BELIEF/KNOWLEDGE CATEGORIES: EXAMPLES
Linguistic / symbolic
• Taste of chocolate; gut
certainty; meditative state;
playing tennis; intuitions…
• Tree, democracy, interior, c
• Trees are…; We should…;
the cognitive line leads…
• AQAL, SD, CR, Einstein‘s, …
1. What are mystical/metaphysical claims/beliefs?
2. Reasons for caution and reflection
3. What embodied cognition says about
mystical/metaphysical claims and reality <–> idea gap
4. ‗Post-metaphysical‘ approaches to mysticism
―Theories can do shadow work‖
— so can mystical beliefs
Not questioning mystical, magical, or ineffable
experiences, or the need to share and construct meaning
WORKING DEFINITION OF
• Claims about the overarching or underlying nature of the
• Not provable by science or amenable to measurement; i.e. not
purely physical or psychological phenomena – but still being
about ―reality‖ or ―truth‖ (not about the good or beautiful)
• Common themes:
Consciousness, Being, Reality, Spirit, Life, Non-
dual, Cosmology, other Realms
• Have import to human life/spirit, ethics, ultimate ―meaning‖
• Mystical differs from metaphysical in that its source is direct
experience or intuition (purportedly) with ultimate reality or
KEN WILBER — PHILOSOPHER AND MYSTIC
"the great morphic field of evolutionary potential…pulling all
manifest holons back to their ever-present Ground as Spirit--a
Kosmic field of Agape, gently pulling evolution into greater and
greater consciousness, embrace […] The reality, suchness, or
isness of every holon is actually Spirit…a drive which ultimately
wants to embrace the entire Kosmos […] This ultimate realization
[is] of the ever-present, spaceless and therefore infinite, timeless
and therefore eternal, formless and therefore
omnipresent, Condition of all conditions and Nature of all natures
and radically groundless Ground of all grounds.‖
Ken Wilber, Excerpt A, Volume 2, Kosmos Trilogy Draft
MORE MYSTICAL STATEMENTS
"…perspectives are primordial, which is to say they are the most
fundamental or primeval elements of reality, existing at or from the
beginning of time"
Clint Fuhs, ITC 2010 paper on Perspectival Semiotics
"the dimension of the profound," "mystical deeper reality," "timeless
present," "eternal now," and "infinite spaciousness‖
Jeff Carreira (student of Andrew Cohen) audio dialogue with Patricia Albere
"infinite vastness...open suchness... infinite peace...true
self...always already liberated"
Wilber, audio interview with Alan Coombs
DR. BRONNER (THE SOAP GUY)
• ... a sense for work-love-song-art-law-play-beauty, a face turned
up from the sod!
• Absolute...ever- evolving, ever-recreating, ever-loving
order!...guided by One...God...all-embracing,
• Eternal One! — We're One! All-One!
• DILUTE ENJOY — 1 SQAP FOR 18 DIFFERENT USES!
The individuals quotes can be assumed to:
• be sincere and authentic
• have had deep experiences and intuitions
• be pointing to important ―truths‖ or deep meaning
• not be absolutist; allow for fallibility and revision
• have a sophisticated and nuanced understanding
DON’T TRY TO USE THESE WORDS AT HOME! :-)
Infinite, Omnipresent, Universal, Ulti
mate, Primeval, Primordial, Eternal,
Present, Supreme, Unbounded, Time
less, Spaceless, Radically
Invisible, Radically Empty, Non-
Dual, Ground Of Being
• Poetry? Metaphor? Inspirational oratory?
• Truth claims about (exterior) reality
• For what audience, for what purpose?
BERTRAND RUSSELL ON MYSTICAL KNOWLEDGE
• It often deals with universals, infinites, essences, or foundational truths.
• Mysticism has "a certain intensity and depth of feeling in regard to what is
believed about the universe." It has a sense of "certainty and revelation."
Though it sometimes uses logic to justify beliefs, the claims seem to come
from "a way of wisdom, sudden, penetrating, coercive, which is contrasted
with the slow and fallible [process of scientific reasoning]."
• Mystics are attempting "an articulation upon the inarticulate experience gained
in the moment of" what is called insight or intuition.
• There is a "sense of a mystery unveiled [and] revelation" of "a reality behind
the world of appearances and utterly different from it." Truth and essence is
found through profound introspective thought, not through sense experience.
• Can be expressed in deeply poignant, poetic, or metaphorical prose.
• There is a common "belief in unity, and its refusal to admit opposition or
division anywhere"—that "reality is one and indivisible." There is also
commonly a belief that reality, or ultimate reality, is beyond time and space.
YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH METAPHYSICAL
1. Brainstorm mystical/metaphysical claims/beliefs
you hear in the Integral community.
2. How do you feel when others make such claims?
3. What happens when you mention
mystical/metaphysical claims to your
4. When you explain or justify these beliefs, how do
you support them?
5. Does it matter if we can explain or justify such
claims to others? Why or why not?
MYSTICAL / METAPHYSICAL
KNOWLEDGE HAZARDS — RUSSELL
• Tendency for the passion of the mystic to
conflate "the good with the truly real"
• Those who "are capable of absorption in an inward passion" can
experience "the loss of contact with daily things [and] common
• Focus on pure logic to the exclusion of experience or common
sense– "logic used in the defense of mysticism seems to be
faulty as logic‖
• >>Highest form of thought is a combination of mystical and
MORE CAVEATS RE PROCLAMATIONS OF THE
ULTIMATE OR ESSENTIAL
• Complex philosophical approaches
and worldviews...reach beyond the
boundaries of the academy and into
the lifeworld" where they are subject
to being watered-down, muddied,
• Ultimately can be:
grandiosity, hegemony, elitism,
THE IDEA PORTABILITY PRINCIPLE
• Understanding and dealing with the fallibility and
indeterminacy of ideas is more important the greater the
distance between the world views or beliefs of
• Preaching to the (integral) Choir vs.
a) crossing disciplinary boundaries to interact with other
b) applying ideas in real contexts
explaining one's purposes to stakeholders
c) disperse ideas into other world views or conceptual frames
EMBODIMENT & BELIEF FORMATION
1. How does knowing you are angry, in love, in fearful
resistance, or prejudiced influence what you believe
and how you hold a belief? How does understanding
how shadow works change how you hold a belief?
2. How does knowing that some aspects of love —
such as attraction, bonding, and empathy, are tied to
bio/neuro/chemical processes — change the
experience of being in love?
3. New evidence shows how most
memory, perception, and judgment is influenced by
emotion and cognitive biases — how do you think
this effects the claims of scholars, philosophers, and
THE EMBODIED MIND
— A Philosophical History of the Fallibility of Reason
1. Traditional Philosophy — mind/reason separate from body (Cartesian) &
pure, universal, transcendent, reliable
2. Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution — removing the influence of
authority, emotion/passion, dogma, instinct/intuition
• Valued: observation, measurement, logic, repeatability/democratic
• But battle: Realists & Empiricists vs. Rationalists & Idealists
3. Kant — reason is limited by underlying structures of the mind
4. Darwin — cognition evolved through natural selection—from animal brains
5. Freud — the unconscious; unpredictable hidden powerful influence on thought
6. Postmodernists — reason is biased by cultural norms & structure of language
7. Cognitive Science — cognitive biases woven into perception, memory, reason
STATES REFERRED TO IN BUDDHIST TEXTS
(THE SATIPATTHANA SUTTA, PITAKA SUTTA)
• A series of state experiences (Jhanas) obtainable through
contemplative absorption practices. ...terms include
happiness/joy, rapture/bliss, attention/mindfulness, unification/at
peace, infinity of space, and emptiness/formlessness/cessation.
• Common warnings along the path indicated drives (addictive &
• What from the experience gets transferred to theories/concepts
• Terms like infinite, boundless, empty, used in mystical ideas may
point to feeling states, more than actual properties of reality.
IN "MYSTICISM AND LOGIC" RUSSELL
"while fully developed mysticism seems to me [a mistaken
outcome of the emotions], I yet believe that by sufficient
restraint, there is an element of wisdom to be learned by
the mystical way of feeling, which does not seem to be
attainable in any other manner [and which is] to be
commended as an attitude toward life, not as a creed
about the world"
4. EPISTEMIC DRIVES
(FROM COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY TO PHENOMENOLOGY)
Any cognitive drive or tendency that
influences how we produce or share
knowledge or ideas
• Desire for certainty (and the
avoidance of uncertainty and
• Need to make meaning, see
• Misplaced concreteness
• Symbolic Impulse
1. post-metaphysical era has "replaced
foundationalism with fallibilism‖ and
2. has a procedural conception of rationality — from
―a rational person thinks this‖ to "…thinks like this‖
• In Integral Spirituality Wilber (2006) says that
"[arguably,] metaphysics…ended with Kant [who realized
that] we do not perceive empirical objects in a completely
realistic, pregiven fashion; but rather, structures of the
knowing subject import various characteristics to the
known object. […] Metaphysics is then a broad name for
the type of thinking that can't figure [out that] reality is not
a perception, but a conception…thinking that falls prey to
the myth of the given." (p. 231).
WE WILL ALWAYS NEED METAPHYSICS
• To satisfy our epistemic drives toward meaning, certainty, .... in
areas outside the reach of (current) science/measurement.
• Some things may always appear as mysteries to the human
mind: death, life, infinity, subjectivity, being...
• But we can still avoid unnecessary degrees of
certainty, foundationalism, bias....
APPROACHES TO METAPHYSICAL CLAIMS
1. Meaning Generative Claims
3. Body Awareness of Epistemic Drives
4.Follow Sean Esbjörn-Hargens!
1. MEANING GENERATIVE CLAIMS
(A 4TH VALIDITY TYPE)
4. HUMOR, PLAY, HUMILITY, UNKNOWING, DANCE
• Fallibility: "Blind spots and square pegs
and messy -- oh my!‖
• Evolving definition of concept of "integral"
• Ontological (metaphorical) Pluralism:
• Epistemic Drives: "I love
maps, iteration, and symmetry!‖
• Misplaced concreteness: Force-fitting into
• Embodiment implies fallibility and indeterminism of
mystical/metaphysical ideas and claims
• Most abstract/foundational/general concepts are the most
indeterminate (epistemic distance)
• The most deeply meaning-full concepts involved highest
epistemic drives (—―ultimate concern‖)
• Honor the mysterious, sacred, mystical, enchanted — and the
need to share and make meaning from them
• With post-metaphysical, fallibilistic, self-critical approaches
• That allows integral theory and meta-theories to do
• Is not anti-metaphysics
• No view from nowhere (privileged perspective): reality
is not out there waiting to be seen (“misplaced
• Beyond the “myth of the given:” reality is not simply as
• Perspectival: all truths/experiences come from a
perspective and are partial
• Misplaced concreteness and “map vs territory:”
abstractions are not “real” (independent of us)
• Knowledge is fallible (no absolutes)
• Knowledge is socially constructed
• Concepts and language are indeterminate
TOM MURRAY |
WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | MAY
IDEAS AS REALITY:
STAGES OF MISPLACED CONCRETENESS
• Magical thinking – imagination as reality
• Mythical thinking – stories as reality
• Conventional thinking – norms as reality
• Modern thinking – concepts/models as reality
• Post modern — deep knowing/intuition as one truth
• Positivist attitude: clarity, certainty, action
• knowledge/meaning-generative; problem solving, theorizing
• Negative capability: awe, humility, curiosity
• Limits of language & knowledge & method
• Tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty, unknowing
• Dealing with the above
TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM |
Espoused fallibility vs.
Stylistic (or illocutionary/enacted) fallibility
CALLS FOR HIGHER LEVEL THOUGHT
David Bohm: "underneath [humanity's dilemmas] there's something we don't understand about
how thought works" and that what is needed is a "very deep [and] very subtle" awareness of
Albert Einstein: "the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking
we were at when we created them.‖
• Cultural development as skill of understanding mind, thought, language, knowledge, belief…
=> the ―post-metaphysical turn‖
TOM MURRAY |
WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | AUGUST
SECOND TIER - GOING ―META‖
• Meta-cognition (thinking about thinking)
• Meta-knowledge (knowledge about the nature and limitations of
• Meta-learning (learning how to learn, also called triple-loop
• Meta-dialog (dialog about how we engage in dialog)
• Meta-decision making (making decisions about how we will go
about making decisions)
• Meta-affect (investigating the feeling of our feelings; somatic
awareness of feeling states)
• Meta-leadership (supporting leadership in others)
TOM MURRAY | WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM |
Heart/Empathy: Relationally aware -- opening to the suffering of ever wider
circles of relationship
Mind/Cognitive: Construct aware -- foundations of certainty in knowing are
Spirit/Self: Ego aware -- awake to the profound levels of chaos and vulnerability in
External world: Systems aware – chaos: radical connectivity, unpredictability
TOM MURRAY |
WWW.PERSPEGRITY.COM | MAY 2010
Notes de l'éditeur
image search?: mysterious/creatures; new age...; mystical; spiritual;
theories, models, claims..
we say map is not territory; we need good maps! can’t ignore new research on cognition and
(—not just philosophical reasoning)CLaims – not experiences
not be naive about what they are saying
- proclaiming knowledge of the infinite—but that’s beyond knowledge! view from everywhere is a view from nowhere...esoteric mysteries offered by spiritual authorities from 19th century occultism, yet are offered in the context of sophisticated post-post-modern frameworks of reality and knowledge buildinginvite forms of “magical thinking” and “misplaced concreteness,” even if those offering the claims do not succumb -we don't use words like these in everyday language, and there is a reason!What is the language game?
not about whether they are true, but about certaintyits not about the people, its about knowledge building and sharing methods and attitudesHow to we talk about these ideas in polite company?Our answers MAY apply to the few geniuses and spiritual adepts among usbut: how to the REST of us interpret, co-create, disseminate, and evolve such ideas?
Often plays with opposites and paradox, pointing beyond them to knowledge that resolves or harmonizes them.
OR What types of arguments/explanations could/should be used for MM integral claims?Group Discussion of Mystical/Metaphysics (MM) Claims/Beliefs
Ex.: Does god have free will? (hartshorne)Do rocks have consciousness?
language about absolutes, ultimate nature, where the/my miscomfort comes fromJordan: attitude adjustment
--in integral theory we are used to thinking about how developmental level, culture, effects beliefs and reasoning – BUT here we look elsewhere
haermas on ‘how we argue’
Best to come up with examples as you discuss:When we know more about the lens/filter/distortions, we ignore at our perilreductionism not necesszryCUT THESE:1: embodied brain and life context influences beliefs, how we hold ours, and how we should build knowledge togetherHow does knowing that a person that you disagree with has trauma or disability related to the a topic — change your interpretation and critique of them? (e.g. on gun control or right to life?)How does knowing your memory is weak in an area change a remembrance? How does knowing that all memory is fallible change your certainty of a remembrance?
culture rises up out of the dark ages to reclaim the glory of rational ordered thought [bequeathed] by the Greekscobbled together hrou
effect all and experts; universal to human naturedozens of them; attentional biasserious impactions for jury testimony, etc. but also for metaphysical discourse
most phenomena are more like chaos than categories. so we should take caution; or periodically revisit our construct definitions and ontologies
when we slice the world into categories we simplify and may ignore what is between or outside them
Graded (fuzzy); 1. boundaries; 2. outside the scheme; 3 Metaphorical PluralismModels and claims work mostly for central exemplars Symbolic Impulsemutually exclusive, black and white, definitive, clear boundaried model of concepts the "simple" model; tendency of thought that biases one to perceive or interpret phenomena (subjectively) as simple. Phenomena in nature are usually (some would say always).The symbolic impulse is exacerbated in contexts that involve emotional charge, importance, or ego attachment,
Theories of truth: A critical introductionChris Argyris "the likelihood of differences in the interpretations of different observers increases the higher one goes on the ladder of inference" Hartshorne: ...god is the most abstract concept; Does god have free will?
Map-territory; myth of the givenconciousness; subjective/objective; quadrantsfreedom; (google it); capitalism;not that these are not REAL; but they don’t have properties “the economy is doing well”Race....democracy, African-American, god, ego, compassion, spirit, evolution, formal operational thinking, left hand quadrant, green meme, or Eros
Enlightenment vs. the taste of chocolateif everyone had higher state experiences we might have concrete claer ways to refer to them, and not have to use highly abstract terms.bhaskar – mundane nonduality
compteing with each other
There is a sense of ease, certainty, and mastery when we can ignore details and differences and trust a sturdy generality. We get a certain satisfaction from ordering things or collecting them into tidy groups. There is a sense of elegance and wholeness when we can embrace many things into a circle of unity, and a sense of power in understanding the essential or universal. The inquisitive and meaning-hungry mind wants to know the causal root, foundation, source, or origin of things.
succession of scientific understandings replacing metaphysical concepts (examples abound in physics and biology).example, physicists have created the place-holder concepts of "dark matter" and "dark energy" in attempts to make meaning of cosmic phenomena we don't yet understand. Even the terms "life" and "disease" may someday be seen as quaint metaphysical constructs holding place for a future deeper understanding. Bhaskar – reality is structured, orderly, lawful in its nature.
How we argue...habermas"believe in" reincarnationThe suggestion here is not to de-valorize rigor but to provide a valid alternative justification mode that allows us to differentiate when we need scientific rigor (or modernist forms of rationality) and when we don't.Explanatory force
structured self-critique of theories and concepts and examples
they activate a number of epistemic drives that threaten to bias cognition. They trigger the pleasurable and ego-fulfilling senses of purity/tidiness, universality/comprehensiveness, totality/power, and fundamentalism. They point to the infinite, the primordial, ever-omni-present that is said to be so vast it is beyond space and time. Such metaphysical ideas can engender states of certainty, conviction, and zealousness that, in the worst cases, are associated with oppression and totalitarianism. In the less extreme case, the reader can surely sense at least a tiny stirring of fervor in the breast when one considers insights of deep meaning and ultimate concern
negative capability ; positive capabilityemancipation; personal and culturaldemi-real
POMO: Focus on what is wrong
OK for Wilber! That certainty and precision creates a force; but WE don’t have to copy it…How can we bring both of these into play?- everybody is partially RIGHT; vs Everybody is (partly) wrong
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