Cosmos Café: Season 1 [November, 2017 – March, 2018]

I think it is. It would be a good creative challenge, I think, for any ‘integral’ thinker to try to think and express themselves without using the prefixes pre-, post-, or meta- (let alone hyper- :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)—and, for that matter, without using the word ‘integral’ either! I don’t know if I could do it. Should I try??*

(*“Metapsychosis” would have to be exempt, since it already subverts the prefix through the root word.)


I think you nailed it ( to borrow an expression from Ed) about AQUL as basically centered in Orange, which explains why so many who used it were often so dissociated and verbal and pro business as usual . I once told a friend that unless the AQUL can dance and sing it is useless. He looked at me as if I was a lunatic. And perhaps I was but I was probably just annoyed by the one size fits all version of Integral that was promoted by those who had very little life experience at all. Having said that, I also encountered a lot of talented and kind people who put up with my rants.


Waiting for the meeting to start, so I’ll squeeze in:

And of course for now “who’s in charge?” is really a question about which humans get to decide the questions of how far and to what purposes we push the technology, always more of a worry to my way of thinking than tools in themselves…


I believe she begins by comparing the drawbacks of transhumanism with the demands of the human-centered needs and then concludes with a posthumanist perspective (though clearly she is on “tean-human”), intent on fusing the “art (human- centered) and science (transhuman-centered) of taking responsibility…”

Abstract from the Conclusion in her short book entitled "The Future: A Very Shory Introduction":

Futures studies is the art and science of taking responsibility for the long-term consequences of our decisions and our actions today. The Conclusion proposes that once we know there is not one predictable future, we are freer to imagine alternative futures and work towards creating the futures we prefer—for self and humanity. The grand global challenges faced by humanity may seem insurmountable, but the sense of fear and hopelessness often comes from not knowing enough. By working collaboratively for positive change, whether in the area of climate change, alternative energy, humanitarian causes, health, economics, or transforming education, we can create a critical mass for creating positive futures.

This abstract is essentially the language we have been using here. We too have fluxuated between voices requesting that we retain and regain our human-centered art and others swifting off into the techno-future of scientific possibilities, and, through civil conversation and a certain style of sandboxing technique, we have reached a pleasant and hopeful middle ground.


But which humans? Isn’t that more the point?

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After watching Gidley’s presentation, there’s at least one individual who is no longer on the eligibility list.


What you did there is not a trivial shift of emphasis, but I think the point is made either way. We agree that, at least for the time being, the decisions that must be made are complex (the, for lack of better word, ‘interface’ of humanity with technology always reflects this) and they are in the hands of people. Some of these people are idealists and long-term visionaries, some are cognizant of possibilities and consequences, and some are myopic, greedy bastards but all sit at a table of money and influence to which I am not invited (though I cannot let myself off the hook that easily - my own diligent 9-to-5 activity helps feed the beast). The bottom line question, implicit in the words “who’s in charge?” is about power even more fundamentally than tech. I sense that Gidley’s larger project is about that thorny side of the evolution of consciousness - are we learning how to control ourselves before we proceed much further down the road toward any kind of assumption of “Kryptonian” power?


Which humans in which environment? There is no human without an environment.

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Gidley is on the side of those who are exploring inner space, which lags very far behind, in our collective development, though some individuals have broken through to those inner depths. Those who want to colonize the galaxy in the next thousand years are cut off from any depths. I have heard a physicist, who wants to colonize the galaxy, also claim that there is no such thing as a first person perspective. There is only a third person! Such people cant think historically, nor do they have a clue about what she means by post-formal. They are myopic to the point of insanity and yet is pretty clear that the Big Money in Silicon Valley is diverting limited resources to take themselves into the next frontier. The arrested development is what Gidley is getting at with her remarks. That outer space conquest folly will be funded by cutting out social security and the arts programs in schools and other unnecessary frills. Factory education triumphs.


One of my professors commented about Julius Caesar that it takes a special kind of megalomania to write whole books about oneself in the third person.

Herein lies an important problem: they are, in a way, thinking historically. It’s just that the history they know tells them to proceed by the rational means that have always worked in the past (especially for the immediate beneficiaries of the political and economic systems of course). Rather than accept limits, let’s claim (conquer, exploit, pollute) the sky too!

“I think you nailed it (to borrow an expression from Ed)” :grin:


I think that’s right. So but then, to frame it as “humans vs. tech” misses the mark, no? Because all humans use tech. It’s just that some have asserted (and continue vying for) control of technological networks in order to exert power, while others are more operated upon (“played”) by that power (and will to).

Everybody is on “team human,” ultimately, but who is the “other team” that seems to be in charge? Are we not all humans-in-relation-to-tech? Even if the championing of “the human” is regarded as a corrective to technofanaticism, I’m just not sure that putting “humanity” at the center of the Cosmos is going to work in the long run. We ARE going to explore outer space. We ARE going to encounter (in an exoteric, non-conspiratorial way) other non-human intelligent beings in this universe. In fact, trillions of them already live on the same planet as us! And what of the multitudinous beings we encounter in ‘inner space’?

We need to reimagine the ‘center,’ I believe. I’ve suggested it could be regarded as “consciousness”—itself. But that’s just a placeholder term, marked by our humanoid reality. Obviously, we could posit the Infinite or any other transcendental signified at the ‘center’ and not get much closer to hitting the mark. But that doesn’t mean the center isn’t really there. It just won’t be pinned down by a single concept, metaphor, sign, or symbol—not even by the story of centricity itself. :dart:

What do we mean when we say “we”?


Yes, and I said the same in my chess essay: what could “man vs. machine” really mean in a world where technology is everything from a stone arrowhead to a cell phone? So I agree that all such labeling is misleading on the surface.
But there does seem to be a real conflict of values here, which I see as Gidley’s main point.
We (humanity) most certainly will explore and expand. Ideally:

  • we (explorers) will do so from a home planet with a still-functioning biosphere and not so great an unresolved discrepancy between those who take hot showers every morning and those who scrounge for drinking water;
  • we (economic and political leaders) will regularly think, negotiate, and compromise to solve problems;
  • we (informed and involved citizens) will not only hold leaders accountable but also take the initiative on local levels to address the ‘small’ problems …
    etc. (You are in the choir here and know the drill.)

Our (individual) explorations of inner space will yield a kind of teachable spirit in us that we (collective) can use to reinforce planetary awareness and a wisdom that is really more about listening carefully than grasping for unattainable perfection. And the point of it all is so we (humanity) won’t just end up taking our physical and metaphysical mess with us.
What a pipe dream, right?

Re: the above, I think “team human” remains to be built. There are those who want machines to do that hard work for us. And those who want “someone else” to do that hard work. And those who want “Others” to “come up” to their standards, whatever those happen to be. And…

Ever and always, an excellent question.

Does that make it an orb (another exercise in everything/nothing)? :smile:


Just a quick note on the reference to Team Human. Douglas Rushkoff has a podcast with the same name and he is frequently addressing the conflict of values, as you intelligently note above about Gidley’s main point.

From a short essay in which Rushkoff explains his reasoning for starting the Team Human podcast:

“…people who understand we have to stop optimizing human lives for economic growth, and start optimizing the economy for human prosperity. People who want to stop programming people for technology, and start programming technology for people. The people I’ve come to call Team Human.”

…“My books may have been good for addressing the symptoms of social and economic injustice, and doing forensic analysis of the root causes for our problems – sometimes dating back to things like the invention of central currency and chartered monopolies in the late Middle Ages. But social change requires more than knowledge of where we are and how we got here. It requires a shift in values, in perception, and in the way we understand what it means to be a human being. It’s more fundamental than policy, because it is what animates us in the first place.

So maybe, to continue the loose (and slightly loathsome!) football/sports metaphors that have kicked-off around here, the “team human” Rushkoff and others play for are always going to be underdogs in the Human Games League. The “other teams” have bigger sponsors, more fans, flashier gear. They are in charge and winning the games for now, because the game is rigged, they hit harder and have more of a money pool to find the bigger “better” players. But soon enough, as more players and sports fans become aware of the global concussions and the dangers of the games, the rules will need to change to favor the humans…and as the rules of the game change, the entire sport changes as well. In the future, we might have special space football leagues, but the suits will still need to accomodate for the human inside. One would think that Musk and friends would be looking out for the underdogs when designing the new suits, and he may have our favorite team human in mind when designing. Yet the gracefulness of the anti-gravity sports will be demolished once someone suggests and others go along with the idea that rocket boosters attached to each players suit would make a better contact sport.

We do not need to champion the human, but we do need to keep the game civil if we are to continue playing. And, like everything else, once we find the most optimal way to exist in a multitudinous globe, through discourse, deep reading, slow thought, the concept of the game will disappear as we go on about our days.

So, though we do not wish to take sides or join a team, we are supporting the players who like to play against the bad ideas, the limited forms of consciousness, the supporters of misinformation.


I’m not sure. Even our focus on consciousness doesn’t necessarily imply “unity” - despite the “integral” argument. One of the revolutions we are living right now is the break-up of the centre as a structural unit. We no longer view “identity” as singular and unique, and I don’t think consciousness is singular either - as Johnny says, in another context, it is a multitude. So I don’t think we are reimagining “center”, but rather we are reimagining the relationship between center and periphery (maybe that’s what you meant, Marco @madrush?). I am reminded of my reading of The Minor Gesture right now, the bit I put into my Cosmos Plenum poem, the quote from Nietzsche, “I don’t concede that the I is what thinks. I take the I itself to be a construction of thinking”. And then Manning herself : " ‘I’ is the movement of thought destabilized by the act, the coming-into-itself of a capacity to regulate experience, but only until it is destabilized again by the minor gestures coursing through the event". I find this such a compelling rethinking about what the “I” is, it’s like a reversal of Descartes, not “I think therefore I am”, but rather “think I therefore am I”. Here the “I” is still central in some sense, but also ephemeral, there is nothing stable or permanent about this center. In the old days, center meant stable and permanent!

I agree, it’s one of the problems I had with Gidley’s video presentation (although I will read the paper). In Whitehead’s The Function of Reason, which is the book Erin draws on in the first chapter of The Minor Gesture, Whitehead describes mental experience in relation to body experience as “upward and downward trends, as two coordinate dualities essential in the nature of experience”. I think we could do something similar with technology and the human - view them as two coordinate dualities within experience.


I couldn’t agree with you more that everything we can access by means of our five physical senses is not unitary. But at the same time, many of us – and this is how I read @madrush’s use of the word “consciousness” (in scare quotes to thus signify it as not what is generally understood by the term, and which he specifically indicated was a placeholder for whatever it was that he was intuiting). In other words it is not consciousness that implies unity, the it is multiplicity of manifestation that does so.

It is difficult for anyone post-Nietzsche to address that unity (which I more often than not like to intuit as a singularity – but certainly not in a techno-utopian or even integral sense) without simply being shoved aside by the (often, but not exclusively, scientific) community of agreement that says, more often than not, there is no such thing as unity anyway, which is one way to interpret your statement about our current revolution in thinking (even if “revolution” is not the best word to describe it (too military for my taste, but that’s a mere personal preference) … for what both Gidley and the “integralists” are saying, I believe, is that we are merely in the process of taking the next evolutionary step in our development as humans.

What Steiner, Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard, and Gebser (and Young (as I read him) and I think Mohrhoff as well), just to chronologically mention the names that have been most often dropped in these quarters, all insist upon is a unity which is the source of this multiplicity, and if nothing else, it might do us all a bit of good to try and get in touch with it. It would seem the price for saying so is relative obscurity. Steiner was pushed into the esoteric corner, Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard get cut some relative slack because one can paint them with a religious brush, Gebser, well, let’s face it, he never got anywhere near mainstream, and Wilburians may have become as rational as @johnnydavis54 describes simply because they wanted to be accepted by the mainstream community of agreement and demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt how clearly they were thinking. Unfortunately, thinking a truth doth not make.

Even in our CCafé sessions on the Meru work, we saw that one facet of our Western mythology deals almost exclusively with this issue. The creator in the first creation story in Genesis is Elokim (the “name” itself is plural in form), but the creator in the second one (which Sloterdijk took as his starting point – cf. Introduction to Bubbles) it is YHWH. It is the interplay, interaction, tension, and conflict between these two that informs the entirety of that mythological expression. The actual relationship between singularity and multiplicity was at the heart of most of our philosophical, theosophical, and theological argumentation for the past few millennia. It has only been since Herr Nietzsche that we don’t “have to” and for the most part apparently don’t want to talk about such things anymore. It all hasn’t gone away, it was just relegated to the sidelines when it wasn’t overtly being suppressed, but it’s on its way back and I, for one, am glad that we can now talk about such things in reasonable ways again.

Multiplicity (and diversity) is good and nice and natural and to be encouraged and all our cognitive and affective (and in the end, haptic) capabilities need to be brought to bear on our understanding of it, but I want to keep unity around for the very same reason. History has shown that it is too easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees, recognizing at the same time that there have been times when it was insisted upon the that trees be ignored.

I don’t want to say just what it is that Marco was pointing toward, but I think it is an important topic/issue/theme that we need to keep clearly in mind, regardless of what, in the end, we decide to label it. Your center-periphery image is a helpful and reasonable place to start, but to my mind it is not that we are only “reimagining the relationship between center and periphery”, we are also reimagining the center and the periphery as well.


And when “two coordinate dualites and upward and downward trends and essential in the nature of human experience” … how is that human -view different from technology?

And where does human- view come from?

And when a human -view what would Gregory Bateson say about that human-view?

And would Bateson have a human-view without an environment?

And what environment do biotic human views share with abiotic non human systems?

And do abiotic non human systems have a view?

And from where does an abiotic non human view come from?

And can coordination between abiotic and biotic systems happen?

And if that coordination can happen how do we know that can happen?

Thanks for this inquiry. There is much going on and I am doing my best to be transparent ( late Middle English: from Old French, from medieval Latin transparent- ‘shining through,’ from Latin transparere, from trans- ‘through’ + parere ‘appear.’) What follows is a rough attempt to model a shared reality with some reflections upon how difficult an undertaking this is becoming.

As biotic systems, we pay attention to a body-theme moving and can share a self-reflexive movement, can self-refer, can imagine being touched, turning feelings into color or sound and can coordinate with other sensory experiences generated with other sensoriums, both human and other than human species.We communicate with animals but we dont language with animals. We might talk to them but they dont talk back. They do communicate and can play and fight with us. We can share attention with animals.

Boitic systems share attention. I tell you a story, an anecdote, put a hand on your shoulder, use a soft voice, glance in a direction, point my finger at something in the distance, point to something near by, speak about love, justice, the quality of mercy, show you a sketch from my notebook, whistle a tune, wink, laugh,smile, cry, fart, frown, dance a jig, avoid a puddle, etc… all of this communicating and meta-communicating happens and is synchronized through shared attention, and a shared sense of a field of possibilities.

Can the technology ( an abiotic system) disrupt the human ( biotic)human communication process, with it’s delicate attentional and meta-attentional capacity?

Yes it can. It happens constantly. Relationships between persons are disturbed constantly by the improper use of of techno systems by persons. I would hazard the guess, based upon my experience, that the abiotic nature of tech systems makes it an unlikely partner in any advance in human cognition. Human cognition relies totally on the rhythms, pulses, throbs, colors, intensities, thresholds, momentums, affects of the somatic and without such interplay cognition can make no sense of rational arguments. All rationality rides upon the affective interplay of the subject with the inter subjective and with the special case of the objective ( every observation is made by an observer). An abiotic system will never be able to kiss and slap or roll over and play dead. Nor will an abiotic system miss you when you are gone.

Can biotic systems use the technology to convey messages and meta-messages that reflect our complex qualitative, attentional natures?

Maybe. So far there is plenty of evidence ( Jordan Brown’s documentary) that this is not happening.

Is this the machines fault? Of course not.

What needs to happen to make something else happen?

My participation here is predicated on the vague hope that we can use the technology in a way that thus far has been hindered by inappropriate and unethical uses of the technology by some humans who are in an state of arrested development. The post rational is not yet an option for them but they have the use of a technology that can amplify their arrested development on a scale never seen before in recorded human history.

Writing and drawing and talking about our writing and our drawing has a direct influence on our sensoriams and can deepen rapport ( through our shared attention) rather than become disruptive by mental deficient chatter. For this rapport to become an ongoing reality we must come up with much better metaphors and narratives without the domination of binary logics ( war, battle, top- down, us-them, etc. ) Cosmo-ethics ( wisdom)will not emerge out of an algorithm. It may emerge out of a four valued logic, as has been worked out in Eastern logical systems. We are perhaps at the beginning of what Gebser would call a mutation. Whether this is a mutation of consciousness or of attention is a big question. We need better coordination perhaps of definitions. Way beyond my current vocabulary!

Some of us are able to delve more deeply into inner spaces and find expressions that then can become externalize in language, code. When we share our maps of actual imaginal and non material territories, we using a code. Machines are not going to help us do this kind of comparative and highly relational pattering that happens as we share attention in real time. Qualities are analogical. Machines can transmit our analogical messages and meta-messages 24/7 but they should not be confused with flesh and blood that makes them or think that machines can replace the dance of biotic living arrangements of great complexity. The computers are good with computing. They work with the past. They are useless with the future. And they do not think.

The following clean questions are for qualitative research purposes. I certainly dont expect, Ed, or anyone to answer them but to register the effects of the questions upon the sensorium. I am listening to, and asking open ended questions about Ed’s language.

And when a center what kind of center when “re-imagining a center?”

And whereabouts is that center?

And does that center have a size or a shape?

And when that center with that size or shape or color is there anything else about periphery?

And what does that center with that periphery want to have happen?

And is there a relationship between all of this and your drawing? ( from the archive?)