A Process Model with a View Section IIb (The Actual Occasion)

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

II.b. The Actual Occasion   

Structural Enfoldment and the Holomovement  


In this section we explore the question How real are our grand narratives?”  In Integral Spirituality, Wilber veers into Humean idealism in making the following statement: 

Put bluntly, perception, prehension, awareness, consciousness etc., are all 3rd person, monological abstractions with no reality whatsoever. [emphasis mine]. As far as we know, or can know, the manifest world is made of sentient beings with perspectives…” (255). 

This is a post-modern humanistic version of Humean idealism, since Hume’s radically solipsistic stance didn’t even allow for the independent existence of other selves. 

Yet another version of philosophical idealism, is based on the thought of Kant, who studied Hume’s philosophy, and felt he improved it. Kant imagined a really real world “out there” of actual noumenal entities—but said we had virtually no direct access to this noumenal realm. But Kant believed that the laws of numbers and logic were also part of the noumenal, and therefore had great trust in the power of the rational mind to re-present the noumenal realm in symbolic, epistemic ways. The modern version of this view from cognitive science has been called “the correspondence theory” of cognition—that the ur-reality of subjective phenomenon must somehow “map directly” onto the real-reality of an objective world; so that the goal of cognitive science becomes the attempt to describe the “rules of  translation” that might accurately re-present  the actual in the phenomenal.  

The process model does not agree with either version of idealism. The process model does not maintain that all of reality is consensual reality co-created in intersubjective space; nor that all of reality is merely a perceptual illusion of the self, in the Humean sense; nor that there is a boundary between a noumenal world “out there” that we have no access to, except through representational faculties of rational mind.  

In fact, the process model was written to point to a view where there is no sharp cut between self and world, subject and object, body and mind, perceptions and reality, “in here” and “out there”, phenomena and noumena, ur-reality and that which is really real.  

What the process model says, is that we are inextricably part of the “noumenal” or “actual” or “really real”  world through our very being-in-Being (which is, more precisely, always and already a becoming-into-being). This is an ontological view – Kant would have considered it a transcendental knowing—and therefore, even in the Kantian context, would not be expected to have a correspondence to the phenomenological reality. But when he shifted to the epistemological question of “how can we know the world”,  Kant’s notion of the inaccessibility of the noumenal became inextricably entangled with his philosophy. 

From the view of the process model, there is not a separate “world out there” that can or cannot be known; nor a knowing subject “in here” that somehow, some way, must apprehend a world. According to the process model these aspects of “world” and “subject” arise as a cognitive occasion, which is not a person, nor a subject, nor a mind, nor a self or sentient being. According to the process model, and its process philosophy, the cognitive occasion is a duration of a particular kind of enfoldment in a processural field. The dynamics in this processural field is the fundamental nature of reality.  

These dynamics create constellations of enfoldments (and their traces), which endure (and retreat) in the moment-to-moment occasioning of “world”, “subject”, “mind”, etc… but more precisely as experience of enfoldment such that, for conventional experience, self is enfolded inside mind, which is enfolded inside body which is enfolded inside an objective world with other selves. In this narrative, there is no boundary between the “really real” processural field, and the cognitive occasion that arises as certain kind of phase transitions within it. This view is neither idealist nor realist, since there is no longer a dichotomous moral to the story. 

But how real can this meta-narrative be?  

The discerning reader (or the skeptic) will still ask “ Are there actual occasions, other than cognitive occasions, i.e. enfoldments of the processural field that do not share the same conditions of structural enfoldment that prescribe the cognitive occasion?” 

These kind of questions about reality and meta-narratives, do not only plague philosophers. In Copenhagen, 1927, Neils Bohr and Warner Heinsenberg contemplated the implications of quantum mechanics, and while their discussions and opinions on quantum matters subsequently came to be known as “the Copenhagen interpretation”,  but according to the online Stamford encyclopedia, their individual opinions actually varied quite significantly. Heinsenberg concerned himself primarily with epistemic uncertainty, and the limitations of knowledge; whereas Bohr’s more Kantian view, contemplated the relationship between symbolic representations of knowledge (mathematics, linguistic narratives) and the supposed noumenal reality of the world.  

The point they shared, however, was a nagging feeling that quantum mechanics – the implications of which required one to think of “things” as both waves and particles—depended too much on the epistemological operations of scientists, rather than exclusively on the actual physical operations of the objective world, then they cared for. In other words, they suspected that the quantum explanations that physics provides were not a direct portal to the fundamental properties of the actual and the real—the objective world “out there.” 

In 1952, Bohm formally presented an ontological model of quantum theory, which in effect says “what you see is what you get” – a kind of epistemological naivité. So, for example, according to Paavo Pylkkanen,  

Bohm’s interpretation assumes that the electron is both a particle and a wave before measurement. In the measurement we see the particle aspect. The wave aspect guides the particle aspect by giving rise to a new potential, the quantum potential. (161) 

In other words, the implication from quantum theory of the fundamental wave-particle duality of reality, did not disturb Bohm in such a way that it created an epistemological gap between the investigator(subject)  and the (objective) world as it did for Heinsenberg and Bohr. For Heisenberg, this gap—epistemological indeterminanacy—was “in” the subject;  for Bohr, the gap—between  noumena and phenomena—was “in” the world.iii 

Bohm’s vision was that one could close these gaps through a deeper understanding of the system as a whole. His insight was that in order to be coherent, thinking had to come from the view of the whole, which in this case, required one to take the point of view not of the subjective investigator, nor the objective reality (the measurement) but from further back, outside the system as a whole, and think from the kind of processural order that might gives rise to both the investigating subject and the experimental outcome as one coherent “movement”.  As with the process model, this view from the whole, therefore, has to be an ontological view—one of the becoming-into-being of the parts of the system from the whole.  

In the case of the electron, Bohm might say (in lay person’s terms) that both the electron and the investigator are entangled in one coherent state at every juncture in time, yet they are entangled in one state prior to measurement– an indeterminate state– represented by  the wave-particle duality of the electron and the investigator’s epistemological unknowns, and in a subsequent state, they are entangled in a determined state, where both the electron particle-ness and the relevant information has been determined. The indeterminate state is the state of un-actualized potentials, and the determined state is the state of realized actuals. This is the basic “movement” in Bohm’s theory as well as in process philosophy in general.  

According to Bohm, “movement” itself is fundamental to reality. He envisioned a “holomovement” of two processural orders, the one an implicate order, the other an explicate order. In Bohm’s holomovement, the implicate is ordered—that is, has a certain shape or architecture, which he envisioned as being enfolded. The dynamics of his holomovement prescribe the unfoldment of this enfolded order to generate the explicate order—the realm of phenomenal experience and conventional reality. Bohm also maintained that in this process of unfoldment (from the implicate to the explicate) that the informational content of the implicate order (the rules that give it a particular shape)—that this information was in-folded into the explicate order as it unfolded from the holomovement. 

In other words, Bohm creates a scenario where the processes internal to the implicate order govern, in a sense, what unfolds in the explicate order. According to Bohm the implicate is a higher-order reality than the explicate—which led him to the necessity of positing  an entire series of  ever more subtle levels of still-higher implicate orders. 

In their most fundamental aspects, the process model and Bohm’s holomovement are surprisingly similar. Both consider movement or process as fundamental—that reality is fundamentally processural; and the dynamics of enfoldment are the significant features of the process/ movement in each theory. However, the process model completely inverts Bohm’s theory, inviting us to imagine a processural field that has no such boundaries as between implicate or explicate, and does not require an order “outside or beyond” but runs according to its own nature – its processural dynamics  that generate the actual and the real. 

 The process model hypothesizes that the dynamic features of the cognitive occasion must be consistent with the dynamics that give rise to any postulated actual occasion—of whatever nature one imagines that to be, without imputing onto the actual occasion the particular set of conditions of structural order that give rise to cognitive occasions as discussed in the previous section. An actual occasion might be considered to be a truncated path in a cognitive microgeny, or something significantly or even entirely different than the generative patterns of the cognitive. However, the process model hypothesizes that just as in the case with the cognitive occasion, any actual occasioning occurs through phase transitions in the processural field that generate dynamic enfoldments (and their traces).  If these enfoldments are construed as structural shapes of intricate dimensions in the processural field, we arrive at the uncanny coincidence between this process theory and the kinds of enfolded  intra-dimensional shapes that comprise the Calabai-Yau manifold in string theory.   

Calabai-Yau Enfoldment. 


With respect to an individual human being, however, in the final analysis, the only “thing” that differences the cognitive from the actual, is that the former imputes (enfolds) the sense of “realness”. I have described elsewhere how this sense of realness arises within the values stream of the microgeny of the cognitive.  (Integral Review Journal, Issue 3, Dec 2006 pp 118-152) 

 In the process model, this processural field itself,  corresponding to Bohm’s implicate order, has no shape, and no epistemological content, therefore no “information content” to somehow “pass on” into its processural descendents. In the process model there is no boundary that separates orders at all—there is only the dynamic processural field, and its phase transitions that create constellations of enfoldments (and their traces).  

Whereas Bohm considered conventional reality as an explicate order that unfolds  from a separate (implicate) order, the process model sees conventional reality (cognitive occasioning) as well as allows for non-cognitive actual occasionings as an enfolding process of the processural field that is the totality.  What these hypothetical non-cognitive actual occasions might be represents new process thinking beyond the scope of this paper that I am currently working through. I hope to demonstrate the possibility that the phase transitions in the processural field that do not fully articulate as cognitive occasions might represent a constellation of dynamic interactions that can be interpreted in terms of what Stuart Kaufman calls a “fitness landscape” and may correlate with Kaufman’s realm of pre-adaptation.  



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.