Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reading Andy Smith's Book

World Within Worlds: The Holarchy of Life.

A chapter a day. Only through Ch. 3 (of 13).

I'm finding reading his book, his argument is finally making sense to me. I had tried on a number of occasions to read his pieces at Integralworld but I could never quite grasp what he was up to with them. I always knew the guy was very bright.

One question early on for me, maybe the book will answer it, is that given his disagreement with Wilber over 4 quadrants/8 perspectives/1-2-3 person pov, I wonder what his system offers in the way of praxis. One reason I am drawn to AQAL is its ability to make me more aware of life unfolding around me.

What is the praxis in one-scale model of holarchy?


At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, CJ:

I was very surprised to be browsing your blog—something which I have followed a lot in the past, but not at all for the past several months—and find that you’re looking over my book Worlds within Worlds. Given your obviously very wide range of interests, I’m pleasantly surprised you have time for it. Much of it has been superseded/modified/elaborated, whatever, in articles at Visser’s site in the past several years, but the basic notion of one-scale remains.

As for praxis, by which I take it you mean, what practical value, specifically, how can it be applied to world events? I would reply first, that I don’t think the AQAL model is very helpful itself in that regard. Certainly Wilber’s occasional discussions of political issues, such as the Iraq war, have been heavily criticized by people who may accept much of his theory. And it isn’t just Ken’s problem. I recall that when the Open Integral site opened last year (a forum, as you may know, that was started in response to Ken’s infamous Wyatt Earp episodes), one of the founding members presented a discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict that was so bitterly opposed by another founder that the latter felt it shouldn’t have even been posted. This, and other experiences with people who call themselves integral, has made me seriously doubt that any over-arching paradigm has much to offer in the way of specific guidance on political issues. Social issues, yes, cultural issues, environmental issues, health issues, yes, and to the extent that these interact with political issues an integral view may have something to say. But questions that are largely political, of the kind I enjoy following your blog to get insights into, I have yet to see AQAL having an impact on. Is there a fairly coherent AQAL position on the Iraq War, on relations with Iran, Russia or Korea, on immigration into the U.S., on crime, and so on? I really don’t think so. An all-encompassing paradigm may provide new insights into these issues that people pondering them may want to take into account, but final judgments on these matters, it seems to me, hinge on deeper considerations that can be recognized but not endorsed by the paradigm.

The second point I want to make is that most any of the increasingly fine details that Wilber has added to the AQAL model in recent years—and which has made his model so appealing to people in the social sciences--can be unpacked just as well from the one-scale model. Many of my most recent articles at Visser’s site have been devoted to pointing this out. For example, Wilber’s Integral Methodological Pluralism, or eight perspectives of knowledge, to the extent that I accept it (and I have published several strong criticisms of it) can be understood in the one-scale model not as outer/inner divisions within quadrants, but rather as interactions between individuals or social groups at different levels or stages within levels. I prefer this way of understanding these perspectives because it a) sheds some light on the dynamic processes that give rise to these perspectives; b) offers predictions on how many other types of perspectives might be possible, not only for our own species, but for other forms of life; and c) demonstrates many redundancies in Wilber’s model. With respect to that last point, a major theme running through almost all of the articles I last published at this site has been that many of the distinctions that Wilber draws between processes—such as evolution/involution, agency/communion, growth/integration, individual/social, transcendence/immanence, the list goes on and on--all amount to the same thing, if one simply understands that one process is being viewed from different perspectives within the holarchy.

So my short answer to your question about praxis is that I think the one-scale model addresses it at least as well as the AQAL model, which is to say, not nearly as well as I think you and many others would like to see a paradigm provide.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...


Thanks for the response. I really am digging your book.

I was not thinking about politics per se.

I meant something more like the following. When I was reading Wilber's excerpts to Vol. 2 I actually had experiences were I began to sense "perspectives". This might sound quite flaky but I'll risk it.

Parts of my mind opened up and thoughts emerged and a focused attention emerged that was not there previously.

I would think that might just be my own project expect that I have discussed a very similar set of experiences with others. Of course we could all be mass hallucinating I suppose, but absent that my predilection (if that is the right term) for Wilber's writings stems from those moments. That's my proof of its efficacy for me if you will.

With something like 3-2-1, going from 3rd person points of view, to 2nd (dialogue), to embrace- identification (1st) is an example of what I am discussing.

So your answer about the single model incorporating (as you see it) the same elements with greater simplicity was helpful for me. And as I continue along with the piece I'll keep your words in mind.

So I don't think it is expecting too much from the paradigm as you suggested. Interior praxis is what I'm pointing towards. Philosophy as a way of life.

The other elements of praxis (like foreign policy say) I do think have to be gotten from elsewhere but if the two threads are linked I think both become even stronger and emergent qualities can surface as a result.




Post a Comment

<< Home