Skypecast: Integral Politics (Audio Content)


Click the link above for a discussion of integral politics between Scott and I–the first in what we are hoping will be a series.  We had a technical glitch or two (per our usual) but is I believe worth the listen [I’m of course biased on this subject :)]

A whole mess ‘o links for those interested:

Ken Wilber:  (Basic Summary of his Model).  Video Introduction to Politics through his Philosophical Lens.
Ha Joon Chang (The Economic Developmental Piece):  Here and here.
Thomas Barnett (The Brief):  Here, here, here, and here.  Barnett’s map here:

Spiral Dynamics:  Here and Pt. 1 of an 8 part series of shorts that show each level of development (all 8 are on youtube).

Integral Politics Presentation Monday Night


I’m leading a presentation on integral politics Monday night here in Vancouver, for any readers of the blog in the area. I hope to record the audio and post my Power Point slides sometime next week, depending on the quality of the recording.

For now, here is the information on the evening:

Integral Politics.

Politics according to Aristotle is the art of the polis.  Polis-things in other words.  The art of the possible, the art of compromise within the life of the polis (the city-state).  We will explore in depth the current transformation of humanity brought about by the mass migration of human beings from rural to urban life, the rise of technology, and politics in the global polis.  Integral thought provides a lens whereby to make increasing sense of and bring clarity to the complexity of our world.

We will explore the intersection of integral thought in the political events of our day.  Come prepared with questions on any topics you would like discussed–there will be a good amount of time for questions—for example the Canadian elections, US elections, War in Afghanistan, Economic Crisis, Terrorism, and/or more local concerns.

If people are interested, Integral Life has put out a short but helpful video introduction to politics through Ken Wilber’s AQAL system on their website.  I recommend it, but it is not required–fear not there will be no quiz!!!!

The link to the video is here.




  • Dialogue
  • Learning
  • Networking

An Exploration of Integral Framework & How It Can Change Your Life

Doors Open at 7:15, Event Begins at 7:30

Suite 100, Main Floor, 2245 West Broadway, Vancouver (between Vine & Yew)

[Image Courtesy Steve Self via Flickr, CC License].

ruminations towards some thoughts towards some (an) integrating biblical theology

I’m working on some thoughts towards an application of integral theory in the realm of hermeneutics to Biblical Studies/Biblical Theology. Next term I have a much lighter course load and it will be the last real span of time before I head more full time into ministry (I graduate in April), so I’m hoping to spend from December on throughout the new year on essentially a book-length treatment of this subject.

I’m spending most of my time reading legal theory.  Theories in constitutional law and so forth.  While that might seem a little orthogonal to what I’m after, remember that theology and law grow out of the same medieval garden:  think canon law.  Gadamer makes this point forcefully in Method and Truth.  Namely that legal and exegetical/biblical hermeneutics are both forms of understanding/reading that overcome the modern era mistake of assuming there is some way to get to the real meaning of the text either through divination of the author’s original intention (UL in Quadrants), the original public meaning of a text (LL) or through syntactical-grammatical readings (UR and LR).

Gadamer understood that in these disciplines particularly (law and theology) interpretation was a “putting out”, a kind of punting of the boat aimed to a direction.

Where his view and the view of postmodern theory generally breaks down is there is no clear way to validate and/or assess these various puntings.  Particularly how to maintain the integrity of texts from the corrosive personalizing or culturalizing & politicizing tendencies seen too often in pomo thought.  Where the text begins to mean whatever my personal or cultural ego says it means.

The pomo turn overcomes the holdovers of the neo-positivism (“I can actually get to the what the text really means for all times and places separate from myself”/observer mode of consciousness) but as I said then creates this other problem.

So I’m toying with some ideas, but am not quite there yet.

Redistributionism Right and Left

John Robb writes:

The global crisis continues to pick up steam and where/when it will end is anybody’s guess. It’s hard to imagine it ending well.

It didn’t have to happen. The crucial step, from what I can determine, is that we intentionally gutted the core feature of the global system’s post WW2 stability:

That the incomes of Americans rose with improvements in productivity.

That logic held between WW2 and 1974. After that, incomes were decoupled from productivity improvements. Incomes didn’t grow at all while the extra wealth generated by productivity improvements were concentrated in the capital markets.

Someone like Jim Pinkerton would say, the left redistributed from the middle class down the socio-economic scale.  And the so-called free market right redistributed up via capital markets (as Robb points out).  The reason the pro-market right ends up in redistributionism (whether intended or otherwise) is that 1)the market is a learned theory/praxis (particularly capital markets) and 2)to ground such a theory requires an organizational base, usually in the form of property.

Peter Barnes’ as well as Hernando deSoto’s work is predicated on this notion.  The expansion of property rights–rather than redistribution of income/wealth–is the fundamental insight of Catholic social and economic teaching, known as distributionism.  In integral terms, property then is the LR and the learning theory/capacity if UL and LL. In Barnes’ work is it expanded to the commons, public property, but it is the same basic insight.

Possibly Best Post on Integral Ever

From my buddy Juma Wood.  If at all interested in this topic, this is a must read.  Every word of it.

A snippet:

As the old Wilber guard scrambles to find distance from its toxic personality cult, there is a danger of watering down the central insights of the integral model: namely, that every moment arises in four fundamental dimensions (or eight, splitting it finer with IMP), that worldview determines vantage, and that collapsing the context into any of these areas produces partiality by definition.

This last point is where I’d hope the conference would veer itself: the basic Integral Model is the starting point for each and every perspective or action. It is what Hargens in the WIE interview meant when he said that integral was ‘content-free’ (to which critics might agree, but replace the word with ‘empty’). The model should not be asked to do more. That is the work of other theory, other work. Torbert’s work, for example, fits well within this context, including many if not most of the central insights and promises. But it should neither attempt to replace the integral model, nor assume it operates outside its scope.

This is not a debate of either/or, but rather effectiveness and applicability. The integral map does well when it is static, over-arching. It is the scaffold into which the pieces take shape and arrange themselves rightly. There is no ‘integral politics’ or ‘integral ecology’ or ‘integral art’. These are each arenas within which wisdom and approach are exclusive to the field of study, but through which insight and integration can be gained with other disciplines once having oriented properly, via the integral map.

Which is to say this works on (at least) two levels.

One, the model simply clarifies/organizes what already is taking place within a discipline.  This is why the best stuff applying integral (see here for economics, here for biology) are from those already well versed within the confines of the discipline to which they offer up an integral simplifying/clarifying view (but simplification). Those who read Integral (read: Wilber) first and then think they have reached the end have the mental cart before the horse.  Then end up spouting on all manner of topics without being grounded in the knowledge community first.

[When such healthy coherence is achieved within different disciplines–and again this is a sorta second-order type move it in no way replaces or substitutes for the canons and methods already established within the disciplines themselves–then they could finally cross-fertilize with a common language.]

Two, the model is a mental yoga.  This is what Juma describes as every moment arising in four dimensions and to collapse the context is inherently partial.  Wilber often cites the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna’s famous admonition to Arjuna:  Remember the Lord and Fight.  That is, Remember the Truth about the Spiritual Nature of Reality and yet you still have to battle in this world of division.

To play off that notion, we are always going to be collapsing the context–that is always having to specialize and enter the disciplines and one or the other of these dimensions (principally) on their own terms.  Nothing ever is achieved otherwise.  But in so doing one can not forget the prior move and the ground.  Or else there is nothing integral and it will simply be whatever the general tendency therein reduces it to (modern, postmodern whatever).

So weirdly put (but not weirdly intending): Remember the Quadrants and Collapse the Context could be the rallying cry.  And by remember not some nerdy mental recollection but rather remember the space of consciousness in which the four co-arise.  Actually think-feel them.  Remember that you are purposefully entering one and then worlds open up within those  (quadrivia).  Embrace limitation from the position of transcendence.

As a final note, Juma is appropriately loving and critical to all sides in this debate, aware of the strengths, but not (over)hyping the value.   What Heidegger called the basic stance of dasein as Care.  He models Care in this post.  And others would do well to heed what he is saying.  Integral will bumble and stumble along as it has to date until his message gets through in a serious way.

Published in: on July 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm  Comments (4)  
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Post-colonialist theory as opium

So argue-eth Ali Eteraz. Take a look, it’s worth the read.

Post-colonial theory grew out of the experience of de-colonization.

The father figure of post-colonial thought is Frantz Fanon writing in the 50s/60s. Fanon’s argument was that even though the colonialists were leaving the (then called) Third World, the colonial mindset was still implanted with the minds of the formerly colonized and if they did not cleanse their own thinking of the colonial mindset, the people would never be free to choose their own way, validate their own existence/dignity, and lead their own lives. [Fanon it should be said was also a revolutionary and a major apologizer for violence against non-combatants in Algeria. He argued that revolutionary cadres should attack the occupier, force the occupier into a slaughter of innocent civilians thereby galvanizing support for a mass violent uprising].

In Middle Eastern history the name most associated with post-colonialism is of course the late Edward Said (a Christian not a Muslim btw). Said’s Orientalism is one of the most influential texts on the subject (depending on your pov for both good or ill). Said argued that the West defined itself as the Rational Modern in opposition to the “Mystical” Orient. The whole image of the Middle East as exotic, flying carpet rides, the whole thing. Or more darkly as irrational (i.e. the media image in the West of Arab Men as psycho terrorists). Now certainly there’s truth in this, but the question is what next? Where do we go from here? (more…)