The Kosmos Trilogy Vol. II: Excerpt B
The Many Ways We Touch
The First Useful Principle: Nonexclusion
On a metatheoretical level, exactly how to incorporate what are at times conflicting paradigms into an integrative web is a difficult, delicate issue. If we accept the validity of a plurality or multiplicity of paradigms and their enacted phenomena—and given the fact that many of these paradigms do not, to put it politely, accept each other—then how to weave them all together in something of a coherent whole becomes a difficult task indeed. To say that “Everybody is right” is one thing; believably weaving them together, quite another.
There appear to be at least three integrative principles or guidelines that are useful in this endeavor—that is, three guidelines that can help incorporate the most number of truths from the most number of sources (and thus validate the most number of people, who are already engaged in those practices anyway).
The first useful integrative principle is nonexclusion. Nonexclusion means that we can accept the valid truth claims (i.e., the truth claims that pass the validity tests for their own paradigms in their own fields, whether in hermeneutics, spirituality, science, etc.) insofar as they make statements about the existence of their own enacted and disclosed phenomena, but not when they make statements about the existence of phenomena enacted by other paradigms. That is, one paradigm can competently pass judgments within its own worldspace, but not on those spaces enacted (and only seen) by other paradigms.
For example, we may take it as provisionally true that, as claimed by empirical physics, a water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. This is a provisional truth established by time-honored paradigms of empirical natural science, and it concerns statements about the existence of phenomena that are enacted, brought forth, and illumined by an elaborate set of paradigms or social practices engaged in by physical scientists. (Have you ever seen a hydrogen atom? Me neither, because it is not an experience lying around out there in the sensory world waiting for all and sundry to see, but a series of experiences that are enacted and brought forth by elaborate physical science paradigms, experiments, and injunctions. Still, within those paradigms, we have reason to suppose those claims are true enough. At any event, AQAL makes that assumption under the guiding “Everybody-is-right” meta-paradigm. I believe it when these scientists tell me that water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, because these are decent men and women engaged in their social practice with integrity, and as far as I can tell, they have never lied to me before. And anyway, if wanted to, I could spend four or five years learning how to practice the paradigm and find out for myself, but I think I’ll just take their word for it right now. And notice that, within the paradigm of physical science, you can make strong judgments: it is categorically false that water contains 8 hydrogen atoms. So statements of “correct” and “incorrect” can be adjudicated within paradigms.)
But when physical science goes from making a statement about the phenomena enacted by its own paradigms and begins making assertions about phenomena brought forth by other paradigms—whether in hermeneutics, depth psychology, or spirituality—we are allowed to—how shall I put this kindly?—let out a big yawn. If you have not engaged the paradigm, injunction, or social practice of another discipline (whether collaborative inquiry in hermeneutics, phenomenology in depth psychology, or meditation in spirituality)—then you will not have access to the enacted and disclosed phenomena of the paradigm, and thus you are not competent to pass judgments in that domain, any more than somebody who refuses to learn physics is allowed to meaningfully vote on the existence of hydrogen atoms.
Nonexclusion means that the paradigm of one field can be used to pronounce on the phenomena of that field, but not on the phenomena of another field brought forth by different paradigms—and it certainly cannot be used to deny, exclude, marginalize, oppress, colonize, or otherwise do violence to other paradigms, other fields, other data domains, other experiences brought forth by other legitimately engaged injunctions. In short, one paradigm cannot be used, by itself, to exclude other legitimately enacted paradigms.
If we accept the nonexclusion principle, then—in this particular example using physics—we are faced with this task: given the experiences, data, and phenomena brought forth by the physical sciences, how can we conceptually fit those into a scheme that makes room for (or does not exclude) the other phenomena of the many other paradigms? In other words, how can we allow the existence of the phenomena of physical science without those phenomena excluding and denying others?
This is where a metatheory or supertheory of relating data domains becomes helpful. Any plausible integral metatheory—by virtue of its attempt to acknowledge all major legitimated paradigms in various fields—would set implicit boundaries to the believability of any single paradigm operating on its own. An integral metatheory would, in effect, free the paradigm by limiting it.
As it is now, when any paradigm oversteps its authority and begins to make pronouncements about other phenomena brought forth by other paradigms, the only principle guiding the pronouncements tends to be, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” My paradigm is the best, only, real, and/or authentic mode of inquiry, and the phenomena of your paradigm can all be reduced to the phenomena brought forth by my paradigm. If you are a die-hard physical scientist, you imagine that the phenomena brought forth by other paradigms (such as hermeneutics, meditation, systems theory, or postmodernism) can all be reduced to a “consilience” of laws governing fundamental physical particles; and if you are postmodernist, you return the favor and claim that all physical particles are nothing but social constructions, a reality revealed only by your own deconstructive paradigm. Thus proceeds the first-tier food fight.
To “free a paradigm by limiting it” means that, with any integral orientation, the already existing boundaries of a particular paradigm become more obvious, and thus when operating within those bounds, the pronouncements of a particular paradigm become even more believable, while pronouncements outside its bounds become even less so. Part of the problem with individual paradigms and the fields growing up around them is that when those paradigms pretend to cover the whole of reality, and yet when they fail to deliver the whole of reality, the entire paradigm itself is questioned and often rejected, when all that needs to be questioned is its exclusivity claims.
But if the paradigm refuses to acknowledge its already existing boundaries, it either starts issuing promissory notes (“I cannot explain all of reality today, but I will be able to do so tomorrow, I promise”—materialism, for example, has been issuing this promissory note with increasing gusto for two-thousand years and has never once delivered), or else the entire paradigm is rejected with disgust, if not by its practitioners, then by the rest of the world reduced to conciliatory appendages of this chosen paradigm. But by limiting the applicability of the paradigm to within the already existing bounds of the paradigm, its actual potential, within those bounds, is freed to make its own crucial contributions. Hence, “free a paradigm by limiting it”—which allows different data domains to retain their own reality but not nullify the reality of others.
In the present example of physics, the question was, “How can we allow the existence of the phenomena of physical science without those phenomena excluding and denying others?” AQAL metatheory suggests one such integral interpretation, namely: the accepted paradigms of physical sciences (e.g., chemistry and physics) are disclosing the third-person singular dimensions of holons accessed and brought forth by an orange or higher probability wave. Within that well-defined spacetime locale of the AQAL matrix, we take physical sciences very seriously. Outside of that locale, they are simply not qualified to pass believable judgments.
Likewise with collaborative inquiry, phenomenology, intersubjective postmodernism, interobjective systems theory, and so on. All such legitimately enacted paradigms are bringing forth and highlighting various locales in the AQAL lattice. (How do we know this? Because numerous human beings are already doing those practices, so they must exist somewhere in any adequate map of what is.) Perhaps they are lighting up the first-person singular modes of being-in-the-world at a yellow wave (and thus activating psychological drives of self-actualization); perhaps they are lighting up the second-person plural modes of being-in-the-world at a green wave (and thus activating a sincere concern with diversity and multicultural sensitivity); perhaps they are lighting up the third-person plural modes of being-in-the-world at a turquoise wave (and thus activating a profound ecological concern with all living beings); perhaps they are lighting up the first-person plural modes of being-in-the-world at a blue wave (and thus activating an sincere concern for social stability and accountability); or perhaps they are drilling down into the third-person singular modes of being-in-the-world at a microscopic level and thus attempting to find a cure for the HIV virus.
All of those paradigms and social practices have a right to tell us about their own truths; they do not, in themselves, have the right to exclude other truths. Hence, the first useful integral guideline, that of nonexclusion.
The Second Useful Principle: Unfoldment
The nonexclusion principle goes a long way in helping us to integrate a plurality or multiplicity of paradigms (and thus develop a metatheory that is true to the phenomena enacted by the social practices of an integral methodological pluralism). But even within nonexclusion, numerous conflicts arise, and how to integrate those becomes a pressing issue. This is where the second integrative principle, that of unfoldment, can be of help.
Here’s a simplistic example. Imagine the time when atoms, but not yet molecules, had evolved. Atoms—such as a hydrogen atom—were more inclusive than their subcomponents—such as protons, neutrons, and electrons. Thus, at that time, atoms were the most integrative, most holistic, most inclusive, most evolved, most depthed holons in existence. When atoms emerged, they did not make protons and neutrons “wrong,” only partial. Protons and neutrons were now truths that were part of (or included in) a yet larger truth. Likewise, when molecules emerged and included atoms as subcomponents or subholons in their own makeup, that did not make atoms wrong, only partial: true but partial, or a whole that is now part of a larger whole. When cells emerged and incorporated molecules, that did not make molecules wrong, inaccurate, stupid, illusory, or anything of the sort—rather, true but partial.
It appears that there is a general reason for that “true but partial” movement, namely, the Whiteheadian nature of moment-to-moment existence. As we saw in Excerpt A, each moment prehends, feels, or includes its predecessor, and yet also adds a new, creative, or novel aspect that goes beyond or transcends anything in the previous moment, so that each moment transcends and includes its predecessor. That is another way of saying that each moment is true, and then each succeeding moment renders it true but partial. Each moment is a whole that becomes a part of the whole of the next moment. Each moment, or each actual occasion, is a whole/part, or a holon. When it arises, it is the whole truth; by the time it subsides, it is merely a partial truth in yet wider unfoldings.
This holonic or holarchical pattern of flowing existence—transcend and include—is summarized in the principle of unfoldment. This heuristic principle suggests that all paradigms, like all moments, are in themselves true and adequate; but some paradigms can be more encompassing, more inclusive, more holistic than others. This does not render the other paradigms wrong, inaccurate, stupid, illusory, or anything of the sort—they are true but partial.
How can we believably move from nonexclusion to unfoldment? It helps if we first state the central tenet of nonexclusion in this way: no human mind can produce 100% error. If you look at the plethora of methodologies in the human arts and sciences, you will find phenomenology, hermeneutics, structuralism, poststructuralism, collaborative inquiry, participatory epistemology, social systems theory, mathematical computer modeling, and so on. As we just noted, innumerable human beings are already engaged in all of those practices. It is not a matter of whether any of those practices are worthy or not; it is simply a fact that an extraordinary number of bright, intelligent, caring, and concerned human beings are already, and have been for decades, practicing those paradigms. This doesn’t mean that those paradigms can’t be criticized; but it clearly means that those practices of necessity contain some sort of truth because no human mind can be 100% wrong. Or, we might say, nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. And therefore the only really interesting question is not why poststructuralism is right and structuralism is wrong, but what kind of universe allows both of those practices to arise in the first place?
Because the Kosmos is constructed in such a way that it obviously allows all of those paradigms to arise and to be practiced by sincere human beings, then what type of integral metatheoretical framework can most gracefully elucidate such a Kosmos, a framework that of necessity would find a place for all of those paradigms in an integral methodological pluralism? If we proceed with the overall guiding principle that “Everybody is right,” and we pursue that regulative principle of nonexclusion in a sustained fashion, we eventually encounter a display of unfoldment, in which certain situations themselves pass judgments on their own less adequate displays.
For example, a classic case of a “paradigm clash” is that between the Ptolemaic system and the Copernican. When we say no legitimately enacted paradigm is ever simply wrong, notice that even many of the components of the Ptolemaic system were in fact taken up and included in the Copernican (such as spherical planets and orbits, in themselves highly original conceptions at the time). The real paradigm clash in that case involved, as always, a clash in practices and not just in theories. The Copernican view supplanted the Ptolemaic because the social scientific practices of planetary measurement became so refined and precise—principally in the hands of Tyco Brahe—that Johannes Kepler could suggest three laws of planetary motion accounting for those newly enacted phenomena (i.e., devise a theory to match the data enacted and brought forth by Brahe’s refined exemplar). Isaac Newton immediately recognized the more adequate nature of an elliptical heliocentric theory, and the “Copernican” view became the accepted scientific interpretation of these newly enacted experiences.
Ptolemy, in other words, was true but partial; Copernicus in turn was true but partial. And we now know that Kepler was true but partial: according to relativity theory, any point in the universe is central to all the others, so both heliocentric and geocentric are true, depending upon one’s vantage point (i.e., the stance from which one launches one’s paradigm or practice). The relativity perspective transcends and includes the Ptolemaic and Copernican.
So, again, no paradigm is ever simply wrong—true but partial, yes—“Everybody is right.” But an integral metatheory adds: “but right only when addressing the phenomena enacted by the particular paradigm.” And we were saying that such nonexclusion often discloses an unfoldment that is enfoldment: in any particular developmental stream, successive waves transcend and include their predecessors, and thus each wave is adequate, each succeeding wave is more adequate. We never arrive at a point where we can say: now we have the truth, and all predecessors were inadequate. We of today stand to the Ptolemaic worldview in the same way that the world of a thousand years from now will stand to our relativity worldview: our relativity interpretation will be shown, not to be wrong, but very partial judged by a worldview that transcends and includes the enduring aspects of relativity in a system that nonetheless makes relativity look as quaint as Ptolemaic epicycles. (Notice already that several laboratories have recently generated faster-than-light phenomena. This does not mean that special relativity is wrong, because for most cases the speed of light cannot be exceeded, but there are now other perspectives that are “more true” than relativity.)
Thus, everybody can be right because some views are more right than others. None are wrong; some are simply more inclusive, more encompassing, more holistic, more integrative, more depthed, more transcending-and-including—endlessly. But the fact that molecules are more inclusive than atoms does not mean that we can get rid of atoms, or that atoms can be jettisoned, or that atoms have no real truths to offer just as they are. To be a partial truth is still to be a truth.
AQAL metatheory handles this with the following interpretation: specify the locale in the AQAL matrix from which a legitimate paradigm is launched, and the phenomena enacted and brought forth by that paradigm are as true as true can be at that locale. “AQAL indexing” (“integral indexing” or “holonic conferencing” [see below]) allows individual paradigms to be seated next to each other at the integrative table, in such as a way that each individual paradigm is honored and acknowledged.
Even Ptolemy? Yes: if you are standing on the earth and watching the planets move, the Ptolemaic map is phenomenologically 100% accurate: you will see exactly what Ptolemy said you will see; he had a legitimate paradigm—or a practice to bring forth a series of experiences—and an accurate map to match it. That truth simply ceases being “the” complete truth when it is realized that there are other perspectives in the Kosmos, including heliocentric and acentric; but for its paradigm, it is right on the money.
Of course, within a paradigm, there are sound and unsound data, phenomena, maps, and judgments. For example, Ptolemy might have made some mistakes in his measurements, but those mistakes can be corrected within the prevailing paradigm. Same with Tyco Brahe. When we say “Everybody is right” and “All partial truths are transcended and included,” we obviously do not mean that the errors within the paradigms are included: they are part of the baggage that is negated or transcended in a healthy sense.
The integrative principle of unfoldment allows us to acknowledge the many true but partial truths in any evolutionary or unfolding display. Notice, however, that unfoldment is not a cross-stream principle: that is, it cannot be used to violate the nonexclusion principle—it applies only to phenomena in the same general stream or paradigmatic current. Cross-paradigm or cross-current judgments, as we will see, need to be set in a context that also includes the third integrative guideline (that of enactment), which we will discuss in a moment.
The unfoldment principle, as suggested, can also be called the enfoldment principle—they are flip sides of the same prehensive stream. Each moment unfolds a new and creative expanse that enfolds and embraces its predecessors (an Eros that reaches up and an Agape that reaches down). The prehensive process of unfoldment/enfoldment in any stream could also be called the “natural growth principle” in any stream, and I very much agree with Whitehead that without both an unfolding-creative novelty and an enfolding-loving embrace, it is just damned difficult to account for moment-to-moment existence in any domain at all.
The unfoldment principle is particularly helpful when it comes to items such as the unfoldment of worldviews in the most general sense—Jean Gebser’s waves, for example, which unfold from archaic to magic to mythic to mental to integral. Each of those waves, when it emerges, is the truth and the whole truth at that time; each is adequate, integrative, holistic, and encompassing, in its time and place. (We are, of course, discussing the healthy versions of these waves, which does not preclude some waves from emerging in pathological versions that are, in those ways, less adequate than their predecessors. “Unfoldment” does not necessarily mean “progress.” There is pathological prehension as well healthy prehension; repression as well as transcendence; dissociation instead of differentiation; alienation instead of embrace. But we are now discussing the healthy, Whiteheadian prehension in the dynamic process of unfoldment and enfoldment.) Although each wave is holistic and integrative, each succeeding wave transcends and includes its essentials (in a prehensive unification—which we reconstruct as tetra-hension), and thus each is more holistic, more inclusive, more encompassing.
In short, in healthy unfolding, each wave is holistic, each succeeding wave is more holistic. Preceding waves are not thereby rendered useless or wrong or illusory, but continue to contribute their enduring truths, holons, enactments, and expressions, which are now enfolded in the ongoing spiral of unfoldment—just as atoms and molecules continue to function in healthy cells. 5
Unfoldment, then, shows us “true but partial,” and that allows us to acknowledge legitimate paradigms as being ripples in the AQAL ocean at a particular spacetime locale. When unfoldment is coupled with nonexclusion, we have two regulative ideas or integrative principles that are helpful in honoring the primary injunction of integral metatheory: “Everybody is right” (since they are already doing it anyway). Beginning with those two principles, we can start to construct a plausible network, matrix, or lattice—in this case, called AQAL—that honors the most number of truths from the most number of paradigms or human practices of inquiry.
In the course of such a construction, a third principle quickly suggests itself.
The Third Useful Principle: Enactment
The essence of the postmodern, post-Kantian revolution (behind everything from hermeneutics to contextualism to constructivism) is that phenomena (such as the hydrogen atom) are not simply lying around out there waiting for all and sundry to see, a view now considered “hopelessly naive” and referred to as “the myth of the given” (the point being that no phenomenon is merely given). Rather, phenomena are enacted, brought forth, disclosed, and illumined by a series of behaviors of a perceiving subject. As we put it, phenomena are enacted and brought forth by injunctions, paradigms, or social practices (“if you want to know this, you must do this”). And here is the point: all paradigms or injunctions are initiated by a subject (or group of subjects), and all subjects have available to them different states of being or states of consciousness. It follows that a different state of consciousness will bring forth a different world.
Such exactly is the principle of enactment. Subjectivity (or intersubjectivity, which we will discuss later) brings forth a phenomenological world in the activity of knowing that world. At this point, let me jump forward and simply give the AQAL interpretation of this postmodern revelation.
Subjects do not perceive worlds but enact them. Different states of subjects bring forth different worlds. For AQAL, this means that a subject might be at a particular wave of consciousness, in a particular stream of consciousness, in a particular state of consciousness, in one quadrant or another. That means that the phenomena brought forth by various types of human inquiry will be different depending on the quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types of the subjects bringing forth the phenomena. A subject at one wave of consciousness will not enact and bring forth the same worldspace as a subject at another wave; and similarly with quadrants, streams, states, and types (as we will see in more detail).
This does not mean that the phenomena are not objectively there in a meaningful sense; it means the phenomena are not there for everybody. Macbeth exists, but not for my dog. Cells with DNA exist, but they can only be seen by subjects using microscopes (which did not exist until the orange wave, which is why cells did not “ex-ist” or stand out for magic and mythic worldviews; you can find no account of DNA in any magic or mythic text. This does not mean DNA wasn’t there, just that it did not “ex-ist” in those worldviews). Nirvana exists, but not for a dualistic state of consciousness, and so on. Phenomena ex-ist, stand forth, or shine only for subjects who can enact and co‑create them (or, more technically, only as they are tetra-enacted).
We will be returning to the idea of enactment throughout this discussion (particularly in Excerpt D); right now the concept is helpful because it offers us another reason to honor, acknowledge, and integrate a large number of otherwise “incommensurable” paradigms. Most “paradigm clashes” are usually deemed “incommensurable”—meaning there is no way for the two paradigms to fit together—but this is so only because people focus on the phenomena, not the practices. But if we realize that phenomena are enacted, brought forth, and disclosed by practices, then we realize that what appeared to be “conflicting phenomena” or experiences are simply different (and fully compatible) experiences brought forth by different practices. Adopt the different practices, and you will see the same phenomena that the adherents of the supposedly “incommensurable” paradigm are seeing. Hence, the “incommensurability” is not insurmountable, or even a significant barrier, to any sort of integral embrace.
Today we have a conventional or orthodox physics paradigm that says all the really important realities in the universe are fundamental particles like quarks, leptons, bosons, strings, and so on. Nothing else is fundamentally real; everything else is essentially an arrangement of these fundamental realities. There also exists a meditative paradigm that says that all the really important realities in the universe are created by the mind-stream itself, the stream of primordial consciousness that manifests the entire universe, including quarks and leptons. Now if we focus merely on the phenomena—the experiences or data generated by those two schools—it is indeed hard to believably reconcile them. They both insist that when it comes to ultimates, one of them is right, one of them is wrong. But if we realize that the phenomena of each school are actually brought forth and enacted by practices (injunctions, paradigms), then we have an entirely different situation: we put all of the phenomena (scientific and meditative) on the integrative table, we accept all of them as true but partial, and then we ask, What metatheory can believably accommodate both sets of data?
The reason an integral metatheory might indeed work is that it is based on the possibility of a real meta-paradigmatic practice—certainly in theory and often in fact—namely, a single subject can take up both practices and see for himself or herself if both of them generate true phenomena or believable experiences. If, on the other hand, we assume that the phenomena are all coming from the identical worldspace, and the phenomena conflict (which they do), then an integral metatheory is impossible. But if we see that different practices bring forth different phenomenological domains, those phenomena can be integrated by showing a plausible, coherent, integrative framework making room for all of the enacted worldspaces—which is what AQAL attempts to do.
AQAL metatheory therefore gives one interpretation of the above “paradigm clash” between physics and meditation as follows: the physicist in the example is highlighting the third-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from an orange wave of consciousness (from that vantage point, quarks do indeed “ex-ist” or stand forth in a worldspace; again, this does not mean that quarks did not exist in some sense prior to orange consciousness, only that they did not “ex-ist” or become apparent to humans until that structure could call them forth). The meditator, on the other hand, is activating the first-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from a third-tier state (from that vantage point, you can indeed realize nirvana, a state that actually “ex-ists” or can be realized in that worldspace). The two practitioners see different things, see different worlds, because they have different social practices, different paradigms, different injunctions. However, change your practice and you will see a different world, essentially the same different world seen by what you thought was your nemesis in the so-called paradigm clash.
And what happens when one subject practices both conventional physics and meditation? Two general things: one, they almost always agree that both quarks and nirvana are real enough; and two, they almost always agree that the ground of nirvana is more encompassing than a quark. More precisely, they tend to see the reality or ground of a state like nirvana as including or enveloping manifest phenomena, such as quarks. This is the general principle of enfoldment, but now operating on a meta-paradigmatic or cross-paradigmatic fashion (an action Shankara labeled “subration”). Nonetheless, even in its cross-paradigmatic fashion, enfoldment never pronounces another truth to be not true, only less true. Again, nothing is lost, all is enfolded.
Quantum Questions is an anthology of the writings of many of the great pioneering physicists who also had profound third-tier or spiritual realizations, including Erwin Schroedinger, Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Sir Arthur Eddington, Louis de Broglie, Wolfgang Pauli, Sir James Jeans, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein. At the very least, all of those subjects, who had first-person familiarity with both paradigms, were unanimous that the phenomena of the two paradigms categorically were not incommensurable. Eddington most famously summarized this by saying that the phenomena of physics neither prove nor disprove the phenomena of mysticism. That is an excellent statement of nonexclusion.
Any two paradigms can, however, be cross-compared by subjects who have demonstrated a competence in both; when these physicists/mystics did so, they tended to conclude either that physis (matter) was a manifestation of a higher reality (spirit) which enveloped it, or that both physis and spirit were aspects of a greater whole. Both of those conclusions are versions of enfoldment (all of the lower is in the higher, but not all of the higher is in the lower).
Lastly, several of these practitioners, such as Schroedinger and Eddington, went on to point out that what is required in order to “see” any of that is a change of state on the part of the seer or subject: the notion of enactment. In other words, if you simply try to give the third-person maps or symbols of a higher, wider, or deeper state of being/consciousness, you will never grasp the reality itself, which is only disclosed or brought forth by first-person enactment and engagement of the deeper reality itself. And these physicists were quite clear that what they found in that particular enactment was not neutrons but God; and not as a third-person deduction but a first-person realization.
Our simpler point is that, whatever we decide about the relation of physis and pneuma, there are heuristic principles that can help us move forward through what were previously thought to be “incommensurable” areas. I am not in any way suggesting that those physicists/mystics had the final word on the relation of cosmos and spirit; I am simply suggesting that it is from among the pool of those subjects who have demonstrated competence in any two paradigms, that cross-paradigmatic judgments can believably be made. The point is not so much that you and I must master any two paradigms before we can authentically compare them, but that somebody can do so. (Hence there is a redeemable validity claim for cross-paradigmatic judgments). And just as I myself have never seen a hydrogen atom, but there are good men and women who have with integrity adopted the physics paradigms and accordingly enacted a horizon from within which they assure me that, to the best of their collective judgment, hydrogen atoms do exist (and I happen to believe them because they have never lied to me before); so also when it comes to the statements about the relation of physics and meditation, I myself take much more seriously the claims of those who have demonstrated a competence in paradigms that enact both of those respective worldspaces, because those subjects are operating within both horizons and can therefore give me an eyewitness account of what is going on in both domains, and how those domains may relate to each other.
The point is simply that, in principle, cross-paradigmatic judgments are possible because there is not simply one world against which paradigms compete for dominance, a kind of king-of-the-hill battle that tosses all losers on the garbage dump, because there are no losers. There is not one world over which all paradigms are fighting for supremacy, but many worlds brought forth by different paradigms, worlds that can be eye-witnessed by the same subjects if they submit to the discipline of the paradigms required to enact those worlds. And while “the” world cannot contain many worlds, awareness can. And because we already know that are in fact many worlds, it follows that we already are standing in an awareness that has cross-paradigmatic capacity, a capacity that can eventuate in metatheoretical overview, such as the one offered by AQAL. 6
These three regulative principles—nonexclusion, enfoldment, enactment—are principles that were reverse engineered, if you will, from the fact that numerous different and seemingly “conflicting” paradigms are already being competently practiced all over the world; and thus the question is not, and never has been, which is right and which is wrong, but how can all of them already be arising in a Kosmos? These three principles are some of the items that need to be already operating in the universe in order for so many paradigms to already be arising, and the only really interesting question is how can all of those extraordinary practices already be arising in any universe?
Other Pieces You May Enjoy
In this Excerpt, we will focus on the collective or communal dimensions of being-in-the-world (the Lower-Left and Lower-Right quadrants)—the actual nature of intersubjectivity and interobjectivity—especially as seen in hermeneutics (or first-person interpretation within circles of “we”) and in systems sciences (or third-person observation of networks of “its”). After some preliminary suggestions as to the important differences between those approaches—neither can be reduced to the other nor replace the other—we will then focus the rest of this Excerpt on hermeneutics and intersubjectivity, and devote most of the next Excerpt to systems theory and interobjectivity.
Allan Combs, a pioneer of Integral thought and practice whose name may be familiar if you've ever heard of the "Wilber-Combs lattice", speaks with Ken about his latest book Consciousness Explained Better.
Ken Wilber is the founder of Integral Institute and the co-founder of Integral Life. He is an internationally acknowledged leader and the preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. His many books, all of which are still in print, can be found at Amazon.com. Some of his more popular books include Integral Spirituality; No Boundary; Grace and Grit; Sex, Ecology, Spirituality; and the "everything" books: A Brief History of Everything (one of his largest selling books) and A Theory of Everything (probably the shortest introduction to his work).
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