Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative

Subtitle: An Integration of Integral Views. This is Jennifer Gidley's book-length Ph.D. dissertation printed in toto in Integral Review 5, 2007. I've referenced it in the forum several times throughout the years so thought I'd give it a thread if anyone else wants to read and discuss it. She compares and tries to integrate the views of Wilber, Steiner and Gebser. Very instructive. I've enclosed a few previous comments and quotes from the forum below about this work. See this IPS thread for ongoing discussion.

"For Gebser, integral-aperspectival consciousness is not experienced through expanded
consciousness, more systematic conceptualizations, or greater quantities of perspectives. In his view, such approaches largely represent over-extended, rational characteristics. Rather, it involves an actual re-experiencing, re-embodying, and conscious re-integration of the living vitality of magic-interweaving, the imagination at the heart of mythic-feeling and the purposefulness of mental conceptual thinking, their presence raised to a higher resonance, in order for the integral transparency to shine through" (111).

Another connection occurring to me (as gift from my Muse) is that these image schemas, as well as Edwards' different lenses, taken singly can represent the various theoretical ideologies. We've already seen how a focus on the container schema can lead to an ideology of objectivist hierarchical complexity. And using Bonnie's talk above, how a focus on a cyclic image schema might lead to what Gebser called the mythic structure (or ideology). Gebser's integral-aperspectival (IA) structure though, at least according to Gidley (2007), is a means to allow for all previous structures to be as they are and co-exist together simultaneously. The IA is not another isolated structure that transcends and replaces previous structures, including the mental. In this sense it breaks with the pattern of progression in deficient rational. And we see exactly this type of coordination of the various image schemas in Lakoff, that each has its place, none are replaced. Same for Edwards' lenses. This produces a new kind of transparent, postmeta paradigm of multiplicty, in Deleuzes's terms, or IA in Gebser's. One that is relative according to Lakoff, but also constrained by the real.

Also see Gidley's Appendix A from her lengthy paper "The evolution of consciousness as a planetary imperative" in Integral Review 5, 2007. Therein she discussed Geber's concretion of time. She said (p. 176):

"Gebser’s nuanced concretion of time does not represent a linear developmental endpoint like that of the modernity project, nor is it endlessly recursive in non-directional cyclical space as in Eliade’s “myth of the eternal return” (Eliade, 1954/1989). Integral consciousness as understood by Gebser does not place mythic and modern constructions of time in opposition to each other, as both modern and traditional approaches tend to do. Alternatively, Gebser’s temporic concretion is an intensification of consciousness that enables re-integration of previous structures of consciousness—with their different time senses—honoring them all. It opens to new understanding through atemporal translucence whereby all times are present to the intensified consciousness in the same fully conscious moment."

Which reminds me of Balder's IL blog post that the future infinitive of TSK is "not as something that will 'eventually arrive' or as a space into which we will eventually move, but rather as the unfoundedness and indeterminacy of being that is always with us.... This indeterminacy finds expression in our knowledge, as an active not-knowing that allows for the new.  To engage the future infinitive is to embrace openness and the unknown in the midst of the familiar."

I appreciate how Balder uses the infinity sign here to represent this future infinitive which is present along each point in time, from past to the future right now. I also use this symbol to represent the relationship of states to stages in the WC lattice in a similar vein.

As for Torbert's triple-loop-de-loop: "I believe [it] echoes the perspective explored in TSK as the future infinitive...and clearly defines a post-reflective, integral mode of time-consciousness that should not be confused with the present-centered and exquisitely sensitive, but nevertheless still narrow prereflective temporality of the Pirah√£.

If interested we also have a thread on Torbert here. In particular, this post and several following discusses triple time loops. In this post Gidley criticizes the Lingam for not including the 3rd time loop, what she calls concretion after Gebser. And on p. 3 a discussion of how this missing piece plays into how the Lingam metaphysically formulates the Causal as distinct from the postmetaphysical withdrawn of Bryant or the khora of Derrida. And all of which determines how one formulates what an integral consciousness even means in the first place.

All of which reminds me of "someone" who said:

"But such progress does not move in a line from pure origin to guaranteed New Jerusalem. Its aim remains as Derrida insists, messianically yet to come, a to come that does not unfold as a predictable future outcome of present history. Progressive theopolitics might then entail an alternative temporality, the time of event–relations, in which our becoming together, now, makes possible but does not determine that which is to come tomorrow: a helical, fractal or rhizomatic kind of nonlinear progress."

"The postformal features I want to highlight include: complex thinking, paradoxical reasoning. [...] Complex thinking involves the ability to hold multiple perspectives in mind while at the same time being able to meta-reflect on those perspectives and the potential relationships among them. This is also referred to as metasystemic thinking. Paradoxical thinking is one of the expressions of complex postformal logic. [...] Postformal logics go beyond Aristotelian formal logic, which requires an either/or response thus creating what is called an 'excluded middle.' Paradoxical thinking refers to the ability to hold in mind the apparently illogical possibility that two contradictory statements can both be true—or indeed both false. This paradox of the included middle allows for both/and and neither/nor to be correct" (152-3) [my emphasis].

"Steiner also used the term integral in a way that foreshadowed Gebser’s use of the term. The latter claimed that the integral structure of consciousness involves concretion of previous structures of consciousness, whereby 'the various structures of consciousness that constitute him must have become transparent and conscious to him' (p. 99). Gebser used the term 'integral simultaneity' (p. 143) to express this. This echoes Steiner’s characterization of 'the stages on the way to higher powers of cognition ... [where one eventually reaches] a fundamental mood of soul determined by the simultaneous and integral experience of the foregoing stages'" (154).

I've changed some of my views on the above since that older posting but it is basically the same. What is replaced is the formal notion of ever more complexification. The integration of the 'lower' levels isn't integrating them as they were when we were within them. They too have been developing below awareness so then when we go 'back' to get them they have evolved in themselves. Another way of looking at it is that previous 'levels' become through their independent growth, and an aperpectival integrating awareness, all at the same level. Seeing them as higher/lower levels is another aspect that needs to be replaced. And the previously 'lower' levels are indeed replaced because in the integrative process they too are now up to speed, so to speak. This is the integral-aperspectival leap to 2nd tier. This twist in the program changes the entire dynamic of levels, lines, states etc.

Another slant or trajectory on this is this post in the OOO thread, how the different levels in a human being are different systems that have to communicate with each other via structural coupling.

"In Luhmann's theory the 'human being' is not conceptualised as forming a systemic unity. Instead it has to be understood as a conglomerate of organic and psychic systems. The former consists of biochemical elements, the latter of thoughts. Both systems are operatively closed against each other: no system can contribute elements to the respectively other system. The systems are however structurally coupled; i.e. their respective structures are adjusted to each other in such a way as to allow mutual irritations" (9-10).

Only with IA awareness we 'integrate' the various levels-systems not by subsuming them into the higher or unitary level but by the levels now structurally coupling with and communicating with each other. Our consciousness is now an hier(an)archical multiplicity with many often irritating voices.

In Chapter 6 of Goddard’s Transpersonal Theory he reiterates something I said in the Krishnamurti 2 thread about Gebser. Previous structures are not holonically subsumed into the next higher structure. The lower structures continue to develop laterally within the dominant higher structure. However successively higher structures up to the mental-ego are by nature “divisive” or exclusive into a higher-lower polarity whereby one pole is dominant, and higher tends to at least consciously (epistemologically) subsume the lower. Nonetheless ontologically the repressed (and previous) pole (structure) continues to develop but unconsciously and it is not until the so-called centaur structure (Geber’s IA) that we begin the return arc of integration of our formerly repressed structures. This conscious return then finds those previous structures having gone through their own developments unbeknownst to us so that they are not the immature magical and mythical worldviews they were on the upward arc of development. Add in the conscious ego’s recognition and integration of them and we get an IA structure that holds all of the structures as they are without contradiction.

Gebser notes we need "awaring" in this new level, which seems akin to Torbert's alchemist with his "attentional" approach. And like Torbert's shift from a cognitive/structural approach Gebser emphasizes a shift away from deficient rationality (aka false reason). And no amount of even healthy rationality (real reason) is going to effect this shift by itself, unless it uses the power of its focus via unattached "mindfulness" to integrate our bodies, energetics and emotions within it, as well as integrating this awaring with others and the world at large. Or as the marketing slogan goes: Integrating body, mind and spirit in self, culture and nature.

I referenced Levin in the Gebser thread but he has his own thread from our prior Gaia discussions at this link. I noted that Levin’s evolution of bodies is a linear progression in stages 1 -3 but then the progression turns “inward” into depth integration of prior stages. Stages 4 & 5 seems to be nonlinear and analogical, replete with access to the collective unconscious through ceremony, ritual and myth. My intuition is that stages 4 & 5 cannot be adequately represented by a linear, hierarchical math and that if it is possible at all (?) it would be through some form of nonlinear, rhizome-like math of ambiguity and uncertainty.

See Levin’s The Opening of Vision pp, 47-9.

Gidley talks about the difference between research that identifies postformal operations (PFO) from examples of those that enact PFO. And that much of the research identifying PFO has itself “been framed and presented from a formal, mental-rational mode” (109). Plus those enacting PFO don’t “necessarilty conceptualize it as such” (104), meaning the way those that identify it do, i.e., from a formal operational (FO) mode. Which is of course one of my key inquiries: Is the way PFO is identified through FO really just a FO worldview interpretation of what PFO might be? Especially since those enacting PFO disagree with the very premises of the FO worldview and its “formally” dressed PFO?

This is also part of the problem with a strictly mathematical model of hierarchical complexity based on set theory. Phenomenon, including human cognitive structures, do not fit nicely into one 'set' or category so that they can be completely included and subsumed into the next higher set or category. At best each phenomenon interacts with another more like a venn diagram, overlapping with some area in common, but other areas that are not included and subsumed in a higher synthesis. Which is why I wonder whether the formal study of postformal enactments in methods like the MHC is itself a formal or PF enactment. Or some venn combination between, sharing partial sets from both?

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