TFA and Perspective of Perspectives

marmalade
I think the best integral model is about perspectives because a model itself offers a perspective and its only through our individual perspective(and our cultural-historical perspective) that we can understand a model’s perspective. Another type of integral model creates descriptive categories which at its best has practical use, and at its worse creates unuseful or unclear distinctions.

I think Spiral Dynamics is more of the former, and Wilber’s quadrants is more of the latter; but there is much cross-over. Spiral Dynamics can be used to categorize, but I think this is a wrong use of it. Wilber’s quadrants can be used to represent perspectives which is how Wilber has tried to refine it, but still I find the quadrants disatisfying in this manner.

A perspective of perspectives is priveleged because it subsumes all else. Any model we create is created by humans on the planet earth during a very short span of time. I haven’t yet had a transcending vision of God’s view, and I’m not convinced anyone else has either. This notion of a perspective of perspectives is postmodern in the sense that it isn’t an objective framework that allows us to see outside of it, but neither can we separate it from what we are trying to explain by it. We are our perspectives meaning we change as our perspectives change.

Despite what to some may seem like subjective relativism, any model of perspectives isn’t separate from the context of the larger world that informs our perspective even if we don’t or can’t entirely comprehend it. We are part of the world and so our perspectives aren’t constrained by limited notions of individuality. We can infer that this perspective of perspectives somehow reflects a larger world context because afterall it is this that our perspectives have arisen or evolved from. There is no necessity to make any metaphysical interpretations, but speculating might be useful if it leads to new perspectives that we can then verify in our own experience.

Everything is a perspective including all aspects of an ITP. Its not having a balanced life that creates an integral perspective. There must be something within our awareness that connects it all even if only on a vague level of intention.

Basically, what I’m speaking about here is a TFA(Theory For Everything) rather than a TOE. A TFA doesn’t need to explain everything. It only needs to explain how we go about explaining and the constraints thereof, and there is no reason to assume that everything that we can explain is everything that exists. We don’t need to create a cosmological model of all reality nor a grand scientific synthesis nor theorize beyond our direct experience. A perspective of perspectives is a much less grand goal, but also much more subtle.

I have many thoughts on this matter, but I’m still thinking it all out. I’m pointing towards an archetypal explanation of model-making. The content can be anything, but there remains basic tendencies of how all models are made. And this inherent cognitive functioning of the human psyche effects the content that is modelled. We never see reality directly for what it is because we always are modelling whether consciously or unconsciously.

As an example of what I’m thinking about, check out C. J. Lofting’s theory:
http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/idm001.html

Does anyone have any ideas relating to the idea of a “perspective of perspectives” or of a TFA?

Does anyone know of any interesting forum discussions about this or any interesting websites?

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on November 30, 2007 at 7:16pm
What I’m bringing up here also relates to the criticism of Wilber’s model dismissing the Western occult tradition. Fundamentally, the occult is about experience. Some people don’t like models such as Wilber presents because they seem too abstract. This is a challenge of studying Wilber. He covers so much material that it is difficult for anyone to research in depth in order to verify all of his sources. We just have to trust Wilber.

This is fine up to a point, but I want a basic framework that can be verified in my everyday and not-so-everyday experiences. For instance, I don’t simply accept spiral dynamics. I’ve looked at the world through this lense and it made sense of much of my experience. And hopefully science will further clarify its veracity or not.

Also, spiral dynamics appears to generally fit the modelling pattern of the chakra system. They aren’t the same, but maybe the same patterns in the human psyche have influenced both to create similar structures of meaning. As far as I know, Clare Graves wasn’t basing his research on the theory of the chakras. It doesn’t matter that the two theories are referring towards different views of reality. If there is an archetypal patterning process, then similar models will create simlar connections between ideas even when those ideas seem in disagreement.

I don’t know if that was a good example, but its an obvious comparison. What I’m interested in is similar to what Campbell was looking for in comparing myths from entirely separate cultures. So, I’m wondering whether there is a monomyth of models. Loftings basic idea is that all models begin with some basic duality and that is then fed back into itself to create further distinctions. The most clear example he presents for how this occurs is the I Ching. And the I Ching could be seen as a model of perspectives.

Beebe is a Jungian theorist who proposed that archetype, complex, and type are getting at the same notion. I take Wilber’s criticism seriously that there is a pre/trans confusion in Jung’s archetypes. Jung did imply a hierarchy of archetypes(see James Whitlark’s explanation of individuation as it relates to Spiral Dynamics), but he left this unclear. Similarly, how do memes, holons, and morphic fields relate? All of these kinds of ideas put forth that there is something that creates coherence in our experience in a predictable way.

I found an interesting thread discussion related to all of this at Integral Review Forums:

Thinking postformally about “theory building”
http://global-arina.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=24

[quote=”jgidley”]I see the link between architecture and thinking as one of the important contributions of postmodernism. Although it is emphasized by Steiner’s and Sri Aurobindo’s integral lineages, it is essentially overlooked in much other integral theory.[/quote]

This reminds me of how mnemonics was intimately connected with architecture.

[quote=”bonnittaroy”]My feeling is that it depends upon one’s relationshipto one’s theory-making. Some people (like Shoepnehauer) build theories to try to get at what reality really is. They expect that the intellect is the portal to answer that question. Others, like Whitehead and Guenther, are theory-making to tease out what is implicit in their view, that may be hidden or unformed and as yet to be articulated. In the process, what is brewing there, becomes disclosed and “known” in a more conventional way. The theory can serve as a “marker” for other people to discuss synergistically implicit views, and move the understanding forward.

Theory making in the second sense is more like thought-experimenting. Or creating an aesthetic. This is not limited to philosophy. I love the way physicists do thought experiments like Schrodinger’s Cat and Wheeler’s Daemon.

The above comment pertains to people who actively see themselves as doing theory. But I would like also to explore how there is a kind of theory -building that is implicit in cognizing reality at all. Everyone has, at bottom, certain fundamental assumptions about reality– it is consumate with how reality arises at all. Reality arises such that I feel I am an individual being. But that is certainly just one view– based in a kind of implicit theory — the set of conditions of my cognizing mind.

Above that very fundamental level, there are the basic beliefs about reality that we hold — implicitly or explicity — that also are a kind of theory-building that is going on all the time. In the integral community, for example, there are fundamental beliefs that few people would consider “theory building” and many would consider a description of how reality really is, namely, the holarchic organization of reality, the hierarchic organization of reality, the notion of development and evolution. These are tenets that underwrite our more obvious practices of theory building, but they are in themselves, the product of implicit theory building.

I believe that an example of post-formal operations is to be able to “hold” each of these kinds of cognitive processes very very lightly — to be able to see them as processes that are going on all the time in a very intimate and implicit way. And to be able to make what is implicit, explicit — so we can be liberated from their limitations, while at the same time, expand our choice field as to what set or set of theories (thought experiments) might be more helpful/ useful.[/quote]

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on November 30, 2007 at 11:22pm
I can’t claim to entirely understand what Lofting is getting at here. I have a high tolerance for abstraction and I get the gist of his theory, but I wish he used more grounded examples. He speaks alot about mathematics and he loses me.
http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/NeuroMaths3.htm#Recursion

The WHAT
The emphasis on WHAT is an emphasis on an object, a bounded ‘thing’ that can be tangible (as in a ball) or intangible (as in a marriage). Note how the intangible reflects what we call nominalisation where a process (and so a relationship, ’.. getting married’) has been converted into a noun, a thing (‘this marriage…’).

Although the term ‘what’ has a general nature about it, it still has a ‘point’ or ‘dot’ emphasis and we can refine this emphasis further by introducing additional terms such as WHO and WHICH. These terms act to particularise the general in that the ‘what’ realm is strongly ‘dot’ oriented and as such favours clear, precise, identifications and so a more LOCAL, discrete perspective.

This emphasis on ‘dot’ precision forces a degree of focus that can distort all considerations of the context in which the dot exists in that the precision requires a dependence on a universal context to support it.

The WHERE
The emphasis on WHERE is an emphasis on a relationship, there is a coordinates bias ‘relative’ to something else. There is a more intangible element here in that a set of relationships can go towards identifying an object by implications; there is an intuitive emphasis where a pattern based on linking a set of coordinates is ‘suddenly’ recognised as implying ‘something’; in other words there is a ‘constellations’ emphasis where objects are linked together to form a pattern that is then itself objectified; for example there is a strong emphasis here to geometric forms –e. g. ‘triangles’, ‘cubes’ etc. which in basic mathematics come out of joining coordinates.

This emphasis on constellation formation means that, when compared to the realm of the ‘what’, the ‘where’ reflects a LACK in precision where (!) the identification of something is made by identifying a pattern of landmarks ‘around’ the something. There is thus a strong context-sensitivity in the ‘where’ analysis when compared to the more precise, almost context-free (or local context-ignored) emphasis in the ‘what’ analysis. Thus the transference of a ‘where’ to a ‘what’ through the process of nominalisation acts to de-contextualise or more so encapsulate the context with the text. (See figure 1).

In general the term ‘where’ is as general as the term ‘what’ and as such we can introduce additional terms such as WHEN and HOW to aid in particularising the general. When compared to the distinctions of WHO and WHICH, the WHEN and HOW terms are highly dependent on coordinates (space and/or time), on establishing specific ‘begin-end’ positions rather than emphasis on a point free of any extensions.>>

Recursion and Emerging Numeracy
The recursion process is where an element is applied to itself, thus the identification of an object causes us to zoom-in on that object for details. This process leads to the recognition of such concepts as an object’s negation that at the general level relates to the entire universe exclusive of the object, and at the particular level the objects direct opposite (e.g. positive/negative, earth/sky etc).

Analysis of the patterns that emerge from applying the what/where dichotomy to itself leads to the identification of four fundamental distinctions which we can tie to feelings and so tie to pre-linguistic understandings of reality. These distinctions are:

Objects:

Wholes

Parts

Relationships:

Static

Dynamic

Note that a ‘part’ is the term we use for the combination of (a) an object and (b) a relationship to a greater object and it is the word ‘part’ that reflects what we can call the superposition of two distinctions – the distinction of ‘wholeness’ combined with the distinction of ‘relatedness’.>>

 

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BrightAbyss~ Permalink Reply by BrightAbyss~ on December 1, 2007 at 1:03am
YOU: I think the best integral model is about perspectives

ME: we gotta start there. It’s all about perspectives. Descartes tried to build up from the cogito (1PP), and then Husserl, but Merleau-Ponty did it better… A naturalist (integral) philosophy emerges out of a deep understanding of human knowledge-making and perspectives…

YOU: This notion of a perspective of perspectives is postmodern in the sense that it isn’t an objective framework that allows us to see outside of it, but neither can we separate it from what we are trying to explain by it.

ME: You gotta read Pierre Bourdieu’s work. Especially “The Logic of Practice” – where he talks about “objectifying objectification”. I think you’d find a kindred spirit with re: to perspectives.

YOU: Despite what to some may seem like subjective relativism, any model of perspectives isn’t separate from the context of the larger world that informs our perspective even if we don’t or can’t entirely comprehend it. We are part of the world and so our perspectives aren’t constrained by limited notions of individuality.

ME: This is why we have to be happy finding our way (carving out an existence) & dwelling in ‘worldspaces’ – with very HUMAN knowledges generated out of our Life Conditions (cf. Wittgenstein’s ‘Forms of Life’) and articulated through the rich tapestry of experience, being and relating.

I think ‘contingency’ is a key concept for understanding embodied human knowing… But just remember our perspectives are not so totally divorced from the Real, because there is an intimacy and immediacy our being-in-the-world that necessarily encounters actual life conditions.

YOU: We never see reality directly for what it is because we always are modelling whether consciously or unconsciously.

ME: Idealism is a very sick joke played on us by our own abstractions… We are OF the world so we can directly ‘know’ it in so many practical and meaningful ways… Don’t fall into the trap of believing a priori that “we can never really know the thing-in-itself”. Human knowledge is grounded in human kinds of knowing, with its many faults, but – like you say- it is the ONLY kind of (contextual) knowing we have, so lets get over ourselves and get to the actual work of putting our models/worldviews/discourse in the service of HEALTH & ADAPTATION.

YOU: This is fine up to a point, but I want a basic framework that can be verified in my everyday and not-so-everyday experiences.

ME: Then I believe you came to the right place. For instance, if AQAL is Wilber’s metaphoric ‘Integral Operating System’ (IOS), then what this network/forum wants to facilitate is allowing people at higher ‘altitudes’ of consciousness to evolve IOS’s of their OWN – developing and operating “applications” relevant to specific individuals, groups, projects, and always in context.

In other words, this forum is wants to help people develop their own “integral operating systems” but with OPEN “sources” – ie, drawing from various theories and traditions, and data.

So if Wilber’s AQAL can be compared to MicroSoft’s Windows operating system, then our project (at the Integral Research Group) can be compared to Linux – in that we want to help create alternative OPEN SOURCE integral (OSI) operating “systems” (theories and practical applications).

You see, the door is wide OPEN to collaborative innovation re: discourse dynamics, integral thinking, healthy being and adaptive relations.

What say you?

cheers~

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on December 3, 2007 at 10:33pm
Bright Abyss: “we gotta start there. It’s all about perspectives. Descartes tried to build up from the cogito (1PP), and then Husserl, but Merleau-Ponty did it better… A naturalist (integral) philosophy emerges out of a deep understanding of human knowledge-making and perspectives…”

Basically, I believe the most useful integral perspective is the one that precedes the seeking for an integral theory. Integral isn’t an unnatural or even new phenomenon. In terms of Spiral Dynamics, the higher levels are somehow already implied by the lower levels. In terms of Jung, archetypes precede specific manifestations of them as symbols or whatever.

BA: “You gotta read Pierre Bourdieu’s work. Especially “The Logic of Practice” – where he talks about “objectifying objectification”. I think you’d find a kindred spirit with re: to perspectives.”

Thanks for the suggestion.

BA: “This is why we have to be happy finding our way (carving out an existence) & dwelling in ‘worldspaces’ – with very HUMAN knowledges generated out of our Life Conditions (cf. Wittgenstein’s ‘Forms of Life’) and articulated through the rich tapestry of experience, being and relating.

I think ‘contingency’ is a key concept for understanding embodied human knowing… But just remember our perspectives are not so totally divorced from the Real, because there is an intimacy and immediacy our being-in-the-world that necessarily encounters actual life conditions.”

I’m intrigued by what you said here. Could you explain some more? How do you relate this to an integral view? Did I seem to imply that I thought perspectives are somehow divorced from the REAL? What do you mean by the REAL? What do you mean by ‘contingency’?

BA: “Idealism is a very sick joke played on us by our own abstractions… We are OF the world so we can directly ‘know’ it in so many practical and meaningful ways… Don’t fall into the trap of believing a priori that “we can never really know the thing-in-itself”. Human knowledge is grounded in human kinds of knowing, with its many faults, but – like you say- it is the ONLY kind of (contextual) knowing we have, so lets get over ourselves and get to the actual work of putting our models/worldviews/discourse in the service of HEALTH & ADAPTATION.”

When I spoke of not being able to directly know reality, I was referring to mental knowing. I agree there are many other kinds of knowing besides this. I had to laught at you last sentence. I’m far from getting over myself and I’m no model of HEALTH & ADAPTATION. I’m a seeker and that is the best I can claim for myself.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on December 3, 2007 at 10:41pm
Chiron posted this at Lightmind:

By Colin McGinn

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
by Steven Pinker

The Stuff of Thought is Steven Pinker’s fifth popular book in thirteen years, and by now we know what to expect. It is long, packed with information, clear, witty, attractively written, and generally persuasive. The topic, as earlier, is language and the mind—specifically, how language reflects human psychological nature. What can we learn about the mind by examining, with the help of linguistics and experimental psychology, the language we use to express ourselves?

Pinker ranges widely, from the verb system of English, to the idea of an innate language of thought, to metaphor, to naming, obscenity, and politeness. He is unfailingly engaging to read, with his aptly chosen cartoons, his amusing examples, and his bracing theoretical rigor. Yet there are signs of fatigue, not so much in the energy and enthusiasm he has put into the book as in the sometimes less than satisfying quality of the underlying ideas. I don’t blame the author for this: it is very hard to write anything deep, surprising, and true in psychology—especially when it comes to the most interesting aspects of our nature (such as our use of metaphor). A popular book on biology or physics will reliably deli-ver well-grounded information about things you don’t already know; in psychology the risk of banality dressed up as science is far greater. Sometimes in Pinker’s book the ratio of solid ideas to sparkling formulations is uncomfortably low (I found this particularly in the lively and amusing chapter on obscenity). He has decided to be ambitious, and there is no doubt of his ability to keep the show on the road, but it is possible to finish a long chapter of The Stuff of Thought and wonder what you have really learned—enjoyable as the experience of reading it may have been.

To my mind, by far the most interesting chapter of the book is the lengthy discussion of verbs—which may well appear the driest to some readers. Verbs are the linguistic keyhole to the mind’s secrets, it turns out. When children learn verbs they are confronted with a problem of induction: Can the syntactic rules that govern one verb be projected to another verb that has a similar meaning? Suppose you have already learned how to use the verb “load” in various syntactic combinations; you know that you can say both Hal loaded the wagon with hay and Hal loaded hay into the wagon. Linguists call the first kind of sentence a “container locative” and the second a “content locative,” because of the way they focus attention on certain aspects of the event reported—the wagon (container) or the hay (content), respectively (the word “locative” referring here to the way words express location). The two sentences seem very close in meaning, and the verb load slots naturally into the sentence frame surrounding it. So, can other verbs like fill and pour enter into the same combinations? The child learning English verbs might well suppose that they can, thus instantiating a rule of grammar that licenses certain syntactic transformations—to the effect that you can always rewrite a content locative as a container locative and vice versa. But if we look at how pour and fill actually work we quickly see that they violate any such rule. You can say John poured water into the glass (content locative) but you can’t say John poured the glass with water (container locative); whereas you can say John filled the glass with water (container locative) but you can’t say John filled water into the glass (content locative).

Somehow a child has to learn these syntactic facts about the verbs load, pour, and fill—and the rules governing them are very different. Why does one verb figure in one kind of construction but not in another? They all look like verbs that specify the movement of a type of stuff into a type of container, and yet they behave differently with respect to the syntactic structures in question. It’s puzzling.

The answer Pinker favors to this and similar puzzles is that the different verbs subtly vary in the way they construe the event they report: pour focuses on the type of movement that is involved in the transfer of the stuff, while neglecting the end result; fill by contrast specifies the final state and omits to say how that state precisely came about (and it might not have been by pouring). But load tells you both things: the type of movement and what it led to. Hence the verbs combine differently with constructions that focus on the state of the container and constructions that focus on the manner by which the container was affected.

The syntactic rules that control the verbs are thus sensitive to the precise meaning of the specific verb and how it depicts a certain event. And this means that someone who understands these verbs must tacitly grasp how this meaning plays out in the construction of sentences; thus the child has to pick up on just such subtle differences of meaning if she is to infer the right syntactic rule for the verb in question. Not consciously, of course; her brain must perform this work below the level of conscious awareness. She must implicitly analyze the verb—exposing its deep semantic structure. Moreover, these verbs form natural families, united by the way they conceive of actions—whether by their manner or by their end result. In the same class as pour, for example, we have dribble, drip, funnel, slosh, spill, and spoon.

This kind of example—and there is a considerable range of them—leads Pinker to a general hypothesis about the verb system of English (as well as other languages): the speaker must possess a language of thought that represents the world according to basic abstract categories like space, time, substance, and motion, and these categories constitute the meaning of the verb. When we use a particular verb in a sentence, we bring to bear this abstract system to “frame” reality in certain ways, thus imposing an optional grid on the flux of experience. We observe some liquid moving into a container and we describe it either as an act of pouring or as the state of being filled: a single event is construed in different ways, each reflecting the aspect we choose to focus on. None of this is conscious or explicit; indeed, it took linguists a long time to figure out why some verbs work one way and some another (Pinker credits the MIT linguists Malka Rappaport Hovav and Beth Levin). We are born with an implicit set of innate categories that organize events according to a kind of primitive physics, dealing with substance, motion, causality, and purpose, and we combine these to generate a meaning for a particular verb that we understand. The grammar of our language reflects this innate system of concepts.

As Pinker is aware, this is a very Kantian picture of human cognition. Kant regarded the mind as innately stocked with the basic concepts that make up Newtonian mechanics—though he didn’t reach that conclusion from a consideration of the syntax of verbs. And the view is not in itself terribly surprising: many philosophers have observed that the human conceptual scheme is essentially a matter of substances in space and time, causally interacting, moving and changing, obeying laws and subject to forces—with some of those substances being agents—i.e., conscious, acting human beings—with intentions and desires. What else might compose it? Here is a case where the conclusion reached by the dedicated psycholinguist is perhaps less revolutionary than he would like to think. The chief interest of Pinker’s discussion is the kind of evidence he adduces to justify such a hypothesis, rather than the hypothesis itself—evidence leading from syntax to cosmology, we might say. Of course the mind must stock basic concepts for the general structure of the universe if it is to grasp the nature of particular things within it; but it is still striking to learn that this intuitive physics shapes the very syntax of our language.

Not that everyone will agree with the general hypothesis itself—and Pinker has a whole chapter on innateness and the language of thought. Here he steers deftly between the extreme nativism of Jerry Fodor, according to which virtually every concept is innate, including trombone and opera (despite the fact that the concepts must therefore have preceded the invention of what they denote, being merely triggered into consciousness by experience of trombones and operas), and the kind of pragmatism that refuses to assign a fixed meaning to any word. Pinker sees that something conceptual has to be innate if language learning is to be possible at all, but he doesn’t believe it can be anything parochial and specific; so he concludes that only the most general categories of the world are present in the genes—the categories that any human being (or animal) needs to use if he or she is to survive at all. Among such categories, for example, are: event, thing, path, place, manner, acting, going, having, animate, rigid, flexible, past, present and future, causality, enabling and preventing, means and ends.

The picture then is that these innate abstract concepts mesh with the individual’s experience to yield the specific conceptual scheme that eventually flowers in the mind. The innate concepts pre-date language acquisition and make it possible; they are not the products of language. Thus Pinker rejects the doctrine of “linguistic determinism,” which holds that thought is nothing other than the result of the language we happen to speak—as in the infamous hypothesis of the linguists Benjamin Whorf and Harold Sapir that our thoughts are puppets of our words (as with the Eskimos who use many different words for snow). The point Pinker makes here—and it is a good one—is that we mustn’t mistake correlation for causation, assuming that because concepts and words go together the latter are the causes of the former. Indeed, it is far more plausible to suppose that our language is caused by our thoughts—that we can only introduce words for which we already have concepts. Words express concepts; they don’t create them.

Let’s suppose, then, that Pinker and others are right to credit the mind with an original system of basic physical concepts, supplemented with some concepts for number, agency, logic, and the like. We innately conceive of the world as containing what he calls “force dynamics”—substances moving through space, under forces, and impinging on other objects, changing their state. How do we get from this to the full panoply of human thought? How do we get to science, art, politics, economics, ethics, and so on? His answer is that we do it by judicious use of metaphor and the combinatorial power of language, as when words combine to produce the unlimited expressions of a human language. Language has infinite potential, because of its ability to combine words and phrases into sentences without limit: this is by now a well-worn point.

More controversial is the suggestion that metaphor is the way we transcend the merely mechanical—the bridge by which physics leads us to more abstract domains. Pinker notes, as many have before, that we routinely use spatial expressions to describe time (“he moved the meeting to Tuesday,” “don’t look backward”), as well as employ words like rise, fall, went, and send to capture events that are not literally spatial (prices rising, messages sent, and so on). Science itself is often powered by analogies, as when heat was conceived as a fluid and its laws derived accordingly. Our language is transparently shot through with meta-phors of one kind or another. But it is far from clear that everything we do with concepts and language can be accounted for in this way; consider how we think and talk about consciousness and the mind, or our moral thinking. The concept of pain, say, is not explicable as a metaphorical variation on some sort of physical concept.

It just doesn’t seem true that everything nonphysical that we think about is metaphorical; for example, our legal concepts such as “rights” are surely not all mere metaphors, introduced on the shoulders of the concepts of intuitive physics. So there is a question how Pinker’s alleged language of thought, restricted as it is, can suffice to generate our total conceptual scheme; in which case we will need to count more concepts as innate (what about contract or punishment?)—or else rethink the whole innateness question. Not that I have any good suggestions about how human concepts come to be; my point is just that Pinker’s set of basic Kantian concepts seems too exiguous to do the job.

If the Kantian categories are supposed to make thought and language possible, then they also, for Pinker, impose limits on our mental functioning. This is a second main theme of his book: the human mind, for all its rich innate endowment, is fallible, prone to confusion, easily foiled. The very concepts that enable us to think coherently about the world can lead us astray when we try to extend them beyond their natural domain. Pinker discusses the concepts of space and time, exposing the paradoxes that result from asking whether these are finite or infinite; either way, human thought reels. As he says, we can’t think without these concepts, but we can’t make sense of them—not when we start to think hard about what they involve. For example, if space is bounded, what lies on the other side of the boundary? But if it’s not bounded, we seem saddled with an infinite amount of matter—which implies multiple identical universes.

The concept of free will poses similar paradoxes: either human choices are caused or they are not, but either way we can’t seem to make sense of free will. A lot of philosophy is like that; a familiar concept we use all the time turns puzzling and paradoxical once we try to make systematic sense of it. Pinker has fun detailing the natural errors to which the human mind is prone when trying to reason statistically or economically; human specimens are notoriously poor at reasoning in these matters. Even more mortifying, our prized intuitive physics, foundation of all our thought, is pretty bad as physics: projectiles don’t need impetus to keep them in steady motion, no matter what Aristotle and common sense may say. As Newton taught us, motion, once it begins, is preserved without the pressure of a continuously applied force—as when a meteor keeps moving in a straight line, though no force maintains this motion. And relativity and quantum theory violate commonsense physics at every turn.

Our natural concepts are as much a hindrance to thought as they are a springboard for it. When we try to turn our minds away from their primitive biological tasks toward modern science and industrial-electronic society we struggle and fall into fallacies; it’s an uphill battle to keep our concepts on track. Our innate “common sense” is riddled with error and confusion—not all of it harmless (as with the economically naive ideas about what constitutes a “fair price”).

Pinker also has three bulky chap-ters on the social aspects of language, dealing with naming and linguistic innovation in general, with obscenity and taboo words, and with politeness and authority relations in speech. The chapter on naming achieves something I thought was impossible: it gives an accurate exposition of the philosopher Saul Kripke’s classic discussion of proper names by a nonphilosopher—the gist of which is that the reference of a name is fixed not by the descriptive information in the mind of the speaker but by a chain of uses stretching back to an initial identification. For example, I refer to a certain Greek philosopher with the name “Plato” in virtue of the chain of uses that link my present use with that of ancient Greeks who knew him, not in virtue of having in my mind some description that picks him out uniquely from every other Greek philosopher.

Apart from this, Pinker worries at the question of fashions in names and how they change. He refutes such popular theories as that names are taken from public figures or celebrities; usually, the trend is already in place—and anyway the name “Humphrey” never took off, despite the star of Casablanca. It is fascinating to read that in the early part of the twentieth century the following names were reserved primarily for men: Beverly, Dana, Evelyn, Gail, Leslie, Meredith, Robin, and Shirley. But not much emerges about why names change as they do, besides some platitudes about the need for elites to stand out by adopting fashions different from the common herd.

I very much enjoyed the chapter on obscenity, which asks the difficult question of how words deemed taboo differ from their inoffensive syn-onyms (e.g., shit and feces). It can’t obviously be the referent of the term, since that is the same, and it isn’t merely that the taboo words are more accurately descriptive (excre-ment is equally accurate, but it isn’t taboo). Pinker reports, no doubt correctly, that swearing forces the hearer to entertain thoughts he’d rather not, but that too fails to distinguish taboo words from their nontaboo synonyms. The phenomenon is especially puzzling when we note that words can vary over time in their taboo value: damn used to be unutterable in polite society, while word was once quite inoffensive (Pinker reports a fifteenth-century medical textbook that reads “in women the neck of the bladder is short, and is made fast to the word”).

Of particular interest to the grammarian is the fact that in English all the impolite words for the sexual act are transitive verbs, while all the polite forms involve intransitive verbs: word, screw,hump, shag, bang versus have sex, make love, sleep together, go to bed, copulate. As Pinker astutely observes, the transitive sexual verbs, like other verbs in English, bluntly connote the nature of the motion involved in the reported action with an agent and a receiver of that motion, whereas the intransitive forms are discreetly silent about exactly how the engaged objects move in space. The physical forcefulness of the act is thus underlined in the transitive forms but not in the intransitive ones. None of this explains why some verbs for intercourse are offensive while others are not, but it’s surely significant that different physical images are conjured up by the different sexual locutions—with word semantically and syntactically like staband have sex like have lunch.

Pinker’s discussion of politeness verges closest to platitude—noting, for example, that bribes cannot usually afford to be overt and that authority relations are sometimes encoded in speech acts, as with tu and vous in French. Here he relies heavily on lively examples and pop culture references, but the ideas at play are thin and rather forced. But, as I say, he has a tough assignment here—trying to extract theoretical substance from something both familiar and unsystematic. Laying out a game theory matrix, with its rows and columns of payoffs, for a potential bribe to a traffic cop adds little to the obvious description of such a situation.

The book returns to its core themes in the final chapter, “Escaping the Cave.” Pinker sums up:

Quote:
Human characterizations of reality are built out of a recognizable inventory of thoughts. The inventory begins with some basic units, like events, states, things, substances, places, and goals. It specifies the basic ways in which these units can do things: acting, going, changing, being, having. One event may be seen as impinging on another, by causing or enabling or preventing it. An action can be initiated with a goal in mind, in particular, the destination of a motion (as in loading hay) or the state resulting from a change (as in loading a wagon). Objects are differentiated by whether they are human or nonhuman, animate or inanimate, solid or aggregate, and how they are laid out along the three dimensions of space. Events are conceived as taking up stretches of time and as being ordered with respect to one another.

If that strikes you as a bit platitudinous, then such is the lot of much psychology—usually the good sort. What is interesting is the kind of evidence that can be given for these claims and the way they play out in language and behavior—not the content of the claims themselves.

But Pinker is also anxious to reiterate his thesis that our conceptual scheme is like Plato’s cave, in giving us only a partial and distorted vision of reality. We need to escape our natural way of seeing things, as well as appreciate its (limited) scope. Plato himself regarded a philosophical education as the only way to escape the illusions and errors of common sense—the cave in which we naturally dwell. Pinker too believes that education is necessary in order to correct and transcend our innate cognitive slant on the world. This means, unavoidably, using a part of our mind to get beyond the rest of our mind, so that there must be a part that is capable of distancing itself from the rest. He says little about how this might be possible—how that liberating part might operate—beyond what he has said about metaphors and the infinity of language. And the question is indeed difficult: How could the mind ever have the ability to step outside of itself? Aren’t we always trapped inside our given conceptual scheme? How do we bootstrap ourselves to real wisdom from the morass of innate confusion?

One reason it is hard to answer this question is that it is obscure what a concept is to start with. And here there is a real lacuna in Pinker’s book: no account is given of the nature of the basic concepts that are held to constitute the mind’s powers. He tells us at one point that the theory of conceptual semantics “proposes that word senses are mentally represented as expressions in a richer and more abstract language of thought,” as if concepts could literally be symbols in the language of thought. The idea then is that when we understand a verb like pour we translate it into a complex of symbols in the brain’s innate code (rather like the code used by a computer), mental counterparts of public words like move, cause, change. But that leaves wide open the question of how those inner words have meaning; they can’t just be bits of code, devoid of semantic content. We need to credit people with full-blown concepts at the foundation of their conceptual scheme—not just words for concepts.

Pinker has listed the types of concepts that may be supposed to lie at the foundation, but he hasn’t told us what those concepts consist in—what they are. So we don’t yet know what the stuff of thought is—only that it must have a certain form and content. Nowhere in the course of a long book on concepts does Pinker ever confront the really hard question of what a concept might be. Some theorists have supposed concepts to be mental images, others that they are capacities to discriminate objects, others dispositions to use words, others that they are mythical entities.

The problem is not just that this is a question Pinker fails to answer or even acknowledge; it is that without an answer it is difficult to see how we can make headway with questions about what our concepts do and do not permit. Is it our concepts themselves that shackle us in the cave or is it rather our interpretations of them, or maybe our associated theories of what they denote? Where exactly might a concept end and its interpretation begin? Is our concept of something identical to our conception of it—the things we believe about it? Do our concepts intrinsically blind us or is it just what we do with them in thought and speech that causes us to fail to grasp them? Concepts are the material that constitutes thought and makes language meaningful, but we are very far from understanding what kind of thing they are—and Pinker’s otherwise admirable book takes us no further with this fundamental question.

New York Times Book Review
Volume 54, Number 14 · September 27, 2007

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on December 7, 2007 at 11:36pm
I just came across Gerry Goddard’s writings. His theory is based on archetypes and he references Richard Tarnas throughout his book. Tarnas wrote the book ‘Cosmos and Psyche’ which is an analysis of history using astrological patterns. He is the first writer who made astrology meaningfully accessible to me.

Here is Goddard’s book on-line that he finished right before he died:
http://www.islandastrology.net/contents.htm

Here is a quote from his article on postmodernism that seemed appropriate:
http://www.islandastrology.net/mut-post.html

Is astrology just another dish to choose from the endless buffet of competing delights, just another Wittgensteinian language game, another social ‘form of life,’ or is it truly an ancient parchment that charts a way through this particularly difficult though fascinating terrain? In one sense, astrology is quintessentially postmodern in that it is entirely constructed of symbols reflecting and referring to other symbols within a multidimensional hologram or Indra’s net amenable to seemingly endless patterns of interpretation that richly resonate to the soul yet appear to lack any clearly identifiable concrete referents. As such, like other postmodern disciplines, it generally resists the attempts of science to connect specific symbols with specific facts, yet at the same time the astrological language appears to open and reveal soul dimensions that are more than the ‘mere’ play of socially constructed imaginations projected upon an unknowable objective world.

In this sense, astrology avoids the most radical postmodern conclusion — that words, concepts, and texts refer endlessly to other words and texts lacking any ultimate reference to objective facts, universal truths, or the ‘way things really are.’ I would like to suggest that astrology is indeed, as Richard Tarnas has described it, the ‘philosopher’s stone,’ a metaphysical or metapsychological map completely friendly to postmodern ideas yet charting them within a larger and ‘perennial’ perspective (a la Schumacher, Smith, Wilber), one that embraces the premodern, modern, postmodern, and transpersonal dimensions, pointing beyond both the old absolutisms and the current radical relativism to a higher resolution. The astrological perspective, as well as the now general perspective of postmodernism, reveals the cultural and historical relativity of these paradigms or beliefs, although astrology identifies and maps the whole process in a way that transcends the particular linguistic cul-de-sac of contemporary critical thought by revealing a more inclusive and holistic archetypal structure.

Upon the basis of the generally agreed-on meanings of the four mutable principles and their archetypal correspondence to the essential features of the postmodern mind, a case can be made which not only deepens our understanding of the principles but, through astrology’s capacity to map postmodernism (in relation to other historical stages and consciousness structures) within a larger historical and developmental perspective, may establish the astrological mandala as an effective key to understanding the greater evolution and structure of consciousness.

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anemone Permalink Reply by anemone on December 8, 2007 at 7:19pm
Hello marmalade

I have been an avid, though amateur student of astrology for years. I have read Tarnas’ Cosmos and Psyche, and attended a few workshops given by him last year.

I’ve never heard anyone state a connection between astrology and postmodernism quite the way you have above. It is illuminating to me to read your post. A more typical analysis involving astrology, on one hand, and postmodernism on the other, usually involves some remark on how the former is steeped in archaic and mythical lore and projection while the latter dismisses all narrative as textual constructs.

I like the way you have pointed out the flexibility and multi-faceted dimensions inherent in both world-views.

In the last year, however, I have come to feel that as powerful a tool astrology may be for psychological analysis, involving both individuals and group dynamics, it is not such a powerful tool of analysis at the macro, sociocultural or sociopolitical level of analysis, for example in making a useful comment on the larger forces shaping foreign policies of various governments, or the way public opinion is formed in a given society. This may, of course, be more a symptom of astrology’s current marginalization as an epistemological tool. If there were to be any dialogue with other established disciplines it is quite possible that it should prove instrumentally useful.
Any ideas?
I will check out your Goddard post.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on December 8, 2007 at 8:54pm
Hello anemone

Thanks for the response.

A: “I have been an avid, though amateur student of astrology for years. I have read Tarnas’ Cosmos and Psyche, and attended a few workshops given by him last year.”

You probably understand astrology and Tarnas better than I. For whatever reason, astrology never quite clicked together for me in the past.

A: “I’ve never heard anyone state a connection between astrology and postmodernism quite the way you have above. ”

As much as I wish I had written that, I can’t take credit for it. Below the link is entirely the words of Goddard. I should’ve made that clearer, but this forum doesn’t allow the way of quoting that I’m used to.

I agree with your assessment. As I said, Tarnas was the first writer to present astrology so that it felt deeply meaningful to me… such that I could connect with the symbolism. And Goddard has presented astrology and Tarnas in a way that I have a better grasp of the system as a whole and how it might relate to my life.

A: “In the last year, however, I have come to feel that as powerful a tool astrology may be for psychological analysis, involving both individuals and group dynamics, it is not such a powerful tool of analysis at the macro, sociocultural or sociopolitical level of analysis, for example in making a useful comment on the larger forces shaping foreign policies of various governments, or the way public opinion is formed in a given society.”

What happened in the last year that has changed your perspective?

Are you saying that you have doubts about whether Tarnas’ analysis of history is meaningful?

“Any ideas?”

Not yet. I just discovered Goddard and have only barely begun to read his work that I linked to in my previous post. I really haven’t a clue what all of this means. I’m merely a curious fellow and am over-joyed when I happen upon someone like Goddard. I feel that I’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of insight.

I’m better at thinking out ideas when I have feedback, and so I’d be happy for whatever little nuggets you’d like to throw my way.

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Criticalness, Integralism, and Type

marmalade
This is in response to the thread titled ‘Should Integralists Storm The Religous Battlefield’.

I’ve been involved in a thread at IIDB, an atheist discussion board. Its a thread about Acharya’s theories about astrotheology which is related to comparative mythology, and Acharya has posted in response some. She has received much criticism and nitpicking which is common on atheist forums. She hasn’t taken it well and probably won’t post anymore in the thread or maybe even in the forum. Recently, the same thing happened with Earl Doherty who is another biblical scholar. He posted on IIDB for a long time, but now has declared he will never post there again.

I find it a bit annoying and I don’t know if I could ever entirely get used to this kind of behavior. However, not everyone there is like this, and I do enjoy forums where there are many intelligent and knowledgeable people. I have a few thoughts about harsh criticalness.

(1) I do think some people there could use an integral perspective. Critically challenging new theories is important for scholarship, but being nice is important for human relations. Also, I feel this critical attitude is narrow and often misses the point the central issue or the bigger picture. Disproving a single claim or piece of evidence doesn’t disprove a theory or discredit the entire scholarly credentials of the theorist. There are many ways to think about a theory, and criticism by itself often lacks insight and can miss the larger context.

Anyways, if actual scholars start avoiding such a forum, that would severely hamper open discourse. In what way is this actually being helpful?

A forum like IIDB may be a more extreme example of this attitude, but its far from unusual. Scholars such as Acharya and Doherty have also received plenty of harsh criticism from mainstream scholarship as well. Peer review tends to reinforce conventional opinions and discourages innovation. Any new theory is seen as suspect. Only the alternative views of people like Robert M. Price get some respect because they came to those views after already being established in the mainstream. Even so, Price’s ideas have received harsh criticism from some of the amateur scholars on the board. There is this attitude amongst some there that if they disagree with a theory, then they automatically dismiss it. Something is either true or false, and uncertainty or mere probability is never to be admitted.

It makes me understand why Wilber has been so committed to getting his work into academia.

(2) My experience at IIDB reminds me of my experience on an INTP forum. INTP types (and NT types in general) can be very combative and nitpicky. An INTP has Introverted Thinking as a dominant function which means Extraverted Feeling is their inferior. A less developed or less balanced INTP can really suck at relating well to other people, and this is multiplied when you get a group of NTs together. What INTPs are good at is looking for logical consistency and honing in on any discrepant details. Introverted Thinking is largely hidden as its turned inward and so its difficult for other types to see the internal standard they’re using to judge. All that is seen directly is their secondary function Extraverted Intuition which allows them to see all of the possibilities. In the case of nitpicking, Extraverted Intuition is serving Introverted Thinking and thus they relentlessly seek out all potential errors.

This is what an INTP is good at. They honestly feel that they’re being helpful and they are to an extent. But if they haven’t developed other aspects of themselves, this talent can be problematic for relating well.

Atheist forums tend to attract many INTPs partly because of an NT interest in computers and debate, partly because Introverts spend more time doing solitary activities such as web browsing, and partly because NPs(Ne) love to discuss ideas endlessly. So, quite probably most of the critical people on IIDB are INTPs or some NT type, but also possibly some INFPs trying to conform to an NT environment. On top of their possible personality types, many of them have spent their whole lives studying ancient texts and biblical studies. Its what they know and its what they’re good at. They feel so certain because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and so they’re personally invested in the conclusions they’ve come to.

I have become more used to personality styles different than mine. I’m much better than I used to be at relating well with those I conflict with or disagree with. I have tried to stay evenhanded in the IIDB thread and have been mostly successful. I’ve tried to redirect the discussion back to the core issue and away from nitpicking, but that has been less successful. I’ve observed Acharya in videos and other places on the web, and I’d guess she is an NF type like me which would explain why she doesn’t have a thick skin towards criticalness, and why she gets critical in return when she is emotionally worked up.

I’m an INFP and Extraverted Thinking is my inferior, and as such my judgment of criticalness is very biased. Criticalness really gets to me after a while, and it takes great awareness on my part not to get emotionally pulled into it. I’d rather discuss possibilities rather than debate details. I’d rather find where I agree with someone rather than look for reasons that the other person is wrong. But this is a typical NF attitude and so I realize that others are different.

If I understand why someone acts the way they do, then its easier for me to accept their behavior. There is a person on the INTP forum who always annoyed me. I couldn’t understand why he was accepted there even to the point of being a moderator. An INTP finally explained it to me in a way that I could understand. This guy wasn’t a psychologically healthy person, but he was psychologically disturbed in a typical INTP way. They accepted him because they could understand him. As I wasn’t an INTP, it didn’t matter that I didn’t get along with him on an INTP forum.

I see IIDB in a similar light. Some people there are not perfectly balanced people, but neither am I. However, they’ve found their niche in the world. They can be respected for being critical on an atheist board. So, why should I let it bother me. They’re only doing what they know how to do, and I admit that they do it well. Maybe such people serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 7:39am
I just came across a typology poll at IIDB.
http://iidb.infidels.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=132933

67% are NTs
23.35% are INTPs
37% are INTJs

20% are NFs
approximately equally divided between the four NF types
except less than 1% of ENFPs

12% are one of the 8 Sensation(S) types

So, why would an NT be so much more likely to belong to this kind of forum?
Are NT types more likely to be atheist?
Or are NT types more likely to want to debate about atheist views?

[QUOTE=ApostateAbe;5070973]I believe that the correlation between atheism and INTJ/INTP is not a trivial thing (I am an INTP).

[*]INTJ forum poll on religion: [url]http://intjforum.com/showthread.php?t=824[/url]
[*]INTP forum poll on religion: [url]http://forums.intpcentral.com/showthread.php?t=13802[/url]
[*]Christian forum poll on MBTI: [url]http://christianforums.com/t2564679&page=4[/url]

The Christian forum poll is less clear, since it neglects the E/I. It does at least indicate that the N types predominate. But the members of ChristianForums.com are split between NF and NT. INTJ/INTP are 43% at a max at ChristianForums.com, but here it is a whopping 60%. The polls at the INTJ forum and INTP forum are even more striking. Majority of both are atheist or agnostic.[/QUOTE]

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:27am
I was just thinking about how a higher percentage of Thinking types are male.
Accordingly, the majority of people on IIDB are probably male.

There is a reason this came to mind. I’ve suspected a higher percentage of people on Integral boards are NT. And I’ve heard it said several times that there are more males than females around this place which isn’t something I can personally verify. Also, there is way more heated debate here than on forums I belong to that have a majority of NF types.

So, what is the correlation between intellectuality, heated debate, atheism, NT personality types, and the male gender?

Why shouldn’t atheism and integralism appeal to SF females?

 

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 6:22pm
I was just at Richard Dawkins forum and came across a poll for gender.
http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=2716&s…

Males are 72% of the population there.
IIDB is the same kind of forum and so it would probably be similar.

I’m wondering how true this is for most people who are on the web.
I’m uncertain about what forums would attract more females… maybe spirituality/religious forums?

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:13am
I had two other observations of IIDB.

I did a search on Integral and came up with nothing. I did a search on Ken Wilber and only found a few comments in passing in the last several months. This is pretty significant when you consider that this is one of the more popular boards that attracts well-read intellectual types. This demonstrates how integral theory is still an extremely isolated field of study.

The other thing I noticed there seemed to cross the boundaries of thread topics. There is a heavy philosophical emphasis to the whole place with a distinct lack of much discussion of psychology. Spirituality gets talked about, but mostly just as philosophy. The philosophy emphasis creates a heavy focus on language. In every serious thread, the definitions or proper translation of words gets debated to a fine degree. Integral theorists love to argue about words, but the people on IIDB put integralists to shame in this area.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 4:58pm
Chiron,
“After all, both sides fought on what they thought was the same battleground, but they were two totally different battlegrounds, on different levels.”

This is a good way to put it. I find this often happens in discussions. People not only are arguing for different perspectives, but they’re arguing from different perspectives. When you mix in all the factors that make up an individual(personality, moral and intellectual development, cultural background, etc) you can get a very mixed group of people in a discussion. I wish I knew how to bridge such differences, but I haven’t figured it out beyond trying to be more accepting.

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MetroPunk Permalink Reply by MetroPunk on January 21, 2008 at 1:40pm
the problem as i see there was exactly as you pegged in marmalade, people with different worldviews, diff levels, diff types. communication becomes difficult
an integral appproach would help (someone who can bridge the comm gap)

another problem is the nature of the concepts.
atheism is a reactionary confusion
and religion often is dogma
so two dogmatic and limited postions
limit the possible scope of discussion and possible agreement.
nature of the beastS

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Bill Permalink Reply by Bill on January 23, 2008 at 6:57pm
Well, something else to keep in mind, is that all human groups tend to have internal “policing” behaviors, and it’s common to see a kind of tribal ingrouping/outgrouping struggle happening with every group.

I can’t see I’ve ever seen a human group that didn’t practice this kind of internal policing, no matter how advanced or correct they claim to be..

So, the ‘criticalism’ you refer to isn’t just based in, for instance, personality types, or the nature of the ideas being discussed, or the educational backgrounds of the people discussing – it’s got a stronger, older base in ancient hominid group behaviors.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 24, 2008 at 12:27am
That is a good point to bring up. I have observed this policing behavior on IIDB when newbies defend a position.
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Type and Development

marmalade
I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.

Introduction to Volume 7 of the Collected Works
http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/cowokev7_intro.cfm/

As for types, see figure 3, which uses the enneagram as an example. What I have done here is take only one developmental module or stream (it can be anything–morals, cognition, defenses, etc.), and I have listed the eight or so levels or waves of development through which this particular stream will tend to unfold (using Spiral Dynamics as an example of the waves). At each level I have drawn the enneagram as an example of what might be called a horizontal typology, or a typology of the personality types that can exist at almost any vertical level of development. The point is that a person can be a particular type (using Jungian types, Myers-Briggs, the enneagram, etc.) at virtually any of the levels. Thus, if a person is, say, predominately enneagram type 5, then as they develop they would be purple 5, red 5, blue 5, and so on (again, not in a rigid linear fashion, but in a fluid and flowing mesh). [20]
Figure 3

And this can occur in any of the lines. For example, in the moral line, a person might be predominately enneagram type 7 at the green wave in the context of the workplace; under stress, the person might move to type 1 at the orange wave (or even blue wave); cognitively, the person might be type 4 at turquoise, and so on. Notice, however, that what the enneagram alone cannot spot is the shift in vertical levels; an orange 7 under stress might go to orange 1, but under real stress, the orange 7 will regress to blue, then purple. These are not just different types, but different levels of types. Again, by combining horizontal typologies with vertical typologies, we can make use of second-tier constructions for a more integral view.

For many radical feminists, male and female orientations also constitute a type. Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility. Gilligan, recall, agrees that females proceed through three (or four) hierarchical stages of development, and these are essentially the same three (or four) hierarchical stages or waves through which males proceed (namely, preconventional, conventional, postconventional, and integrated).

The reason that many people, especially feminists, still incorrectly believe that Gilligan denied a female hierarchy of development is that Gilligan found that males tend to make judgments using ranking or hierarchical thinking, whereas women tend to make judgments using linking or relational thinking (what I summarize as agency and communion, respectively). But what many people overlooked is that Gilligan maintained that the female orientation itself proceeds through three (or four) hierarchical stages –from selfish to care to universal care to integrated. Thus, many feminists confused the idea that females tend not to think hierarchically with the idea that females do not develop hierarchically; the former is true, the latter is false, according to Gilligan herself. [21] (Why was Gilligan so widely misread and distorted in this area? Because the green meme eschews and marginalizes hierarchies in general, and thus it literally could not perceive her message accurately.)

As you will see in The Eye of Spirit , contained in this volume, I have summarized this research by saying that men and women both proceed through the same general waves of development, but men tend to do so with an emphasis on agency, women with an emphasis on communion.

This approach to gender development allows us to utilize the extensive contributions of developmental studies, but also supplement them with a keener understanding of how females evolve “in a different voice” through the great waves of existence. In the past, it was not uncommon to find orthodox psychological researchers defining females as “deficient males” (i.e., females “lack” logic, rationality, a sense of justice; they are even defined by “penis envy,” or desiring that which they lack). Nowadays it is not uncommon to find, especially among feminists, the reverse prejudice: males are defined as “deficient females” (i.e., males “lack” sensitivity, care, relational capacity, embodiment, etc.).

Well, we might say, a plague on both houses. With this more integral approach, we can trace development through the great waves and streams of existence, but also recognize that males and females might navigate that great River of Life using a different style, type, or voice. This means that we can still recognize the major waves of existence–which, in fact, are gender-neutral–but we must fully honor the validity of both styles of navigating those waves. [22]

Finally, a person at virtually any stage of development, in virtually any line, of virtually any type, can have an altered state or peak experience , including those that are called spiritual experiences, and this can have a profound effect on their consciousness and its development. Thus, the idea that spiritual experiences can only occur at higher stages is incorrect. However, in order for altered states to become permanent traits (or structures), they need to enter the stream of enduring development. [23]

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Andy Smith Permalink Reply by Andy Smith on January 9, 2008 at 7:04pm
“I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.”

I won’t address the rest of your post right now, but there is a very simple answer to this opening statement. The vertical occurs through horizontal or what Wilber calls translational interactions. Molecules emerge through translational interactions of atoms, cells through translational interactions of molecules, tissues through cell interactions and so on, including societies emerging from translational interactions of individuals. At every level, emergence of the next higher level begins with translational interactions of holons at that level.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 9, 2008 at 7:27pm
I wasn’t thinking about it in that way. The term ‘translational interactions’ sounds intriguing. I’d like to go more into it. Do you have any nice quotes or links where this term is explained further?
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Andy Smith Permalink Reply by Andy Smith on January 10, 2008 at 6:26pm
Just do a search in Integral Spirituality or any other Wilber book, you will find lots of references to translation. Your post, which I take it is a quote from Wilber, treats types as properties of individuals, but of course they are social properties as well, in fact, first and foremost social properties. Any type by any classification one cares to mention is basically a description of the way an individual interacts with other individuals, and even more, with society. These are translational interactions, the glue so to speak which holds societies together.
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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 11, 2008 at 7:31pm
Everything below the link is pure Wilber.

I follow what you’re saying. The individual and the social are inseparable.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 11, 2008 at 10:25pm
Wilber uses the Enneagram as his example. As a side note, I’ve heard a theory that the personality aspect of this system may have been borrowed from Jung, but I don’t know if this is true. I have see other correlations between the two systems also. However, the Enneagram doesn’t have much research behind it. Most Enneagram theories focus on it as a model of defense mechanisms. Whereas, the MBTI is looking at deeper cognitive structures that are largely inborn. Wilber shows how a person may have different Enneagram types in different situations depending on such things as which level of which line… but, theoretically, someone’s MBTI type should remain the same. I’d like to see how development over a lifetime influences how people test on the MBTI.

Here is a research paper that compares MBTI with the AMSP. I’m not familiar with the AMSP, but it says that it focuses on the propensity of people to change with situations. So, it seems comparable to how Wilber is presenting the Enneagram here.

http://www.typetalk.com/Articles/AMSP-MBTI-Research-Tucker.pdf

This paper doesn’t go into any developmental models, but the focus on changeability in the AMSP gives room for a developmental perspective. However, there are some theories in typology about development.

First off, a brief primer. There are 8 Jungian functions. According to some theorists(eg Beebe), all types use all functions, but simply use them in different ways. There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.

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

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

I’ve looked at Gilligan’s work before, but not lately. Going by the above quote of Wilber, it seems her description of gender also incorporates a Intuition function bias for males(ie abstraction). But research has shown that men are no more likely to be abstract than women. Its only been in recent time that our society has started to idealize the man who is capable of abstraction. So, I’m not sure about this part of this model.

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ENACTIVISM, INTEGRAL THEORY, AND 21st CENTURY SPIRITUALITY

ENACTIVISM, INTEGRAL THEORY, AND 21st CENTURY SPIRITUALITY

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)

Access_public Access: Public 57 Comments Print Post this!views (993)  

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,
Bruce

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!

-Matt

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.

respect.

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.”

Also:

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.
 

David

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

Ben,
 

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.

Deborah

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
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enactivism_(psychology)) 
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

adam

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.

best

adam

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,

Balder

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Bruce,

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,
Marmalade

Balder : Kosmonaut

3 days later

Balder said

Ben,
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,
Bruce

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?

Blessings,
Marmalade

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 ORIENTED ROLES

Task Leader
Initiator
Doer
Information Seeker
Information Giver
Clarifier
Consensus Seeker
Summarizer
Recorder


CONTEXTUALIZED ROLES

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

Scapegoat
Shy One
Isolate
Clown
Monopolizer
Rival
Recognition Seeker
Obstructor


MAINTENANCE ORIENTED ROLES

Socio-Emotional Leader
Harmonizer
Supporter
Gate Keeper
Encourager
Compromiser
Observer
Historian
Follower
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,

B.

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

Starlight,

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

Daate,

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.

Bruce,

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

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.
 
http://adliac.gaia.com/blog/2008/9/what_is_reality_part_i

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.

Integral and Types

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 5:42 AM:  

  I’ve looked around for information about types within integral theory, but I couldn’t find much of anything beyond some brief mentions.  I wonder why that is.  This came up in a discussion I was having recently with Balder.  I have an interest in integral and I have an interest in types.  How do they relate?  Is it possible to create an integral theory of types?I have my own thoughts on this matter, but let me hear what others have to say first.
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 5, 2008, 11:19 AM:  

  Marmalade,
Thanks for starting the thread.The other day I referenced Stanley Fish and sparked a little debate. So I do so again in regard to a phrase he used that bears on typology: “the furniture of the mind.” He spoke briefly of its arrangements, perhaps its styles in the context of his disagreement with the liberal humanistic ideal that given the right arguments about the right facts, or the right inspiration, the right chemicals in the water, the right charismatic leadership, the perspectives of all the population in a culture or across cultures could be managed into greater and great integrated unity. He evidently thinks that far easier dreamed of than done because the furniture of our minds is fundamentally arranged in too many different patterns and styles. I have to agree. And I have to think this is more because of typological differences rather than transcendable and developmental lines and levels.It is no surprise to me that typology does not get much air time in Integral. I think there are several reasons:  1. The other day I came across a rare Integral forum discussion about types and it turned out that most of the participants were Introverted (I) and Intuitive (N). There was a tendency toward Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) with a sprinkling of Thinking (T) and Judging (J). No surprise; the first time I stumbled into Integral Naked three years ago, I had to say, almost out loud, “These guys are all I-Ns.” (It was sort of easy to spot. I used to hang with the radical Transpersonal Psych. crowd in Santa Fe, NM, and they were all I-Ns. Intuitive people are sharp to spot possibilities and their temporal preference is the Future. Developmental lines and levels come easily for them. Hold this thought…  

2. The first time I stumbled into Integral Naked I had to say, almost out loud, “This is a just barely noticeable difference, a tiny tweak, on 160-year-old, standard, middle class, Euro-American liberal humanism.” (It was sort of easy to spot, I had published cultural critiques on that phenomenon as far back as 1969.) These are the believers who idealize the potential unification of perspectives that Fish and I find questionable. Hold this thought.  

3. Jungian personality typologies of the kind that Myers-Briggs, Dr. Keirsey, and Lenore Thomson deal with, tend toward horizontal analysis and throw a lot of confounding factors into a more vertical, developmental matrix like the W-C Lattice. For example, from a typological perspective, it is a real possibility that a moderately conscious I-N could be describing the spiritual wonders of such manifest givens as the Causal, the Subtle and the Non-Dual to a highly conscious E-S (Extroverted-Sensory) and get a response like “Been there, done that, wanna shoot some snooker?”  And of course the I-N will think at that point that the E-S is unconscious, uncaring and totally ignorant of the states the I-N perceives and relates to in the same manner as the E-S perceives and relates to her custom made cue stick. So from a developmental perspective, the I-N will never believe that the E-S has actually truely experienced those states, or really knows their literature, but finds it of trivial value when compared to a round of snooker– the best three out of five.  

Now you connect the dots.  

I think that it is interesting that beginning in the mid-70s, the Myers-Briggs Test and Dr. David Keirsey’s “personality sorter” became the Latest Big Thing in the personnel management consulting racket. And there are a lot of consultants still working with them. But you won’t find those consulting firms that have offices in the Integral Mall, central Integral Province, using these measurements. The consultants that bring us The Integral Review and The Integral Leadership Review and Integral Praxis, don’t do typologies. They do developmental theory and their sites are spilling over with what Richard Rorty called ‘universalist grandeur,” and progressive stepping stones to redemption, humane relationships and more favorable cost-benefit ratios.  

Another thought: Intuitive types, particularly introverted ones, have trouble with detail and discreet facts because they are the distracting trees that get in the way of perceiving the direction the forest is taking. For example, it is probably clear to many versed in typology that Hegel was an Intuitive thinker. And as Schiller pointed out once, Hegel never dealt with a solid fact in his entire career. And though they might not be quite so hard on the man, I understand there are critics who say Wilber’s view from 50,000 ft. doesn’t serve them any better and will never lead to any better specific results than Hegels’s. (That does not mean one should lose faith in the nuts and bolts achievements of Integral’s parent stock, liberal humanism.)  

You asked about the possibilities for the development of an Integral theory of types. I doubt such a possibility could exist.  I think its more probable to put forward a typological theory of Integral, the systems would be more compatible for moving in that direction.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 5:14 PM:  

  Nickeson,“furniture of the mind” – Thats an awesome phrase.I can see the challenge this creates, and part of me agrees with you.  It does seem there is no way of getting around the endless variances that make individuals unique.  That was why I was wondering about an integral theory of typology.  If we could find overarching patterns amidst all the differences, then the furniture could be arranged in an orderly fashion.  lol   A “typological theory of Integral” sounds good to me.  What would that be?  Would this be related to the differences between a Theory of Everything(TOE) vs a Theory for Anything(TFA)?  

1. This is part of my interest in types.  The predominant type of a group of people says a lot.  BTW how about linking to that “ rare Integral forum discussion about types”.  

2. I’d like to hear more about your views on the “160-year-old, standard, middle class, Euro-American liberal humanism.”  

3. I completely get what you mean by the confounding factors issue.  I’d really like to understand this further in terms of the integral community.  

I have some things I want to add, but I’m about to go somewhere.  

Later,
Marmalade  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 7:51 PM:  

  1. The other day I came across a rare Integral forum discussion about types and it turned out that most of the participants were Introverted (I) and Intuitive (N). There was a tendency toward Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) with a sprinkling of Thinking (T) and Judging (J). No surprise; the first time I stumbled into Integral Naked three years ago, I had to say, almost out loud, “These guys are all I-Ns.”I don’t know if you remember, but I test as an INFP.  I’ve spoken before about the major difficulties NFs and NTs can have in communicating especially when it comes to intellectual discussions.  This is important to consider as I’ve had a strong suspicion for some time that most integralsts are NTs.  As fo Introversion and iNtuition, I’d say you find high percentages of those all over the web, but maybe its especially emphasized in an integral forum.On a different note, I’m not sure why Wilber speaks about the Ennagram the most.  Actually, I do understand.  The Ennagram has its roots in a spiritual tradition and so fits in with the spiritual vision of integral theory.   The problem with this is that the Ennagram isn’t a scientifically accepted theory.  MBTI has had lots of research to back it up, and it has strong correlations with the academic research into personality traits(FFM, Big 5, etc).  As the MBTI and FFM are based on scientific research, I think they would be better systems for integralists to focus on.  

In saying this, I’m not dismissing the Ennagram.  I’m just saying its a totally different type of system.  We need to differentiate between different typology theories.  

One other thing is that integralists might not be aware that many typology systems include development.  So, it shouldn’t be so difficult to integrate to some extent.  For instance, the definitions of Jungian Thinking and Feeling fit closely with the gender studies that integralists are already familiar with.  

Blessings,
Marmalade  

Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 5, 2008, 7:57 PM:  

  Hi, Marmalade,Just a quick note for the moment – Wilber doesn’t talk about the Enneagram the most.  I mentioned on your blog that I have used it more than other typologies, since it is the one I am most familiar with (I do Diamond Approach work and DA uses the Enneagram), but it is not something that I’ve heard Wilber mention very often.  Usually, he talks about types only in a rather general way, mostly referring to masculine and feminine types by way of illustration. I’m glad you started this thread and look forward to participating – as well as to learning more about other typological systems from you or others.  Best wishes,  

B.  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 3:11 AM:  

  Balder,I wasn’t directly referring to any of your comments.  When I said that Wilber talks about the Ennagram the most, I was referring to the only example that I’m aware of where Wilber went into some detail about types and he used the Ennagram to illustrate his point.  You are correct that gender is the type that Wilber refers to the most.  But gender isn’t the exactly the same kind of types sytem as Myers-Briggs or Ennagram.  I should’ve been more clear as I was thinking of types in a more narrow sense when I made that statement.  Blessings,
Marmalade  
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 5:40 AM:  

  I’ve been reading the book The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.  He goes into some detail about the ideas of the psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann who wrote the book Boundaries in the Mind.pp 48-49
“Thick-boundary people strike one as solid, well organized, well defended, and even rigid and armored.  Thin-boundary types tend to be open, unguarded, and undefended in several psychological senses.  Women tend to have thinner boundaries than men, and children thinner than adults.  People with thin boundaries tend to have higher hypnotic ability, greater dream recall, and are more lkely to have lucid dreams.  People with thick boundaries stay with one thought until its completion; whereas those with thin boundaries show greater fluidity, and their thoughts branch from one to another.  People with very thin boundaries report more symptoms of illness; however, compared with thick-boundary types, they are able to exert more control over the autonomic nervous system and can produe greater changes in skin temperature when thinking of hot or cold situations.  Thin-boundary persons are more prone to synesthesia, blending of the senses (e.g., seeing colors when certain sounds are heard).  Differences are found in occupations as well.  Middle managers in large corporations tend to have thick boundaries, and artists, writers and musicians tend to have thinner ones.  People with thick boundaries tend to be in stable , long-term marriages; whereas thin types are more likely to be, or have been, divorced or separated.”The author goes on to say that thin-boundary types tend to report more unusual experiences including psychic experiences.  He then lists the correlations between thin-boundary types and the traits of the Trickster archetype (as described in Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Gods in Everyman).  Archetypes in general fit in with this discussion of types.  

I was thinking of this particular passage because of discussions elsewhere.  Obviously, many new agers are thin-boundary types.  The beliefs of the new ager make no sense to the more skeptically-minded because skeptics are probably most often thick-boundary types.  Skeptics don’t realize that its not just an issue of belief but an issue of experience.  Both the skeptic and the new ager trust their experience, but they simply have different kinds of experience.  

Blessings,
Marmalade  

Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 6, 2008, 12:30 PM:  

  Marmalade,I don’t have a lot of time, thus, briefly:1) I’ve lost sight of the link to the “rare integral based site/forum” but I think it was one of the Gaia conglomerate.  2) The 160-year-old tradition of E-A liberal humanism traces back to the American Transcendentalists and now resides in what is called the Cultural Creatives, a term coined by a management consultant (of all people) who seems to think that only now have those in this tradition become a large enough bloc to having an effect, but if he had just spent a day or two with a comprehensive American History book he would have found out that people of this persuasion were largely responsible for: the end of the American era of slavery, Prohibition, the introduction of sanitation and public health into local and state governments, pure food and drug laws, and the implementation of public based social service programs. The fact that the Native American population was not entirely eradicated in the 19th Century is largely due to this tradition.  

3) Not only does typology throw a lot of confusion into a system like developmental studies, it tends to confound itself except when broadly applied. There are just too many variables to make individual applications anything stronger than tendencies that might be a little more concrete if they were subjected to longitudinal studies not geared to taking tests but making discreet, everyday choices. Of course the same can be said of developmental theories.  

4) I think Bolen’s two books on Everyman, and Everywoman are good resources, particularly for clinical work, but the best literature on Jungian types is still Jung’s Psychological Types.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:28 PM:  

  I’d like to note one common theme here.  Gender is a very important type.  It broadly relates to many different theories.  Just in this thread I’ve noted how both Myers-Briggs personality types and Hartman’s boundary types have a gender component.  I’d be curious to know if there is any gender preference in the Enneagram.
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:37 PM:  

  Criticalness, Integralism, and Type

This is in response to the thread titled ‘Should Integralists Storm The Religous Battlefield’.I’ve been involved in a thread at IIDB, an atheist discussion board. Its a thread about Acharya’s theories about astrotheology which is related to comparative mythology, and Acharya has posted in response some. She has received much criticism and nitpicking which is common on atheist forums. She hasn’t taken it well and probably won’t post anymore in the thread or maybe even in the forum. Recently, the same thing happened with Earl Doherty who is another biblical scholar. He posted on IIDB for a long time, but now has declared he will never post there again.I find it a bit annoying and I don’t know if I could ever entirely get used to this kind of behavior. However, not everyone there is like this, and I do enjoy forums where there are many intelligent and knowledgeable people. I have a few thoughts about harsh criticalness.  (1) I do think some people there could use an integral perspective. Critically challenging new theories is important for scholarship, but being nice is important for human relations. Also, I feel this critical attitude is narrow and often misses the point the central issue or the bigger picture. Disproving a single claim or piece of evidence doesn’t disprove a theory or discredit the entire scholarly credentials of the theorist. There are many ways to think about a theory, and criticism by itself often lacks insight and can miss the larger context.  

Anyways, if actual scholars start avoiding such a forum, that would severely hamper open discourse. In what way is this actually being helpful?  

A forum like IIDB may be a more extreme example of this attitude, but its far from unusual. Scholars such as Acharya and Doherty have also received plenty of harsh criticism from mainstream scholarship as well. Peer review tends to reinforce conventional opinions and discourages innovation. Any new theory is seen as suspect. Only the alternative views of people like Robert M. Price get some respect because they came to those views after already being established in the mainstream. Even so, Price’s ideas have received harsh criticism from some of the amateur scholars on the board. There is this attitude amongst some there that if they disagree with a theory, then they automatically dismiss it. Something is either true or false, and uncertainty or mere probability is never to be admitted.  

It makes me understand why Wilber has been so committed to getting his work into academia.  

(2) My experience at IIDB reminds me of my experience on an INTP forum. INTP types(and NT types in general) can be very combattive and nitpicky. An INTP has Introverted Thinking as a dominant function which means Extraverted Feeling is their inferior. A less developed or less balanced INTP can really suck at relating well to other people, and this is multiplied when you get a group of NTs together. What INTPs are good at is looking for logical consistency and honing in on any discrepant details. Introverted Thinking is largely hidden as its turned inward and so its difficult for other types to see the internal standard they’re using to judge. All that is seen directly is their secondary function Extraverted Intuition which allows them to see all of the possibilities. In the case of nitpicking, Extraverted Intuition is serving Introverted Thinking and thus they relentlessly seek out all potential errors.  

This is what an INTP is good at. They honestly feel that they’re being helpful and they are to an extent. But if they haven’t developed other aspects of themselves, this talent can be problematic for relating well.  

Atheist forums tend to attract many INTPs partly because of an NT interest in computers and debate, partly because Introverts spend more time doing solitary activities such as web browsing, and partly because NPs(Ne) love to discuss ideas endlessly. So, quite probably most of the critical people on IIDB are INTPs or some NT type, but also possibly some INFPs trying to conform to an NT environment. On top of their possible personality types, many of them have spent their whole lives studying ancient texts and biblical studies. Its what they know and its what they’re good at. They feel so certain because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and so they’re personally invested in the conclusions they’ve come to.  

I have become more used to personality styles different than mine. I’m much better than I used to be at relating well with those I conflict with or disagree with. I have tried to stay evenhanded in the IIDB thread and have been mostly successful. I’ve tried to redirect the discussion back to the core issue and away from nitpicking, but that has been less successful. I’ve observed Acharya in videos and other places on the web, and I’d guess she is an NF type like me which would explain why she doesn’t have a thick skin towards criticalness, and why she gets critical in return when she is emotionally worked up.  

I’m an INFP and Extraverted Thinking is my inferior, and as such my judgment of criticalness is very biased. Criticalness really gets to me after a while, and it takes great awareness on my part not to get emotionally pulled into it. I’d rather discuss possibilities rather than debate details. I’d rather find where I agree with someone rather than look for reasons that the other person is wrong. But this is a typical NF attitude and so I realize that others are different.  

If I understand why someone acts the way they do, then its easier for me to accept their behavior. There is a person on the INTP forum who always annoyed me. I couldn’t understand why he was accepted there even to the point of being a moderator. An INTP finally explained it to me in a way that I could understand. This guy wasn’t a psychologically healthy person, but he was psychologically disturbed in a typical INTP way. They accepted him because they could understand him. As I wasn’t an INTP, it didn’t matter that I didn’t get along with him on an INTP forum.  

I see IIDB in a similar light. Some people there are not perfectly balanced people, but neither am I. However, they’ve found their niche in the world. They can be respected for being critical on an atheist board. So, why should I let it bother me. They’re only doing what they know how to do, and I admit that they do it well. Maybe such people serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.  

I just came across a typology poll at IIDB.
http://iidb.infidels.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=132933  

67% are NTs
23.35% are INTPs
37% are INTJs  

20% are NFs
approximately equally divided between the four NF types
except less than 1% of ENFPs  

12% are one of the 8 Sensation(S) types  

So, why would an NT be so much more likely to belong to this kind of forum?
Are NT types more likely to be atheist?
Or are NT types more likely to want to debate about atheist views?  

[QUOTE=ApostateAbe;5070973]I believe that the correlation between atheism and INTJ/INTP is not a trivial thing (I am an INTP).  

[*]INTJ forum poll on religion: [url]http://intjforum.com/showthread.php?t=824[/url]
[*]INTP forum poll on religion: [url]http://forums.intpcentral.com/showthread.php?t=13802[/url]
[*]Christian forum poll on MBTI: [url]http://christianforums.com/t2564679&page=4[/url]  

The Christian forum poll is less clear, since it neglects the E/I. It does at least indicate that the N types predominate. But the members of ChristianForums.com are split between NF and NT. INTJ/INTP are 43% at a max at ChristianForums.com, but here it is a whopping 60%. The polls at the INTJ forum and INTP forum are even more striking. Majority of both are atheist or agnostic.[/QUOTE]  

I was just thinking about how a higher percentage of Thinking types are male.
Accordingly, the majority of people on IIDB are probably male.  

There is a reason this came to mind. I’ve suspected a higher percentage of people on Integral boards are NT. And I’ve heard it said several times that there are more males than females around this place which isn’t something I can personally verify. Also, there is way more heated debate here than on forums I belong to that have a majority of NF types.  

So, what is the correlation between intellectuality, heated debate, atheism, NT personality types, and the male gender?  

Why shouldn’t atheism and integralism appeal to SF females?  

I was just at Richard Dawkins forum and came across a poll for gender.
http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=2716&start=75  

Males are 72% of the population there.
IIDB is the same kind of forum and so it would probably be similar.  

I’m wondering how true this is for most people who are on the web.
I’m uncertain about what forums would attract more females… maybe spirituality/religious forums?  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:52 PM:  

  Type and DevelopmentI’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.  Introduction to Volume 7 of the Collected Works
http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/cowokev7_intro.cfm/  

As for types, see figure 3, which uses the enneagram as an example. What I have done here is take only one developmental module or stream (it can be anything–morals, cognition, defenses, etc.), and I have listed the eight or so levels or waves of development through which this particular stream will tend to unfold (using Spiral Dynamics as an example of the waves). At each level I have drawn the enneagram as an example of what might be called a horizontal typology, or a typology of the personality types that can exist at almost any vertical level of development. The point is that a person can be a particular type (using Jungian types, Myers-Briggs, the enneagram, etc.) at virtually any of the levels. Thus, if a person is, say, predominately enneagram type 5, then as they develop they would be purple 5, red 5, blue 5, and so on (again, not in a rigid linear fashion, but in a fluid and flowing mesh). [20]
Figure 3

 

   

And this can occur in any of the lines. For example, in the moral line, a person might be predominately enneagram type 7 at the green wave in the context of the workplace; under stress, the person might move to type 1 at the orange wave (or even blue wave); cognitively, the person might be type 4 at turquoise, and so on. Notice, however, that what the enneagram alone cannot spot is the shift in vertical levels; an orange 7 under stress might go to orange 1, but under real stress, the orange 7 will regress to blue, then purple. These are not just different types, but different levels of types. Again, by combining horizontal typologies with vertical typologies, we can make use of second-tier constructions for a more integral view.  

For many radical feminists, male and female orientations also constitute a type. Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility. Gilligan, recall, agrees that females proceed through three (or four) hierarchical stages of development, and these are essentially the same three (or four) hierarchical stages or waves through which males proceed (namely, preconventional, conventional, postconventional, and integrated).  

The reason that many people, especially feminists, still incorrectly believe that Gilligan denied a female hierarchy of development is that Gilligan found that males tend to make judgments using ranking or hierarchical thinking, whereas women tend to make judgments using linking or relational thinking (what I summarize as agency and communion, respectively). But what many people overlooked is that Gilligan maintained that the female orientation itself proceeds through three (or four) hierarchical stages –from selfish to care to universal care to integrated. Thus, many feminists confused the idea that females tend not to think hierarchically with the idea that females do not develop hierarchically; the former is true, the latter is false, according to Gilligan herself. [21] (Why was Gilligan so widely misread and distorted in this area? Because the green meme eschews and marginalizes hierarchies in general, and thus it literally could not perceive her message accurately.)  

As you will see in The Eye of Spirit , contained in this volume, I have summarized this research by saying that men and women both proceed through the same general waves of development, but men tend to do so with an emphasis on agency, women with an emphasis on communion.  

This approach to gender development allows us to utilize the extensive contributions of developmental studies, but also supplement them with a keener understanding of how females evolve “in a different voice” through the great waves of existence. In the past, it was not uncommon to find orthodox psychological researchers defining females as “deficient males” (i.e., females “lack” logic, rationality, a sense of justice; they are even defined by “penis envy,” or desiring that which they lack). Nowadays it is not uncommon to find, especially among feminists, the reverse prejudice: males are defined as “deficient females” (i.e., males “lack” sensitivity, care, relational capacity, embodiment, etc.).  

Well, we might say, a plague on both houses. With this more integral approach, we can trace development through the great waves and streams of existence, but also recognize that males and females might navigate that great River of Life using a different style, type, or voice. This means that we can still recognize the major waves of existence–which, in fact, are gender-neutral–but we must fully honor the validity of both styles of navigating those waves. [22]  

Finally, a person at virtually any stage of development, in virtually any line, of virtually any type, can have an altered state or peak experience , including those that are called spiritual experiences, and this can have a profound effect on their consciousness and its development. Thus, the idea that spiritual experiences can only occur at higher stages is incorrect. However, in order for altered states to become permanent traits (or structures), they need to enter the stream of enduring development. [23]  

Wilber uses the Enneagram as his example. As a side note, I’ve heard a theory that the personality aspect of this system may have been borrowed from Jung, but I don’t know if this is true. I have see other correlations between the two systems also. However, the Enneagram doesn’t have much research behind it. Most Enneagram theories focus on it as a model of defense mechanisms. Whereas, the MBTI is looking at deeper cognitive structures that are largely inborn. Wilber shows how a person may have different Enneagram types in different situations depending on such things as which level of which line… but, theoretically, someone’s MBTI type should remain the same. I’d like to see how development over a lifetime influences how people test on the MBTI.  

Here is a research paper that compares MBTI with the AMSP. I’m not familiar with the AMSP, but it says that it focuses on the propensity of people to change with situations. So, it seems comparable to how Wilber is presenting the Enneagram here.  

http://www.typetalk.com/Articles/AMSP-MBTI-Research-Tucker.pdf  

This paper doesn’t go into any developmental models, but the focus on changeability in the AMSP gives room for a developmental perspective. However, there are some theories in typology about development.  

First off, a brief primer. There are 8 Jungian functions. According to some theorists(eg Beebe), all types use all functions, but simply use them in different ways. There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.  

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

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

I’ve looked at Gilligan’s work before, but not lately. Going by the above quote of Wilber, it seems her description of gender also incorporates a Intuition function bias for males(ie abstraction). But research has shown that men are no more likely to be abstract than women. Its only been in recent time that our society has started to idealize the man who is capable of abstraction. So, I’m not sure about this part of this model.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:07 PM:  

  I had a hard time getting into the thread Translation versus Transformation.  But I’m reminded of this topic because translation came up in my thread Type and Development. Reply by Andy Smith  

“I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.”I won’t address the rest of your post right now, but there is a very simple answer to this opening statement. The vertical occurs through horizontal or what Wilber calls translational interactions. Molecules emerge through translational interactions of atoms, cells through translational interactions of molecules, tissues through cell interactions and so on, including societies emerging from translational interactions of individuals. At every level, emergence of the next higher level begins with translational interactions of holons at that level.  Your post, which I take it is a quote from Wilber, treats types as properties of individuals, but of course they are social properties as well, in fact, first and foremost social properties. Any type by any classification one cares to mention is basically a description of the way an individual interacts with other individuals, and even more, with society. These are translational interactions, the glue so to speak which holds societies together.  

 

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:16 PM:  

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

Beyond Personality  

Philosophical Exegesis  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:56 PM:  

  There is a thread I started on a type forum.  I was speculating about the differences between NT types and NF types in terms of how they’d relate to theorizing.  Here are some tentative conclusions I came to:What is communicated?
The dominant is what is literally communicated especially for an Extravert, but for an Introvert the way of communicating(ie auxiliary) is part of what is communicated. The tertiary assists what is being communicated. Possibly, the inferior helps to clarify the message of the dominant even if only by simple contrast.  Why is it communicated?
I’d partly say that once again the dominant, but as communication is an external event so maybe the motivation might be dealt w/ using the Extraverted function. The functional pairings of the first two preferences would create the essence of the motivation.  

A theory is ultimately a conclusion and so would primarily use the Judging function. Those w/ Extraverted Judging functions would be the most interested in a clear theory. Those w/ Introverted Judging may or may not be as interested in an external conclusion, but probably have an internal one. Even if they felt certain inside, they may feel uncertain of what they express or what others express. Ne as auxiliary would particularly tends towards endless speculating w/o ever coming to a final theory.  

Let me break this down(partly based on Lenore Thomson’s ideas):  

NF: understanding subjective experience
NT: understanding objective reality  

NP: creative, non-linear, expanding possibilities
NJ: similar to NP but more focused and grounded, and more clear ideas  

F: lateral thinking, theories about subjects, collaborative discussion
T: categorical thinking, theories about objects, competitive discussion  

IP: direct experience, underlying patterns
IJ: predictable reference points in world, represented experience
EP: direct experience, improvising
EJ: rational predictability, take in more info only when necessary  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:59 PM:  

  In case anyone was wondering, my posting lots of info in this thread is an example of Extraverted Intuition.  🙂
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 7, 2008, 11:45 AM:  

  Marmalade,So, you’ve been busy.  From what I have read from Andy Smith, a critic of Wilber, and Wilber, a critic of Smith, I conclude they both tend to be structuralists. Both seem to discount types and subordinate them to their own favorite transcendents. Do you think that Ns are particularly structuralist or transcendentalist? Do you think there is anything social, or spiritual that transcends your own being?  

Your statistics are fascinating, but not surprising. This is why on these boards 99.63% of all topics involve “I think” or “she/he thinks” or “they think,” and only 0.39% involve “I etc. did/do.”  

Here are some things “doing” and “did” that might have a bearing on types:  

1) In that part of my developmental process (mid-teens) when I started doing important things that would define me as an adult, among them were: driving fast cars over long distances, hitchhiking to unknown destinations (when without a car), striking lefty leaning revolutionary postures, attracting interesting and beautiful women, avoiding educational institutions, studying the aesthetics of the well turned phrase, and having mind-bending, ecstatic mystical experiences (unbidden, drug free).  

2) In that part of my development process (mid-childhood, 11-ish) when spirituality and religion became real enough to be seriously considered for “truth,” I seriously considered them long enough (a few hours) for me to conclude they were no longer worthy of serious consideration. The whole subject was just beside all the valuable points of my life. So when the mystical revelations of Cosmic Wholeness began to show up a few years later I did enough research to find out that some people thought these states had something to do with Spirit (a.k.a. God). I did not.  My hubris told me that Spiritual and Godly considerations were for less-advantaged folks than me. (There have been times when I might have momentarily consider myself either an atheist, or an agnositic or maybe even a believer. But that eventually matured into a position of being reconciled to not knowing and not caring enough to figure it out. An example is that until you mentioned it I had never heard of IIDB, so I googled and dropped by and thought, “this is really dull…”)  

3.) In my late 20s and early 30s, the mystical experiences of cosmic integrated unity, the apprehensions of the “divine” omniscient state, became more and more profound and began to color all my other perceptions. By this time I was one of the leading (investigative) journalistic experts on Native American legal and political issues in the USA, and beginning a career as a private legal investigator. Under fairly heavy psychological pressure as a result of these visions I made the decision to investigate for evidence that an overarching “really real,” integral and unifying principle existed. From my experience I had learned that theory was little more than insubstantial words, blue smoke and mirrors. Law, for example is the theory that attempts (poorly) to regulate the present and future by regulating (poorly) perceptions and interpretations of past facts. Facts are created by what people do. The rule of thumb for lawyers is that one never argues the law unless a really bad circumstantial case prohibits them from arguing the facts. So I went out to find the facts of this matter–are there facts here on the ground that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an overarching, really real, unifying principle. I spent about five years at it. I took it seriously, I had to if I was going to maintain my reputation as a highly skilled investigator, and hope for any credibility in writing the obviously best-selling, revelatory book that would follow a positive conclusion.  

4. Along the way, quite by accident, I stumbled across the writings of Carl Jung that sparked: a) my first more than passing interest in psychology; b) an interest in psychological types; c) an 18-month period in which I began dreaming three or four “big” dreams a week. Also quite by accident, I began study of Taoism and the benefits of contemplative practices particularly those that developed and enhanced phenomenological awareness, internally and externally. (Both of these contributed to my investigation and resulted in a continuing 31-year-old dream journal and meditation habit.)  

5. At the end of the five years  I had not found one single mote of irrefutable evidence for the really real unifying principle that I, as a reputable, self-respecting investigator, would even consider taking to my client/attorney with the expectation that they would put it to a jury. There went the dream of fame, fortune and beautiful lovers that would accrue from writing that book. The best thing I could come up with was a theory lifted out of Jung: the visions of the divine unification-through-omniscience Hoo-Ha were a self-reflecting glance at, and projection of, the perceptual organizing functions of my mind, a satisfying conclusion in that it tended to confirm rather than diminish hubris. (One of the reasons why I tend not to take Wilber all that seriously is that I have found no evidence in his writing to show that he ever seriously considered or researched the possibility that AQAL might be a manual and map for the form and functions of his psyche and nothing more.)  

6. Early in 2005, while waiting a week or so for a client couple to finalize design and budget approval for a proposed sculpture, I googled “enlightenment” and got some Andrew Cohen hits that lead me to Wilber-land. I studied up on his latest (I hadn’t read any of Wilber since about 1989) and wrote my first lengthy Integral Naked post that proposed–based on the findings of my own search as a bad example–and the fact that Wilber had managed it (good example) that most anyone with a few years in a liberal arts school and a facility for words, blue smoke and mirrors could undertake the development of a Unified Field Theory for the Human Condition if not Everything itself.  And I urged folks to not worry in the least about their theory being right or wrong because that’s not the point. The point is to publish an interesting book, make a little money and attract beautiful lovers. I should have pointed out then, and do so now, that the chances for one’s success will be enhanced if they are iNtuitive, preferably Introverted iNtuitive. Part of the reason my effort failed was that I went about my grand search in the way I tested out on the typology scales: ESFP. So I make my money these days doing art. And as for beautiful lovers? I’ve got mine, Jack.  

theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral and Types

theurj said Jul 7, 2008, 2:03 PM:  

  Nickeson: I see you’re a blacksmith-artist. One of my New Mexico dancing associates, Ward Brinegar, is also into this type of art. See his site at this link.
Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 7, 2008, 2:19 PM:  

  Thanks for providing that link, Nickeson.  I loved having a chance to see your work – and to see you at work.  The railings you’ve wrought strike me as similar to you in spirit:  strong and unruly, with a graceful flair.
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 7, 2008, 2:32 PM:  

  Edward,
Ward is a friend of mine, though I haven’t seen him for years. Last time I heard he was living broken-hearted in Albuquerque.  I learned the art in Santa Fe, spent eight years doing it there. I can see by his web site that he is doing good work and doing well. This is really good to know.Balder, thanks for the kind words.  S.  

p.s. I just remembered that I wrote a piece here on my other blog that goes directly to this typological difference thing. (Part of it has been excerpted to the Kabiri site.)  

theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral and Types

theurj said Jul 7, 2008, 5:03 PM:  

  Ward has been in SF for many years, living and working. I know he got a divorce years ago but he’s gone through a number of girlfriends since then. Not sure of his current love life status. I see him once a year at the Albuquerque Dance Fiesta, the next of which is at the end of September. I’ll try to remember to say hello for you. Or you could do so yourself at his website and tell him I referred you.
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 7, 2008, 3:12 PM:  

  Nickeson,Nice iron work.  I had a great interest in art growing up, but as an NP I was more interested in the creative possibilities than the finished product.  🙂  Do you think that Ns are particularly structuralist or transcendentalist?  

I wouldn’t think Ns would particularly be structuralist as I’d think that might have more to do with whether the person was Judging… to put it simply, whether they seek out conclusion.  I would think, though, that Ns are particularly transcendentalist as N is about abstraction, imagination, and possibilities.  Ns look past the obvious data of physical experience, but also Ns are less satisfied with the world as it is because they’re so capable of seeing how the world could be otherwise.  

Do you think there is anything social, or spiritual that transcends your own being?

Going by the gist of your question, I’d answer in the affirmative.  But I don’t think of it exactly as transcending.  That reality isn’t based on isolated individuals feels like a basic immanent experiential truth to me.  However, as an INFP, N (Extraverted Intuition) is my secondary function.  My direct sense of reality has to do with Fi (Introverted Feeling).  

Your statistics are fascinating, but not surprising.  

They didn’t surprise me either. Based on type theory and on personal experience, it was what I was more or less what I was expecting to find.   One interesting discovery I made was that INTJs are more prevalent on atheist boards than they are on type boards.  Typology is probably a bit too woo woo for many INTJs.  The INTPs, altough Thinking types, are one of the most active groups in the online typology community.  INTPs are a bit more open to the soft sciences because they enjoy endless speculation, enjoy considering possibilities without a need to come to an absolute conclusion.  

This is why on these boards 99.63% of all topics involve “I think” or “she/he thinks” or “they think,” and only 0.39% involve “I etc. did/do.”

 

   

I agree.   

Interestingly, though, my ISTJ mom would take a different perspective from both you and most integralists.  To her, life isn’t about enjoyment, but is instead about responsibility and routine.  Your ideal of making some money and attracting beautiful partners would be utterly alien to her worldview.  

Another interesting example is my ENTJ dad.  He does like to think and speculate, but first and foremost he is an Extraverted Thinking type.  He wants to do things and accomplish things.  He wants to help, inspire, and organize people.  He might find Integralism mildly interesting, but he wants to know the hard facts and the practical application.  He can think outside of the box, but in many ways he is contented with conventional thinking (he is very status conscious as TJ appreciates hierarchy and authority).  

Both of my parents are very action-oriented, but in very different ways.  The only commonality they have is that they’re both Judging types, and they both have Te as their preferred Judging function.  But neither is action-oriented like you although my dad comes closest to you in wanting to enjoy the good life… I suspect for totally different reasons though.  

Blessings,
Marmalade  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 8, 2008, 2:42 PM:  

  I find it curious that so far the only significant response I’ve had to this thread is from Nickeson and he is critical of integral theory.  I have great interest in types and I have likewise used it as a critical perspective of integralism.There is obviously a lack of integration of type into integral theory, but is there also a lack of interest?  Do integralists perceive types as less important than lines of development or the quadrants?  Why have integralists focused so little upon something that has more scientific backing than other elements of integral that have less scientific backing?  Do integralists simply not know how to integrate types?  Or is it merely a paradigm bias of integralists idealizing transcendence?  Is personality not all that significant if your goal is transpersonal?  Could it be that most integralists simply don’t know much about types and they just don’t know what to make of them?  Or are many integralists actively critical of thinking too much in terms of types?  If so, what is the criticism of types from an integral perspective?  I don’t see types and integralism as being in conflict.  If anything, I think this might be one of the most fruitful avenues that integralism hasn’t yet explored.  

I’ve focused on Myers-Briggs in this thread because that is what I know best, but of course there are probably thousands of different kinds of type theories.  If Myers-Briggs doesn’t interest you, what type system does?  Beyond the brief summary of Wilber, how might the Enneagram be more fully integrated into integral theory?  

If you don’t like type theories whatsoever, then what do you think of trait theories which is a slightly different take on personality (and academically more respectable)?  Does Wilber or any other integralist speak much about personality traits?  

Blessings,
Marmalade  

Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 8, 2008, 3:06 PM:  

  Marmalade, unfortunately, most members of this pod are actually critical of Integral theory!  I am probably more strongly supportive of it than most of the other active members here.I am interested in this topic, and believe it actually is a very fruitful area to explore – particularly since I think greater sensitivity to types may help lessen the current tendency to almost impulsively evaluate everything in terms of “rank” or “level.”  I think the level-distinctions are valid, but as you and others point out, factoring “types” in may complicate those evaluations in significant ways.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying to write a blog entry in between my work and school duties, and I’m almost done with that.  That is what has kept me away from active participation here.  But I will be back!  

Best wishes,  

B.  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 8, 2008, 5:12 PM:  

  Balder,Yeah.  From comments you’d made, I was assuming you were probably busy.  But there are other active members in this pod.  I was just wondering what people thought even if it was merely to say they’re not interested.  Even though many here are critical of integral or at least Wilber’s integral, they obviously have enough interest in integral to post here.  

As I said, the only significant response I’ve had has been from Nickeson.  And he doesn’t see much merit in integral as its presently forumlated.  But I do get the sense that he isn’t dismissing integral theory entirely.  Nevertheless, he certainly doesn’t seem hopeful about integrating types into integral, and maybe he is right.  

I like integral theory for the most part, and I like type theory for the most part.  Both systems have their flaws, but they’re good enough for basic understandings.  I’d like to think that the two can somehow inform eachother… and maybe even be included within a single theory.  

I don’t know.  I’d like to explore this some more.  At the moment, I was purposely focusing on only one aspect of types.  There are two other aspects that are more directly related to integralism, but I wanted to feel out the waters first.  One of those aspects is types not as types per se but as perspectives (eg Lenore Thomson).  The other aspect is the developmental.  Many type theories (eg Myers-Briggs and Enneagram) explicitly theorize how development commonly occurs.  

I guess I’ll just sit on it for the time being.  

I appreciate what you’re trying to do here with this pod.  I realize its difficult.  I hope that discussion can get past criticisms (even if insightful) and point towards new possibilities.  That was my hope for this thread anyways.  How might types allow new innovation within integral theory?  

   

Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 8, 2008, 6:55 PM:

  Hi Marmalade. You wrote to Balder: “I was just wondering what people thought even if it was merely to say they’re not interested.” 

I’m well familiar with Jung’s typology (I had to study Jung in depth and was tested by teachers who’d trained at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich as part of my training in Arnold Mindell’s Process Work). I took the Myers-Briggs type test in the eighties. I read Almaas’s book, Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas, and I’ve had people who are into the Enneagram as Helen Palmer teaches it talk to me about my Enneagram type. 

But I’m not interested in reading about, studying, or discussing type theory any more than I already have, and that’s why I haven’t commented on your posts where you discuss typology. 

🙂 

Jim 

  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 12:43 AM:

  Hey Jim,Your post makes me curious all the while making me a bit sad.  You know about types and seemingly have an opinion on the matter, but for whatever reason don’t wish to share.. or maybe you just don’t have any clear thoughts on the matter.  My sense is that you see no value in types for the time being or maybe entirely.

Oh well… if you don’t feel like participating, then you don’t.  But if you ever do feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your doubts or criticisms… or about your lack of interest for whatever reason.  I’ve enjoyed your views in other integral discussions.

I wonder if there are many integralists like you… people who know a fair amount about typology but it simply doesn’t relate to their interest in integral theory.  Its good to keep in mind that a lack of dicussion about types in the integral community doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of knowledge.  If that is the case, then what is the disconnect between the two?

Anyways, thanks for the reply.  Even though you didn’t say much, it still gives me some feedback.

Blessings,
Marmalade 

   

Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 9, 2008, 11:41 AM:

  Hi Ben (if I may call you Ben),

Your post makes me curious all the while making me a bit sad.
I’m sorry to hear that my post makes you a bit sad.

You know about types and seemingly have an opinion on the matter, but for whatever reason don’t wish to share.. or maybe you just don’t have any clear thoughts on the matter.  My sense is that you see no value in types for the time being or maybe entirely.

It’s not that I don’t wish to share, it’s that I’m not interested in getting into a discussion on types and typology. I’m happy to share my opinion that a working understanding of Jung’s typology is important for anyone who wants to work in a helping capacity within a transpersonal – or integral if one prefers – context.

I had a private therapy practice working with individuals, couples, and small groups. My approach, largely based on my training in Process Work (which as I think you know was created by Jungian analyst Arny Mindell – his initial research into what he calls PW or Process Oriented Psychology was funded by the Jung Institute in Zurich where he trained budding Jungians to be Jungian analysts), was hands-on, experiential, and non-interpretive. Talking about types, thinking about types, and typing clients and participants in group work simply played no role in the work I did, just as my beautiful, expensive watercolor brushes played no role in the electrical and plumbing work I did no my house last week.

Oh well… if you don’t feel like participating, then you don’t.  But if you ever do feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your doubts or criticisms… or about your lack of interest for whatever reason.

In addition to a lack of interest in the topic, my focus of late has been on neuroscience (among a few other things), the learning curve is steep, and I only have so much time. I don’t have doubts about typology (beyond my general doubts about “folk psychology”), and my lack of interest is no different to me than my lack of interest in spectator sports. I’m not against spectator sports any more than I’m against typology, but I’m not interested. I don’t know the names of sport teams or players, I don’t know what sport season it is, I don’t watch spectator sports on TV and I don’t attend live spectacles (I always fell asleep at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium whenever I was taken there when I was growing up in NY), and to me Superbowl Sunday is just another Sunday and a good day to go grocery shopping because the markets are usually empty during the game.

I wonder if there are many integralists like you… people who know a fair amount about typology but it simply doesn’t relate to their interest in integral theory.

I don’t consider myself an “integralist,” and I’m definitely not a Wilberian (and I find it difficult to hear the word “integral” without thinking of Wilber; IMO he has appropriated the word). I think that Wilber gets a lot of things right (and some things incredibly wrong), I participated in a series of Integral Institute meetings at his home in late 2000 and I corresponded a bit with him before that, but being into Ken Wilber’s integral theory of everything is just not a part of my path.

(I parenthetically mentioned having doubts about “folk psychology.” Some cognitive scientists and philosophers maintain that our “commonsense” or “folk” understanding of mental states constitute a theory that enables us to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and others. Ken Wilber borrows the term “myth of the given” from Wilfrid Sellars. It so happens that Sellars’ ideas on the myth of the given are a source of the idea that folk psychology is a theory and is therefore subject to revision or even replacement.)

I hope that makes where I’m coming from at least a bit clearer.

Jim 

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 2:37 PM:

  Jim,Sure… call me Ben if you’d like.  Call me almost anything you want as far as I care.

Neuroscience, eh?  I’ve come across research on neuroscience and personality.  Traits research goes into this quite a bit.  What kind of neuroscience are you interested in?

I would agree “that folk psychology is a theory and is therefore subject to revision or even replacement.”  That is why I like to study and research the subject.  Also, its the reason I prefer Myers-Briggs over the Enneagram.  I haven’t found any academic research about the Enneagram, and so I have no way of making sense out of all the differing opinions.  Myers-Briggs is closer to traits theory than to the Enneagram, and traits theory has been researched to a great extent and across cultures. 

So, to the extent that Myers-Briggs correlates with this academic research, it isn’t folk psychology.  However, there is still much research that needs to be done on Myers-Briggs theory.  For example, there is good reason to question the orthogonal view of the functions which traits theory disagrees with.

If you ever feel so inclined, it would be nice to see a thread about what you’ve learned from your neuroscience studies.

Blessings,
Marmalade 

 

Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 9, 2008, 5:10 PM:

  Ben, I’ve been working, as time allows, on a response to Balder’s request (to any members of this pod) for “a positive formulation of your own spiritual vision,” and I may touch on neuroscience in that. Blessings to you too, Jim 
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 8, 2008, 5:54 PM:

  Marmalade,Quickly;

1)  “…my ISTJ mom would take a different perspective from both you and most integralists.  To her, life isn’t about enjoyment, but is instead about responsibility and routine.  Your ideal of making some money and attracting beautiful partners would be utterly alien to her worldview.”

Your mom is not just an S, she’s an SJ! Keirsey says this is the “Guardian temperament.” 

  • Guardians pride themselves on being dependable, helpful, and hard-working.
  • Guardians make loyal mates, responsible parents, and stabilizing leaders.
  • Guardians tend to be dutiful, cautious, humble, and focused on credentials and traditions.
  • Guardians are concerned citizens who trust authority, join groups, seek security, prize gratitude, and dream of meting out justice.

(For more read here.)

But then here, for comparison, is a Keirsey run-down of SPs, the “Artisans,” a category more like me–

  • Artisans tend to be fun-loving, optimistic, realistic, and focused on the here and now
  • Artisans pride themselves on being unconventional, bold, and spontaneous.
  • Artisans make playful mates, creative parents, and troubleshooting leaders.
  • Artisans are excitable, trust their impulses, want to make a splash, seek stimulation, prize freedom, and dream of mastering action skills.

(For more read here.)

And then there are the NFs, the “most integralists”–

  • Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
  • Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
  • Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
  • Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.

(For more read here.)

On almost every site here in the on-line Integral Province one finds evidence that the ideal person is an Idealist, every site is preaching to this choir, seeking their approval  love. Novelist James Mitchner, speaking of everybody, once said to the effect of “It is not that everybody wants to be a writer, everybody wants to have been a writer.” Here one could say similarly “Its not that every Integralite wants to be Ramana Maharshi, every Integralite wants to have been Ramana Maharshi.” On these overviews (I left one out) the word “spiritual” only shows up as an Idealist quality. And descriptions of the ideal citizen of Yellow or Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna or whatever the popular, upper-berth color here in the Province is this season boils down to the ideal Idealist; run-of-the-mill Idealists are still stuck in Green. Maybe in a Type Theory of Integral the first thing to do is factor out the cultural confounders and run a horizontal analysis of the colors.  How different would that look from the Jungian types, or as someone pointed out on the Integral Praxis Sosh Ntwrk site, how different would that look from the primary and recombinant qualities of the Zodiac?

I guess all of the long posts I have made on this thread have just been wordy ways of backing into the same question…one that has been implied in each, and since failing to get an answer I will ask it directly: Do the precursory qualities for transformation and enlightenment favor NFs? From a blending of what we see of types and the Integral givens it would appear that would be the the logical working hypothesis. Does this mean that Bio-spiritual and cultural evolution as defined by what is generally considered core Integral Theory promote NF, or at least the top cut of the catagory, as more evolved than any other type?

There are times when I, as an SP in the land of NFs, feel like an itinerant anthropologist, or wandering writer a la Paul Theroux or Peter Matthiesson, sending dispatches back to a home far, far away. As you know I have been writing from the virtual sovereignty I call Integral Province. If the answer to my question can any way be construed toward the positive then I might have to rethink this name, perhaps drop “Province” and adopt “Ghetto.” 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 1:55 AM:

  Nickeson,Yep, my mom is an SJ.  I brought it up as a counterexample to your SP slant on the differences between S and N.  I’m willing to bet that a SJ would feel like even more of an outsider in the integral community than an SP would.

How I see all of this is that Wilber is more likely an NT than not and so there is a NT bias at the heart of integral theory… whether or not NFs are also attracted to integral idealism.  Of the NFs, INFJs have the most interest in systematic theorizing.  But even INFJs don’t come close to most NTs when it comes to systematic theorizing.  I know INFPs particularly well and few would be interested in integral, but maybe the ideal Idealist… I don’t know.  So, its true that integralism is idealistic and NFs are known as the Idealists, but Thinking has its version of idealism in its focus on principles.  And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.

Here is the breakdown in terms of religion.  Most theology professors are probably NTs.  Most ministers are probably NFs.  Most of the congregation is probably SJs.  I don’t know where the SPs might be… probably doing missionary work in a third-world country.

So, Wilber and other integral theorists are probably NTs.  However, many of the advocates of integralism in a forum may be NFs.  In a pod like this maybe its pretty even between NTs and NFs, but I’d say that there is still an NT bias to integral theory overall.

MBTI was created by an INFP.  Even though it took a lot of intellectual thought (ie statistical analysis), its a very NF model.  Its not hierarchical for one thing.  Instead, its about seeing the good in everyone exactly as they are.  It has its developmental aspect, but the equality aspect is emphasized more.

Integral as the ideal from the top cut of Idealists?  It could be.  I do have the suspicion that many spiritual visionaries are NFs.  But how many of them would turn their spiritual vision into an all-encompassing hierarchical abstract theory?

Your viewpoint is intriguing.  Even though integral theory came from the mind of a probable NT, maybe its slowly being hijacked by NFs.  But of course the NTs see it as corruption from the green meme.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?  Or is your SP perspective that such theorizing is pointless?  If you could somehow organize your SP brethren, how would you attempt to hijack the integral movement?  🙂

Blessings,
Marmalade 

Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 9, 2008, 10:16 AM:

  Maramalade,I’m just going to jump around here a little:

And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.

This might be debated. I think it might have more to do with N aligned with J.  Jung was a Thinking type (INTP, I believe) and he wasn’t big on hierarchies except cultural and moral ones.


Most ministers are probably NFs.  Most of the congregation is probably SJs.  I don’t know where the SPs might be…

Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis’s novel Elmer Gantry? It mostly concerns the relationship between an SP evangelist and an NF faith healer.

I do have the suspicion that many spiritual visionaries are NFs.  But how many of them would turn their spiritual vision into an all-encompassing hierarchical abstract theory?

Excellent point!

Even though integral theory came from the mind of a probable NT, maybe its slowly being hijacked by NFs.  But of course the NTs see it as corruption from the green meme.

This is one of the reasons I sometimes wonder about the depth of Wilber’s here and now consciousness. In one aspect of the theory he gives the NFs what they need because they are NFs and they will support him. But in another aspect he bites the hands that feed him because they aren’t intuitively rational enough, and they in turn will forgive him because they are who they are. Co-dependence, no?

If you could somehow organize your SP brethren, how would you attempt to hijack the integral movement?

I don’t think most would consider it worth hijacking. It isn’t effective enough, it doesn’t do anything,  its too academic. That is why politicians might give it a nod and then move on. It is void of solutions for the here and now. But it is a good place to stock-pile NFs until they are needed to march in the streets.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?

I’ll have to give that more thought. I have been thinking of  whipping up a little something vis a vis Balder’s call for papers on a ”positive formulation of your own spiritual vision.” Maybe I can organize it about this question…we’ll see.

S. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 3:43 PM:

  And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.This might be debated. I think it might have more to do with N aligned with J.  Jung was a Thinking type (INTP, I believe) and he wasn’t big on hierarchies except cultural and moral ones.

I understand why you’d say J and I would add the Judging functions of Thinking and Feeling.  I’m surprised by your thinking it would be N aligned with J (ie Ni).  From my understanding of Lenore Thomson, Ni wants to free an idea from larger contexts especially external contexts… because Ni wants to focus more narrowly.  However, within their own personal understanding, their thoughts can be more structured (depending on how well their Judging function is developed).  My ENTJ dad can be more structured and hierarchical in thinking, but I always interpreted that as a result of his being Te dominant (ie EXTJ).

I was basing my statement largely on personal observation of an INFP forum and some NT forums (in particular an INTP forum).  Its somewhat of an issue of debating style.  NFs (especially Feeling dominants) can have a hierarchical side, but its a hierarchy of values.  NFs don’t seem overly hierarchical with ideas and abstract theories.  However, to the extent that an idea stands in for an Idealist value, an NF could become attached to a hierarchical theory.

I’m not sure what type Jung was.  I’ve heard of him being an INTP, but Beebe thinks he was an INTJ.  I know that he didn’t like social hierarchies, and that may have more to do with his Introversion than with anything else (although my ISTJ mom likes social hierarchies).  I think Beebe’s assessment makes sense.  An INTP’s dominant Ti gives them a strong internal sense of structure and also a tendency towards methodical analysis.  Jung seems more Ni dominant to me.  He was a deep thinker, but there is somewhat of a looseness to all of his thinking.  Jung never had an overarching systematic theory as Wilber does and I see Wilber as being more of an INTP.

Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis’s novel Elmer Gantry? It mostly concerns the relationship between an SP evangelist and an NF faith healer.

No, never read it.  Sounds interesting.  What did you think of it?

In one aspect of the theory he gives the NFs what they need because they are NFs and they will support him. But in another aspect he bites the hands that feed him because they aren’t intuitively rational enough, and they in turn will forgive him because they are who they are. Co-dependence, no?

The social dynamics of the situation is very intriguing.  I could imagine that Wilber’s most loyal followers might be NFs, and maybe he has encouraged this to an extent.  An NF could be very forgiving about Wilber and his ideas if they projected their idealistic values onto the ideal of integralism.  Most NFs don’t care about a theory being perfect and they might be willing to ignore any gaps that aren’t too obvious.

BTW INFPs are very individualistic, but they also are considered the most idealistic of the Idealists.  If a theory captures their sense of idealism, they very well might throw themselves into it without reservation.  INFPs more than any type want something overarching to believe in.

But it is a good place to stock-pile NFs until they are needed to march in the streets.

Very good point.  NFs can be pacifists and passivists, but once their idealism is challenged its a different story.  I’ve had an interesting discussion on why INFPs would make good terrorists and guerilla fighters.  The discussion started because bin Laden seems like a possible INFP.  He combines cultural analysis with fiery righteousness, and a patient indirect way of challenging authority.  INFPs, when the situation is right, can make good leaders of small groups.  They inspire the loyal SJs to put the NF’s ideals into action.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?

I’ll have to give that more thought. I have been thinking of  whipping up a little something vis a vis Balder’s call for papers on a ”positive formulation of your own spiritual vision.” Maybe I can organize it about this question…we’ll see.

I look forward to whatever you may come up with.

Blessings,
Marmalade 

Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 13, 2008, 6:18 PM:

  Maramalade,Not long ago you asked these questions of me:

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?  Or is your SP perspective that such theorizing is pointless?

And I answered that I would address that question in a post re: Balder’s request for papers on a positive Spiritual vision. But I’m not going to do that now, times have changed. However there still might be an indirect answer to those questions in various excerpts from the following blog posts. Most people around here might have read them by now, but since you asked–

First, the last five or six paragraphs of ”Integral Dissipation” are pretty explicit on the matter.

Second, the whole of ”To One in the Dark V” looks at the same thing from a slightly different perspective

Third, the implications of ”No Reason to Believe” add nuances, and,

Fourth, so do the implications of ”Vultures Copulating on the Roof” particularly this bit:

M has been reading Bhagavan Das and thinking back. The two of us are easing toward sleep, her head, my shoulder conjoined. She wonders why he or anyone else wants things to have meaning when meanings just enforce limits.  

From M—Wholeness: no limits, no meaning. Make a note of it. 

S.
 

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 5:49 PM:

  I don’t want this discussion about types to be limited to typology.For instance, what does anyone think of archetypes as horizontal types?  I realize that archetypes also can be seen vertically and the pre/trans fallacy can be invoked.  But for the moment what do you think of archetypes as general categories of human cognition and experience?  And can archetypes be a part of Integral theory?

Blessings,
Marmalade 

Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 10, 2008, 6:35 AM:

  Marmalade,I understand why you’d say J and I would add the Judging functions of Thinking and Feeling.  I’m surprised by your thinking it would be N aligned with J (ie Ni).  From my understanding of Lenore Thomson, Ni wants to free….

You are no doubt correct and also way ahead of me here. I am not familiar with the details of Thomson’s work and I’ve never heard of Beebe before your mention of him. I believe the last theory I read with anything more than passing curiosity was Bolon’s and that was long ago. I can see why there is equivocation on Jung’s J or P as those two seem to be the most mercurial and culturally mutable aspects. My statement on the matter was remembering what one or another of his student/colleagues, like von Franz, et al, wrote of him. Speaking of archetypes and hierarchies in this light, Jung’s intellectual position on the basic quaternary of personal archetypes (Hero, Wise Old Man, King, Puer, etc) was fairly horizontal but as a conscientious Swiss by culture he elevated the Wise Old Man and the King (to a lesser extent) and was disparaging of the Puer. This is where theory and training diverge after a time from experience and folk psychology. I am with Jim who said a working knowledge of the types is a good thing for liberal humanist style therapists. I suspect that in five years or so following training most of these clinicians are practicing folk psychology to some extent. (To me folk psychology is of a difference order than pop psychology which is just out there for its entertainment value.) Whether it is positively effective or damaging to the client is a function of the therapists’ abilities and not the source of the style/theory. Of course it is not going to play well for the theorists or those in the labs, but the same can be said of anthing that arises outside of their immediate venues.

Elmer Gantry is probably as entertaining, instructive and thought provoking as any professionally written 82-year-old novel is these days. I read it when it was only 33-years-old so it had different things to say at that time.

And can archetypes be a part of Integral theory?

I think anything that can be said of types can and should be said about archtypes. And by definition anything and everything can be a part of Integral Theory and that drops the hint that Integral might not qualify as a theory at all.

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.

Debate b/t Religion and Science: Theists, Atheists, Agnostics, Integralists

 – – –

FIRST COMMENT

This response profoundly misunderstands Karen Armstrong’s arguments.  This isn’t a fair portrayal.  As far as I understand her arguments, the criticisms presented here don’t seem to touch upon what she actually writes about.

Armstrong’s books are very scholarly.  She isn’t against rationality and science.  What she supports is making subtle intellectual distinctions in order to create a rational context to discuss otherwise non-rational issues.  She backs her arguments with historical evidence which is the best one can do when trying to analyze the development of religion and society.  And nothing she states contradicts any known scientific facts or theories.

Armstrong offers great insight into the religious mind.  Her explanation of the origins of literalist fundamentalism make more sense to me than any argument I’ve come across.

Her argument is that a new way of thinking about religion arose with the Axial Age.  In particular, this involved the ability to think metaphorically.  But I don’t think she disagrees that it was initially (and for many centuries to come) a style of thinking limited mostly to elite theologians.  It was only with the Enlightenment that the the Axial Age ideals started to take hold more clearly and science provided a new paradigm by which metaphorical thinking could be contrasted.

In response to science, the idea of religious literalism arose as entirely distinct from allegorical interpretation.  It’s not that literalist thinking didn’t exist to an extent earlier, but it only became an ideology unto itself in modern times.

Armstrong isn’t an enemy of atheism.  The only thing she is an enemy of is closed-mindedeness and simplistic thinking.  Her criticism of the New Atheists isn’t a criticism of atheism in general.  She is simply pointing out that certain arguments made by some popular atheists aren’t the best arguments to be made.  Her main issue is that, by talking about religion in literalist terms, the atheist just plays into the hands of literalist fundamentalists.  She wants to undermine religious literalism at it’s base.  She wants to show fundamentalism for what it is by showing how it developed.

 – – –

SECOND COMMENT

We seem to be talking past each other or something.

And you apparently have me mistaken for someone else.  I’m far from being a religious apologist.  I can’t stand apologetics and I harshly criticize anyone who uses it.  I do have some interest in religion and I study religious scholarship, but I’m not an overly religious person as I usually think of myself as an agnostic.  I look for insight where ever I can find it whether from religion, science, psychology or whatever.  But I especially appreciate quality scholarship.
 
Straw-men arguments? I have no clue what you’re talking about.  My basic argument was that you didn’t understand Armstrong’s ideas, and I then explained my own understanding of her work.  Have you read her books?  If you haven’t, then I don’t know why you have such strong opinions based on such limited info.  Or if you have, you need to reinforce your argument with more specifically quoted examples.
 
“Of course, Armstrong doesn’t say she is against science. I never claimed this. She is completely misrepresenting it’s place in history, that’s all.”
 
Well, so far, you’ve mentioned science 25 times and mostly in reference to Armstrong.  Going by your own words: Your argument is that she undermines and blames and ignores science, that she doesn’t care about scientfic facts, and that she is dangerously usurping science for a liberal anti-scientific agenda.  If this isn’t your true opinion, then you need to edit your previous statements or else better explain what you actually meant by these words.
 
“I am amused at how you built your assumptions into the statement while cloaking Armstrong’s revisionism in the language of tolerance.”
 
All statements have assumptions built into them.  My argument was fairly simple and straightforward.  I wasn’t cloaking anything.
 
“Firstly, she is not so much making ‘intellectual distinctions’ as she is making stuff up.”
 
Generalized judgments and dismissals aren’t helpful.  Give me precise quoted examples of her making stuff.   Show in detail that your allegation is correct.  Explain how her supposed “making stuff up” disproves her entire argument and undermines all of her scholarly respectability.
 
“Secondly, your implicit assumption that there is no other rational context to discuss such issues is wrong.”
 
No such assumption was implied.  I’m fond of many other rational contexts.  I wasn’t arguing that Armstrong has the market cornered on rational contexts.  She isn’t even an author I obsessively read or even think about that much.
 
“There is one very powerful rational context that is always relevant- objective reality.”
 
I like objective reality.  Are you implying that my arguments or Armstrong’s arguments deny or contradict objective reality?
 
“No preferential treatment of facts is necessary, thanks a lot (read up on sociobiology- really read- to get a rational context for understanding religious fundamentalism).”
 
I don’t understand your complaint.  Preferential treatment of facts isn’t necessary, but emphasizing the importance of facts is always a nice thing.  And, yes, I do read up on many fields of study.  In particular, the relationship between biology and behavior is a topic I often read about.
 
“Literalist fundamentalism was always there.”
 
It seems we’re defining literalism differently.  I can’t assess your definition as I don’t know what facts and theories you’re basing it on.  As far as I can tell, you seem to be using a very general and vague sense of literalism.  In terms of cognitive ability, however, literalistic thinking is more narrowly defined.
 
“Religion is the political remnant of a system of belief that told a narrative of factual events. For modern religious moderates, when it comes to everyday issues they can understand that there is such a thing as the real world and there is the emotional world, but when it comes to religion they forgo this distinction.”
 
It’s not that all fundamentalists dismiss this distinction.  Many of them simply don’t understand it.
 
The definition of literalism I’m using is from a developmental perspective.  On the personal level, people have the potential to learn how to make clear rational distinctions at a particular stage of development, but this depends on the person’s intelligence and their social environment.  As such, development can be stalled or even permanently stunted.  Plus, integrating this ability into all aspects of one’s life involves even further stages of cognitive development that are even less common.  There are also theories that discern stages of development in societies.  A person is only likely to develop to the extent that most others have developed in their society.  Our modern understanding of literal facts didn’t exist thousands of years ago.  Even when this understanding began to develop, it was a minority of the population that grasped it.
 
I openly admit that it’s hard to figure out the cognitive processes of ancient people.  But plausible theories can be formed using historical data, anthropology, psychology and neurology.  Anyways, my main point isn’t that all ancient people didn’t have some basic sense of an external reality that they perceived as being separate from their own subjectivity.  I’m simply pointing out that religious literalism as we know it today has become influenced by a scientific worldview which wasn’t the case in the past.
 
“Please spare me the Axial age BS. It is a half-baked hypothesis that relies on amateurish post hoc reasoning. Such ideas are designed to appeal to those who have already made up their minds. In this case, it is the mind of the religious moderate who desires above all to find a way to make all the religions work together in harmony.”
 
You have many biased assumptions about many things.  Half-baked?  Amateurish post hoc reasoning?  Please do explain!
 
Armstrong didn’t simply invent the idea of the Axial Age as it (along with similar ideas) has been discussed by many scholars.  It’s common for scholars to analyze history according to ages of socio-cultural development such as tool-making, agriculture, city-states, etc.  In terms of the Axial Age, there was a specific time period when many cultures were developing written language and when certain new ideas arose such as monotheism/monism and variations of the golden rule. 
 
The term Axial Age is merely a way of labelling and describing a broad period of cultural transformation.  That such a transformation happened is a matter of historical record, but the cause of it is a complex issue.  Even though cultural transmission is one possibility, it’s implausible as being the sole cause as there were many separate cultures experiencing similar changes at around the same time.  It is true that correlation doesn’t prove causation, but obviously something was causing massive change.
 
“To understand cultural patterns on such large scales one needs to take into account a lot more real variables that Armstrong can grasp.”
 
Why do you presume what Armstrong can grasp?  Do you personally know her and have you scientifically tested her cognitive abilities? 
 
She is a religious scholar.  That is what she is an expert in and so that is what she focuses on.  Why would you expect a scholar of a specific field to take into account all possible variables including those outside their field?  Yes, there are other areas of scholarship that are relevant.  So what?  That doesn’t disprove Armstrong’s contribution to her area of scholarship. 
 
Her ideas are just another possible piece of the puzzle, but I’m all for trying to understand the whole puzzle.  For that reason, I turn to such things as Integral theory in order to get a conceptual framework to put the pieces together.  Even so, you can never know that you’ve completely figured it out because theories about human cultural development are impossible to scientifically prove beyond all doubt.
 
“For example, briefly, the ‘ability’ to think metaphorically evolved at least 70,000 years ago, but possibly up to 300,000 years ago. However, the ability to perceive our world around us evolved with the first intelligent ancestors we ever had. For intelligent biological organisms to survive, they needed to be convinced that certain things were true. Metaphor as a semantic tool is pointless when faced with a hungry lion. Literalism is the default setting.”
 
I’m not using literalism as referring to the perception of external reality, though there are theories that propose that early humans didn’t clearly distinguish between internal and external experience (such as Julian Jaynes’ theory of bicameralism or Lloyd deMause’s theory of schizotypal personality).  Instead, what I am focusing on here is the cognitive ability to think in terms of black and white absolutes.  This is how a person cognitively processes perceptual experience rather than the process of perception itself.  So, metaphor as you are using it seems to be equated with mythological thinking which according to some theories of development represents an earlier stage of development.
 
“It is an insult to say that these people did not believe that stuff literally.”
 
I’m not saying that and I don’t think that Armstrong comes to that conclusion.  For example, consider Christianity.  Some of the earliest theologians relied heavily on allegorical interpretations.  Yes, they believed they were true but not necessarily true in a physical sense.  Christianity arose at the end of the Axial Age when the distinction between allegorical truth and objective facts was becoming more common.
 
In a sense, even these early Christians believed their allegorical interpretations were literally true for they conceived the spiritual realm as being the highest truth.  Still, they were making a distinction which is different than the earliest religions where the spiritual and physical were inseparable (and so mind and world were connected through magical thinking).  Nonetheless, even this conflation doesn’t deny that they may have had some understanding of reality as external to them.  If a hungry lion attacked, they would defend themselves against it.  But afterwards they probably would interpret it as an animistic encounter with a spiritual being.
 
I don’t know if I’m communicating this in a way that you understand.  I’ve been studying these kinds of ideas for years and I can’t claim to have it all figured out.  It’s a very complex topic involving many different theories by many different scholars in many different fields.  However, I often return to Ken Wilber’s Integral theory as it connects more of the puzzle pieces together than any other theory I’ve come across, though I don’t agree with everything he claims.  It’s first and foremost a descriptive model, but to the degree it accurately explains objective facts it can be considered potentially predictive in that all individuals and all societies tend to follow certain patterns of development.  According to Wilber’s use of Spiral Dynamics (which represents only one line of development), there are distinct stages.
 
 – The earliest stages see the world in terms of animism and magical thinking, and so mythology is “literally” a part of the world.
 – After the earliest stages, humans began to develop a more individual sense of consciousness meaning that that the mind was showing some independence from the environment (i.e., people could think about rather than merely react to the world).  Likewise, spiritual beings also were perceived as being more clearly distinct from the world and from human individuality.  The sense of something being “literally” true meant that it existed outside of mere human experience.
 – The stage where “literal” thinking shows itself most clearly is when humans start emphasizing binary opposites that are polarized into absolute right and wrong, absolute true and false.  Self and other become absolutely distinct.
 – After this stage, experiential data and evidence take on greater value.  Standards and methods are developed to ascertain what is objectively true.  What is “literally” true is what is verifiable.  
 – This is where postmodernism and cultural relativism come in.  “Literal” truth becomes just one perspective and what is considered true is whatever allows for and includes the most perspectives.  As such, science and religion are perspectives and there is neither is inherently superior to the other in that there simply separate paradigms of reality.  However, within multiple perspectives there is a sense that some things are universally true and I suppose that this might be taken as “literally” true in some way.  This is primarily where Armstrong is arguing from, but I don’t know if this is where her thinking ends.
 – Beyond all of this, further stages of development are proposed where inclusion of different perspectives is allowed while maintaining a meta-perspective to discern the value of different perspectives.  These higher stages supposedly emphasize the ability to understand the different stages and different perspectives toward practical ends.  Something is “literally” true to the extent that it effectively works towards some clearly defined goal.  So, there would be no singular truth per se as there are many goals.  These goals aren’t seen as necessarily in conflict for it would be considered most optimal to find where lesser goals can be directed towards more encompassing goals.
 
By the way, this isn’t mere theory.  Spiral Dynamics was formulated according to research Clare Graves did, and Ken Wilber correlated it with other research and other models.  My point being that Armstrong’s arguments can be placed in this larger context of diverse scholarship.  Whether it’s absolutely true or not, time will tell.  But for certain this does offer a plausible explanation of cultural development that clarifies the relationship between religion and science.
 
– – –
 
THIRD COMMENT

 “After the publishing of this response,the commenter responded by ignoring my entire rational argument in favor of more confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias simply means that people tend to seek confirmation to their own view which is something everyone does to an extent, but it’s generally used to describe extreme examples of someone biased thinking.  However, making this allegation against an opponent can just as well be used polemically to dismiss another person’s view and evidence.  In this case, Kamal’s allegation of confirmation bias appears to be an example of confirmation bias.

“My statements were twisted in typical religious fashion, using the all-too-common religious dance between objective and subjective concepts in order to obscure naturalistic truth.”

Twisted?  I merely pointed out Kamal’s exact words.  I didn’t even take them out of context.  Anyone can look at his comments and see for themselves what he wrote (assuming he hasn’t since edited out these statements).

Typical religious fashion?  I presented carefully explained rational arguments supported by diverse theories and evidence.  All of the references I made can be found within the mainstream intellectual tradition.  Many of the ideas I was using for context are taught in universities and in some cases are based on social sciences research.  If Kamal considers this “typical religious fashion”, he must interact with some very intelligent and well-read religious people.  I wish he would give me their contact details because I’d love to meet such intellectually respectable believers.

“I am not interested in arguing with religious people since there are plenty of more useful things that I can occupy myself with.”

I explained to him that I’m not religious.  Some atheists can’t differentiate being interested in religion and believing in religion.  Anyone who has studied religious scholarship in any depth would quickly realize that many religious scholars aren’t religious believers.

“The writing of this article, contrary to what religious folk may think, has nothing to do with actually arguing against religious folk and everything to do with ridiculing Armstrong’s incoherent religious apologetics.”

He states his true intentions.  He isn’t interested in actual debate no matter how intelligent.  His main (and maybe only) purpose is to ridicule Armstrong because he has categorized her as a mere believer.  As his perception of her opposes his atheistic ideology, she must be attacked at all costs even if it means sacrificing intellectual honesty.  Polemically winning the debate by silencing one’s opponent is more important than the open puruit of truth.

“Such ridicule is well within my right, and I believe it is essential to the process of developing a strong freethought response to institutionalized superstition.”

Free speech is definitely everyone’s right, and it’s his right to choose whose comments he wants to post.  However, if his purpose is genuinely to promote freethought, then he should support the free speech of others rather than attempting to silence disagreement.  New understanding comes from the meeting of different perspectives.  Freethought isn’t about any particular ideology or theory.  Freethought is dependent on respect for open discussion and respect for all rational viewpoints.  His opinion that my viewpoint is wrong simply doesn’t matter from the perspective of freethought.  An intellectual argument deserves an intellectual response… which is what Kamal refused to do and so he loses any rational justification for calling himself a defender of freethought.

“In view of this, I have decided to not publish any further comments form religious folk. If you think you have won the debate, good for you. Please continue to feel good about yourself.”

Thank you.  I do feel good about offering you opportunity to have a rational discussion, but it saddens me that you apparently have embraced pseudo-intellectualism.

“We rationalists have our hands full trying to build real moral alternatives to religion and I would rather not waste my time arguing with those who cannot let go of primitive superstitions.”

Primitive superstitions?  Is that the best you can do?

Oh well… 

 – – –

NOTE ON COMMENTS

I posted the first two comments to Ajita Kamal’s blog.

However, the second comment apparently wasn’t allowed to be posted.  I can only assume that Ajita Kamal had no rational response to my dismantling of his argument.  I don’t know if Ajita Kamal is an example of a pseudo-intellectual, but his actions seem to show a lack of intellectual humility and maybe honesty.  After my comment was posted there and not approved, an earlier commenter returned to praise his writing.  He accepted this praise, but didn’t mention my having refuted his criticisms of Karen Armstrong.  Ajita Kamal is the type of ideologue of the New Atheist variety who gives atheism a bad name.

For obvious reasons, I made no attempt to post the third comment to Ajita Kamal’s blog.  Kamal did finally acknowledge in his blog the existence of my comment, but he still didn’t offer any rational response.

 – – –

ABOUT KAREN ARMSTRONG

I’m no expert on Armstrong’s scholarschip, but she is someone I refer to on occasion.  She is highly influential and probably can be considered to have taken up the position of authority that Joseph Campbell once held.  If you don’t like or understand Campbell, then you’ll probably have the same attitude about Armstrong.  Both began as Catholics and both sought a non-literal understanding of religion.

As for Armstrong, she was a nun who became an angry atheist and then later came to accept the label of “freelance monotheist“. 

I usually describe myself, perhaps flippantly, as a freelance monotheist I draw sustenance from all three of the faiths of Abraham.  I can’t see any one of them as having the monopoly of truth, any one of them as superior to any of the others. Each has its own particular genius and each its own particular pitfalls and Achilles heels. But recently, I’ve just written a short life [story] of the Buddha and I’ve been enthralled by what he has to say about spirituality, about the ultimate, about compassion and about the necessary loss of ego before you can encounter the divine. And all the great traditions are, in my view, saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences.

My sense is that she just means that she has the sense of something profoundly true, but she is unwilling to making any ideological claims about it.  She separates her scholarship from her experience, but at the same time sees scholarship as a way of exploring possible universal aspects of human experience.  From what I can tell, she isn’t trying to apologetically convince anyone of a particular position.  Her own position is an attitude of openness and acceptance (which I would deem intellectual humility).  She takes her role as scholar very seriously and so her attitude of openness is also an attitude of intellectual curiosity.  She doesn’t seem to start with the position of having anything figured out (either theistically or atheistically), but neither is she resigned to relativism.

What is interesting about Armstrong is how differently people react to her ideas.  Some religious believers agree with ideological atheists in their belief that she is the ultimate enemy (whether of “faith” or of “reason”).  On the other hand, many religious believers, agnostics, atheists, and generally open-minded curious people consider her to be a proponent of freethought and religious insight.  What is clear is that those who disagree with her are forced to come to terms with her very popular scholarship.

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you’re interested in further criticisms of the New Atheists, see these other posts of mine:

Here is a thoughtful criticism of the atheist response to religion:

A Mission to Convert
By H. Allen Orr
The New York Review of Books

And some other interesting blogs, articles, and videos:

http://fora.tv/2008/02/27/Karen_Armstrong_in_Conversation_with_Alan_Jones

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya64kx1U2r8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsZF8I6lrdQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtpF94Fjue4&feature=related

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/05/30/armstrong/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574405030643556324.html

http://www.newsweek.com/id/215180

http://300dollarwonder.blogspot.com/2007/01/karen-armstrong-why-atheism-is-in-vouge.html

http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/religionandtheology/2026/is_karen_armstrong_right_was_religion_always_about_belief_or_not

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

http://www.examiner.com/x-8637-Sacramento-Spirituality-Examiner~y2009m6d9-Theism-and-Skepticism

http://hokai.info/2006/11/where-atheist-revolution-went-wrong.html

http://rationalmorality.info/?p=132

http://karmabuster.gaia.com/blog/2009/5/dennett-dawkins-metaphor-and-much-more

http://julianwalkeryoga.gaia.com/blog/2008/2/interesting_conversation

http://coolmel.gaia.com/blog/2007/12/the_new_atheists_are_people_too

http://sunwalked.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/dawkins-the-fundamentalist-takes-a-left-and-a-right-to-the-chin/

http://www.northernway.org/weblog/?p=301

http://anamchara.com/2009/07/15/the-epistemology-of-post-fundamentalism/

http://anamchara.com/2008/01/04/holy-agnosis/

http://godisnot3guyscom-jeanette.blogspot.com/2009/11/trinity-by-ken-wilber.html

http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2007/09/more-on-why-new-atheists-will-fail.html

http://integral-options.blogspot.com/search?q=new+atheists

Criticisms of Spiral Dynamics

I’m actually a major fan of Spiral Dynamics, but I’m more of a fan in terms of serious intellectual interest which still allows for plenty of room for doubt.  I’m a curious guy and Spiral Dynamics is just one theory, one possibility.  I love models that bring order or demonstrate a pattern to some realm of human experience.  I do intuitively sense that there is some truth to Spiral Dynamics.  However, I’m always a bit wary of broad generalizations.  And so…

Criticisms of Spiral Dynamics (from the Wikipedia article on Spiral Dynamics)

Critics point out that the model’s implications are political as well as developmental and that while the terminology of the theory is self-consciously inclusive, the practical implications of the model can be seen as socially elitist and authoritarian.[2] In their work on the subject, Beck emphasizes that one of the characteristics of “tier two” individuals, also called “Spiral Wizards“, is their ability to make superior decisions for all parties concerned and to manufacture consent for their approaches at lower levels using resonant terms and ideas. In addition to outlining an underlying developmental theory, Spiral Dynamics gives explicit suggestions to these “Wizards” for both consensual and non-consensual management of “lower-tier” individuals. One critic of Spiral Dynamics, Michel Bauwens, has argued that some conceptions of what it means to be “second tier” have come to resemble Nietzsche‘s idea of the Übermensch.[3] Co author Cowan no longer supports the ideas of his ex-partner Beck.

The emphasis Spiral Dynamics places on exercising power derived from greater developmental attainments has also been characterized as derivative of a number of other past political theories emphasizing decision-making by a select elite, including Plato‘s idealization of the philosopher king.[citation needed] It should also be noted that, within this paradigm, Spiral Dynamics is itself characterized as a “second tier” concept, implicitly flattering those who support the theory and potentially inviting confirmation biases.[citation needed]

Further, some criticisms of Spiral Dynamics have been dismissed as expressions of lower-level memes, particularly the “mean green meme.” This internal refutation of external critiques was one of philosopher Karl Popper‘s criteria for establishing that a system of belief is non-falsifiable and for distinguishing non-science from genuine scientific theory.[4]

Some critics dispute the universality of deeper linear or emergent transitions as proposed in Spiral Dynamics, due to the high degree of variation they see among human cultures over time. The claim that humans have changed systemically on psycho-social dimensions, such as self concept or the human propensity and reasons for self sacrifice, over the time period proposed in Spiral Dynamics, is not supported by mainstream anthropology, the social sciences, or evolutionary biology.[5]

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.