Collective Enlightenment Through Postmetaphysical Eyes

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* Article: Collective Enlightenment Through Postmetaphysical Eyes. By Michel Bauwens and Edward Berge. Spanda Journal, 2017

URL = https://www.academia.edu/33552616/Collective_Enlightenment_Through_Postmetaphysical_Eyes

Contextual Citation

"How then does spirituality express postmetaphysically? First of all it is no longer a domain diametrically opposed to the material domain. Another hallmark of metaphysical thinking is this opposition, with the spiritual or absolute domain the source and cause of the material or relative domain. Postmetaphysical spirituality acknowledges the virtual realm, in to the absolute realm, but in a very different relationship with the actual or material domain. The virtual domain is still generative of the actual, but its own genesis lies not in a metaphysical plane but within its relationship to the actual in a co-generative process."

Abstract

"Enlightenment has had broadly different definitions is the East and West. In the East it is seen as an individual accessing meditative states that transcend the world of form in a metaphysical reality. In the West it is more about individual development to abstract reasoning, which can accurately represent empirical reality but is itself an a priori, metaphysical capacity. Enlightenment in either case is based on metaphysical individual achievements. However the postmetaphysical turn has questioned such premises, instead conte!tualizing both meditative states and abstract reasoning within broader socio-cultural contents. Enlightenment itself has thereby been redefined within this orientation and is seen more as a collective endeavor that is collaboratively enacted."


Text

By Michel Bauwens and Edward Berge:


Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality Forum

Much of what follows has been explored in the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum founded by Bruce Alderman. The original iteration at Gaia has since gone extinct. The forum originally started as an exploration of Ken Wilber’s book Integral Spirituality (2007), but has since expanded to include many other sources and ideas. The forum’s description follows, with the subtitle: Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century.

“What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?”

To briefly define the terms used in the forum title, ‘integral’ is the general term originally used to refer to Wilber’s integral theory, or the integration of body, mind, soul and spirit in self, nature and culture. The idea is that there are increasing levels of progressive development within all those domains, and to explore how those domains interrelate. Metaphysics generally refers to the exploration of reality. ‘Postmetaphysics’ then is a kind of metaphysics but without some of the assumptions and premises traditionally associated with that study. Those include the notion that humanity can accurately perceive reality as such either through some meditative state of consciousness, and/or through the notion of pure Platonic forms via abstract, a priori reason. The postmetaphysical turn in philosophy instead grounds metaphysics in the empirical study of intersubjective cultural communication and second generation cognitive science which sees the topic as embodied, enacted, embedded and extended is all domains. Wilber also explores this in the referenced book. All the above is then applied to the domain of spirituality, which also evolves through these developmental changes.

So how then does spirituality express postmetaphysically? First of all it is no longer a domain diametrically opposed to the material domain. Another hallmark of metaphysical thinking is this opposition, with the spiritual or absolute domain the source and cause of the material or relative domain. Postmetaphysical spirituality acknowledges the virtual realm, akin to the absolute realm, but in a very different relationship with the actual or material domain. The virtual domain is still generative of the actual, but its own genesis lies not in a metaphysical plane but within its relationship to the actual in a co-generative process.

Alderman (2013) discussed this process via the emerging field of object-oriented ontology (OOO). A number of metaphysical systems, both east and west, saw the absolute realm as a primal whole underlying the relative realm, or fundamental element(s) from which the rest of the material realm was constructed. However OOO equally opposes an overlying process relationship between all things, that objects can only be understood in their relationship to each other. The idea of an object’s substance is reconfigured avoiding either of those extremes that express more generally as ‘the myth of the given.’ More specifically, e.g., it expresses as the reduction of reality to our direct access to it in toto like the metaphysical notions of eastern meditative traditions, or our direct access to reality via representational models of reason typical of western empirical traditions.

Instead OOO offers a way out of this dichotomy in its notion of the withdrawn. This is the hidden or virtual excess beyond what enters the actual or relative plane, and which cannot be directly accessed but only speculatively inferred. Alderman referenced Bryant (2011a), so to Bryant we turn for a fuller description of the withdrawn using Derrida's notion of différance. An object's virtual substance is withdrawn, yet it is not metaphysically opposed to temporality and process; to the contrary it is embedded in it. Therefore even the virtual is immanent, not transcendent.[2] Différance has two aspects: the difference between objects and the deferral of presence, that withdrawn potential within an object. But even within the difference between objects there is a hidden, withdrawn reserve so that said objects never experience the withdrawn substance of another. Such relational differences occur with specific contexts, and in different contexts their withdrawn reserves could manifest differently.

So différance simultaneously exists in the manifest realm, yet is also absent in the potential virtual realm. Hence it is an entirely different way of looking at the relationship between apparent opposition, one where these domains are distinct yet inseparable. And in the process the withdrawn virtual can be loosely ascribed to the spiritual domain and the actual domain to the manifest. And yet that framing also still clings to a metaphysical dichotomy, for the virtual and the actual co-exist and co-influence each other. In that sense the spiritual is embodied, and the body is spiritualized. Variations on this theme are seen in many other postmetaphysical paths explored in the forum, a few of which are below, even they don’t explicitly frame it in the above terms. Enlightenment is thereby redefined from this perspective which expresses in multiple ways and forms through participatory collaboration. It is one that keeps in mind that no matter the existing circumstances, there is hope that we can improve them by keeping in mind, body, soul and spirit the virtual and withdrawn excess that feeds us both from between and within. Therein lies an opportunity for an ever evolving collective enlightenment that incorporates the same/differences between eastern and western traditions.

Eastern and Western forms of enlightenment

Granted there are both meditative or contemplative practices in the western approach, as well as rational investigation and debate in the eastern approach. However it is still useful to generally distinguish the ‘eastern’ and 'western' understandings of Enlightenment, which are complementary and both equally necessary.

The eastern approach, broadly derived from the Hindu-Buddhist traditions which developed in South and East Asia, is one that highlights meditative states of consciousness. Meditation in the traditional sense is an individual practice of sitting quietly and still, by either concentrating on a single object or by allowing any thought or feeling to arise and then letting it go. In either case the goal is to arrive at a meta-awareness of our very awareness process, thereby disidentifying with any particular object of awareness. Such disidentification promotes a more open and responsive attitude to others, as well as initiating within an individual a more compassionate embrace of oneself. It also exposes one to their own prejudices and recalcitrant, limiting views that obstruct connection with reality as such. The more one becomes practiced in such meditation the more one resides in this connection and the less one identifies with a selfish ego that clings to its defensive positions. Such states are are significant part of what they describe as enlightenment.

The western approach, highlighted by the 'Age of Enlightenment,' is one of deepening our capacity for abstract reason and is also essentially an individual capacity based on the recognition of personhood. The human capacity uses reason in order to see the world as it is by liberating us from superstitions, illusions, collective beliefs, and so forth. In some ways it was a dream for disembodiment, that humans were able to detach themselves from the world, looking at it objectively from the outside. Western approaches are largely those that believe the world and its phenomena are real and can be directly known through a priori reason. Collective processes have been set up and organized, such as the scientific method, that are accepted to shed an accurate light on objective phenomena as they are.

The goal is to integrate both approaches within a postmetaphysical frame. Within that frame it is generally accepted that humans cannot detach themselves from physical and social realities, that we are all deeply embedded in fields of language, power, individual and collective emotions, and various filters that are simply unavoidable. Some authors, like George Lakoff (1999), have specialized in analyzing the frames and lenses through which we look at reality and argued that the metaphysical premises of the Age of Enlightenment were misleading at best.


Recontextualizing eastern enlightenment

What have recent neuro-scientific studies revealed about this purportedly individual practice and experience of reality as such? And what are the implications for collective enlightenment? It calls for the recontextualization of traditional interpretations of such states by understanding how they are generated and placing them within a postmetaphysical context.

Thompson (2015) comments on how Advaita sees meta-awareness as one that transcends the world of manifestation by directly perceiving the absolute. But Thompson sees such a state as an embodied, pre-personal base state of consciousness, recontextualizing the traditional metaphysical explanation into a “contemporary naturalist conception of the embodied mind.”

What is being accessed is a baseline attention that is fully embodied and thereby limited by that embodied constraint. Such a consciousness without an object doesn't lay claim to access to the reality of All, or even access to all of our personal cognitive unconscious or collective unconscious. It's just accessing that embodied part of our natural awareness available to us by virtue of having the body and brain we do with all its limitations.

But Thompson (2015b) goes much further than this state being embodied within an individual. Additionally it is embedded, enactive and extended (4E) within a community. Heretofore the mindfulness state (meta-awareness) has been treated by neuroscientific research as an individual affair generated and contained in the brain. While the individual brain indeed is a necessary prerequisite, it is only a part of how such states are generated. The other parts are the broader context in which this phenomenon occurs.

Cognition requires the entire body as a whole, not just the brain. E.g. motor activity is directed involved in how one perceives an object. Gesture is integral to the speaking and thought process. Cognition is also embedded in the body-brain-environment interaction. Meta-awareness is an extended form of internalized social cognition and dependent upon such shared attention. Memory is also extended within one’s culture. These elements enact or bring forth a shared world of meaning. Hence mindfulness states as part of the Enlightenment process are a social practice, i.e., it is a collective Enlightenment. [3]

Lutz et al. (2007) explore the various senses of self involved in the meditative process. The meditative state is described as bare awareness without an object, a "minimal subjective sense of ‘I-ness’ in experience, and as such, it is constitutive of a ‘minimal’ or ‘core self.’" It is also "a form of self-consciousness that is primitive inasmuch as: 1) it does not require any subsequent act of reflection or introspection, but occurs simultaneously with awareness of the object; 2) does not consist in forming a belief or making a judgment, and 3) is ‘passive’ in the sense of being spontaneous and involuntary." This is distinguished from our social, narrative self.

This core self is directly related to a sense of I-ness, one’s autonomous individuality. So while it might be before the narrative self with its sense of egoic history, it is a self-awareness nonetheless, unique to its perceiver and self-centric. It is even associated with "bodily processes of life regulation,” generally the most primitive brain. So in itself it is not enlightened consciousness but lizard survival awareness, and only through training is this self-regulatory attentional baseline modified and refined.

Training of our base awareness with its co-arising sense of self is, as noted by Thompson above, an internalized social process. The narrative social self is needed to abstractly ‘witness’ our baseline core self and integrate it with the other aspects of consciousness. Damasio (2012) noted that only after humanity developed a narrative social self sense with language were we capable of consciousness. He also noted that the core self is built upon the proto-self, which is non-conscious at the neural level and communicates via images. This level regulates the human organism in response to external objects in the environment. Even this level is tied to relationships with others external to itself. Said image schemas have been explored in depth by Lakoff (1999) as the very foundation of all later developments. From both ends the accomplishments of individuality and metacognition are generated from correlational social and environmental factors.


Recontexualizing Western enlightenment

One approach is that of Keith Chandler (2001). Civilization is essentially linked to class and domination and is what provokes the first deep spiritual crisis of humankind. Religions emerge both to make sense of the general suffering induced by alienated and exploitative class societies and to justify the social order. This work of comparative religion outlines four fundamental different answers to the human spiritual crises of being thrown into an alienated world, but it can be overcome through a post-civilizational approach. Indeed, if one equates civilization with class-based domination then it is also clear that modern human history, even if it is still based on such exploitation, has also started challenging it. Liberalism has recognized equal rights under the law, and socialism wanted to make these rights real by adding the material measures. Since then, egalitarian identity movements on race and gender have completed the picture. The ideal of much of humanity, even if perhaps not of the whole of humanity, is no longer Homo Hierarchicus but Homo Aequalis.

In “The Next Buddha will be a Collective” (Bauwens, 2008) it was argued that epistemologies, spiritual practices, beliefs and forms of organization are broadly correlated to the material conditions of the societies in which they evolve. In addition, a new set of emerging techno-social developments, summarized under the concept of 'peer to peer' and the commons, are preparing the conditions for new forms of spiritual practice, essentially preparing for collective enlightenment. Given that there are strong and demonstrated correlations between changes in technology, society and human consciousness, there is also a strong correlation between a universally networked communication capacity, social organizational models and human consciousness. Current networked technologies create a near-universal capacity not just for many to many communication, but also for self-organization and value creation. Hence, the emergence of commons-based peer production in which productive communities mutualize their knowledge through contributions (peer production), organize themselves in peer to peer networks (peer governance), and protect their common work as ‘commons’ (peer property). This is preparing a socio-economic and spiritual, ‘value shift’, or shift in value regimes. This is strongly related to the relative dominance of allocation methods.

Karatani (2014), Fiske (1993) and Ronfeldt (2006) have argued four allocation methods have existed at all times and in all regions, but under different configurations. Pooling , i.e. commoning, is the original dominant allocation method in small nomadic bands, while reciprocity arrangements (the gift economy) become more important in larger tribal federations and societies. This eventually leads to sedentarisation and the birth of class societies, in which rank-based distribution becomes dominant. Finally, first in Europe and then in the world, capitalism, i.e. market-based allocation becomes the dominant modality. The dominant spiritual practices are very different in these different value regimes, and authors like Weber (2002) have shown the strong correlation between the Protestant Reformation and the consciousness that was necessary to transform into fully capitalist societies. A recent author who has broadly argued in the same vein is Jeremy Rifkin.

Jeremy Rifkin (2010b) has provided a YouTube video summary of his lengthy book The Empathic Civilization (2010a). Therein he begins with developments in evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience and childhood development which challenge the long-held belief that humans are self-interested and utilitarian. Such beliefs also influenced how we structured our institutions and economy. Current research into mirror neurons finds to the contrary that humans are motivated by empathy for others. When a child starts to recognize itself as an individual it does so in the context of an empathic socialization process, internalizing that process. Increasing child and adult development progresses with increasing empathic development.

Rifkin proceeds to show the changes in society from past to present based on this empathic development. In forager-hunter societies communication was limited to shouting distance within the local tribe. Empathy was extended to the tribe while those outside it were considered aliens. Writing emerged in agricultural civilizations which allowed our empathy to extend to religious groups. With the industrial revolution and electrical communication our empathy is extended once again, this time to a larger organization called the nation-state. Now new technologies like the internet are providing a framework that allows us to communicate with the entire world, thereby extending our empathy to the entire biosphere. It is this last development that provides for a collective, planetary enlightenment.

Rifkin (2010a) goes into far greater detail in his book on the topic. Therein he associates stages of cultural consciousness that accompany forms of communication above. The challenge is to enact a further evolution in consciousness to meet the dire circumstances of our time. To do this we must look to the ecological sciences to see the interrelationships between everything in the environment, as well as ourselves within that environment and within our cultural contexts. The point of investigation must be the entire ecosphere.

Empathy within an ecological consciousness expresses as spiritual awe at our connection with everything. We transcend our individual selves in this embodied, embedded, enactive and extended union while still retaining our individuality. This entails an individual developmental growth that also realizes the ecological connections and integrations within the various part of our self: reason, emotions, feelings and sensations. At this stage our empathy can transcend the individual, the tribe, the religion or the nation and enact caring relationships with the entire ecosphere. We have indeed arrived at the beginning of our collective enlightenment.

Rifkin (2014) further describes how this ecological consciousness manifests via the collaborative commons. We shift to renewable energies that can be installed on our individual homes or businesses. Such energy sources, while intermittent, can be stored in new battery technology or hydrogen fuel cells. Since we will be increasingly connected to the Internet of Things we can sell excess energy to the grid that someone can used on the other side of the globe. 3-D printer technology empowers local businesses and governments to produce goods that don’t require expensive and polluting long-range transportation. Education is conducted more on a collaborative basis where teachers facilitate students to participate and create innovations instead of just learning by rote, and often at lower tuition if not entirely free. Such sharing and exchange of energy, information and products is indeed conducive to a collective and collaborative enlightenment.


Metacognition in self and culture

The following combines the recontextualized meditative metacogntion discussed above with the individual and socio-cultural developments outlined by Rifkin. The Presencing Institute (PI) grew out of the MIT Center for Organizational Learning founded by Peter Senge. He teamed up with Otto Scharmer and they found that those engaged in system dynamics were adept at analyzing and solving problems effectively, but only when combined with a certain quality of awareness. Their work was published in Scharmer’s Theory U (2009) and Presence (2005) co-authored by Scharmer, Senge, Jaworski and Flowers. They determined that the structure of consciousness determines institutional forms.[4] PI is an ongoing, collaborative effort to implement Scharmer’s latest book (with Kauger) Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-system to Eco-System Economies (2013a).

At PI they discuss the ‘from ego to eco model.’ Examples include “The matrix of social evolution” and “The matrix of economic evolution.” In the first it’s reiterated that form follows consciousness, and how this manifests in individuals, groups, institutions and global systems which “requires crossing a threshold of self-reflective meta-awareness on multiple levels.” Eco-systems awareness is currently the latest development. In the individual domain this manifests as generative listening, likened to a jazz musician in an ensemble. It requires each participant to hear the entire ensemble at each moment in order to improvise something creative in the moment. For groups it requires meta-awareness on the process of dialogue. For institutions it requires meta-awareness on the process of networking. For global systems it requires coordinating multiple systems of awareness-based collective action.

Regarding economic evolution, like the above section, it goes through the stages prior to the eco-mode. Each stage continues the logic of the previous stage but also mitigates it within a larger meta-context. The motivation behind transitioning into the next stage is provided by exterior challenges and interior changes of consciousness when a stage no longer effectively functions. The eco-mode discusses organizing around the commons, which includes co-creating the state, market and NGO sectors.

In Scharmer’s blog post (2013b) he correlates the history of consciousness with economic paradigms. You can see how this in some ways parallels Rifkin's stages, though not exactly. Hierarchical central planning correlates with socialism and mercantilism. The competitive free market economy with self-interest, although he calls this decentralized planning, I guess in distinction with the kind of State socialism of the past. Next is the social market economy that takes other stakeholders into account, more like conscious capitalism. Finally is the commons, where all stakeholders including the ecosystem are considered. Like Rifkin he sees that depending on culture and context, all of the above co-exist in combination. But there is a general tendency for there to be an increasing complex progression as well, where the more complex enfolds the lesser.

Scharmer discusses how the self can be alienated from the environment, society and ourselves. All three domains are inextricably related. The spiritual divide is not from some divine being or reality as such but "between the current self [...] and the emerging future self,” akin to the potential virtual domain noted above. He correlates the spiritual divide with our current governance systems not giving voice to the people and private property rights. And that all of the above disconnections are tied to our economic paradigms. Economically we are moving in the spiritual areas noted above, toward awareness based collective action and commons based ownership.


The socio-cultural matrix

The articulation of modernity, based on a autonomous self that creates society through the social contract, has been changing in postmodernity. Simondon (1992), a French philosopher of technology with an important posthumous following in the French-speaking world, has argued that what was typical for modernity was to ‘extract the individual dimension’ of every aspect of reality, of things/processes that are also always-already related . And what is needed to renew thought was not to go back to premodern holism but to systematically build on the proposition that ‘everything is related’, while retaining the achievements of modern thought, i.e. the equally important centrality of individuality. Thus individuality then comes to be seen as constituted by relations, from relations.

This proposition, that the individual is now seen as always-already part of various social fields, seems to be one of the main achievements of what could be called the postmetaphysical turn. Atomistic individualism is rejected in favor of the view of a relational self, a new balance between individual agency and collective communion. Another step in this process is to recognize the level of the collective, i.e. the field in which relationships occur.

If we only see relationships, we forget about the whole, which is society itself. Society is more than just the sum of its relational parts. Society sets up a ‘protocol’, in which these relationships can occur, it forms the agents in their subjectivity, and consists of norms which enable or disable certain types of relationships. Thus we have agents, relationships, and fields. Finally, if we want to integrate the subjective element of human intentionality it is necessary to introduce another element, the object of sociality.

Indeed, human agents never just ‘relate’ in the abstract, agents always relate around an object in a concrete fashion. Swarming insects do not seem to have such an object; they just follow instructions and signals without a view of the whole. But mammals do. E.g., bands of wolves congregate around the object of the prey. It is the object that energizes the relationships, that mobilizes the action. Humans can have more abstract objects that are located in a temporal future, as an object of desire. We perform the object in our minds and activate ourselves to realize them individually or collectively. Peer to Peer (P2P) projects organize themselves around such common project, and P2P theory is an attempt to create an object that can inspire social and political change.

Edwards et al. (2015) show how the subject and object relate in the cultural networked space that mediates between them. This view questions that there is a clean and clear separation between them that isolates each in their own domain. Their borders are permeable and there is significant cross pollination wherein they still retain their individual autonomy yet influence each other through their relationship. Edwards uses the metaphor of the ‘space between’ as way to express the culture’s bridging artifacts that negotiate this connection/separation. He compares this to the idea of tensegrity, which “refers to the integrity of structures as being based in a synergy between the inseparable and balanced components of tension and compression.” Such syntegrality, as he calls it, is not in either the subject or object but is the negotiation between them. This helps to overcome the dichotomous thinking about subjects and objects. Also of significance is that tensile structures have a virtual center which is not occupied by a metaphysical premise like an underlying, unifying idealism. (Recall the above on the virtual domain in postmetaphysics, as well as footnote 2.)

Edwards (2007) references the Vygotsky-inspired CHAT school: Cultural-historical activity theory. CHAT explores factors like artifacts (e.g. tools, language) in mediating between a subject’s encounter with another person, the culture or the environment. This view presumes that the process of individuality is induced via activity within these broader contexts.

Such a view has a spiritual connotation in that these mediating factors--words, gestures, artifacts, social media--connect us to wider empathic embraces. As but one example from metaphysical lore Edwards sees this idea contained in the Word from the Bible, as it was in the beginning the word of God that created the universe. The Word is this communion of God with his universe, hence the notion of religious communion services where we partake of food and drink, other mediating factors, to achieve this relationship. It also indicates how relationships operate between self and other on more mundane levels, like sharing thought, feelings or a meal with another. In this way we express love in all its forms.

Operating from such a perspective allows peers to instill in each other our highest aspirations, ideals and motives, like sharing information and resources. Like lifting each other up with our particular gifts, while receiving another’s particular gifts when we are in need. We extend this love to our environment, nurturing its well-being via sustainable policies and practices that in turn support and provide for our nourishment and health. And one form of expressing such high ideals is through mediating cultural stories that inculcate in us such values, like “the pearl of great price” or “I have a dream.”

Such high aspirations and values arise when, like Rifkin noted, we as a culture develop to a place where our empathy reaches out to all people and the world in which we live. A large factor in inculcating this value system depends on who controls our media sources and technologies. This is why the collaborative commons, in creating alternative sources via social media using the tech of the internet and net neutrality laws, has been able to promote such a value system outside of the dominant paradigm of mainstream media that seeks only its own rewards at the behest of its corporate masters. New forms of mediation grounded in higher forms of consciousness are necessary in this transition to, and eventual dominance of, an ecologically sound collective enlightenment.


Conclusion

Another aspect to this fundamental change taking place is based on European history. In the medieval Christian civilization the triadic conception of life held by St. Paul and St. Augustine, based on original sin, Man was seen as fundamentally defective but able to transcend this condition through belief and following commandments. But this created a dangerous form of ‘righteous’ consciousness that had very little insight into projection mechanisms. This means that all kinds of conflicts where couched in religious terms with the demonization of opponents. The world between the 15th and 18th century is one of incessant religious civil wars on a continental scale (at least in Western Europe). Hence, the reaction of the philosophers of the Western Enlightenment insisting that humanity’s self interests should be recognized, and that a good social and economic system would be based on that recognition. This is the basic premise of neoliberalism, which believes that if all individuals follow their own interests an invisible hand or a strong sovereign would lead to the common good. However the limits of such an extractive philosophy have shown their ecological and social limits.

Hence the urgent need to shift into a postmetaphysical collective enlightenment. This turn to the collective does not in any way present a loss of individuality, even of individualism. Rather it transcends and includes individualism and collectivism into what could be called cooperative individualism. This cooperativity is not necessarily intentional (i.e. the result of conscious altruism) but constitutive of our evolving consciousness in all domains, and the best applications of the above are based on this idea."


Notes

[1] Bohman et al. (2014) description of Habermas:

"Habermas adopts a more naturalistic, 'postmetaphysical' approach (1992a), characterized by the fallible hermeneutic explication or 'reconstruction' of shared competences and normative presuppositions that allow actors to engage in familiar practices of communication, discourse, and inquiry. In articulating presuppositions of practice, reconstructive analysis remains weakly transcendental. But it also qualifies as a 'weak naturalism' inasmuch as the practices it aims to articulate are consistent with the natural evolution of the species and located in the empirical world (2003a, 10-30, 83ff); consequently, postmetaphysical reconstruction links up with specific forms of social-scientific knowledge in analyzing general conditions of rationality manifested in various human capacities and powers."

[2] Bryant (2011b) discusses how Bhaskar sees the difference between the transcendent and transcendental. The former assumes a metaphysical foundation for knowledge as described above. Transcendental deduction bypasses such a framing by speculating on what virtual preconditions must be supposed for knowledge to be possible. The virtual by this definition is multiple and immanent without any need of a transcendent, metaphysical underpinning. Bryant (2008) explores this in depth in another book about Deleuze.

Nobuhara (1998) asserts that for Hartshorne relative (r) terms are the basis of absolute (a) terms, noting: "As the concrete includes and exceeds the abstract." The ever-changing relative domain includes within itself the abstract absolute. He defines the absolute as supremely relative, or surrelative.

Another way of approaching the asymmetrical relationship between the relative and the absolute is through basic categories and image schema as elucidated by Lakoff (1999). Recall that these prototypes are in the middle of classical categorical hierarchies, between the most general and the most particular. Basic categories are the most concrete way we have of relating to and operating within the environment. Thus both the more particular and more general categories are more abstract. And yet our usual way of thinking is that the more particular the category the more concrete or relative the object it represents is and vice versa.

Which is indeed related to the absolute being asymmetrically dependent on the relative, if by relative we mean those concrete image schema which are the basis of more abstract derivations. It's easy to confuse them because our 'common sense' associates the more concrete objects of the world with the most particular objects on our constructed hierarchies; the same for the most abstract and ephemeral of thoughts, which do not seem physical or material. And yet these hierarchies are not constructed that way, instead being from the middle up and down via image schema and basic categories.

Such things are unconscious and not readily apparent. So of course we can 'reason' from both the bottom-up and top-down in such hierarchies if we associate the relative with the most particular and the absolute with the most general or abstract. But we do so from the most concrete of image schema, the actual relative, while the top and bottom of the usual, classical hierarchy are the most abstract.

[3] Habermas (1992) explored via Mead how our individuality is generated in the first place.

"[I]ndividuation is pictured not as the self realization of an independently acting subject carried out in isolation and freedom but as a linguistically mediated process of socialization and the simultaneous constitution of a life history that is conscious of itself" (152-3).

"[O]riginal self-consciousness is not a phenomenon inherent in the subject but one that is communicatively generated. [...] The consciousness that is centered, as it seems, in the ego is not something immediate or purely inward. Rather, self-consciousness forms itself on the path from without to within, through the symbolically mediated relationship to a partner in interaction" (177).

In my words, even the process of meta-awareness that we suppose is an individual achievement of meditation was preceded by how individuality is first enacted via socialization and language. That social process of self-reflective ego formation is indeed this meta-aware watcher (I) watching itself (me).

The practice of meditation brings this unconscious process into a more (but certainly not fully) conscious awareness. We could then project a more universal and ideal community valuation (another me) via meta-awareness of this postconventional I. It's a reiteration of the original meta-awareness process begun through conventional ego formation.

[4] Lenski (1996) thinks it’s the other way around. In his ecological-evolutionary theory, technology is the primary force is social change. Advanced technology provides a wider range of options which increase the potential for ideological change. Technology alters the system of rewards and costs and thereby changes preferences and choices. Either way, a change of consciousness accompanies technological change.


Works Cited

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