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

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Going off of the recent request for the chapter on genius in Irreducible Mind as well as the exploration of individual and collective genius to be found anywhere in anyone (see @madrush’s comment above), shall we read the chapter? As it is lengthy, for those that have read it, do you have a selection for us? Also, as it is not readily available on the internet, can we make a copy of this somehow?

I did not attend last Cafe, so something else might have been explored as a potential topic…what say you @ccafe crew?


Thanks, Doug, for picking up on that possibility. I think it would be an excellent follow up to our previous discussion from Irreducible Mind. We didnt get a chance to discuss what happens next so perhaps we decide on a chapter and make it available ASAP? Did Marco already post a PDF from the book? Anyway, I imagine the chapter on Genius might stimulate, following on the heels of Gidley and others, a Post-formal leap into the Crack of the Cosmic Egg. Any chapter would be of interest.

1 Like

I have the book but not the PDF. Do we all have access to the text somehow?

Irreducible Mind at LibraryGenesis

Click on the title → then click a “mirror” (Libgen usually works) → then click “Get”

Still conflicted about using this site…but looks like only offering. Check your local library first! :books:

1 Like

I will be busy until after the Writers Underground meeting tonight, but can add the event tomorrow, unless someone else wants to create the topic. If so, have at it!


Ok, you just answered my question.

That’s right Zachary! Looking forward to discussing your latest submission.

1 Like

As I’ve been somewhat obsessed by the idea of Free Will for the past two decades I might as well chime in here.

The Wallace smack down is valid in my opinion for his reasons, and for others as well. One of his key counter points is:

“(this) semantic argument (semantic being the operative word here) appears (I would say “attempts”) to force upon us a strange and unhappy metaphysical doctrine that does violence to some of our most basic intuitions about human freedom … How can an argument from linguistic, semantic, and logical premises come to a thoroughly metaphysical conclusion?”

This is true.

The question of Free Will can neither be proved nor disproved via linguistic nor frankly philosophical / logical means. It’s like debating whether man can fly. Debate all you want. It proves nothing.

But the larger point for me, which Wallace may have known, is that Free Will is not a given but a muscle that must be built. We are all conditioned not to have Free Will, or to have very little, and only in socially acceptable areas (which as a result are not “Free” at all, because it’s just a second matrix inside a first). And it is how we are conditioned to behave in society to keep it cohesive. This is why those that do gain some measure are often shunned by the rest. R.D. Laing knew this:

"“They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game”

This is a version of how Free Will is curtailed. It always feels like an emotional impulse that is ‘protecting’ us, doing ‘the right’ thing…

Finally, and this is where I may offend, so I apologies for that, I don’t think we can ever truly understand Free Will unless we work not only to de-condition ourselves from our unconscious tendencies, but witness others in their attempts to do the same. You cannot see Free Will until you are on the other side of it. It is a line that must be crossed to uncover.

My eyes were very much opened to this not only in my own experiments (which I’ll soon share in Writers Underground) but also in my private practice specifically with trance work, where the unconscious has regularly shown me that it is running the show (withholding “Free Will,” / conscious volition ) in a way that the conscious mind rarely knows, and always simply proceeds to rationalize out of the realm of possibility to reinforcing a preexisting, self limiting narrative, regardless of whether its true or not.

Watch this play out a hundred times in sessions, not only on your self but on others, and you begin to realize that the Free Will debate cannot take place without taking this into account as an essential exhibit in the discussion.

But for most people, who don’t even pose the question, and perhaps even many who do, I don’t think its an illusion, but a question that has yet to be even addressed, let alone answered, in which case, no, it would be slim, if there at all.

Which is how, quite frankly, our society likes it. It’s the best way to keep everyone in line.


Trance work is the royal road to the unconscious and I am in large agreement with your comments on Free Will. I would add however that though the line between conscious and unconscious is very wavy line with lots of breaks in it. I dont have a sense that when we are at our best that we are in one or the other but often a bit of both, more or less, light and deep, at the same time. I doubt that the unconscious calls all the shots. The unconscious, when the language maker is polite and respectful, will give us images, feelings, subtle affects, movements, etc, and these can give direction to what the ego mind, with it’s limits has to deal with. This is a process that is far from predetermined.

We could develop some trance states at the Cafe. I have a good double induction trance script by Steven Gilligan developing age regression. We discussed younger voices in our last writer’s underground. There is a lot of creativity in that younger voice.

I can send you the trance text and we can take turns reading it out loud with the group. I have found it simple and effective. Then we could actually have a discussion about dynamic trances and what that could become in our cafe space. If trance makes someone uncomfortable, of course, we can call it a guided meditation. Pretty much the same phenomena but collaborative mutual trance work is a high level skill. Meditation, for me, is a subset of trance. This could make for an interesting deep dive into Evolutionary Trance.


@johnnydavis54 - I love that we’re able to include this realm into our discussions. I have felt for so long that it’s been lacking in so many areas of modern discourse.

I agree with everything you’ve said here, but this certainly is the advanced part of the conversation into which you are, as usual, bringing in a wonderful granularity and appreciation of nuance. Personally I don’t often have the opportunity to dialogue beyond the most general distinctions. I welcome sharing more of our experiences.

And I like the idea of exploring group trance, especially with the cafe. What a rare occasion that would be. Yes, please send it over. I have my own semi-standard inductions and am and always interested in how others proceed.

And yes, the trance / meditation conversation is an interesting one.


Great!I look forward to developing some evolutionary trance states with our group. Perhaps we could share some positive experiences using trance work and create a safe space. We have already done some work with alternate ways of knowing using clean language which creates altered states pretty easily without an induction. Double inductions can be a lot of fun.

I find Gilligan’s language inspiring but we can use whatever feels right to you, Zachary. Each practitioner has their own style and so I would enjoy having a chance to blend some new ways of practicing. Trance states comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and we might want to offer some of our best kinds of trance states to the group. We could do something experiential and then have an open frame about the theories of trance states. Adam Crabtree is a good guide and my hero is Milton Erickson. This is an underdeveloped theory here. I could suggest a good reading would be Erickson’s essay on his trance work with Aldous Huxley ( mind blowing!) So we can organize this soon. It would compliment what we are doing in the Writer’s group.


This sounds great. Do you have a copy of the Huxley / Erickson document by chance? I would love to read it.

My only personal request is that we begin with a general sharing, as you may have been suggesting, to make sure people are interested, and to identify some common ground. Following that I’d be open to exploring something with a small private group. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Great! I agree a small and private gathering. I do have the essay somewhere. I will find a link.

1 Like

You all are doing the readings I wanted to do! I’m bummed I missed this one. It was one I listed (or at least several by Gidley, including her mandalic piece fromthe Esbjorn-Hargens and Gunnlaugson edited collection. I’d love to jump in for the remainder, though. I was running the IPS Reading Group (alongside the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality online forum on FB) specifically to read the following. Please jump up and down and wave your arms if I’m about to miss others of these. That group is completely on hold so I can participate here, and I may not need to keep it going, considering… :slight_smile: Hope you all are willing to have me. I may become a permanent resident!

I’d rather not be facilitating full-time like I was in that group, though I am willing to help during my less busy times here!




About The IPS Reading Group: Complex Integral Thought is a splinter from the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality (IPS) FB group. Part of the purpose of this group is to provide a relational context for application of and familiarization with readings or principles that frequently appear in IPS discussions…

Our initial setlist includes Bruce Alderman, Lex Neale, Edgar Morin, Bonnitta Roy, Jorge Ferrar, Sloterdijk, Bhaskar, Wilber’s recent work on integral semiotics, Gary Hampson, Jennifer Gidley, postmodern complications to integral questions, integral complications to postmodern questions, metamodernity, etc. Jean Gebser is a background player in this context because so many of the names above have dwelt with his work in interesting ways over many years. We will also be exploring Bruce’s Integral Grammatology as a framework for “thinking through” language. I’m envisioning modules for doing this work. Some modules we will move through quickly and others we may linger inside for comprehension. I also hope to propose “strange bedfellow readings,” which is something I’m tinkering with as a way to use adjacency to further complexify thought. That might mean pairing a poet’s work with an academic article. These types of off-road adventures are, of course, optional.

We also plan to contribute to the IPS Ning forum and can discuss how we want to do that on our first call. You can view the collection of IPS Ning work here:

Thank you for taking part in this shared experience!

And, when I was getting poor participation and some critique of my facilitation, I posted this:

I am working on a plan for the Week 5 call that will involve co-presencing experiments and an assignment to bring some notes with you to the call… For me, these readings are only a complement to my other reading, writing, and spiritual/consciousness practices. I have a need to engage texts with more complex enfoldment felt as as sustained poetics (currently wanting to devote some time to a Brian Massumi and Erin Manning text which does seem carry an enfolded transmission for me and speaks to some of my central practice questions with its focus on an activist philosophy). I also need to be devoting to poetics since I made a sizable sacrifice to go back to school and get an additional graduate degree to have both the cred and the access to tools to be a better writer. This is a life-long dream for me, and it is no small practice or undertaking.

So, the readings for me are about cognitively sorting my alignments within the integral world (including being non-exclusively aligned with multiple metatheories) and figuring out what this means. I respect all of the scholars on the reading list a great deal, and yet, I wonder if I have the capacities for focus and attention to nuance/detail in the areas they are writing for or from to be able to lead the calls competently or satisfactorily. I had wanted reading companions so that my creative/sensitive/ADD brain would get some support to get through them when my life would otherwise continue to undermine all such efforts. But, to step up preparation on my own to lead better calls takes time, resources, and skills I may not have (and this is not just about tensions from the week 4 call). I mentioned this when I made the initial call for groupies to join me. But, I suggest the “ideas and connections notebooks” (ICNs) above as a way to distribute some of the skills of leading cognitive integration of new and unfamiliar materials. I’m open to other thoughts and suggestions as well…

I would be interested in hearing from others about ideas for facilitation techniques to take us deeper (with a distributed leadership model) or any perceived struggles or tensions and how to handle them to facilitate deeper engagement with these materials (for non-experts). I may start a new thread for that topic, however.

1 Like

Maybe I haven’t completely missed the Gidley discussion yet here… judging by the length of her article.

I’m linking the reading list here that I started to draft for that group (with some input from members). (18) IPS Reading Group- Complex Integral Thought.pdf (160.6 KB)
The list was organized as a mandala inspired by her article on delicate mandalic theorizing (which also dovetails with components of her book on post-formal higher education, which I plan to read this summer too). I’ve also invited members of that group to consider Cosmos as a community. We’ll see if anything happens from that invite. I hope the influx isn’t disruptive if there is one! (And, if so, that it can be handled!) :slight_smile:

1 Like