Ω Group 1 Zoom Dialogue #1 and expert's forum

The Dialogue #1 Group 1 Zoom call was on 9/19/18, with participants: Bonnie, Andrew, Hillary, Daniel G, Layman, Tom.

We have split the recording of our call into three parts, for two of which I made both audio and video versions available, Groundrules, Intros, and Main dialogue.

Group 1 D 1: Main Dialogue

Group 1 D 1: Participant Introductions

Zoom Dialogues: Ground Rules and Context


I did a little research on “spaces of appearance” thinking I had borrowed the concept from someone, and yes, its from Hannah Arendt. Here is a summary

Action, Power, and the Space of Appearance

The metaphor of the polis recurs constantly in the writings of Arendt, and I say metaphor because in employing this term Arendt is not simply referring to the political institutions of the Greek city-states, bounded as they were to their time and circumstance, but to all those instances in history where a public realm of action and speech was set up among a community of free and equal citizens. “The polis , properly speaking, is not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be” (HC, 198). Thus the famous motto: “Wherever you go, you will be a polis ” expressed the conviction among the Greek colonists that the kind of political association they had set up originally could be reproduced in their new settlements, that the space created by the “sharing of words and deeds” could find its proper location almost anywhere.

For Arendt, therefore, the polis stands for the space of appearance , for that space “where I appear to others as others appear to me, where men exist not merely like other living or inanimate things, but to make their appearance explicitly.” Such public space of appearance can be always recreated anew wherever individuals gather together politically, that is, “wherever men are together in the manner of speech and action” (HC, 198–9). However, since it is a creation of action, this space of appearance is highly fragile and exists only when actualized through the performance of deeds or the utterance of words. Its peculiarity, as Arendt says, is that “unlike the spaces which are the work of our hands, it does not survive the actuality of the movement which brought it into being, but disappears not only with the dispersal of men — as in the case of great catastrophes when the body politic of a people is destroyed — but with the disappearance or arrest of the activities themselves. Wherever people gather together, it is potentially there, but only potentially, not necessarily and not forever” (HC, 199).

The space of appearance must be continually recreated by action; its existence is secured whenever actors gather together for the purpose of discussing and deliberating about matters of public concern, and it disappears the moment these activities cease. It is always a potential space that finds its actualization in the actions and speeches of individuals who have come together to undertake some common project. It may arise suddenly, as in the case of revolutions, or it may develop slowly out of the efforts to change some specific piece of legislation or policy. Historically, it has been recreated whenever public spaces of action and deliberation have been set up, from town hall meetings to workers’ councils, from demonstrations and sit-ins to struggles for justice and equal rights.

This capacity to act in concert for a public-political purpose is what Arendt calls power . Power needs to be distinguished from strength, force, and violence (CR, 143–55). Unlike strength, it is not the property of an individual, but of a plurality of actors joining together for some common political purpose. Unlike force, it is not a natural phenomenon but a human creation, the outcome of collective engagement. And unlike violence, it is based not on coercion but on consent and rational persuasion.

For Arendt, power is a sui generis phenomenon, since it is a product of action and rests entirely on persuasion. It is a product of action because it arises out of the concerted activities of a plurality of agents, and it rests on persuasion because it consists in the ability to secure the consent of others through unconstrained discussion and debate. Its only limitation is the existence of other people, but this limitation, she notes, “is not accidental, because human power corresponds to the condition of plurality to begin with” (HC, 201). It is actualized in all those cases where action is undertaken for communicative (rather than strategic or instrumental) purposes, and where speech is employed to disclose our intentions and to articulate our motives to others.

Arendt maintains that the legitimacy of power is derived from the initial getting together of people, that is, from the original pact of association that establishes a political community, and is reaffirmed whenever individuals act in concert through the medium of speech and persuasion. For her “power needs no justification, being inherent in the very existence of political communities; what it does need is legitimacy … Power springs up whenever people get together and act in concert, but it derives its legitimacy from the initial getting together rather than from any action that then may follow” (CR, 151).

Beyond appealing to the past, power also relies for its continued legitimacy on the rationally binding commitments that arise out of a process of free and undistorted communication. Because of this, power is highly independent of material factors: it is sustained not by economic, bureaucratic or military means, but by the power of common convictions that result from a process of fair and unconstrained deliberation.

Power is also not something that can be relied upon at all times or accumulated and stored for future use. Rather, it exists only as a potential which is actualized when actors gather together for political action and public deliberation. It is thus closely connected to the space of appearance, that public space which arises out of the actions and speeches of individuals. Indeed, for Arendt, “power is what keeps the public realm, the potential space of appearance between acting and speaking men, in existence.” Like the space of appearance, power is always “a power potential and not an unchangeable, measurable and reliable entity like force or strength … [it] springs up between men when they act together and vanishes the moment they disperse” (HC, 200).

Power, then, lies at the basis of every political community and is the expression of a potential that is always available to actors. It is also the source of legitimacy of political and governmental institutions, the means whereby they are transformed and adapted to new circumstances and made to respond to the opinions and needs of the citizens. “It is the people’s support that lends power to the institutions of a country, and this support is but the continuation of the consent that brought the laws into existence to begin with … All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them” (CR, 140).

The legitimacy of political institutions is dependent on the power, that is, the active consent of the people; and insofar as governments may be viewed as attempts to preserve power for future generations by institutionalizing it, they require for their vitality the continuing support and active involvement of all citizens.




In one sense the dialogue itself, the connections made and deepened, and the wonderful conversation, are ends in themselves. But of course there is a larger context. There was not enough time to run the structure as I had envisioned it (not a big surprise) but I do want to clarify something. As I said the intent was to follow the “U” from " (1) downloading" and discussion (mostly 3rd person, “single loop”); to (2) more relational space, including attention to individual relationships and relationship to the group as a whole (2nd person, double loop); to (3) a little time reflecting out loud on one’s own state, feelings, needs, and being (1st person, sort-of triple loop); and then to (4) a space of silence to allow for a kind of ‘quaker meeting’ ground state where, (5) whatever came out next was possibly more spacious, emergent, freer-from-conditioning and transpersonal. Then back “up” with (6) reflections on your new current state and the group’s state and how it might have shifted; to (7) what are any conclusions, next steps, new thoughts, etc.

What I want to clarify is about the time spent focussing on the relational space and silent space. Though from the perspective of “this is a group on a journey” it fulfills the usual functions, and thats great. But from the perspective of “we are experimenting on and reflecting on group processes” the goal was to inquire: How DOES the awareness-of-relational-space part (which may seem slow, or awkward, or off-topic and less exciting) contribute to group insight generation? And similarly, how does the awareness-of-personal-interior part contribute to group insight generation? Because those parts happened near the end rather than in the middle, we can’t answer those questions based on our call experience. But I am still interested in your thoughts based on other experiences. Clearly I am not trying to “teach” what relational-awareness space and interior-awareness space are to a group like this one, but rather I was trying to set the structure so we could more explicitly reflect on these elements. What do you think?

Not quite related to Arendt, but to the topic of Appearance, in another conversation with Layman I was reflecting on the new phenomena of “Authentic Relating Games” which I mostly think are great (I’ve experienced a taste of some of these). But I also have the sense that more and more, in the younger generations and due to the virtual-ness of our social lives, the authenticity is becoming another mode of performance. This is probably just what might be expected in the developmental trajectory of increasing reflective and meta-reflective communication. But there is something sad about it. Now sometimes when I’m in conversation I can tell that someone is really good at performing authenticity, but I wish they would just be authentic. (Thats not referring to THIS group of course!) hmm…was I being authentic there?

How do we support deep dialogue in virtual spaces? What is deep dialogue for you, and what is it good for?

Reply to share your wisdom!

In my AGS course, there are the three axes. One is a developmental associated with breadth of embrace, the other is the involutionary depths, and the third is how we show up, the force of the example. That’s a kind of performance.

I suppose the problem with performance in virtual social spaces is not that they are performances, but that they tend to be projections. Who is speaking? Who are you speaking to? Why are you speaking? IOW, what are you participating with?

I listened to this meeting last night. I was lying in bed with a head cold feeling kind of miserable, but was able to follow most of it. The parts that stood out for me most:

  • Layman’s talking about love, his expressions of the psychosomatic feeling-sense of the love arising for him (to greater or lesser degrees) in the moment for each person
  • Daniel G’s notion of ~100 hours of conversation, before you’re actually beyond the getting to know you phase. I find this basically to be true.
  • Hilary’s idea of assuming a ‘learning identity’ when entering into deep dialogue
  • @Scrutable’s monstrous belch!

On the “spaces of appearance” which Bonnitta expands on above—I think it highlights the performative dimension of these kinds of encounters. You are speaking to and with your interlocutors, but also speaking for a virutal audience that you can’t see or hear, could be anywhere, anytime. So these intelligibility of the conversation as a whole (including translating or explaining context for non-insiders) is something to be mindful of, on top of the immanence of what’s actually being said and exchanged between participants. It is a complex dance.

The idea of a virtual polis also highlights the role of these encounters in social-political terms. Arendt’s idea sounds similar to the one later taken by Habermas as “communicative action”—the unforced force of the better argument in civil society. I think Habermas underestimates the role of drama, motivation, affect, and narrative, which are always part of the equation of how things get done. John Dewey’s concept of Creative Democracy, which requires an ethos of participation and deliberation, is also resonant with these approaches to the public sphere.

I did feel overall some more ‘content’ would have been welcome. It was a very meta, meditative call. It worked a certain kind of magic in that way, in that as I listened I found myself more in a meditative, meta-reflective state. But I also had the feeling that the cognitive center was being underutilized—especially given the intellectual firepower in the group. I don’t mean geeking out on theory, but maybe going deeper into a shared inquiry that incorporates the meta and the meditative, but aims also to illuminate a shared object would be a good way to follow up.

Hillary on progression of relational action logics; transformative knowledge creation
[Sept 21st email]

Tom, new “integral” pals

I appreciate the idea of a follow up reflection on what we see in our video recording…not least because I enjoyed the call! A number of our moments stayed with me. It’s mysterious and lovely, I find, that we connect through time and space with other complex beings. Yay!

Because I am interested in " relational action logics " I’d be curious (among other things) to watch the recording and look for developmental progression of us as a group. One hypothesis I have is that our group (because any group) starts in a kind of self protection mode (if only for a moment) and proceeds in its development to encompass more in its collective attention. One signal of such relational development is that more spontaneous humor arises and more “multidimensionality” is expressed (as I believe was the case for us)…Oct 17 and 24 remain possible for me.

I find myself now also thinking -as I often do- about the practice of transformative knowledge creation. This experiment is one such. And wishing to share an invitation (I’ll do so in a next email so you can ignore it more easily too, apologies if you see it as an intrusion into our discussion :wink:)–The urge comes from wanting to link my more university associated community of scholar practitioners to the Integral world. So if it’s of interest let’s be in touch on that separately.

With appreciation!

Layman’s email Sept 21–spontaneous unfolding of relational mystery

In terms of “insight generation” it appears to be both highly contextual and also dependent upon methods specific to the context. What I mean is that the format generated in our discussion is specially tailored to produce insights on the topic of interpersonal resonance and how we leverage our private insides to connect or bit with the spontaneous unfolding of relational mystery. That is a very particular context and thrives on the kinds of prompts and openings and tone that was facilitated.

Insight generation on other topics would certainly require a more definite framing of the area under investigation (and my guess is that the relational process will reestablish itself as the default topic unless otherwise specified). And depending upon the particular theme the method may shift. For example, more closure, less vulnerability and a sharper tone might facilitate, say, a team trying to gain insight into a mysterious medical ailment.

There seems to be some evidence that consensus building, emotional permeability and mutual accommodation may lower the intelligence of a group by flattening out variations… even as it builds a rich and surprising field of intersubjectivity.

I think our discussion on Wednesday produced many insights about how open ended depth processes operate. This is great but we should consider that to be one very specific area of inquiry. Evaluating insight generation is largely a matter of comparing novel interior production of patterns against a particular set of systems and questions.

Bonnie’s email Sept. 21 – relationally vs insight

Hey everyone

I find myself reflecting (once again) on the power of the facilitator to seed the “performance” of the group. In saying we were doing something like U process, that meant to me, what the group ended up becoming – a transparent performance of people being relational-aware-reflective. I also experienced your prompts in the same way. Did you intend to have more conversation in the realm of opinions and ideas? Perhaps that would have involved a different structure. I think that the technology exacerbates this power of the facilitator – they control the control panel so to speak.

What does it mean, then to “deepen” in dialogue?
Is that the same as gaining insight into a question or solving a problem?
How do these two relate? Perhaps they are not always in the same direction.

So, it was a good start. The “learning” is always in the surprise!