Marx, Mysticism, and Mathematics: Navigating Our Epistemic Collapse

Ken Wilber Cognitive, Integrative Metatheory, Media type, Perspectives, The Ken Show, Video 1 Comment

“What is needed, rather, is a more integrative approach that works with our present historical actualities. A planetary culture will in effect have to deal with equitable material-economic distribution in the physiosphere (the enduring concern of Marx, even if we reject his particular solutions), and it will have to deal with sustainable ecological distribution in the biosphere (the enduring contribution of the Greens). But it will have to go much further and deal specifically and non-reductionistically with the noosphere and its distributions and distortions, and it will have to do so with something other than reductionistic web-of-life theories, if it is to freely engage the motivation of an entire globe. It will have to work toward specific theories of free noospheric exchange, including but transcending ecological concerns.

Social labor could unite world citizens to the extent, but only to the extent, that we all share matter in common. The Greens can unite world citizens to the extent, but only to the extent that we all share bodies in common. But it will take a vision-logic movement of tremendous integrative power (integral-aperspectival as universal-integral) in order to unite world citizens on the centauric basis that we all share matter and bodies and minds in common (not to mention a Spirit and a Self prior to all that). The Greens have produced a promising platform, but if it isn’t any more than that (and it isn’t so far, neglecting noospheric exchange), then it will be merely snapped up by egoic-rationality structures of capital production, and we will simply have McDonald’s selling burgers in recyclable bags, which is nowhere near anything deserving to be called a Planetary Transformation.”Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality

Welcome back to The Ken Show! In this episode we continue our fascinating discussion about Integral epistemology, taking a look at the important but partial truths of Marxism, how we go about verifying and confirming spiritual experiences, and the involutionary/evolutionary nature of mathematics.

This is a continuation of the previous episode of The Ken Show, where we walked through a dozen major schools of epistemology and took note of their strengths, limitations, and how they fit into a more comprehensive and Integral method of sense-making. If you haven’t watched that episode already, we highly recommend you do so!

Why is this important? In an age where legacy media is on the decline and has being largely replaced by social media, we are currently experiencing a total epistemic collapse of historic proportions — resulting in a collective state of aperspectival madness that Ken has been warning us about for decades. The world is broken, and no one can quite agree how, which makes our most pressing social and planetary problems (particularly the truly wicked ones) almost impossible to solve.

But don’t worry, this could actually be good news. Our present epistemic breakdown is one of the central life conditions of our time, and Integral metatheory is uniquely positioned to help us piece our fragmented and fallen world back together. While things will almost certainly get worse before they get better, these are precisely the sort of conditions that call integral solutions forward, and the sorts of conversations where those solutions will eventually emerge.

Part 1: How Do We Properly Integrate Marxist Epistemology?

Marxism, also known as “dialectical materialism”, continues to exert a tremendous influence in our society, both in terms of pro-Marxist ideas on the left and anti-Marxist positions on the right.

One of the simplest ways to define Marxist epistemology is the following statement: “Examine any alleged state of affairs as related to and distinguished from a total environment, and you will know whether or not the sentence alleging that state of affairs is true.”

What are the positive contributions of Marxism that we want to include in a more integral epistemology? What are the unhealthy or negative limitations that we want to avoid?

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Part 2: How Do We Know Spiritual Experiences Transcend the Flesh?

How can we claim that spiritual realities have real ontological existence “out there”, based on our own phenomenological experiences “in here”? How do we discern whether something like subtle “realms” or the Absolute itself actually exist, based on data collected from our own zone-1 state experiences, versus something like “unicorns”? How can we be sure that these spiritual states are not mere bio-chemical hallucinations caused by activating certain parts of our nervous system?

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Part 3: The Two Truths: Epistemology or Ontology?

Is the Two Truths doctrine best understood as an epistemological claim, as I believe it was for Nagarjuna, or is it an ontological claim, as it is understood to be in Chinese Buddhism?
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Part 4: Where Does Math Come From?

What exactly is math, anyway? Does it exist independently of the mind, or are mathematics generated by mind? Does the square root of negative 2 actually exist objectively in the “real world” out there, or is it an epistemological feature of our sense-making “in here”?

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Part 5: How Do We Navigate Our Epistemic Crisis?

We currently live in a completely un-curated world of social media, where each of us individually are responsible for our own informational terrain. This is largely the result of existing on flat postmodern media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. that have themselves not only failed to sustain any sort of sane postmodern discourse, but also incentivized a massive regression back to magenta tribalism, red narcissism, and amber ethnocentrism.

It’s a total epistemic collapse. This is the aperspectival madness that Ken has been warning us about for decades, and it is what we are all immersed in today, whether we know it or not — where things like QAnon conspiracies rule the day and leftist SJW’s begin to support ideas like racial segregation.

What is an integralist to do? How can we ensure that we are responsibly maintaining our own informational terrain and keeping a careful eye on our own confirmation biases, while helping others do the same? If we notice that our friends and family are basing their views on broken epistemologies and unfalsifiable narratives (something we even see in “integral” circles!), what are some skillful ways we can help guide each other back to reality?
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We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Ken Show! Let us know what you think in the comments below, and also be sure to let us know if you have any questions for future episodes!

Written and produced by Corey deVos
Music by Stuart Davis


 

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Marx, Mysticism, and Mathematics: Navigating Our Epistemic Collapse
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About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. @corey-devos Which Episteme has Collapsed?

    Edit: Ah, I think I figured it out. Correct me if I’m off some (happens a lot). I had to look up noosphere: a postulated sphere or stage of evolutionary development dominated by consciousness, the mind, and interpersonal relationships

    So this noosphere has collapsed. Here on this site, we’re really discussing a noosphere (bit of integral and a lot of radical leftist and solid dose of Marxism), contrasting to the reality we live in using integral theory vernacular conflated with lots of other stuff.
    I guess a noosphere can “collapse” or for all the people that don’t understand noosphere, we could say perhaps that it’s an “idea that didn’t pan out”. Reality went onward or sideways or regressed regardless of this conceptual noosphere.

    Just a little spoiler alert. This noosphere needs to have a big plot twist or this latest integral jargon veneered flavor of Marxism will likely follow the 100% of every other Marxist implementations and result in horrific conditions for humanity involved.

Continue the discussion at community.integrallife.com

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