition: “Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. This statement is valid for all organisms, with or without a nervous system.”

Francisco Varela  

embodied philosophy  Embodied cognitive science  Embodied mind  situated cognition  embodied cognition  


“An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network.” (Maturana, Varela, 1980, p. 78)
“[…] the space defined by an autopoietic system is self-contained and cannot be described by using dimensions that define another space. When we refer to our interactions with a concrete autopoietic system, however, we project this system on the space of our manipulations and make a description of this projection.” (Maturana, Varela, 1980, p. 89)

Eleanor Rosch  

From field experiments she conducted in the 1970s with the Dani people of Papua New Guinea, Rosch concluded that when categorizing an everyday object or experience, people rely less on abstract definitions of categories than on a comparison of the given object or experience with what they deem to be the object or experience best representing a category. Although the Dani lacked words for colors other than black and white, Rosch showed that they could still categorize objects by colors for which they had no words. She argued that basic objects have a psychological import that transcends cultural differences and shapes how such objects are mentally represented. She concluded that people in different cultures tend to categorize objects by using prototypes, although the prototypes of particular categories may vary.  

Eleanor Rosch: Interview and Summary

“Wholeness. There is a powerful intuition of wholeness which goes beyond conceptual analysis into isolated units. Analytic detail is included but must be seen in proper perspective.
Humans bear the suspicion that causality (and/or contingency) is not the one-on-one relationship between separate units which the conceptual mind finds it easy to imagine, but rather a basic interdependence of phenomena.
There is the sense that time may not be merely the linear flow we take for granted. Instead, supposedly lasting objects and experiences may be made up of the momentary, and the momentary can have a sense of timelessness. This sense of time is most developed in the arts, where evocation, rather than proof, is the medium of communication.
Humans can be haunted by the intuition that experience can be real and direct rather than an abstraction filtered through representations, and they can spend a lot of time confusedly trying to “get real.”
Humans have the experience of action that appears to arise without intention, effort, self referential motivation, or conscious control or even without the sense of “me” doing it. In fact some of the most valued of actions appear thus. Recent neurophysiological and psychological research also suggest that action should not be viewed in terms of conscious agency. Such phenomena very directly challenge the assumed sense of oneself as actor.
The intuition that to be alive and mortal and have experience has some inherent value is basic to human life and art. This issue is generally bypassed completely in all of our sciences.
There is a strong sense that there is a kind of knowing not captured by our models, a fundamental knowing not explicit or graspable. This is the kind of knowing that senses wholeness, interconnectedness, and so on, in fact, all of the other intuitions. Our psychology and culture have attributed this knowing to a variety of sources (such as the unconscious) which may actually be sidetracks, rather than aids, in exploration of knowing.
Sense of oneself.
All of the intuitions challenge the sense of oneself as knower, oneself as actor, and any other assumed sense of the self and its world that one might take for granted.”  
Table l: Two modes of knowledge and knowing (from: Eleanor Rosch)



In Cognitive Science In Primary Knowing
Mode of Knowing Representational (mind & world separate) Participatory (mind & world not separate)
“Location” In surface habits Underlies both conscious and unconscious knowledge
Units of Knowledge Separate things and events Wholes
Causality Contingencies between events; Phantom causes Interdependence
Temporality Storage: memories, plans Present time – or timeless
Content Representations: abstractions Presentations: real, concrete
Phenomenology Conscious (or unconscious); Homunculus Unspecifiable awareness
Action Product of habits and of self-referencing decisions Spontaneous product of whole
Determinacy Determinate Open, unmitigated freedom
Value Conditional usefulness; Facts and values separate Unconditional; Cognition and value inseparable

Postmodernism, and Folk Taxonomies http://www.asia.ubc.ca/fileadmin/template/main/images/departments/asian_studies/Faculty/Ted_Slingerland/Chapter_3.pdf  
Categories and Cognititve Anthropology http://cognition.clas.uconn.edu/~jboster/articles/coganth.pdf   Gregory Bateson  

“No organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels.” [14]  (reminds me of Ligotti, Zapffe)  

3.2 Double bind  double bind   Cognitive dissonance   (Derrick Jensen, Nazis, domestic violence, victim/victimizer)  False dilemma  Splitting (psychology)  dissociation  Cartesian anxiety  

Full double bind requires several conditions to be met: 

  • a) The victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticised or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).
  • b) No metacommunication is possible; for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense
  • c) The victim cannot leave the communication field
  • d) Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished, e.g. by withdrawal of love.

The double bind was originally presented (probably mainly under the influence of Bateson’s psychiatric co-workers) as an explanation of part of the etiology of schizophrenia; today it is more important as an example of Bateson’s approach to the complexities of communication.


Mark Johnson  

George Lakoff  

When Lakoff claims the mind is “embodied”, he is arguing that almost all of human cognition, up through the most abstract reasoning, depends on and makes use of such concrete and “low-level” facilities as the sensorimotor system and the emotions. Therefore embodiment is a rejection not only of dualism vis-a-vis mind and matter, but also of claims that human reason can be basically understood without reference to the underlying “implementation details”.

Lakoff offers three complementary but distinct sorts of arguments in favor of embodiment. First, using evidence from neuroscience and neural network simulations, he argues that certain concepts, such as color and spatial relation concepts (e.g. “red” or “over”; see also qualia), can be almost entirely understood through the examination of how processes of perception or motor control work.

Second, based on cognitive linguistics‘ analysis of figurative language, he argues that the reasoning we use for such abstract topics as warfare, economics, or morality is somehow rooted in the reasoning we use for such mundane topics as spatial relationships. (See conceptual metaphor.)

Finally, based on research in cognitive psychology and some investigations in the philosophy of language, he argues that very few of the categories used by humans are actually of the black-and-white type amenable to analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. On the contrary, most categories are supposed to be much more complicated and messy, just like our bodies.

“We are neural beings,” Lakoff states, “Our brains take their input from the rest of our bodies. What our bodies are like and how they function in the world thus structures the very concepts we can use to think. We cannot think just anything – only what our embodied brains permit.”[2]

Many scientists share the belief that there are problems with falsifiability and foundation ontologies purporting to describe “what exists”, to a sufficient degree of rigor to establish a reasonable method of empirical validation. But Lakoff takes this further to explain why hypotheses built with complex metaphors cannot be directly falsified. Instead, they can only be rejected based on interpretations of empirical observations guided by other complex metaphors. This is what he means when he says, in “The Embodied Mind”, that falsifiability itself can never be established by any reasonable method that would not rely ultimately on a shared human bias. The bias he’s referring to is the set of conceptual metaphors governing how people interpret observations.

Lakoff is, with coauthors Mark Johnson and Rafael E. Núñez, one of the primary proponents of the embodied mind thesis. Others who have written about the embodied mind include philosopher Andy Clark (See his Being There), philosopher and neurobiologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela and his student Evan Thompson (See Varela, Thompson & Rosch’s “The Embodied Mind”), roboticists such as Rodney Brooks, Rolf Pfeifer and Tom Ziemke, the physicist David Bohm (see his Thought As A System), Ray Gibbs (see his “Embodiment and Cognitive Science”), John Grinder and Richard Bandler in their neuro-linguistic programming, and Julian Jaynes. All of these writers can be traced back to earlier philosophical writings, most notably in the phenomenological tradition, such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger.  




Buddhalicious vids  

No objective world?

No subjecitve world?

Objecitvity vs. Subjectivity

Enacitve Cognition

Youtube Search on Enactivism

Youtube Search on Francisco Varela

Youtube Search on Humberto Maturana


Laetus in Praesens search for enactivism


The contrast offered here, in terms of the periodic table, between comprehension and understanding fails however to address another dimension briefly acknowledged earlier in terms of self-reference. The question was well raised by Douglas Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach, 1979) . How implicated is the creator or user of a periodic table in that device? In the case of an array of religions and belief systems, the periodic table then stands as a kind of mirror of the mind’s ability to variously order reality. The relation to such a mirror has been a theme of centuries of dialogue between the “sudden” and the “gradualist” approaches to enlightenment in Chinese thought (Peter N Gregory (Ed) Sudden and Gradual; approaches to enlightenment in Chinese Thought. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1991). This dialogue was notably triggered by two very simple contrasting poems based on a mirror — by Shen-hsiu (606-706) and Hui-neng (638-713) in the Platform Sutra [texts] and whether it needed “cleaning”. For Luis Gomez (Purifying gold: the metaphor of effort and intuition in Buddhist thought and practice):

…those who assume that the object of religious, aesthetic or intellectual apprehension is somehow innate in the apprehending subject tend to assume at the same time that the act of apprehension is direct, abrupt, effortless. The most common metaphor employed by the advocates of this type of position… is the mirror as symbol for the mind: both are innately pure, both are able to know (or reflect) clearly, passively, and integrally. The opposite view would then propose that the object of religious esthetic, or intellectual apprehension is not innate, and that the act of apprehension is indirect and gradual, the result of dedicated self-cultivation.

A different take on this challenge is offered by Bill Halpin (Engaging Emptiness: Stepping into the Mirror, 2000). This is consistent with the reflections on enactivism (Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, The Embodied Mind, 1991; George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy In The Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to western thought, 1999)   http://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/detach.php   The eclectic sense of “discipline” is inspired by the work of Paul Feyerabend (Against Method: outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge, 1975 [review]). Varela’s perspective is associated with what is termed enactivism [more; more; more], as used by Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, E Rosch and E Thomson to label their theories. It is itself associated with radical constructivism [more]. The “Experientialism” of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson is closely related to enactivism. The text amplifies and extends arguments presented in earlier papers.  




Francisco Varela and Christian de Quincey
or without highlighting

Varela and Wilber on enactivism
http://cache.search.yahoo.net/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=enactivism+spirituality&fr=yfp-t-501&u=www.jimforce.ca/dissertation_2.html&w=enactivism+spirituality+spiritualities&d=M15Ifi72RNBp&icp=1&.intl=us or without highlighting

Wilber on Sheldrake and Varela
or without highlighting

George Leonard on Ken Wilber’s Twenty Tenets http://www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?confid=10&pageid=113&pgtype=1  

3. Holons emerge.

Holons emerge. Owing to the self-transcendent capacity of holons, new holons emerge. Sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, polymers, cells, and so on, the emergent holon is in some sense novel. They possess properties and qualities that can’t be strictly and totally deduced from their components, and therefore they and their descriptions can’t be reduced without remainder to their component parts. Emergence always means indeterminacy is sewn into the very fabric of the universe. Quoting from Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (p. 47) Leonard read, Emergence is neither a rare nor an isolated phenomenon. As Varela, Thompson, and Rosch summarize the available evidence: “It is clear that emergent properties have been found across all domains-vortices and lasers, chemical oscillations, genetic networks, developmental patterns, population genetics, immune networks, ecology, and geophysics. What all these diverse phenomena have in common is that in each case a network gives rise to new properties. . . . The emergence of global patterns or configurations in systems of interacting elements is neither an oddity of isolated cases nor unique to [special] systems. In fact, it seems difficult for any densely connected aggregate to escape emergent properties.” (Francisco Varela, et. al., The Embodied Mind, pp. 88-90.)

6. The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower.

The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower. Even though the higher goes beyond the lower level, it does not violate the law or pattern of the lower level. It can’t be reduced to the lower level or determined by the lower level, but neither can it ignore the lower level. Your body follows the laws of gravity. Your mind follows other laws, such as those of symbolic communication and linguistic syntax. But if your body falls off a cliff, your mind goes with it. Clearly, the lower sets the possibility of a large framework within which the higher has to operate, but to which it is not confined. As for the higher restricting the possibility of the lower, here is how Sheldrake puts it (Quoted from Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p.55),

At every level, the fields of the holons are probabilistic, and the material processes within the holon are somewhat random or indeterminate. Higher-level fields may act upon the fields of lower level holons in such a way that their probability structures are modified. This can be thought of in terms of a restriction of their indeterminism: out of the many possible patterns of events that could have happened, some now become much more likely to happen as a result of the order imposed by the higher-level field. This field organizes and patterns the indeterminism that would be shown by the lower-level holons in isolation. (Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past, pp. 120-121.)

Varela and Bricolage

Enactivism, Bricolage, and Epistemological Pluralism

Enactivism and Brico-logical Research


Enactivism and Consensuality

Enactivism, Reflexivity, and Bateson

Varela, Sheldrake, and Seeing

Interview with Varela about Buddhism

VARELA: It’s important that people don’t think that we are saying that the nervous system is closed, but rather that the nervous system has closure. It’s not the same thing. Closure is away of looking at the interactions in a different way from the standard model of inputting information. Closure means that you actually shape what counts as information in the coupling you have with the world. Information is brought forth by the actual activity of an organism or a cognitive system embedded in the world. Some people think that means a solipsistic or autistic world. But the contrast is not between a closed system and an open system but rather an input-driven system and a system that is actively shaping the world. That’s the real tension.

DAVIS: Here’s the passage from the section “Mind Waves”: “Nothing comes from outside your mind. Usually we think of our mind as receiving impressions and experiences from outside, but that is not a true understanding of our mind. The true understanding is that the mind includes everything; when you think something comes from outside it means only that something appears in your mind. Nothing outside yourself can cause any trouble. You yourself make the waves in your mind.”  

Not a useful paper, but nice quote

Complexity and chaos theorists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela have argued, similarly to Pibram and Schimdt, that language itself is a development of rhythmic vibrations of energy. Capra reports that they come to the same cultural implications as Pribram, Frazer and others:

…due to resonance phenomenon…cognitive experiential states are created by the synchronization of fast oscillations in the gamma and beta range that tend to arise and subside quickly…. Varela’s hypothesis establishes a neurological basis for the distinction between conscious and unconscious cognition…. Since language results in a very sophisticated and effective coordination of behavior, the evolution of language allowed the early human beings to greatly increase their cooperative activities and to develop families, communities, and tribes that gave them tremendous evolutionary advantages.
The crucial role of language in human evolution was not the ability to exchange ideas, but the increased ability to cooperate. As the diversity and richness of our human relationships increased, our humanity-our language, art, thought, and culture-unfolded accordingly. At the same time, we also developed the ability of abstract thinking, of bringing forth an inner world of concepts, objects, and images of ourselves. Gradually, as this inner world became ever more diverse and complex, we began to lose touch with nature and became ever more fragmented personalities. Thus arose the tension between wholeness and fragmentation, between body and soul….

  289 Capra, The Web of Life, pp. 292-294. See also Humberto R Maturana and Francisco J. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding (Boston: Shambhala, 1998).  

Charles Taylor

The depressed buffered self on the other hand will be able to take a step of disengagement from his feelings by saying ‘it is just my body chemistry’ – and take a pill. The chemistry doesn’t have the meaning – it just feels that way.   



Charles Taylor: Intro and Interview
or without highlighting

Charles Taylor and Enactivism
or without highlighting

Merleau-Ponty, Charles Taylor, and Varela

Enactivism and Cartesian Anxiety
or without highlighting

Enactivism and Cartesian Anxiety

Spinoza, Enactivism, and Cartesian Anxiety

Enactivism, Autonomy, Novelty, Play

Enactivism Compared and Contrasted

Enactivism, Biological Philosophy, Signs, and Meaning


Monism is the view that the universe, at the deepest level of analysis, is one thing, or composed of one fundamental kind of stuff. This is usually contrasted with Substance Dualism, the view found, for example in the writings of Plato and Descartes that, fundamentally, the universe is composed of two kinds of stuff, physical stuff and the stuff of soul, mind or consciousness. There are three basic ways in which the apparent differences between physical and mental “stuff” can be understood in monist terms:
1. Mind might be nothing more than a particular aspect or arrangement of physical matter (physicalism; functionalism). Enactivism is an extended form of functionalism (but comes in somewhat different versions, e.g. Noe vs. Thomson)

2. Physical matter might be nothing more than a particular aspect or arrangement of mind (idealism).
3. Mind and physical matter might be aspects or arrangements of something more fundamental that is in itself neither mental nor physical (neutral monism; dual- aspect theory). Reflexive monism is a form of dual-aspect theory (Spinoza)

They both oppose

1. Dualism

2. The view that conscious experiences are nothing more than states or functions of the brain.
They both agree that

1. Mind and conscious experience are not entirely “in the brain” – and they are in that sense externalist.

2. Interactions between the brain, body and surrounding world have an important role to play in cognition.  

EN and RM develop their understanding of consciousness from very different initial commitments.

EN starts with a theory of how organisms function (Varela, Thomson), then elaborates this into a sensorimotor theory of how perception and cognition operate (O’Regan, Noe, Myin)- and then tries to bridge the mind/body gap by reworking both sides of the gap in an enactive way.

RM starts with a more accurate phenomenology of conscious experience. Conscious phenomenology does not need to be reduced or reworked to anything other than how it seems in order to be understood.

First- and third-person accounts of mind are complementary and mutually irreducible. A complete account of mind requires both.

These accounts can be related to each other through a dual-aspect theory of information.

Experiences really are (roughly) how they seem.  


1. Is functionally externalist. It stresses that cognition and perception involve sensory- motor brain, body, world interactions and argues that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness is flawed.

2. In some versions (O’Regan & Noe) EN claims that conscious experience is nothing more than exercising of such sensory-motor skills, thereby dissolving the “hard problem” of consciousness (an extended form of functionalism).

3. But EN opposes phenomenological externalism (Noe & Thomson, 2004)
Reflexive Monism

1. Accepts that brain, body, world interactions are important for aspects of cognition and experience that require such interactions. But there are proximal causes and correlates of experience in the brain not all of which are sensory-motor related, so the search for NCCs is not flawed (although it might not be complete)

2. The sensory-motor activities that relate to a given experience usually operate preconsciously (before the experience arises). So conscious phenomenology cannot be reduced to the exercising of sensory-motor skills (e.g. speech)

3. RM makes the radical claim that experiences are roughly where they seem to be. So it is phenomenologically externalist (at least for some experiences ).  

The reflexive model suggests that what we normally think of as the “physical world” is just the experienced world that arises from a reflexive interaction of the perceiver and perceived. First-person and third-person perspectives co- arise. Consequently there never was an explanatory gap between the physical world as-perceived and conscious experience.

Thomson (2001) (a non-eliminative enactive theorist) takes a similar view, pointing out that the very idea of an “objective world” depends on and arises out of intersubjectively lived experience.

By contrast, Dennett, O’Regan and Blackmore try to eliminative first-person phenomenology, replacing it with “objective” third-person sensorimotor activity.

Access_public Access: Public 15 Comments Print Post this!views (1,121)  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

8 minutes later

Marmalade said

I don’t know if anyone else will find this interesting, but I thought I’d post all of my notes.  I partly wanted to show how my mind works.  When I’m intrigued by something, my mind goes into obsessive mode.  These are the notes I gathered in just a couple of days and that was before I even knew I was going to be participating in the symposium.  Taking notes like this is normal for me.  Behind many of my blogs are similar sets of notes.  Its because of notes such as these that I love to hyperlink.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

22 minutes later

Marmalade said

According to Hartmann’s descriptions of thin boundary types, these notes fit the category.  A thin boundary type tends to have thought that lead to other thoughts even if to others the connection may seem slim.  In MBTI terms, this is Extraverted Intuition.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 6 hours later

1Vector3 said

Well you just blew the circuits of most of your readers, or blew them out of the ballpark !!!!

But fascinating, the parts I could read.

What an awesome intellect you have !!!!!!!!

Trust me, there are enough notes here for at least 2 PhD. dissertations, in case you ever want one.

thanks for sharing this about yourself!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 7 hours later

Nicole said

i find this fascinating albeit very intimidating… i had suspected that you spent oodles of time preparing links and thoughts but this is …. wow! i feel like i spend all my time skating around on the surface… you are amazing!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

These notes probaly would be more extensive if my computer hadn’t died.  My problem at the moment is that I haven’t had the time I would’ve liked to really mine these links.  I’ve already skimmed through all of the sites linked, but I need to pull out relevant quotes.  Fortunately, my thoughts are already partly organized because I was making the connections as I was doing the research.  The other thing is that I’ve have a bunch of books at home that I’ve been looking at, but I can’t bring them all to the coffeehouse.  Trying to organize myself would be much easier if I had a computer at home.

I’m trying to decide what to include, but I already know what my focus will be.  I want to organize my post around the ideas of liminality and boundary types.  Others have already presented about the basics of enactivism and I feel no need to cover that area again to any great extent.  I’m thinking of starting off with a quick summary of what others had posted which works as I’m the last presenter.  After that, I’d like to be able to present some of the broader possibilities that an enactivist view opens to.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 14 hours later

Nicole said

fun to be last eh? that sounds like a great plan

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

Yes, its nice to be last especially when I only have a superficial grasp of the subject.  Some of the participants have been studying enactivism for years and many for sure know a lot more about integral.  My purpose isn’t to know these things equally well.  I simply wish to connect to issues that aren’t normally brought up in these kinds of discussions.

Mostly, these integral discussions end up being debates about who is the most right, who represents reality the most accurately.  I know that Bruce sometimes tries to shift the energy a bit in a direction I like, but the dynamic between Bruce and Julian always seems to come back to the same pattern of interaction.  There is something frustrating about it all which I know that other participants also notice, but its hard to put one’s finger on it.

I want to change the context away from rational theories and instead move it towards perspectives.  Remember my interest in Theories For Anything (TFA) rather than Theories Of Everything (TOE)?  A TFA is more about perspectives.  Also, this is why I want to bring in boundary types.  As I’ve said before, there are two basic types that just can’t see eye to eye, and its not a matter of proving one viewpoint over another.  The problem isn’t about evidence or rationality.  Instead, the problem is about differing experience.  I think OM was trying to explain this, but its difficult to convey.  As OM sees it, she isn’t just speculating.  However, if someone doesn’t share your experience, how do you get them to understand your experience?

I don’t have to solve that dilemma.  I just have to present the dilemma for what it actually is.  I personally side with the thin boundary viewpoint, but I don’t need to prove it.  I just need to show its an equally valid way of perceiving reality.

I’m having a hard time being a part of the discussion because I’m still working this all out.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 15 hours later

Nicole said

yes, it’s hard to think intensely and also discuss, but that’s ok… you are working on something really vital here. you see so clearly what the real issues are.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

A quick note.  There are two reasons I see boundary types as so essential.  The first relates to my previous comment.  My sense is that ideas such as enactivism seem more plausible and easier to understand for people with thinner boundaries.  The second reason relates to some of Matt’s thinking on the subject.  Matt has brought up Cartesian Anxiety and I sense a connection there with boundary types.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 15 hours later

Nicole said

ok, i will go have a look… thanks

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 17 hours later

Marmalade said

Here are some things I’m thinking about:

scientists and Hansen
situated knowledge and how scientists influence their research
science itself is an act of enactivism – what is included and excluded
touches upon the liminal and parapsychology rsearch

Language and nature
language is embodied but the development of language has moved towards abstraction
perception and language can’t be separatedv
indigenous people have an ability to read an environment
an observer is any language-based being but all of nature communicates
language originated from embodied interaction with the natural environment

umwelt, lifeworld, and mazeway
our sense of self is inseparable from our sense of world

emodied mind
PKD and what it means to be human
postmodern sense of self
self as fractured or self as multiplicity (Hillman)
Mindell’s dreambody

literal vs imaginal
perception and language are acts of imagination
co-dependent origination, intersubjectivity

sandy : Activist and Ambassador

4 days later

sandy said

Wha on earth can I say ? so profound -so informative-you are so clever,
so intelligent and I admire your greatly!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks, Sandy!  The proof will be in the pudding.  I’m basically finished with my writing.  We’ll see what others think tomorrow.

about 1 year later

emmie111 said

hi,me emmie here…I don’t have to solve that dilemma.  I just have to present the dilemma for what it actually is.and it according to doors,  I personally side with the thin boundary viewpoint, but I don’t need to prove it.  I just need to show its an equally valid way of perceiving reality.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 1 year later

1Vector3 said

emmie, just letting you know in case you haven’t spotted it, but Ben isn’t on Gaia often anymore, so it might be several months before he sees your comment. Thanks for contributing it!

Blessings, OM

Re: Is abstract thought just piggybacking on the physical body?

Is abstract thought just piggybacking on the physical body? by Matt Cardin

This post reminds me of the ideas of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.  Lakoff, in particular, has been voicing his opinions about the power of metaphor in politics.

The work of Lakoff and Johnson also relates to some others researching and speculating about the embodied mind.  I know you’re familiar with Ken Wilber and integral theory.  Have you seen any of the integral discussions about enactivism.  Enactivism was influenced by both Buddhism and phenomenology, and was an attempt to discover scientific language to describe the embodied mind.

Just Some Related Ideas and Writers

I tend to think in terms of connections, but when writing about any particular subject I’ll only be emphasizing certain connections.  Still, all the other connections are at the background of what I’m trying to convey.  A minor frustration is all of this background can’t easily be conveyed and so what gets communicated is simply an uprooted plant.  So, this post will be my humble attempt to elucidate this web of ideas, subjects, traditions, and writers.  But of equal importance I wish to demonstrate that these connections exist outside of my mind in the actual world… meaning in other people’s minds as well.


The Beginning: Historical Context

A) Ancient World: Religion and Philosophy

So as to be orderly in my presentation, let me start at the beginning… not the beginning of my own thinking but rather the beginning of the Western tradition.  I’ve already written about much of this in prior posts (for example: Graeco-Roman Tradition, Development of Christian Mysticism, and Mani’s Influence).  My thinking about this subject is informed by authors such as Acharya S (aka D.M. Murdock), Robert M. Price, Earl Doherty, Tom Harpur, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy; and I would also add Karen Armstrong and Richard Tarnas

Basically, during the Axial Age, Greek and Egyptian thought formed Hellenism which was later incorporated into and formalized by Roman culture.  At around this time and before, Jews were being influenced by Hellenism and the culmination of this was the Alexandrian Jewish community.  Jews had in the past been influenced by many cultures, borrowing wholesale at times some of their myths and theologies (including maybe Monotheism which was an idea both in the Egyptian and Greek traditions).  Mixed in with all of these were Persian influences such as Zoroastrianism.  Out of this, Christianity arose precisely with the arising of Rome.  Romans brought the synthesizing of Hellenism to a new level and they were constantly seeking a universal religion to unite the empire, such as Serapis worship, Pax Romana, and Romanized Christianity… of course these Roman universal religions themselves became mixed over the early centuries of the common era. 

Anyways, Gnosticism was either the origin of Christianity or else one of the earliest influences on Christianity.  Gnosticism was connected with the traditions of NeoPlatonism and Hermeticism.  An interesting aspect of Gnosticism is that it’s adherents sometimes used scientific knowledge to explain some of it’s theology.  This merging of the spiritual and the scientific would be carried on in various traditions.  Besides Gnosticism and Hermeticism, the offspring traditions Cabala and Alchemy speculated to great degrees about the physical world.  This line of thought seems to have been particularly focused in Germany.  The German mystics helped many of these ideas to survive.  These mystics emphasized the sympathy between the microcosm and the macrocosm and also the merging between the subjective and the objective.  The Reformationists were influenced by all of this even though they focused less on the mystical.  Paracelsus lived during the Reformation and was influenced by both the mystic tradition and the Reformation (which he didn’t identify with).  Most directly, he initially was more interested in science and medicine.  This led to Paracelsus’ theorizing about Gnostic ideas such as planetary influences (although he denied Gnosticism).  Paracelsus also believed in a universal healing energy and he is also credited for the first mention of the unconscious.

B) Post-Reformation: Early Development of Modern Traditions

This was also the time of the Renaissance and science was just beginning to come into its own, but science wouldn’t be fully formed until the Enlightenment.  During this latter period, Franz Mesmer developed a theory and methodology along the lines of Paracelsus’ writings.  Paracelsus’ ideas did become more popular a couple of centuries after his death, but I don’t know if his ideas had a direct influence on Mesmer.  Still, they’re a part of the same general philosophical lineage.  Mesmer did speculate about planetary influences, but he is most famous for his theory about animal magnetism which was a supposed healing energy.  This was the origin of what later would be called hypnotism which was much later developed, partially through the example of the Freudian Erik Erikson, into the methodology of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). 

Hypnotism was introduced into popular culture through writers such as Edgar Allan Poe.  Mesmerism was an early origin to spiritualism.  As such, it isn’t surprising that Poe in one of his stories had a character use hypnotism as a way of keeping a corpse alive.  Another concept that came from Mesmerism was the double which also was incorporated into the Horror genre, notably in the writings of E.T.A. Hoffman

Hypnotism as a psycho-therapeutic technique had been taken up by a number of people during and after Mesmer’s life.  Many decades later, Freud would learn hypnotism.  The ideas of sexual repression and hysteria were a part of the tradition of Mesmer’s methodology and these would be taken up by Freud.  Also, Freud had an interest in the unconscious which would seem to also to have been related to these kinds of ideas.  One of Freud’s followers was Wilhelm Reich who had a particular interest in the area of sexuality and healing energies.  He proposed the notion of Orgone energy which is reminiscent of both the ideas of Mesmer and Paracelsus.  Orgone is no longer reputable, but like Mesmer it has become a part of popular culture.  William S. Burroughs was a believer in Orgone energy (and spirituality in general as he considered himself a Manichean and was a Scientologist for a time).  Jack Kerouac mentioned Burroughs’ Orgone accumulator in one of his books and supposedly Grant Morrison (by way of Burroughs?) imagined Orgone energy as being real in one of his fictional worlds.

Mesmer‘s beliefs about healing energy accessible to all was also a major influence (via Phineas Quimby) on New Thought Christianity.  This Christian movement was also influenced by Swedenborg and more importantly by the very ancient ideas of Unitarianism and Universalism.  New Thought was a part of a larger social movement of people seeking a new form of spirituality after the Enlightenment had challenged so many traditional religious certainties and the Industrial Age was generally destabilizing culture.  Another set of ideas that probably was influential on New Thought would be that of Romanticism and Transcendentalism.  The latter in particular was a part of the same social milieu in the US at that time.  Specific organizations that appeared during this period were Unity church, Christian Science, Mormonism and the Theosophical Society.  Also, groups like the Quakers and Shakers became popular in the U.S. later in the 19th century partly in response to the social destabilization of the Civil War.  (By the way, New Thought Christianity has somewhat covertly made a resurgence with it’s incorporation into the mainstream through such things as The Secret and even more interestingly through Evangelical Christianity.  Positive thinking or prosperity thinking is known by Evangelicals as abundance theology or prosperity gospel.)

This collective search for the spiritual during the 19th century (and into the early 20th century) was being fueled by many things including the translation and publishing of many ancient texts (both Western and Eastern).  In biblical studies, some scholars picked up the earlier Enlightenment criticisms of Christianity (despite the fear of punishment by the church still being at the time very real in some places).  With many new texts available, comparative mythology caused quite a stir.  One major force in this scholarship was the publications coming out of the Theosophical Society, in particular those of G.R.S. Mead.  This school of thought mostly died out in biblical studies, but it was kept alive by comparative mythologists and psychologists.  It has, however, been revived in recent decades by a small growing sector of biblical scholars and has been made popular (if not exactly respectable) by the film Zeitgeist.


Freud, Jung and Others

Optimism and Pessimism, Religion and Horror

A major figure who was influenced by all of this was Carl Jung (who was the most significant force behind the Nag Hammadi texts getting translated and published).  Even though he was the most favored student of Freud, Jung had developed much of his own thinking prior to their meeting.  They both had great impact on each other, but of course (like many of Freud’s students such as Reich and Adler) Jung left Freud.  The Freudian and Jungian schools are an interesting contrast.  This partly a difference of how they related to the world in general which seems to symbolized by how they related to patients.  Freud had patients face away from him, but Jung (and Reich) chose to have their patients face them. 

Also, I can look at a book’s table of contents and make a good guess about whether the author will likely quote Freud or Jung.  Books that quote Freud tend to be about sexuality, gender, politics, power, the underprivileged, postmodernism, and textual criticism.  Books that quote Jung often involve the topics of spirituality, religion, mythology, ancient traditions, philosophy and the supernatural.  There is much crossover between the two and so it isn’t unusual to find both names in the same book, but still books that extensively quote Jung are more likely to mention Freud as well rather than the other way around.  Both Jung and Freud have influenced artists and fiction writers.  Herman Hesse, for instance, knew Jung and used his ideas in some of his fiction.  Freud’s obsession with sexuality, of course, was an interest to many creative types.  Burroughs‘ view on sexuality seems fairly Freudian.  Another angle is that Freud was less optimistic about human nature.  I was reading how Peter Wessel Zapffe’s Pessimistic philosophy is indebted to Freud and Zapffe is a major source of the horror writer Thomas Ligotti‘s view on life.  Philip K. Dick, on the other hand, was heavily influenced by Jung and PKD has relatively more of a hopeful bent (however, PKD also had a very dark side and was friends with darker fiction writers such as Harlan Ellison).  This distinction between a tendency towards pessimism versus optimism, I would add, appears related to the fact that Freud was very critical of religion and Jung maintained respect for religion his whole life (or at least the ideas and stories of religion if not the institution itself).

One further aspect is Jung‘s development of personality typology which came about by his trying to understand the differences between Adler and Freud and his trying to understand the reasons for his conflict with Freud.  Typology was particularly put into the context of a very optimistic philosophy with the MBTI which is all about understanding others and improving oneself.  Even though typology became a tool of corporate America, it has its roots in the ideas of centuries of philosophers such as Nietzsche’s Dionysian and Apollonian.  Typology is the closest that Jung’s ideas have come to academic respectability.  (However, his theory on archetypes is slowly gaining respectability simply by the force of its wide influence, and its important to note that there was always a connection between Jung’s thinking about typology and archetypes.)  With the systematization in MBTI, Jung’s typology has been scientifically researched and correlated with other research on personality theories.  For my purposes, I’ll point out that his typology probably influenced some of Hesse‘s thinking and I know that Philip K. Dick was familiar with it, but typology overall hasn’t been a favorite topic of most philosophical and spiritual thinkers.  Even so, the creation of distinct categories of people is a very old notion (in the West and in other cultures).  For a relevant example, certain Gnostics (e.g., Valentinians) divided people into three categories, but later Christians seem to have preferred the simpler categorization of damned versus saved.  In secular writing, George P. Hansen is a rare thinker who considers types (Ernest Hartmann‘s boundary types which are correlated to MBTI) in terms of paranormal experience and cultural analysis, but I don’t know if he is familiar with Jung’s typology although he does reference Jung a fair amount.  A more amusing example is William S. Burroughs‘ dividing the world up into the Johnson Family and the Shits.

Like Freud, Jung had a strong interest in the unconscious which (along with his many other interests) definitely puts him in the tradition of Paracelsus and Mesmer.  It would almost be easier to list what Jung didn’t study rather than what he did.  He certainly was interested in the same types of subjects that are now included in the New Age movement (which isn’t surprising as Jungian ideas are a major interest of many New Agers).  Specific to my purposes here, Jung often quoted G.R.S. Mead and was also immensely curious about spiritualism.  Jung’s influence is immense, despite his fame being slightly overshadowed by Freud. 

An aspect not often considered is Jung‘s influence on Christianity (which I assume was largely his interest in Mead’s writing).  His family was very much entrenched within Christianity and so Jung was obsessed with it his whole life.  The book he considered his most personal was written about Christianity (i.e., Answer to Job).  Jung had a fruitful relationship with Father White who himself was a writer.  Jung’s ideas became incorporated into Father White’s writings about Catholicism.  Despite Jung not being Catholic or even Christian, his ideas gave a certain respectability to the Catholic emphasis on symbolism and imagery, but it’s hard to estimate Jung’s influence on Catholic thinking.  The most direct influence in this regard would be on the InklingsC.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien who were Christians also felt some kinship with Jung’s ideas, but of course they disagreed with Jung’s putting Christianity on the same level as Pagan myths (as such, his theory was simply a myth explaining other myths rather than God’s truth).  Through Jung and Lewis, theology became more of a topic of popular culture.  Also, Lewis helped bridge the separation between the Pagan imagination of Romanticism and Christian doctrine which was furthermore a bridge between theological ideas and fiction.  This bridging obviously influenced later writers such as Philip K. Dick who combined fiction and theology.  The popularizing of Christianity had a corroding effect on orthodoxy (which Tolkien feared), but also it led to a great fertility of thinking where Christianity and popular culture mixed.  I’m sure many Christians have discovered Jung through the Inklings, but  I suspect, though, that Jung probably has had the most influence on Christians who are counselors (and therefore on the people they counsel).  Related to counseling, Jung was a direct inspiration for the development of Alcoholics Anonymous which was originally Christian (also, A.A. is one of the first self-help groups which as a way of organizing people would later became a focus of various New Agers, Christian and otherwise).

I also wonder what connections there might be between Jung’s interest in Catholicism and the supernatural and the interest in the same by Horror writers and movie directors.  Also, as there are Catholics interested in Jung and Catholics interested in horror and ghost stories, I wonder how many Catholics would be interested in both.  Interestingly, both Jungian studies and the Horror genre have simultaneously increased in popularity and respectability.  An obvious link between Jung and horror would be Freud‘s understanding of the Uncanny and I would say that the Uncanny would be magnified by the amorphous nature of the Jungian Collective Unconscious.  The Uncanny becomes quite horrific when it can no longer be safely contained within the human brain, no longer explained away as mere psychological mechanism.

New Age, Hillman, and the Paranormal

There are three other interconnected avenues of Jung‘s influence that I want to consider further. 

1) As Jung was influenced by the spiritual and the spiritualist movements of the 19th century, he in turn influenced the New Age movement of the 20th century.  Jung acts as a bridge and a synthesizer.  Jung himself and his ideas struggled for respectability, but still it was partly through his ideas that the New Age gained some respectability.  His views on archetypes gave many people a method/language (and an even playing field on which) to analyze mainstream culture and the dominant religions.  The New Age’s incorporation of archetypes, however, made them even less respectable to mainstream culture (at least until recently, maybe partly because the New Age has become more respectable).  If it weren’t for certain writers such as Joseph Campbell, Jung’s writings on comparative mythology might very well be less known and understood.  Joseph Campbell also helped to revive Jung’s study of Christianity in terms of mythology.  Specifically, it was Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey (i.e., Monomyth) that brought this all to a mainstream audience.  Suddenly, both Hollywood and Christianity had to come to terms with mythology… forcing Christianity to also come to terms with Hollywood and popular culture in general.  One other connection between Jung and the New Age would be Quantum Physics.  One of Jung’s patients was the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and they developed a friendship.  They both were interested in the connection between science and the mind, and this interest became symbolized by the number 137.  This number fascinated Pauli (and many other scientists) because the “fine structure constant” is approximately 1/137 which is neither very large nor very small but rather a human-sized number, a number that’s easy  to grasp.  Jung had discovered that going by the numerology related to Kabbalah that the word ‘Kabbalah’ added up to 137.  So, this number represented their shared interest, their shared ideal.  This desire to bridge matter and mind, science and psychology is a major part of New Age spirituality and of other thinkers outside of the New Age (e.g. Ken Wilber).

2) A second line of influence is that of James Hillman who was indebted to and critical of Jung‘s view.  He wrote a book about Jung’s typology and he was very much against it being used in a systematic fashion to categorize people.  To be fair, Jung was extremely wary of his typology being systematized.  Hillman can be considered as loosely a part of the thinking going on within and on the fringes of the New Age movement, but his ideas were a bit of an opposition to the idealistic strain of the New Age.  He believed suffering and illness should be accepted and understood on its own terms.  So, reality should be taken for what it is without trying to make it into something else.  Importantly, this view seems to be different than Freud‘s thinking in that Freud was apparently less trusting of human nature and experience (although there may be some minor similarity in that Freud emphasized helping people adapt rather than trying to fundamentally change them).  For instance, the Freudian-influenced Pessimism of Zapffe (and hence of Ligotti) posits that humans are deceived and self-deceiving.  Zapffe has a very good analysis of the methods people use to avoid suffering (which, to be honest, I’m not sure to what degree someone like Hillman would disagree).  From another perspective, Robert Avens, in his Imagination is Reality, draws on Hillman’s writings.  I found Avens’ analysis to be a useful counter example to the philosophical writings of Ligotti, but this is something I’m still working out.  I see some truth (and some limitations) in both perspectives.

3) The third aspect would be Jung‘s focus on the paranormal.  He studied the paranormal since he was young and had paranormal experiences of his own.  As he grew older, he saw the psyche and the archetypes as not being limited by the human brain.  His interest in the paranormal was far from idle.  Through his principle of synchronicity, he believed non-ordinary experiences had a very direct and practical impact on a person.  He also corresponded with the famous parapsychology researcher J.B. Rhine and they met once, but as I understand Jung was uncertain about the relationship between synchronicity and parapsychology research (since the former focuses on the subjective and the latter on the objective).  One of his last books was about UFOs and it was highly influential on a certain tradition of UFO researchers: Jacques Vallee and John Keel.  This tradition overlaps with Jung’s studies of and influence on religion and spirituality.  Vallee, like George P. Hansen, studied spiritual groups and religious cults.  I’m sure Keel studied those as well.  In The Eighth Tower, Keel details some of the biblical mythicist theories and Egyptology that had become increasingly popular starting in the 1970s (and, of course, he relates it to the paranormal).   Thus, paranormal research was combined with comparative mythology and folkore studies.  This is how Jungian ideas became linked with Charles Fort, another researcher into the paranormal.  Charles Fort was a different kind of thinker than Jung, but people interested in one often are interested in the other.  Even though I’m not as familiar with Fort, I do know he was highly influential on other writers and thinkers in his lifetime (John Cowper Powys, Sherwood Anderson, Clarence Darrow, Booth Tarkington, Theodore Dreiser, Ben Hecht, Alexander Woolcott and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.) and many later people as well too numerous to list (which includes many of the writers I discuss in this post).  A less known fact is that Fort wrote fiction stories that were published early in his career and a major part of his influence has been on fiction writers.  Both Jung and Fort read widely and both changed their minds as they came across new evidence.  Even more than the likes of Hillman, the Forteans are the real opposites of the New Agers.  However, Forteans and New Agers were both a part of the counterculture (before the New Age went mainstream with its being approved and popularized by Oprah).

These last three traditions do overlap in various ways. 

Patrick Harpur is a very interesting writer on the paranormal.  He references many of the above writers: Carl Jung, James Hillman, Robert Avens, Charles Fort, Jacques Vallee and John Keel.  George P. Hansen is even more wide ranging in that he references those same kinds of writers and he references various people from the New Age area and beyond all of that he also references many philosophers and scientists in other related fields.  Hansen is more difficult to categorize, but ultimately he might best fit in with the Fortean tradition.  Another writer I discovered recently is Keith Thompson who wrote a book that is similar to the writings of these other two.  Thompson and Hansen come to a similar conclusion about the Trickster archetype being fundamental to understanding the paranormal (which could be related to Jung’s insight that the Trickster figure was a precursor to the Savior figure). Thompson is also interesting in that he has very direct connections to the New Age and to Integralism.  Besides writing about UFOs, he did an interview with Robert Bly in the New Age magazine which was what first brought the mens movement into public attention.  Thompson credits Michael Murphy for supporting the ideas in the book early on partly by promoting a UFO group at the Esalen Institute (where, for instance, Joseph Campbell had taught in the past).  Michael Murphy has been closely associated with Ken Wilber and apparently Thompson is the same person who was the president of Wilber’s Integral Institute for a time.

Let me briefly point out that, in the context of the three Jungian-related traditions outlined above, there are some counterculture figures that are mixed into this general area of ideas: William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Terrence McKenna, and Philip K. Dick.  So, this brings in the fields of study involving psychology, consciousness research, psychedelics, epistemology, spiritual practice and conspiracy theories.  Also, I would add a connection here with Transpersonal psychology and the New Age in general.  If you’re a fan of the radio show Coast to Coast AM (formerly hosted by Art Bell and now hosted by George Noory), then these types of ideas and writers should be generally familiar to you (Terrence McKenna, in particular, was a regular guest).  I want to emphasize particularly William S. Burroughs as he was extremely interested in these kinds of subjects.  Despite Burroughs dark streak, he said he never doubted the existence of God.  He believed in lots of alternative ideas such as ESP, but most relevant here is that he visited Whitley Strieber who is one of the biggest names in the UFO encounter field.  In connection to Burroughs and Jung, Reich (who proposed the orgone theory) also had a strong interest in UFOs (which he connected with his orgone theory).  As a passing thought, this last connection of Reich reminds me of Paracelsus as the latter also speculated much about the paranormal (in terms of influences and beings).  Vallee discusses Paracelsus’ ideas in context of modern speculations about UFOs.


The Occult and the New Age, Spiritualism and the Theosophical Society

I need to backtrack a bit to delineate some other lines of influence.  I want to follow further the influence Mesmer and spiritualism had on fiction and I want to follow a different influence from the Theosophical Society.

Poe and Horror, Philip K. Dick and Neo-Noir

So, first, Mesmer and spiritualism had a wide influence on fiction, in particular the genre of horror.  Most significantly, I want to follow a divergent influence Poe had.  Poe is definitely one of the most influential writers for modern horror, but less recognized is that he is also considered by some to be the originator of the modern detective storyVictoria Nelson and Eric G. Wilson write about Poe’s horror writing, but those two also write about noir (which of course is grounded in the hard-boiled detective story) and neo-noir.  A major factor in the transforming of noir into neo-noir (and it’s related development into tecno-noir and influence on cyber-punk) was the writings of Philip K. Dick and especially the movie Blade Runner which was based on one of his novels.

My interest in noir and neo-noir has increased since reading Victoria Nelson and Eric G. Wilson… and a more recent addition to my library is Thomas S. Hibbs.  All three of them have helped me to understand the religious undertones and philosophical implications of this genre.  Nelson and Wilson cover similar territory, but Hibbs has a different view that emphasizes Pascal‘s ideas (which offers another counterbalance to Zapffe/Ligotti ideas).  Hibbs uses Pascal’s hidden God as a contrast to Nietzsche‘s God is dead.  He also writes some about Philip K. Dick, but apparently isn’t aware of PKD’s own notions about a hidden God (aka Zebra).

Nelson, in The Secret Life of Puppets, writes about writers such as Poe, Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick and C.S. Lewis in terms of mythology, puppets, alchemygnosticism, art and film; she also briefly writes about New Age groups and UFO cults.  More significantly, she discusses German Expressionism merging with “hard-boiled detective mode of pulp fiction” to form film noir.  She speaks of re-noir by which I assume she means the same genre that others call neo-noir.  She also goes into some detail about New Expressionism which seems closely connected with neo-noir.  Specifically of interest to me, she discusses the movie Blade Runner.  I’m not sure about her opinion on the subject but I think some consider that movie to be the first neo-noir film (or at least the first sf neo-noir film) which is a type of film that has become increasingly popular in the following decades.  Also, Blade Runner (along with PKD’s fiction) was a formative influence on cyber-punk.  As for neo-noir, besides being mixed with science fiction and fantasy, it has also used elements of horror as in Dark City.  This is natural fit considering Poe’s influence.  Another very interesting topic she discusses is Memoirs of My Nervous Illness by Daniel Paul Schreber.  She compares Schreber’s view of reality with that of Lovecraft’s fiction.  It’s also significant to note that Schreber’s memoir was made famous by Freud‘s analysis of it in terms of homosexuality and paranoia, and it was Jung who brought this text to Freud’s attention.  Nelson does discuss Freud in reference to Schreber and she discusses Jung in other parts of her book.

Wilson was influenced by Nelson and so was writing along similar lines, but with more emphasis on religion and also more emphasis on subjects such as the Gothic and Existentialism.  In one book, he goes into great detail about Gnosticism and the traditions of Cabala and alchemy which were formed partly from the ideas of Gnosticism.  Wilson also said he was influenced by Marina Warner who is also mentioned in Nelson’s writings.  Warner writes in a similar vein as these two, but it seems she has less interest in pop culture although she does write some about Philip K. Dick.  These writers point out the connection between high and low art and the connection between art and culture, between imagination and religion.

I could make even more connections here in terms of Gothic fiction and Existentialism.  I’ve read a number of fiction writers that fit in here, but I’m not sure about specific lines of influence.

Theosophy: Darkness and Light

Now, let me follow a very odd linking of people starting with the Theosophical society.

First, most people don’t realize that the distinction between the Occult and the New Age didn’t initially exist when these ideas were first being formulated.  Aleister Crowley was associated with the Theosophical Society and he considered it significant that he was born in the year that the organization was founded.  Crowley appreciated the work of Anna Kingsford who established Theosophy in England and briefly headed it.  Whereas Blavatsky had emphasized Oriental esotericism, Kingsford was in favor of a Western esotericism with a focus on Christianity and Hermeticism.  She supposedly was more known for her advocacy work for women’s rights, animal rights and vegetarianism.  She would seem to represent the more New Agey side of Theosophy which is odd considering the association with Crowley who was known as “the Beast”.

I want to momentarily point out a tangential thought that is relevant to the Theosophical Society and similar organizations.  George P. Hansen has written some useful analysis of the connection between the New Age and the Occult.  The following is mostly based on his ideas, but a similar analysis of the dark side of alien experiences can be found in the works of Jacques Vallee.

Intentional communities and Gurus are very popular amongst New Agers, but there is a dark side to this with Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Heaven’s Gate.  Heaven’s Gate is an especially good example.  They were a UFO cult that was very New Agey in their interest in pop culture utopianism and their beliefs in alien/angels that would come to save them.  Many people who have alien abduction experiences are given messages by their captors.  They are made to feel special and that they have a mission to accomplish.  They are often told that the world is ailing or even dying, and that the aliens have come to save the planet or the aliens have come to save an elect few.  You can find similar messages in New Age channeled writings (and in the historical accounts of various traditional religions as well).

I was reading a book by Vallee who began his career as a scientist before becoming a UFO investigator.  He was one of the first people to make a connection between alien abductions and traditional folklore.  In the intro to one of his books, he mentioned that he had studied Teilhard de Chardin and appreciated his view.  Teilhard de Chardin is a name that comes up in discussions about both both New Age and Integral theory.

The Two Krishnamurtis

To return to the topic of the Theosophical Society, after Blavatsky died there was major conflict.  Crowley became antagonistic and various leaders turned against each other.  Rudolf Steiner helped to establish the German and Austrian division as independent, and out of this Anthroposophical Society formed.  The Americans also split off and later split again.  Annie Besant and Henry Olcott took over the division in India.

So, in India, J. Krishnamurti was adopted by Annie Besant and was groomed to be a World Teacher which Crowley didn’t like (I’m not sure why, but maybe he wanted to be the World Teacher).  U.G. Krishnamurti, through his grandfather, became involved in Theosophy in his teenage years.  The two Krishnamurtis met while a part of the Theosophical Society.  They shared their views with eachother and shared a questioning attitude.  Both rejected the role of guru which led to both leaving the Theosophical Society.  However, J. Krishnamurti did continue an informal career as spiritual teacher which U.G. Krishnamurti criticized as his having become a guru after all (and U.G. has been called an anti-guru and even the anti-Krishnamurti).  Both Krishnamurtis had profound spiritual experiences that transformed them, but U.G. Krishnamuti’s experiences led to a less popular viewpoint in that he believed that the physical world was all that existed.  According to my limited study of U.G., his view of no-mind seems something like a materialistic version of Zen.  J. Krishnamurti, on the other hand, is very popular with the New Age crowd (which is where I learned of him).  For instance, the same type of person who writes about J. Krishnamurti also writes about A Course In Miracles (another early influence of mine)… by the way, ACIM according to Kenneth Wapnick (who helped form the text) has a similar theology to Valentinian Gnosticism (which makes sense as the Nag Hammadi discovery was just beginning to become popular at that time). 


Horror Writers and Scholars

From Ligotti to Wilber

To get back on topic, U.G. Krishnamurti is less well known as he didn’t see himself as having a public mission.  His writings are on the extreme fringe of the New Age, but I’m not sure what kind of person is typically attracted to his philosophy.  However, I was interested to discover that Thomas Ligotti mentions him in an interview.  U.G. Krishnamurti’s materialistic bent fits in with the general trend of Ligotti’s thinking, but I’m not sure what value Ligotti would see in even a materialistic spirituality (not that U.G. was trying to promote its value).  I was reading from a thread on Thomas Ligotti Online that the story “The Shadow, The Darkness” was a direct homage to U.G. Krishnamurti.

Anyways, Ligotti represents an interesting connection between Horror and many other ideas.  Ligotti’s favorite thinker apparently is the Pessimistic philosopher Zapffe.  I came across that Zapffe was close friends with and mentor to Arnes Naess.  That is extremely intriguing as Naess was the founder of the Deep Ecology movement.  I find it humorous to consider the hidden seed of Zapffe’s Pessimism at the foundation of Deep Ecology.  Like Theosophy, Deep Ecology is another major influence on New Age thinking.  This confluence of Horror and the New Age is maybe to be expected for I suppose it isn’t entirely atypical for someone like Ligotti to go from being a spiritual seeker to becoming a fully committed Pessimist.  In terms of ideas, the opposites of optimistic idealism and pessimistic realism seem to evoke each other… as they say, scratch a cynic and you’ll find a failed idealist.  I was thinking recently that horror as an experience can only exist in contrast to hope.  If humans had no hope, then there’d be no horror.  So, the greatest horror is only possible with the greatest hope and the contrary would seem to be true as well.  In terms of environmentalism, Pessimism is a natural fit anyhow.  Environmental writers such as Paul Shepard and Derrick Jensen are far from optimistic about the human situation.  Paul Shepard, in particular, seems to have ideas that resonate with Zapffe’s view that something went wrong in the development of early humanity.  Along these lines, a book that would fit in here is The Love of Nature and the End of the World by Shierry Weber Nicholsen.

I think this is a good place to mention Julian Jaynes.  He was a psychologist who became famous through his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.  His ideas generally relate to the kind of ideas put forth by Paul Shepard, Ken Wilber, Max Weber, Karl Jaspers, and Peter Wessel Zapffe.  He theorized that human consciousness was different in the past and a shift happened during early civilization.  He thought that ancient man’s mind was more externalized with less sense of individuality… something like schizophrenia.  He had two sources of evidence for his theory.  He saw traces of this early mode of consciousness in the oldest surviving writings and he referenced psychology research that demonstrated that stimulating parts of the brain could elicit a person hearing voices.  The reason I mention him is because he influenced, along with many others, both William S. Burroughs and Ken Wilber.  Buroughs wrote about Jayne’s ideas in his essay “Sects and Death” and Wilber wrote about them in his book Up from Eden.

Related to Deep Ecology is Phenomenology for Deep Ecologists have often used it to support their view.  This is so because, in Phenonmenology, there is something of an animistic appreciation of nature.  Phenomenology influenced Enactivism which is a fairly new theory involving the scientific study of consciousness and perception.  Enactivism was also influenced by Buddhism and as such Enactivism tries to scientifically explain our direct experience of reality.  Enactivism especially discusses the connection between mind and body.  I bring this up because Ken Wilber, who is critical of Deep Ecology, is a major contributor to and proponent of Integral theory which has had some fruitful dialogue with Enactivism (see my post ENACTIVISM, INTEGRAL THEORY, AND 21st CENTURY SPIRITUALITY).  Irwin Thomson has co-written some books with the Enactivist theorists, and  Ken Wilber has been contrasted with William Irwin Thomson (the father of Irwin Thomson).  The former is a systematic thinker and the latter non-systematizing, and yet both write about similar subjects.  (Jung was more of a non-systematizer and that might be why Wilber ended up feeling critical towards his ideas.)  Ken Wilber is useful to bring up as he has synthesized many different fields of knowledge and he has helped to bridge the gap between academia and spirituality.  Also, Wilber has become a major figure in popular culture such as his speaking on the commentary tracks for the Matrix trilogy.

I want to point out that there has been much dialogue between the ideas of Wilber and those of Jung.  Jung’s less systematic style of thought also allowed for great shift in his understanding over time.  This makes it difficult to understand Jung’s spectrum of ideas as his opinions changed.  Wilber, on the other hand, is extremely systematic and his theory has remained fairly consistent even as he adds to it.  Wilber does have some basic understanding of Jung which he describes in some of his books, but various people have pointed out some inaccuracies in his understanding.  As a systematizer of many fields, Wilber inevitably simplifies many theories in order to evaluate and synthesize them.  However, to understand the connection between Jung and Wilber it would be better to look to a third-party viewpoint.  The best example of this would be Gerry Goddard (whose lifework tome can be found on the Island Astrology website).  I bring up Goddard for another reason.  Goddard was also a systematizer like Wilber, but he brings a number of other writers into his theory.  As I recall, he gives a more fair assessment of Jung.  Also, he includes the ideas of Richard Tarnas and Stanislav Grof.  I briefly mentioned Tarnas at the beginning.  Tarnas is a historian whose writing is a useful resource for understanding the development of ideas across the centuries, and he also has an interest in astrology.  Tarnas wrote a very interesting book about history and astrology that Goddard references.  Goddard also writes about the psychologist Stanislav Grof who is often contrasted with Wilber.  Grof is interesting as he started off researching psychedelics, but later focused on non-psychedelic methods of altering the mind (such as breathing techniques) for the purposes of psychotherapy.  Goddard is a less known theorist, but is a good example of the relationships between some of the people I mention.

There is another related distinction I’d like to make.  Wilber and Goddard are systematizers which somehow connects with their work being squarely set in the field of non-fiction.  Wilber did write a novel, but even then it was simply a mouthpiece for his non-fiction.  William Irwin Thomson seems more like Jung.  Along with wide ranging interests, they both were deeply interested in the creative as well as the intellectual side of human experience.  By deeply interested I mean that they sought to express themselves creatively.  Jung was often painting or carving stone or simply playing around with whatever was at hand.  I don’t know as much about Thomson, but I’ve seen poetry he has written and I’ve seen him referenced as a poet.  Also, Thomson writes about literature.  Along these lines, Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs would also be of this latter category of non-systematic creative thinkers.  Ligotti is a bit harder to fit in with this scheme.  He definitely has strong interest in both fiction and non-fiction, but relative to PKD and Burroughs he seems much more systematic and focused.

Let me conclude this section by saying that Ken Wilber is a major focal point of my own thinking simply for the fact that he covers so much territory and because his ideas have become the focus of more intellectual discussions of spirituality.  He is relevant to my discussion also because he was influenced by the counterculture ideas of his Boomer generation and so he is familiar with many of the people I’ve mentioned so far.  Wilber was interested in alternative ideas like those of Jung, but ended up setting his theory in opposition to depth psychology, transpersonal psychology and deep ecology.  Unhappily, Wilber often gets categorized in bookstores along with the very New Age writers he criticizes.  Similar to Ligotti, he spent much time seriously seeking spiritual perspectives which in his case even included following a guru for a while.  Ligotti and Wilber represent two very intellectual responses to the search for knowledge and understanding.

Burroughs in relation to Ligotti and PKD

Similarly, as I’ve stated elsewhere (see here), Ligotti and Philip K. Dick represent two very different responses to William S. Burroughs as they were both influenced by him.  I really don’t know the specifics of how Burroughs had an effect on Ligotti.  Supposedly, he said that Burroughs was his last artistic hero, but as far as I can tell he doesn’t otherwise speak about Burroughs much.  Burroughs was quite the Pessimist in many ways and so it’s a bit surprising that I didn’t notice his name being mentioned in the excerpt of Ligotti’s non-fiction from the Collapse journal.  Maybe when his full nonfiction work is published there’ll be something about Burroughs in it.  Actually, in some ways, Burroughs comes off as darker than Ligotti.  On the other hand, Burroughs had an explicitly spiritual side.  Gnosticism is particularly clear in Burroughs’ perspective and that is where PKD saw a connection to his own philosophizing.  This Gnosticism is a direct connection to Jung, at least for PKD but probably for Burroughs as well since I know that he was familiar with Jung.  PKD, however, is more Jungian in his view of gender in that both PKD and Jung apparently were influenced by the Gnostic (and Taoist) emphasis on gender as a way of thinking about the dualistic nature of the psyche.  Burroughs’ understanding of gender could also have its origins partly in Gnosticism as there was a strain of Gnosticism that was less idealistic about gender differences.  Burroughs considered himself Manichaean which was a religion with an ascetic tradition and which emphasized dualism to a greater degree (I find it humorous to consider that the great Church Doctor Augustine was also a Manichaean for many years before his conversion… which makes me wonder what Burroughs opinion was about Augustine).  Another distinction here is that Jung and PKD maintained relationships with Christians and biblical scholars, but I can’t imagine Burroughs having much interest in Christianity.  Burroughs, rather, saw Gnosticism as in opposition to Christianity.

Poe and Lovecraft, Christianity and Gnosticism

Another connection would be favorite writers.  I mentioned Poe already.  Poe was a major favorite of Burroughs, Ligotti and PKD.  Lovecraft would be another writer to bring up as he was influenced by Poe.  Lovecraft in turn had a tremendous impact on Ligotti and PKD, and Burroughs made references to Lovecraft in a number of places.  Also, Burroughs supposedly was taught about Mayan codices by Robert H. Barlow who was Lovecraft’s literary executor.  I was reading that Burroughs met Barlow in Mexico while studying anthropology.  An interest in cultures would be something that Burroughs shares with PKD and Jung, but I don’t have a sense that Ligotti has much interest in this area or at least he doesn’t seem to write about it.  To add a quick note, there is a nice essay by Graham Harman in Collapse IV that brings together Lovecraft, Poe and Phenomenology.

Yet another connection is that of Robert M. PricePrimarily, Price is a biblical scholar, but he has many interests including weird writing, superheroes and philosophy.  He seems to have been somewhat of a Lovecraft expert in the past and has written his own Lovecraftian stories.  Price’s interest in Lovecraft makes sense in terms of his interest in Gnosticism as Lovecraft’s view of reality is essentially that of Gnostic archons minus the Gnostic true God (there is a good analysis of Lovecraft’s philosophy in Sieg’s “Infinite  Regress” from Collapse IV).  Price also has written an essay about Ligotti that was published in The Thomas Ligotti Reader.  I know of Price mostly through his biblical scholarship as he writes about Gnosticism and mythicism which are two of my favorite topics.  He doesn’t identify as a mythicist, but is very supportive of mythicist theorists such as Earl Doherty and D.M. Murdock (aka Acharya S) and he highly respects some of the scholarship that was done in this regard during the 19th century.  Robert M. Price also has written quite a bit about Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.  He seems to have some respect for these two, but he also seems to be very critical of how their ideas have been used by New Agers.

To make a related point, D.M. Murdock‘s most recent book is about Christianity and Egyptology.  In it, she references the likes of Price and Campbell.  A major issue for Murdock is the literalism of traditional Christianity which was an issue that Campbell spilled much ink over.  The literal is seen as opposed to the imaginal according to the views of Hillman and AvensWilber makes similar distinctions using different models and terminology.  As for the Egyptian religion, I’d point out that it was a major interest of Burroughs (and Eric G. Wilson too).  There is a strong connection between Gnosticism and Egypt.  A distinction that some make between Gnosticism and Christianity is that the former preferred allegory rather than literal interpretation.  This began with the Alexandrian Jews in Egypt whose Platonic allegorizing of Jewish scriptures was acceptable even to some of the Church fathers.  The difference is that many Gnostics allegorized and spiritualized the gospel stories as well. 

I want to note here E. A. Wallis Budge who was one of the most respectable early Egyptologists.  Murdock references him to a great degree, and any thinker involved with early Christianity and Western mythology would be fully aware of his scholarship.  Of course, writers such as Mead, Price, and Campbell are familiar with his work.  Also, he was known by writers such as Burroughs and John Keel.  And surely Eric G. Wilson would’ve come across his writings.  Budge’s scholarship put Egyptology on the map and helped put it in context of early Western history including Christianity.  Budge is surprisingly not that well known to most people, but trust me he had massive influence on many thinkers over this last century.  Egyptology had already taken hold of the Western imagination by earlier scholars.  Poe used Egyptian elements in some of his stories and Poe died a few years before Budge’s birth.  Budge lived closer to the turn of the century around the time of Carl Jung, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, and Charles Fort.

Two Kinds of Thinkers

I want to describe one last aspect that I articulated partly in my post Burroughs, PKD, and Ligotti.  I was distinguishing Ligotti as different from Burroughs and PKD in an important respect.  The latter two were extremely restless thinkers and seekers which seemed represented and maybe contributed to by their drug experimentation.  The only drugs that I’ve seen Ligotti mention are those that are medically prescribed for his bi-polar condition and so they’re designed to make him less restless.  I would guess that Burroughs was one of the first writers to truly popularize drug experimentation, but it took others to bring it into the mainstream.  It was during the ’60s that drug experimentation became a hot topic and Timothy Leary I suppose was the most major proponent.  However, many forget that Leary was originally a psychologist and a respected one at that.  There was this meeting of ideas at that time which has persisted: psychedelics, psychology, spirituality, occultism, ufos and conspiracy theories.  Robert Anton Wilson, a friend of Leary, was the one who really synthesized all of these seeming disparate subjects (and, if I remember correctly, it’s through his writing that I first read about Wilhelm Reich).  Another person was Terrance McKenna who in some ways picked up where Leary left off, but his focus was on mushrooms rather than LSD.

Philip K. Dick was aware of this whole crowd and it all fits into his own brand of counterculture philosophizing.  Specifically, he wrote about McKenna (and vice versa).  A common interest that PKD and McKenna shared was Taoism and the I Ching which they both connected to synchronicity.  They inherited this line of thought from Carl Jung who wrote an introduction to a popular translation of the I Ching.  As a side not, I’d add that McKenna’s view of UFOs are also influenced by Jung (and seem in line with theories of Vallee and Hansen).  To put this in context, Jung would relate psychic manifestations such as UFOs with synchronicity.  Related to this, Burroughs’ cut-up technique was based on the principle of synchronicity.  PKD was interested in Burroughs’ technique as it fit into his own beliefs about messages appearing in unexpected ways (i.e., God in the garbage or in the gutter).  Oppositely, this technique is something that Ligotti strongly disliked.  This makes sense as Ligotti seems to be more of a systematic writer, a perfectionist even (which neither Burroughs nor PKD aspired towards).  Along these lines, consider the random and meandering philosophizing of Burroughs and PKD in the context of Ligotti’s carefully articulated Pessimism.  To quote Quentin S. Crisp in the comments of his blog post Negotiating With Terrorists (where he writes about Ligotti’s use of U.G. Krishnamurti): “My own cosmic unease is, I think, far more open-ended than that of Ligotti. I honestly can’t see him ever changing his position, and it’s a position that has already concluded and closed.”  I doubt Crisp would want to be held down to that opinion as anything more than a tentative commentary, but it touches upon my own suspicion about Ligotti’s view.  I don’t mean to imply any criticism of Ligotti for I do sense that Ligotti’s writings are true to his experience (which, going by his own distinguishing between Lovecraft and Shakespeare, is something he values).  By quoting Crisp’s comment, I’m only trying to clarify the difference between Ligotti and certain other writers.  After all, restless inconclusiveness isn’t exactly a desirable state of being (which I’m pretty sure Crisp is well aware of).

Anyhow, the distinction here between these two kinds of writers is similar to the distinction I pointed out between William Irwin Thomson and Ken WilberIn my Enactivist post (linked above), I use MBTI and Hartmann’s boundary types (via George P. Hansen’s writing) to try to understand this difference.  Obviously, one could divide up writers in various ways, but this seems a fairly natural division that my mind often returns to.

For further analysis on types of writers, read the following blog post:

Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus


Conclusion: Different Perspectives

Many of the writers I’ve brought up disagree about different issues, and yet they’re a part of a web of relationships and ideas.  I wonder if the overall picture offers more insight than the opinion of any given writer.  These traditions of beliefs and lineages of ideas represent something greater than any individual.  I’d even go so far as to say that it shows a process of the cultural psyche collectively thinking out issues of importance, and certain people become focal points for where ideas converge and create new offspring.


Note: There are many more connections that could be made.  I’m curious how other writers might fit in: Hardy, Baudelaire, Borges, Kafka and Blake; Gothic writers, Romanticists, Transcendentalists and Existentialists; the brothers of William James and Henry James; the Powys brothers; various philosophers such as Nietzsche and Pascal.  Et Cetera.  In particular, it could be fruitful to explore Lovecraft further.  He wrote both fiction and non-fiction.  Also, he was immensely influential as a writer and in terms of his relationsips as he corresponded with many people.  Another angle of connections would be organizations formed around the scholarship of specific people.  There is the Fortean Society and the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich which were both formed during the lifetimes of Fort and Jung, but there is also the Joseph Campbell Foundation which was formed after Campbell’s death.  These organizations attracted many thinkers who also became well known for their own scholarship and writings.  Also, I could include the website Thomas Ligotti Online.  Ligotti is still alive, but he has such a cult following that a website (including a forum) was created by a fan.  This forum has attracted a number of other published weird fiction writers such as Quentin S. Crisp and Matt Cardin (both of whom write about the kinds of things I mention in this post).  There are also organizations such as the Esalen Institue which has attracted many diverse thinkers and has led to much cross-pollination of ideas.