Not Coloring In Black And White. A Response to Andy Smith.


In response to “Put Away Your Crayons Children, A Response to Joe Perez” by Andy Smith at Integral World:

I’m just now responding, a bit late (sorry). Briefly.

1. On Science: I will grant science 100% validity for answering all the questions about reality that it is designed and intended and capable of answering, and 0% validity for answering philosophical and spiritual questions about the nature of reality. Scientism, and I guess you are putting yourself in this category as a believer in the cult of scientism, thinks science has 100% validity for answering all questions be they of scientific, philosophical, or spiritual nature. That’s why when Wilber says Eros or Spirit gives us a “spiritual explanation” you and Frank ignore “spiritual” and read “scientific” into it, because that’s all you see.

Integral includes science for what it can do, not for what its dogmatic cultic worshipers want it to do. As one transcends instrumental rationality, limited to the five senses and instrumental extensions of them, one engages the mind in more self-reflexive activities, looking beyond sense data to inner and outer structures of things on a more subtle level, and it is from such structualist research that levels of consciousness appear. That you and Frank Visser haven’t seen such structures means that you haven’t really looked, not that they do not exist. The problem isn’t that people who have seen structures of consciousness are “by-passing” rationality, the problem is that you haven’t been empirical and analytical enough.

2. On Wilber’s Critics: As I have said, I think it is regrettable that Wilber’s students didn’t pick up the slack and engage with Frank’s cabal of IW contributors when Wilber bowed out after the Earpy affair. I think it was a missed opportunity for Integral and it’s never too late. Perhaps one of these days Wilber or another one of his students will tackle the accumulated list of good arguments purported to exist which refute Wilber’s philosophy. But why wait? All of these dozens of anti-Wilber critics could get the ball rolling through debate with each other about which of these criticisms are actually valid and which aren’t. Since they all believe in Reason and none have fallen victim to cultic enthusiasm, this should be easy for them. They could vet them, agree on the best ones — the ones with consensus — and submit a list of them to Wilber for response. I would support their petition, as would a ton of other integralists. I doubt that will happen though because most of Wilber’s IW critics are probably not so much interested in contributing to the development of the Integral worldview as in expressing why it doesn’t resonate with their preconceived notions of things and then moving on. They’re hit-and-run artists whose worldview never even got close to being Integral (except the good ones).

3. On Civility: No, I don’t have a double standard regarding Ken being rude in one blog post and IW occasionally publishing articles equally rude or worse, if there’s a half-way decent reason for it. I don’t think it’s a big deal either way. But Frank and other poor souls whose feelings got hurt just keep whining about Earpy even 12 years later, and I get really fucking tired of listening to them bitch about it.

Credit: Rido81/
4. Crybabies: Now you’re not being generous to me, no big surprise there. But let me clarify. No socio-political movement or philosophical school of thought or spiritual enterprise can survive by spending all of its time responding to critics and none of it building, constructing, and enacting positive visions going forward. How much time should it devote to rebutting critics? Depends. Do those critics demonstrate the capacity to understand and reframe the integralist’s original POV? Hardly ever. Do they share common Integral values, such that their fruitful cooperation could be valuable? Not really. So responding to lame and not-so-lame critics is probably not worth more than 10% or 20% of an integralist’s time, for sure. Otherwise the movement stalls. The fight is lost. The movement’s aim is defeated. And in case anyone hasn’t noticed, for the past decade it has often seemed at least to some of us that the movement’s success is in jeopardy. That’s because it’s a “baby”. That’s all. Every movement has once before been a baby. You think I’m pleading for special treatment, but I didn’t say you can’t yell or scream at the baby or shake it or bury it in the woods (but human decency does have some limits, doesn’t it?). Integralists ought to feed the baby first, give it love and attention, but we also have to change the shitty diapers (i.e., excrete the critics and criticisms who haven’t contributed healthfully and helpfully). We can’t forget to change the shitty diapers, and maybe that’s where Ken Wilber went wrong by refusing to create a process whereby even the bad critics can get some sort of acknowledgement.

5. Developmental Assessments: I don’t think you’ve said anything here of a serious nature to challenge the scientific validity of these tests for their intended purpose, but thank you for sharing your slapdash opinions (mini conspiracy theories?) about Cook-Greuter’s secret greedy motivations or O’Fallon’s secret plan to sneak Wilberian Philosophy in her methodology and so forth. I will grant you that no assessment is perfect and that they do cost a lot right now, but that’s no reason integralists in professional roles ought to be excused from taking them and contributing to the evolution of these methodologies. Frank should do so not — as you misinterpret me to say — because it will settle a debate between us about scientific ideas, but because he owes it to the Integral community to uphold high professional standards appropriate for being the publisher of such a prominent magazine. That he apparently won’t do so is sad but unsurprising. He’s afraid that they’ll confirm what people say about him. But by saying he won’t look at the empirical evidence about himself according to the best available scientific methods, he just confirms his critics who say that he is a flatland orange thinker with some unhealthy green thrown in to boot.

6. Turquoise Facts. Re: “Give me an example of a turquoise fact that you can see, but someone at green can’t see.” Let’s keep it simple. Ken Wilber’s 20 Tenets of Holons: an example of a Turquoise fact. Now it may be that some of these need refinement, but overall one needs to have a pretty high level of cognitive complexity combined with a holistic worldview to make sense of it. What’s more, these aren’t the only 20 ways of looking at holonic tenets; they are one way of constructing meaning in a universe of myriad constructs. (I’ve written about the possibility of 30 tenets, for instance.) These Turquoise facts provide orienting constructs for developing Integral Theory, which is extremely useful — see any of a zillion sources I could cite. So what of it? I’ve done what you asked, but I sense you still won’t be satisfied. I’m afraid you’ve given me no reason to think your worldview is any more complex than Visser’s — probably orange — and similarly infused with the ideology of scientism. You think I’m only questioning your values, and that’s part of it. I also just think your life’s experience and mental maps are limited to what has worked for you as a scientist and you universalize those perspectives and values as the only valid ones, and that’s not where I’m coming from. You see the world in black and white (in refrigerator magnet letters?), and I proudly color with crayolas (and a little glitter), ha ha. Glad you have a sense of humor and hope you’ve appreciated mine.

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