Reading the Magical Letter Page

Until Monday when I begin the discussion of Lingua-U and philosophy, there is another important body of work that requires serious attention and study. It is the field of phonosemantics with a leading voice in the prominent and unconventional linguist Dr. Margaret Magnus.

Magnus has gifted the world with an extensive website on topics that revolutionize the study of language, or ought to, if more linguists were not blinded to the evidence she has compellingly presented. She provides a variety of resources from the scholarly (her entire doctoral dissertation at M.I.T.) to the popular (a series of informative looks at the “magical” properties of the English consonants and more).

I do not dispute her strongest claim: that she has successfully demonstrated the validity of Plato’s “Socratic Hypothesis” regarding the nature of language. This is how she tells her story on the opening page of her website:

I read dictionaries. And I write dictionaries. It was an occupation which seemed initially thrust unfairly upon me by financial necessity, one which over the years I have come to love deeply, one which I now practice fervently at my economic peril. It has taught me to experience words and language quite literally as living beings, as beings who outlive each of us, who are recording within their very selves the patterns of our thoughts, as beings who care a great deal how they are employed. I wander into their dominions ever more deeply moved, ever more faithful that there is after all a reason behind this chaos of experience….

These voyages into the forest of dictionaries have rewarded me with what for me was a major insight into how word semantics works, though, of course, my understanding of the Word continues to evolve daily. I literally begin to feel the words in a different way than I did before, and there’s no doubt in my mind that what I feel actually is there. What I see runs counter in a big way to what most linguists assume about word meaning. The gist of what I see can be stated fairly simply:

The Socratic Hypothesis

Each consonant and vowel in a language has a meaning, in the sense that every word containing that sound has an element of meaning which words not containing that sound do not have. What underlies this sound-meaning is the form of the sound, i.e. its pronunciation – a sound means what it is. For example, to pronounce a stopped consonant [b, d, g, p, t, k], you completely block the flow of air through the mouth. Consequently all stopped sounds involve a barrier of some kind. The nature of that barrier varies depending on whether the sound is voiced [b, d, g] or unvoiced [p, t, k], whether it is labial [b, p], dental [d, t] or velar [g, k], and so forth. This meaning is different from the referent, which is what we normally think of as the meaning of a word. Reference is a separate process from sound-meaning, and is layered on top of it. Reference is less central to word semantics than sound-meaning, although it is much more obvious to the casual observer. This aspect of meaning which is determined by sound lies much closer to what we call the connotation than the denotation. Sound meaning does tend to predispose referents, but does not largely determine them. That is, you can’t predict what a word will refer to based on its sound, but you can predict that a high percentage of words beginning with /b/ in every language will involve explosions, birth and loud noises. You can also predict that if a word referring to a sound begins with /b/, the sound will either begin abruptly or be very loud or usually both. Sound affects meaning in every word in every language. However, because of the way reference interacts with sound-meaning, its effect is not as obvious at first glance in concrete nouns and other words with very inflexible referents. What all the various referents or senses of a word have in common is their sound-meaning. Thus by virtue of its sound, the ‘get’ in ‘get up’ is the very same word to the English-speaking ear as the ‘get’ in ‘get away’, ‘get involved’, ‘get through’, ‘get fat’, ‘get a Lamborghini’. The glue that holds all these senses together is the meaning of the /g/ followed by the meaning of the /e/ followed by the meaning of the /t/. All of this can be and has been verified empirically by simply cataloguing the relationship between sound and referent and taking statistics.

I have come closest to this mysterious encounter with the Word by spending time within speech sounds and their relationship to the meanings of the words which they form. I am not a lone wanderer in this particular forest. I count among my more prominant predecessors none less than the gods!

So you see, I have verified the Socratic Hypothesis for all the English monosyllables in a commercial spelling checker word list. The fact that this test has been carried out on all the words in a well-defined portion of the vocabulary is important, because it constitutes scientific verification of a fact which is very central to the workings of language, and which is not in general acknowledged to be true. If only those words which fit nicely into a pattern are accounted for, you have demonstrated nothing. For example, you may show that lots of ‘gl’ words concern reflected light, but unless you show that all letter combinations are similarly limited and that other letter combinations do not contain a similar percentage of words concerning reflected light, you have demonstrated nothing, and you have no solid foundation from which to go forth and make really general and far-reaching claims about the nature of language. This Socratic Hypothesis could in principle be proven false, but can in fact be verified as true by repeatable experiments, such as those outlined at this Web site. I therefore strongly encourage readers who are at all interested in whether the Socratic Hypothesis is true to check it out for themselves. In addition, in myAnnotated Bibliography, the interested reader can find references to other accounts of comprehensive tests which have been conducted for other languages.

Explore Margaret Magnus’s website.

How does the proof of the Socratic Hypothesis inform my reading of Ken Wilber’s Integral Semiotics and the nature of Lingua-U? We’ll turn to that question next week.

An Integrative Approach To The Holidays

In this week’s podcast, Jeff Salzman tackles topics including the beauty of icicles and his new approach to holiday gift-giving, from an integral vantage point. He writes:

One of the hallmarks of integral thinking is that evolution moves forward by differentiating and integrating. Atoms differentiate into elements and integrate to create molecules. Cells differentiate into muscle, liver, blood, etc. and integrate to become an organism. So it is with culture and consciousness. Ambivalence arises as a muddled mess of knowing too much, and differentiates into its component ideas and feelings, often polar opposites, which are then integrated into a bigger, wiser more flexible view.

As evolutionaries we notice that the holidays evoke a set of negative feelings that hold that religion and materialism are what’s wrong with the world; and they evoke a set of positive feelings that hold that love and generosity are what will save it.

Rather than have to figure out which one is right and which one is wrong, or to live in the approach/aversion ambivalence of one view polluting the other, we realize that the way forward is to see the truth of both views fully in a bigger, more flexible space of awareness that can accommodate contradiction and paradox. “Out of the dimness, opposite equals advance”, wrote Whitman.

The advance Whitman is talking about is into a new synthesis of the polarities, a new realization that takes into account the best of both views and acts accordingly.

So that’s the theory. Here’s the practice, at least the one I’m using to make the holidays make more sense to me this year. As always I want to be part of the fun of giving and receiving gifts, but I don’t want to just buy things for people. I want to enjoy the spirit of love and peace, but I don’t want to be blind to people and critters throughout the world who have neither.

So for many people on my shopping list, I am making a donation to an organization that is doing some good in the world.

Jeff also writes on the movie Interstellar, saying it is a “movie told from all four quadrants” and a “work of integral art”. Read the full article.

I also shared a few thoughts on the movie, and concur completely that it is an outstanding work of integral art. That’s the buzz I’ve seen out on the social media of integralists as well. It’s really something when a Hollywood big-budget blockbuster gets this close to challenging the dominant ethos. You can tell it’s gold when scientific materialists write damning reviews of the movie on science-minded blogs for taking Love too seriously.


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Alethic Coaching: A Course in Critical Realism

Noting that Roy Bhaskar died peacefully at his home so recently, Gary Hawke publicizes five hours of video created earlier this year during the Introduction to Critical Realism project. The project was intended to introduce the three main stages of Critical Realism, established through the Institute of Education.

The videos are currently offered free at the Alethic Coaching website. Hawke introduces them as follows:

At the heart of Alethic Coaching are two powerful truth questioning philosophies, Integral Theory, and Critical Realism. A quick search on YouTube will offer you many links to videos about Integral Theory, but very little about Critical Realism, and I felt that I wanted to change that. I also wanted to address the difficulty that is presupposed in reading Roy’s work. Having spend many hours with Roy listening to him speak, I knew that if I could get a recording of him talking about the stages of Critical Realism it would help the reader.

At the beginning of 2014 I began to develop a project with the founder of Critical Realism, Roy Bhaskar, in which we would hold a number of live video stream classroom events; which would be recorded with the aim of posting out on YouTube.

In May 2014, Roy and I held our first planned event, which was transposed into a video format that could be up loaded to YouTube.

Because the project was an experiment of both the web streaming software and whether it was possible to offer an introduction to Critical Realism over the web, it was decided to offer the event for free.

However, the recordings do take more than one watch and at times can become challenging. For those new to Critical Realism I would recommend, looking though the post “How to Learn Critical Realism” where you will find a comprehensive reading list. I am very excited to have been able to get Critical Realism onto YouTube, and I am please that you are now able to spend time in the company of Roy Bhaskar, as he takes you through his powerful philosophy.

There is now just over 5 hours of teaching, within this series of videos Roy will take you through the three main stages of Critical Realisms, Basic (or Original) Critical Realism, Dialectical Critical Realism, and The Philosophy of metaReality.

Visit Alethic Coaching to view the videos on Critical Realism.

Integral Thinkers, Like Poets, Underacknowledged Visionaries

In “How Has the Social Role of Poetry Changed Since Shelley?” in The New York Times, Adam Kirsch explains a key difference between Romantic poets such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and poets of today. It is the “the imaginative confidence of poets themselves”:

“Shelley was wrong to think that writing poems like ‘Queen Mab’ or ‘Prometheus Unbound’ would bring revolutionary change to England, but his conviction that they would is what allowed him to write the poems in the first place. Today, poets with a grasp of reality must start from the premise that nothing they write will be much read or have much influence on public discourse. A poetry written under such circumstances may have its own virtues, but they will not be the virtues of the Romantics — conceptual boldness, metaphysical reach, the drive to bring religion and politics themselves under the empire of art. As if in recognition of this fact, poets in our time prefer to imagine themselves not as legislators, but as witnesses — those who look on, powerless to chayou thinge the world, but sworn at least to tell the truth about it.”

One thing which hasn’t changed since the Romantics’ day is the lack of much acknowledgement of poetry among the majority of the population, including the folks in power. He writes:

It would be a mistake, then, to think that the social role of poetry has actually changed very much in the last 200 years. Poets were unacknowledged then, by a vast majority of the population, and they are only slightly less acknowledged now. No one in power in 1814 was asking for Shelley’s views on the Congress of Vienna, just as no one in power in 2014 is asking for John Ashbery’s views on climate change.

If you think about it, the social stature of Integral thought is aligned with poets in certain ways. And I would suggest that we can learn a thing of two from the Romantic poets’ boldness of vision.

In a day when poets have ceded the role of “legislators of the world”, any sort of grand epic vision of reality, one might turn to philosophy. But there too the mainstream philosophers of our time seldom make bold grand syntheses which put themselves as arbiters of truth, even people with something to say of Truth itself (by the way, who writes with capital letters these days? where have the neo-Platonists gone?)

No, for grand, bold thinkers who are in a sense similar to the Romantic poets setting themselves forth as “legislators of the world”, you have to turn to Integral thinkers and artists. I am one of them. And I would venture to say that my role within the pantheon of Integral folks mine is that of a more Romantic type than the Rationalistic type.

Continue reading “Integral Thinkers, Like Poets, Underacknowledged Visionaries”

The Evolution Of Tribal Identity

On the most recent edition of The Daily Evolver, Jeff Salzman describes a key difference in tribal identity (Red) at an integral consciousness (Turquoise):

The gay rights movement of the late 20th century has substantially won its two big fights: 1) AIDS, which while not cured is manageable, and 2) social acceptance, with gay marriage now legal in 32 states and a comprehensive Supreme Court ruling expected next summer.

So last weekend was a bit of a lesson for me in the power of tribal identity and the pain of its loss. I have a better understanding of why people in today’s tribal cultures are not willing to give up their identity easily. Those of us who have do so are left with the sense that we have lost something precious. But I don’t wish to have it back any more than I wish to go back to childhood. There are bigger, higher battles to be fought, with comrades that are bound together more by creativity than necessity.

At integral consciousness we begin to be able to create new tribal connections, but this time they are more more memetic than genetic, more organized around ideas than blood relations. We’re able to experience the juice of being deeply bonded to all kinds of people in ways that are not exclusive but expansive.

Read the whole article.

Other topics explored in the podcast include racism, white privilege, and a leftist critique of Obama.


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Kerstin Zohar Tuschik: Unique Self Dharma Goes Mainstream

At the Center for Integral Wisdom (CIW) website, Web-Scholar Zerstin Zohar Tuschik shares her experiences at the recent Success 3.0 Summit, coinitiated by CIW. After dropping the names of many of the most notable preenters, she claims that the summit met its goal of “articulat[ing] a new, transformative vision of conscious living, innovation, and social impact and to create a new definition of Success that can lead humanity into the future.”

The key to the unfolding success story, she says, was the ability of Marc Gafni and others to generate a sort of “second simplicity”. Kerstin writes:

It was gorgeous to see the many ways the Dharma of Unique Self, Eros, Outrageous Love, and World Spirituality, that Dr. Marc Gafni has been articulating and outrageously transmitting for the last several years, has played a role in this amazing happening.

Most of the speakers started to use the 6-word Mantra Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up. Dr. Marc Gafni, Visionary Scholar, Wisdom Teacher, and Co-Founder and President of CIW, brilliantly transmitted these thought forms in his opening speech. He suggested that every generation needs to participate in the evolution of consciousness. And:

“It is our turn. We are here to articulate an ethics of success that is rooted in Outrageous Love. Outrageous Love demands a new vision of success.”

He also introduced one of his key terms, the word Second Simplicity. Second Simplicity is what he calls the Simplicity that comes after Complexity. After having really grasped the complex concepts, we can get to a stage where we can express them in a compellingly simple way–thereby reaching people from all stages of consciousness.

While many of the concepts Marc brought into the space carry a lot of complexity–which became obvious to everyone listening to the basic introduction Ken Wilber gave in his keynote address–Marc transmitted them in a way that people can grasp intuitively without even knowing or understanding the depths of the teaching. And yet, all of the complexity is embedded into his Second Simplicity expression of the teaching….

The words Unique Self and Outrageous Love could be heard all over the Summit, used by speakers and attendees alike.

Read the full article.

Economic Growth As A Moral Imperative

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Note: The following post was originally published on January 16, 2012, on Joe-Perez.com.

Some recent studies have focused attention on the apparent fact that money does not buy happiness (or at least, that happiness tends to “max out” when one’s annual income reaches about $75,000 a year). On the Big Think blog, Will Wilkinson pleads for economic growth as a moral imperative:

…Kahnemann and Deaton have found that while life satisfaction, a judgment about how one’s life is going overall, does continue to rise with income, the quality of subjective experience improves until an annual income of about $75K and then plateaus. They conclude that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness [i.e., subjective experiential quality], and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”

What’s average world income? About $8K per year! The typical experience of a human being on Earth is “low life evaluation and low emotional well-being” due to too little money. How many times does global GDP need to double in order to put the average person at Kahnemann’s $75K hedonic max-out point? Three and change. But life satisfaction ain’t worth nothin’, and it keeps rising. And, of course, rising income doesn’t just correlate with rising happiness, but with better health, greater longevity, more and better education, increased freedom to choose the sort of life one wants, and so on. If it’s imperative to improve the health, welfare, and possibilities of humanity, growth is imperative.

via Why Economic Growth Totally Is Imperative.

If this is about right, then the greatest moral and existential dilemma of our time could be put succinctly: How can we triple global GDP more than three times to maximize universal happiness, health, longevity, education, freedom, and so forth…without destroying the planet for other species or future generations in the process?

If enlightenment means an end to suffering not just on an interior subjective level but in all dimensions of our existence and for all people, then evolution has got some serious work to do.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Integral worldview to our modern discourse is its ability to explain why the solutions offered by the left and right to address global economic inequality are inadequate.

Change must happen not only in collective structures (left) or individual values and behaviors (right), but both together. And the essence of that change is getting out of the way of Love.


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Steve Nation: The Will Is Emerging As A Universal Force

Steve Nation, a writer and speaker on meditation and global issues, observes a high-level pattern arising in world happenings: the emergence of the will as a potent force. It is arising between the wholeness vision (or what this blog calls the “Integral” vision) and oursleves, he writes, in our lives, in our communities, and throughout the world.

The will is a quality of consciousness that is taking on a decidedly new direction. Nation writes:

In the past, the will was often understood in terms of ‘thou shalt not’ and of power over others—maintaining a stiff upper lip in the face of difficulties and repressing anything unpleasant or not understood. We know that repression doesn’t work and that trying to battle on without addressing issues as they arise or without ever questioning what we are doing simply sets up new problems for the future. More often than not, problems and issues are a sign of something needing to be addressed—something that is out of alignment. The deeper will is concerned with purpose and with understanding the role that purpose can play in crafting a fulfilling and meaningful life. It is about fostering a sense of direction and nurturing a realistic sense of future possibilities. ‘Thou shalt’ replaces ‘Thou shalt not.’

In a sense, the will is all about the way in which we as individuals and groups respond to our perception of human need and to our sense of the future. As problems arise in our communities and in the world as a whole, they provide an opportunity to heal, transform, and redeem ancient patterns of separation. As such, the problems can be embraced. In learning about a particular social problem, we can train ourselves to recognize the forces that are causing the problem (forces in the human psyche reflected in economic, social, and cultural dynamics) while at the same time looking for the individuals and groups that are responding to these forces in a meaningful way—using the problem to break through ancient thought forms of division and to nurture love and goodwill in the community, and to empower disadvantaged groups and individuals with a sense of their own dignity and possibilities as human beings.

In the process of responding to the problems of our time something wonderful is happening to human beings. The quality of will is being mobilized as never before. It is happening at the local level in every community on the planet, just as it is happening regionally, nationally, and globally. There is today a vast network of groups of citizens that are applying the will to transform the quality of human relationships. Think of the vitality and purpose of the 350.org movement, or of the mindfulness networks that are emerging in health, healing, and education around the world. Think of the One Campaign fighting extreme poverty with almost 6 million global members. Think of the activities of countless Amnesty International groups throughout the world, or of the countless actions by concerned citizens on the International Day of Peace every September 21st. These are just the tip of the iceberg — we are living at a time when people of concern are becoming willfully engaged in diverse ways to transform the quality of relationships on earth.

There have always been periods in history when forces of goodwill coalesce with an unusual degree of singleminded purpose and focus. In the US for example, there was an extraordinary period during the height of the civil rights struggle when a culture of hatred, lawlessness, and violence was confronted by countless acts of individual and group courage. The anti-apartheid movement (within South Africa and around the world) saw a similar concentration of will. What is different about the will that is emerging today is that it is emerging as a universal force. Millions of people feel themselves to be a part of the One Humanity and the One Earth and feel a measure of personal responsibility and engagement in building a culture and civilization that reflects this new awareness. The good will is arising amongst individuals across the face of the globe, just as it is arising in groups and movements in every field of activity. There is an awareness of a common purpose that links community development groups with human rights groups, those working for the empowerment of women with groups targeting the need for nutritious food, and the massive global movement calling for new economic and political structures in response to the challenges of climate change. We are witnessing a quiet and steady mobilization of the will in human affairs.

Read the whole article in Kosmos Journal.

Continue reading “Steve Nation: The Will Is Emerging As A Universal Force”

It’s Insane To Believe There Is No Truth

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By Joe Perez

Note: The following post was originally published on February 2, 2012, on Joe-Perez.com, and has been modified on this date.

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to have had a good education in philosophy, theology, comparative religion, psychology and sociology of religion, and so on. This has given me the chance to see how the brightest minds, past and present, have addressed the fundamental question in philosophy: “How am I to live?”

Those smart people haven’t always agreed. In fact, the study of these subjects in college is pretty much an exercise in learning the different schools of thought and how to argue one side against another. In ethics, there are consequentialists and Kantians. In psychoanalysis, there are Freudians and Jungians. And then there are about a million different views of religion.

It wasn’t really until over a decade after I finished my formal study of religion that I encountered the work of the philosopher, psychological theorist, and mystic Ken Wilber. His work was remarkably different because he didn’t care less how exactly one thinker disagreed with another thinker. In a sense, he was only really interested in what they had in common. He asked how they were looking at the world in such a way that he could understand that in a way they weren’t really disagreeing? He saw that they were only talking past each other, comparing apples to oranges.

For Ken Wilber as I interpret him, there really is something that you might as well call Truth with a capital “T,” to distinguish it from all of the various perspectives that people have about truth. He doesn’t think we ever really are able to talk about Truth or grasp it intellectually without diminishing it to truth with the lower-case “t.” There is Truth. It is unqualified only in the unmanifest realm. And then there are perspectives on Truth. And we are always, everywhere, in the manifest order, taking a perspective.

Continue reading “It’s Insane To Believe There Is No Truth”

Remembering It All

Today is Canada’s Remembrance Day, and this year they are paying special tribute to two fallen soldiers: Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. (Pictured above: a picture of Canadians at war memorials posted by CTV News).

Marilyn Hamilton offers an Integral spin on the holiday in “Remembering Lives and ALL LIFE”, in which she says:

Remembrance Day has traditionally commemorated human life lost in defense of our freedoms. We long for Peace.

We have grown Traditional Peace – between tribes – into Pre-Modern Peace – between worldviews. From there we have grown Modern Peace – between economies into Post-Modern Peace – between nations. And now that we see ourselves from space, without national boundaries, we have grown into an era of Post-Post Modern Peace – aspiring to span across One Earth.

And as we view Peace through a transglobal lens, is it now time to consider an evolution of Peace that transcends our species? Are we being called to make peace with all other the species who co-exist with us on this planet? A growing group are calling our attention to eradicate what they call ecocide – the loss of ecological systems because of human actions.

Read the whole post.

Yes, the loss of ecological systems and countless species on the Earth is a staggering tragedy. And who takes a day to remember the pig-footed bandicoot, the darling downs hopping mouse, or the pink-headed duck?

Although Marilyn uses the the word “transglobal” rather than Integral, for this blog’s purposes we are speaking alike. In our words, she is calling for the evolution of a national holiday from one with an Amber intent and function to one which is grounded in a worldcentric view (Green, Teal, or Turquoise).