Monday, June 12, 2017

Prior discussions on developmental theories

It's flashback Monday. Back in '09 I started a thread at the Yahoo Adult Development forum by asking these questions:

"Just curious, has anyone done hierarchical complexity testing on the AQAL model itself to validate its self-proclaimed status as a cross-paradigmatic model? If so, where does one find such research?"

There were 102 responses. The 1st came from Commons and he said: "It is not even paradigmatic. It is a comparison of systems, metasystematic, but not too carefully done."

You'll have to keep expanding the messages with the arrows to see them all.

Otto Laske said in the 3rd message: "I am glad somebody finally takes on AQUAL, the presumed peak of human thought. It is indeed not even paradigmatic, not to speak of meta-systemic or dialectical. It is also divorced from philosophical tradition trying hard to establish its own."

Granted the discussion veers from AQAL to a more general discussion of the differences in developmental modeling. But it's of historical interest due to many of the main players in the field dialoging with each other.

Also see this '09 Yahoo Adult Development Forum thread on states and stages. One has to expand the messages with the arrows to see them all. My post in message 34 follows:

Herb Koplowitz wrote: "I would now say that the states that spiritual practices bring one to are pre-linguistic, not post-linguistic."

I'd have to agree, with a twist. In my research meditative states tend to move from beta to alpha to theta to delta brain rhythms, and correspondingly from frontal to temporal to limbic to brainstem brain areas. All of which strongly suggest that meditative training is going backward in development, not forward. However there is one important difference than just a backward trajectory; it is not simply a return to the primordial.

Transpersonal psychologist Michael Washburn suggests that in the process of development we temporarily repress from conscious awareness lower stages in order to develop a functional egoic-rationality, which leads to the typical either/or dichotomous thinking. This is not a "fall" from grace or "heaven" but a necessary step of our journey and of course led to the amazing discoveries of science. David Michael Levin seems to be in much agreement about this.

But we can take another step through meditation, one that looks back and now integrates what was necessarily and temporarily repressed from our former development. And in fact meditation requires an ego in the first place to dispassionately observe our bodies, emotions, thoughts. And according to Mark Epstein this abstract ego turns out to be the infamous Witness of meditation. Hence the process is one of return to and integration of the pre-linguistic, but also thereby a sort of movement into the "trans"linguistic only in the sense that it's not just the realm of the linguistic and rational ego.

I'll agree with Wilber that the stage of consciousness will interpret such "state" experiences in different ways. From the typical mythic-rational perspective such experiences indeed seem like something mystical and supernatural, like "enlightenment." (I say mythic-rational because in that transitional phase, when we've obviously developed a rational ego necessary for "witnessing," culturally one is still embedded in mythic interpretative structures.) From a more purely formal rational perspective perhaps we can rationalize such experience down to nothing but lower-brain fireworks. I think it takes at least a metasystemic perspective, combined with a meditative discipline, to integrate our lower state-stages, and such integration is what we might term "spiritual" in that it tends to lead more toward our humanity.

On the other hand one can certainly continue ever onward in cognitive complexity into systemic and beyond without ever reconnecting with and integrating our prior state-stage heritage, at least consciously. We can continue the primal repression into the far reaches of complexity much like the Mr. Spock archetype from Star Trek, but we'll always need Captain Kirk to steer our ship back into the humanity of integration.

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