Mystical Claims and Embodied Knowledge -- 2013 itc slides tom murray

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Mystical Claims and Embodied Knowledge -- 2013 itc slides tom murray

  1. 1. Tom Murray 2013 Integral Theory Conference Paper copy at www.perspegrity.com/papers MYSTICAL CLAIMS AND EMBODIED KNOWLEDGE IN A POST-METAPHYSICAL AGE
  2. 2. ? Reality (it) Experience (I) Belief & Language (we)
  3. 3. USEFUL CATEGORIES FOR KNOWLEDGE/BELIEF
  4. 4. BELIEF/KNOWLEDGE CATEGORIES: EXAMPLES Linguistic / symbolic Concepts • Taste of chocolate; gut certainty; meditative state; playing tennis; intuitions… • Tree, democracy, interior, c onsciousness… • Trees are…; We should…; the cognitive line leads… • AQAL, SD, CR, Einstein‘s, … . 4 Non/pre-Linguistic: Experience Model/Theory Statements
  5. 5. OVERVIEW 1. What are mystical/metaphysical claims/beliefs? 2. Reasons for caution and reflection 3. What embodied cognition says about mystical/metaphysical claims and reality <–> idea gap 4. ‗Post-metaphysical‘ approaches to mysticism ―Theories can do shadow work‖ — so can mystical beliefs Not questioning mystical, magical, or ineffable experiences, or the need to share and construct meaning from it
  6. 6. WORKING DEFINITION OF MYSTICAL/METAPHYSICAL CLAIMS/BELIEFS • Claims about the overarching or underlying nature of the universe/Kosmos/everything • Not provable by science or amenable to measurement; i.e. not purely physical or psychological phenomena – but still being about ―reality‖ or ―truth‖ (not about the good or beautiful) • Common themes: Consciousness, Being, Reality, Spirit, Life, Non- dual, Cosmology, other Realms • Have import to human life/spirit, ethics, ultimate ―meaning‖ • Mystical differs from metaphysical in that its source is direct experience or intuition (purportedly) with ultimate reality or transcendental truths
  7. 7. SOME EXAMPLES OF MYSTICAL KNOWLEDGE AND CLAIMS
  8. 8. KEN WILBER — PHILOSOPHER AND MYSTIC "the great morphic field of evolutionary potential…pulling all manifest holons back to their ever-present Ground as Spirit--a Kosmic field of Agape, gently pulling evolution into greater and greater consciousness, embrace […] The reality, suchness, or isness of every holon is actually Spirit…a drive which ultimately wants to embrace the entire Kosmos […] This ultimate realization [is] of the ever-present, spaceless and therefore infinite, timeless and therefore eternal, formless and therefore omnipresent, Condition of all conditions and Nature of all natures and radically groundless Ground of all grounds.‖ Ken Wilber, Excerpt A, Volume 2, Kosmos Trilogy Draft
  9. 9. MORE MYSTICAL STATEMENTS "…perspectives are primordial, which is to say they are the most fundamental or primeval elements of reality, existing at or from the beginning of time" Clint Fuhs, ITC 2010 paper on Perspectival Semiotics "the dimension of the profound," "mystical deeper reality," "timeless present," "eternal now," and "infinite spaciousness‖ Jeff Carreira (student of Andrew Cohen) audio dialogue with Patricia Albere "infinite vastness...open suchness... infinite peace...true self...always already liberated" Wilber, audio interview with Alan Coombs
  10. 10. DR. BRONNER (THE SOAP GUY) • ... a sense for work-love-song-art-law-play-beauty, a face turned up from the sod! • Absolute...ever- evolving, ever-recreating, ever-loving order!...guided by One...God...all-embracing, • Eternal One! — We're One! All-One! • DILUTE ENJOY — 1 SQAP FOR 18 DIFFERENT USES!
  11. 11. NON-AD-HOMINEM The individuals quotes can be assumed to: • be sincere and authentic • have had deep experiences and intuitions • be pointing to important ―truths‖ or deep meaning • not be absolutist; allow for fallibility and revision • have a sophisticated and nuanced understanding
  12. 12. DON’T TRY TO USE THESE WORDS AT HOME! :-) Infinite, Omnipresent, Universal, Ulti mate, Primeval, Primordial, Eternal, Formless, Ever- Present, Supreme, Unbounded, Time less, Spaceless, Radically Invisible, Radically Empty, Non- Dual, Ground Of Being • Poetry? Metaphor? Inspirational oratory? •  Truth claims about (exterior) reality • For what audience, for what purpose?
  13. 13. OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MYSTICAL CLAIMS
  14. 14. BERTRAND RUSSELL ON MYSTICAL KNOWLEDGE • It often deals with universals, infinites, essences, or foundational truths. • Mysticism has "a certain intensity and depth of feeling in regard to what is believed about the universe." It has a sense of "certainty and revelation." Though it sometimes uses logic to justify beliefs, the claims seem to come from "a way of wisdom, sudden, penetrating, coercive, which is contrasted with the slow and fallible [process of scientific reasoning]." • Mystics are attempting "an articulation upon the inarticulate experience gained in the moment of" what is called insight or intuition. • There is a "sense of a mystery unveiled [and] revelation" of "a reality behind the world of appearances and utterly different from it." Truth and essence is found through profound introspective thought, not through sense experience. • Can be expressed in deeply poignant, poetic, or metaphorical prose. • There is a common "belief in unity, and its refusal to admit opposition or division anywhere"—that "reality is one and indivisible." There is also commonly a belief that reality, or ultimate reality, is beyond time and space.
  15. 15. YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH METAPHYSICAL BELIEFS? 1. Brainstorm mystical/metaphysical claims/beliefs you hear in the Integral community. 2. How do you feel when others make such claims? 3. What happens when you mention mystical/metaphysical claims to your friends/family? 4. When you explain or justify these beliefs, how do you support them? 5. Does it matter if we can explain or justify such claims to others? Why or why not?
  16. 16. MYSTICAL / METAPHYSICAL KNOWLEDGE HAZARDS — RUSSELL • Tendency for the passion of the mystic to conflate "the good with the truly real" • Those who "are capable of absorption in an inward passion" can experience "the loss of contact with daily things [and] common objects." • Focus on pure logic to the exclusion of experience or common sense– "logic used in the defense of mysticism seems to be faulty as logic‖ • >>Highest form of thought is a combination of mystical and scientific understanding...
  17. 17. MORE CAVEATS RE PROCLAMATIONS OF THE ULTIMATE OR ESSENTIAL • Complex philosophical approaches and worldviews...reach beyond the boundaries of the academy and into the lifeworld" where they are subject to being watered-down, muddied, and misappropriated -Stein 2010 • Ultimately can be: grandiosity, hegemony, elitism, demagoguery, proto-fascism, colonization, assimilation, totalizing
  18. 18. EMBODIMENT <-> FALLIBILITY Fallibility, uncertainty, ambiguity, paradox, fuzzines s, systematic bias, indeterminacy
  19. 19. THE IDEA PORTABILITY PRINCIPLE • Understanding and dealing with the fallibility and indeterminacy of ideas is more important the greater the distance between the world views or beliefs of interlocutors • Preaching to the (integral) Choir vs. a) crossing disciplinary boundaries to interact with other theory/practice communities b) applying ideas in real contexts explaining one's purposes to stakeholders c) disperse ideas into other world views or conceptual frames
  20. 20. DISCUSSION: EMBODIMENT & BELIEF FORMATION 1. How does knowing you are angry, in love, in fearful resistance, or prejudiced influence what you believe and how you hold a belief? How does understanding how shadow works change how you hold a belief? 2. How does knowing that some aspects of love — such as attraction, bonding, and empathy, are tied to bio/neuro/chemical processes — change the experience of being in love? 3. New evidence shows how most memory, perception, and judgment is influenced by emotion and cognitive biases — how do you think this effects the claims of scholars, philosophers, and mystics?
  21. 21. THE EMBODIED MIND — A Philosophical History of the Fallibility of Reason 1. Traditional Philosophy — mind/reason separate from body (Cartesian) & pure, universal, transcendent, reliable 2. Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution — removing the influence of authority, emotion/passion, dogma, instinct/intuition • Valued: observation, measurement, logic, repeatability/democratic • But battle: Realists & Empiricists vs. Rationalists & Idealists 3. Kant — reason is limited by underlying structures of the mind 4. Darwin — cognition evolved through natural selection—from animal brains 5. Freud — the unconscious; unpredictable hidden powerful influence on thought 6. Postmodernists — reason is biased by cultural norms & structure of language 7. Cognitive Science — cognitive biases woven into perception, memory, reason
  22. 22. EXAMPLE COGNITIVE BIASES • Confirmation Bias • Hindsight Bias • Amygdala Hijack
  23. 23. SOURCES OF FALLIBILITY IN MYSTICAL AND METAPHYSICAL BELIEF 1. Concepts & Abstractions 2. Misplaced Concreteness 3. Mystical Specialness 4. Epistemic Drives
  24. 24. 1.
  25. 25. SCHOLARLY WORK IS "NOTORIOUSLY FRAUGHT WITH DEFINITIONAL DISAGREEMENT" (SHERMER, 2011)
  26. 26. George Lakoff Subject / Object Singular / Plural Cognitive, Emotional line... Non-Dual (/ non-non-dual) Good, True, Beautiful
  27. 27. Epistemic Distance
  28. 28. 2. MISPLACED CONCRETENESS / REIFICATION (TREATING INTRANSITIVE OBJECTS LIKE/AS TRANSITIVE OBJECTS)
  29. 29. 3. ESOTERIC CHOCOLATE — MYSTICAL FEELINGS
  30. 30. STATES REFERRED TO IN BUDDHIST TEXTS (THE SATIPATTHANA SUTTA, PITAKA SUTTA) • A series of state experiences (Jhanas) obtainable through contemplative absorption practices. ...terms include happiness/joy, rapture/bliss, attention/mindfulness, unification/at tention/one-pointedness, equanimity/serenity/contentment/utter peace, infinity of space, and emptiness/formlessness/cessation. • Common warnings along the path indicated drives (addictive & obscuring) • What from the experience gets transferred to theories/concepts of reality? • Terms like infinite, boundless, empty, used in mystical ideas may point to feeling states, more than actual properties of reality.
  31. 31. IN "MYSTICISM AND LOGIC" RUSSELL CONCLUDES THAT "while fully developed mysticism seems to me [a mistaken outcome of the emotions], I yet believe that by sufficient restraint, there is an element of wisdom to be learned by the mystical way of feeling, which does not seem to be attainable in any other manner [and which is] to be commended as an attitude toward life, not as a creed about the world"
  32. 32. 4. EPISTEMIC DRIVES (FROM COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY TO PHENOMENOLOGY) Any cognitive drive or tendency that influences how we produce or share knowledge or ideas • Desire for certainty (and the avoidance of uncertainty and cognitive dissonance) • Need to make meaning, see patterns • Misplaced concreteness • Symbolic Impulse
  33. 33. EPISTEMIC DRIVES (FOR MYSTICS!) 35 Abstract Concrete General Specific Integration Differentiation Universal Relative Fundamental Consequential Permanent Changing Simple Complex Oneness/singularity/unity Multiplicity Whole, Integrated Part, Differentiated Completeness, Totality Partiality Similarity Difference (diversity) Transcendence Immanence Perfection, purity Imperfection, grittiness Uniqueness, specialness Ordinariness
  34. 34. POST-METAPHYSICS • Habermas: 1. post-metaphysical era has "replaced foundationalism with fallibilism‖ and 2. has a procedural conception of rationality — from ―a rational person thinks this‖ to "…thinks like this‖ • In Integral Spirituality Wilber (2006) says that "[arguably,] metaphysics…ended with Kant [who realized that] we do not perceive empirical objects in a completely realistic, pregiven fashion; but rather, structures of the knowing subject import various characteristics to the known object. […] Metaphysics is then a broad name for the type of thinking that can't figure [out that] reality is not a perception, but a conception…thinking that falls prey to the myth of the given." (p. 231).
  35. 35. WE WILL ALWAYS NEED METAPHYSICS • To satisfy our epistemic drives toward meaning, certainty, .... in areas outside the reach of (current) science/measurement. • Some things may always appear as mysteries to the human mind: death, life, infinity, subjectivity, being... • But we can still avoid unnecessary degrees of certainty, foundationalism, bias....
  36. 36. APPROACHES TO METAPHYSICAL CLAIMS 1. Meaning Generative Claims 2.Indeterminacy Analysis 3. Body Awareness of Epistemic Drives 4.Follow Sean Esbjörn-Hargens!
  37. 37. 1. MEANING GENERATIVE CLAIMS (A 4TH VALIDITY TYPE) True Good/Right/Just Beautiful & Meaning-generative 39
  38. 38. 2. INDETERMINACY ANALYSIS George Lakoff
  39. 39. 3. BODY AWARENESS OF EPISTEMIC DRIVES
  40. 40. 4. HUMOR, PLAY, HUMILITY, UNKNOWING, DANCE (SEE SEAN!) • Fallibility: "Blind spots and square pegs and messy -- oh my!‖ • Evolving definition of concept of "integral" • Ontological (metaphorical) Pluralism: multiple earths • Epistemic Drives: "I love maps, iteration, and symmetry!‖ • Misplaced concreteness: Force-fitting into quadrants
  41. 41. SUMMARY • Embodiment implies fallibility and indeterminism of mystical/metaphysical ideas and claims • Most abstract/foundational/general concepts are the most indeterminate (epistemic distance) • The most deeply meaning-full concepts involved highest epistemic drives (—―ultimate concern‖) • Honor the mysterious, sacred, mystical, enchanted — and the need to share and make meaning from them • With post-metaphysical, fallibilistic, self-critical approaches • That allows integral theory and meta-theories to do emancipatory work
  42. 42. THANKS!… tommurray.us@gmail.com | www.tommurray.us
  43. 43. A FEW EXTRA SLIDES…
  44. 44. POST-METAPHYSICS • Is not anti-metaphysics • No view from nowhere (privileged perspective): reality is not out there waiting to be seen (“misplaced concreteness”) • Beyond the “myth of the given:” reality is not simply as it appears • Perspectival: all truths/experiences come from a perspective and are partial • Misplaced concreteness and “map vs territory:” abstractions are not “real” (independent of us) • Knowledge is fallible (no absolutes) • Knowledge is socially constructed • Concepts and language are indeterminate TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | MAY 2010 47
  45. 45. IDEAS AS REALITY: STAGES OF MISPLACED CONCRETENESS • Magical thinking – imagination as reality • Mythical thinking – stories as reality • Conventional thinking – norms as reality • Modern thinking – concepts/models as reality • Post modern — deep knowing/intuition as one truth
  46. 46. POSITIVISM/CERTAINTY VS. FALLIBILISM/INDETERMINACY • Positivist attitude: clarity, certainty, action • knowledge/meaning-generative; problem solving, theorizing • Negative capability: awe, humility, curiosity • Limits of language & knowledge & method • Tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty, unknowing • Dealing with the above TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | AUGUST 2010 49 Espoused fallibility vs. Stylistic (or illocutionary/enacted) fallibility
  47. 47. CALLS FOR HIGHER LEVEL THOUGHT David Bohm: "underneath [humanity's dilemmas] there's something we don't understand about how thought works" and that what is needed is a "very deep [and] very subtle" awareness of thought itself. Albert Einstein: "the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.‖ • Cultural development as skill of understanding mind, thought, language, knowledge, belief… => the ―post-metaphysical turn‖ TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | AUGUST 2010 50
  48. 48. SECOND TIER - GOING ―META‖ (FROM ITC-2008) • Meta-cognition (thinking about thinking) • Meta-knowledge (knowledge about the nature and limitations of knowledge); META-BELIEF! • Meta-learning (learning how to learn, also called triple-loop learning) • Meta-dialog (dialog about how we engage in dialog) • Meta-decision making (making decisions about how we will go about making decisions) • Meta-affect (investigating the feeling of our feelings; somatic awareness of feeling states) • Meta-leadership (supporting leadership in others) TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | AUGUST 2010
  49. 49. DEVELOPMENT, DISEQUILIBRIUM AND HUMILITY  Heart/Empathy: Relationally aware -- opening to the suffering of ever wider circles of relationship  Mind/Cognitive: Construct aware -- foundations of certainty in knowing are shaken  Spirit/Self: Ego aware -- awake to the profound levels of chaos and vulnerability in life  External world: Systems aware – chaos: radical connectivity, unpredictability TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | MAY 2010 52

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