Cosmos Café [4/9] - The Integral Egghead and the Freudian Caveman

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(Douglas Duff) #1

The Integral Egghead and the Freudian Caveman

Recorded 9 April 2019


In Attendance:

Mark Jabbour
Ed Mahood
Michael Stumpf
Marco Morelli
Douglas Duff


Ken Wilber (the integral egghead) was born January 31, 1949, “the Day of Poetic Song” according to The Secret Language of Birthdays, which posits that those born on that day have as characteristic strengths, “attractive, admired, appreciated”, and weaknesses can be, “dependent, misunderstood, depressive”. Mark Jabbour (the Freudian caveman) was born November 24, 1949, “the Day of Contentious Conviviality”, with strengths being “loyal, spirited, involved”, and weaknesses can be “escapist, isolated, argumentative”. Both men were born into a USAF family, and thus traveled extensively growing up, rejected religion as adolescents, excelled in school, did not go to war in Vietnam, bussed tables in graduate school, all while self-educating themselves in a non-traditional manner. They are both now 69 years old and have always been white.

This is a prelude to a look at how similar both philosophers’ worldviews are and where they differ, based upon the recent two and one-half interview with Wilber, and Jabbour’s recent book Election 2016: The Great Divide, The Great Debate. Both works focus on “the great divide” now raging in America (and the world) with regard to the human condition, and, what the future might look like? Considering that divide and its intersection with emerging technologies.

Reading / Watching / Listening

Ken Wilber on the evolution of consciousness in the age of Trump.

<--- Clicking this black triangular pointer will reveal marked places in the egghead’s talk (signified by the timeline’s time markers) and then corresponding page numbers in Mark Jabbour's book that reference the same person, subject, or point. Also marked are persons and subjects that have come up in previous cafes.

24:48 Abraham Maslow (p.1, 9, 84, 93, 124, 140, 150n68, 180, 211, 229, 279, 285, 288n148)

35:41 Sigmund Freud (p. xvi, xvii, 9, 22, 34,79, 125, 133, 147, 156, 211, 275)

36:39 Aurobindo and Gebser

48:00 Value structures (p. 36, 84, 141n62)

56:35 Growing up … integral framework (p.114, 232, 279)

58:30 Human Evolution (p.27, 60)

1:06:00 Human intelligence, integral thinking, slavery, sexual selection, AI, etc. (xvii, 135, 138, 174, 168, 204, 281, 290n151, 294)

1:22:00 Evolutionary theorists (p.9)

1:24:00 Evolutionary selection pressure, Whitehead (p. 153, 191, 195, 208, 294 ‘reverse Darwinism’)

1:30:00 E.O. Wilson (p. 189)

1:34:00 de Chardin (p.290n151)

1:45:00 Trump election (p. xvii- 333)

1:46:00 OCEAN (p. 99, 176, 314)

1:58:00 Multiculturalism, relativism, pluralism, postmodernism, identity politics (p.57, 141, 174n82, 195, 204, 211, 226, 281)

2:08:00 Hierarchies (p.1, 175n83, 234)

2:09:00 Basket of deplorables (p. 205, 218n121, 227, 242).

2:14:00 Conflict (p.8n7, 87, 129n55, 142n63, 150, 150n67, 155, 180, 200, 318)

2:19:00 Modern Postmodern Philosophers (p.114)

2:20:00 At this point Wilber begins to talk of his future plans for writing books as a continuation of his 2002 novel Boomeritis:a novel that will set you free (p.57) and how the tantric sexual act is the apex of the human experience, “sex becomes a path to enlightenment” or unity with the universe. Seems like he’s coming back to Freud and his libido drive theory? (p. 149, 232)

The caveman takes the egghead head on in Election 2016 (p. 174-75 n82-3-4)

Seed questions:

  • How is language used to divide people?
  • How does one’s Time allocation contribute to understanding?
  • What is your futuristic outlook for the people and the planet?
  • Do you agree with Wilber’s integral theory and subsequent conclusion?

Context, Backstory, and Related Readings

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(LaughingCryingDancing) #2

The%20Awakened%20Ape
Wilber & Freud embrace their APENESS differently & so DO I…Let the Play Begin!!!

(Ed Mahood) #3

Tip o’the chapeau to @Douggins for adding the time markers to the video. I never would have made it through without them. Thanks.

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(Douglas Duff) #4

And a tip of the brim to you, though credit goes to @Mark_Jabbour. And for the seed questions, which will keep the conversation churning. I will be in attendance.

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(Mark Jabbour) #5

I’ve got a brief introduction readied (sort of - I tend not to rehearse) based upon my finishing Wilber’s novel Boomeritis: a novel that will set you free (2002) wherein he lays out his theory very well (it hasn’t changed. He was on to the “mean Green Meme” back then ); and attempt to “integrate” several theories about the “truth” of things.*Just to kick start the cafe’s yak. Should be fun. I’m sure we’ll run out of time unless we leap into “cosmic time”?

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(Mark Jabbour) #6


Idk , @achronon. Seriously … I need a crew.
Great @ccafe … we might, or not see, yes?

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(T J Williams) #7

Just got to this last night. Really good presentation and discussion of frameworks. And of assumptions.

My presumptuous assumptive $0.02:
“Consciousness” does not transcend or negate our human biology, but it does give us means to reflect on that biology - and then to reflect on those reflections, etc… The way(s) we shape the various social, political, and economic institutions with which we build (or tear down) our world(s) are a result. I remain wary of even using the word ‘evolution’ when discussing cultural history; human society is not just life efficiently adapting to the external environment, but also a deliberate and sustained attempt to reshape that environment technologically and/or metaphysically. That feedback loop is itself too much of a moving target to reduce to a simple story of ‘increasing complexity’ or some other teleological proposition (as useful as these can be to organize thought at times).

“On the Structures of Consciousness”, Vytautus Kavolis, Sociological Analysis, Vol. 35 #2 (Summer 1974), p. 115:
"My own usage of the term ‘structure of consciousness’ derives from [sociologist Benjamin] Nelson’s earlier publications, but I use it in the sense in which it works for me, as an inferred relatively stable constellation of basic assumptions about the character of order and of disorder and the relations between them. (1)

[footnote on same page] “(1) The structure of consciousness has to be inferred from the acts in which consciousness appears to be manifested. Whatever an individual is conscious of in his own consciousness, it is normally not the structure - the ‘taken-for-granted’ general principles of organization for interrelating the specific contents of his consciousness. Strictly speaking, a structure of consciousness is an inference the analyst is making from a body of empirical evidence that he needs to make sense of some characteristics shared by most of that body of evidence, characteristics which he considers to be fundamental for the analytical purpose he has in mind.”

(Strictly speaking, this is how The Ever-Present Origin is set up. Gebser pointed out repeatedly that he was up against his and his readers’ mental structure instincts while trying to convey his sense of the “integral”. His keenness to examine underlying assumptions is one of the strengths of his work.)

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(Ed Mahood) #8

Thank you for this, TJ. Very helpful, for it helps clarify just what is meant by “structures” in such a dynamic, and often confusing, context.

With which I couldn’t agree more, as this is a point of process that I can’t – and won’t – tire of emphasizing. It all starts with what we believe is so obvious that it need not be questioned, but that is precisely the point at which the most serious questioning must begin. It is also, BTW, the foundation of Collingwood’s Metaphysics, which takes a bit of a different tack toward this long-suffering notion.

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(Mark Jabbour) #9

Here is another theory or GUT (grand unifying theory) that I think is worth consideration: Terror Management Theory.


there is a 20 minute Youtube clip that explains it with cool pictures of cavemen and the stars - if that’s more your style. Thanks again everyone, twas fun.

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(T J Williams) #10

Gregory M. Nixon comes to a similar conclusion re: “the realization of certain mortality” being at the root of consciousness/culture.

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(Mark Jabbour) #11

Yes, seems similar. In a previous Cafe (maybe it was the Gidley paper), we talked of this - how the realization of death might have corresponded to the first evidence of burying with artifacts, and that that threshold (40-60 thousand years ago) marked the emergence of the modern human mind, culture, and subsequent internal and external conflicts, which still plague us (humans) today.

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(Ed Mahood) #12

Hmmm … how odd that over Easter weekend, the active topic is “death”. Seems like a better time than most, though.

There is perhaps a point in what Greenberg, et al. and Nixon are saying, but I would like to add a cautionary note. Personally, I don’t think things are quite that simple, though yinz should understand that the last thing on my mind is complicating the issue. Stated most succinctly, my reservation is this:

How can we possibly know what was going on in a (proto-)human mind 60 kya. I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but it seems to me that whatever is being said, it is more than speculative. The notion of “fear” as the primary driver of both consciousness and culture remains suspect for me. How do we know the feeling they had was fear?

There is no doubt that a lot of what has been handed down to us, mostly in written form, has an portion of fear in it, but my gut feeling is that the more materialistic we became, the bigger the role that fear played. (That’s an oversimplification of what I’m thinking, but it’s a fair representation of the hypothesis.) Sometimes it seems to me that in the modern Western mind, at least, “fear of death” plays a huge role, but did it always or are we moderns simply projecting our own mentation on those early humans?

What if the burying of remains and artefacts was a gesture of mourning, not of fear? We know that for long periods of time, and it is even widespread today, that reverence for one’s ancestors and even the notion of an “afterlife” were the dominant modes of dealing with “individual” death. What if, our forebears saw the passing of others as a kind of state-change, a part of the natural cycle of nature? At some point, whatever was going on in human heads/hearts changed or we wouldn’t have the death-focus that seems to be most prevalent today. But should we simply postulate that it was always the driver?

All I’m saying is I’m a bit skeptical and think the whole complex of notions surrounding the topic deserves a more discriminating and discerning consideration.

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(LaughingCryingDancing) #13

A%20scary%20path

Maybe they were better at Seeing/Feeling in the Great Darkness of their experience & Modern Man whatever that means, needs to come out of the Darkness of their own Creation however & for whatever reason. Seeing/Feeling in the Dark seems to Be the Metaphor/Action of a Carpenter,from this humble human growing up with his story & letting it’s seed grow beyond what I was told to make of the said story.

laughing%20jesus1

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(T J Williams) #14

Caveat appreciated as always. Things are never that simple.

In fairness to Nixon, I got the sense that he sees “realization of mortality” more as a spur to conceptions of ‘what lies beyond’ (and, subsequently, what he calls the “mythical mind”) than necessarily a “fear of death” on the cultural level. Giving Greenberg et al the benefit of the doubt (as is my dangerous habit :grinning:), I took the point again to be the salience of the “basic psychological conflict” itself and the undoubted links between attitudes toward death and cultural frameworks for the meaning of life.

That said, a reduction of cultural development to the above is of course unwarranted; terror may perhaps be too strong a word or an automatic leap from “conflict” to “terror” too assumptive. Certainly the ancient Egyptians among others strongly support your caution about projecting modern views back into history. I’m inclined to agree with your point that perception of how good/pleasant/comfortable life is may be directly proportional to fear of its end (reminded of the stories of other Greeks encountering Spartan “black soup”… LOL).

Like so many of these notions: fundamental? highly likely… foundational? perhaps… the basic (necessary and sufficient) key? probably not and certainly not by itself…

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(Ed Mahood) #15

Thanks for this, TJ; as always instructionally helpful. I haven’t done any kind of extensive or focused study on cultural drivers or the like. I’d be the first to admit that I’m not qualified to critique anyone who is exploring such things, but I often get a nagging feeling that we moderns (or whatever it is we are being called these days) – and this goes way back – very (too?) often project a lot of our current assumptions and, yes, beliefs back on those who came before us.

We invariably start with the Greeks, as if that’s where everything started. When I finally read Schwaller de Lubicz, for example, the feeling that we were projecting on the Egyptians became particularly strong. And, one of the things about Gebser’s EPO is that it kinda, sorta allowed the reader – if they were willing to make the effort – to intuit what it might have been like to have perceived the world differently than we moderns do.

But, my feeling that the actual fear/terror/death has its roots in (perhaps) deficient rationality got a nudge this afternoon when I was finishing Berendt’s The World is Sound - Nada Brahma. Referring to physicist/mathematician Claudio Hoffmann’s Smog in the Brain, he writes (all brackets [] and italics are mine):

Hoffmann shows that science does not serve to further communication but rather domination. In physics, the number of all publications written since the beginning of humankind [?] has doubled every thirteen to fifteen years; of these, ten times as many studies have to do with the destruction of life as with research aimed at the preservation of life: “The death drive, once presented to people by a scientist as a theoretical concept, is now imposed on people by scientists as an actual destructive force.”

What I appreciate about my reading (along) of Bateson is that he often strikes me as being actutely aware of what (or at least that) he is bringing (some of himself) to his explorations by way of presumptive baggage, but I find that rare. Since we haven’t changed biophysically, say, for the last 50k-60k years, we current homo sapiens sapiens are for all intents and purposes the same as those homo sapiens sapiens, and I’m not convinced that’s a sound conclusion to be drawing.

As you point out, that’s not what Nixon, Greenberg, etc. are doing in any specific way. Maybe it all just a bit of acquired curmudgeony that leaks out when I think out loud.

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(T J Williams) #16

One of the things that so draws me to the book - even if my trying to make sense of world history is, in a way, a quintessential modern Western project (LOL!).
Your “nagging feeling” is a very important consideration. “‘They’ are/were humans just like us” is of course a good reminder that the Other has feelings too. But it runs the risk of blinding us to the fact that cultural differences (what I like to call ‘variations on the theme of being human’) are steeped in sometimes widely divergent experiential trajectories. ‘Enough like us, but not just like us’ can be a difficult fine-line concept…

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(LaughingCryingDancing) #17

I love listening to this exchange of musical Ideas & Empathy flowing with different notes being played back n’ forth.As a listener I am enjoying the sharing,Thank U Both

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(Ed Mahood) #18

Literally: the story of my life.

It’s mind-boggling how that fine line can obscure actual fault lines that make the San Andreas pale by comparison, something I experience almost every day … those moments when you realize that “not just like us” is really “not like us at all”.

Even two cultures as similar as American and German … the moment you actually stop to reflect upon it, you realize all may not be as it appears. At the platitude level, everything is hunky-dory. At the concept level, you recognize any number of discussion points. At the everyday level, you find yourself in an obstacle course; the detail level is a minefield. (I pride myself it at least recognizing it’s a minefield, even if I lose appendages on a regular basis. Fortunately in this dimension of existence, like some reptiles, those appendages grow back, so you can lose them anew.) I have a deep, abiding, profound respect for those who can make West-East (Near or Far is irrelevant in this case) comings-together work. I don’t have the strength to imagine how North-South relationships function at all.

Having said that, though, I know all that is possible, even if it’s not easy. Even in America, depending on where you are, you can get a taste of it … or not, but with the general cultural attitude that if-you-come-to-America-(regardless of the reason)-the-least-you-can-do-is-want-to-become-an-American, a lot of the otherwise potential cultural diversity gets (sadly) suppressed. But, I suppose that’s one contributing factor to the current resurgence of the “Ugly American”-syndrome worldwide. For, if you don’t ever experience it – to any degree – you end up absolutely and totally clueless. And all of this is here-and-now, not now-and-then. The latter is even more challenging, which prompts the nagging, I suppose.

But, I digress … yet, I think the point I’m trying to make is this (and, if anyone can correct me if I’m wrong, you, TJ, are the one to do so): I’m not convinced we understand history very well, and I’m even less convinced that we’ve learned much from it. I’m not sure, we are sensitive enough to “otherness” to appreciate not only differences in culture, but differences in historical unfoldment (e.g., à la Gebser). And, I doubt that there is a general willingness in the world population to do anything about that … for some because they can’t (i.e., struggle for survival), and for some because they just don’t want to (i.e., imperialists).

Given the state-of-the-world, I think, for the sake of my grandchildren (not for me), it’s absolutely essential that we start. If enough people knew that we (as a species) keep making the same mistakes, maybe enough would realize how unnecessary that is and slowly stop making them. Maybe then we could start turning a few thing around.

Pretty optimistic for a curmudgeon, eh?

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(T J Williams) #19

My only correction of you would be that I am in no way qualified to correct you. :laughing: You know me: I like to throw spaghetti - and am usually more surprised when it sticks than when it slides down the wall! I just appreciate the conversation. I have fond memories of “curmudgeon” professors who firmly but gently nudged us in the direction of clear thinking: one was fine so long as one acknowledged bias and put enough thought into something to be able to show how one arrived - in the end, the curmudgeon is really just ensuring everyone is paying attention. Necessary character, in my humble opinion.

To wit:

I don’t think I could have better expressed my own personal ‘driving impulse’ in all this. Spengler said “Optimism is cowardice” (in Man and Technics, not The Decline of the West). But then, of course, so is pessimism, right?
Interestingly, among the criticisms of TMT outlined in the article is the thought that fear of ultimate meaningless is the issue rather than fear of death, which is a pretty significant shift of emphasis, and probably closer to the truth…

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(Ed Mahood) #20

Probably, a dying breed, but those were the profs I respected the most … and who gave the most, and from whom I learned the most. (BTW, I don’t think our friend Sloterdijk is one of them (too right, too often), but that’s just my personal bias, I suppose.)

Optimism, pessimism – the edges … or the extremes? – may always be cowardice. The action is right in the middle of everything. It is in the middle of the fray that life decisions are made.

And therein lies the rub, if you ask me. Death is a matter of the cycles of nature. What is born, dies, no more, no less. I believe that is what our forebears knew and recognized; we have perhaps pushed it aside, disregarded it, avoided it, even denied it, but we know in our heart of hearts that’s how it is.

Now, whether we believe in that “ultimate meaninglessness” or not … well, that is another issue altogether. That was, if you ask me, the postmodernist program: to buy into meaninglessness. As it turns out, we’ve come to realize that, as extremists, they can’t exist in the center of things, only on the periphery, but in that center, there was, is, and will be meaning. Or at least that’s how I understand concretion.

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