A Process Model with a View : Section IIa (Processes of the Epistemological Perspectives)

Bonnitta Roy, A Process Model with a View.  Presentation for First Integral Theory Conference 2008 at JKF University where it received an honorable mention for academic achievement in integral theory.

Section II : Processes of the Epistemological Perspectives  

 II.a. The Cognitive Occasion   

Cognitive Microgenesis and the Structural Enfoldment of Self  


The AQAL matrix is a very convenient tool for identifying the methodologies of inquiry across various domains of knowledge. AQAL analysis has proven to be  remarkably successful approach for incorporating methodological pluralism in one’s work. The first two issues of AQAL Journal are filled with examples of this kind of rigor.  

However, the AQAL matrix is less successful at describing one’s own Being-in-the-world—how the self experiences itself in its own situatedness. For example, although I may be able to feel my mind taking on or switching between different perspectives (first, second, third), I don’t experience my mind or myself as a 4-quadrant matrix splayed out in 4 directions, UL, UR, LL, LR. My most basic attention doesn’t “shift” up, down, right, left, when I take on different perspectives—it doesn’t “move around” in two-dimensional matrix space.  

Rather, I feel I am a core self inside a mind, inside a body inside a world shared with other (core/self/mind/body)s; and I feel that these enfoldments (core/self/mind/body/world) arise and change in time and in space. This enfoldment is the nature of conventional experience and can be represented as follows: 


Notice that the progression lays down levels of interior-exterior relations, such that the core is felt as a deeper interior than the self, which in turn is felt as a deeper interior than the mind, and so on until we experience a fully “exteriorized” objective world in space-time dimensions. The experience of “other” selves is similarly an “exteriorization” of an internally accessible experience of “self” onto exteriorly appearing/existing agents. How far one goes in assigning “selfhood” to other exterior agents various according to culture and individual, as both human and non-human animals can qualify, as well as inanimate objects in  such as dolls in the case of children, or amulets in the case of  shamanistic projection.  

Notice also that what type of enfoldment determines what kind of experience arises, such that the above sequence is a formula that represents conventional waking reality, but what would the formula for conventional dream state look like? Or for lucid dreaming? There needs to be different formulas for pre-conventional experiences such as the urobic period and the period of primary narcissism; for non-normative states such as autistic, schizophrenic, and neurophysiological rarities where people loose the apperception of time or place, or of having a body or mind. There would be a different formula for the state of “flow” that artists and athletes report; and still different formula for deep meditative states, transpersonal experiences, unity experiences, out-of-body experiences, near-death-experiences, and other experiences of altered states. What would the formula for deep dreamless sleep be? 

The point is, with respect to an experiential center of reality—whether that be a fully realized subject, a pre-subjective surrogate, or a trans-subjective witness—each of these arise through a process of structural enfoldment that lay down progressive layers of interior-exterior relations through whole-part  (one-many) transformations in a space-time dimension. These three conditions, then, the condition of interior-exterior, the condition of whole-part (one-many), and the condition of space-time are the conditions of structural enfoldment under which the experience arises. These conditions can be mapped as a set of perpendicular vertices,  which represents the aspects of interiority-exteriority as the horizontal vertex, and the tendency towards being one (unity) or many (plurality) as the vertical vertex. It is easy to see that this arrangement creates the conditions of the AQAL matrix in which the quadrants are horizontally delimited by the conditions of interiority and exteriority and vertically delimited by the conditions of singular (one) and plural (many). We can imagine these vertices as describing a process field which creates successive structures of enfoldment along the direction of an arrow of time.  


  The above diagram then, represents the epistemological field, and the process of structural enfoldment in time, which generates the cognitive occasion. What kinds of structures might these be—and is there any evidence that cognition arises in this way? 

According to neurophysiologist Jason Brown,  cognition arises in just this way, through a process of cognitive microgenesis, in which each stage in the process lays down micro-structures of cognition. The process model reminds us that these structures are enfolded in the epistemological field. Brown micro-stages are described as follows: 






                                  >Object(world) Space 

These “steps” can be summarized as follows: 

Core: The unarticulated core is aspectless.  

Presence: … is the spontaneous potential of a cognition—the simple feeling of being. 

Affect: Cognitions that articulate to affect stage are primordial feelings, like a deep intuitive feeling that has not yet attached itself to an image or word. For example, it is common to wake up from a dream with a clear “feeling” of the dream without being able to ascribe images or words to the dream. For example, instead of being able to say that in the dream “I opened a door,” one would be pressed to say “it was as if there were a door and I opened it.” The affect level “meaning” is clear, but it is only after the fact of awakening that we are required to search for appropriate or sufficient symbolic or linguistic forms for it—and the measure of sufficiency of those attempts can be gauged against the clearly present affect. Affect-level cognitions are not to be confused with “emotions,” which are more complex structures. 

Image: Image stage cognitions are like dreams that have an image form, thinking in pictures or symbolisms or various sorts, and visual hallucinations (pathological or otherwise); images that are not yet associated with or alternately have become dissociated from, the concretizing operation of object perception. 

Object(body)Space: Further articulation of the cognitive process generates the spatial dimensioning of the kinesthetic body and its perceived “dominion”—that of the will (willing my finger to move, for example). 

Object(world)Space: The furthest articulation (or discharge) in Brown’s theory of microgenesis. This is the point where cognition has articulated to object orientation that constitutes a world. 

The Process model adds two crucial steps: 

>Intersubjective Space  

  >Subjective Unification 

Intersubjective Space is the notion of pre-constitutive structures that Sean Hargens describes in his infamous Intersubjective Musings where he writes: 

Intersubjectivity-as-context: the context created by multiple intersubjective structures (i.e. meshworks) which are constitutive of the subject and create the space in which both subjects and objects arise (e.g. physical laws, morphic fields, linguistic, moral cultural, biological, and aesthetic structures). These cultural contexts, backgrounds and practices are nondiscursive and inaccessible via direct experience.  

Subjective Unification is the crucial step in which the self in the process of becoming, concretizes as a unified entity of being – the subject qua ego

 We can add these categories to our process diagram as follows: 


If instead of focusing on the stages as structures, we adopt a more processural approach, we can further describe the microgeny of cognition as a coherent generative process that undergoes phase transformations in a field of dynamic operators with the following characteristics: 

 1) The dynamic operators are represented by the valences “interior-exterior”  and “one-many”. 

 2)  The duration of the process from core to world, constitutes an arrow of time, and the direction of the process, from core to world, constitutes spatial extension; thus creating a local here-and-now or spatio-temporal dimension. 

3) The transformations from core to unification can be described as phases changes in the generative process as follows:  

1) emergence – the initiation of the cognitive occasion and the “presencing” of sourcei  

2) articulation – the further articulation of the presencing as primordial affectii 

3) withdrawal (of agency) – this is the first real stage toward exteriority, as the central, now articulated presence, withdraws  (or contracts) to become the witness or viewer of images (dreamings) 

4) further withdrawal of agency is simultaneous with the exteriorization as/ of a “body” and with it comes the transformation of primordial presencing as will or drive—which are body-based dynamics 

5) protraction is the phase that creates a fully exteriorized world, and along with it, spatial extension wherein will/drive transform into their exteriorized form, intention. 

6) projection characterizes the “movement” back toward interiority, as the original aspect of interiority is now projected onto/into other fully exteriorized body/objects. This projection  also has the quality of reflection—wherein one’s interiority is reflected into/onto another(s). 

7) the final phase transition is unification where the fully realized subject emerges as the unit of being that stands in for its becoming—and under conventional experiences, henceforward goes on to be the “subject” that navigates experience, rather than the subject that arises as the cognitive occasioning of reality. 

According to Jason Brown, each cognitive occasion is actually a symphony of innumerable “waves” of microgenies and their “traces” back as they return to the core. The core is the well-spring of renewal and source of novelty, while traces that persist in the processural field establish patterns of habit, repetition and stasis that is responsible for the appearance of stability, memory and the duration of the “specious present.” 

Alternately, in purely process terms, we can say that each cognitive occasion arises through the mutual interactions of innumerable phase transitions of varying momentum (representing the stage at which the “outward” movement discharges) and attenuation (representing the traces that persist in the “inward” return) that create an “ecology” of structural enfoldments in a processural field.

A Process Model with a View : Section I (Three Meanings of Perspective)

Bonnitta Roy, A Process Model with a View.  Presentation for First Integral Theory Conference 2008 at JKF University where it received an honorable mention for academic achievement in integral theory.

Section I  

Introduction: Three Meanings of Perspective  


As a way to get into the workings of the process model, I want to make the distinction between three meanings of perspective I glean from Wilber’s writing. The first meaning of perspective, relates to perspectives that a subject has – which means they entail a cognitive subject already in existence. Because this meaning pertains to how we know what we know about the world, I like to refer to it as the epistemological perspective, or EP.  This epistemological meaning has two parts:  1) one that corresponds to methodological pluralism, and the kinds of narrative perspectives we adopt during intellectual inquiry that name the eight methodologies, and their indigenous perspectives – phenomenology(inside) and structuralism(outside) the UL subjective domain, cognitive science(inside) neurophysiology(outside) the UR objective domain, hermeneutics(inside) and ethnomethodology(outside) the intersubjective domain, and social autopoeisis(inside) and systems theory(outside) the interobjective domain—and   2) a meaning that corresponds to  the perspectives a subject can take, i.e. a first person, second person, or third person (I/we/its) perspectives.   

A significantly different meaning of the term perspective  in Wilber’s writing is a metaphysical meaning, as when he says that the “kosmos is composed of perspectives all the way up and all the way down.” The metaphysical meaning of perspective, or MP,  appears not to depend upon a knowing subject (aka a human being)—but to be a statement about reality itself. According to Wilber, these are the perspectives that are related holonically, as a result of the process of transcend-and-include.  

The third kind of perspective is fuzzy in Wilber’s writings. It occurs most explicitly in Integral Spirituality, although it has precursors in some of his earlier writings. This is the meaning of perspective that Wilber attempts to correlate or conflate with the Dzogchen meaning of view.  Here Wilber incorporates the concepts of emptiness and form and their non-dual integration, with the notion of emptiness and view-as-perspective and their non-dual integration. 

The deepest Buddhist teachings—Mahamudra and Dzogchen—maintain that the nature of the mind is not in any way different from the forms arising in it. It is not just that there is Emptiness and View, but that Emptiness and View are not two—exactly as the Heart Sutra maintained, when Form now means Forms in the mind, or View: That which is Emptiness is not other than View; that which is View is not other than emptiness. (pg 140) 

The process model, however,  attempts to move from the notion of perspective to the notion of view by making a sharp distinction between the epistemological field through which the categories of knowing arise as perspectives in a cognitive occasion; and the ontological dimension of view which is a-perspectival and of a different sort entirely. According to this understanding, then when Wilber writes 

Therefore, choose your View carefully. And make your View or Framework as comprehensive or integral as possible, because your View—your cognitive system, your co-gnosis, your conceptual understanding, your implicit or explicit Framework—will help determine the very form of your enlightenment. 

The process model sees this as  a crucial category error  that results from conflating (or confusing) the framework of cognition and its epistemological perspectives, with the ontological, a-perspectival aspects of Being. This category error arises when we overlay the static structures of our epistemic framework onto the ontological experience of Being. This ontological experience is an a-perspectival, a-temporal and a-local arising which is addressed in the final section of this paper. The next two sections deal with the epistemic and metaphysical meanings of perspective through adopting and adapting the theories of Jason Brown and microgenesis and David Bohm notion of the holomovement. The process model attempts to describe the same underlying dynamics that generate both the cognitive occasion and the actual occasion, in ways that are consistent with the core of both Brown’s neurophysiology and Bohm’s physics. Fundamentally, these dynamics can be described as generative processes that create conditions of structural enfoldment through interior-exterior “movements” and whole-part transformations. The details of which we now turn.

Integral Manifesto Pt III(1): Integral Politics? / Action Beyond Reason and Reason Beyond Sensibility

Books Discussed in this Section

Steve McIntosh (2007) Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution,  Continuum Books.

Bruno Latour (1999) Pandora’s Hope: Essays of the Reality of Science Studies, Harvard University Press.

Toward the end of his book Pandora’s Hope, Bruno Latour asks

How sensible is it to cry for Reason when faced with the horrors we witness every day?

The more your own opinion tends toward the affirmative, the more on board you might feel with the usual offerings from “mainstream” integral politics arguing for an integral version of Global Governance. By “mainstream integral” I am referring to integral thought based primarily on Ken Wilber’s AQAL model incorporated into a Spiral Dynamics worldview (often labelled iSD).]  Like the idea of the polis,this sensibility — that Reason and Rule go together — is rooted in early Greek thought. It appealed to Socrates, the summa qua non of the vita contemplativa– who neither labored, worked, nor partook of the unruly sport of the Sophists (those original politicians), and who, in the famous dialogue of the Gorgias gives this vehement rant against the Sophist Callicles that Latour relates in his book

In fact, Callicles, the expert’s opinion is that co-operation, love, order, discipline, and justice bind heaven and earth, gods and men. That’s why they call the universe an ordered whole, my friend, rather than a disorderly mess or an unruly shambles. It seems to me that, for all your expertise in the field, you are overlooking the point. You have failed to notice how much power geometrical equality has among gods and men, and this neglect of geometry has led you to believe that one should try to gain a disproportionate share of things.

It may be worthwhile to compare Socrates’ statement with one from Steve McIntosh’s new book– a primer on Integral Consciousness with emphasis on integral politics:

Without its championing of the movement for global governance, the integral worldview fails to offer the type of powerful new solutions that the previously arising worldviews have provided. But when the new insights of the integral worldview are applied through this political platform, their power to produce lasting cultural evolution becomes evident. Just as the moral superiority of democracy over feudalism served to convince many to adopt the values of the modernist worldview, so too will the evident moral superiority of global governance over a world of sovereign nations operating in a state of nature eventually convince many that the integral worldview is the way forward.

Latour might just as easily be speaking about McIntosh, in his commentary comparing Socrates to the writer Steven Weinberg (whose name I have substituted in the following act):

What these two quotations have in common, across the huge gap of centuries, is the strong link they establish between the respect for impersonal natural laws, on the one hand, and the fight against irrationality, immorality, and political disorder on the other. In both quotations, the fate of Reason and the fate of Politics are associated in a single destiny. … The common tenet is that we need something “inhuman” … [for McIntosh, the natural laws of evolution and the spiral] that no human has constructed; for Socrates, geometry, whose demonstrations escape human whim– if we want to be able to fight against “inhumanity.” To sum up : only inhumanity will quash inhumanity. 

 Not surprisingly, many reader will cry “Foul! Surely the ancients’ emerging belief in the power and promise of geometry is not the same as our trust in the power and promise of the evolutionary spiral!” In effect, however, the two are parallel phenomena, stemming from common assumptions. From the vantage point of modernity, we can surely see that geometry belongs to a different domain than politics; and for the same reasons, that both are the products of scalar constructions, the one a geometry of physical spaces, the other, iSD a geography of worldspaces. But since neither of them rests on the central conviction of the space of appearance– neither of them emphasize the power and promise of authentic political action.

The error in connecting Reason with Politics, stems from a series of insufficiently examined assumptions embedded in the culture of science and scientism which confuses the open space of the body politic with the closed halls in which experts and professionals assemble to conspire towards a politics of Reason. This would make for a democracy with an intolerant and dominant temperament. The speech acts in the open space of the body politic are quite different from those that occur around specific bodies of knowledge. Latour proposes four conditions to free politics from scientism. He writes

… the first specification of political speech is that it is public and does not take place in the silent isolation of the study or the laboratory.

From the point of view of the governors of the body of knowledges, the body episteme, the speech acts of the body politic represent defects, weaknesses, and inaccuracies. The ideas of the body politic arrive disarranged, and tend toward discordance– they are not system-ically assembled. Furthermore, in the open space of the body politic, speech acts are discontinuous and indeterminate– they do not standardize. Therefore, Latour’s second specification is

… that political reason cannot possibly be the object of professional knowledge.

Although political action requires attention to the body politic as a whole, this kind of attention requires a special genius of its own– the ability to embrace all of the parts without generalizing, which is another term for reducing uniqueness. Generalization is a contraction of the polis, a closure of the spaces of appearance, through a process of coarse-graining until there is only a cacophony of background voices in which no single voice can be heard.

This is what Socrates recognizes under the name of a good and ordered cosmos in the qualities required of the expert technician. “Each of them organizes the various components he works with into a particular structure and makes them accommodate and fit one another until he’s formed the whole into an organized and ordered object.

The third consideration Latour points out is

not only does political reason deal with important matters, taken up by many people in the harsh conditions of urgency, it also cannot rely on any sort of previous knowledge of cause and consequence…

In this sense, political reason is no reason at all, since it is foremost action. From the point of view of action, Reason, like Hamlet’s soliloquy, is an interregnum. The dispensation of action without the benefit of expertise or recourse to rational analysis, greatly disturbed Socrates in the Gorgias — yet how accurate his definition of positive attributes of the kind of democracy his fellow Greeks were inventing — attributes that Latour greatly admires

How moving to see, by returning to the past, how close these Greeks still were to the positive nature of this democracy that remains their wildest invention. Of course “it does not involve expertise,” of course “it lacks rational understanding”: the whole dealing with the whole under the incredibly tough constraints of the agora must decide in the dark and will be led by people as blind as themselves, without the benefit of proof, of hindsight, of foresight, of repetitive experiment, of progressive scaling up.

In applying to politics a “context of truth”, “mainstream” integral politics reproduces Socrates’ category error. The role of reason is to in-form politics; yet reason alone has no capacity to re-form the body politic. The body politic re-presents, by allowing for, by opening the space of appearance for, innumerable presences, the “who-I-am” that announces itself through subject-to-subject encounter, the limiting quantum of action. Given the appropriate space of appearance, this body politic, this re-presentation that occurs, occurs in a thoroughly spontaneous and ad-hoc manner, which Latour describes as a kind of “fermentation process”

The stunning beauty of the Gorgias is that this other context [other than the context of facts, reason and truth], is clearly visible in the very lack of comprehension Socrates displays for what it is to re-presentthe people. I am not talking here about the modern notion of representation that will come much later, and that will itself be infused with rational definitions, but about a completely ad hoc sort of activity that is neither transcendent nor immanent but more closely resembles a fermentation through which the people brews itself toward a decision– never exactly in accordance with itself, and never led or commanded or directed from above.

How drastically this sensibility differs from the sensibility of integral theorists like McIntosh who writes

Others who have considered the future evolution of global governance believe that such global systems will not arise in a formal way through the ratification of a constitution, but rather through the gradual accumulation of treaties, nongovernmental organizations, trade agreements, and global economic institutions. However, while the incremental accumulation of issue-specific global systems is generally positive, I do not believe that we can achieve the full benefits of a world federation … without the effective implementation of democratically enacted global law with jurisdiction over individual persons. Even if such jurisdiction over individuals is limited by the mandate of restricted federal authority … for global law to be effective, nation-states will be required to relinquish some degree of their presently unrestricted sovereignty. And the only was that nation-states will likely be persuaded to give up some of their sovereignty is under a scenario wherein their relinquished sovereignty becomes reinvested in a higher authority. That is, to bring about the bright promise of a world without war, oppression, environmental degradation, or human suffering, a world federation will have to me adequately empowered empowered by the master lawmaking authority [emphasis mine] of a democratically enacted global constitution.

McIntosh writes with a weighty sense of self-assurance, which comes from the fact that his arguments are all well reasoned, and firmly based in what he terms “the integral reality framework.” Within this framework, McIntosh can prove that political reason, effective-action, jurisprudence, and the rights of higher authorities scale up like nested sets in a transcend and include manner— from the microscale of consciousness, through scales of cultural values, to the global scale of a world federation (and even on to the nature of Spirit– the scope of which is outside this paper). His framework, the AQAL/iSD grid, is the geometrics of integral. To his credit, McIntosh writes of the possibility that “pushing power up” through the advent of a global constitution would allow for more power to be “pushed down … to the level of the people;” and he claims that this “power down” should empower and strengthen traditional cultures to “better develop their own forms of modernist cultures– the kind of homegrown modernism that would complement and preserve the uniqueness and evolutionary genius of their own particular versions of traditionalism;” but at the same time, paradoxical to what his values may seem to be, he asserts

But when we contemplate forming a union that encompasses the large populations of the Third World, from and integral perspective we can see that a simple one-to-one vote system would likely create major problems. If global law were to be made by a world legislature elected exclusively by a population size [a curious euphemism for “majority vote”] this would effectively hand over power to the large populations of the Third World. And because these populations are still largely centered in traditional consciousness, the ethnocentric morality that generally characterizes this level of development would make for  predictably one-sided laws.

So much for the “evolutionary genius” of the Third World’s own forms of modernist culture. To be sure, we would not want to cede global authority to a federation of ethnocentricllay-minded folk. Might not it be ethnocentric in any sense of the word to assert the following?

Thus a significant challenge for any would-be global democratic [democratic, that is, without either a one-to-one or majority vote] entity is to provide a certain degree of protection and insulation for modernist economies and modernist and postmodern cultures from the now significantly larger populations centered in traditionalist consciousness and below.

McIntosh recommends a tiered approach to membership in a world federation which precludes nations that do not have a requisite degree of modernist consciousness or that have not yet become democratic. Democratic in what sense? Presumably, not in the sense of one-man-one-vote, nor in the sense of majority rule, nor apparently in the sense that all participants are allowed a space of appearance– for under these conditions, the world federation itself does not pass muster. McIntosh seems to confuse democratic with demographic when he describes a tricameral federalism of checks and balances that is designed to

provide for democratic representation of all people within the federation while preventing the more populous countries from completely controlling the government and redistributing the world’s wealth and since economic development roughly traces the development of consciousness [a spurious assumption!] the disparities in wealth must be given sufficient insulation to prevent the natural course of evolution …

Of course, in his case, McIntosh’s economic demographies are prescribed by the evolutionary prime directive, namely “the principle which recognizes that every stage of the spiral of development needs to be nurtured and respected,” except that along the way we need to cut and paste entire populations on whom the “natural “evolutionary spiral depends (if there really is such a thing) according to an absolutist and elitist and ethnocentrist framework we have fashioned so carefully as to be rational, perhaps, but not sensible.If what remains after several tiers of segregation is still tagged as a democracy, it will most certainly be one with an intolerant and dominant temperament.