Thursday, February 12, 2015

On conveyor belts and developmental constraints

Continuing from the last post, I was re-reading some posts from the IPS thread on religion. Here is my blast from the past in that discussion.

I'm looking over the section of Integral Spirituality on the conveyor belt. A few points of relevance for this thread.

He notes that agnosticism and atheism via formop cognition are legitimate forms of orange spirituality (191). They just need to acknowledge the legitimacy of other levels of spirituality, both above and below it. Hence the need for the conveyor belt. I'd here disagree with the statement that seeing absolute reality in terms of finite matter and energy is a reduction, but that's an argument long rehashed in many other threads.

Amber religion though needs to open up to orange and above religion. So is that saying religion itself must go through an orange agnostic or atheist stage? Or are there other forms of theistic orange religion. I don't see that addressed here. While there are examples of orange and green religion they are apparently not openly discussed by religious hierarchies.

Nonetheless, a key point of the conveyor belt is that everyone goes through each stage starting from scratch and we must honor that everyone has the right to stop at whatever stage they want. Religion thus must allow for the entire spectrum from pre to post. And religion must provide an environment for those that want to go post to support that development.

However, he uses an analogy on 193. Modern medical education does not start with the mythic level in applying leaches or using phrenology in diagnosis, then moving on the antibiotics etc. But this is legitimate for religions? He understands that in other domains certain worldviews and correlative practices are outmoded, i.e, transcended and replaced. But not with religions for some inexplicable reason. (Recall the thread on transitional structures.) For the moment I'd add that some rational and post religious views like Caputo and Keller do not continue to contain pre-rational elements.

Now I can see that religion retains its amber level myths for children as they grow up, since it appropriate for their cognitive level. But should they be able to decided to not grow up any further? Remain as children in their religious beliefs? In any other modern standard that would be arrested development and dysfunction, not ok. Again, religion is given a pass here that in inapplicable to any other domain. I can see where stopping at the general level of the rest of society's domains, like orange to green. But stopping at amber not so much, since this is in fact where we get the sort of ethnocentrism that hinders rather than brings together humanity.

His suggestion that religions provide state training so that whatever level one chooses to stop will have some numinous experience. And interpret it from their ethnocentric level, just adding fuel to their myopic fire providing further justification that they have God on their side and the heathens must be damned to hell at best or killed in jihad at worst. And there is obviously no empirical evidence to the Lingam's claim that having such state experiences accelerates one's stage development, given he provided ample examples elsewhere in the book, even of the Dalai Lama, still having some rather disturbing ethnocentric beliefs.

On 198-9 he does give a list of come representatives of orange and green religious views. He also notes that it is urgent to move religious practitioners from amber to orange, from ethnocentric to worldcentric, which is religion's job. He admits that religion needs to grow up. Agreed. And as I said, it can retain its amber expressions for children. But it also needs to make the kids grow up too, and let go of the amber religions expressions at the appropriate stage, not allow them to remain as children in the religious line because they decide to stop there.
Then there's the issue of who does the developmental profiling, and with what system? Just take the example of the model of hierarchical complexity, the system most used by the kennilinguists. Let's look at how they've fared so far in judging people's level of complexity. There are many within their own ranks that have challenged its rampant capitalistic orientation, let alone reducing everyone who is not a kennilnguist to some lower level. Even the very nature of how the MHC formulates a higher level with Hegelian dialectic has been challenged by many in the movement, like Cook-Greuter, Torbert, Laske, Kallio and many more.

If they were in charge of profiling who qualifies for public office we'd be stuck in the capitalist paradigm and prevent the already emerging Commons. Granted it'd be a kinder, gentler capitalism, but given its inherent and apparently unacknowledged metaphysical components, it fails to even recognize the nature and scope of the emerging Commons. They would prevent its emergence by profiling out anyone who would promote such a Commons. I base this on how the kennilinguists have virtually ignored it to date, or if acknowledged reduce it to some kind of green meme that can be both spiritually and economically by-passed.

I am however encouraged that the integral movement as a whole is moving beyond kennilingus. The most recent ITC included both Bhaskar and Morin, who are expanding what integral means in directions I'm more comfortable with. We here at the forum have preceded that inclusion by years, and no doubt influenced that transition, most likely through Balder, who has his foot in both worlds.
 Btw, this is not a refutation of hierarchy per se, since mereology is accepted. It's just in how a mereology is formulated, which can be done without the sort of Hegelian dialectic mentioned.

I was re-reading some posts on Laske, like this one and following when he responds to Michael Commons. A few excerpts:

"And while conceptual clarifications can help, if all the theory does is to 'pin down' a person 'at' at stage or 'between' stages (as most stage theories do), then we have already lost the dialectics that is relevant here."

"This is also demonstrated by logical ('closed system') thinking being overcome, eventually, by 'post-'formal thinking or dialectical thinking (you say 'metasystematic' which is close but not the same as dialectical, in my view). I call this property of systems to be pervaded by absences their negativity (to speak with Bhaskar), and this absence will eventually catch up with systems (including theories) – as it does with the real world, too -- and make it break down or be seen more clearly as limited (which is the same thing, one ontological, the other epistemological)."

"I am also concerned with effects of systems on human agents because systems are typically used to classify, constrain, and subdue individuals, often with the pretension of 'helping' them (as in 'developmental coaching')."

"Now, when you look into this non-identical further, you come upon exactly those ABSENCES I spoke about above, gaps that changed thinking or real change will fill – there would be no change without absences pervading reality. This then leads to the distinction Bhaskar makes between 'reality' and 'actuality' where all that the sciences deal with is actuality but never reality which is a deeper concept."

"So, I guess I am looking for a developmental science – not just of humans – that can cope with Absences and is dialectical enough not to mistake actuality (which is transitory) for reality (which is violently transitory)."

In another thread I also brought up Otto Laske’s article in the Aug/Nov ’13 issue of ILR. It is pertinent here as well, given that it supports and espouses a developmental framework. But it also cautions about its uses and misuses, something to which we must be attentive, especially when such frameworks unconsciously maintain the very sort of societal obstructions which they claim to overcome.

Therein Laske differentiates between culture and civilization. The 'soul' resides in the former whereas the latter is our everyday work life. In that sense it is akin to this thread, in that religion is the structuring force of a culture at large in its many domains. What has happened with developmental tech is that it has become a tool of its socio-historical capitalist civilization, in that its culture of the higher reaches of human potential (soul) has been instrumentalized to function as more efficient and productive workers within that context. Hence we get these spiritual evolutionaries running around thinking they're at the peak of human development, marketing and selling their wares at exorbitant rates, and sending their clients back into the same capitalist work world as if they can magically change it from within while not addressing the capitalist meme itself. And meanwhile continuing to consume everything at unsustainable rates thereby maintaining that status quo. Laske sees this as an unconscious bias of developmentalists that all the work is internal and individual, overlooking the external and social policies also necessary.

Hence our soul has become a commodity, and ultimately the work of develomentalists is about our soul. So what does that look like when removed from the instrumentalized capitalist framework? How do we move this cultural (religious) force to the next phase of civilization, one more conducive to a soul (spiritual) development? And how do we enact this within the context of our coaching and counseling, when we have to balance what the client wants when their desires are to maintain and support a dying capitalist system and all its inherent dysfunctions and injustices? Do we not have a responsibility to elevate their soul so that their desires move beyond that system to one more equitable and just? These are questions I've been exploring all along in this movement, even before “Giving guns to children.”

So while I support this sort of project, I also understand Laske's concerns as to being careful to watch out for the pitfalls that have already led the movement astray. Which of course we must take into account as we push past the 'first veil,' as LP called it. Laske still believes in this developmental project, including profiling, despite the misapplications. As do I. We just need to continually refine the process as we go along with constant feedback, realizing this discipline is in its infancy. We must acknowledge that this is 'soul' work, and that may require of us to also enact the sort of civilization that can accommodate such a focus. And in that sense Rifkin, the Commons and ecological consciousness are a key part of our spiritual and religious journey and responsibility.

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