Cosmos Café: “The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views," Continued [4/10]


(Douglas Duff) #1


Take your time, its the fastest way to achieve your goal.


…this paper provides an in-depth hermeneutic analysis of the writings of Steiner, Gebser and Wilber. My intention is to broaden and deepen the scope of the evolution of consciousness discourse, particularly its development within integral theory. In addition to the conceptual breadth of Wilber’s theories, the major dimensions of participation/enactment and aesthetics/artistry can be more fully included via the narratives of Steiner and Gebser. My intention is to contribute to the development of integral theory, by emphasizing the integration of the whole person through highlighting—in addition to integral conceptualization—the participatory and aesthetic features as significant integral theoretic components.
– Jennifer Gidley, “The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views," p. 15

Join us in the bonsai gardens, tucked neatly beside the Café, to continue with expert integral cosmo-culturist Jennifer Gidley’s “The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views.” After last week’s discussion of the Appendices and the Introduction, we will now go into the heart of the article, watching as Gidley prunes, rewires and defoliates three well-known integralist bonsai trees; she calls them “The Map,” “The Territory,” and “The Guide.” Gidley’s craft in “The Evolution of Consciousness” aims to “broaden and deepen the evolution of consciousness discourse by integrating the integral theoretic narratives of Rudolf Steiner, Jean Gebser, and Ken Wilber, who each point to the emergence of new ways of thinking that could address the complex, critical challenges of our planetary moment.” (p.4)

Cosmos Café is a weekly virtual dialogue series that focuses on deep questions of cosmology, consciousness, and culture. Our conversations are designed (and intended) to be open-ended, inclusive, and creative—going nowhere in particular (or seemingly everywhere) yet arriving at the heart of the matter over time. These are performative experiments in cooperative intelligence, grounded in deep reading, mutual listening, embodied experience, and speaking our minds!

Each week, members of the Café crew put their minds together (if only, to take them apart) to discuss an organically chosen topic from the frothy ideas bubbling up on the Infinite Conversations forum. Sometimes we invite special guests, or try creative experiments in sense-making and conversational practice. If you’re following our sessions and would like to offer feedback or make a suggestion, we’re open to ideas. If you’d like to join the conversation, we’d love to hear from you! Please add your thoughts on any topic here on the forum—or message the @ccafe crew to get in touch.

We meet each Tuesday via ZOOM video conference at 1 p.m. Mountain Time (Denver, USA) [convert time zone]—unless otherwise indicated.

Each session is recorded (audio and video) and posted here on the forum for ongoing discussion, and can also be accessed via our global podcast feed and the archive page on (coming soon, really).

ZOOM link:


Jennifer Gidley (2007) “The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views

Seed Questions


(john davis) #2

How to make sense of the Magical and Mythical in a Post -modern World? I often wonder about that when things go bump in the night.

The curious case of Judith von Halle, a contemporary stigmatic, could be pertinent to our emerging sense of what a Planetary Cultural Evolution could be. Von Halle caused some controversy in the Steiner Community, a few years back, when she showed signs of the stigmata and stopped eating.

In this interview she comes across as a sensible person and I have read one of her very well written books. I have no fixed opinion on such things except to wonder if there are alternate ways of developing imagination that we are suppressing for perhaps very good reasons? What if everyone, as she has claimed to have done, by doing creative research on Steiner, have direct access to the Mind of Christ?

I have had some direct experience, which I have shared, having brief access to the Mind of St. Francis of Assisi, so I have had decades of personal confusion arise as a result of that. We must get ready for the weirdness factor.

As many young people master the video game and rush towards a techno derived Virtual Reality, what happens to these latent capacities, that humans in the past used to heal and re-balance disturbed eco systems?

What happens, as poet Langston Hughes, asks to a dream deferred? Is the rise of Techno Utopia just another example of misplaced concreteness? I have noticed with alarm how American Express logo and the glow of the laptop and Men in White Uniforms are appearing in my subtle dreamscapes. The battle for real estate in Manhattan seems to be trickling up into the subtle realms. What a pity. I dont want to be a Cyborg.

I imagine we could find much that might keep us up at night, when we ask the Silence our eager questions and the Silence listens. It could really get weird for some of us. For some of us it already is really weird. The World has always been enchanted.

Irreducible Mind has a chapter on Genius that I hope we can get to in the near future. It might be a follow up to our Gidley exploration, depending upon, where we want to go with all of this. And what happens next?

(Douglas Duff) #3

Hope I do not get fired for browsing such taboo subjects!! Guess thats why we take this stuff underground…

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Cult and Occult

(john davis) #4

Our friend, Lisa, sends her greetings from Spain. Perhaps we can make a group think happen with Lynnclaire Dennis? This would fit really well with Ed’s research on Tenen. Her book is very interesting. I hope we can decide upon this tomorrow? Doug we may need some of your famous technical backup.

(Ed Mahood) #5

Heh, heh, heh … I have extra tinfoil hats, if needed, but what I find so extraordinary is that for folks who either think they have all the answers or know for a fact that there’s too much superstition in the world, there are certain places where they will not, nor do they want to allow others, to go.

It’s really not all that different from Congress refusing to pass sensible gun legislation but won’t allow handguns in the Capitol, or the NRA who rails against gun-free zones unless those particular zones are their own convention.

The stuff is not underground – it once was – but it was actually repressed. Any book or article on the human shadow, however, will make immediately clear what happens when you take that approach.

(john davis) #6

The ones that tell you that Globalization is inevitable and there is nothing you can do about it are the ones you may want to avoid. Now that the the neo-libs and the neo-cons are at each other’s throats there is a window of opportunity to bring what has been underground into soft focus. There is plenty of material that can be accessed but many people dont know what to do with it. I had hoped that the Cafe could be a public space for airing out some of the hidden stuff that have been in the dusty attic for too long. We need to blow off the dust of the ancient tomes and start to re-imagine a relationship to how we know what we know.

I agree, Ed, that it is becoming harder for the few to hide knowledge from the many but I am concerned that premature cognitive commitments of those in cyberspace collude with these Globalizing regimes that are deeply anti-ecological. It is not easy to tease out the valid from the junk science. And the occult arts and the healing arts though widely used ( especially among the working class) can be destabilizing to the mavens of the post-modern matrix, who are trapped in 2D flat land and who have not read Steiner or Edgar Allen Poe but have absorbed Baudrillard and Foucault, and wrap themselves in reductive materialisms that justify huge expenditures of more capital to bank Silicon Valley snake oil.

(john davis) #7

At the last minute I found this brief interview with Arran Gare who expands upon where we might be going. He looks at the tradition of Goethe, Schelling, and Whitehead. We are in the land of an Ecology of Integrals.

(Douglas Duff) #8

Sad to have missed this “mini-retreat”

Notes from the recording:

@madrush: notes technical issues experienced in the Cosmos (general ease of access, ease of tech coordination) are on the cusp of being presented with more ease; feedback from the forum and elsewhere has been useful.

@johnnydavis54: has magically read nearly everything mentioned recently (Benedikter, Hampson, Gidley) and I am starting to wonder if his brother is not really an enslaved twin, forced to read and report findings and to substitute for John when he is off attending Steiner discussions.

@Mark_Jabbour: going off of your question about whether the evolving consciousness is seen primarily as an individual or species development (which @achronon expertly explained from a Gebserian POV), I think you might be interested in this Cafe:

…which was based off of a question/exploration I had about what exactly would a fully realized human species look like. I personally didn’t come any closer to an answer, but had some perspectives recalibrated thanks to the genius of the others in the conversation. We seemed to revolve around the notion that the individual must trek its own territory and seek out like minded for optimal human “potential” or possibilities. Collective species evolution of consciousness, etc. can wait a sec…

@madrush mentioned around one hour mark about the Harris/Ezra Klein debate (which is quite similar in tone to the Harris/Peterson conversations had on the Waking Up podcast…donot listen to these, for your sake) in which Harris is stuck in the sometimes useful but clearly deficient scientific mode of thought, unable to break through to Klein’s or Peterson’s more inclusive thinking. You’ll be happy to know @achronon and @johnnydavis54 that Harris is becoming a bit more tedious to my ears…I think he is at the edge of his map, but just cannot realize that he has left a few map flaps still folded.
…Marco mentions the various strands (archaic, magic, mythic, rational) and their deficiencies are rewoven by Gidley, able to move into an even wider embrace.

John: biological and cultural evolution: the biological evolutionary theory is a bit “fuzzy” now, given our collective research of microbiologies, etc. that redefine who we are.
The rope/knot metaphor --> carries into LynnClaire Dennis’ work and an Ingold interview mentioned by Marco.

Ed: Rudolph Steiner role; cosmological view; spiritual aspects; various bodies; he was misunderstood…Gidley (re)presents Steiner well.

Everyone notes at various times that it is becoming a sort of norm to explore and expand the territory, especially the weird studies, the irrational mental.

John: Referenced this Gidley quote as her desired outcome of the paper (and her life’s work as a whole, for that matter).:

Suffice to say that, in my view, the most important development that needs to occur at this point in planetary time is, for all of us who are working in our various ways to nurture postformal, integral or planetary consciousness, to continue and increase our collaboration to assist the planet-wide awakening of emergent new features of consciousness.

@madrush mentioned this Keeley Haftner interview of Ingold as knotted or linked with LynnClaire Dennis’ work, likely leading into next week’s session :

And a quick hello to future @ZacharyFeder!

(john davis) #9

Doug, I appreciate the self-reflexive move in bringing back your own previous participation and renewing that inquiry. As we can look at our conversations and listen again and find perhaps new patterns emerge out of previous ones, we can fast forward into future possibilities. This self-reflexive capacity can serve the dynamics of the Cafe as we tap into emergent knowledge. Great summary. And I think you’re right about Harris.

(Mark Jabbour) #10

Doug (?) So yeah, I clicked on your suggested link to a former cafe post (by you). The cafe (youtube) discussion was not as intriguing as was the posted responses (written discussion) on this site, of which I don’t have the time to respond to (re) in detail.
BUT, I think it does all link together (weave) w/r/t (with regard to) the current discussion w/r/t consciousness. In Ann Roberts’ interview w/Marco she alluded to the Medicine Wheel, which rang a bell in my memory/mind , & so on & so forth. Mr. Storm, a Cheyenne (self-diagnosed alcoholic) says, via the “stories”, that the human being (animal/spirit) is the only animal/spirit/energy that does not know who “he” is (identity crisis) - thus he is subject to “trauma.” And so, he manifested a body so as to be here (on planet earth ?) to relieve his loneliness via touch. Which, as it turns out, AI (the internet & virtual reality) is undermining, I think.
And so … anyone besides me read Fate, time and language: an essay on free will? by David Foster Wallace? Just asking …

(Ed Mahood) #11

Do you have a link or the essay in PDF format so that you could upload it here? I did a quick look online and didn’t find it. I’d like to read it. Thanks.

(Mark Jabbour) #12

I don’t. I bought the book, off the shelf, from a bookstore back when I was reading everything he wrote (2008 -2011). It was his masters thesis (1985) and argued against Fatalism. I wrote a review of the book myself (2011), and pretty much take the opposite position - i.e. I think Free Will (choice) is an illusion, albeit a necessary one; but loved Wallace’s smackdown of the Philosophy professors. Wallace wrestled with the subject of “choice” all his life, it’s a regular theme in much of his fiction. I also argue against “rationalism”, i.e. I think, far from being rational creatures, we (humans) are mostly irrational - thus I prefer the term realism, rather than rational, when speaking of conscious/mental developmental stages, if that makes sense. Maybe we can kick it (free will) around sometime in a future cafe?

(john davis) #13

I find this odd. If Free Will is a necessary illusion, then how can it be an illusion? Seems to me a performative contradiction.

Perhaps would make for another interesting Cafe topic? If you find your review, Mark, please post it. I would like to read it. It might be difficult to say anything fresh about this ancient conundrum ( I have seen people break out into fist fights!) but am open to believe that there is something to develop around this theme.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #14

I didn’t find a pdf of the book, but I did find several discussions /commentaries. Here is one which I found interesting :

I do find these discussions interesting, although logic is not my forte.

(Ed Mahood) #15

Agreed. This could be worth kicking around in a relaxed atmosphere … I have an antipathy to fist fights.

Personally, I would like more insight into why (and how) “illusions” can be (are) necessary. Aren’t illusions, by definition, unnecessary; that is, a distortion of whatever-is-really-the-case-even-if-that-case-is-hard-to-nail-down?

And I agree here, too. Logic is not my forte either.

I will read the whole paper, but after skimming the first half-a-dozen pages or so, I can see why much of contemporary philosophy has such a bad rep. Logics – as recent CCafe disucussions and ensuing threads have indicated – are not cast in stone. There is not A logic, rather they are things (systems? approaches? processes?) we make up to help us sort our way through the jungle of reality. Like mathematics, they are edifices based on definition and postulation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they are therefore worthless, far from it; rather, I’m saying that they have to be taken as and for whatever they are and treated accordingly. What is more, and in light of the recent Crowley/Weird Studies podcast, firmly rooted (you’ll excuse my Gebser reference) in the Magic structure of consciousness. (And sometimes really bright folks come along, like Gödel, who show us that try as we may, we can’t make such systems complete, and that gives me pause for thought. But I digress …)

They are not givens, nor do they exist (as far as I can see) independent of we humans thinking them up. Different premises, different results, and logics provide the rules from getting from A to B. That’s all well and good, but they are not in any way absolute arbiters of truth. Again, I’m not criticizing, just trying to put it all in “perspective”.

For me, the give away in Sher’s paper comes early when quoting Taylor whose argument is based on presuppositions "which are held “almost universally in contemporary philosophy”. Fine. Almost universally is certainly not universally. Change the presuppositions and you change the “almost universal”. That’s the reality as we know it. Anyone who doesn’t accept the presupposition(s) will get different results. And this is where I find the Rational simply breaks down. You can only get to “right” if you accept the presuppositions given. Other presuppositions are possible, therefore other results are apparently also always possible. At some point, “knowing” becomes “belief” … always. (I, for one, have no fundamental problem with that … I only ever have a problem when beliefs become absolutized and someone attempts to impose them, too.)

But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in pursuing the presentation/argument which is why I’ll wade through the article and why I think it would be nice to kick these notions around. It always helps me reevaluate my own presuppositions and beliefs.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #16

Agreed. Lisa @Lisa was talking about logics that do not assume the excluded middle, and that is one of the prime features of all these more traditional logic schemes. It would be interesting to see if some version of the fatalist argument can be constructed if the postulate of the excluded middle is left out…

I am also fascinated by the whole argument around destiny and fate, and I think this is worth looking into in more depth. For example, it was only reading these papers that I realized that one consequence is not only the the future may be predetermined, but that the past also may be determined by the future - because some of these schemes are not causal, this inverse fatalism can be possible.