I wanted to share some thoughts after reading this article:
http://beamsandstruts.com/essays/item/198-evo-devo-and-the-post-postmodern-synthesis-what-does-integral-have-to-offer?
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.

Comments

nimblecivet 5 years 3 days ago
#1

I came across this article (quoted below) a little while back and it reminded me of the essay I shared with this post. They form an interesting sort of juxtaposition in that they both seem to use similar types of ideas but are not oviously immediately reconcilable with each other. The reader might not perceive any obvious contrariness in the nature of them either in respect to each other even though it is likely that the authors of the respective essays have little in common as far as their perspectives go.

There may be other philosophers who feel that they have escaped the "metaphysical" problem, or have demonstrated that it is not always necessary to be metaphysical when focusing on theory, or have produced a voluminous array of all sorts of intellectual writing which is not meant to be accessible to metaphysical theory. The extent to which art theory can be adapted to critical theory would be an example. That type of endeavor can nonetheless hypothetically, which may be a more accurate term than "theoretically", be approached by theory. That idea is comparable to what the anthropology essay is dealing with in my opinion.

The issues brought up by that essay are unbounded and many. What, for example, is the implication of the idea that the field of anthropology would have been incapable of growth but for the "other" which it failed to grasp through its modernist metaphysics? Why does the innate possibility of "otherness" within the scope of modernity as suggested by dialectics not suffice to produce a creative alternative to contemporary modernity?

Both essays approach the idea of metaphysics as a product of the pathetic posture, with the essay on integral being the one making the greatest attempt to avoid this problem. Nevertheless, what is common to each is that there is no scientific or philosophical method which can be imported to the respective disciplines or fields of thought to be deployed in analyzing the problems which arise when investigating the subject matter attendant to each, yet something of a common set of logical problems seems to underlie the more abstract approaches to a broader and more fundamental theory.

I think we can also include here as possibly relevant to this discussion the question which Maurizio Ferraris gives and answers, that is whether the Critique of Pure Reason is still relevant today. More to the point here is what gaps between the Critiques can the respective fields of thought fill in so to speak to render a more comprehensive picture of how "faculties" can be defined in what would be to one degree or another strictly formal manner while subsuming them to the varieties of expression which they can achieve throughout history.

"Anthropological Metaphysics / Philosophical Resistance"
by Peter Skafish

... In other words, like it or not, the anthropologists are becoming philosophers, and some of the only ones worth listening to. But if the new concepts they are laying out are not only to be understood but further deployed, very few people besides the anthropologists are going to be able to do it, which requires dispensing once and for all with the tacit metaphysics of anthropology, that poorly mixed, difficult-to-swallow cocktail of the phenomenological Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and a little Marx, according to which everything human is constituted, in essence, from some mix of Zuhandenheit, lived experience, perceptual/cognitive forms, historical conditions, and that favorite metaphysical master concept of anthropology: practice. ...

...

... If philosophy has become particularly stale, if we suffer, as Catherine Malabou has put it, from a certain kind of metaphysical exhaustion, this is perhaps because (I offer it as a hypothesis) metaphysical thought can no longer rely for its materials on the Western canon, whose conceptual resources have become depleted. Even its margins are becoming too well tread to provide the materials for philosophical invention. Understanding forms of life and thought based on conceptual/cosmological coordinates radically different from those of the moderns, as the Amazonian case shows, requires us to resituate and conceive anew our fundamental categories and whatever basic form of thought underlies them. What this means, concretely, is that (1) so-called “subjects," "histories," and "truths," for example, that are marginal to, or not of, the modern West can be listened to and understood only if the concepts (i.e., of the subject, of history, and of truth) used to interpret them are profoundly transformed by the encounter. But something even more profound is also at stake: (2) the resultant transformations will effectively sustain philosophy—by which I mean conceptual thinking, from whatever discipline, capable of being transposed into other disciplines—far more than any originating merely from re-evaluations of the Occidental tradition. ...

... By taking a step out of history and time and onto a synchronic, geographical plane, Descola shows that modernity can be rendered intelligible when its basic ontological arrangements are contrasted with others external to it (not with, that is, arrangements supposedly internal to its history and thus itself). He thereby provides an alternative to the approach of a rather large group of post-Heideggerian thinkers, which includes Foucault and Agamben, who presume that the character of now-global modern problematics can be assessed through an account of an exclusively Western historicality. This preference for lateral, geographical comparison opens, moreover, the possibility of a truly planetary metaphysics, in a double sense: one that would see all peoples as philosophy’s intercessors, and that would also take the planet as a whole as a comparable unit, such that this world would be but one variant of others and thus not limited to the political-economic-ecological-collectivist possibilities imagined for it by the present neoliberal global order.

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