I wanted to share some thoughts after reading this article:
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 23:32
Evo-Devo and the Post-Postmodern Synthesis: What Does Integral Have to Offer?
Written by Bonnitta Roy
For me, this essay invokes the perspective of comprehensive theory or theorizing as being essentially descriptive, in its deployment of ideas ("The various new approaches to evolutionary thinking I am researching, are post-postmodern in the sense that the theorists are themselves aware that a theory of evolution is both created within and constrained by the epistemic, conceptual framework any particular theory is working from."), of phenomena, relationships and processes. The idea of "cause and effect" is included (implicitly) as an axiomatic sort of technique, applied according to certain conditions of phenomenal relationship, but neither it nor any other basic idea forms the conceptual foundation of a temporalized conceptual framework.
The term "conceptual framework" must be examined in order to make a distinction. One may have a conceptual framework which is this description itself, of phenomena over time. Also, it may be the set of ideas used to examine phenomena in their particularity in accordance with paradigmatic or logical, rational observation and analysis.
It is just at that point where we reach the segment "What does integral have to offer?" that we find indeed that the aforementioned critical awareness is suddenly lost in a thicket of levels changing each other's properties, epistemology driving the science, and confusing the map for the territory. But it is here that the author identifies the problem of linearity inherent in the narrative-producing capacities of epistemologies. The author moves into an attempt to rescue "transcend and include" holisms with an autopoetic nature which is at once undefined while qualified carefully as objective. Reason is thus rescued from its lost place as guiding force in the universe to interpretive guide to rationally phenomenon existing and interacting in ways which are characterized by the formal models of the life sciences. The aim seems to be to find a way forward which will blend the sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology together in a synthesis which rigourously defines the implications of each science to the other. The cosmology which defines the "transcend" end of the scale may not be complicate the history of evolution but the underpinning of physics and chemistry to the life sciences defines a scale of "world" within which life must function in accordance with general laws of nature. The transcend-and-include holism is a comprehensive rendering of phenomena utilizing distinct but related epistemological fields to produce its complete picture.
Quote Bonnitta Roy:
To me, this one illustration reveals the essential piece of the story Teilhard could not have had, because it is a postmodern epistemic tool – the notion of a self-organizing system. Only if instead of a bounded sphere that posits a single omega point “directing” the tangential forces, we conceive of an unbounded whole, like the universe itself expanding and enfolding in a complex, self-organizing fashion, we can derive both the apparent radial and tangential forces that Teilhard conceived, and invite Teilhard into the post-postmodern synthesis.
Chaos theory (esp. as a version of complexity theory) can serve as an epistemic foundation precisely because it retains analytical synthesis while not constraining scientific thought to a paradigmatic or conceptual system. The suspended judgement as to the validity of "chaos" in the metaphysical sense allows for the possibility of a valid systemic scientific conclusion of the totalizing nature, such as a "unified theory" which renders a cosmological paradigm which cannot be transcended in any sense. The "radial and tangential forces" can thereby be comprehended in a larger rubric of analytical tools without while addressing them not as special areas of focus but as components of a broader set of categories the relevance of which are determined by a method of empirical holism.
It is true that the temporal question is implicit in the idea of "development" and "evolution", and the broadening of the scope which occurs when "the naturalistic turn in science has also embarked on a re-conceptualization of socio-cultural evolution" invites historical philosophy into the larger questions approached by a rigorous compiling and attempted resolution of different types of empirical data and conceptual renderings.
These different types of large-scale theories and perspectives can offer an analytical method of describing chaos in terms of empirical determination of the application of paradigm. For example, scientific knowledge of physiology can contextualize if not fully explain an individual instance of psychological deviation from a statistical norm on the part of an individual within a given social, cultural context. Where, in situation of type "A" (a set of factors sufficiently exclusive to determine the presence of all relevant causal or associative elements within that situation), person "B" acts uniquely or in accordance with unique influences which determine their interpretation of the situation (conceding that the situation type is categorized without reference to all aspects of the individual but according to certain prevailing factors such as scarcity, social expectation, cultural paradigm, etc.), the frame of reference used to describe the complete context of the action transcends the categorical type ("A", where A is said to usually produces choice x instead of 'y',-). That is, observing the unique or statistically minority action one finds the explanation in the particularities of the context (we also are concerned with situations which contain element sets of a given type but cannot simply be classified as that type) of the action and then constructs an explanation based on conceptual frameworks developed from the observation of a multiplicity of situations. Note that questions arise as to the temporal relation of the observer status, etc.