10. Knowing and Un-knowing Reality: A Beginner's and Expert's Developmental Guide to Post-Metaphysical Thinking by Tom Murray


(john davis) #21

Can you draw a picture of all that? Can you bring all of that into your body and allow a gesture to come forth? Can you sing it? If you cant do any of the above you haven’t become Integral yet. And if you don’t know what to do that is a very good sign. Perhaps you can drop into the Liminal? But you have to let go of everything first. And you may not come back.

It dont mean a thing if it aint got that swing. We can dip into the subliminal by paying attention to all non-verbals in animal communiques and in humans. And we can pay attention to the tone of the voice and where that voice comes from. Head? Heart? Gut? And does any of that communique from the field of all possibility have a size or a shape? And is there a relationship between all of that and what you can say about all of that? And all of that is like what? Most philosophers are talking from the top of their heads. A few of them visit their bodies on rare occasions. Weary of splashing in the shallow end of the pool they venture beyond the life guard’s view. They slide, undetected, into secret waters…

There is no need to respond to this message with what you already know. Ye who are experts cannot enter here. The bottom of the sea is cruel.


(Edward Berge) #22

Marco: No, Derrida’s work is not just about linguistics but about the very nature of being. I don’t have the time at present to go into the details but I suggest you read Caputo, Desilet, Bryant and Freeman on the topic if you’re interested, who address all of your questions. We’ve discussed all of them at length in the IPS forum.

PS: The de/reconstructive method is a practice that induces experience.

As to John’s response, he’s right, there is no point in responding to him.


(Marco V Morelli) #23

Isn’t the “very nature of being” one of those deffered difference engines that precisely refuses to be simply signified in Derridean discourse?

What John’s talking about actually brings attention out of mental-conceptual language and into a mental-perceptual field of somatic experience, metaphor, poetry—the use of words, I mean, their performativity.

I am curious, what kind of experience, for you, does de/constructive praxis induce? What is it like to be you, when you perform this practice?

It will take me a long time to review all the reading you cite! But perhaps this would be a common entry point into a productive discussion of Tom’s paper? He does a really great job of bringing “postmetaphysics” down to earth, imo. It’s not quite, but I could see how it could be, a practical guide.

So what’s it like to do postmetaphysics, if one follows the various arguments about consciousness development, epistemological humility, ontological pluralism, and the like, to their concrete, worldly, embodied conclusions? How do you make integral postmetaphysical spirituality a reality in your daily life?


(john davis) #24

Thanks for that description, Marco. Trying to make meaning (mental-conceptual) without also making sense (mental-perceptual) is an ever present danger. Gebser, Steiner, Sri Aurobindo were exquisitely aware of this danger. Each of them also were poets.

Deleuze said that Philosophy creates concepts. Art creates some concepts but is mostly perceptual and affective. Some philosophers deal with affects, too. It is not a neat and clearly demarcated discipline. There are lots of gray zones, beige and off-white. Plato, for example, with his metaphors of the cave, could go into the liminal zones, often.

Wilber to his credit said that the Integral would be a Vision/Logic. Unfortunately, Wilber is much better at the Logic than the Vision. But he certainly gave us some interesting maps. I think he acknowledged that there were perhaps more maps than territory in his endless tables and lists and pie charts… These are all signs of a capacity for the mental-conceptual. I believe he would be considered by Gebser to be Mental Efficient but that is not the Apespecitval-Integral, yet. Of course, Marco has already done admirable work going beyond his mentor and I would appreciate it if he would correct me if I have gone too far.

As we are in a great battle of subliminal messaging, between antagonistic forces, some of us, if we find our theories aren’t working may need to do something different. That may include taking off your clothes and running through the forest naked.

At the very least, there would be an attempt to touch something besides a computer, feel something that is not mediated by a flat screen. The senses could assist the Mental-Conceptual. A philosophy in the flesh.

The Higher Octave of the Integral would be using all of our knowledge and using all of it well. We are becoming uncomfortably like that poor frog who stared off into infinity as the water in the pot started to boil.


(john davis) #25

Thanks, Edward. I could never belong to a group that would have me as a member.


(Edward Berge) #26

Why share my experience of de/reconstruction? I can see that too will only be interpreted from what I see as a fundamental religious dogmatism here. My time is too precious for this so I’ll move on. Please direct me on how to delete my account here, thanks.


(Bruce Alderman) #27

I feel bad that this side discussion is taking place on Tom’s paper thread, since I think his paper deserves more direct engagement. So I’ll only make this brief comment for now. I’m not a practitioner of deconstruction, in any formal Derridean sense, so I won’t try to answer that for Ed. But with my own integral grammatology, I’m aware there could be the same response: isn’t that all just in-the-head mental/language stuff? For one, I reject the dichotomy between language and embodiment or experience; language is embodied and experiential, not just mental. I learned this more than 25 years ago when I created my own language, and first had to discover how to radically reorder my perception before I could create a fundamentally new grammar. More recently, I’ve created a number of experiential exercises and have explored them in some workshops around the different elements of my grammatology. Each part of speech can be seen not only as a mental label, but as an element of the structure of experience. For instance, with prepositions, you can sit eye gazing with a partner or listening to them speak, or you can take a walk in a forest, etc, and explore the relations and time-space dynamics of the unfolding of any gestalt of experience that enfolds and connects you and other beings. You can notice what relations predominate, and you can practice shifting them and feeling into what happens, in sense perception, self-sense, body, heart, mind, etc. I’ve gotten good feedback on this, from students, artists, spiritual practitioners, and therapists. Therapists, for instance, noticed how they were able to get new insights into their clients, and new insights into how they were sitting with and ‘holding’ their clients in awareness.


(Douglas Duff) #28
I often begin with a disclaimer

I received the “cricket’s request” (why such quietude on this forum?) as lets get this discussion hoppin’ … send in your chirps and chirrups before the sun goes down and our cricket communications go down with the sun.
I claim to be a great reader…I can read any of your work, and then some…but as a young grasshopper, to chip/chirp in with an intelligent response often furthers the silence of my cricket kin. What I am about to say neglects the depth of intellect seen on this thread thus far. But I do have something to say, perhaps nothing more than that of a lone grasshopper, rubbing leg to wing as the lone moon moves across the sky. Maybe I do understand the language we are discussing here…but my grammar is all wrong.


(all quotes from @Tom_Murray’s essay (book? Romance novel? …you had me at “embodied and experiential perspective” !!)

On religious beliefs/magical thinking:

The mystical sages and shamanistic healers of the future only need to understand and skillfully activate the magical (including “archetypal” and some of the “mythical”) strata of consciousness, as they always have – ideally from a place of great care and skillful means. They do not need to “believe in” literal or metaphysical manifestations of magical beings and phenomena to do their important work. Concepts such as Spirit and Soul continue to be rich ideas for the metaphorical and metaphysical (and post-metaphysical) dimensions of human Being. We do not want to reject them, but rather find modes of belief-holding and dialogue that move flexibly between levels of interpretation, knowing the ideas are tools for mutual understanding and liberation, rather than realities we are subject to. (p. 231)

I like this segment of the conclusion. Many individuals (if we may term ourselves as such) on this forum have shared mystical experiences, the uncanny happenings. Your conclusion may make a sage-shaman out of all of us, on our good days! Yet what do we do with the magical activations? Where do we go from here?

I want to emphasize the importance of skillfully “suspending disbelief” (or play “the believing game”) to access the magical, mystical, and metaphysical gifts of life, for example:
− To sense the large oak in the forest as a Being that I am intimately connected with – that whispers forgotten truths into my inner ear…

…Such things are critical, not as literal indicators of metaphysical truths, but as experiences that can be penetrated for deeper, if fallible, truths. Importantly, post-metaphysical thinking must include a phenomenological inquiry into the truths found in raw experience

I share a recent post on another thread…

back story:

I had an experience while walking in a forest, no expectations other than a short walk in the woods, and entered into a “zone” like experience. I felt something change. I came upon a brush area (rhododendron shrubs) where many sparrows had come for a gathering. I sung their song with one note changed and one responded with the same call, something that does not occur. The sparrow mimicked my alteration in tune. A few seconds later I “experienced” the bird’s language…their environment, their soundscape, their mental landscape. A sort of sharing of its/their language and surrounding field. Unforgettable…yet what do I do with this experience?)


Am I a mystic? An expert? Is anyone an expert? Is there room for a fella like me, beginning again and again, having an expert-level experience yet repeatedly unable to understand how to proceed unless through the help of my friends, my co-conspirators? What do I do with this experience other than share?

We can no longer look to eternally-true authorities for answers to these questions – we must develop ways of thinking that allow the answers to evolve with us and through us. (p.233)

I wish I could personally do Divine justice to your piece here, Tom… and have the “urge” + the ability to share the depth of intellectual discoveries as @theurj has accomplished above. And kind Mr. Bruce, i do appreciate you efforts to spark a discussion here and elsewhere.

In closing, for this post at least, I wish to state for the record that we are all already existing in this space of post-metaphysical thinking, according to what I interpret from Tom’s conclusions. I am not concerned with what we call it, at least for now. I do want more of it. I do want to know how these individual experiences and accounts will add up. I do want to know where we go from here.


Side question for @Tom_Murray (and any others):

You mention in the introduction:

Wilber’s work carries too many metaphysical implications, and more can be done to bridge the cultural distance between rationality and spirituality.

I found one reference to this (p. 224), in which an experience is then taken “to a claim about the nature of reality and the cosmos.” Could you expand upon this? (I understand that you do expand in that segment, “Feeling and being infinite and empty”…maybe I am asking not for criticism of only Wilber, more so, what can be done to bridge the gap)

Also, how does your work differ from Wilber’s The Religion of Tomorrow? The two works align (developmental models, shadow work, “upgrading” outdated religious frameworks, to name three), yet there is something a bit different accomplished in your work Tom. I would like to hear more. Perhaps I just need to read between the lines…


Side note:

This and any forum will never be THE site for a perfect discussion. Discourse, the Infinite Conversations platform, does many things well, but one drawback is the lack of ability to manage multiple threads under one heading (such as this #10 Knowing and Unknowing will not have multiple forks or branches). This will make for one long flowing thread that we could perhaps clean up a bit…but then it alters the conversation. We tend to let the conversation remain as is, warts and all.
What Discourse does allow is for a more creative approach, a broader user-experience than most forums. It may even begrounds for a post-discourse, aligning with post-metaphysical thinking. The opportunity for creative magic can be utilized more frequently, imo.


(john davis) #29

I view this not as a side discussion but as a discussion, Bruce. I have read Tom’s work before and look forward to reading this paper. I believe ( and I do believe a lot of things) that there may be some wiggle room for alternate ways of knowing and that dogmatisms come in many shapes and sizes. I am holding the tensions as best as I can and registering differences that may make a difference. I believe that you once advocated for Plural Integralisms? One size doesn’t fit all. And recently, we have discussed the death of the coral reef is happening quickly, one fifth of it in the last three years. As someone with multiple interests, this is a cause for concern. I hope that we initiate some plural ensembles ( rather than assemblages)?

I certainly agree, Bruce, and did a retreat with your friend Jack Petranker twenty years ago. I did Kum Nye and read all of the T,S,K works, which I recall that you studied as well. That you have developed an integral grammatology is exciting. I am working on an Integral Pragmatics. Writers, dancers, actors and body workers are my main audience, I have also worked with the elderly and the disabled. I expect that there could be some cross-fertilizing as many persons are drawn to many different kinds of discourse. We are a friendly group, quite diverse. We recently featured Jennifer Gidley’s work and so many of us are familiar with some of what Post-Metaphysics could up to but I sense that many of us are on a sliding scale and a bit perplexed. Many of us have been working towards Collaborative Sense Making, in an experiential mode. So, on with the show.


(Bruce Alderman) #30

It’s definitely an interesting discussion, John. But this channel on IC is for discussing the special issue of Integral Review, and if people were using a thread dedicated to one of my essays in the issue to discuss other topics, without having even read my paper, I would be a little annoyed by that. But I’m not sure how Tom feels! As for a plurality of integrative approaches … yes! I still support that. The side of the mountain was never insulted by the explosion of a thousand flowers.


(john davis) #31

Thanks for your clarification, Bruce. I was curious about this paper but now I feel less interested. This is certainly a worthwhile project and I am happy to step aside and allow others to go with it where it wants to go. Good luck.