Friday, September 01, 2006

Further Response to Matthew


Sorry I got a little torqued up on the last one.

You said you wanted to me to respond to elements in the first comment; I'm not sure which ones really, so I'll just try a wide angle approach and hope it covers the bases.

First off, I know I don't make this very clear on the blog, so let me do so. This so-called integral view is just a piece of my life. I only verbally and consciously discuss the issue with 2 friends on earth.

I never brought up Wilber when I was Fordham. I would just go to class, take off my filters as best as possible, and try to learn from those who focused on certain thinkers. I would then go back later and try to see how that view did or did not accord with what Wilber was saying, see if there was any further learning from comparing the two.

I don't suggest learning colors as a cure to people's existential life journeys.

I have a prayer-devotional life I don't discuss here. I have my relationship with my sweetie--we don't have a how should we have a 2nd-tier relationship discussion.

Actually I'm more interested in service. The only reason I think I ever came to any of this intellectual meanderings is because I came to places where I felt what I was offering, in terms of service, could be helpful (don't like "effective" as much but same idea I guess) and I found they weren't dismissed on the level of the ideas, but rather just out some other agendas, for all I knew. I didn't have a clue as to why or what those other reasons might be.

And the notion of development and worldspaces seemed best to explain that scenario.

In fact the only reason those ideas pretty well dominate this blog is because I don't really have another outlet. For my own reflection. When I'm with the 2 friends in question, we spend our time, if actually on this general frame, trying to experientially locate those integral concepts--otherwise it's an ideology.

To me this tet-a-tet between us can be summarized as something like: I think stages are "real" (or a liberating concept)--so long as we remember to actual interiorly feel/intuit the descriptors---you do not.

All the other sub-disagreements to me are just different versions of that dynamic. I imagine you might consider it differently.

That being the case, given that there is that primary a disagreement on such central issues, and given neither of us is changing his basic frame anytime soon, I still have to wonder, why go through that song and dance? Mixaphorically we've beaten that poor horse enough.

That aside, you can (and do) dismiss entire thinkers out of hand. It gives a simplicity and a force I would say to your thought, but truth be told, that view does not accord with my lived experience. I wouldn't be true to who I am as a person, a thinker.

And stages/levels whatever are not the absolute essence of the analysis provided, but certainly a core element. Sometimes even the core-est element. But to me the question around structures-developmentalism, is more a question of the sound-ness of the methodology and does it in fact deliver--at least on core claims?

You've denied the validity of that line of inquiry. So it's Schopenhauer versus Hegel. For me a it's both and thing.

And yes what I was saying, particularly in the most recent posts was narrow. I'd say focused. Whatever. I don't see that as a problem. I don't think I declared it to be the final truth to all beings. Your line of argument around first living, studying, interacting instead of trying to conquer, to me that was a non-starter. I agree that's not a good policy. Just because for the purposes of the line of thought, I shield out other concerns doesn't I feel mean I'm discounting them. I know that's a danger, and certainly I've made that mistake. But I thought your flow there was more like a rant or jeremiad. I just don't think it was applicable in this case. Just didn't see the relevance in terms of what I was trying to articulate. I did warn the reader that this was an experiment, just a sorta nerdy gag.

Like you said, art to me is more primal, experimental and certainly artists have been way ahead of others in certain insights. At least as a lived reality, if not necessarily as a fully formed mental articulation of what the process involves---which I'm sure would abort said process anyway.

When I talk about insights of certain thinkers, I mean in the specific context of philosophy. To me it is necessary at some point for humans to create spme language and mental framework/interpretation around otherwise more incohate recognitions. I think philosoophical categories matter insofar as they guide, consciously or otherwise, things like political institutions. In the realm of ideas which matters for life pursuits but not ultimately.

Like when you took umbrage with what I said about perennialism. I meant what was the paradigm in creating the spiritual philosophies/systems out of their experience? How did Plotinus decide on the Enneads? I'm not saying in terms of experience or the meaning in their lives, all they said to do was meditate. I mean what process do you think Plotinus thought through to come to the Enneads? To me, that process isn't transparent---not the experience the system. To me then that lack of mental transparency can be called metaphysics. Or just pure speculation.

While integral (or my int. of it) is often accused of being abstract, I think for me, at its best, it is an antidote to abstraction. I got into a debate with Ray Harris awhile ago on Christianity. I brought up James Fowler's Stages of Faith Development, which he said was interesting but that Fowler (and myeslf) never defined "faith."

Which to me was precisely the point. I'm more interested in how some concept like "faith" actually manifests in people's lives. Rather than heading to the Oxofrd Dictionary, having it define the issue for me (which to me is privileging just a version/definition/a take on say faith) and then just decide based on those criteria whether I or others are faithful.

And more to the point, back to the methodology question, it's not just how these emerge in life, but whether if we take a longer distance view patterns might emerge and whether there is a perceivable trajectory, however incohate, to faith's emergence.

Of course if I just live in that observer position, then I can become distended from people, their concerns, their needs, their loveliness. It happens. I sin. I work to correct the problem.

But when done properly, that observer view allows for me a greater acceptance, sincere--or at least approaching sincere--connection. Bc all of these stages reconstructions are just probabilities of helping me connect, commune. They are nowhere to be found, they aren't out there, they only ex-ist in our minds, which means for me they only matter if we take the next step of using the mind as an aid.

So what are for me such rigid "no"s as you've declared on liberalism, Wilberianism, French post-structuralism, whatever. To me, I just don't feel that. It just doesn't resonate with me. I think if I've ever criticized a view of yours I honestly try to just say that there is more to the story. I don't try to convince you to not think what you are already thinking. If I have done that, then apologies.

For me the everyone is true but partial argument means something more like no one is ever really entirely right, everyone is just degrees of wrong. Some more, some less. Done correctly, I find it makes me humble. Done incorrectly it's a wedge.

I actually think (and experience) people living in different worlds. In the broadest sense, that the exterior world, interior drives, modes of cohesion, manner of validating claims, definitionsof right/wrong actually look and feel different.

And that that worldscape is your/my/our "subject". Subject to that point of view, in all its glorys and foibles. To just argue from one, not realizing its role, to others, to me, goes nowhere, or worst case goes somewhere violent.

It's my opinion, from my own experience, that if more humans took that idea into account, actually sat with the argument, tested its hypotheses, and followed its recommendations, we would together have to seriously reconsider how we operate, how we shape basic guiding institutions in society. We would have to redefine and recalibrate core concepts and procedures. Not reducing everything to these stages but always involving them.

If other people don't see that, doesn't link up with where they are, that's cool. Find what you are looking for from someone else. I'd just like some space to explore my screwy thought processes--I got tweaked I imagine more than anything else bc I felt like you crossed some line around that. Again, sorry if I responded immaturely.

In sum, Integral for me is just a perspective that opens up other perspectives. It's a means not and end. A relative not Absolute set of ideas. And even relatively it's only a piece of the pie. If you don't like the taste....

peace. chris


At 12:07 AM, Blogger timbomb said...

Ahh, Chris. But there's only One Taste... what's not to like?


See I might not be deep, but I can pun !

At 10:06 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

Well done brother. I stand corrected.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger MD said...

To me this tet-a-tet between us can be summarized as something like: I think stages are "real" (or a liberating concept)--so long as we remember to actual interiorly feel/intuit the descriptors---you do not.

All the other sub-disagreements to me are just different versions of that dynamic. I imagine you might consider it differently.

Um, yeah. More like, you were talking about a lot of things (such as what integral hangs on, etc. from the first post I commented on), and I critiqued those, by which I mean I asked questions about them and expressed disagreement, only to have it revealed that all you meant to talk about was talking up a Teillhard practice. Then you tried to stand up for Derrida and in the process made some strange claims about Paglia, as well as the value of the Humanities, to which I objected (snarkily, as I acknowledged).

So yeah, bewildered would begin to describe how you could extropolate that this is a discussion of the validity of stages. Did I even mention that term? And just to head you off at the pass, I think there is plenty of limited merit to the whole notion of "stage conceptions" but I tend to take the second word more seriously than the first, and find that, generally speaking, the conception can easily be removed from one's argument to reveal the essentially same argument, if worded correctly and appropriately. Part of what I feel is needed in the world is "-ism"-free thinking, and so Wilberian and the rest become stuff to transcend with real thinking and scholarship.

And since having to explain what "stages" and the rest might mean gets beyond tedious, I've long sought to move beyond this constricting language and entire Wilberian approach to thought about whatever, including art, and write in everyday language that everyday people would understand, or stir or, ehem, "goose" people if they disagree to find out why, which begets investigation on their part and so we all win.

That you continually seem to get wrong or miss what I'm saying throws me for a loop, but I think it can be traced to the apparent Derridian attempt to find something deep which either isn't there or is elementary. That is just a guess but it is a pretty standard Derridian move, and you like his work, so...

In any event, I actually enjoy this exchange, and hope we can continue. In truth, there aren't many real exchanges going on in integral land (again, which I differentiate from Wilberland) and I think it is good that we disagree more than we agree. I was a bit uncollegial on the second comment (re: pre-critical, etc), so I'm sorry for that. But I still think it is a boneheaded statement by you.

Of course, I make boneheaded statements all the time, along with everyone else. i would hope that we'd all appreciate when others point this out, because it becomes an opportunity to reevaluate the statement in question and discard what is silly and, if there is an actual truth beneath the boneheadedness, to find it and express it.

I also encourage you to find ways to talk integral with more than 2 people. That I experienced that same paralysis is another reason why I discarded the Wilberian project as impractical and hopeless. And when I did, I found that what I was trying to say was actually being said through the ages in a lineage I have found, which further rendered the Wilberian stuff a useless passing fad, ala French and Frankfurt blah blah. The Humanities, which includes fine art and philosophy, as you know, has no place for fads of the W.F.F. kind.

Anyway, all this is a warm up to my actual response to you, which I hope to get up on my blog this afternoon. I'll end this here:

In sum, Integral for me is just a perspective that opens up other perspectives

That you find it a perspective and I a living tradition that goes back to ancient Greek and Roman thought probably says a lot about our differences, in some way or another.



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