Friday, August 25, 2006

Depth and Complexity

I was listening to Steve Paulson's interview with Wilber (featured on Integral Naked as "To the Best of Our Knowledge", part 2), where Wilber explains that complexity and consciousness seem to co-arise.

However, he then compares the perennial view with current, integral insight. In the perennial view, he says, mind, soul and spirit are seen as "higher" then the body. The feelings of a dog, for example, are seen as "higher" then the complex, human brain. This view he calles "totally screwed up". In earlier writings, he called this perennial view "goofy", and used the example of the feelings of a worm -- but you get the idea.

As is well known by now, in the integral view mind, soul and spirit are not seen as meta-physical, but intra-physical, as Wilber tirelessly repeats in his recent writings. Looks all very modern and up to date -- until you think it through. Looks to me Wilber is comparing conscious apples and complex pears.

First, the human brain is more complex then the brain of a dog. And the feelings of a human being is deeper, more conscious, then the feelings of a dog. Comparing the feelings of a dog to the complex human brain is comparing apples and pears.

But even then, the feelings of a dog, or a worm for that matter, are infinitely more mysterious then the most complex physical mechanism, human or artificial -- because there's an awareness involved no physical mechanism has ever displayed. So there seems to be depth involved.

Calling this intra-physical instead of meta-physical, doesn't explain anything. It's a clever change of metaphor for something we don't really understand. "Intra-physical" is not a concept science can handle, it is deeply metaphysical.

True, modernity knows more on the role the brain processes involved in consciousness then premoderns did. But modernity is clueless as to the essential nature of interiority (beyond mere descriptions). So why set up perennialism and modernity against each other?

Wilber Parody

A few days ago I linked to one of Geoffrey Falk's blog postings, which was about a supposed transcript of a recent talk by Wilber to his II students. It turned out to be fake. Someone had parodied Wilber, so skillfully that, though I had some reservations, I had the feeling it was still something Wilber could have said, given his recent Wyatt Earp rants.

See Integral Tuna Casserole, and Integral Tuna, part II.

Some readers have taken offense of my linking to Falk, who is considered to be an enemy of integral, "though he may have his facts right". As readers of Integral World know, I host a whole Spectrum of Critics on that website. Falk is admittedly a "strong negative" critic in that list, but then, he is also one of the most active.

Having recently published a 196 page ebook "Norman Einstein" on the flaws and fallacies he found in Wilber's work, meticulously documented, often to source material that is available online, this is not something we can easily dismiss. Not to mention that it contains a long essay on Wilber's misrepresentation of David Bohm.

Quoting Wilber's confident closing comments of his analysis of Bohm's position: "Until this critique is even vaguely answered, I believe we must consider Bohm’s theory to be refuted [softened to "suspect" in later editions]", Falk retorts: "By parity of argument, then, until Wilber has even vaguely answered this critique...."

To be sure, Falk is not addressing Wilber's core psychological and spiritual theories, but concentrates on Wilber's statements regarding science, the paranormal, biology (and cults), and his mode of discourse when it comes to criticism.

Yesterday, the anonymous author of the spurious Wilber transcript, striked again. He has written a hilarious parody on Wilber being invited to a high school setting, where he tries to impress the students with his knowledge of evolutionary biology.

Seems like an new genre is born: Wilber parody. Good. Let's laugh a bit. Even if the issue itself -- how does integral theory fit into current scientific paradigms -- is dead serious.