On the Integral Agape forum, D.T. asks:

Would you say that a Green worldview is the first stage where people start to question our fundamental axioms of belief? This makes sense to me because in my conversations with more staunchly rationalist thinkers, I’ve found that (after some discussion) even though they’d admit that certain axioms have no actual evidence to support them, they blow off this fact and claim it’s “just common sense” or “there is no other plausible assumption,” etc.

I also wonder if the phenomenon of Green nihilism might occur once (after years of deconstruction) a person hits philosophical bedrock and deconstructs most, if not all, of their fundamental axioms. With no where left to stand intellectually, philosophically, or spiritually, it’s easy to see why a person would come to the conclusion that “life has no meaning.”

If this happens to be a decently accurate description, I’m guessing that Teal might mark the shift from perceiving philosophical uncertainty as an existential threat, to seeing philosophical uncertainty as a near-infinite potential. So that would be why Teal seems to be the first stage where people regularly start playing with fundamental axioms in a creative fashion.

If anyone is interested, I would love to hear your thoughts.

I respond:

At Systemic-Mind, many postmodern thinkers and evolutionaries following in Nietzsche’s footsteps were only attracted to his pessimism towards reason and values, and not his reconstruction of such based on life and eternal return. Nihilism at Systemic-Mind, I think, is related to the /sh/ energy and part of the /eh/ vowel and /i/ vowel, basically a congealing together of all the Mind’s deconstructive potential: the esteem-annihilating feeling of SHame, the need to eliminate SHit from the body, the destructive side of SHiva, the SHedding of one’s skin and beliefs, the notion that reality is a hollow SHell, the need to SHuck and SHun and SHoo away that which is upsetting in any way, the academic’s fondness for deconstruk-SHUN, identifying with the SHadow rather than the self, and … hugely … finding in reality only SHunyataa, nothingness, non-existence.

I could give you a by-the-book response out of the Wilberian playbook, but in the spirit of giving you more than you asked for…

I think there’s a lot of confusion about “nihilism” and the levels out there. Nietzsche is often considered the template for nihilism (at least by postmodernity’s critics), but he actually stepped into the abyss and found there the principle of affirming life and the eternal return of the same. So he wasn’t strictly a nihilist. In fact, he wasn’t even “green” as we use the term; he was probably Construct-Aware (early Turquoise) and maybe even construct-generative (late Turquoise at least).

The reason Nietzsche gets tagged with the nihilist label a lot (qua the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is “Penetrating the façades buttressing convictions, the nihilist discovers that all values are baseless and that reason is impotent.”), but this is basically a belief that could happen at *any* post-Diligent-Mind (orange) level starting with Green and so on. So yes I think you could have nihilists at any second-tier or third-tier level who could be identified by an exaggerated pessimism about reason and morality than is warranted by a healthy, more balanced POV available at that level.

No wonder Green gets a reputation for nihilism in Integral philosophy! It has to navigate arguably the most difficult and perilous passages in the entire realm of human experience. But it doesn’t need to dwell in an exaggerated fashion on the negativity (that’s how it gets dysfunctional). There is an affirmative way of passing through /sh/, which I have written about multiple times on my blog in recent weeks. There is the alternate path of identifying with ESSENCE and ESTEEM instead of shame, SHINING and POLISHING rather than wading in shit, CHIVALRY rather than moral degradation, the positive masculine side of SHIVA, the divine feminine in SHEKHINAH and SHAKTI and SHIJIA (the Chinese name for Buddha), the triple-leafed SHAMROCK as opposed to merely the shadow (no time to explain), the SHOWER to clean off shit and stain, and EDUCATION as opposed to annihilating forms of shunyataa. In short, one must adopt the path of the spiritual warrior, SHAMBHALA.

So I would not want to say that Green is nihilistic which is remedied by Teal. In my model, Green and Teal are early and late Systemic-Mind and ought not be strictly separated. If anything, early Teal is where the deep nihilism happens, not late Green. What is true is that if Green is healthy going into Teal, then Teal will get easier. Maybe if Green was unhealthy going into Teal, then it will grab onto Teal’s nature (embodying, empathizing, enfolding, encluding, enacting, and zhoosing, etc.) and hail it as the savior. It is true that Teal can rebuild what was left behind, but not if it was disowned or destroyed (unfortunately that is gone for good, making the passage forward unbelievably more difficult). But if /sh/ was navigated with exaggerated pessimism, then Teal cannot get hold (and if it does, it will likely be a warped version of Teal). The best response to nihilism, if it happened at Green, is basically to remedy the distorted apprehension of the /sh/ passage, giving a healthier, more appropriate weighting of construk-SHUN relative to deconstruk-SHUN at “The Letter of Shunting”.

I hope that answers your question somewhat, from my perspective. Remember, be weary about identifying nihilism too much with any one developmental level. Early postmodernism is just one form of it. The way you described nihilism you could be talking about any of its forms, including the Abyss at the transition between Teal and Turquoise, when mid-postmodernism opens into more grave or grand discoveries…

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