Coping Mechanisms of Health

Carl Jung argued that sometimes what seems like mental illness is in actuality an effective coping mechanism. He advised against treating the coping mechanism as the problem without understanding what it is a response to. The problem itself could be made worse. Some people have found a careful balance that allows them to function in the world, no matter how dysfunctional it may seem to others, from addiction to dissociation. We need to have respect and compassion for how humans cope with difficulties.

There is something similar in physical health. Consider obesity. Is it always the cause of health problems? Or might it be the body’s way of protecting against other health problems? That is what was explored in a recent study mentioned by Gabor Erdosi. It is Friendly Fat Theory – Explaining the Paradox of Diabetes and Obesity by Rajiv Singla et al. The authors write:

“Obesity has been called the mother of all diseases and, historically, has been strongly linked to diabetes. However, there are still some paradoxes that exist in diabetes epidemiology and obesity and no unifying hypothesis has been proposed to explain these paradoxical phenomena. Despite the ever-increasing prevalence of both obesity and diabetes, differential relationships exist between diabetes and the extent of obesity in various different ethnic groups. In addition, people with a higher body mass index have been shown to have an improved survival advantage in terms of chronic diabetes complications, especially cardiovascular complications. This narrative review attempts to explain these paradoxical and complex relationships with a single unifying theory. We propose that adipocytes are actually friends of the human body to prevent the occurrence of diabetes and also help in mitigating the complications of diabetes. Adipose tissue actually acts as a reservoir of free fatty acids, responsible for insulin resistance, and prevents their overflow into insulin-sensitive tissues and, therefore, friendly fat theory.”

L. Amber O’Hearn responded, “Wait, are you saying the body is actually trying to be healthy and that many symptoms we see in connection with disease are functionally protective coping mechanisms? Yes, indeed.” Following that, someone else mentioned that this perspective was argued by Dr. Jason Fung in an interview with Peter Attia, podcast #59. I’m sure many others have said similar things. It’s not difficult to understand for anyone familiar with some of the science.

For example, inflammation causes or is a causal link in many health problems or otherwise seen as an indicator of health deterioration (arthritis, depression, schizophrenia, etc), but inflammation itself isn’t the fundamental cause since it is a protective response itself to something else (allergens, leaky gut, etc). Or as yet another example, there is the theory that cholesterol plaque in arteries doesn’t cause the problem but is a response to it, as the cholesterol is essentially forming a scab in seeking to heal injury. Pointing at cholesterol would be like making accusations about firefighters being present at fires. To bring it back to diabetes, consider the amyloid plaque in the brain commonly found with Alzheimer’s, i.e., type 3 diabetes. Amy Berger, based on the work of others (Dale Bredesen, Sónia Correia, Mortimer Mamelak, etc), speculates that the amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide plays a neuroprotective role in reducing continuously high levels of glucose, but in dealing with insulin the resulting Aβ plaques are unable to be cleared out. Those plaques would, therefore, be a symptom and not a cause.

As Berger say, “Aβ plaques can be likened to a fever: Fever is a natural protective mechanism the body employs to kill and neutralize invading pathogens. (The goal is to raise the body’s core temperature to a level that is fatal to the bugs and viruses that cause illness.) However, even though it is a protective mechanism, if a fever goes too high, it can have disastrous effects for other parts of human physiology. The same can be said of Aβ. It might start as a defensive step in the brain, but it progresses to a point where, rather than being helpful, it becomes harmful.” Drug companies have targeted these plaques and have successfully decreased them. The result wasn’t as expected. Instead of improving, the condition of Alzheimer’s patients worsened. Blocking amyloid beta peptide, it turns out, was not a beneficial thing. That complies with the theory of a neuroprotective role.

One could look to numerous other things, as the basic principal is widely applicable. The body is always seeking the healthiest balance under any conditions, even if less than optimal. So, in seeking greater health, we must realize that the body-mind of an individual is a system that is part of larger systems. To get different results, the totality of the situation needs to be shifted into a new balance. That is why something like ketosis can dramatically improve so many health issues, as it completely alters the functioning of gut health, metabolism, immune response, hormonal system, neurocognition, and on and on. That diet could have that kind of impact should not be hard to understand. Think about the multiple links, direct and indirect, between the gut and the brain — multiply that by hundreds of other major connections within our biology.

The failing of conventional medicine is that it has usually been a symptoms-based approach. Diagnosis is determined by patterns of symptoms. Too often that then is used to choose a medication or surgical intervention to treat those symptoms. Underlying causes are rarely understood or even considered. Partly, that is because of a lack of knowledge and the related low quality of many medical studies. But more problematic is that the dominant paradigm constrains thought, shuts down the ability to imagine other ways of doing medicine. The above study, however, suggests that we should understand what purpose something is serving. Obesity isn’t merely too much fat. Instead of being the problem itself, obesity might be the body’s best possible solution under those conditions.

What if so many of our supposed problems operate in a similar manner? What if instead of constantly fighting against what we deem as bad we sought understanding first about what purpose is being served and then sought some other means of accomplishing that end? Think about the short-term thinking that has been observed under conditions of poverty and high inequality. Instead of judging people as inferior, we could realize that short-term thinking makes perfect sense in evolutionary terms, as extreme stress indicates that immediate problems must be dealt with first. Rather than blaming the symptom or scapegoating the victim, we should look at the entire context of what is going on. If we don’t like the results we are getting as individuals and as a society, we better change the factors that lead to those results. It’s a simple and typically overlooked insight.

We aren’t isolated individuals. We are an inseparable aspect of a larger world. Every system within our bodies and minds, every system in society and the environment is integral to our holistic functioning as human beings. Everything is connected in various ways. Change one thing and it will ripple outward.

* * *

It’s The Insulin Resistance, Stupid: Part 1 & Part 2
by Timothy Noakes

Most Mainstream Doctors Would Fail Nutrition

To return to the topic at hand, the notion of food as medicine, a premise of the paleo diet, also goes back to the ancient Greeks — in fact, originates with the founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates (he also is ascribed as saying that, “All disease begins in the gut,” a slight exaggeration of a common view about the importance of gut health, a key area of connection between the paleo diet and alternative medicine). What we now call functional medicine, treating people holistically, used to be standard practice of family doctors for centuries and probably millennia, going back to medicine men and women. But this caring attitude and practice went by the wayside because it took time to spend with patients and insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it. Traditional healthcare that we now think of as alternative is maybe not possible with a for-profit model, but I’d say that is more of a criticism of the for-profit model than a criticism of traditional healthcare.

Diets and Systems

Related to diet, Pezeshki does bring up the issue of inflammation. As I originally came around to my present diet from a paleo viewpoint, I became familiar with the approach of functional medicine that puts inflammation as a central factor (Essentialism On the Decline). Inflammation is a bridge between the physiological and the psychological, the individual and the social. Where and how inflammation erupts within the individual determines how a disease condition or rather a confluence of symptoms gets labeled and treated, even if the fundamental cause originated elsewhere, maybe in the ‘external’ world (socioeconomic stress, transgenerational trauma, environmental toxins, parasites because of lack of public sanitation, etc. Inflammation is linked to leaky gut, leaky brain, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, mood disorders, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, impulsivity, short-term thinking, addiction, aggression, etc — and such problems increase under high inequality.

There are specific examples to point to. Diabetes and mood disorders co-occur. There is the connection of depression and anhedonia, involving the reward circuit and pleasure, which in turn can be affected by inflammation. Also, inflammation can lead to changes in glutamate in depression, similar to the glutamate alterations in autism from diet and microbes, and that is significant considering that glutamate is not only a major neurotransmitter but also a common food additive. Dr. Roger McIntyre writes that, “MRI scans have shown that if you make someone immune activated, the hypervigilance center is activated, activity in the motoric region is reduced, and the person becomes withdrawn and hypervigilant. And that’s what depression is. What’s the classic presentation of depression? People are anxious, agitated, and experience a lack of spontaneous activity and increased emotional withdrawal” (Inflammation, Mood Disorders, and Disease Model Convergence). Inflammation is a serious condition and, in the modern world, quite pervasive. The implications of this are not to be dismissed.

Essentialism On the Decline

In reading about paleolithic diets and traditional foods, a recurring theme is inflammation, specifically as it relates to the health of the gut-brain network and immune system.

The paradigm change this signifies is that seemingly separate diseases with different diagnostic labels often have underlying commonalities. They share overlapping sets of causal and contributing factors, biological processes and symptoms. This is why simple dietary changes can have a profound effect on numerous health conditions. For some, the diseased state expresses as mood disorders and for others as autoimmune disorders and for still others something entirely else, but there are immense commonalities between them all. The differences have more to do with how dysbiosis and dysfunction happens to develop, where it takes hold in the body, and so what symptoms are experienced.

From a paleo diet perspective in treating both patients and her own multiple sclerosis, Terry Wahls gets at this point in a straightforward manner (p. 47): “In a very real sense, we all have the same disease because all disease begins with broken, incorrect biochemistry and disordered communication within and between our cells. […] Inside, the distinction between these autoimmune diseases is, frankly, fairly arbitrary”. In How Emotions Are Made, Lisa Feldman Barrett wrote (Kindle Locations 3834-3850):

“Inflammation has been a game-changer for our understanding of mental illness. For many years, scientists and clinicians held a classical view of mental illnesses like chronic stress, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. Each ailment was believed to have a biological fingerprint that distinguished it from all others. Researchers would ask essentialist questions that assume each disorder is distinct: “How does depression impact your body? How does emotion influence pain? Why do anxiety and depression frequently co-occur?” 9

“More recently, the dividing lines between these illnesses have been evaporating. People who are diagnosed with the same-named disorder may have greatly diverse symptoms— variation is the norm. At the same time, different disorders overlap: they share symptoms, they cause atrophy in the same brain regions, their sufferers exhibit low emotional granularity, and some of the same medications are prescribed as effective.

“As a result of these findings, researchers are moving away from a classical view of different illnesses with distinct essences. They instead focus on a set of common ingredients that leave people vulnerable to these various disorders, such as genetic factors, insomnia, and damage to the interoceptive network or key hubs in the brain (chapter 6). If these areas become damaged, the brain is in big trouble: depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, chronic pain, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are all associated with hub damage. 10

“My view is that some major illnesses considered distinct and “mental” are all rooted in a chronically unbalanced body budget and unbridled inflammation. We categorize and name them as different disorders, based on context, much like we categorize and name the same bodily changes as different emotions. If I’m correct, then questions like, “Why do anxiety and depression frequently co-occur?” are no longer mysteries because, like emotions, these illnesses do not have firm boundaries in nature.”

What jumped out at me was the conventional view of disease as essentialist, and hence the related essentialism in biology and psychology.

Type and Development

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

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]


Share Twitter Facebook

► Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

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.

► Reply to This
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?
► Reply to This


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.
► Reply to This
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.

► Reply to This
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.

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.

► Reply to This

More Notes for Enactivism and Related Subjects

More Notes for Enactivism and Related Subjects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Transcendent Function by Jeffrey C. Miller (2004)    

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

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

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

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

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

The Melancholy Android by Eric G. Wilson (2006)    

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

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

Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur (2003)    

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

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

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

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

Archetype Revisited by Anthony Stevens (2003)  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Access_public Access: Public 6 Comments Print Post this!views (660)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 1 hour later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 8 hours later

Marmalade said

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 17 hours later

Nicole said

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

buddhacious : Human Being

15 days later

buddhacious said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

15 days later

Marmalade said

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

16 days later

Nicole said

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

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

Notes For Enactivism And Related Subjects

Notes For Enactivism And Related Subjects

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

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

Nonduality and Phenomenology

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (links)

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

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

Ken Wilber 891, William Irwin Thompson 4
jonny bardo

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

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

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

William Irwin Thompson on Ken Wilber and Jean Gebser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Integral Ideology

Christian de Quincey, Radical Nature  

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

Quadrants as categories of identify and relationship:  

Integralism and Intersubjectivity  

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

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

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


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

Ernest Hartmann’s Boundaries in the Mind (online book)”  

Ernest Hartmann’s Dreams and Nightmares (online book)

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

Review of Hansen’s book    

Part 3

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Childhood Trauma and Transliminality  

Problems with Pathologizing the Transliminal  

Transliminal as Spirituality within Psychology  
Thin Boundary Types, Transliminality, and Psychosomatic Plasticity  
Proceeding from this framework of mind-body unity, let us return

to the Boundaries concept propounded by Hartmann. The

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

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

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

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

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

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

● an enlarged sense of merging with another person when kissing

or making love;

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

in others;

● openness to new experience;

● a penchant for immersing themselves in something-whether

a personal relationship, a memory, or a daydream;

● an enhanced ability to recall dreams; and

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

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

defined as “tendency for psychological material to cross thresholds

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

the following are part of the personality cluster of the highly

transliminal person:
● creativity;

● a penchant for mystical or religious experience;

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

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

● fantasy proneness;

● an interest in dream interpretation;

● paranormal belief and experiences; and

● a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimulation.

Environmental Sensitivity  

Michael Thalbourne  transliminality   

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

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


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


Interdisciplinary Thought, Bricolage, Et Cetera  

Varela and the Emergent Self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evan Thompson (son of William Irwin Thompson)  
Humberto Maturana  

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

Francisco Varela  

embodied philosophy  Embodied cognitive science  Embodied mind  situated cognition  embodied cognition  


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

Eleanor Rosch  

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

Eleanor Rosch: Interview and Summary    

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



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

Postmodernism, and Folk Taxonomies  
Categories and Cognititve Anthropology   Gregory Bateson  

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

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

Full double bind requires several conditions to be met: 

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

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


Mark Johnson  

George Lakoff  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Buddhalicious vids  

No objective world?  

No subjecitve world?  

Objecitvity vs. Subjectivity  

Enacitve Cognition  

Youtube Search on Enactivism  

Youtube Search on Francisco Varela  

Youtube Search on Humberto Maturana  


Laetus in Praesens search for enactivism

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

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

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

Francisco Varela and Christian de Quincey
or without highlighting  

Varela and Wilber on enactivism or without highlighting  

Wilber on Sheldrake and Varela
or without highlighting  

George Leonard on Ken Wilber’s Twenty Tenets  

3. Holons emerge.

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

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

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

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

Varela and Bricolage  

Enactivism, Bricolage, and Epistemological Pluralism

Enactivism and Brico-logical Research


Enactivism and Consensuality  

Enactivism, Reflexivity, and Bateson  

Varela, Sheldrake, and Seeing  

Interview with Varela about Buddhism

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

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

Not a useful paper, but nice quote

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

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

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

Charles Taylor

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

Charles Taylor: Intro and Interview
or without highlighting  

Charles Taylor and Enactivism
or without highlighting  

Merleau-Ponty, Charles Taylor, and Varela  

Enactivism and Cartesian Anxiety
or without highlighting  

Enactivism and Cartesian Anxiety

Spinoza, Enactivism, and Cartesian Anxiety  

Enactivism, Autonomy, Novelty, Play  

Enactivism Compared and Contrasted  

Enactivism, Biological Philosophy, Signs, and Meaning


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

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

They both oppose

1. Dualism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experiences really are (roughly) how they seem.  


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

8 minutes later

Marmalade said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

22 minutes later

Marmalade said

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

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 6 hours later

1Vector3 said

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

But fascinating, the parts I could read.

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

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

thanks for sharing this about yourself!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 7 hours later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 14 hours later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 15 hours later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 15 hours later

Nicole said

ok, i will go have a look… thanks

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 17 hours later

Marmalade said

Here are some things I’m thinking about:

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

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

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

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

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

sandy : Activist and Ambassador

4 days later

sandy said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

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

about 1 year later

emmie111 said

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

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 1 year later

1Vector3 said

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

Blessings, OM

More About the Paranormal

More About the Paranormal

Posted on Jul 31st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
A response of mine from a thread I started based on my New Age blog series: 

HI Andrew,

no matter what otherworldly things i have experienced i can safely say they they were upper left quadrant happenings. in saying this i mean that these experiences of mine happened in my interior space. no angels physically manifested in any way in these 3 dimensions. no one walked thru my walls, no one defied the laws of physics etc. now whether it’s 3 kids in portugal having visions, or someone being abducted in downtown manhatten, i contend now that all these experiences are interior and have no right quadrant existence.

Have you been following the discussion going on in one of Julian’s blogs (here)?  The relationship of internal and external has been brought up.  I mentioned paranormal research there and the difficulties of the field.  Specificially, I discussed Hansen’s view and linked to some detailed reviews of his books.

but nowhere have i come across objective, verifiable, repeatable accounts of any type in any of these phenomenal cases.

Hansen speaks to these issues.  Objectivity, verifiability, and repeatability aren’t easily applied to the paranormal, but researchers have attempted to do so.  Some are satisfied with the evidence and some aren’t.  I talked about the research angle in Julian’s blog comments, but you’re experience was outside of a research situation.  How are lived experiences proven?  Well, very little of even our “normal” subjective experience is provable.  As for the paranormal, it all depends on what kind of evidence you consider acceptable.

People have seen lights and when they investigated discovered crop circles.  Crop circles are just more complex forms of fairly circles that have been observed for centuries in corollation with fairy lights.  My brother visited with friends a place where orbs (ie fairy lights) were known to be common.  They saw the orbs and the orbs approached the car and hovered around it.  Even scientists have observed orbs, but no one agrees on what explains them.

Pilots have seen ufos and they were observed simultaneously on radar.  There are a fair number of radar cases.  Why is there not more evidence?  For one, I’ve heard that pilots are discouraged from reporting ufos.  Also, some evidence gets destroyed because people fear ridicule.  Vallee started out as an astronomer but later became a ufo researcher because he personally observed astronomers he worked with destroying video evidence (here is an interview with him where he speaks about this).

Rupert Sheldrake was describing a dialogue he had with Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Sheldrake: “This depends on what you regard as extraordinary”, I replied. “Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?”

(Sheldrake describes how he tried to bring up his own rearch about telepathy, but Dawkins refused to discuss it.)

but a ufo landing on the white house lawn and broadcast to the world would probably cure me of my skepticism. i feel the same way about religion. please all you theists, part the red sea today and have the decency to bring cnn along for verification

Well, that is some pretty extreme skepticism.  If being “shown billions of light beings singing the most amazing song onto god” doesn’t convince you, then I doubt anything could.  Plus, I’d consider your statements to be based on a less-than-useful view of the paranormal.  You seem to be responding to a literalist interpretation of paranormal which isn’t the view I hold (nor that which Harpur holds).  It would take some explanation to describe what I mean by literalist, but here is an interesting discussion about Harpur from the Lightmind forum:

Jim wrote:
Kela has mentioned Patrick Harpur here a couple of times in the past, and Susan and Heru mentioned him just recently. Harpur, like Carl Jung, Richard Tarnas, James Hillman, Arnold Mindell, et al, understands the psyche. Many people don’t. 

Here is Harpur from his book Daimonic Reality:

    St. Paul mentions an ecstatic experience in which he was “caught up even to the third heaven”, but, as he says, “whether in the body, I know not, or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth.” And this is the dilemma confronting many otherworld journeyers. 

    It is, I think, too easy to dismiss the conviction of many of them that they were physically lifted into another realm, such as an alien spacecraft. This, after all, is what it felt like; and it is a conviction shared by all members of traditional cultures – although, as we shall see, with an important difference in viewpoint. Thus, although I do not share the conviction, I want to stress that it is ancient and respectable and, I think, nearer to the truth of the matter than not to believe in any kind of otherworld journey at all. However, using the model of daimonic reality … it is possible to make otherworld journeys intelligible, without recourse to a belief in an actual, physical experience.

Here is Ken Wilber from One Taste:

    When people have a memory or an experience of being “abducted,” I don’t doubt the experience seems absolutely real to them (most would pass a lie detector test). And it is real, as an experience, as phenomenology, but not as ontology, not as an objective reality. So there’s the phenomenology (or the experience itself), and there is how you interpret the experience. And for that interpretation – as will all interpretation – you need to draw on the total web of available evidence, which is exactly what the believers in these experiences are not doing. 

    Do any UFO experiences represent higher realities? It’s theoretically possible that some of these experiences are stemming from the psychic or subtle levels of consciousness, and that, precisely because these people do not grow and evolve into these levels, they experience them as an ‘other.’ Instead of their own higher and deeper luminous nature, they project it outwardly as an alien form. Even if that is the case, these people are still in the grips of a dissociative pathology. … The giveaway, as usual, is the narcissism.

    What do people really want when they think of UFOs? What are they yearning for at the thought of something extraterrestrial? Why, they want something bigger than themselves. They want to know that, in the entire, wild, extraordinary Kosmos, there is something other than their meager egos.

What Harpur honors, Wilber tends to pathologize.

It seems to me that the rational, Freudian-flavored pathologizing approach that Wilber takes here doesn’t honor the way the psyche or soul actually works, plays, unfolds, grows, flows, meanders, soars, swims, lives, breathes, and develops.

When Wilber asks what people really want when they think of UFOs, he is talking about what the “meager ego” wants, but he neglects to note that the experiences in question (i.e., UFO abduction experiences) don’t stem from the ego but from the deeper psyche (there is no other place they can stem from, unless they are just willful fantasies, e.g., as if someone were to fantasize about winning the lottery, and reports of UFO abduction experiences indicate that they are not mere fantasies). So it’s not a matter of what the “meager ego” wants but of what the deeper psyche wants.

Speaking about the appearance of symbols of wholeness in the psyche, such as UFOs and mandalas, Jung says, “they do not invariably indicate a subliminal readiness on the part of the patient to realize that wholeness more consciously, at a later stage; often they mean no more than a temporary compensation of chaotic confusion.”

This is not something that someone who elevates pre” to “trans” would say.

Trungpa says:

    …anything that happens in our state of mind, including emotions, is manure. Whatever comes up is a workable situation… 

    …we begin to realize that all kinds of chaotic situations that might occur in life are opportune situations. They are workable situations that we mustn’t reject, and mustn’t regard as purely a regression or going back to confusion at all. Instead, we must develop some kind of respect for those situations that happen in our state of mind.

This is why it simply isn’t skillful or useful to pathologize intrapsychic phenomena, such as UFO abduction experiences or those who have and interpret them. Such experiences are “workable situations that we mustn’t reject, and mustn’t regard as purely a regression or going back to confusion,” or as “dissociative pathology” and “narcissism.” “Instead, we must develop some kind of respect for those situations that happen in our state of mind.” Which is what Harpur, Jung, Hillman, Mindell, Tarnas, et al do. The issue here isn’t what is right or wrong or “politically correct” or incorrect. The issue is, what is most useful? What is most likely to benefit the individual who has and interprets the experience? If someone has a UFO abduction experience and they interpret it to mean that “they were physically lifted into another realm, such as an alien spacecraft,” as Harpur puts it, that’s the manure we have to work with. Calling it shit isn’t going to help anyone, is it? Saying that such people are in the grips of a dissociative pathology and are narcissistic isn’t going to help anyone, is it? There is psychic energy and psychic potential to work with here. Dismissing it by pathologizing it is like throwing manure away instead of working it into the garden and then tending and nurturing the garden and waiting to see what grows. Suzuki Roshi speaks of a similar process in terms of “mind weeds.” He says, “We must have the actual experience of how our weeds change into nourishment.” Or of how our lead changes into gold.

Jung and Trungpa compare the process of intrapsychic transmutation to alchemy. Trungpa says this is “like the alchemical practice of changing lead into gold.”

Mindell says:

    And what is this gold? The alchemist’s beginning goals will be like yours or mine: freedom from trouble, hope for nirvana, enlightenment, love, immortality or spontaneity. But what you actually receive may be something you were not even aware of missing, something so precious and vital that you might even forget your original goals.
Jim wrote:
Exactly, that’s my point: It’s not wrong to psychopathologize, but it’s kind of like calling something shit. When we call something shit, we naturally think in terms of flushing it away, whereas when we call the same thing manure, we acknowledge that we are dealing with something that, used skillfully, can fertilize and enrich the soil of the soul. To try to flush away aspects of the psyche that we don’t like doesn’t work, and as Harpur and Jung agree, when the daimonic is repressed, it often returns in the form of the demonic.

but surely if supernaturalism exists, it’s on unemployment insurance at this time unless these angelic beings are just being really subtle and sneaky for some reason!

You really should read Hansen’s book if you’re genuinely interested in this.  He writes about how the Trickster archetype plays out with paranormal experience.


Access_public Access: Public What do you think? Print Post this!views (267)

Some Thoughts on Parapsychology

Some Thoughts on Parapsychology

Posted on Jul 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
This is a response to Julian in his blog The Transformative Power of Development: A Three-Part Distinction.

if the ganzfield experiment is the leading edge we are still very far from any kind of satisfying evidence for psi, right?

As I see it, parapsychology research in general brings up more questions than answers.  Still, the questions it brings up are quite intriguing.  I must admit that I don’t feel confident in my understanding of any of this.  I’ve never been involved in any kind of scientific research, I’ve never studied scientific methodology, and I’m entirely clueless about statistical analysis.  Basically, I really don’t know what to make of much of it, but I am curious. 

I’m sure that much of the criticisms are valid, but I appreciate the context that Hansen provides in his book.  Hansen thinks that the paranormal by its very nature can’t be scientifically proven and will always be marginal, and he is critical of scientists such as Dean Radin.  He isn’t saying that research can’t or shouldn’t be done, but rather it will never be accepted by mainstream sceintists.  The budget for paranormal research and the numbers of profesionals involved is miniscule, and its amazing that any research at all is done.  Paranormal research could only make any headway (whether in proving or disproving) if it actually had some funding which Hansen says will never happen. 

So, Hansen’s criticism simultaneously points out the limits of the paranormal and the limits of mainstream science.  To answer your question, yes, the limited evidence of paranormal research is disatsfying.  But the limits of science in general are disatisfying to someone who wishes to find conclusive meaning about life.

There are reasons why paranormal research is still important.  Relative to other scientific fields, very little research has been done on the paranormal, and very little of it done on a largescale.  So, its not fair to judge a field that is still in its infancy.  Even though there isn’t any scientific consensus about the paranormal, much has been learned from the research.  Parapsychology reearchers have refined their methodologies over time.  Its hard to control for something which has many unknown factors.  They have to be more careful about their controls (partly because of potential deceipt and self-deception) than is necessary for most scientists.  So, the refinements of methodology are helpful for all researchers in all fields.  There is a history of inadequate methodology in parapsychology research, but to its credit these inadequacies are continuously being resolved.  Its a slow process, though, since there is very little funding or institutionalized support.  In some ways, research has shown more about what the paranormal isn’t than what it is.

One of the subjects I find the most interesting (in Hansen’s book) is the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK).  Scientists in this field study other scientists.  Two interesting aspects are the problems with the replication of scientific experiments and experimenter effect (the corollary to the placebo effect which complicates the situation further).  The research into the experimenter effect was pioneered by Rosenthal (who so happened to have some interest in parapsychology) who demonstrated that the bias of a researcher alters the results.  He also studied teachers and how their expectations influence the success or failure of students.  Interestingly, he also helped to develop the use of meta-analysis… maybe because of the problems he discovered with individual experiments.  Experimenter effect can be controlled by double-blinds, and yet according to this paper double-blinds aren’t as commonly used as one would hope.  Parapsychologists take double-blinds more seriously because of the increased complexity of experimenter effects.  The problem with studying the paranormal is that it by definition challenges the very basis of the scientific paradigm, and that is why Hansen is so pessimistic about the future of parapsychology research.

 BTW Hansen is especially critical of skpetics especially on the debunking end of the scale.  In his book, he focuses on the enmeshed relationship between parapsychologists and skeptics, and brings up some important insights.  His analysis of Martin Gardner is very detailed.  At his site he has several online articles about skeptics:  

CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 86, No. 1, January 1992, pp. 19-63.

The Elusive Agenda: Dissuading as Debunking in Ray Hyman’s The Elusive Quarry
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 85, No. 2, April 1991, pp. 193-203.

Review of Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction by Charles M. Wynn and Arthur W. Wiggins
. Journal of Parapsychology, Vol. 66, No. 3, September 2002, Pp. 321-324.

Review of The Encyclopedia of the Paranomal edited by Gordon Stein.
  Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 90, Nos. 3-4,  July-October, 2000,  pp. 181-189.
In case you’re interested, here is Hansen’s Website, and some Book Reviews: here, here, here (starting on p. 60), and here.

now even if we do decide to go along with the possibility that as radin says ” people sometimes get small amounts of specific information from a distance without the use of the ordinary senses. Psi effects do occur in the ganzfeld” – then the question becomes what do we think that means?

Good question.  The meaning is where the rubber hits the road for us simply trying to make sense of it all.  Whether its true or not, why should we care?  And if true, what is its practical value?  I don’t know what sense we can make of it.  The possibility of it being true brings doubt to our normal sense of reality and the standard procedures of science.  It very well might mean an entire paradigm shift within our society.  But what do we think it means?  I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me I think it means the world is a strange place.  🙂

what do you think this “evidence” would mean viz the above blogpost were it verifiable beyond doubt?    

Basically, I don’t think that most of what you said is directly related to whether or not the paranormal exists, but you seem to think its directly related.  Even if the evidence was irrefutable, it wouldn’t change the basic facts of growth and development, suffering and death.  Also, there is no reason to assume that parnormal research would support idealistic metaphysics. 

Its true that the paranormal can be interpreted in terms of the pre-rational, but it also can be interpreted in terms of the trans-ratioal.  The trans-rational isn’t a clear category.  In some ways, its beyond both rationality and pre-rationality.  Its beyond in terms of development, but its also beyond in that it can temporarily suspend these previous modes.  Yet, in other ways, it might be thought of as that which bridges the gap between the pre-rational and the rational as it transcends and includes both.  However we look at it, I think it brings to question some fundamental divisions that rationality helped to create… such as internal and external.  These divisions are still real to some degree, but the trans-rational complexifies the relationship between them.

I’m still figuring out how this all fits together.  Hansen doesn’t speak about integral theory, and integral theory doesn’t speak much about parapsychology research.  I’m trying to connect ideas here, but I don’t know how successful my attempt is.  I genuinely have no clear conclusions at this point.  I’m hoping that further discussion of enactivism will help me to integrate my thoughts.

Access_public Access: Public 6 Comments Print Post this!views (262)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 2 hours later

Nicole said

you make some really excellent points…

roaming around on the net I found this priceless Q and A:

Question of the Month

Q:    I’ve heard of “wormholes” and interdimensional portals in cemeteries that spirits can travel through to get from one cemetery to another. Is this true?

A:        Unfortunately, there is no true way as of yet to scientifically prove or disprove this theory. Theoretically folding time and space is possible, which is the subject we are up against here. It does seem plausible, but highly unlikely, however. The reason that I say that it is highly unlikely is because certain scientists have stated that there are infinite numbers of dimensions. If interdimensional travel were to take place, a certain segment of these dimensions that would connect one place to the other would have to be under ideal conditions to be able to fall into a synchronistic rhythm for any length of time. Theoretically, if this event were to actually happen, even if the dimensions were only one degree “in phase” (synchronized) with each of the others, it would make a minute allowance for particulate electromagnetic matter, such as ghosts, to move through the “gate.” This, coupled with the thought that a ghost maintains their persona, memories, etc. would then almost completely rule out the thought of interdimensional travel by a ghost. I say this because if a ghost is indeed a person – minus their physically manifested body – then they would have to have understood and performed interdimensional travel while they were alive in order for them to have the ability to do so after they have died. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Nicole, let us not share that with Julian.  He’d really go bonkers over ghosts travelling through wormholes.  😉

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

You won’t be surprised to know I had Julian in mind posting that! 🙂

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 18 hours later

1Vector3 said

This is a no-no, but I have some comments/opinions/viewpoints before completing my reading of the entire blog – and I did not read Julian’s blog, either….. Will remedy these boooo-booooos as soooooon as I can.

My usual disclaimer: The sentences below are not presented as truth or facts, just my best opinions at this time. I seek not to correct or to disagree, but to stimulate clarity and discussion.

The scientific method itself deals with certain ontological objects (Beings, existents) in a certain reality. Paranormal stuff is from a different reality. Like Flatlander [remember the old metaphor of 2-d Beings/world] science can never “prove” the existence of a third dimension, it’s just an epistemologically nonesensical endeavor, when seen from that metaphor.

Not only is the reality different, but the epistemology is different. (Newtonian) science requires a certain subject-object relationship, and that relationship is not the one operating in paranormal phenomena. Thus, no possibility of meaningful interface, let alone “proof.”

[ I ignore here the complexity that the paranormal level of consciousness or epistemological functioning can include the normal in itself, but not vice-versa. ]

What the research CAN do is pile up enough anomalies (as per Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and BTW I regard no one as educated if they have not read it) that mainstream science can no longer sweep these anomalies under the rug, and must acknowledge its own limits of explanation (actually, of scope of application.)

I forget what Ken Wilber says about this matter, but I think he disagrees with me, but not for any reasons you might guess. Somewhere in Integral Spirituality where he talks about the “Two-Truths Doctrine” and rejects it but I can’t recall why.

Also another point, mainstream science itself, the kind of research you refer to, is still Newtonian in paradigm. Now, how scientific is THAT? A bit behind the times, I would say. Thus, not at all the most comprehensively up-to-date scientific paradigm for assessing anything, especially the paranormal.

As I understand it, when viewed from the quantum-physical paradigm, the paranormal is simply normal, expressions of what is normal on the quantum level, which itself causes enough anomalies on the macro level that it eventually had to be dealt with and accepted.

In No Boundary Ken Wilber does a totally fabulous job of summarizing the implications of quantum physics, including its relationship to and implications for ordinary science, and repeating all that here would take up too much space, but it’s on pages 35-41 of the paperback. The book itself is a paradigm shifter I recommend to anyone who wants to expand their awareness. It’s not even woo-woo, it’s just common sense !!!

I am not qualified to judge, but I have heard that many if not most of the purported “New Age” reports of the implications of quantum physics for our daily lives, for our ordinary thinking, range from inferior to inaccurate, but KW’s report of the implications seems less sloppy, and less axe-to-grind, to my uneducated mind.

OK, thank you for indulging me, and I will go read up. I like being on Notifications of your blogs, oh magnificent orange-and-white Cat-Being from Another Dimension. You are definitely PARA (beyond) normal !!!! LOL !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Hey OM,

Sorry I didn’t respond right away.  I’ve been busy trying to respond to lots of discussions on Gaia.

Don’t worry about having not read the blog entirely.  Your comments fit in just fine.

Guess what?  I’ve never read Kuhn.  Ha!  🙂  I’m uneducated.  Yay! 

I like the idea of piling up the anomalies.  That is my basic viewpoint.  Parapsychology hasn’t “proven” anything, but it has provided some anomalies.  Eventually, if enough anomalies pile up, it will create a critical mass forcing a paradigm shift.  As I see it, parapsychology research is still in its infancy despite it being more than a century old.

About the Newtonian paradigm of mainstream science, I think that is very true.  The Newtonian paradigm has practical usefulness for research in most fields.  Since there isn’t much connection between most fields and post-Newtonian paradigms, my guess is that most research scientists don’t consider theoretical complexities of quantum physics.  Even paranormal research have mostly ignored theoretical issues and I doubt that many paranormal researchers are educated in quantum physics.  All of science has a whole lot of catching up to do.

I suspect that if convincing evidence of the paranormal is ever found, it will probably be in the field of physics.  Basically, mainstream scientists will only be convinced by evidence by mainstream science, and yet parapsychology isn’t considered mainstream and so its evidence isn’t acceptable.

I was thinking about Dawkins telling Radin that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.  Radin pointed out that it depends on what one considers extraordinary, but there is a further problem with Dawkin’s statement.  Parapsychology gets very little funding and so is unable to do the largescale research that is necessary to produce “extraordinary” evidence, but its mainstream scientists such as Dawkins who argue that parapsychology doesn’t deserve funding because it doesn’t produce “extraordinary” evidence.  So, Dawkins’ statement is disingenuous because he really doesn’t want parapsychology to produce extraordinary evidence. 

It reminds me of CSICOP, the skeptical organization by various mainstream scientists (incuding Dawkins).  The problem with CSICOP is that it isn’t headed by scientists and the scientists who support it have no professional experience with parapsychology research.  CSICOP has no peer-reviewed journal and doesn’t support research even in disproving the paranormal.  Hansen says that CSICOP did do some research early on, but it ended up proving what they were trying to disprove and so they never did research again.  Worse still, they use their influence (via mainstream scientists) to keep parapsychologists from getting funding.

I am curious about the possible connection between parapsychology and quantum physics.  Lynne McTaggart speaks about the connection in her books, but as she isn’t a scientist I don’t know how biased her presentation might be. 

I’ve heard that there is nothing paranormal because its a false label.  If the paranormal exists, then its normal.  I agree with that as far as that goes… I really don’t care what one calls it.  Anyways, normality is kind of a relative concept.  I’m sure quantum physics seemed a bit paranormal to Newtonian scientists.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

LOL! It’s all so terribly funny isn’t it?

your point about quantum physics is very important. i too think the key will be there, so when everyone else has “caught up” we will see a lot more…

New Age: Part 4

New Age: Part 4

Posted on Jul 25th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
The New Age has some of its origins in organizations such as the Theosophical Society.  Besant and Leadbeater wrote the book Occult Chemistry where they claimed to have used psychic vision to discover the structure of the atom.  Also, it was the Theosophical Society that raised J. Krishnamurti as the coming messiah even though he chose not to take up this role and went his own way instead.  Theosophy was a part of the whole spiritualism movement which related to various occult groups and practitioners.  This side has been a bit lost in the lightness and fluff of the New Age, but the New Age tradition of channelled writings comes from spiritualism. 
All of the spirituality and religion of that time was largely in response to the industrial revolution and the rising of scientific materialism.  Mesmerism was one of those attempts to bridge the gap between spirituality and science.  This is partly why New Agers are so focused on material manifestations of spirituality such as healing and wealth, and why they’re interested in quasi-scientific theories about quantum physics and such.  New Thought ideas are getting some actual scientific backing from books written by people such as Lynne McTaggart who is a reporter on consciousness studies.
There is also an intriguing connection between the New Age and phenomena such as UFOs and conspiracies.  They’re two sides of the same thing.  UFOs and conspiracies, like much of New Age, is seeking rational explanations for the non-rational.

The basic connection is that there is much crossover between those interested in New Age and those interested in UFOs, conspiracy theories, and whatever else.  New Age types tend to be open-minded and curious about life in general (and some more extreme New Agers have a naive gullibility that allows them to believe in almost anything).  I mentioned that the early origins of New Age include spiritualism and Theosophy.  The occult in general is sort of the shadow of mainstream New Age, and the occult is mixed up with UFOs and conspiracy theories.  
I was reading a book by Vallee who is a UFO investigator and 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 both New Age and Integral discussions.  BTW there is much crossover between New Age and Integral in general to the chagrin of Ken Wilber. 
If you go to the alternative section of a bookstore, you’ll find books on New Age, books on such things UFOs and conspiracy theories, and books on Integralism.  Also, you’ll find books on New Thought Christianity and all other aspects of Christianity that aren’t deemed suitable for a normal Christian viewing public. 

There is another common element to all of these besides the type of person who is open-minded and curious.  Nearly all of these subjects have some connection to Jung and depth psychology.  Jung proposed the theory of archetypes that has become popular in the New Age, in certain sectors of Christianity, and in subjects such as tarot and kabbalah.  The idea of archetypes does come up in books about UFOs and the occult and Jung comes up a lot in Integral circles.  Jung was influenced by some writers of the occult, Jung wrote a book about UFOs, and Jung was a direct inspiration of Alcoholics Anonymous which was one of the earliest self-help groups.  Jung had wide interests and many New Agers share this trait.  Also, shadow work is becoming an increasingly popular topic in the New Age.  Of course, the belief in synchronicity has been a mainstay of the New Age for quite a while now.  Plus, the MBTI was based on Jung’s theory of personality, and the MBTI has become a big player in the self-help field.
There is another even more interesting side to all of this.  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.
Basically, there is a very diverse connection between the New Age and various subjects that don’t seem very New Agey.  Even so, these connections go back to the beginning of the New Age.  Part of the problem here is that its nearly impossible to define what the New Age is.  It includes so much.  And if you follow the trail of connections, it can lead you in many different directions.  Its good to keep in mind that the New Age has slowly been co-opted by the mainstream (eg Oprah and Tolle, and The Secret), but the New Age originated in the unrespectable fringes of society.  Just as its useful to distinguish between New Thought and New Age, its also useful to distinguish between the early beginnnings of New Age and the contempory popularization thereof.  The New Age that is becoming popularized right now is in some ways a whole new phenomena.

This blog is posted in the God Pod.

Access_public Access: Public 2 Comments Print Post this!views (159)  

about 6 hours later

Cloud said

Thank you, your “New Age” entries have been very enjoyable and you hold a wealth of knowledge surrounding it.   And as you said, “Part of the problem here is that its nearly impossible to define what the New Age is.  It includes so much.”  My experience with the New Age and New Agers has been both challenging and challenged, by many people for many years.
Suffice it to say that the New Age has opened doorways to so many people in regards to spiritual unity and freedom.  It has definitely provided the opportunity for people to express their individuality within their personal beliefs and outside of the limits of dogmatic religion.  To me the New Age is a melting pot of worldwide cultures and belief systems, some ancient, some new.  And while it appears that the intention of the New Age is holistic and unified it is also, in some ways exceedingly empty and self-serving (i.e. false prophets, self-exalted gurus and self-important people charging exorbitant amounts of money for ceremony or participatory experiences).
It seems to me that Americans, in general, are at a loss when it comes to spiritual identity.  Structured, patriarchal religion no longer serves hardly anyone but on the same token, to “convert” the God to Goddess is merely a paradigmatic shift that creates a dichotomy devoid of balancing the masculine and feminine.  My personal favorite “term” for this Goddess/God is the great mystery.  It is a great mystery, regardless of attempts in naming it or owning it; no one really knows what it is.  It is not a he or she and it seems to be inclusive of all sentient and non-sentient beings.
My path for countless years has been an earth-based path, paying homage and attention to Gaia if you will.  In my own search for finding meaning and depth to my spiritual essence the Native American ways appeal to me, honoring and acknowledging the balance of Mother Earth and Father Sky, respect and awareness for all of the elements, directions, seasons, creatures, etc.  People who follow this path are often, unfortunately, accused by Native American people of being a New Ager and are accused of trying to steal their traditions.  This thinking on their part has allowed me to delve more deeply into the roots of these earth-based ways and to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have been celebrated by countless peoples the world over since the beginning of time, to include medicine wheels, sweat lodge ceremony, various ceremonial dances, smoking the pipe and vision quest.  No one owns these traditions, these beliefs, these ways and for any one peoples to think they do is arrogant and selfish.
Another meaningful paradigmatic structure for me, and one that has been termed as New Age, are the works of Carlos Castaneda.  The man was a genius, how could he not be, having concocted an entire 8 volume story including all of its characters as a means to cut through the bullshit and connect to the simple, energetic beauty that surrounds us all.  Much of his work pulls from Buddhist and Hindu philosophies as well as early writings from mid-19th century Mexico.  Beyond the sometimes tedious words of his stories lies the opportunity to connect to the magic of life with awareness, personal power, integrity, efficiency and respect.
A blog post of mine from over a year ago included:  “We perceive that we have outgrown patterns and behaviors when all that has really changed is our capacity to utilize those patterns and behaviors in different paradigms, with more awareness and with more fervent justification.”
Let’s hope that the New Age is really what it claims to be:  A New Age.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks for your comments, Cloud!  I always appreciate it when someone gives a thorough and thoughtful response.

I agree that New Age is a melting pot, and those with distinct traditions (whether Catholic or Native American) don’t like that.  New Age is truly the religion of the US.  The US is a melting pot of a country.  And, even though conservatives don’t like to admit it, there was great religious diversity and disagreement amongst the early settlers and founding fathers… not to mention the diversity of the native religions that were already here.

I don’t know if the New Age is really what it claims to be.  It is definitely something “New”.  However, as it becomes mainstream it will become increasingly codified and commodified until it becomes a new religion, but I don’t know if we’ll see a unified New Age religion in our lifetime.  I think Integral is doing its best to create a unified theology which is one of the first steps in the process.

Its kind of fun living in a time when a new major world religion is forming.  Its been something like 1400 years since the last major world religion formed (ie Islam).

Integral… ?

Integral… ?

Posted on Jul 17th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
Access_public Access: Public What do you think? Print // Post this!views (176)  

Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

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

In my previous blog post, I mentioned Paul Shepard.  His theories are ones that I come back to every now and again even though its been quite a number of years since I’ve read one of his books.  It conflicts with the more optimistic vision of most Integralists.  However, I see potential truth in both of them.  Shepard sees that a misdevelopment occurred in humanity’s early development.  Wilber doesn’t see this early misdevelopment, but rather places the blame of misdevelopment on later stages such as his theory of Mean Green Meme.

I’ve heard of one theory that could bring the two together.  It was brought up in a discussion on Wilber’s site.  The person was speculating that maybe Spiral Dynamics should be seen as descriptive instead of prescriptive.  It is an accurate model describing how social development has occurred so far (in Western societies and non-Western societies influenced by Western culture).  But this doesn’t mean that development couldn’t have happened differently nor does it mean that Spiral Dynamics represents the best possible outcome of development.  These are the types of thoughts that came to me when I first studied Wilber.  It seems an obvious possibility, but it rarely comes up in discussion and I haven’t yet seen it in a book about Integralism.

This seems to bungle up the workings of Wilber’s aesthetically elegant model.  If we can’t be sure that the development model we have is optimal, then it undercuts other theories such as the pre/trans fallacy.  How can we be sure that we have it right?  From one perspective, the model is prescriptive, but maybe from another perspective it could be proscriptive.  So, is their a larger context in which to place this all?  Is their a perspective of perspectives that transcends and includes both idealism and pessimism? 

I must admit that I’ve been more interested in the potential of a Theory For Anything (TFA) and less interested in a Theory Of Everything (TOE).  But I don’t know what a TFA would look like.  I reference back to Jung’s archetypes and personality types because it seems to give something closer to a morally neutral perspective and less hierarchical.  I especially find personality types insightful because it clearly shows how often differences are just differences.  This fits in with my criticism of Wilber’s model and those attracted to it being more Apollonian (MBTI NT?).

All of this interesting enough, but my mind has been focused on another set of ideas.  I’ve just started the book The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen (here is the author’s blog and here is an article by the author about skepticism).  This book brings some important questions to rationality.  I can’t summarize this authors views at the moment, but let me pull out some quotes and ideas to give a sense of where he is coming from.

Okay… many philosophers have considered the mind to be binary and this goes back to the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander.  From this tradition, we get Aristotelian logic with its binary opposition (a or not a) and its “the law of the excluded middle”.  And one end of the binary opposition is usually privileged.  We enter a different perspective with the liminal (introduced by Van Gennep and further elucidated by Victor Turner). “When a structure is subverted or deconstructed, there is a reversal of the positions of privilege or a blurring or collapse of the line dividing the pair.” (p. 62)  This liminal between is the space that post-modernists see as empty, but which earlier anthropologists saw as being where the paranormal and supernatural can be properly placed. 

“Deconstruction calls attention to ambiguity and uncertainty, and at its core, it is about the problem of representationin all forms.” (p. 76)  

“Like magic, the problem of meaning is banished from the consciusness of science.  Deconstructionism raises the issue overtly.  It points out that meaning is neither neutral nor transparent.  It asserts that language precedes science and thus has primacy over it.” (p. 377) 

“The Issue of power again leads back to Max Weber.  Weber’s discussion of authority was about power and domination.  He identified three types of authorrity: charismatic, traditional, and bureaucratic.  Pure charisma, the most fundamental, involves supernatural power.  The other types are rationalized forms of it.  One need only recall Weber’s insight that the process of rationaliziaion calls for the elimination of magic form the world (in actuality, elimination of the conscious awareness  of magic by cultural elites).  With the process of disenchantment virtually complete in the academy, deconstructionists (and everyone else) display an almost complete amnesia as to the primitive foundations of their school of thought.  Neary all have forgotten the taboo areas, the liminal regions, those betwixt and between categories, the anomalous, the supernatural.” (pp 377-378)

In this, we can see the questioning of dualistic models.  This is where the questioning can also be turned to Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy.  I don’t fully understand the implications as of yet, but it opens up some space for further discussion about experiences that may not be dualistic nor either pre or trans.  If all it does is bring up more unanswered questions, then that is fine by me.  I’m looking more for a model of questions than a model of answers.

What I’m trying to figure out is how can we step outside of Wilber’s models to see them objectively.  To the extent that we commit ourselves to a model, we can’t see it clearly.  This is a problem because we can’t understand a model either if we look at it entirely detached.  Does the liminal provide a space where we don’t get stuck too far in either direction?

Access_public Access: Public 26 Comments Print Post this!views (507)  

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Prerational and Transrational Spirituality: The Difference Is?

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

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

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

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

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

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 19 hours later

Balder said

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 19 hours later

Nicole said

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

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

Ben, does this discussion here help?

or what about this application here?

this looks like a good article:

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 22 hours later

Balder said

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

Gee, thanks, Nicole!

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

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

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 23 hours later

Marmalade said

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

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

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

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

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

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

Rhetorical Stances

Beyond Personality

Philosophical Exegesis

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

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

TFA and Perspective of Perspectives

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

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

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

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

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

Balder : Kosmonaut

1 day later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

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

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

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

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Here is something Wilber said about gender in

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

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

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

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

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

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

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

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

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Yes, yes, Ben, I agree totally.

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

Are you and Bruce familiar with him?

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nope, never heard of him.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

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

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

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

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

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

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said


Commenting on Balder’s blog about the Wilber-Combs Lattice

Commenting on Balder’s blog about the Wilber-Combs Lattice

Posted on Jun 21st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

Here is a blog post I commented on:

The Wilber-Combs Lattice and the Pre/Trans Fallacy

Posted on Jun 19th, 2008 by Balder : Kosmonaut Balder

And here is my comment:

Thanks for posting this Balder!  This brings up some important issues I’m interested in.

And thanks Jim for your perspective.  I think you’re right on target.

There is a difference between theory and experience.  And experience can be quite messy.  We don’t experience these coneptual categories because our experience is always a mix of different states and stages… and also a mix of various paradigms and memes that influence our views that are entirely outside of this model.

Even scientifically testing emprical claims is tricky when it comes to all things consciousness-related including divinatory predictions.  For anyone interested in the challenges of consciousness studies, I’d recommend Lynne McTaggart’s books or The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.

God is in the manure.  This is an idea of alchemy.  The figure that represents the alchemical/individuation process is Mercurius and he is a Trickster.  Tricksters are known for breaking the distinctions between things… especially between intellectual distinctions such as prerational and transrational.

Mercurius relates to Hermes.  And Hermes acts as a mediary between the popular distinction of Apollonian and Dionysian.  Wilber’s view (or at least the model that he has created) is very Apollonian.  Whereas, Dionysus is about the transformative experience that can’t be understood or controlled.  Can integral find a way to include and use the Jungian model of the Trickster/mediary to overcome this divide?

Jim, you said:
“Would it be skillful for the physician to tell Lars that he’s not being rational about the situation, and that his belief that Bianca is a real woman is a “prerational” delusion?”

To play “as if” would be an act of the imagination.  The imagination is the realm of the Trickster.  Can pretending that the false is real transform it into a real positive result?  This depends on what is defined as real.  The imagination is about what is metaphorically real and this is just as important as what is rationally real.  Besides, the distinction between the two is never absolute.  So, how do we rationally speak of what is or isn’t skillful means?  In considering this question, I’d agree with what Jim says here:

“I would say that we can only tell in retrospect if we can tell at all if certain manure had the potential to help one develop in a transpersonal direction, and that ultimately we may not be able to tell, because we are talking about an organic rather than a mechanical process.”

And here:

“There is also a sense in which I think the PTF is like a grammatical rule that we learn to apply and then forget about.”

Also, like a grammatical rule, there are many many exceptions to the rule.


Access_public Access: Public 29 Comments Print Post this!views (346)  

Marmalade : Gaia Child

11 minutes later

Marmalade said

I don’t know how much Philip K. Dick knew about Alchemy, but he was probably aware of it as he studied Gnosticism and was somewhat familiar with Jung’s ideas.  I’ve mentioned before about PKD’s view of God in the garbage.  I’m wondering if he got this idea from Alchemy or if he came up with it on his own.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 1 hour later

Nicole said

Interesting! either is quite possible I guess. the archetype of the Trickster is so very vital and of course by the nature of it very challenging to pin down…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I just checked back to Balder’s thread.  No one responded to what I said not even to disagree.  I can assume that it simply went over their heads or they were intentionally dismissing it, but either way its clearly not friendly.  Obviously, I find it frustrating.  Integralists are like any other group of people devoted to a certain way of looking at the world.  I was attracted to integralism because the model provides the potential for seeing multiple perspectives, but I find few integralists live up to that potential.

I could talk in proper integralese, but I don’t find it an inspiring language or at least I don’t find many of the people who speak it to be inspiring.  To me, its just one view among many… true but partial.  However, it seems that many integralists take their model way too seriously as if its objectively true rather than just being a convenient map.  I love maps, but as far as I can tell the integral map shows in detail only a small area.

Why can’t such a view as I present be allowed within the sacred confines of integralism?
Why can’t Apollo acknowledge Hermes?

On an integral discussion board, I noticed a post that fits in here.  The person was asking this question… why do all of the integral sites seem to be losing their momentum, there activity in major decline, some even closing down? 

It seems to me that its the loudest advocates of integralism that are turning off the average person from being interested.  In the beginning, integral was attractive to so many because it had so much potential, but I think many people like me are realizing how little of that potential is actualized within the integral community.  Even the integralists are getting frustrated and closing ranks around a few bulwarks of integral theory such as pre/trans.  The innovative spirit of integral is dead and awaiting a new theorist to resurrect it, but as long as Wilber is around that probably won’t happen.

Many have complained about integralism being elitist.  I don’t think that is quite right, but not entirely false.  I’ve found that the integral boards aren’t very welcoming communities (often a bit aggressive and argumentative), and I’m not entirely sure the reason.  The friendliness and openness of the God Pod is something you’d never find on an integral board… why?  Is it as I’ve conjectured… that integral theory attracts more Intuitive Thinking types (Apollonian intellectuals) who are more interested in ideas than in interpersonal relating?

The reason I’m so frustrated is because I really do like integral theory.  One of my complaints about Gaia was that I felt that I resonated more with the community than the community resonated with me.  I don’t know if that is true for Gaia as a whole, but it definitely seems true of my relationship to the integral crowd within Gaia.

I’m not merely complaining based on this one incident.  I’ve posted comments and started a thread on the Integral Post-metaphysical Spirituality Pod, but there wasn’t much of a connection.  And I’ve participated on several other integral boards outside of Gaia.  I’m more interested in integralism than most people, and if this is my experience of integralism then what hope is there for this model fulfilling Wilber’s grand vision?

Basically, I’m trying to decide how I want to relate to the integral community here.  Should I just ignore and avoid them?  Or should I just trudge on assuming that eventually my viewpoint will be aknowledged?  I’m trying to focus my time spent on Gaia anyways, and so I don’t want to waste my efforts on being frustrated with people who don’t appreciate what I contribute.  Maybe I’ll stick to my method of commenting abou the integral discussions from the sidelines of my own blog.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I just read through Balder’s thread again.  My frustration is not lessened. 

I’ve spent years studying integral and I understand everything they’re saying.  I don’t even directly disagree with what they’re saying.  In fact, I think they’re discussing important truths. 

Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that so much gets left out of the conversation.  I’ve observed many integral discussions over the years, and there is a similarity amongst them all.  The same basic ideas get bandied back and forth, but new ideas are so rarely introduced or if introduced not given much attention.  Integral too often seems like a self-enclosed system.

I am interested in the model as it now exists, but I’m even more interested in how it can continue to evolve.  Restating the same ideas that have been discussed a thousand times before isn’t going to further the discussion.  Integralism needs new blood.

I understand that they’re wary of anything that stands outside of the conventions of integral.  They feel they have to defend themselves against the onslaught of the green meme.  I’m a strong proponent of many of the integral criticisms that are brought against the New Age.  But as it stands the New Age seems to have more potential and vitality for growth than integral does.  The New Age may simply take the best from integral and simply bypass it.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

My sense is that I didn’t get a response in that thread is because Balder (and others) didn’t feel it related to the topic of integral… even though it was in response to what Jim said and Balder responded to Jim. 

To me, this seems a vast failure of imagination, failure of vision even.  From my perspective, Jungian views on alchemy and mytholgy correspond with Integralism.  And if it doesn’t, then Integralism needs to be revamped.  Many other critics of Integralism have brought this up… such as Kazlev and Goddard. 

What do Integralists fear would happen if they opened up the gates to new (and old) ideas?

Why is Wilber the sole standard by which everything in the universe is measured?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Centria started a thread (based on her blog) about negative experiences and how we handle them.

Well, this is how I handle it.  I write my thoughts out and let myself vent.  It gives me perspective.  And sometimes it allows me to understand the situation better… which on a good day might lead to a more compassionate attitude.

So, how about my present situation? 

Only a few people commented to Balder’s blog and my comment was a fairly long one.  Balder responded to everyone’s comment except mine.  I perceive that as being the rudest that anyone on Gaia has acted towards me.  His dismissal of my comment obviously was intentional… I just don’t know what the intention was.

This leaves me to interpret it as best as I can.  Unless I ask Balder his reasoning all I have is his silence.  The question is how do I want to respond to this situation.  I don’t feel like asking Balder why he ignored me.  What I feel like doing is dismissing him in return.  He seemed like a decent guy that I might like to know, but this makes me doubt how nice of a guy he is.  Maybe he is nice.  I certainly don’t know the motivations behind his lack of a response.

In Balder’s blog, he has given lengthy responses to Julian.  And Julian has said some of the most confrontational statements I’ve heard on Gaia.  What am I to make of the integral community here?  This is an important question as the fact that many integral people being here is partly why I joined Gaia.  If the integral crowd here isn’t overly friendly, it puts a minor crimp in the reason I joined in the first place.  Fortunately, it turns out that I’ve connected with more non-integral people who seem more open-minded and curious than do the integral proponents around here… which I’m a bit surprised by.

However, I want to focus on this situation with Balder for the moment.  I feel hurt, annoyed, frustrated, even slightly angry.  Balder could’ve given a single sentence reply to just aknowledge my existence… but he didn’t.  I don’t know him and so part of my frustration is not even knowing why he chose to not respond even with a simple courteous comment.  Do I just accept that is just the way it is?  People do things that are unkind all of the time even people who are usually nice.

The thing is I’d never do what Balder did.  NEVER.  I wouldn’t respond to everyone with lengthy replies and ignore one person.  I said nothing to offend him.  There was no good reason for his ignoring my comment.  What kind of person is willing to treat people that way?  I know, I know… I’m blowing it all out of proportion.  But I’m doing so because I really don’t understand.  I was prepared to have Balder disgree with my view, but I didn’t even expect that I’d be simply ignored.  It took me by utter surprise.  Balder seemed like a nice guy and in my worldview that isn’t how nice people act.

Should I be sympathetic and assume the best.  Maybe Balder was having a bad day.  Maybe I offended him in some manner I’m unaware of.  The only thing I can think of is the discussion I had with him about his pod in an earlier blog of mine.  I was telling him how I didn’t join the discussions there because I didn’t feel like I fit in.  Maybe he took it as a personal criticism and is holding a grudge against me.  I just don’t know.  Maybe I just rub him wrong for some odd reason.

I guess its not important.  He isn’t obliged to respond to me whether or not it would be the polite thing to do.  I don’t know how to respond and so I guess I’ll just let it go.  Let go and let God as its been said before.  If I have offended Balder in the past somehow, then I’m sorry.  If I haven’t offended him and he simply doesn’t like me, then I’ll just have to accept that is the way it is.  If he didn’t comment to me for no particular reason at all, then such is life.

This small experience has effected me.  Gaia feels like a less friendly place because of it.  Balder is one of the more active members here.  Its not as if I can avoid him as he often posts in the God Pod.  My two ways of handling negativity is either to avoid it or understand it, but in this case neither seems possible.  So, I just have to try to process it internally.

It just makes me sad.  😦
I don’t like it when I’m sad.

I don’t handle negativity well at all.  If I feel too much of it, I just withdraw from the world.

Oh well… obladi oblada… life goes on…

BTW did I mention that I’m sad?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said


I’m so sorry you are sad, honey! That does seem intentionally unkind. And I’m so sorry that Gaia feels less friendly because of it. I have noticed this kind of intentional ignoring before, sometimes of me sometimes of others, but not usually in a way that is important. This is very significant.

I doubt you have offended Bruce. I can’t understand why he would treat you in this way. Even unintentionally it doesn’t seem like him. He is so careful to respond to everyone.

Have you been able to let it go or are you still upset? Wish I could make it better…

Are you sure you don’t want to discuss this on the God Pod? Not the thing with Bruce, just the original comment about integralists, like what you say above. Start a thread and we could discuss it in detail. See if Bruce responds at all.

What do you think? I won’t do it myself, if you are not comfortable.
What I can’t figure out is why I didn’t see the notification of your other comments on this blog.  I didn’t see until today that you had posted anything else. So I want to respond to your earlier comments.

I think you have identified a huge problem with the integral movement. Here on Gaia we can have discussions on Integral on the God Pod, but even then they are problematic becaause of polarisation and disaffection.

The Integral Pod  is still on the top 10 most active pods, but it went through some really rough patches and had to reboot. It’s only so active now because they tend to discuss controversies, so they’re not really discussing Integral much. So in a way it also proves your point.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks for stopping by Nicole.  I know you have your own emotions to process at the moment.  (BTW I’d be curious to hear how you process.  Journalling?  Going for a walk?)

I do feel relatively better.  A venting session like that and some good sleep often does the trick.

I’ve decided it probably isn’t something to be taken personally.  Balder’s lack of response probably had nothing to do with me.  One thing, a blog is like someon’s personal space.  He is interested in integral and he didn’t see my comment as appropriately inegral.  I’ve noticed that integral types have little tolerance for ideas outiside of integral conventions.  I’ve noticed many times an integral person become impatient and frustrated because someone was once again trying to introduce non-integral ideas into an integral discussion.  The feeling I sense from a person when they’re like this is that they feel the person doesn’t understand or respect integral.  Balder started his blog because he wanted to have a discussion about integral (as he understood it, not as I understood it).  He doesn’t want to deal with people like me in his own blog, his own personal space. 

I’m the type of person that integralists see as the greatest threat.  I was raised in the New Age and I’ve been known to defend the New Age against integralists.  I’m interested in Jung and the paranormal, two subjects that integralists have an uneasy relationship with.  I tend towards more of an open view towards ideas and I’m not as willing to classify certain ideas as clearly better than other ideas.  I prefer to see differences as simply differences.  I’m skeptical of the general attitude of integralism that was first modelled by Wilber: Apollonian, masculine, willful, ascetic, confrontational, defensive, rationalistic, idealistic, approval-seeking(from the academia), etc.

And, in spite of all of that, I love integral.  I love the models Wilber has created.  I’ve gained great insight from studying integral.  I appreciate how integral can be applied in practical ways.

Basically, I was totally into integral until I met various people who were even more into it and I was turned off.  One of those people that turned me off was a good friend of mine.  I’d known him for a while and we started an integral group with another guy.  I quickly realized that studying Wilber’s work was like an act of devotion for this guy.  He didn’t want to think analytically about Wilber’s ideas; he didn’t want to consider alternative viewpoints; he wanted to ‘study’ Wilber (somewhat similar to how you study a holy text).

This seems very odd to me as integral attracts very intelligent people.  Integralist remind me of the intelligent types I’ve met on atheist boards.  On those boards, there would be these people who knew what they knew and knew it extremely well, but they lacked humility and openness to new views.  They could talk about the minutiae of some particular school of thought or some particular set of ancient texts.  You meet these kinds of people on integral boards also.  When you join an integral discussion, you realize you’re dealing with people who have lived and breathed integral (ie Wilber’s work) for years if not decades.  Its daunting to face them in a discussion.  But despite their massive knowledge of this one subject, they often know very little of anything else (at least not with any depth).  They have some vague familiarity with other ideas, but those ideas just aren’t important to them.

This isn’t unusual behavior.  This is normal human behavior in fact… which makes it all the more sad.  For some reason, I had higher expectations of integral types because they seemed to have higher expectations of themselves.  Integralism has so much potential.  It is one of the best theories out there.
I realize I can’t expect everyone to be like me.  And, of course, I have my own issues.  But I just wish that online discussions weren’t so challenging.  Why is it so difficult to speak about differing opinions openly (without polarization, judment, and dismissive attitude)?  When I enter a discussion, I try to always give someone a fair hearing (as long as they’re not being rude or something).  As you know, I’ll go far out of my way to understand another person’s perspective, I’ll spend much time trying to see what interests them about a subject.  Or, if I feel confused or uninspired, I’ll just give a quick response to aknowledge them. 

I’m not perfect at this.  I’m sure at one point or another someone felt dismissed by something I said or didn’t say.  In the past, I could get argumentative when I disagreed with someone… which is something I try not to do anymore.

For some reason, it irks me when I run into people who are entirely committed to a single viewpoint.  I probably need to do some shadow work on that one.  Maybe I’m jealous because of my lack of an ability to commit to a single viewpoint, and then I idealize my non-committal nature as being open-mindedness.  Probably so… I rationalize my behavior as much as the next person.

Now, to your question of whether I want to discuss this on the God Pod.  Yeah, probably.  I need to think about how to present it.  I’d be curious to know what you’d think would be the central issue of such a discussion.  Integral’s lack of openness to new ideas?  I could bring up the defensive/critical attitude that Integralists have towards New Agers (and other non-rational metaphysics), but that has been brought up before.

I agree its important.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

3 days later

Marmalade said

I just love synchronicity.

Just today Theurj in Balder’s Pod posted a thread about Integral Ideology.
(and I posted the thread as another thread over in the God Pod.

Either Theurj read my mind or we were both reading the collective mind.

I’d taken that pod off of notification, and the only reason I knew about is because I looked at my friend activity.  I had asked Nickeson to be my friend a while back because I knew him from another integral board.  He has one of the most grounded and even views of integral that I’ve come across.  His comment is my favorite in the thread so far.

Ironically, Balder responded saying he didn’t think any of it applied to him.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, he has inspired me to rant about the problems of integral for several days.

Anyways, that solved my problem of trying to figure out how to start a thread about this.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

To be fair, Balder does seem like an open-minded and self-questioning fellow.  In his post, he did say that “I may be deceiving myself – our shadows are notoriously hard to spot”.  And its to the credit of Integralism that this subject came up in the integral pod.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole

You might find it interesting that my response to this situation is somewhat typical for an INFP. 

I took Balder’s silence very personally and blew out of proportion, and then I started obsessing over it.  I focused on the interpersonal dimension and conjectured about his motives all the while questioning myself.  My sense of values felt challenged and so I went on a miniature righteous crusade.  And yet I did it all without ever having to directly confront the person who was bothering me in the first place.  🙂

And this was only a minor annoyance.  Just imagine what I’d be like if I really felt like my values had been challenged.  To give you an example, some people conjecture that Osama bin Laden is an INFP.  INFPs might be one of the best types for being a terrorist.  Here is a thread where we discussed this at Globalchatter.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

Wow, Ben… I’m glad you found a way to resolve it. Great self-analysis there. You are helping me a lot in my crash course on INFPs. It’s interesting to see you and Alan talk together in the God Pod. You are finding your way very well with him. He likes you and enjoys your discussions. Of course, we talk about you on the phone together at times, so I know this directly and not just by inference. It’s obvious by how much he interacts with you on the God Pod.  You are one of the few in the God Pod who take the time to try to meet him in the very unique space he inhabits… as well as myself of course lol Thanks for that.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

4 days later

Marmalade said

INFPs can have a very odd way of thinking and communicating.  To other people who aren’t INFPs, the odd comments and the constantly shifting tangents seem to have no coherency.  To an INFP, everything is connected. 

What others can’t see is the Introverted Feeling (Fi) of an INFP.  Fi gives the INFP a solid core that brings it all together.  An INFP can jump around a million ideas without needing to hold onto any given single one of them.  This Extraverted Intuition that jumps around in a very non-linear fashion.  As its their favored Extraverted function its how they relate to the world.  But since its not their primary function, they aren’t directly attached to it.  The INFP can get stuck in a single value but rarely in a single thought.

INFPs tend to gather bits and pieces of everything and stick it all together in a loose fashion.  INFPs can be intellectual but not usually in a very systematic way.  We don’t have the patience and focus to study one thing to the exclusion of all else.  So, this means we can our knowledge has breadth without depth if we’re not careful.  Depth is in our values, but that is hard to communicate even to ourselves.

I grew up with an ENTJ dad who taught me how to analyze and so I’m not entirely typical for an INFP.  I’m able to communicate in a more linear fashion, but my mind is always all over the place.

As such, INFPs might have some interest in integral theory because they appreciate any insightful viewpoint.  However, the INFP is forever saying: “Thats true, but….”  And an INFP has less of a problem with seeing two contradictory things as being true simultaneously.  To systematize one’s thoughts as integral theory does would be to destroy the beautiful complexity of life.

So, an INFP might come off as being ‘Green Meme’ to an integralist.  The INFP wants to see multiple perspectives and doesn’t want to judge any of them absolutely.  The integralists call this relativism and consider it inferior.  The INFP would have to alter their way of thinking (or at least communicating) just to fit into the correct view that integralists idealize.  Fortunately, INFPs are independent thinkers who are unlikely to change their ways for anyone.  Unfortunately, INFPs are stubborn who are unlikely to change their ways even for loved ones.

Anyways, its nice that Alan and I can connect as we do.  I know on my end that it isn’t important that I agree with him or even entirely get any given idea of his.  I understand the general way of his thinking.  I also realize that as long as you listen well and  don’t judge INFPs they tend to be easygoing people who just like to play around with ideas.  I can sense where his values are and as a fellow INFP I respect that inner certainty.  I just present my view as my view.  At times I’m left clueless by what he means and so I respond with silly humor.  Most INFPs love silly humor.  Its hard for INFPs to stay serious for too long.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

About this situation, I didn’t really need any responses from anyone else even though its always nice to have a sounding board.  INFP’s have a knack of seeing all sides to a situation on their own if given enough time and if given the space in which to contemplate it.

INFPs get perspective from Ne which means they have to throw out every possible idea they can think of.  Their Fi sorts it all out in terms of relevance, but first it all must be considered.  No rock must be left unturned.

If you just active listen to an INFP while nodding your head (and maybe throwing out a few alternative possibilities), they’ll probably figure it out.  They just need support in their own processing.  INFP’s have a faith in their Fi.  They may not immediately understand, but they assume that it must make sense one way or another.

Though, if their processing fails, they will be strong in their blaming others.  If their Ne can’t help them, then they fall back on their Fi which can tend towards black/white thinking (wrong or right, good or evil).

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

I noticed Balder’s most recent comment in the discussion that started this whole rant of mine.  At the end of his comment, he says:

“This, at least, is the conclusion I come to when I attempt to “think inside the box.”  In other words, I’m not saying this is how things are; rather, I’m looking at the “model” and tracing out its implications (as I see them), to see how well they serve us.”

I’m not sure but that sounds like he may be taking seriously the criticisms of the Integral Ideology thread.  He is being self-conscious of the fact that there is a box he is thinking within.  He explains that he is looking at the implications of the “model” in order “to see how well they serve us.”  This seems to imply that he is considering how worthwhile it might be to think outside of the box.

In an earlier comment, he said this:

“As Jim points out, and as you pointed out also, this topic can get somewhat complex and difficult to sort out, in part because of the nature of the subject but also because Wilber’s language has sometimes been rather vague.”

I am in agreement with him about this.  This is something that both the proponents and critics of Wilber agree upon. 

Wilber is often not very clear and even people who’ve studied him for decades aren’t always sure what Wilber’s position is.  Plus, there is the complaint that its impossible to determine Wilber’s true position because he is always saying that statements he made previously no longer represent him.  He’ll refer to his present position being clearly stated in the notes 7b of such and such book, but of course the notes to his book are somewhere on his site rather than actually in the book itself.

So, if its so confusing, then what good does it do for the average person?  Heck, what good does it do for those who are willing to spend years trying to decipher Wilber?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

Ok so my response is in two main parts:

1) I really appreciate your in depth analysis of INFPs. It totally resonates with my observations of him, and a lot of our conversations have a randomness because of that. He tries to be linear because of me but clearly it’s a struggle. 🙂 I can feel his attention and mind jumping all over. And superficiality is a danger for him, one I think at some level he tries to avoid.  Still just beginning to know him so it’s hard to be sure about much. But this really really helps, Ben. Thanks.

 And silliness is so much a part of him. Example: Yesterday, I booked the B and B I will be staying in when I’m in Scotland in early August. We were both amazed to realise it is literally one block from the flat his brother and he share. He kept saying, “But I don’t remember seeing a B and B there” and noticing that I was becoming nervous, began this elaborate story about how it was probably Brigadoon, and that I would end up 300 years in the past… I kept telling him to stop and he kept spinning the story, in sheer delight. It took him …. a long time before he relented and told me that when he walked out to look at it, sure enough, he just had never noticed it. 

It’s also really helpful to know you didn’t really need any feedback. I always give it compulsively, but I did see you were working it through all by yourself and doing a perfect job. This too will help me with him, if I can just remember to bite my tongue when I am tempted to give him advice (something I realised I needed to do almost from the first day by how he reacted to something, doesn’t matter what) all goes much better.

2) Bruce is very thoughtful and I agree that he probably does see these things. Wilber’s frustrating disowning of his previous ideas is very confusing indeed, and one of the many reasons he can only be one of many sources for a balanced Integral perspective.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

I was starting to forget about Balder’s blog, but finally someone responded to what I said.  Jim made some comments which is fitting as I was largely responding to him in my comment.  I’m assuming that either this blog or the Integral Ideology thread brought me to the attention of Jim.  I just wish I had received a response without having to go through all of this hullabaloo.

Jim was friendly towards me in his comment and I appreciated that he brought up Mindell as that is another interest of mine.  But why couldn’t he have responded earlier?  We could’ve spent this whole time discussing how ideas such as Mindell’s relate to Integral models.  At least, the opportunity has now arisen. 

The only problem is that I don’t know how much I feel like participating in Balder’s blog.  I feel turned off from the integral community right now.  For instance, the only integral proponent that responded to the Integral Ideology thread in the God Pod was Albert and he has an aggressive quality about him… which seems fairly typical of many integral proponents.

I was just observing something about integral discussions.  When I bring up criticisms or alternative perspectives, I get a feeling that I’m not quite being treated as an equal or there isn’t precisely a sense of connection.  Its partly that it seems participants in integral discussions have to somehow prove themselves.  I don’t want to prove myself.  I just want to have a friendly conversation.  Also, comments in integral discussions can feel more like lectures or arguments.  They don’t entirely feel inviting.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

“It’s also really helpful to know you didn’t really need any feedback. I always give it compulsively, but I did see you were working it through all by yourself and doing a perfect job. This too will help me with him, if I can just remember to bite my tongue when I am tempted to give him advice (something I realised I needed to do almost from the first day by how he reacted to something, doesn’t matter what) all goes much better.”

I hear you about that difficulty.  You’ve hit upon the difference (and potential conflict) of Fe vs Fi. 

I don’t have a lot of experience with dominant Fe types, but Fe came up a lot in discussions at Globalchatter.  Some INFPs have a very strong reaction to Fe.  To an INFP, it could feel meddlesome or even manipulative. 

I’d like to hear more about your experience of Fi.  I’m sure it must bother you sometimes.  We Fi types aren’t as tactful as Fe types.  We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

This blog of mine is an interesting experiment for you to observe.  I used to journal a lot.  But now I’ve started using this blog somewhat like how I used my journal in the past.  This means that I’ve made my personal processing a bit more public.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said

I was reading more closely the comments by Tulim in Balder’s blog.  They were amusing.  Tulim’s second comment makes my original comment seem pretty in-the-box.  Tulim had enthusiasm, but I could tell right off that he wasn’t going to get a response from that crowd.  In a different situation, I might’ve asked Tulim some questions just for curiosity’s sake.

Tulim was saying how he was playing with lego’s to try to understand how it could be modelled differently.  Playful imagination… that is one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately.  Integral types seem to lack playful imagination or at least integral discussions seem to.  I admire the ability to wonder.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said

In case anyone was wondering, I truly don’t feel bothered by any of this at the moment.  I wish it could’ve turned out differently such as having a nice conversation with Jim.  Now that Jim and I know that we agree on some things, maybe the next time we meet we’ll have the conversation that we didn’t have this time.

I realize that I could’ve responded to this situation differently and by doing so it might’ve turned out differently.  However, possibly no matter what I would’ve tried to do, Balder might simply not have been interested in what I was interested in.  I had expectations that Balder apparently doesn’t share.  Of course, often when I have expectations, I end up disappointed.

All I can say is that I was true to myself.  I responded in my own fashion imperfect as it might’ve been.  I’m not entirely dissatisfied with how it turned out.  The God Pod discussion was fairly interesting.

I hold have any major issues towards Balder or the integral community here on Gaia, but there is now a bad taste in my mouth.  I think I’ll mostly or maybe entirely avoid integral discussions that occur outside of the God Pod.  The God Pod may be the only place where an open discussion of integral can occur.  Thank God for the God Pod.  I hope Jim decides to join in at the God Pod.  Then, life would be good.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

7 days later

Marmalade said

I noticed Balder did respond to Tulim in a very polite manner.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his response was inspired by my comments here.  He probably wanted to avoid another person going off like I did.

It makes me laugh.  He still hasn’t responded to anything I said even though I posted some further comments to Jim.  I very well may never get another response from Balder for the rest of my time here on lovely Gaia.  That is fine.  I’m sure its been a learning experience for the both of us.  🙂

Balder : Kosmonaut

7 days later

Balder said

Hi, Marmalade,

I’m very sorry for the impression you’ve taken from my silence.  I actually appreciated your comments and I believe I said as much on my blog, although I did not say that to you directly, and I can understand why you feel slighted.  Partly my silence is because I’ve actually just got too much going on, in my own life as well as online, and I just have not been able to keep up with all the conversations I’ve got going (I just apologized to Valli in IPS for similar lack of response).  But my lack of response was also because your response seemed more like it was directed to Jim’s first post, which was also not directly related to the topic of my blog, and I felt like if I went down that track, it would take the whole conversation astray from the questions I was wanting to explore.  Please don’t take this as overall closed-mindedness, or a dismissal of your points, however.  I did not intend that at all, and do not believe I am closed to non-Integral perspectives (I have my fingers in a number of pies; Integral is just one of them).

I have noticed that you’ve been commenting on IPS posts over on Nicole’s pod, copying many things over there rather than commenting directly on the original posts, and I have taken that as a reticence on your part to actually engage with me or with the people on my forum.  So, I think that might also have contributed to a “lack of connection” overall – not consciously, but looking at it now, I think that could have played a part in my prioritization of my own attempts to respond to the various posts out there addressed to me.

I have not read all of your comments on this blog here, but I read over enough to see that your feelings have been hurt, and again, I apologize.  I will happily add my comments to your observations on my blog later.

Best wishes,


P.S.  I just discovered your blog comments today, so they did not influence my response to Tulim. 

Balder : Kosmonaut

8 days later

Balder said


I just read a few more of your comments.  Honestly, I think a bout of projection was getting the best of you, friend!  You are referring to me and others as “that crowd,” thinking that I would not respond to Tulim because he was playing with Legos and exhibiting playful imagination.  I thought it was delightful!  I do adopt a more academic tone in some of my posts, depending on the subject, but it is just one of my voices, not the whole of it.  Have you read much of my blog, which features fairy tales, stories, original poetry, music, etc?  I’m actually very interested in imagination, and have several blogs on that subject that I’ve been planning for awhile (particularly in relation to TSK and Integral).  I’ve also written papers on the ecology of imagination in children, and have been a teacher of creative writing and imaginative fiction. 

A year or two ago, several of us on the Integral Pod also engaged in an extensive “chain story” about mythical characters from Egypt.  The story actually bogged down towards the end, and some people’s feelings got hurt when others took what they saw as too much liberty in directing the story’s ending, but in the process of it (when it spontaneously arose), it felt like something magical and inspiring was unfolding.  Playful, not great art, but a lot of fun.

I do think there is room for broader, more creative, playful ways of expression in Integral writing and discussion.  I certainly would welcome it. 

Anyway, I hope now that I am aware of your feelings about these issues, and painfully aware that I caused you to feel hurt and disregarded, I hope our interactions can take a turn in a more positive, fruitful direction.

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

8 days later

Marmalade said

First off, I know I was projecting.  That goes without saying.  LOL

Secondly, it doesn’t change much about the objective points I made… about my experiences of the Integral community… even if my assessments of you were entirely wrong.

I’ve found many people interested in Integral hard to relate to, but that is just my personal biased perspective.  It just feels like the only discussions that take off in Integral groups are ones that are extremely abstract.  I tried to start a thread about comparative mythology in your pod and it did get some response but never really went anywhere too interesting.  OTOH the Translation/Transformation thread went on and on.  Why are the various obscure meanings of ‘translation’ and ‘transformation’ more interesting to integral types than mythology?

The first Integral group I joined was Lightmind and there were two factors that I disliked.  It felt like there were these cliques, these private conversations going on where I wasn’t welcome.  And everyone was always arguing like a bunch of competing egotists.  The conversations were often interesting, but the place was also often rather annoying.  It wasn’t any specific person, but rather the environment of the whole place.

I’m sorry to have responded the way that I did.  No doubt you’re a multi-faceted person as we all are, and I was only seeing one side of you.  I realize you have to prioritize your time and I empathize with that immensely.  The problem was that I felt you were prioritizing based on your integral view… that was the rub.  To me, my comments were very much related to your blog or at least as much related as were Jim’s comments.  The reason I felt slighted was that you ‘prioritized’ your time in such a way that you lengthily responded to everyone else but me.

Whatever… I’m feeling better now.  I was projecting and you were prioritizing.  Its not important in and of itself.  It was just the situation and it hit me wrong because I’m sensitive to that kind of thing.  I’ve had a couple of experiences recently where I was dealing with people who seemed stuck in a particular view, and so that was where I was coming from.

Try not to take me too seriously.  I rant sometimes, but I don’t generally hold grudges.  I’m glad I ranted in fact.  My opinions on the whole matter of Integral are out in the open for all to see.. including my messy emotions.  I’m glad everything is cleared up now.  Now, doesn’t everyone feel better?  🙂

Okay, for more important things… such as the silly side of my personality.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love being playful and imaginative when I’m not going off on some serious rant.  I realize Integralists aren’t without humor… although often more of a biting humor (which I see as being more MBTI NT).  There was a fair amount of playfulness at Lightmind, but there is a certain kind of Integralist that sees the world as an ideological battlefield, a certain kind of Integralist who has an air of moral superiority.  To be honest, I really don’t like that kind of Integralist… “No sir, I don’t like it,” says the Mr. Horse from Ren and Stimpy.

I’d love to see more imagination and whatnot in the Integral community.  And I’d love to help contribute to that rather than privately griping in my blog.  So, I’d like to participate in your pod more if I can do so on my own terms.  My interests are wide and do not fit neatly into integral categories.  I love to integrate all that I know, but I don’t follow proper Wilberian protocol. 

I feel my weird sense of humor and wildly roaming imagination is appreciated on the God Pod as people respond to it there.  Your pod is no doubt interesting, but I just don’t see much focus on lighthearted fun and playful creativity.  What I require from a discussion group is that both my serious and silly sides be satisfied simultaneously… because I don’t separate them.  So, I still feel some slight reticence towards the Integral community here.  I want to join in, but I don’t know that I fit in.  Does that make sense?

BTW thanks very much for stopping by and being so kind in response to all my ranting and projecting.  All is well that ends well.


Nicole : wakingdreamer

8 days later

Nicole said

Dear Ben,

This is wonderful to be able to catch up with you at last here. I’m delighted to see you and Bruce have had a chance to sort things out.

Now, let’s try to tackle things in order of how you blogged comments:

1) the sense of not being an equal: I have experienced this feeling of marginalisation very much in the Integral pod, which led me to going away many times from the discussion. i didn’t feel it was at all deliberate and in fact some of the people there try very hard to include people, and this issue and related ones have been discussed extensively there from time to time. it’s just a question of focus and perspective, i suppose…

2) INFP… yes, I’m well aware of the danger of coming across as meddlesome or intrusive and keep an eye on myself about that. I really had to laugh out loud when I got to this part:

We Fi types aren’t as tactful as Fe types.  We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

I was just in the middle of one of our webcalls which as usual had fallen into silence as we listened to music and worked on whatever we were doing. Looking at him, and thinking about how true the above can be. It does indeed make it challenging to be in a close long distance friendship like this.

This blog of mine is an interesting experiment for you to observe.  I used to journal a lot.  But now I’ve started using this blog somewhat like how I used my journal in the past.  This means that I’ve made my personal processing a bit more public.

Indeed, I am learning so very much about you in particular (which is fascinating) and INFPs in general, through these blogs and discussions.

3) Tulim and playfulness – you know how delighted I am by play in discussions of all kinds. I had the pleasure of meeting another person who really prioritises play in her life and work, another volunteer in the Children’s Area at the Old Songs Folk festival. We had a blast… and skipping ahead to the end, I do love your weird sense of humour and wildly roaming imagination, as well as the others who share it – Andrew, Eric, Ua, Christopher (sometimes lol) et alia…

(((((((Ben))))))) I do love you so much! This is a wonderful discussion. Seems to have helped you  a lot but it’s also given me a lot.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

8 days later

Marmalade said

We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

There is another thing I wanted to mention in relationship to this.  As Intuition is the INFP’s main Extraverted function, this is their preferred way to relate to people.  Ne communicates in terms of abstractions, possibilities, creativity, and silliness.  These modes of expression can be used to communicate their Fi core, but they can also be used to hide and protect it.  For instance, I know that I sometimes use humor as a defense mechanism to ameliorate my cynicism or to distract myself from depression.  Also, Ne can be used to obsess over possibilities as a way of avoiding those inner experiences that can feel so certain.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

9 days later

Nicole said

as a defense mechanism, to hide and protect, to distract, to obsess over possibilities to avoid inner experiences, oh Ben, you have no idea how true these are of him. at times it becomes a barrier that feels insuperable.

one of the things i have found most difficult is his use of humour and distraction when i’m trying to talk seriously about something that is bothering me about the relationship or, sorry, the friendship 🙂 he keeps haring off here there and everywhere and i keep calling him back with a growing sense of frustration and alienation.

anyway, you’ve been able to observe quite a bit of his behaviour and our interaction in the pod. any further insights for the moment?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

11 days later

Marmalade said

I have only one further insight.  It seems he may be a very strong Introvert.  If that is the case, that could magnify how he uses Ne to protect his internal Fi experience.  A strong Introvert can have more going on inside than outside, and they might not be that trusting to open up completely or quickly.

I understand you’re finding it difficulty which leads to a sense of frustration and alienation.  Of course, that isn’t his intention.  Partly, an INFP uses Ne to test out the waters.  I’m sure he notices your emotional response, and in response he might be even less willing to open up or be serious.

Trust me, Ne being used as humor and distraction is better than some uses of it.  If an INFP becomes irritated and defensive, that Ne will point out every possible failing that they’ve ever noticed in the entire time they’ve known you.  Some INFPs use Fi to keep an internal tally going which can be quite detailed.  INFPs have good memories for interpersonal experience and they will dredge up what you did a year ago even if you’ve forgotten about it.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

12 days later

Nicole said

yes, i did realise that about his reaction to my reaction, so we are both backing off. This week we spoke very little, and now he’s away till Sunday night or Monday, I forget, visiting his brother’s new baby who was born on my birthday. Next week of course I will be out of town, back in town for a week, out of town again and then another week from then I will be in Scotland.

So my feeling is that we will chat briefly on and off and keep it relaxed. I am working hard right now not just with him but with everyone to enjoy the moment and if someone I want to talk to is not available, just enjoy something else. Good discipline for me.

Yikes about the internal tally. 😦 Good to know…