Friday, April 28, 2006

Mystics agree, scholars disagree?

Read this in John Horgan's informative and entertaining "Rational Mysticism":

"This upsurge in scientific and scholarly interest has not brought about consensus on mystical matters. Quite the contrary. Scholars disagree about the causes of mystical experiences, the best means of inducing them, their relation to mental illness and morality, and their metaphysical significance. Some experts maintain that psychology and even physics must be completely revamped to account for mysticism's supernatural implications. Others believe that mainstream, materialistic science is quite adequate to explain mystical phenomena. Similarly, scholars disagree about whether mystical visions affirm or undermine conventional religious faith."

Let this sink in: "not brought consensus on mystical matters. Quite the contrary."

What would the integral response be to this situation. Everyone is (partially) right?

On the one hand we have this inconclusive state of affairs in scholarship. On the other hand we have the integral view of four basic stages of mystical development c.q. states of consciousness, which basically hasn't changed over the past quarter of a century.

How and where do these views connect? Has the integral view become a religious faith in its own right now, which has to be defended and promoted, even marketed?

Or is it a view which potentially could stir up the field of mystical scholarship? But then, it has to open itself to the opinions of other scholars, even as to its own validity.

12 Comments:

Blogger WH said...

Frank,

Nice to see you blogging, by the way.

I would think that part of the problem is that there are four different levels as identified by integral theory. Having done some reading on this topic way back, my guess is that different studies have been aimed at different levels of experience, which results in different outcomes because, well, each level is different in its experiential qualities and its objective qualities (brainwaves, and so on).

If the research used an integral model and focused on, say, the causal state, designing different approaches to looking at one state within defined parameters, there might be better results.

Or not.

Peace,
Bill

12:47 PM  
Blogger ~C4Chaos said...

IMIO (in my idiotic opinion), this "non consensus" is not a big deal. heck, even mystics don't have a freakin' consensus on their experiences, so why do we expect the (non-practicing) scientitic domain to have a consensus on this?

yes, everyone is partially right! do you have a problem with that statement? integral or otherwise?

do we have to have consensus on everything? check out Wisdom of the Crowds. independence, diversity, decentralization of opinions are not only healthy but actually got more intelligence and wisdom. and this is NOT a GREEN statement.

consensus is cool but not to the point of trying to explain everything in a rational way, especially mysticism. for mysticism is trans-rational and attempting to explain it in rational terms will deem to be very, very, very partial.

personally, i think before trying to get a consensus on on mysticism, try getting a consensus first on the hard problem of consciousness. then once there's consensus there then ONLY then we can even attempt to approach mysticism in a non-scientific (trans)rational way.

rational mysticism is a freakin' oxymoron.

i say, hold the contradictions and differing point of views and accept them for what they are. i'm sure a lot of people here would agree that that's what Integral Theory does: a map for our sanity. the rest are just details.

and don't get me started on the absolute.

my two cents.

~C4無秩序

3:03 PM  
Anonymous M Alan Kazlev said...

Hi Frank and everyone

C4Chaos hit the nail on the head when he said

mysticism is trans-rational and attempting to explain it in rational terms will deem to be very, very, very partial.

And there you have the reason why scholars, intellectuals, and scientists, all woking on the mental and rational level, are completely unable to understand or agree about something that is beyond their own sphere of functioning.

I will be addressing this subject in my own book Towards an Integral Metaphysic where I speak about the need to go beyond the "Physical Mind" (the sceptical-materialistic "flatland" mentality that denies supra-physical realities) and the "Mental Fortress" (the elaborate intellectual edifice we build to protect ourself from the world by providing a sense of stability; instead of seeing reality, we only see our mental reflection of it)

As long as intellectuals, philosophers and scholars can only see reflected back at them their own explanation of what the world is, and what mysticism is, as long as they remain stuck in their own internalised paradigm(s), they will not be able to understand mystical, supra-rational, and supra-physical realities.

And by the way, one book I would like to recommend on this sucbject is Jorge Ferrer's Revisioning Transpersonal Theory. This is not a perfect book, as Ferrer has his own bias (a sort of spiritual postmodernist approach), but it still remains a very powerful critique of rationalist empirical attempts to understand transpersonal (mystical) states in Transpersonal Psychology, of Perennialism, and of Wilberism. It certainly changed my way appraisal of these subjects in a very big way!

4:10 PM  
Anonymous deepsurface said...

Hi Frank,

How and where do these views connect? Has the integral view become a religious faith in its own right now, which has to be defended and promoted, even marketed?

Or is it a view which potentially could stir up the field of mystical scholarship?


In one sense, it has become a kind of faith. If a person believes that the universe is the largest of holons, some form of Integral Theory is unavoidable IMIO (to quote c4). The faith is in this basic idea. It can be defended, promoted and marketed, but that doesn't rule out scholarship. These things are not mutually exclusive.

But then, it has to open itself to the opinions of other scholars, even as to its own validity.

I believe this is happening. Once the interest of more competent scholars is stoked, there should be more high level debate. Right now, especially with the critics you promote, the criticism appears to come from folks who don't 'believe' in any Integral Theory.

Finding small holes in Ken's theory doesn't do much to prove critic's pluralistic points of view - or disprove the validity of a general Integral Theory.

Thanks for the discussion.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Michael D said...

"How and where do these views connect? Has the integral view become a religious faith in its own right now, which has to be defended and promoted, even marketed?"

There's a really good discussion at the IN forum on this:

The Integral Church of AQAL: A New Religion?

11:57 PM  
Blogger urbanoideiluminado said...

Hello,

Access my blog and read the post about Ken Wilber.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no

12:48 PM  
Blogger El_amp said...

I think most critics critics attack Wilber as if he is trying to build an impenetrable fortress of facts, when what he's really trying to do is build a vast framework FOR facts. Wilber doesn't seem to care if the facts change, only that the theoretical framework generally holds together. A majority of experts once agreed that the world was flat, and that it was the center of the universe. All we really can do is stay as open and flexible as possible. The righteous indignation I hear from most critics, seems to me much more "religious" or dogmatic than Wilber ever sounds.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Dan Noble said...

Frank,

Interesting question. But it falls into the "first tier" assumption of the "law" of the "excluded middle." Namely, that a thing can be either green or not green, but not both at the same time. This is so "yesterday," Frank.

The "new" post-metaphysics, which is the BASIS of the integral approach as I'm understanding it, is "trans-first tier", trans-personal, trans-rational. That is, as KW has put it perspective is primary to perception. So from this "second-tier" perspective, a "thing" (whatever that is!!) can be both green (say from your perspective) AND not green (say from my perspective if I'm color blind). But what the "thing" is in itself.... well, who knows... or better yet, ask it!!

First tier rational scientism, is already pre-imbedded in the notion that there is something called a "real" perception... oppps... part of the mystical awakening is the REALIZATION that ALL knowledge is illusion, precisely because "either/or" thinking, and discourse, is an illusion... albeit a conveniance... and if we all agree, we create a concensus reality (aka "social constructions")... Wilber covers this succinctly in Integral Spirituality.

Also, recently, it's dawned on me that from any "place" or "position" that I observe the world (i.e. from any context), I can observe "parts" (i.e. reductionistically... science that seeks... endlessly... the ultimate "part" or atom... guess what, there isn't one!!) or "wholes" (i.e. holistically or integrally, until you "comprehend" the ultimate "whole"... but guess what... there isn't one!!... dang!). Recall, or see for yourself (the mystical experience)... it's holons all the way up and down... there ARE NOT WHOLES or PARTS, ever, by themselves! (also as KW has also pointed out many times).

So, depending on which way I look (my perspective) will generate a unique "knowledge base"... a perspective of knowing. One that is uniquely my story, my perspective and, via memory, a history of my perspective (i.e. "my story"). If I practice one orientation of looking (e.g. mainly at parts) and, just by using that perspertive, I am practicing a "reductionist," perspective, i.e. "modern" scientific orientation on "things".

Alternatively, if I stick with comprehending, or apprehending ever larger wholes it will become ever more "holistic" or dare I say "mystic". Especially, if I include my own, personal, experience in part of the larger holon BOTH left and right quadants of AQAL). But actually, I'm just "standing" here ... right now! And the infinite NOW is all their is ... except memory (mind, my/our mental chatter) which we share and co-construct based on our maps of concensus. Which, of course, takes me right out of the Now, into my "head", into mental/social constructions... not the Infinite, Immortal, Now.

And my mental ego LOVES to play in the jungle gym of science, or AQAL, or literature, etc. ... like a pig in poop.

So part of the "di-lemma," inherent in your question, (your great ongoing inquiry that is this web site!!), seems to arise from what I've started calling "hard dualism" (either/or logic) vs. "soft" dualism (both/and logic). I'm seeing that soft dualism, or "paradoxical logic"... that a thing CAN be both green and not green at the same time, depending on your perseptive... depending on the context of the "perceiver/knower." I feel this is emblematic of early second tier occasions.

Of course in the "non-dual" state (perspective)... the question is utterly dissolved in the felt resolution of this very moment of Being FULLY in the Now.

In Love,
Dan

3:38 PM  
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5:13 PM  
Anonymous mu said...

well said dan.
you are...
as they say
"the man".


Frank, "How and where do these views connect?"

They don't.
They co-exist.
They contradict.
So what?

Scholarship won't bring consensus while it remains in the rational realm, it just isn't tooled up to cope.

Samsara and nirvana seem to contradict each other. Except in the mind of a Buddha and the experience of the union of the two truths.

Maybe it will be resolved with trans-rational scholarship? Maybe.

Just don't ask me.

I'm still struggling with being kind to my mom.

Plus we won't understand their explanations if we're not at 2nd tier.

It's kinda bomb-proof.

Some people fear that.


Have faith.

Let go.




Mu

-a wannbe Both/And-ist

5:20 PM  
Anonymous annie said...

Wow, Visser, this post just shows all the ways you have not done your homework. Criticism rocks, especially if it helps us re-think the way we see the world, but you should do your homework.

You cite John Horgan (a quote that show our current fragmentation). It is your interpretation of the quote that shows your glaring misunderstanding. You write, “On the one hand we have this inconclusive state of affairs in scholarship. On the other hand we have the integral view of four basic stages of mystical development … which basically hasn't changed over the past quarter of a century.”

First of all, Integral theory should not be pitted against the seemingly inconclusive state of affairs in scholarship; it is scholarship, a post-disciplinary scholarship. They are not two things.

Second, this is not how Integral would intepret Horgan’s statement. Integral theory would not just analyze this quote from the perspective of what you call stages of development (those mystical stages you quoted, they are actually state-stages (or trained states), not stages of development, see the Wilber-Combs Matrix for the correct terms and clarifications). And regardless of whether they are states or stages, do you realize that is only one element of the AQAL matrix? Have you heard of the five elements? Have you heard of quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types? How about Integral Methodological Pluralism, have you read about it?

Let’s unpack Horgan’s quote from a truly integral perspective, shall we? “… Scholars disagree about the causes of mystical experiences the best means of inducing them.” Integral Theory does not spend a good deal of time commenting on the cause of mystical experience, other than the fact that everything is an all-quadrant affair, and manifestation arises from emptiness or God Head (I could be incorrect in asserting this). Integral Theory suggests that there are many ways to induce altered states of consciousness, and all of them have something to offer. There is no one way to induce a state.

“…their relation to mental illness and morality, and their metaphysical significance.” In fact, Integral Psychology has said a good deal about the relationship between mentall illness (and mental wellness) and states of consciousness. Have you seen the Wilber-Combs matrix? It asserts that mystical states (and many others) are available to any level of development at any time. However, your level of development will determine how you interpret these states. A schizophrenic will interpret a mystical state radically different than you would. Visser, this is Integral 101. How can you be missing this?

“Others believe that mainstream, materialistic science is quite adequate to explain mystical phenomena.” This quote is not just a reflection of the researcher’s level of development! An Integral analysis would include the level of development of the researcher (or their best guess), the quadrant through which the researcher was peering (my best guess here would be 3rd person singular or plural, also known as the Upper-Right or Lower-Right quadrant), and the methodologies that the researcher uses. AQAL is, after all, a participatory model, something you just don’t seem to convey (or perhaps get) in your blog.

“Similarly, scholars disagree about whether mystical visions affirm or undermine conventional religious faith.” My response to this is, which perhaps is decidedly NOT integral, who cares?

Last, but not least, “How and where do these views connect? Has the integral view become a religious faith in its own right now, which has to be defended and promoted, even marketed?” This is the section in your blog where you make the largest leap in logic. What does this statement have to do with mystical experiences, the Integral model, or seemingly inconclusive scholarship? Absolutely nothing. But while we are on the topic, what is your fear of the institutionalization of a more comprehesive map of reality? Is an institution bad? Is religious faith bad (are you really that first-tier)? Is marketing bad? Is defending a point of view, as you do in your blog every day, bad? If it is, why are you doing it? Answer those questions, Visser, I dare you.

“Or is it a view which potentially could stir up the field of mystical scholarship? But then, it has to open itself to the opinions of other scholars, even as to its own validity.” If anyone is going to stirr up the field of scholarship, Visser, it won’t be you. This isn’t scholarship.

The most humorous part about this whole thing is that you think the AQAL model can’t take this kind of criticism. First of all, are you aware that there is a Wilber V? Can you then therefore deduce that in his evolution as a philosopher there was a Wilber, I, II, III, IV? Do you realize his ideas are evolving? Do you know why? Do you think it has something to do with the truly useful criticisms Wilber has heard and integrated?

It is not that the AQAL model, or Wilber, can’t take criticism. It is that your criticism doesn’t have a leg to stand on (at least from what I can see from your blogs). And that is sad, because you have a whole website based on the life of some other man, and it seems that it is at least your recreational mission to criticize him. It is sad that you can’t do a better job at it than this and really give the Institute, and Wilber himself, something to think about. Because that is all Wilber and his fans probably do—think. And I am sure Wilber thinks all the time about the holes in his theory (ones you probably can’t even spot), and this is a characteristic you could use a little more of.

2:20 PM  

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