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".
Imre von Soos, architect, civil engineer, research scientist, philosopher and writer is a Hungarian born, Hungarian and Australian national. His anti-communist activities have forced him to escape from Hungary, and he lived and worked since in Australia, France, Germany, Austria, England, Switzerland, Brazil, the Czech Republic and now again in Austria. Read more... .
RETHINKING POPULAR PHILOSOPHIES
Comment on Scot Parker's "Is Wilber's Integral integral?"
Imre von Soos
I start by connecting to the last question in the essay, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" with an often repeated experience of my youth, as described in my book Against the Current, which has key relevance to what I will be saying further:
"I was laying on my back in my bed and stretched my feet out between the bars and touched the wall at the foot of my brother's cot. I was less than three years of age, and the wall was six feet away from my head. I had the size my body has finally covered by the time I reached twenty, and a returning question in my mind, which I must have brought with me from the aeons: "How would it be if there would be nothing, instead of being everything?" I have imagined nothing, and its void produced a desolate and empty feeling in me. This experience I could call up at will, and did so during many years to follow. The strength of the experience remained, keeping alive one most important sentiment, that has reached its special significance by being rationally analysed. My returning question was: "How would it be if there would be nothing?" and not: "How would it be if I would not be, but everything else would?" This possibility has simply never entered my mind. The "I", the consciousness that I felt, represented to me the being of everything, and was the sine qua non of all existence: "everything is because I am". As the consequence of this understanding and the knowledge that the existence of this eternal "I" is independent of my temporal body; or maybe as a consequence of something very much more extensive than what this knowledge is only a part of, I have never feared death. And, consequently, I have never feared life either. This is an absolute, calm, joyous and steady knowledge of the fact that I am, that I am that I am, and this knowledge is as boundless as is the "Infinite I"."
All integral theory hinges on the question of consciousness. For anything to explain everything, it must, at least provisionally, solve this riddle.
Consciousness is a fundamental, unique, sine qua non attribute of the universal and of the individuated Self, as are Mind and Will. Being fundamental, it simply IS, and is thus all-pervading. Being unique, it cannot be defined in terms of anything else, it cannot be approached through similes drawn from the familiar world of material existence. Being of a higher dimension, it cannot be explained using lower level references (reductionism). While all natural laws apply to all reference systems, and while all reference systems are equivalent for the description of the natural laws, these laws will be understood only if the consciousness transcends the world-view limited by that system.
The integral critique of science is that it is incomplete. It cannot account for subjectivity, the interior in Wilber's writings. An integral theory, it is argued, would account for how interior and exterior (subjectivity and objectivity) are related. While Wilber has taken on this crucial topic and modelled the relationship between interiors and exteriors, his models have been strictly expository. He has correlated the two, but never fundamentally related them.
An integral theory must render a causal explanation for the physical and mental components of reality.
In my essay, Natural Order Universal Relativity, posted a few weeks ago on Integral World, I have explained, within the holon-pholon theory, how interior and exterior (subjectivity and objectivity) underlying principle and its material manifestation are related; the rules by which the constituents relate to each other so as to form ever more complex things; the kind of relations that prevail among them; and identified the most basic kind of things that exists; the things that generate other things without being generated by them. The theory is over two decades old and is still waiting to be contradicted rationally.
Wilber's theory is not integral. It is a description of reality, a wide-ranging catalogue at that. But without answering the question of what underlies this relationship between interiors and exteriors, it evades the heart of the issue.
Until it is grounded in an underlying cause with explanatory power, it won't do for philosophy or science.
Wilber's theories are "integral" only by label but not by substance. They contain no "integral", universal thinking, no integrating into a whole, but rather a "differentiating" to define the tangent of a great complex at the unique point of the species Homo sapiens of a planet of a small solar system; a species that is then further differentiated and categorised into colours and boxes without any pragmatic sense or value. They represent rather a belief-system instead of a knowledge-system. The interior underlying principles are approached on a religious, dualistic basis, as some extrinsic realities that "interact" with the physical manifestations, without even approaching the questions of what it is and why and how it does that.
Wilber's holon-concept that considers summa Homo sapiens, collectivised as "humanity", as a bona fide holon a harmonious life-unit of the holistic chain of the universe when no nations, societies and not even today's families can be considered harmonious life-units, just adds to the confusion in the general picture presented. It treats the rest of this living planet as "the environment in which we humans live", ignoring the fact that the only true social holons are the ecological and major ecological communities, without the harmonious, symbiotic coexistence of which no member, individually or collectively very much including Homo sapiens can survive longer than he can keep his breath. His idea about a "heap" being a sub-category "holon", like are (human) "social holons" and "holons"(?), is worth any heap of whatever one can imagine. I do not know on what logical foundation could
Panpsychists argue that because neither matter nor mind could ever give rise to the other, both must be different fundamental aspects of everything.
When mind is the underlying principle of the creation and continuous maintenance of matter (see my abovementioned essay and the "pair-production" of Quantum Theory , Schroedinger, Bohm, Heisenberg). In the sentence that
Epiphenomenalists believe that mind is the product of brains working.
The word "believe" expresses its scientific value. Here is a quote from a 23 page thesis of a very prominent US neurosurgeon:
"That mind cannot exist independently of matter and energy I take as axiomatic: that mind assumed certain properties radically different from organizations of matter and energy I take as empirical fact. The reconciliation of these two I regard as a mystery upon which I throw no light."
How, for crying out loud, can, not a well-known neurosurgeon, but any simpleton who claims to be able to think at all, take something honestly as axiomatic a self-evident truth, an established principle , if he is unable to reconcile it with empirical facts? Not even empirical facts the fundamental conditions, according to the NAS, to form "a part of science" are powerful enough to overrule indoctrinated and compulsory scientific credos? Another ιclatant example that the conflict of the "world of science" and the "world of religion" are the conflicts of belief-systems, the battles of dogmas against dogmas, each conscious of, but disregarding the empirical facts contradicting their own dogmas.
If science ever establishes a causal relationship between interiors and exteriors, it won't necessarily mean an integral theory, but it will allow for the possibility of one.
Science could never establish a causal relationship between interiors and exteriors as long as it fundamentally negates the existence of interiors on the ground that it considers it a religious mambo-jumbo as presented by all eastern and western religions, sects and institutions. The "interiors", the underlying principles of all material manifestations, must be first removed from the religious and emotional spheres of extrinsic entities to whom/which people pray, whom/which people fear, adore and have demands on; and placed into the rational sphere of the fundamental Mind, of the intrinsic minds behind every manifestation.
Ervin Laszlo thinks that information is the fundamental basis of our universe, that it is inherent in nature and a factor in guiding evolution. If we can understand the initial conditions of information and energy we can have a valid integral theory.
Information, while it is the fundamental basis of the universe, is the dynamic, fluid product of the mind, which is underlying each and every holistic component of Universal Life. An information quantum a thought-form defines and maintains all the aspects of a physical entity.
"Matter, in all its forms, is a structured process complex of by the mind ordered energy-fields at all levels of its manifestation, and the Universe as any part of it is formed by order imposed over the primordial Chaos by the Ordering Principle which pervades it. This also implies that action is by the mind directed energy exerted towards an accomplishment.
"It further expresses that free energy and differentiated Universal Mind are the two common denominators of all the material manifestations in the Universe. Mind produces abstract thought, energizes it through the will into thought-form, which is the psychical expression of the mind, and then into physical manifestation form or action. Both psychical expression and physical manifestation are concrete: both have objective reality. In constant action they maintain and recreate the Universe. This is a Basic Principle of the Psycho-physical Reality." (von Soos 1984)
My own best guess is that consciousness is emergent. As brains become increasingly complex and are able to hold more advanced models and carry out more complicated functions, the subjective experience of an "I" inside becomes more firmly entrenched.
If we ever do come up with strong evidence for how brains produce consciousness, then emergence will be the ground for an integral theory.
Consciousness, being a sine qua non universal attribute, is not the product or function of the physical brain. Even the simplest amoeba perceives, acts and reacts rationally at it own level to its environment. Not even multicellular organisms belonging to the phylum Echinoderma (e.g. the sea-cucumber, one of our direct ancestor in line) have brains or even a nervous system, but are conscious at their own level of existence. There exists not the slightest evidence that brain produces consciousness, let alone how it is supposed to do it.
"Let us now return to our ultimate particles and to small organizations of particles as atoms or small molecules. wrote Erwin Schroedinger The old idea about them was that their individuality was based on the identity of matter in them...The new idea is that what is permanent in these ultimate particles or small aggregates is their shape and organization. Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This as we know, is what the Brahmins express in the sacred, mystic formula which is yet so simple and so clear: "Tat tvam asi.", this is you...and not merely "someday" but today, every day she is bringing you forth, not once, but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over, for eternally and always there is only now, and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end."
The true, deep understanding of what Schroedinger has expressed in these few lines is the ground for an integral theory.
Until Laszlo's information or science's brains or something currently unimagined answers the Hard Question of Consciousness and gives a causal argument for what underlies all of our disparate fields, a merely descriptive theory, no mater how inclusive, will not be integral.
These questions have been all answered in the writings of Bohm (the implicate and the explicate order), Heisenberg, Schroedinger, C. G. Jung, to mention only a few, as in my thesis Natural Order Universal Relativity.
Maybe the problem is that even if some groups have separated themselves from Integral Institute and are strongly criticising many of Wilber's propositions and have the intention to develop some new thoughts, these thoughts and their further arguments are always based on Wilber's premises and on the colour-hues of his AQAL categorizations. Why not forget all the previous assumptions, whatever their origin, and start to rethink all the actually popular philosophies and credos?
Fat chance! Because we read only those theses or postings and "We hear only those questions for which we are in a position to find answers" Nietzsche.