Saturday, June 23, 2007

A truly integral theory has to address all states, including lower ones that are realized by other animals

Andy Smith Says: June 22nd, 2007 at 3:03 pm An awful lot has been written about the relationship between stages and states. The one point that is very clear, yet which seems to be constantly overlooked, is that states can’t be free-floating (unless, like Alan K., you believe there can be consciousness with no physical basis); they have to be related to structures. Or as Wilber puts it, every interior is associated with an exterior.
It’s because he is aware of this association that Wilber represents stages and states “as loosely affiliated”. The problem is that neither he nor Combs seems to understand that they must be more than loosely, in fact tightly affiliated: a one-to-one relationship between states and stages is not only the simplest, but the only kind really possible. This should be obvious, it follows very clearly from Wilber’s own concept of interior/exterior.
The reason Wilber doesn’t (or can’t allow himself to) represent the relationship in this manner is mostly because of the problems it creates in understanding how earlier individuals could have realized higher states. But this is only a problem in holarchical models, like his, which see only one kind of relationship between levels or stages, necessitating that one must move through the levels in sequence without skipping. Models that don’t make this assumption–and any model that bases itself on a thorough examination of the scientific evidence available about lower forms of life would immediately see that there are in fact two kinds of relationships between levels–don’t have this problem, and so are free to represent every state as corresponding to a particular structure. Indeed, it would be a clear violation of the scientific worldview as we now understand it for states and stages to have any other kind of relationship.
If I understand Roy correctly, she doesn’t recognize even a loose relationship between states and stages: “the Ontological Dimension is significantly exceptional from and operates under completely different rules of process than those in the Epistemological Field.” The first thing to note is that like most Integral writers, she is confining her discussion to human and trans-human states. A truly integral theory has to address all states, including lower ones that are realized by other animals. Does she think that these, too, operate under completely different rules? Certainly many of these states, including the ones we are most familiar with, do involve temporal and spatial distinctions or directionalities.
When we come to states of consciousness higher than our ordinary one, I think it’s simpler just to say that space and time as we ordinarily understand them are transcended. This is not because states operate according to different rules from those of structures. It’s because at a higher state, one is identified with a higher structure. i don’t think it’s necessary to speak of entanglement (like Goddard and to some degree Edwards, Roy seems fond of drawing analogies–or worse–between higher level phenomena and quantum phenomena, though there really is no evidence at all that such analogies exist). At a higher state, one is identified with many processes, phenomena and structures that at a lower state were perceived as separate. If one wants to refer to this kind of identification as entanglement, fine, but it is quite different from the entanglement understood by quantum physicists.
ray harris Says: June 22nd, 2007 at 4:29 pm On ‘going back’ - I think too much has been made of what is essentially a semantic problem. The Tantric conception is that physical, emotional and mental impressions/complexes (samskaras) remain at lower stages and that these act like dead weights. Whilst it is possible to experience higher states whilst still carrying around samskaras, it is more difficult to maintain them. The ‘going back’ is the process of uncovering and dissolving the samskaras. It is not a process of going back to earlier stages. In Kundalini yoga the process becomes automatic, the kundalini shakti moves up and down the chakras clearing them of junk. The process appears random and is different for each person. But one thing is clear, the process only begins once you have reached a certain stage of awareness.
This is similar to Jung’s process of Individuation, which involved a personally unique process of bringing the contents of the archetypes into conscious awareness. An archetypal breakthrough could have the appearance of a mystical state. I have said before that Wilber misrepresents Jung. The archetypes can manifest as memes from any level of consciousness, but then, the very idea of levels is itself archetypal.

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