The Fourth International Integral Theory Conference, a global gathering of integralists in many different academic disciplines, is a wrap. The event’s theme, “Integral Impacts: Using Integrative Metatheory to Catalyze Effective Change”, seemed to generate a fair amount of excitement and debate. Many photos and comments from participants can be found at the event’s Public Facebook Group.
Striking personal reflections were posted to social media by Mark Forman and (separately) Terry Patten. Because the messages weren’t put squarely in the Internet commons, I won’t quote extensively except to say (1) that Mark observed the “quirky” nature of the gathering and the “social fluidity” of the gathering, and (2) Terry said, “The Integral community is the ecosystem that most nearly meets me, in my dimensionality”, a phrase which I love, and in his post he goes from general impressions to specific reflections on highlights of the gathering, and he closes with information on his paper presentation.
To follow the breadcrumbs of conversation following the conference, check out the blog by Jeremy Johnson, an editor for Reality Sandwich magazine as well as the blog with an integralist pedigree. Johnson has written several posts during the conference an afterward sharing reflections, photos, and illustrations from his perspective. Here are a few highlights from Johnson’s blog, with links so you can read the entire post.
Opening Invocations, Welcoming Address #ITC2015
Blogging from The Cooperage at Sonoma State, Jeremy writes:
I hurried over towards the front and grabbed a chair, immediately noticing the noticeably large plant that Mark Fabionar, the “brain child” behind the evening events at ITC2015, had shrouding his profile. A pomegranate plant? Sure enough.
Many of you know the theme for ITC2015 is “Integral Impacts”, but during the opening invocation tonight, Mark explained what the image of the pomegranate actually meant to him. After leading us through a brief meditation – bringing our attention to the body, the room full of participants, the campus, the hills of Sonoma and their ancient histories, he told us the mythical connotations behind this delicious fruit. Potent yet transformative, the pomegranate beckons further reflections beyond its sweet delicacy. Its juiciness leads us down the dark path of the unconscious; the shadow, and the transformations that lie therein.
A further recognition, then, to have a real live pomegranate plant attending the opening invocation. He raises a vile and announces the pouring of libations for the opening ceremony. We say prayers to the dead. Those who have recently passed, like Roy Bhaskar (keynote speaker for ITC2013), Piaget, Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Alfred North Whitehead, Allan Watts and Bucky Fuller are among the few who are called out. Mark, a self-admitted science fiction fan, asks us to respond to each pouring of water over the pomegranate with “SO SAY WE ALL”. I gladly chant this for every name invoked.
Read the full post.
Karen O’Brien on Integral in Action with Climate Change: #ITC2015 Keynote
I won’t try to summarize Jeremy’s full post, but point you to it instead. There is one brief remark:
Sean Kelly made some remarks about avoiding “despair” by the scientific consensus that there is less and less we can do to avoid severe climate change, and Karen reiterated the fact that these studies, while important and true, don’t take into account the human potential dimension. She suggested that we need people doing the adaptive work to help us through a process of “disequilibrium”, and focus on the possibilities not in the official discourse.
Read the whole post.
Chris Dierkes and Eric Towle: Searching for Centaur, Uprising of the Human Spirit #ITC2015
Jeremy carefully describes the powerful presentations by Dierkes and Towle, and offers some meta-refletions of his own. In part, he says:
What struck me powerfully in this combinatory presentation was the significant macro/micro perspectives Tim and Chris were sharing. While Eric focused on the “meta” approach, that is, a look at the rise and fall of civilizations, cultural evolution, what a “deficient” (Gebserian term) phase of consciousness looks like as it begins to consolidate itself, and how to gain “efficient” forms of thinking and being-in-world in order to empower yourself, Chris looked specifically at the integral movement’s early “Centaur”. Arguably, the Integral Centaur in earlier Wilber works was the “efficient” phase of integral, itself, and the latter Integral Theory? Well, here’s where it gets tricky.
Chris also mentioned during his talk that the Vision-Logic development in Wilber’s later work wasn’t wrong. But something is amiss (willingly admitted to by Sean Hargens and other presenters in ITC2013’s reflective panels looking at the integral shadow). Symptoms point to, as Chris mentions, “a lack of grounding,” a loss of intentionality, and the common accusation of cognitive dissociation. A-political meta mapping while the city of Rome burns.
We also shouldn’t forget that Chris stands alongside Zak Stein’s critique of the “growth to goodness fallacy” (also presented in ITC2013) and Susanne Cook Grueter’s “transcendent hubris” and Bonnitta Roy’s critique of Integral Theory’s “monological use of developmental logics” (Thanks, Bonnitta, for pointing this out in a recent, post-ITC thread).
None of this is to say we need to abandon Wilber’s latter work. I don’t think anyone, including myself, is calling for that. What I would like to see, however, is exactly what he mentioned in his talk: let the “right-brained” integralists have the play they deserve.
Read the whole post.
I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this plea/invitation/injunction to “let the ‘right-brained’ integralists have the play they deserve”. We’ll see!
Corporate Interests, Capitalism and Social Justice: #ITC2015
Jeremy summarizes the much-discussed forum on capitalism featuring Zak Stein and Bonnitta Roy and Zak Stein debating Andrew Johnson and Dr. Michael McElhenie (moderated by Lauren Tenney).
Read the whole post, including Jeremy’s own assessment of who he thinks won.
Based on what is reported in the blog post, I don’t think my own mind on economic philosophy would have been altered by the panel discussion or participant questions. But then that’s expecting too much from one panel! It is wonderful to see lively conversation on the topic brought into the mainstream of the Integral world, and it is good to see the shadow of economic privilege begin to be unmasked.
With appreciation to Jeremy Johnson and everyone who made an effort to bring the world into the Integral conference, and bring the Integral conference into the world. Thank you!