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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
British-born, Canadian Gerry Goddard was an astrologer, metaphysician, transpersonalist, consultant, writer, teacher and scholar whose special interest was the bridge between foundational astrology and the field of post-Jungian transpersonal studies. Gerry died unexpectedly in November of 2007 at the age of 64. Much of Gerry's written work is available at his memorial website: www.islandastrology.net
A Response to Andrew Smith
Gerry Goddard (1943-2007)
First I wish to thank Andrew Smith for his serious reading of my paper and his generous acknowledgments despite important critical differences. Unfortunately, I didn't deal with the vertical axis in my Holonic Logic paper; the very axis which is central in Smith's radical reframing of Wilber's hierarchy. Unlike Smith's single scale model, my model is grounded on a general acceptance of Wilber's holonic mapping of individual/social and interiority/exteriority side by side, all the way up and down (albeit with modifications and some different transpersonal implications). In fact, there seems to me to be very little connection between our models, so that while I think I generally understand the nature of his criticisms (and as a layperson dependent on lucid interpreters for my scientific knowledge, I am most interested to hear his important differentiations at the level of physical science), I am not sure of any real common ground that might be suggested despite his gracious response to some of my ideas.
Nevertheless, I can't resist Andrew Smith's sincere invitation to fruitful and respectful dialogue that he has extended to me and others, hence enhancing Frank Visser's excellent 'reading room'. I accept that the purpose of dialogue is not so much to convince or arrive at consensus, but to further develop and better articulate our own thoughts and with intellectual honesty, to be ready to modify our own positions. First, I'll address some of the points Smith has specifically raised in his critique of my reframing of Wilber's model. Then, on the basis of three of his several contributions to the 'reading room', I'll further address some of his arguments justifying his most contentious idea -- his 'one-scale model' which places individual and social along one vertical axis consisting of levels and stages while explaining exteriority and interiority strictly in upward and downward terms.
Looking Up and looking Down: Smith's identification of individual interiority with the superior social
Since I purposely did not engage the vertical axis in my Holonic Logic paper in order to avoid further complication and excessive length, I did knowingly collapse the different levels into my model of the compound human holon. So while I do not accept Smith's single vertical axis re. individual and social holons, it is appropriate to address his comments on the upward and downward nature of inner and outer (thinking and sensation) and try to clear up any misunderstanding that my incomplete (ie absent vertical axis) model may have caused.
I have modelled laterally on the LEFT both sensory experience which discloses a world of other's (a world in which one also appears as object for those others) and thought/feeling as disclosing an interior world. These two fundamental categories constitute the subjectivity of the holon which shows up as object for the other (as body, brain, behaviour, linguistic utterance etc. modelled on the RIGHT). The trouble is, if the compound nature of the holon is forgotten, then it looks like thought and sensation show up on the same level of the hierarchy which is not what I would claim.
Before answering Smith, I want to briefly explicate the nature of the division I draw on the LEFT all the way up (to the centaur) and down to atoms and galaxies. This is a differentiation that on the vertical scale theoretically begins with the living organism, pertaining to whether the "experience" is intra-organismic (internal sensation not caused by outer stimulus) or extra-organismic (sensory apprehension of outer cause). Of course, it is not until humans that such an increasing differentiation comes to constitute the very structure of the psyche which we know as self-reflexive consciousness. So mapping Inner/Outer experience on the LEFT we see: 1) The inner as internal bodily sensations to emotions to imaged memories to thoughts.; and 2) The outer as sensations of objects to perceptual cognizing of outer world to comprehending linguistic utterances of others. We see here that there is a profound interactivity and interdependence of both these categories on the LEFT. There is no Cartesian interaction problem (i.e. substance dualism) here because inner and outer are both experience. I need to make clear at this point that the bi-furcation that I map on the experiential and subjective LEFT is not a holonic bi-furcation (either Janus or dialectical) in the logical sense of the subject/object, the individual holon/social holon, and the agency/communion polarities.
Contrary to my inner/outer experiential division drawn all the way up, Smith maintains:
"When a holon looks down at lower holons, it experiences them as objects; this is Goddard's public experience. Thus we see tables, chairs, rocks, trees, other animals, and parts of our own bodies as objects....When we look up in the holarchy, in contrast, at holons above us, we experience thoughts, Goddard's private experience. What are these other holons above us? The are the various forms of social structure that we belong to, from families to multi-national organizations."
It is true that the social is interiorized as individual psyche (there is no private language etc. - Wittgenstein), but that does not make individual interiority identical with the social/collective. The consciousness of interiority, possible only as it is distinct from exterior perception, can arise only at the higher human levels; namely, the psycho-social levels beyond the original homosapien hardwired brain. Certainly, the experience of material objects occurs fundamentally through the senses, and sensory qualia are at the lower levels of the hierarchy -- understood in the Right hand sense through biophysics. What we humans call 'conscious seeing' is a complex process of bio-physical level sensory qualia and an interpreting cognition (perception) operating at higher levels in compound relation with all the lower levels.
When we perceive an object (either a pure object or the objectness part of a living organism) the "perceiver" consists not simply of the higher conceptualizing levels somehow "looking down" on the world, but a relative integration of all compound levels down to the levels of physics (the impact of light and sound on the physical and biophysical structures); holons interacting at all levels. Objects that we can touch or kick (or which we can observed through microscopes or deduce by means of various sophisticated paraphernalia) are indeed at lower levels of the Chain than the thinking mind, but the immediate apprehension of any 'b' by 'a' occurs at the same level becoming a whole perception as a downward embrace of all the layers of sensory phenomena all the way up -- the physics, the biology and the psychology of perception as a multileveled occurrence. From the point of view of the thinking "self", the sensory gestalt is 'given' from the lower levels. Thinking at the higher levels operates on the sensory data (perceived as the object world) from, in Wilber's map, the Upper LEFT (my left interior). It embraces the lower compound levels; but to say it 'looks down' is to introduce another dualistic subject/object problem. And the experience of interiority and thinking certainly isn't a 'looking up'. For example, a pre-self reflexive human certainly doesn't see what full self consciousness looks like by looking up -- but if and when she 'sees it', she is already evolving upward.
Above the level of objective sensory perception lies thought etc., and of course that is at the higher and almost uniquely human levels of the chain. But thoughts happen interactively at their same level (my thoughts interacting with each other and my thoughts interfacing with your thoughts) and embrace all lower levels of the compound. We also see other humans as objects insofar as they are, at lower compound levels, objects. At the highest second person dialogical level (thinking level to thinking level) the 'other' is no longer exclusively an object in the same concretely and sensorily perceivable sense. This is the linguistic intersubjectivity achieved in self reflexive societies.
As we go up the Chain, there is more and more of what we might normally mean by 'mind' (both conscious and unconscious mind) and less and less concrete 'matter'. This means as we go up there is less that is experienciable directly through the senses; more that is knowable through the intelligence. The core structure of experience is the interplay of subjectivity and objectivity; precisely the logic of the first and third person perspectives to be mapped horizontally at each level (prior to the transpersonal levels). Just as Smith's claim that when we 'look down' we see matter, but when we 'look up' we see mind, does not imply that mind is a higher level product of matter, neither does it demonstrate that mind is identical with the human social holon. I can agree with Smith's formulation only in the sense that the movement upward means an increase in consciousness, while a movement down means an increase of shadows (unconsciousness) and ultimately into the complete darkness of preliving matter. These higher level phenomena are psycho-social and appear in the logical form of subjectivity and objectivity.
To summarize: Smith tries to redefine my understanding of public and private experience by converting my horizontal explication to a vertical dimension. He says that when we 'look down' we see objects and when we 'look up' we experience thoughts. First, we can't 'look up' except to occasionally have glimpses of a higher dimension that we are not yet. Neither can we precisely be said to 'look down' -- rather, we embrace all lower levels as an integrated compound. Sensory qualia do not happen only when we "look down" -- they are already happening when certain conditions are met at lower levels in lateral terms: atom to atom, molecule to molecule, cell to cell when a certain level of organismic development is reached. The distinction of private and public perception is a conscious differentiation at the human level and not before. Certainly, the sensory levels located beneath the level of concept/word, disclose a world of objects and processes in time-space -- interacting objectively existing holons.
The fundamental nature of holonic logic as I understand it is that the holon is not the way things ultimately are; holonic logic is the way we are forced to see and interpret the 'way things are'. It is the epistemology that the 'universe' (defined in larger than physical terms) 'forces' upon us! The quadrants signifying the individual holon describe what we see when we look at reality in such a way that the particulars are taken to be primary: the quadrants signifying the social holon describe what we see when we look at reality in such a way that the particulars are seen as derivative, or seen in terms of the larger fields and processes (going beyond the particular exchanges between particulars which are the communions of individual holons).
I had said in my paper that because of their polar logical relation, we cannot say that the individual holon interacts (i.e. behaviourally, intentionally) with the social holon, but Smith (2001) takes exception to this:
"It simply is not true when Goddard asserts, that 'it makes no sense to speak of the individual holon directly interacting or relating to the social holon...' The idea of the group is in fact a social holon. When I vote in an election, pay my income taxes, or serve in a jury, I am not interacting with (or only with) other individual holons. I am interacting with social holons."
It is certainly the case that the content and structure of the individual psyche can be understood in purely social (cultural/linguistic) terms. But we cannot properly be said to actively and behaviourally relate to that inner content. We relate to others and to situations in terms of social agreements and common concepts. The social holon includes in its description my behaviour (both agentic and communal) within the larger situation. Certainly, in the common usage of 'individual' and 'social', people probably tend to mean what Smith means which is the interactive relation of the organism with its environment (at the human level: the individual and the society), such as in his example when one goes out to vote. When I say that the individual at, say, level 7 is the product of the dialectical relation of the individual holon and the social holon at level 6, I am not referring to a concrete interactivity between the individual holon and social holon at level 6. A dialectical relation is not an ordinary interactive conscious relation; conscious relating is the communal pole of the individual holon which is, in my view, not identical to the social holon. The social holon is constituted by both the agencies and the communions of all individual holons participating in a common cultural/linguistic pool -- the social holon is not just the communions of individual holons. (In my Holonic Logic I have pictured the logical relation of the individual and social holon as both Janus-faced and dialectical).
If the social holon at any level logically includes the individual holons at that level, any individual holon cannot logically be said to be relating to it. (But the social holon is not constituted by the individual holons in the vertical hierarchical sense). One side of the holonic map (the social holon) signifies the sense in which the individual is constituted by the society/culture and the way in which the society maintains its own structure and interacts with other socio-cultural entities. The other side (individual holon) signifies the way in which the individual, in being the "more" that s/he is, informs society and both maintains his/her own structure and relates to other persons. i.e. Society created individuals -- one truth. Society was created by individuals -- the other truth. I am not drawing a picture where we can say on one side ~ "There's Bill", and on the other, "There's Canada where Bill lives". There is a sense in which Bill and Canada show up on both sides: on the individual side we have Bill's body/psyche partly constituted by Canadian values but still a unique individual. On the other side, Bill shows up again as a citizen in the cluster of persons making up the political entity Canada. The social holon and the individual holon are two ways of looking at the same thing. One way of looking at something cannot "relate" to the other (polar) way of looking at it (even though it is logically related like the up and down ends of a see saw). In short, the logic of the 'individual' and 'society' in the normal sense is not equivalent to the holonic logic of the 'individual holon' and the 'social holon'.
Agency vs Communion
In Holonic Logic I had claimed that the dominant epistemology that had informed the self-reflexive and modern mind was the subject/object epistemology. The development of consciousness through this period was marked by a social holon that was increasingly communal (universalizing and including other cultures) and a fundamental self or mental-egoic structure which was informed by an increase of the agentic principle (individualistic, assertive autonomous rather than heteronomous) in the domain of the individual holon. But disagreeing (at least with what he thinks I am saying) Smith asserts:
"...members of modern human societies are more, not less, communal than members of earlier societies because they are embedded in more social interactions."
When he claims that the modern individual is not more agentic than the premodern, but actually more communal, I believe, in one sense, he may be conflating the nature of the individual with the nature of the modern 'social holon' which I entirely agree is more communal, profoundly more complex and interrelated, a social holon within which the modern individual holon is embedded. But when I claim that the modern mental-ego (individual holon) represents a dialectical increase of the Agentic pole since the pre-modern ego (and especially the ancient body-ego), I am not contradicting the fact which Smith points out concerning the complex linguistic and hence socially informed structure of this mental-ego over the earlier less sophisticated forms of selfhood. When Smith says modern humans are more communal than earlier humans he is correct in the sense that they are structured by more levels of communions. But this does not contradict what I am saying re. increasing individual agency and social communion through history.
Each level of the individual holon is constituted by the dialectic of the agencies and communions of the subordinate individual holon (within the larger dialectic of the subordinate individual and social holons). These social forms incorporated from subordinate levels of the hierarchy are introjected into an increasingly inclusive yet increasingly self directing and autonomous individual self-maintaining structure -- precisely the overarching Agentic function. Also, the more highly developed society is, of course, a more complex process growing out of its own agencies and communions of earlier levels as well as the contributions of individuals. As this incorporative process occurs, the individual has certainly gone through more communal interactions (more and more in verbal and dialogical intersubjective ways) than the individual at the subordinate level. But what has increased here is the complexity of the individual maintaining itself in an autonomous and self organizing, self-directing fashion as well as the complexity of communal valency (in linguistic terms). It has more autonomy or agency in relation to the social holon at its own level than the subordinate individual had in relation to its social holon (more conventional pressure to conform to the prevailing mores and specific paradigms). Also, the higher level social holon is more and more fluid, open, changing and global, less monolythic; hence, more communal.
The most significant overarching characteristic of society since the advent of full self reflexivity and the mental-ego from the Greeks and the Hebrews onward, is its patriarchy. The fact of patriarchy of the last few thousand years, which is the base line structure of Western culture for millennia, is the paradigmatic emphasis on the more male agentic/assertive over the more female communal/connective. The male principle of assertion (agency) has clearly dominated the principle of connection (communion). Only now, is this really beginning to shift in the world's democracies. What I am calling the more agentic modern society indeed acknowledges that a functionally healthy individual within it is constituted by more complex communal (linguistic etc.) processes than someone in a more 'primitive' society. But this is the mental level intersubjective process which I acknowledge. This is the complex linguistic bridging of increasingly autonomous egos which marks the modern society (now changing through the postmodern stage). In this sense, modern individuals operate as autonomous self organizing systems to a greater degree than pre-self reflexive individuals. But of course, the complex processes which constitute their minds are socially, linguistically and culturally informed. Every individual reflects society and vice versa -- the Janus-face relation. But every individual in order to develop as an individual must pull against the force of collectivization -- a force I call the primal agency of the social holon.
One can hardly dispute, for example, the growth beyond the medieval period of individualism through the Renaissance and the age of science. But with feminism, the rise of the communal principle to challenge the dominant male agentic principle is happening now. I did say in Holonic Logic that with the advent of the postmodern period and the rise of feminism most specifically, there is a shift of the pendulum in that individuals informed by the more agentic paradigm of the modernist period are now beginning to move back toward the communal pole toward more of a balance. As this happens, the social holon not only reflects a global universality, but also a new sense of local cohesion into new social agentic forms, a new appreciation of cultural diversity and the importance of the local which resists the global homogenization process of too much social holonic communality (and its accompanying urban alienated, separated, and pathologically agentic individuals). We are talking about deep structures and archetypal principles here which inform deep cultural paradigms which in turn inform structures of individual selfhood.
Freedom, autonomy and agency
Smith brings up the issue of the meaning of freedom and its relation to agency or autonomy and suggests that I seem to have conflated freedom and agency. He rightly states that a holon is freer the higher it is on the holarchy and that agency has nothing to do with how high on the holarchy a holon is. Apparently, this displays his disagreement with my concept of development as archetypally driven by the agency/communion dialectic where at different levels and stages one or the other poles tends to dominate over the other. But I certainly did not identify the sense in which higher levels are more 'free' with a steady increase of agentic emphasis all the way up. "Freedom" on both the individual and social sides of the holonic coin at each level is the degree to which a level transcends the "laws" governing the subordinate level. It is certainly true that an individual who lives in and enjoys the fruits of a freer society bringing into more balance his or her own agencies and communions can be said to be freer than an individual at a lower level who is more imbalanced either toward the agency or communion pole within a more socially restrictive society. The building of the modern ego (Enlightenment modernism) expressed a rather extreme emphasis of the agentic over the communal, but higher postmodern and integral developments of the individual - hence more 'freedom' - implies a coming back into more of an agentic/communal balance.
Concerning Smith's claim that "Holons can be either highly agentic or highly communal at any level of existence", I do not disagree with this nor do I say anything to contradict it in my paper. Individuals have their styles and temperaments -- some more agentic; some more communal. At the self-reflexive human up to the modern level this polarity has tended to divide along gender lines. The dominant paradigm is that of autonomy/assertion/agency exemplified on average by males more than females, but the gender disparity and the extreme agentic emphasis is now changing in democratic countries in the postmodern era. To repeat, we are talking about the archetypal and dialectical principles (we could capitalize Agency and Communion in the sense of overarching principles) which inform developments -- not so much the sense in which we apply agency/communion as psycho-behavioural traits.
For Smith, agency is greater at the lower stages of any of his levels when it is most independent of other holons and is strongest at the very bottom as embodied in the nature of the most maverick and dissociated entities. In fact, he seems to equate agency with dissociation and alienation. Extreme pathological agency is certainly dissociation just as extreme pathological communion is excessive dependence and a submergence of individual creativity in social conformity. But the meaning of a term cannot be properly equated with its pathological extreme. In fact, most of us will agree that modernism has indeed brought a great deal of dominance, power over, alienation, and dissociation, though we would not be justified in reducing modern society to such agentic extremism. But this is precisely why now the archetypal and dialectical pendulum is having to swing back toward a new balance of Agency and Communion. I want to add that relationship is built into my model even when one is being Agentic: We cannot even exist without already being in relationship! Society is not just the communions of individual holons, it is the interplay of the agencies and communions of individual holons within the ontological fact of ubiquitous relationship.
This brings me to the point about the nature of the subject/subject as distinct from the subject/object epistemology. Smith interprets these two epistemologies as ways of knowing inner and outer experience; categories which I have placed on the Left. (He then puts the one above the other which I think is incorrect). But I do not mean by subject/subject knowing how I know my own thoughts, or even, specifically the thoughts of another (as if by telepathy -- but I don't rule out something like telepathy at levels lower than the transpersonal). The differentiation on the Left occurs in humanity (and not significantly before) and does so as consciousness becomes aware of an outside and an inside. Such awareness is the subject/object epistemology which becomes the main basis for all cognitive developments in the modernist period. Subject/subject is not awareness of the (left interior)LEFT (i.e. private thoughts). It relates the individual holon to the other individual holon in a way distinct from the subject/object sensory and cognizing perception. It operates in us when we perceive the "person" beyond the body-brain, behaviour, and linguistic utterances. Though subject/subject knowing is engaged in the second person perspective, it is most present at human pre-linguistic levels and, at the higher levels, in a translinguistic sense. I take responsibility for perhaps not having clarified this concept adequately in my paper. I define these as two fundamental ways that one individual holon knows another. The modern intersubjectivity which Smith refers to in arguing that the modern individual is more communal, was explained in my paper as resting predominantly (but not entirely) on an agentic based subject/object epistemology. The dominantly communal early individual, though fully sensory, was coming from the subject/subject way of knowing more than is the modern individual despite the latter's' second-person linguistic intersubjectivity. (This went along with the smaller more cohesive society -- the agentic form of the social holon).
By subject/subject knowing I mean the way we know another beyond or behind the surface experience of him or her as an object; it is a co-presence of being, a harmonic resonance of being more primal than verbal communication, an 'in-synchness', an intuitive way of knowing. This 'in-synchness' is the basis of individual communion as central. Subject/subject gives arise to genuine intimacy, to art, to creative and perceptive ways of knowing beyond mundane experience and science. (The science vs art/humanities debate). On the other hand, subject/object perception is the basis of individual agency as central -- the clear subject/object distinction necessary for highly developed and effective agency.
Relating to the above section on agency/communion but addressing my distinction of the two epistemologies, Smith states: "Thus Goddard believes that individuals in our modern societies are more agentic than those of earlier societies, and tend to perceive objects (as opposed to thoughts) more than the latter individual did."
This is not an accurate paraphrase of my position. Modern individuals indeed have more complex thoughts and tend to exchange them in complex dialogues. Earlier individuals were relating more to the outer world, but did not perceive objects in the same distinct and material way that we do. At higher levels, subject/object knowing means more than the sensory perception of material objects. At conceptual and self-reflexive levels, objects do not simply denote material sensorily perceivable things -- they are increasingly abstractions of an objective nature -- e.g. church, university, nation state -- as well as the perception and cognition of another's verbal communications.
Obviously dialogical intersubjectivity is a lot more complex than simple sensory perception of an object, but it does rest on (agentic) cognitive operations on sensorily received linguistic signs. Subject/subject resonance is always present except in the pathologically dissociated (extreme agency), but it is not central in the modern mental-ego. As more and more people now move into deeper modes of awareness, they re-awaken and develop this mode bringing it more into balance with the subject/object based cognition. As we integrate into consciousness both subject/object and subject/subject modes of knowing, we will begin to cross the threshold to the transpersonal (or Return arc). Postmodern society along with emergent transpersonal and 'integral' experiential perspectives has as its telos, this threshold like one of Smith's hard levels toward which society is unfolding. But it isn't society per se which is unfolding through its stages toward this new and higher level deep structure; it is individual/society where 'individual' cannot be conceived as logically lower on the hierarchic axis.
Philosophy of Mind
Smith has suggested that my reformulation of Wilber's Left/Right implies a Kantian 'solution'. But the Kantian view is still grounded in the Cartesian subject/object duality, whereas my formulation rejects the intelligibility of independent subjects on the one hand and independent (and especially unknowable) objects on the other. Rather, there are only subject/objects, and what "exists" can only exist in relationship to other subject/objects at its level (lower exchanges which become included in the higher compounds). What an object is, is the holistic sum of its first person perspectival mode of experiencing, its third person mode of being experienced and its second person various modes of interchange (plus all 'yet-to-unfold' higher evolutionary possibilities). Actually, I am not accusing Wilber's larger cosmology of being Cartesian -- I am pointing out an inadequacy in his four-quad model specifically, that if not modified, implies a Cartesian view. I'm trying to bring the Left/Right more into accord with Wilber's own claim re. Spirit as the essence of everything manifesting in different forms at different levels. Rather than Kantian, my larger view is more resonant to the 'idealist pariah' Hegel than to Kant (plus a good dash of the 'romantic' and later Jungian depth perspective). The only noumenon is Spirit itself (gradually unfolding to consciousness) in its various forms a la the Great Chain of Being. Spirit manifests not only as consciousness, but as unconsciousness and every shade in between. Neither can we speak of consciousness (which ontologically is both a vertical awakening from unconsciousness to consciousness and a horizontal dialectic between consciousness as individual and unconsciousness as field) as identical with 'mind' as distinct from 'matter' (or 'body'). Both mind and body are forms of consciousness/unconsciousness. Spirit is not 'outside' somewhere interacting with matter; it is matter just as it is mind.
In terms of the mind/body issue, the 'hard problem' is a hard problem for the scientists and naturalists who prima facie reject the intelligibility of a transpersonal or transcendent perspective (with all its implications such as veridical OOBE's, NDE's, reincarnation and satoris that reveal ontologically higher states of universal Being rather than simply more complex brain states). It becomes a 'hard' problem when one is already committed to a fundamentally materialist ontology -- it is hard because, within that paradigm, it is logically impossible to solve! This is not to say that adequately formulating these matters within a perennialist or transcendent perspective is not a highly challenging and ever open ended process -- I would want to call it the difficult problem. It's just that mainstream naturalistic thinkers (which includes intellectually honest and liberal minded property dualists like Chalmers) won't 'get' that a new paradigm is called for when it comes to the mind/matter debate, just as the limits of Newtonianism required quantum theory and relativity.
The obvious non reducibility of consciousness (equals Spirit equals consciousness/unconsciousness) is a paradigmatic crisis within the naturalistic field at a time when cognitive science has become so sophisticated. (Despite Varela et als' efforts, cognitive science, no matter how sophisticated, doesn't fit the bill). The only problem is what we are going to call the one monistic ontological 'substance' -- and for the mainstream academic philosophical establishment, this can't be Spirit! Of course what comes first, not in space-time but as space-time, is what we call 'matter'. If there is some sort of 'mind' present, it is not specifically in or of the particle (individual holon), but undifferentiatedly, 'in' or 'of' the whole macrocosm/microcosm. This thoroughly material state is, ontologically speaking, the state of absolute unconsciousness (like absolute zero in terms of heat). This is unconsciousness, not the nonconsciousness which is ontologically dual with consciousness which creates all the problems around AI and cognitive science -- these theorists conflate nonconsciousness and unconsciousness. Consequently, those with intellectual integrity who are not prepared to jettison hard common sense concerning the undeniable reality of experience, finish up with a hard problem! Through evolutionary development, absolute unconsciousness (the level of physics analogous to deep dreamless sleep) begins to stir into lighter states of unconsciousness (simple celled biological levels analogous to dreaming sleep) to the beginning of actual awakening as simple consciousness (i.e. simple sensation through ever more complex organisms) and eventually to self reflexive consciousness in culturally advanced humans and beyond. (Notice how this account somewhat differs, at bottom levels, from that of the panexperientialism a la Griffin/Whitehead).
As Spirit gradually awakens through the process of evolution, mind and matter complexify and differentiate (this is not an ontological duality). Actually, in my view, Spirit does not awaken evenly. As consciousness awakens vertically level by level from absolute unconsciousness as matter to consciousness as self reflexivity and beyond, it does so as a dialectic between individual and social which includes individual mind and social mind. I maintain that consciousness awakens as individual mind, while collective or field mind remains unconscious (Sheldrake's morphic fields and Jung's collective unconscious) until individual and field mind begin to interpenetrate in the transpersonal. Mind and matter, subject and object, stay in logical relation just as do the first person and third person perspectives.
Science (and its resulting materialist and epiphenomenalist ontology) is an exclusive "coming from" the third person logical pole: when it does approach the first person, it does so only from a third person perspective. Kant bought into this 'unknowable object thing' which I do not. Actually, the Kantian type of 'noumenon' becomes the 'material' infrastructure of every individual compound holon which is unconsciousness -- this is why we can't 'know' it because if we did know it (perhaps through deep mystical experience) it would no longer be unconsciousness, i.e. it would no longer be matter (the whole universe becomes 'alive' and present in the deepest of mystical experiences which aren't simply taking place at the top of the Chain [i.e. as activity located in the highest centres of the brain] but reach down to embrace the whole compound).
Now I want to offer some thoughts on Smith's single axis concept.
Smith's Single (vertical) axis
In disagreement with Wilber's explication of holarchic succession and his particular distinctions between the 'individual' and the 'social', Andrew Smith establishes a linear succession of individual to social to individual all the way up the Chain thus allegedly obviating the need for distinct quadrants. Without denying the holarchic nature of the Great Chain and its general levels of evolving consciousness, it appears to me that the paradigmatic example of hierarchy that Wilber constantly refers to, namely, the lower levels of the Upper Right succession: atom to molecule to cell to organism, is inadequate by itself to establish the logical form of hierarchy all the way up even if confined to the Upper Right (individual-outer) quadrant. This structuration into higher individual forms of lower level communions does not take place in the same fashion after the level of organisms is reached. Thus atoms associate to form molecules etc., but once complex organisms are formed it is not through the similar associations of these organisms to form biological super-organisms which describes development, but rather, the process continues in an individual and intra-organismic fashion. It is at this point, certainly, that the associations of complex organisms must be mapped on a different axis than the lower level associations of atoms, molecules and cells; therefore, the distinct axis of the "social holon" becomes imperative. And it is this point which is pivotal in Smith's alternative view.
Nevertheless, despite a need for further clarifications and modifications (including an account of the processes between the levels involving a level/stage distinction perhaps resonant to Smith's), I am generally satisfied that Wilber's Upper Quadrants mark the development of the individual holon through successively higher structures of consciousness all the way up at least to the centaur. But while Wilber's use of the particular logic of hierarchy at the lower levels (atom to molecule to cell) may be inadequate to give a precise logical account of hierarchy all the way up, I believe that Smith's individual to social to individual scheme (albeit, based as it is on astute scientific arguments concerning lower level structures) is also guilty of something similar, though leading us to a less acceptable conclusion. Smith establishes his holarchic paradigm at the lower level (material and early biological) where higher individuals are actually structured out of the subordinate 'social interrelations', and then applies this logic all the way up through the higher developments of organisms and minds.
Smith's concept of 'molecular societies' runs into a problem that Wilber avoided by the latter's separation of 'individuals' and 'societies', a problem I do not believe Smith's otherwise important distinction between levels and stages is adequate to address. In agreement with Wilber, Smith is making atoms and higher level individual organisms analagous. But Wilber does not draw a simple analogy of atoms associating with their neighbours to form molecules with organisms associating with their neighbours to form the next higher structures. The way Wilber does picture it is critiqued by Smith who argues that galaxies, because there are merely 'heaps' of atoms, are not analogous to higher level animal and human societies which are not simply heaps -- ergo, galaxies and human societies cannot be mapped on the same axis as distinct from atoms and human individuals. But Wilber locates the interactive (communing) process of atoms associating with their neighbours within his Upper quads, meaning that the Lower quads (at least at the bottom of the vertical axis) are not distinguished as the particular and its surrounding environment but are, rather, defined as microcosm and macrocosm. If Wilber's example of hierarchy (atom in molecule in cell in organism) is inadequate to map the nature of hierarchy at higher levels, I believe that Smith's example is actually incorrect leading to the unfortunate conclusion that human society (seen solely in collective terms) is holarchically higher (in terms of his stage concept) than individual humans.
We must be careful to find a logical framework for holarchy that works all the way up and down. Part of the problem lies with the concepts "social" and "social holon". "Social" in a sense that we might normally be inclined to use it does, I think, conform to Smith's sense which means the communions of individuals applying equally to the case of atoms associating with other atoms in local space and to organisms associating with other same-level organisms within local ecosystems. However, Wilber's "social holon" if it is to work, cannot be based simply on the logic of "local association". It has to mean something like the polar corresponding whole to any particular defined in lateral terms. The logic at the human level relating individual self and society and the logic of the organism(s) and the ecosystem becomes at the very bottom of the hierarchy, not atoms and surrounding atoms, but the microcosm and the macrocosm. It is not true that the macrocosm (including galaxies, solar systems with planets capable of sustaining life) is just a giant random heap -- it is a macrocosmic order in its own right. Heaps are piles of non-reactive and non-communal atoms as Smith points out, but the universe as a whole and its fields of space/time/energy which inform galaxies and solar systems are surely not just heaps. The macrocosm is not reducible to atoms any more than atoms are reducible to the macrocosm. This fundamental polarity from the very smallest to the very largest will converge in terms of size, but at the higher levels the criterion of the relationship is no longer material/space/size. To not establish this as the fundamental polarity is to establish a cosmology which reduces everything to the smallest particulars -- a non-holistic, partistic and Enlightenment paradigm -- a reduction to the individual.
Apparently, Smith establishes his 'one-scale model' by defining the social holon as the complex communions of individual holons. Realizing that when Smith speaks of the social holon he is actually speaking of the communions of interacting individual holons, then we can describe heaps as the largely non evolving interactions of quantities of individual holons. This is particularly so on lower levels of the vertical axis, but it has its analogue at the human level where rigid and relationally closed individuals bump up against one another with little creative change to their respective psyches (extreme agency) and little contribution to collective social -- and consequently their own and others' individual -- development.
To repeat, my understanding of holonic logic goes like this: On one side of the Holonic coin we see the situation as individuals where the social is seen as the communions of individuals (this is the holonic side of the coin that Smith chooses). On the other side, individuals are seen as simply facets of, or processes within, a holistic and irreducible social pattern. All these vertical/horizontal confusions seem to hinge on an unclarity around the concept 'part/whole' which defines something as a holon. In Wilber's sense, part/whole defines the vertical axis as importantly distinct from the heterarchical horizontal axis. In the vertical sense, a holon is an integral whole to its constituent parts and a part of a higher level whole. But there is also the relationship of an organism to its environment where the environment is a larger and containing whole, though not in the same sense as a vertically higher whole. A community of higher level organisms does not constitute a higher organism, but may constitute an aspect of a co-evolutionary process out of which holarchically higher organisms may evolve. But the relationship between an organism and its environment is a describable process in naturalistic terms and can be mapped as a complex process of interactive communions among participant compound individual holons. What we are looking at here is the play of the agency and communion of individual holons constituting an ecosystem. I have argued that the organism/environment relation cannot be simply equated with the holonic relation of the individual and social holon. The latter relationship is a polar logical holonic relation between two complementary descriptions of the same phenomena. The ontology of the one face is individual: the ontology of the other is social. Smith (2001) falsely identifies the social holon with the communions of individuals: "I don't regard the agency/communion dyad as a fundamentally different kind of relationship from that of individual vs social holons." But I don't believe that he can validly reject the holonic logic of particular/social all the way up because it expresses a logical relation that is distinct from the either/or logical relation of agency and communion. (See my Holonic Logic for a discussion of the two kinds of holonic logic).
So from the point of view of the social holon there really is a sense in which the individual is an inextricable aspect of a seamless social process. From the point of view of the individual holon, society is, and only is, the patterns of interplay established through the communions of individuals. Smith combines both these concepts which can actually logically stand only in a polar complementary fashion and incorrectly maps them along one axis. He has in fact conflated the vertical part/whole holonic meaning with that (logically onesided) sense in which society can be seen as a seamless whole (i.e. the social holon). At the same time he has structured this within the logic of the individual perspective where society is nothing but the communions of individuals!
What society is, is the dialectical interplay of self and collective; in this sense I seem to be in prima facie disagreement with Smith's central conception. Mind is both individual mind and social mind. Logically, there is no such thing as simply the social; there is always and only the psycho-social. As Smith maintains, conceptualizing mind indeed stands above (with its Upper Right neuronal etc. patterns informed through self/other interactions and social conditioning) the concrete anatomical structure we have in common with our ancient ancestors; namely, the homosapien brain. But it is mind as individual mind structure and social mind structure which stands above individual human brain/bodies in their biospheric environment. To say that mind is social and stands holarchically above the brain does not refute the fact that the brain exists within its biospheric interactive environment at its own level, or that the 'social' always means the psycho-social. The social as understood in an exclusively collective sense makes no logical sense divorced from the concept of individual mind -- they are two sides of the same holonic coin.
What is most important is to see that the individual holons (i.e. persons) at the higher levels are informed not simply by individual holons at the subordinate level coming together through their communions to form a higher level individual but, rather, are products of the individual/social dialectic of the subordinate level. That is to say, that the higher level individual holon, and also the social holon within which it is embedded, are both the products of this subordinate level individual/social dialectic (which includes the agency/ communion dialectic).
Further to his point as to the mapping of society above the individual, Smith (2000) says, "What happens when we compare the person of today and the society of yesterday? Are we to say that the person, on level 12 or 13, is a higher order holon than the society on level 11? Can such an individual in any meaningful sense be said to transcend society?" If Smith is seeking to justify by means of this argument his putting society above the individual, then he is merely begging the question (i.e. already assuming the answer through his particular conflation of horizontal and vertical). We can certainly say without committing any category errors that the individual at level 12 or 13 is higher than the individual at level 11. And if all these individuals are average members and not advanced members, then the society at level 12 or 13 which is mutually sustaining with the individual at 12 or 13, can certainly be said to be higher than the society at level 11. This is precisely why we must make the logical distinction between individual and society at each level!
Criteria for modelling individual and social
Smith's (2001a) examination of the criteria by which we define different levels (hierarchy or holarchy) and the difference between individual and social holons leads him to the conclusion that individual and social holons alternate within the one axis. Specifically in human terms, this means that individual holons are subordinate to social holons. He sets up three criteria for distinguishing individual and social holons:
"Individual holons, unlike social holons: 1) can reproduce themselves; 2) can sometimes exist autonomously outside of higher order holons; and 3) contain all the individual and social holons on the level below them in both free and associated forms."
First, it is not possible for Smith to establish by means of these criteria a case for persuading us to accept his particular account since they already embody his conclusions. That is, they are definitions of his concept of the individual/social distinction rather than supporting arguments, and in that light I'd like to offer a few comments.
Concerning the first criterion: contrary to reproduction being restricted to individual holons, society is in a constant state of reproduction through time, precisely as history and the continuity of culture. (Suggestive of Dawkin's 'selfish genes', but viewed from the collective side of the coin, we might even say that society uses individuals to reproduce itself). But in fact, later in the same article he states: "In cultural evolution, reproduction, though carried out in a different manner, is the way that memes establish themselves in a population." (And also, I want to add, Sheldrakean morphic fields). Of course such reproduction is different because individual and social holons are different.
Concerning the second criterion, Smith states that "an organism...can sometimes live outside of social organizations..." But this is already defining social organizations as higher. If we mean by higher something more like Wilber means, then we can say that the social holon as well, say, medieval society, can certainly exist 'outside' of modern society. However, a biological organism, no matter how agentic socially, cannot exist outside of an ecosystem -- biological ecosystems being one level of meaning of the Quadrants denoting the 'social holon'. This merely points to the need to define the so-called "social holon" in larger than purely 'social' (in the ordinary sense) terms. (I have made the point in Holonic Logic concerning certain conflations of the social holon and communions of individuals even in Wilber's model, but Smith's conclusions do not necessarily follow from this unclarity of Wilber's distinction.)
Smith goes on to say, "A social holon, in contrast, lacks these properties. Consider, for example, a molecule, which I classify as a social holon, but which Wilber classifies as an individual holon. A molecule can't reproduce; most molecules can't exist outside of cells...." Despite his acknowledged difference with Wilber concerning the status of the molecule, if he is trying to demonstrate his thesis by means of these criteria, he is again begging the question since Wilber does not acknowledge the molecule as a social holon, so his argument presents nothing to refute Wilber in this regard. (But then I have already made this general point above).
With reference to criterion 3, he again uses the example of the molecule, thus further begging the question since the question under dispute is whether by these criteria the molecule has a right to be considered as a social holon. He writes: "...a cell preserves the properties of (some of) its component social and individual holons.... A molecule, in contrast, does not preserve the properties of (any of) its individual atoms."
Smith is using examples from the lower levels of the vertical axis and defining the social holon as the communions of individual holons. But he hasn't demonstrated that we are logically compelled to do this.
Consciousness as an inadequate criterion of the individual/social distinction
With reference to Wilber's statement that social holons do not have a subjective consciousness, I certainly understand Smith (2001a) when he says, "Though I believe, along with Wilber, that many lower forms of existence have some kind of consciousness, obviously there is no way to verify this in most cases. Thus the nature of consciousness is clearly inappropriate as a rigorous criterion for classifying holons." But it is the perennialist insight as to the levels of increasing consciousness which define the general levels of the Great Chain even if the concept of consciousness as such cannot provide, by itself, the more exacting criteria for precisely distinguishing one level from another. Also, as I have argued elsewhere, consciousness can only be understood in relation to unconsciousness in both a vertical and horizontal sense. When understood as a dialectic of awakening in terms of the polar principles of holonic logic, we have a broad framework for defining the individual and social holons and the successive levels -- a logical framework which does not suffer the same shortcomings as the naturalistic criteria cited by Smith which try to explain the whole model by making the lower levels paradigmatic for all levels. Of course the higher levels will look quite different from the lower levels. The physical infrastructure of the biological and the biological infrastructure of the mental look quite different but represent different levels of emergent consciousness. All levels are different manifestations of the same overarching archetypal principles.
Smith (2001a) may be correct when he says that some of Wilber's and Kofman's criteria for social holons fail to make a definitive distinction between individual and social holons because some of their criteria for social holons apply equally to some holons they hold to be individual holons; that is, they apply to molecules, cells, organisms as aptly as they do to social holons. But then he goes on to say of Wilber's list of social holons, "Are these different holons really that similar in their organization? I say emphatically no, for one major reason. Some of them -- galaxies, planets, and crystals -- are not higher in the holarchy than their individual component holons, while others -- ecosystems, families, tribes, communities -- are." But Wilber never said that galaxies, planets and crystals are "higher" (any more than he thinks ecosystems etc. are) which is precisely why he maps them horizontally. This is an odd way of arguing and seems again to be begging the question in some way if this point is meant to persuade us of Smith's main thesis. Just asserting that families etc. are higher than their component individuals is not to demonstrate by argument that they are. Of course, Wilber's 'social holon' must include a lot more than just groups of communing individuals. Smith argues that galaxies, planets and crystals do not have emergent properties beyond their constituent atoms; but then in parentheses he acknowledges that this is not quite true of planets. This should hardly be relegated to an aside for it is a most central point. Galaxies and planets are not just heaps, but the macrocosm evolving toward a confluence, as biosphere and ecosystem, with the microcosm as the latter evolves into organisms. But when Smith points out that "these kinds of existence are conflated with societies" it certainly reveals that the word 'social' is not adequate as an overarching term for all that must be mapped along the axis of the "social holon".
Criteria for the higher/lower vertical distinction
Smith looks at two criteria for defining the nature of higher and lower. One is the general scientific notion of emergence (which is often nothing more than a reductive supervenience); the other is Wilber's concept where "there is an asymmetric relationship between a higher level and a lower level. The existence of the lower is necessary for the existence of the higher, but the reverse is not true."
Re. the emergence criterion as a generally accepted basis for the idea of successive levels: Smith (2001a) argues that human societies specifically demonstrate emergent properties not manifested by any single member and are hence higher than human organisms. He gives an example of a large building pointing out that it is the "product of society, not of individual human beings." Admittedly, it is the product of human cooperation! It is the product of the communions of individual holons which Smith defines as society. And of course, these individuals are informed by larger socio/cultural factors. But this 'society' which allegedly stands higher than the individual organism (as considered biologically identical with original homosapiens) has also been informed by individuals. There is no such thing as a pure collective; there are, logically, only individual/collectives.
The underlying assumption here is that any concept of emergent properties, or something 'greater than the sum of its parts', implies vertical holarchy. Actually, it characterizes vertical holarchy but is not confined to it (a necessary but not a sufficient condition). This confusion occurs because science, not recognizing polar holonic (or complementary) logic, puts things into one logical sequence and is thrown into a tiz wuz over such "paradoxes" as the wave/particle nature of light, or the sudden 'emergence' of experiential properties from complex brain structures. On both sides of the individual/social holonic divide there are different emergent properties. The same level does not just mean "more of the same". This ontological Janus/faced nature of reality arises because of the subject/object nature of our epistemology this side of the Return arc (trans-egoic levels).
In discussing the criterion of asymmetric existence, Smith states: "...if we eliminate all organisms, we will eliminate all societies. But the converse is not true; eliminating all societies will not eliminate all organisms"; ergo, societies are above organisms as the latter are above cells etc. But for one thing, the 'social holon' of a biological organism is a biological ecosystem so the elimination of the social holon will certainly eliminate the organisms. It cuts both ways evenly. And if we are talking about the mental-social level it also cuts both ways evenly, for one can defend the laterality of individual and social by countering that by eliminating modern society we do in fact eliminate all humans of the kind found in modern society! But Smith claims that if we resort to this argument we are led to an unacceptable conclusion. Through a kind of reductio ad absurdum, he claims to demonstrate that if we follow Wilber's own criteria to demonstrate such a symmetry between individual and social, then we are forced to conclude that there is no such thing as hierarchy anywhere.
He argues that if we resort to the above symmetry argument (i.e. that if we eliminate societies, we eliminate the sort of humans informed by those societies) we must apply the same logic to other levels of existence. For example, given that not all cells, but only certain bonding cells, make up organisms, by eliminating organisms we also eliminate the particular kind of cells in organisms and so on down. In other words, if we resort to the above argument to establish laterality, then we have just demonstrated laterality for that which has already been established as hierarchical. But I would answer that the criterion of what makes a modern kind of human (as a member of modern society) is different from the criterion which differentiates agentic and communal holons at the levels of atoms, molecules and cells. The lateral symmetry necessary to establish a horizontal relation between individual and social holons cannot then be simply applied to the particular hierarchic structuration of atom-in-molecule-in-cell. To use the molecule example, agentic and communal molecules exist at the same level so that some of them (the communal ones) will be wiped out by the elimination of all cells (because they only exist as such in cells), but some (the agentic ones) will remain at that subordinate level. But in the example of modern humans, there will be no humans remaining at that level -- only those humans at a subordinate level. It is not the case that communing humans alone will be wiped out leaving the agentic ones. Therefore Smith's logic does not prove that claiming symmetry between individual and social holons implies that no hierarchy can be found anywhere. To put all these cases into one category is to commit a category error. He is again, prima facie, defining the social holon strictly as the communions of individual holons. This argument depends on Smith's point about communing individual holons as alone constituting the higher level holon and even if this may be seen as true at the lower levels, it is certainly not true at higher levels. (Another example of the questionable use of a structure at biophysical levels as paradigmatic for the whole hierarchy). I have argued elsewhere that even if Wilber himself tended toward a conflation of individual communion and the social holon, it is simply incorrect, and the distinction of individual and social holons needs to be further clarified. In conclusion, Smith's case re. emergence and asymmetric existence at best only shows that the criteria of emergent properties and ontological asymmetry are not sufficient conditions for establishing verticality between individual and social holons. It remains that a distinction in emergent properties and a logically nontrivial ontological symmetry characterizes the relation between individual and social holons.
Some final thoughts on holonic logic and Smith's single scale mapping
When Smith (2001a) states that Wilber's four quadrants "are supposed to represent not really different holons, but different views, or aspects, of the same holons" and then goes on to say, "we can't imagine any holon that from one point of view, is an individual, and from another point of view is a society", he is getting at what I see as the core issue that underlies the problems which I have addressed in my cited paper. I have argued that Wilber's Four-Quadrant model precisely as mapped does not show the four faces of the "holon" but rather pictures two logically different kinds of holon -- the individual holon and the social holon -- each with two faces. The logic which relates two kinds of holon is not the same as that which maps the bipolar nature of any holon; namely its inner/outer and agentic/communal polarities. This is why Smith, trying to make sense of Wilber's model (to show that it doesn't make sense) cannot look at "a holon" and say that it is individual from one angle and social from the other. Epistemologically the world must always reveal itself -- this side of the transpersonal -- as individual from one face and social from the other. From the individual side society appears as the communions of individuals who constitute the building blocks of society. From the social side individuals appear as constituent individual features, but not as building blocks -- rather as nodes in a network. Smith's correct assertion that we cannot say of a specific holon (for we have already in identifying the holon classed it on one side or the other) that it is both social and individual, does not refute the fact that relationship of 'individual' and 'social' constitutes a polarity and hence not a holarchic containment. I believe my account establishes a reasonable logical relationship between individual and social; one that maps a different foundational holonic logic than that of Smith. Thus, Smith's above objection points to the need for the kind of remapping of Wilber's model I have elsewhere offered.
I understand that Smith is not claiming that human individuals are a part of a higher level holon called society in precisely the way that molecules are parts of the higher level holon called the cell. But he is saying that they are parts of a higher stage, like molecules are parts of tissues (and we do not see "above us" sufficiently to grasp the nature of that higher level holon yet to form which is like the cell which is made up of the tissues). Smith claims that society is more than any of its individuals. For one thing, as I have argued above, this does not thereby logically imply verticality. For another, since Smith equates society with the communions of individuals (e.g. tissues), it is analytically or trivially true (rather than concretely true as in emergence) that society is "more" than any one individual considered alone.
Yes, society is a moving toward a higher level, a level unlike any on the Outward arc (i.e. up to the centaur in Wilber's terms). This higher level is an integration of individual and collective within a dimension which is truly holarchically higher than both. And this particular holarchic relation of the transpersonal levels to the personal and prepersonal levels (the 4-quad model as mapped) certainly cannot be mapped according to the structural and physical level paradigm of molecule-in-cell. But if the individual was already subsumed in society, then the transpersonal would not be a genuine integration of the individual and the collective. From Smith's view, we can't even say that the individual self surrenders to and becomes subsumed in the larger whole at this higher level because it is already a part of the larger whole called society. A mystical transcendence of ego in this view would mean that it is society that is realizing itself as a part of Spirit. So when a deep meditator has an experience of cosmic oneness which includes a connective oneness with all beings, it is apparently not that person whose self boundaries have opened, but society which is having the experience and being transformed! This doesn't even make sense to me!
Organisms cannot exist without the biosphere and humans cannot exist as healthy evolving creatures without society. Evolution is always a co-evolutionary process where organisms and environments, individuals and societies evolve interdependently. Members of society share the same languages, common pools of experience and basic assumptions, but society (the collective) does not just evolve itself. Just as it feeds and sustains individuals, individuals pull society forward or nudge it into regressive patterns. Of course these 'individuals' do not do it in complete isolation, they are in communion; but who they are includes, but is more than, their communions. (Even if people were no more than their communions, that still does not constitute the social holon per se). What society is, is always a dialectic of individual and collective even if both those distinct terms ultimately disappear into a higher holarchic level of the transpersonal. But the individual does not move into the transpersonal through society already above him or her. Nor is it merely society as the collective which has transpersonal awakenings.
According to Smith's model it makes no sense to think of an individual transcending his or her self boundaries in the transpersonal. The only way it might make sense is to say that the transpersonal is reached when any who imagine themselves to be distinct individual entities realize that aspect of their being which is an integral piece of the fabric called mental-society. But this could refers only to the mental-verbal facets of one's being. In the mystical experience, the larger whole that one experiences oneself as (or is absorbed into), is much more than mental society. Language and culture is only one braid in the cosmic fabric and if one were already nothing 'more' (beyond the lower compound sense) than this one braid, one could not go on to realize one's being to be so much more.
In conclusion, I hope that my critical response to Andrew Smith is taken in the positive spirit of a co-investigation into open ended realms where in the true social sense, no one person alone can ever hope to achieve a definitive articulation.
Goddard, G. (2000) "Holonic Logic and the Dialectics of Consciousness."