The following is from the Appendix of The Listening Society . This should provide a solid image of the metamodern “direction.” Many of the tenets align with the Cosmos Co-op mission/philosophy and the conversations held on the Infinite Commons.
METAMODERN STANCE TOWARDS LIFE
· To be exquisitely ironic and sincere, both at once.
· To be both extremely idealistic and extremely Machiavellian.
· To see that God is dead and humanism dying (humanism is the humanity-centered worldview originating in the Renaissance) and to accept and celebrate this by taking meaning-creation into one’s own hands.
· To intellectually see, and intuitively sense, the intimate interconnectedness of all things: “the universe in a grain of sand.”
· To accept and thrive in the paradoxical, self-contradictory, always incomplete and broken nature of society, culture, and reality itself.
· To have a general both-and perspective. But note that it is not either “both-and” or “either-or”—rather, it is both “both-and” and “either-or”. In each case, it is still possible to have well-argued preferences:
Ÿ both political Left and Right (and neither one!);
Ÿ both top-down and bottom-up governance;
Ÿ both historical individuals and social structures;
Ÿ both objective science and subjective experience;
Ÿ both cooperation and competition;
Ÿ both extreme secularism and sincere spirituality.
· To accept and thrive in both manifesting, systematizing philosophy (like Plato or natural science) and non-manifesting, process oriented, open-ended philosophy (like Nietzsche or critical social science).
· To recognize the impermanence of all things, that life and existence are always in a flow, a process of becoming, of emergence, immanence and ever-present death.
· To see normal, bourgeois life and its associated normality and professional identity as insufficiently manifesting the greatness and beauty of existence.
· To assume a genuinely playful stance towards life and existence, a playfulness that demands of us the gravest seriousness, given the ever-present potentials for unimaginable suffering and bliss.
METAMODERN VIEW OF SCIENCE
· To respect science as an indispensable form of knowing.
· To see that science is always contextual and truth always tentative; that reality always holds deeper truths. All that we think is real will one day melt away as snow in the sun.
· To understand that different sciences and paradigms are simultaneously true; that many of their apparent contradictions are superficial and based on misperceptions or failures of translation or integration.
· To see that there are substantial insights and relevant knowledge in all stages of human and societal development, including tribal life, polytheism, traditional theology, modern industrialism and postmodern critique. In another book, I call this the evolution of “meta-memes”.
· To celebrate and embody non-linearity in all non-mechanical matters, such as society and culture. Non-linearity, in its simplest definition, means that the output of a system is not proportional to its input.
· To harbor a case sensitive suspicion against mechanical models and linear causation.
· To have “a systems view” of life, to see that things form parts of self-organizing bottom-up systems: from sub-atomic units to atomic particles to molecules to cells to organisms.
· To see that things are alive and self-organizing because they are falling apart, that life is always a whirlwind of destruction: the only way to create and maintain an ordered pattern is to create a corresponding disorder. These are the principles of autopoiesis: entropy (that things degrade and fall apart) and “negative entropy” (the falling apart is what makes life possible).
· To accept that all humans and other organisms have a connecting, overarching worldview, a great story or grand narrative (a religion, in what is often interpreted as being the literal sense of the word: something that connects all things) and therefore accept the necessity of a grande histoire, an overarching story about the world.
The metamodernist has her own unapologetically held grand narrative, synthesizing her available understanding. But it is held lightly, as one recognizes that it is always partly fictional—aprotosynthesis.
· To take ontological questions very seriously, i.e. to let questions about “what is really real” guide us in science and politics. This is called the ontological turn.
METAMODERN VIEW OF REALITY
· To see the fractal nature of reality and of the development and applicability of ideas, that all understanding consists of reused elements taken from other forms of understanding.
· To be anti-essentialist, not believing in “ultimate essences” such as matter, consciousness, goodness, evil, masculinity, femininity or the like—but rather that all these things are contextual and interpretations made from relations and comparisons. Even the today so praised “relationality” is not an essence of the universe.
· To no longer believe in an atomistic, mechanical universe where the ultimate stuff is matter, but rather to view the ultimate nature of reality as a great unknown that we must metaphorically capture in our symbols, words and stories. To accept the view of a world being newly born again and again.
· To see that the world is radically, unyieldingly and completely socially constructed, always relative and context bound.
· To see that the world emerges through complex interactions of its parts and that our intuitive understandings tend to be much too static and mono-causal. This is called complexity. It is the fundamental principle of not only meteorology but also of social psychology, where patterns (such as the “self”) emerge through the interactions of interrelated, interdependent dividuals.
· To accept the necessity of developmental hierarchies—but to be very critical and careful with how they are described and used. Hierarchies are studied empirically, not arbitrarily assumed.
· To see that language and thereby our whole worldviews travel through a much greater space of possible, never-conceptualized worlds; that language is evolving.
· To look at the world holistically, where things such as scientific facts, perspectives, culture and emotions interact (this form of interactivity is called hypercomplexity, because it involves not only many interacting units, but interacting perspectives and qualitatively different dimensions of reality, such as subjective vs. objective reality).
· To see that information and management of information is fundamental to all aspects of reality and society: from genes to memes to money and science and political revolutions.
· To accept an informational-Darwinian view of both genes (organisms) and memes (cultural patterns) competing to survive through a process of developmental evolution that involves negative selection (that disfavored genes and memes go extinct, but continue to exist as potentials).
· To see that Darwinian evolution depends equally on mutual cooperation and competition; that competition and cooperation are always intertwined.
· To see the dynamic interplay of the universal and the particular, where for instance humans in more complex societies become more individualized, which in turn drives the development of more complex societies where people are more interdependent and more universal values are needed to avoid collapse.
· To see that the world runs on dialectic logic, where things are always broken, always “stumbling backwards” as it were; that things are always striving for an impossible balance and in that accidental movement create the whole dance that we experience as reality. So the development of reality does have directionality, it’s just that we are always blind to this direction; hence the metaphor of “stumbling backwards”.
· To see that reality is fundamentally open-ended, broken, as it were, even in its mathematical and physical structure, as shown in Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and in some of the core findings of modern physics.
· To recognize that potentials and potentiality, rather than facts and actualities, constitute the most fundamental or “more real” reality. What we usually call reality is only “actuality”, one slice of an infinitely larger, hypercomplex pie. Actuality is only a “case of” a deeper reality, called “absolute totality”.
· To explore visions of panpsychism, i.e. that consciousness is everywhere in the universe and “as real” as matter and space. But panpsychism should not be confused with animistic visions of all things having “spirits”.
METAMODERN SPIRITUALITY, EXISTENCE AND AESTHETICS
· To take existential and spiritual matters very seriously; to view humanity, intelligence and consciousness as expressions of higher principles inherent to the universe.
· To recognize that the esoteric, spiritual disciplines and wisdom traditions East and West relate to real insights of great significance—a recognition of the importance of mysticism.
· To have a careful, unknowing and explorative mindset in matters of spirituality and existence.
· To understand that elevated, expanded subjective states relate to higher existential and spiritual truths than do most of the experiences of everyday life.
· To see that inner experience—and the direct development of the subjectivity of organisms—is crucial to all things, and is perhaps the main ingredient lacking in the perspective of the modern world; acknowledging inner experience is often the golden key to managing society’s problems.
· To take philosophical, cultural and aesthetic matters very seriously, as they are seen as inherent dimensions of reality, not just “additional woo-woo” on top of physics.
· To create art and architecture that allude to the depth and mystery of existence, without putting it “in your face” or trying to tell you what to think or what is real.
· To support a democratic, intersubjective, participatory, scientifically supported, peer-to-peer created spirituality, rather than traditional paths, teachers, gurus or authorities.
· To see that both a spiritual and non-spiritual life experience and worldview are fundamentally okay. Spirituality and non-spirituality: neither is inherently better than the other.
· To understand that people are fundamentally crazy, that our everyday consciousness is not a sane reflection of reality, but a bizarre, psychotic hallucination that is utterly contingent, made up and arbitrary.
· To intuit that the central spiritual and existential insight is the perfection of absolute totality as it always-already is; that there is a pristine, serene clarity underneath all the chaos and contradiction; that there is an underlying elegance even in the often tragic, hell-like experience of life; hidden, as it were, in plain sight. This can be called the recognition of “basic goodness”.
METAMODERN VIEW OF SOCIETY
· To see no fundamental divide between nature and culture.
· To see that we live in a new technological era (the information age), and that human societies evolve through different developmental stages for better or worse.
· To believe that history has some kind of directionality based on logic, but that this directionality can never be certainly known, only metaphorically and told as a story—playfully and purposefully.
· To believe that we can always synthesize the knowledge we have about society to some kind of overarching narrative, a meta-narrative, but that this metanarrative is never taken to be a complete synthesis, but rather always a self-critically held, but necessary protosynthesis.
· To have a nomadic view of social life; knowing that our “self” is part of a social flow, a journey—and that we are becoming more tribal and nomadic in the internet age with our virtual identities.
· To celebrate participatory culture and co-creation of society through non-linear, interactive processes where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
· To see the importance of collective intelligence (not to be confused, as it unfortunately often is, with collective consciousness, often associated with Carl Jung, etc., which is not part of the metamodern paradigm). Collective intelligence is simply the ability of a group or society to solve problems and respond to collective challenges.
· To understand that technology is not neutral, not just “a tool in our hands”, but that it adopts its own agenda and logic, shaping and steering history.
· To see sustainability and resilience as fundamental questions to all social life.
· To see that sexuality and sexual development are a widely overlooked centerpiece in the mainstream understanding of all human societies. Sexuality has extraordinary explanatory, behavioral and predictive power.
· To see “everyday life” as something that humanity can and should transcend in favor of a more actual and authentic form of life and community.
· To take the rights and lived experience of all animals very seriously, human and non-human. Human society is just a cognitive category, and this category can just as well include all cultures, all deep-ecological entities (ecosystems, biotopes) and all sentient beings.
METAMODERN VIEW OF THE HUMAN BEING
· To see that humans are behavioral, organic “robots”, controlled by our responses to the environment, and that we are simultaneously subjective, self-organizing and alive—beings of great existential depth.
· To see that my identity and “self” are not ultimately my body or the voice speaking in my head; or at least that my fundamental identity is not exhausted by that everyday conception of a self (my body plus the voice talking in my head), what is sometimes called “the ego”. The ego is just an idea, an object of awareness as any other created category that describes an object.
· To adopt a depth psychology stance towards humanity, seeing that her consciousness is transformable by changing her fundamental sense of self and sense of reality. This is achievable through psychoanalysis (or “schizoanalysis”) and love relationships as well as athletic, aesthetic, erotic, intellectual and spiritual practices—where contemplative mysticism stands out as a very valuable path.
· To see that every person has a three-dimensional view of reality of her own, consisting of an ontology (a strong sense of what is real), an ideology (a strong sense what is right) and a self (a strong sense of one’s own place in reality)—and that these three dimensions can be described in a pattern of sequentially unfolding developmental stages.
· To see that different human organisms are at fundamentally different developmental stages and therefore display very different behavioral patterns.
· To understand the transpersonal view of the human being, where her deepest inner depths are intrinsically intertwined with the seemingly rigid structures of society. She is not an individual—her deeper identity reaches through and beyond the individual, the person. The “person” is just a mask, or a role, dependent on context. It is not inherent to the individual—even if the human organism can of course be described with behavioral science.
· To see that in the transpersonal perspective, individual people cannot really be blamed for anything. All moralism is meaningless. This translates to a radical acceptance of people as they are; a radical non-judgment that can also be described as a civic, impersonal and secular bid to love thy neighbor.
· To see that the human dividual has many layers, that she is both animal, “human” in a multiplicity of roles, and that she has higher potentials within herself—and that she is born through the interactions, (or even intra-actions) of such layers within different people.
This has some important implications:
Ÿ The multi-layered psyche has both subconscious, conscious and supraconscious processes (where the supraconscious processes constitute higher and more subtle intelligence than our normal thoughts, such as universal love, philosophical insight, deep artistic inspiration and the like).
Ÿ The higher layers of the psyche follow more general, abstract and universal logics, whereas the lower layers follow cruder, more selfish and concrete logics. But they operate simultaneously and interact with one another.
Ÿ The multilayered nature of the dividual psyche means that we can often see unconscious and supraconscious layers in one another; we can often understand one another better than we understand ourselves. This is what makes practices such as psychoanalysis or psychiatry possible. It also means that my agency can originate from you and vice versa.
Ÿ This transpersonal perspective holds that our “selves”, even our bodies, are not “sealed” or “autonomous”; we develop together in one great, multidimensional network. This network follows a logic that is often largely alien to our individual thought processes and agencies.
· To acknowledge the inalienable right of every creature to be who she is.
· To have a non-anthropocentric view of reality, where human experience is not seen as the measure of all things.
· To accept the idea that humanity’s biology and fundamental life experience can and will change through science and technology, what is called transhumanism.
· To stretch solidarity towards the highest possible universality: love and care for all sentient beings, in all times, from all perspectives, from the greatest possible depths of our hearts.
Capra, F. & Luisi, P. L., 2014. The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. New York: Cambridge University Press.
The grande histoire of metamodernism is described in the history book of this series.
Brier, S., 2008. Cybersemiotics: Why Information Is Not Enough! Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Barad, K., 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway. Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. London: Duke University Press.
Many thanks to Hanzi and the Metamodern folks for permitting use of this content.