a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Transition week [i.e., mini-series epilog]
Last week concluded our (13-week mini-series) treatment of Nora Bateson’s provocation critiquing stage theory.
For over two months now, as I’ve written about this, no one has tried to deny the fact that there’s a significant problem with the way some/many people handle and work with stage models like *Integral* or Graves/Spiral Dynamics [SD]. Most SD folks rehearse in harmonic unison that: “Nah! It’s not BS; it’s just used in some BS ways.”
Chris Cowan observed (and challenged), “paintballing,” [i.e., condescending ‘superiority,’ discounting/dismissal by stadial-color-code].
Superiority is the theme
OK, my questions have been (and continue to be):
- When does actual harm outweigh potential benefit?
- How narrow of a ghetto is one willing to occupy to preserve the stage aspect of the model (especially if stages are gratuitous)?
- When the model is mishandled, as it often is, and it creates unhelpful — even dangerous — understandings, at what point does it become enough of a problem to merit reassessment regarding our use of [gratuitous?] stages? Something here feels akin to a Second Amendment sentiment.
Anyone who has attempted to work on issues of White supremacist ideology [Wsi] and racism with people in the church likely understands that our American way of interpreting life in stadial terms is largely unconscious and is a result of our (mostly ubiquitous) social conditioning — i.e., Americans are significantly conditioned to: ‘higher’ = better, superior.
Meaning well, missing mark?
What originally alerted me to this troubling problem was a Ken Wilber [kw] quote.
“The people who say it [i.e., ‘systemic racism’] doesn’t exist and the people who say it is absolutely everywhere are both right.” —kw
Obviously, on the face of it, the statement is absurd, so what’s going on with that? We discussed this in a July, 2020, piece — i.e., here, Integral’s coherence rests on a narrow ghetto of philosophical overreach.
A problem with dogmatism?
One of the core tenets of *Integral* philosophy is the axiom: “all perspectives are partially true.” Actually, I’m not sure what’s considered the specific original kw quote, as there have been several similar to: all perspectives are partially true. One popular kw ‘*Integral* quote’ is: “everybody’s right.” This may be part of the difficulty.
So, I have a theory for how the claim (whatever it was in its pristine form) got all messed-up in translation and application.
I feel as though the “everybody’s right” expression is of particular interest here.
I see this dogmatic error as an extension of *Integral*’s prime directive to get as many perspectives (voices) together at the table as possible. Plain enough expression of (Gravesian) FS sensitivity values of inclusion.
—Obviously, I’m arguing that we don’t need to describe FS sensitivity values as “higher” than ER ambition values, merely as different.
Integral’s fig leaf problem
The problem that arises here is a cousin of the climate-change and science denial maneuver. That problem is a function of *political technologies* exploiting the idea that to be journalistically fair, one must include arguments of opposing views (as though both sides were always equally valid).
So *Integral* says: “if a person’s perspective says that systemic racism does not exist, then that person’s view still has a valuable place at the table because all perspectives are partially true.” Sorry, no! It can’t possibly work that way. Rather, all persons are welcome, errant perspectives subject to exclusion.
So, how does the errant claim that ‘systemic racism doesn’t exist’ suddenly become partially true? Well, the short answer is quadrant magic: an argument from phenomenology using perspectival relativism — what, previously, kw (correctly) called a “French parlor trick.”
With kw‘s quadrant model and sufficient motivation — i.e., a rock-ribbed doctrine that all perspectives are partially true — one is able to work out a position true to the *Integral* axiom that only violates fair discernment and plain common sense a little bit. Wait! What?!
In other words, the Integral urge to dogmatically include everyone breaks down a good bit in real-world applications around issues like Wsi.
The exercise to make Wsi partially true is a work in pretzel logic.
Wanting to include the idea that all persons carry some partial truths is much different than trying to make errant perspectives true. The fact that this perspectival relativism move is unacceptable seems to get overlooked in the dogmatic fervor.
It may be true that a person fails to perceive systemic racism for some reason. That failure in no way justifies any claim that they are “right” in their error. Failing to perceive that systemic racism exists does not justify the denial of its existence. Period!
Even if an unintended result of well-meant doctrine, one thing we surely don’t need to provide is a formula for DJT/MAGA, or anyone, to get intellectually cute with their denial of systemic racism — like when ‘perspectival relativism‘ is imposed universally.
*Integral* providing a BS fig-leaf of perspectival relativism — blanket license to gaslight — is no bueno.
Next week: Irony: online-Integralist TW. [this post ~850 words (~3 min. read)]
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