How do we differentiate the Integral from the merely Mental?

Gebser emphasizes the discontinuity of the structures, and yet, it also takes a long time in his account for the structures to unfold, and unfolding is an uneven process [see e.g. pg 31, footnote 20]. If he was documenting the ‘seedlings and inceptive beginnings’ (p.4) of the Integral, surely the world today represents no more than an Integral sapling. We are all still largely Mental natives, I’d argue, still reaching for/‘channeling’ the Integral, still encountering the Mental all around us. We must still ‘effect’ the Integral purposefully.

“Aperspectivity, through which it is possible to grasp and express the newly emergent consciousness structure, cannot be perceived in all its consequences–be they positive or negative-- unless certain still valid concepts, attitudes, and forms of thought are more closely scrutinized and clarified. Otherwise, we commit the error of expressing the “new” with old and inadequate means of statement.” (p.29)

And importantly, how do we do this without negating the Mental, or evaluating in a Mental way? (Something that is rampant in the Wilberian Integral communities-- the dismissive “that’s so green,” etc.)

This is perhaps made even more difficult since The Integral is not simply a repudiation of the symbolic logic of the Mental–we can’t flag something as “Mental” simply because someone is using symbolic logic. [Although I have a caveat for this that will maybe come out in discussion.] “…the aperspectival world must be built on the foundations of the perspectival world if it is to surpass it.” (p.29)

The stakes:
“If our consciousness, that is, the individual person’s awareness, vigilance, and clarity of vision, cannot master the new reality and make possible its realization, then the prophets of doom will have been correct…great demands are placed on us, and each one of us have been given a grave responsibility…to actually traverse the path opening before us.” (p.5)

Another relevant quote:
“…we cannot employ the methods derived from and dependent on our present consciousness structure to investigate different structures of consciousness…Contemporary methods employ predominantly dualistic procedures that do not extend beyond simple subject-object relationships; they limit our understanding to what is commensurate with the present Western mentality.” (p.7)

Also, see the three paragraphs starting on the first page of chapter 3 (36) starting “Acceptance and elucidation…”

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Discontinuity (in the sense of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t), yes … unfoldment (in the sense of accessible-to-more-than-just-myself) yes.

We all learned to read and ride bikes. It took each of a long time to do each, but there was a point at which we went from not-reading to reading, form not bike-riding to riding a bike … and best (worst?) of all, we can’t go back. We can’t not-read any more than we can not-ride-a-bike anymore.

It seems to me that we’re more surrounded by rational natives, not necessarily mental natives. Gebser postulates (and if I’m saying something of which you are long aware, forgive me, but there are others in the club who may be trying to traverse Gebser for the first time, so I’ll make it explicit) an efficient and a deficient aspect of each structure of consciousness: deficient magic is witchcraft, deficient myth is merely repeated (spoken), deficient mental is opinionated hair-splitting, or worse (cf. the current run-up (off?) for the US presidential candidacy).

So, I agree, we must still effect the integral, but as @gillesherrada pointed out in Hangout 1, we’re a minority that is not yet aware of our own existence (my words … his were much more to the point). I think he’s very much on to something. We cannot rely soley on Mental helps or methods. The beauty of the first Hangout was that there was sound intellectual reasoning, vital experiential emotions, and imaginative insights and sharings among the participants. In other words, in many ways, it superceded the mere discursive (or most fatal, discussive). I believe we need it all, all the time.

You hit a nail on the head, to be sure, when you noted that Gebser emphasizes that there is a grave responsibility for all of us trying to traverse this path. This is actually nothing new, as I’m sure Gebser would concur, rather we are now in the fortunate position to be more aware of that responsibility than many of our forebears were. What I like most about Gebser is that he’s not an all-or-nothing guy, he’s much more all-and-everything.

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Gebser emphasizes repeatedly in EPO the importance of “letting things happen” and “making things happen”—that is, holding both these impulses. The efficient-mental, as ED Mahood (hello there) says, is vitally important, verily. Thus I would question the framing of “the merely Mental.” The integrative holds both/and in paradox and is not overly entangled with differentiations, but rather concerned with integrations of unity-in-diversity. Steven M. Rosen characterizes the deficient-mental as the perspectivity of object-in-space-before-subject attitudes—that the deficient-mental holds this view of reality to be the ONLY reality. That deficient-mental view has been crumbling, as Gebser and others have recognized, for over a century now. Personally, I would say “the integral” sense is concretized with deep gratitude and deep humility.

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Hey Andrew,

Great thoughts here, thanks for opening up this conversation. I think it’s important, even pretty central considering the decades of “integral” literature, publishing, scholarship, and spiritual communities that have followed Gebser’s EPO either directly, or indirectly.

My first thought here is that you might get something out of a presentation I gave at the 2014 Gebser Conference, “Crisis and Mutation,” in which I look at Gebser’s very apt metaphor of the Janus-Faced nature of transitional times. The new and emergent consciousness is not yet fully developed but the old consciousness is buckling, playing with, and attempting to articulate it. It’s a half-in-half-out kind of deal that’s difficult to parse.

Articulations of the emergent consciousness in our time manifest as both the deficient mental and the emergent integral, a mix of darkness and light, or occlusion and transparency. Take, for instance, our culture’s obsession with technological innovation, which seems to be a force that’s run away with us and is acting of its own accord. Gebser points out later on in the works that this may actually be an “irruption of the chronon,” the emergence of time and our inability to wrap our consciousness around it – to mechanize it. This greats a kind of hyper-inflation whereby technological innovation, speed, and rapid development swell up in pressure to respond to a new world that’s already here, but impossible to articulate with the deficient structure. A kind of gas giant swelling up before going nova.

There’s also the breakdown of the mental as older structures of consciousness leap back online – the magic, the mythic coming back to us via the technological unconscious and the psycho-spiritual movements (Archaic Revival, Neo-Paganism, occultism, magic and esotericism in popular culture and mythic-religious themes in technoculture and cyberpunk).

The shifts are already present.

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Great point here about the efficient and deficient aspects of a consciousness structure. Reiterating something in EPO that I mentioned in the other comment: the deficient mental arises with the Scientific Revolution. The emergence of lenses, spatializing consciousness and parsing reality into bits – overlaying it with a grid – is exactly the mental-rational.

See this bit from John David Ebert on the mental-rational:

Clearly Gebser didn’t think everything about modernity was a problem, including what McLuhan considered to be Gutenberg Galaxy and our “Print Culture” which simply made Gebser, an author of a text, even a possibility.

I think, for us, understanding time is key; and not overlaying the evolution of consciousness with stratified grids or abstract mappings. We immediately fall into the worst of the deficient mental when we fail to come into contact with the living structures within us – and constitute our experience of our world. The integral is rather a kind of transparency of this spiritual, creative origin expressing itself in the dimensionality of time, space, and world. We have to let it live us. Can’t be forced, anyway…

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I think it is critical to recognize that the rising culture IS the efficient aspect of the Integral structure of consciousness, and that the deficient state has not (and will not) come into view for quite some time (not even our lifetimes most likely). The deficient state only comes in when the efficient state has lost it’s capacity to move the culture forward and has concretized into a rigid structure. we aren’t even close to that place, so we cannot describe what that looks like. we can’t even describe the efficient aspect of it either, as it is still taking shape, coming into being or form as Thompson would say.
The Ursprung quality is exactly this~ a uprising or coming into being from the ever-present (already existing potentiality) origin of consciousness. we are just working to align with what is trying to emerge here.

I am having a bit of trouble understanding how this forum works… I missed this entire thread until just now~ :frowning: darn it~

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Let me tell a story. I was once using hypnotherapy with a gay man in his late twenties, who was HIV positive, and had lost 12 friends in one year.

I asked him to close his eyes and tune into any comfort in his body and let that comfort move around and he was in an alert and relaxed and I asked him to move into a future, ( we were in the dead of winter) when he could look back on his past and perhaps have a learning experience. I mentioned that he would be wearing a lighter garment, noticing the emergence of flowers, etc. and when he came out of the trance state he said," I would have been disappointed by this except that when you mentioned the flowers I suddenly wanted to live again."

Russell died a few years later of AIDS. When I last saw him in the hospital he was in a profoundly altered state and he opened his eyes, recognized me, with a smile and said," This crucifixion thing really sucks."
Freedom from Time? Freedom for Time? How will we know without something experience near. As a perceptual learner as I believe Rilke probably was I register the abstract in the concrete and vice versa through metaphor and analogy and rather that measuring something from a dream state or reverie which would if attempted be coming from the mental deficient. With what measuring device could you measure a dream?

Rilke wisely said if you love a person when they die their unfinished business will haunt you.

persective’ could be.

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Sorry for the messy edit of the above post. I am having trouble with my computer so I will leave as is and hope it makes some sense. Thanks!

No super coherent comment on this, but I just wanted to highlight it as it struck a note. How much are we haunted by—compelled to finish the business of—our predecessors?

David Foster Wallace wrote: “Every love story is a ghost story.”

Perhaps we are haunted by the future as the unfinished business of the past.

The “merely mental,” I don’t think, quite has a way of wrapping its mind around non-linear causality.

Which reminds me: at some point during this reading, I want to discuss the movie Interstellar in the light of Gebser’s insights into space and time. The film is essentially about the overcoming of space and integration of time, and love as a form of “gravity”—a “spiritual reality in its intensified form…becoming effectual and real.”

“We are the ghosts of our children’s future”—one of the haunting lines from that film.

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To me integral is easy to differentiate from mental. They’re like two different states of being, or two different modes of perception, so the qualitative experience is distinct. Anything can be approached from the state of being of the mental, just as anything can be approached from an integral awareness.

To me the distinction isn’t particularly useful, though. Our current culture-- especially that of Hollywood / the entertainment industry-- is far more integral than not. I’m more intrigued by what’s next.

I’d love to discuss INTERSTELLAR. To me the film indicated that love was not so much a form of gravity, but rather the portal necessary for transcendence / waking up into a new or deeper dimension.

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thank you for sharing. there are so many thoughts around this.
As I age, I catch myself moving through the continuum from newborn (with my “still living” dead ancestors laid out vastly ahead of me), to the crone (with myself as the living ancestor moving into the realm that I also perceive as behind me (the once living past as realm of the ancestors).
It is a very profound way of experiencing myself.
In my own way, with death and transitions, I have made it a goal to clean up all of my unfinished business as much as possible while I am still alive, so as to step into a new place when I return. Whatever that means.
The healing of unfinished business is a personal journey, and much of it simply lies in the acknowledgement that we can neither control nor change many things. What we CAN do, is accept what is as we transform out own relationship to all of it.
What remains collectively unhealed remains in the shared morphogenetic field, awaiting healing by whomever is conscious enough to work with it. I like to think of the Buddhist practice of tonglen, which I find incredibly useful in moving (collective or otherwise) unhealed stuff through me.
don’t know why this came up here, except that I sense that these journeys you bear witness to create much healing opportunities for you as well~ <3

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Yeah, Gebser’s transcend and supersede doesn’t smell like transcend and include, which I think happens only to a degree anyway. Latency (p.6) is what is already concealed (potential emergence), but everything that has returned to latency as in archaic, magic, mythic worlds that can’t be seen anymore simply because new structures supersede the old. For example, it’s interesting that blue as a color is a latecomer when today the sky is obviously blue and EVERYWHERE. Yet, it’s not found in ancient greek or roman texts. Can we read verse and poetry after the novel has gone mainstream in the same state premodern people did? Seems to me we transcend and forget.

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Gebser is very clear that his structures do not replace the previous structures. In fact, he states that the mental structure attempted to do just that, and that is part of is downfall and danger. But the mental in its efficient functioning is absoutely crucial for problem solving, it’s just that it must work alongside the other three structures which offer different “ways of knowing”.
Here’s how I tend to think of Aperspectival (Integral) consciousness. I think of the four early structures as corresponding to Jung’s four psychological functions. The more we identify with the mental (intellectual) structure, the further we become from the archaic (sensate) structure. (I see the magical as emotional and the mythical and intuitive, or maybe vice versa, haven’t gotten clear on this).
The Integral structure is Jung’s quintessence, the structure that includes and utilizes all the others.
In this view, we must relearn a more mature form of unity consciousness (archaic /sensate) that we lost due to increasing collective movement into the mental state of consciousness.
Of course, there are always people that primarily function from any one of the differing stages.
Again, Gebser makes it clear that he doesn’t view one stage as more valuable than any other; he understands each simply as a preceding development in consciousness.

What I am really referring to in my OP was my own awareness of time in a non-standard manner. I perceive myself moving through time in a very weird way. That’s all.

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also blue is believed to be synonymous with black or grey in antiquity according to Pliny the Elder and other early pre-Socratic writers. In the Byzantine era (and Egyptian era), blue came from lapis lazuli, which was very hard to come by (had to be ground and made into usable pigment). so, the reasons for blue “missing” are theoretically complex to say the least. It is doubtful that it is because they didn’t perceive blue. In fact, I have my own theories as to why blue is not specifically represented (especially in pre-Socratic art), but I won’t discuss that here.
of course! we must take into account the ways that WE understand and interpret ancient texts and recognize that doing so comes with a particular modern bias. we must be careful to avoid that as much as possible.
and yes. we have forgotten much that still resides in the underground rhizomes of collective consciousness itself. Integral Consciousness is the act of bringing ALL of that which is hidden from consciousness back into consciousness so that we can develop in a more whole way.
Wholeness is a tricky concept too really, as it is an illusion and always remains a distant horizon out in front of us that we never really reach.

While we are on the topic of movies touching on themes of time and space, I recommend the indie sci-fi film Primer. On a super low-budget (~$7000), this movie is easily the most fascinating and complex movie about time-travel I have ever seen, and it plays with temporality in a way that is profoundly unsettling, in a good way. Its on netflix. Enjoy!

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Black, white, yellow, red are the four colors Pliny the Elder and Cicero mention. The color wheel is a modern construct I believe attributed to Goethe. But, simply because there’s an absence of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. However, how would you know? The modern structure fills in what’s missing because to get from one end of the color spectrum to the other (assuming all our rods and cones are working as per today’s criteria) is a trek through light wave frequencies: violet (380 nm) to red (750 nm). Blue is after violet (450 - 495 nm), so the modern mind looks for blue that would have to be there if classical greek poets and artists see roiling voilet seas.

On Thursday, January 21, 2016 8:16 AM, Lynlee Lyckberg <system@infiniteconversations.com> wrote:

| | AriAnnona Lynlee Lyckberg
January 21 |
| also blue is believed to be synonymous with black or grey in antiquity according to Pliny the Elder and other early pre-Socratic writers. In the Byzantine era (and Egyptian era), blue came from lapis lazuli, which was very hard to come by (had to be ground and made into usable pigment). so, the reasons for blue “missing” are theoretically complex to say the least. It is doubtful that it is because they didn’t perceive blue. In fact, I have my own theories as to why blue is not specifically represented (especially in pre-Socratic art), but I won’t discuss that here.
of course! we must take into account the ways that WE understand and interpret ancient texts and recognize that doing so comes with a particular modern bias. we must be careful to avoid that as much as possible.
and yes. we have forgotten much that still resides in the underground rhizomes of collective consciousness itself. Integral Consciousness is the act of bringing ALL of that which is hidden from consciousness back into consciousness so that we can develop in a more whole way.
Wholeness is a tricky concept too really, as it is an illusion and always remains a distant horizon out in front of us that we never really reach. |

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yes, I am familiar with the four colors of alchemy, and I am familiar with the theories of color as well as color theories. these topics make up two entire sections of my dissertation (alchemy and color). It is on the nature of the visual image… you might find it interesting after I have completed it in a few months~
I don’t believe that I said that an absence of something means it doesn’t exist, In fact, much of my work is based on the invisible presence in and around everything. (including the theories of color).
Munsell’s color theory sought to illuminate the invisibles, much like sound waves that are beyond our capacity to hear. His theory is used widely in all kinds of practical applications in todays world, and is embraced by many who practice realism. Certainly, those in antiquity would have no access to that range of color with the naked eye, HOWEVER, they were aware of invisibles and we find evidence of that in their mythologies~
The theory that you suggest around the way that the eye perceives and takes in color (via rods and cones) is the traditional wave of understanding color, but even that theory is being expanded upon as we discover more about visual perception through neuroscience (Eric Kandel’s work is very helpful in this area). In my research around perception (explicitly regarding the rods and cones), some pretty exciting discoveries have been made. It is so hard to be present fully in this forum as I am still in the writing phase and don’t want to exactly disclose what I am writing about yet~ forgive me that~

best~

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I look forward. No, you didn’t say that an absence of something means it doesn’t exist. You said it can exist. I was agreeing with you. Then the question for me, How do we know? Exciting research project. Keep me informed.

forgive me as text is sometimes hard to decipher~ <3

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