What are the objectives of metaphysics?

In my view (and in my own work), metaphysics has the following central objectives:

1. Understanding and defining the nature of being and existence, inclusive of primary causal relationships (i.e. between subjects, objects, what existed before, etc.).

2. Appreciating and describing the interactions of consciousness with being and existence, the interpenetration of being and knowing, and the modalities of spacetime within which such interactions take place.

3. Differentiating categories and conditions of truth. For example, the universal from the particular, the absolute or immutable from the contingent, the eternal from the emergent, etc.

4. Differentiating all such metaphysical conceptions from “what actually is” (as an acceptance of human limitations), or iteratively refining those conceptions to integrate new observations and evidences.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-objectives-of-metaphysics/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Can an enlightened being feel pride?

LOL. Not if they want to remain enlightened, engage the world around them from an awakened state…or operationalize their insight. Pride indicates regression. I suppose it can and does arise in some vulnerable context (beings being beings), but it won’t have any staying power — there is nothing for it to latch onto. The moment the ego is invoked to be deliberately fed with pride, the I/Me/Mine rises up to obscure the unadorned reality that initially attenuated it. So perhaps we could say this is a case of greater/lesser, rather than either/or. But the lessening can be fairly complete, as a matter of consequential maturation. We might even say that experiencing pride is a good barometer of that maturation process.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Can-an-enlightened-being-feel-pride/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What disagreement do you have with any of John Searles' major philosophical positions?

From what I’ve read, I probably have a 65/35 relationship with Searle’s work: 65% in agreement, 35% in disagreement. This hasn’t always been the case, as I initially found his naturalism and propensity to embrace “the myth of the given” (Sellars) — and then declare this to be “rational” when it is just another form of bias — rubbed me the wrong way. But the more I read, the more agreement I found. Here are examples of some current positions:

1. Disagreement with his intentionality or representational provision for mental states: desire can be just as amorphous and undirected as anxiety, for example. Similarly, non-conscious mentations are critical…and likely both vast and substantive supportive structures for consciousness…so I disagree with Searle’s seeming dismissal of anything that isn’t destined “to become conscious” — that is, directed or representational.

2. Agreement with mind being a biologically dependent phenomenon — up to a point. While his criticisms of AI resonate with my own views, I disagree that that there are no other, nonbiological structures in play for human beings; for example, transpersonal and transcendent ones.

3. Agreement with the importance of indeterminism in consciousness and free will…though I haven’t fully bought into quantum consciousness as a model yet (I just find it intriguing).

4. Agreement with Searle’s views about direct perception (of things-in-themselves), but I have arrived there differently, going beyond Searle’s subjectivity and biological dependencies, and instead making allowance for spiritual or mystical perception-cognition (gnosis).

5. Agreement — on the whole — with his proposed interplay of mentation, intentions, language and collective (institutional) reality. Brilliant stuff. Again, though, I would say “there is more;” for example, that there is intrinsic morality that is non-institutional.

I discuss many of my own views on these topics in my books, particularly Memory : Self (available here for perusal: Integral Lifework, Memory : Self, The_Goldilocks_Zone_of_Integral_Liberty, Sector Theory 1.0 – Todd's Take on Epistemology, etc.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-disagreement-do-you-have-with-any-of-John-Searles-major-philosophical-positions/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is there a necessary connection between meditation and morality? Is enlightenment linked to goodness? Is there a possibility that an enlightened person still do bad things?

A difficult question to answer — because there isn’t really a universal or absolute correlation between any of the events, qualities or outcomes described in the question. The answer to all three is really: “Sometimes.” Sometimes, with the right kind of meditation, for a person who is receptive and genuine in their intentions, morality is nudged in a more mature direction by meditation alone. In my Integral Lifework system, however, most often meditative practice would only address one or two of thirteen dimensions that require our attention, care and nurturing — and without engaging all the other dimensions as well, moral growth is a lot less likely. And even then, there will still be many moments of choice when a person must intend to grow, change and integrate their transformational experiences — rather than ignore, reject or suppress them (which can indeed happen) — so that moral maturity is emergent. In the same way, a person’s awakening to unitive consciousness/love-consciousness will sometimes inspire them to be kinder and more considerate of others as an organic consequence — to, in effect, develop skillfulness in their compassion — and sometimes, depending on their inherent character, require more deliberate cultivation. But here again there will be choices about whether an intentionality anchored in “the good of All” is acceptable, embraceable, or actualizeable. Again a person’s native propensities inform what is most likely: are they naturally prosocial? Do they have a mental illness? Are they perceptive? On the autism spectrum? Abused as a child? There are a lot of factors in play, and consistent focus over time is another hurdle in this regard. Once again multiple dimensions of a person come into play. But very often, at each stage in the processes of interior development and exterior operationalization, if a person turns away from the difficult realizations they are facing, they sometimes can and do act out in destructive ways towards themselves or others. So at any point along their journey, the option to drop out, act out, or backslide is always present — and usually less inadvertent that previously, because awareness and awakeness has increased. Here again, though, a choice. Over and over…so many choices. In my experience, most folks (myself included) will shy away from embracing really difficult ahas at one point or other…delaying or denying…and that itself can lead to difficult periods in which all three aspects of the question seem like a disconnected or arbitrary struggle — with lots of negative consequences. But…well…this only sometimes becomes a serious derailment or journey’s end.

My 2 cents.

How is fascism created from "capitalism in decline"?

Fascism is created from capitalism in decline via the following mechanisms:

1. Long-term decrease in real wages (i.e. loss of buying power, social status, etc.). Over time, it is inevitable that increased efficiencies, mass production and the search for cheaper labor and natural resources are exhausted — even as profit continues to be maximized at the same time — result in workers receiving less and less in real wages. And that is exactly what has happened in the U.S. since about 1972 — even as GDP and per capita productivity increased during that period, all that wealth went to the wealthiest owner-shareholders, and never “trickled down” to anyone else.

2. Loss of economic mobility. As income inequality expands, economic mobility decreases for the majority of a given population. So while they still are working just as hard (or even harder), the opportunities for advancement or even basic financial security evaporate.

3. Fewer jobs, and lower quality jobs. In order to fuel economic growth, the consumer base must expand as production costs shrink. This creates an ever-widening capture of cheap labor and resources, and an ever-enlarging global marketshare. Jobs must of necessity either be automated or exported away from affluent countries. Innovation can sometimes fill the job gap, but usually only for short periods.

4. A resulting frustration among formerly affluent populations. Factors 1–3 lead to increasing dissatisfaction and frustration among groups that had once held the most political, social and cultural capital. They become increasingly angry that the promise of economic freedoms and opportunities — and the cultural prestige — once afforded them has evaporated. But beyond that, there is real suffering as poverty begins to take root, and especially when yet another “false promise” in the form of increasing and inescapable debt adds fuel to resentments.

5. Xenophobic scapegoating and nationalistic romanticism. Someone has to pay for this loss of status, loss of affluence, and the snowball effect of failed promises. It could be anyone…and “big bad government” is a frequent target…but it is much easier and more concrete to scapegoat a powerless, vulnerable or “foreign” group than to rail agains more abstract institutions. Political scapegoating can, after all, backfire when half of the population is the group being targeted as scapegoats — they can rise up and exercise a dominant political will. But poor immigrants or helpless refugees fleeing violent oppression are much easier to villainize — especially when they are tarred and feathered as “attacking” a proud national heritage. It does not matter that that national heritage is being viewed through rose-colored distortions…only that it is being attacked by “Them.”

My 2 cents.

What is existential phenomenology?

My understanding of existential phenomenology is that it examines the synthesis between and among experience, perception, somatic knowledge, cognition and being. If we say that “experience = being, and being = experience” then what mitigates these equivalences? What role does consciousness or intentionality play? How much of this mitigation is reflexive, reactive or representational, and what might be preestablished, intrinsic or non-semiotic? Is there a way to perceive or conceive of “something -as-it-is” in its a bare, unornamented phenomenological ground? Or is everything always subjective or intersubjective? Is there a way to transcend (or burrow beneath) subject-object relations entirely? How does all of this impact experience and being? And so on. IMO existential phenomenology attempts to explore such questions with an eye towards an emergent gestalt, so it tends to conflict with more analytical traditions. I would even go so far as to say the approach suggests that nondiscursive, noncontextual and ineffable experiences have a useful place in all such questions and relationships; thus, for me at least, it helps provide a meaningful linkage between existentialism and mysticism.

My 2 cents.

What is Max Stirner's philosophy?


Okay...people write entire dissertations on topics like this…so trying to shoehorn Stirner’s version of egoism into a brief post is…well, it’s pretty daunting, and likely pretty irresponsible as well. Be that as it may, I’ll offer some avenues of further study to explore a bigger picture of Stirner’s thought field after attempting a brief scatterplot.

With that caveat here’s a ridiculous oversimplification of Stirner: Human beings will maximize their autonomy by not subjugating their thoughts or will to anything or anyone. That’s pretty much the core assumption behind most of Stirner’s work as I interpret it. But this isn’t nihilistic bravado, moral relativism, “doing whatever you want,” or even pursuing rational self-interest — it is, more accurately, self-mastery via unfettered individualism.

There is an important contrast here to consider, and that is what Stirner saw as cultural forces and individual habits that he believed to be historically destructive to individual autonomy. Things like unquestioning conformance and groupthink, institutional or cultural conditioning, obsessive individual appetites, rigid rules and codes uniformly imposed upon members of a family, workplace, religion or society…and so on. Stirner saw these forces — and I think rightly so — as oppressive and coercive. And in response, he asserted that real “freedom” could only be achieved by rejecting such external and internal impositions.

Now here’s the thing about this message: it has validity, up to a point. In behavioral terms we could say such a reaction is even a necessary stage of development. Adolescent rebellion against familial and societal expectations can lead to a healthy and productive process of individuation. And before that, during early childhood, the emergence of the distinct individual ego seems an important process that differentiates I/Me/Mine from one’s parents and siblings. So as points of departure — as iterations of personal will in new contexts — these are helpful “egoic” events. But to be forever “stuck” in such a state…well, that becomes problematic. In the context of any civil society beyond a ruggedly individualist Wild West, for example, it actually becomes completely unworkable. Unfortunately, because certain cultures (the U.S. in particular) celebrate this type of individualism (or “atomism”), and mistakenly conflate it with personal sovereignty and liberty, it has been perpetuated as such. Further, Stirner’s projection of personal ego into property seems to reinforce a very individualistic flavor of economic materialism (again, seemingly quite prevalent in the U.S.).

The rather disastrous result of such memes is that right-leaning Libertarians, devotees of Ayn Rand, neoliberal market fundamentalists, and individualist anarchists (again, mainly in the U.S.) often get “stuck” in this terrible-twos/adolescent twilight. They do not realize that there are many, many more stages of ego development beyond these initial assertions of personal will. And that, in fact, ego must eventually attenuate to facilitate prosocial cohesion, and ultimately be relinquished altogether to evolve the greater good. (To appreciate why either of these is the case, I can provide additional resources or answer questions upon request). In a way, Stirner’s egoism is a sort of Peter Pan Syndrome where adherents reject even the most temporary, voluntary or conditional personal subjugation in order to defend their “right” to a particular flavor of individualistic freedom. At a certain point, this tendency becomes more than just willful immaturity…it devolves into a sort of irrational psychosis. (In fact, I think we are witnessing exactly this in Donald Trump’s antics as POTUS.)

That said, to really appreciate the specifics of Stirner’s arguments, we would need to study Hegel, Fichte, Feuerbach, Spinoza and Bauer — and all of these within an envelope of the Kantian lexicon. Only then will we grok what Stirner is aiming for with his “ownness” and his navigation of subject, substance, particularity, universality, and so on. So that is where I would begin for further study. This will help us understand the “why” of Stirner’s quest — but, unfortunately, it may not fully justify his conclusions.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-Max-Stirners-philosophy/answer/T-Collins-Logan

The dharma seems to unfold by itself in an awakened mind. What do you think?


Perhaps the critical modifier in this question is “seems.”

It seems as though most everything is mainly “seeming” to us humans. That seems to be our lot — with our limited perceptions and often predictable cognitive and emotional patterns. Further, it seems there is a differentiation between “what seems,” and “what is,” so that we value them differently.

At the same time, we also have tremendous capacity to project our conclusions about “what seems” onto our conceptions about “what is” and vice versa, and there is ongoing debate about whether such projection actually changes “what is,” or is just more seeming.

From another perspective, is this “seeming” actually an undifferentiated part of “what is,” or is it somehow independent from it? Some have concluded that both of these — as well as the questions evoked by the relationship — are constructs abstracted from the ultimate ground from which all of them have arisen, so that the constructs may be different in character or quality, but not in substance.

But can “what is” actually be perceived in an unadorned way, via some special faculty of our consciousness? And can our consciousness then encounter the ultimate ground beyond both “what is” and “what seems?”

If we define “awakening” as being somehow involved in these patterns of discovery, revelation and exploration, then perhaps we could also say that echoes or representations of the dharma filter into this process as a perceived “unfolding.” This might be our subjective experience of our consciousness brushing up against an ultimate ground, and of our hearts, minds and being effectively undergoing a transformative influence — into a more active embodying of those echoes and representations. Or…we could simply be recognizing how we have always been part of the dharma, with nothing really changing except our awareness.

But is our perception accurate in either case? Or is it just more “seeming?” Are we imitating dharma, becoming part of dharma, recognizing the imminence of dharma within and without, reinforcing an invented “dharma construct,” or something else…? Have we clarified an important differentiation, or relinquished that differentiation in our acquiescence? Have we “arrived” somewhere, or have we simply “let go?” Have we created and rationalized a more elaborate set of constructs, or have all constructs been annihilated in the crucible of unadorned perception?

From Quora https://www.quora.com/The-dharma-seems-to-unfold-by-itself-in-an-awakened-mind-What-do-you-think/answer/T-Collins-Logan

The Venus Project: What do people think about the Resource Based Economy predicted by Jacques Fresco?

I see lots of encouraging intentions - in fact I was delighted to find intersections in some of Fresco's work and my own - but I also encountered quite a few problems with Fresco's proposals.

The main problematic issues as I see them:


(I)

Fresco frequently alludes to the idea that we can't solve resource scarcity issues using the same old tools that got us into the current mess. Unfortunately, he does not approach technology and science with exactly the same rigor, instead elevating them to a vaunted "solution"s status rather than acknowledging that they are really inherent to many of the challenges in modernity. Alas, this is magical thinking.

Breaking this down...As a former IT expert with some twenty years of experience with complex computing technologies, I would say that relying on computing and technology to manage production and resource allocation is extremely foolish. Technological determinism - or "technology as panacea" in this case - is a consequence of not knowing how fragile and easily disrupted technological systems inherently are, especially as they increase in complexity. A la Kurzweil and others, it's become a bit of religious conviction that some sort of tipping point "is bound to occur" that frees humanity of its labors and existential challenges. From the perspective of someone who has spent nearly half of his life installing, building, programing and maintaining all manor of technology-dependent "cybernetic solutions" to complex problems, I'm here to tell you it simply will not work. Certainly not in our lifetime...and probably not ever. It is instead a romantic religious conviction cradled in a love of science fiction...and nothing more. Well, actually, it is something more...because such reliance (on any scale) inevitably leads to abrupt and calamitous unintended consequences.

Along the same lines, the scientific method should certainly be part of a larger toolbox in problem-solving...but we shouldn't place it on a pedestal. It has been much too easy to "capture" scientific research and decision-making and processes with opposing values sets, so that science can be used to justify completely different conclusions or reinforce preexisting biases. This is in large part because - in the same spirit as Fresco - many folks romanticize "logical" deductive reasoning, imagining that it is somehow independent of emotions, interpersonal relationships, spiritual perceptions, cultural conditioning, or indeed somatic patterns and proclivities. But it isn't - reason is one small part of a larger organism we call "consciousness." The reductionism inherent to Fresco's investment in science is just a problematic as relying solely on reading pigeon entrails - it excludes too much of the human experience. To appreciate what I'm alluding to, consider reading my essays on Sector Theory and Managing Complexity.

Which leads to the next point...


(II)

Values hierarchies are a reflection of moral development; without specific attention to how we mature our ethical frameworks individually and collectively, there will be no stable solutions available to replace the current self-destructive maelstrom. Human beings will undermine any and all systems whenever their values diverge from it. This is a central consideration of my own Level 7 proposals, and unless I’ve missed something, Fresco seems to rather polyannishly sidestep it (i.e. saying instead that it “will emerge naturally” as resource abundance is actualized - see Values | The Venus Project). I don’t entirely disagree with his sentiment here, but I also think moral development itself should be a more consciously and carefully considered facet of any effective proposal.


(III)

There is very little acknowledgement of the current population problem in the Venus Project. Our planet actually can't sustain the Earth's current population at developed countries' consumption levels - even if we "build everything to last" and maximize the efficiency of production as Fresco proposes - and certainly not for the population projected over the next hundred years. Sorry...it's just not possible. So reducing population has to be part of the mix...which again invokes issue #2 above. It's also a fundamental test of Fresco's target to produce "only what is needed;" folks routinely confuse needs and wants for all sorts of complex psychosocial reasons. Until families around the globe embrace the reality that it is immoral and reckless to have more than one or two children, all proposed systems will inevitable be under tremendous pressure to stratify the "haves" and "have-nots," simply out of practical necessity. Fresco tries to brush such concerns aside with his conviction that people will change their minds when presented with "scientific proof" of what they need...but again, this is more evidence of romantic idealism.

With these prominent exceptions, I actually agree with much of what Fresco says about property, currency, democracy, pilot projects and so forth. I just have different ways to address the same challenges. And that raises one last critical concern: the distributed and diffused nature of human social function. I think one reason many libertarian socialist proposals encourage reliance on community-level organization is because that is where humans are most comfortable - their circle of relationships can only be so big, and their engagement in self-governance and indeed productive activities can only extend as far as our wiring for emotional and social intersubjectivity. This sidestepping of subsidiarity is a major flaw in Fresco's understanding of human beings, which frankly presents to me a bit like how someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder might see the world; again, it misjudges the relationship between moral maturity and prosocial choices.

(See my Level 7 website for further discussion of many of the issues alluded to above….)

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/The-Venus-Project-What-do-people-think-about-the-Resource-Based-Economy-predicted-by-Jacques-Fresco/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Do you believe synthetic a priori knowledge exists? Why or why not?

Well I think this question touches on what has been a demonstrably unresolvable question. Even as Kant’s initial analytic–synthetic dichotomy has morphed over time - sometimes into divergent subsets, sometimes entirely contested or negated - our fundamental query just scurries deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. So even as I explain my position, it’s going to become obvious that my position is - like all others in this arena IMO - essentially indefensible. Be that as it may, here is my own multidialectical approach to the question, which is necessarily grounded in ALL of the following statements sharing the same neutral holding space:

1. Nearly all experience is abstracted/mediated by perception-cognition, which is in turn conditioned and constrained by conceptual enculturation and language…unless and until these contexts are stripped away and noumenon can be apprehended directly.

2. Nondiscursive and non-sensible insight can be both intuited and reasoned out, while either remaining entirely aloof from experiential validation and sensory perceptions, or even held in contradiction to them.

3. Peak experiences of gnosis — as a consequence of the disciplined stripping-away of reflexive knowledge and sensorial reactivity — can likewise introduce entirely new “ahas” that are not linguistically or conceptually anchored or contextualized, but nevertheless can be experientially validated.

4. The semantic containers of reason are infinitely maleable, so that the same information can have entirely different meanings…without end.

5. Emotional, spiritual, somatic, experiential and analytical contributions to rational extrapolations are all equally necessary, valid and in fact interdependent.

6. Both a priori and a posteriori assertions or propositions can be false, incomplete, or subject to revision — in other words, both can be inaccurate or unreliable.

Therefore, synthetic a priori knowledge exists…but we cannot be certain if it exists or operates independently of these factors, faculties and conditions; is a consequence of their multidialectical synthesis; is a hallmark of the creativity of consciousness — or an indication of a collective unconscious; or is a gift from the gods. We can, however, apprehend it via intellectual intuition…which is of course something that Kant (rather ironically?) rejected, while other philosophers did not.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Do-you-believe-synthetic-a-priori-knowledge-exists-Why-or-why-not/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Does libertarianism lead to social darwinism?

I’m left-libertarian so I’m not a fan of Mises or anarcho-capitalism. In fact I think capitalism, private property and unregulated market environments are pretty destructive to civil society on the whole, and individual liberty in particular. But that’s another discussion. Because this question seems to be targeting right-libertarian thinking, it’s only fair for me to say I’m answering from a perspective that is critical of that end of the libertarian spectrum….

So to answer this question as amended to read “right-libertarianism:” Yes, absolutely right-libertarianism promotes a form of social darwinism. The reason is that right-libertarianism celebrates the profit motive, which inevitably encourages the following selective characteristics:

1. The lowest-common-denominator of I/Me/Mine moral function, where individualistic economic materialism subjugates prosocial traits to grubby egotism and acquisitiveness.

2. The toddlerization of consumers into perpetual dependence on unhealthy commercial products and services.

3. De facto wage-slavery (albeit contractual and voluntary) that likewise disrupts self-sufficiency and personal growth.

4. Multi-generationally amplified cognitive stupefaction via inherited concentrations of private property and wealth.

5. A persistent isolation and atomization of the individual that disrupts psychosocial well-being, interpersonal relationships, cultural capacities and skillfulness, and (ultimately) evolutionary advantages through group selection.

6. Disregard for any other externalities of commercial production (environmental pollution, stress-related illness, decreasing food quality, poor socialization, etc.) *that have a demonstrated negative epigenetic impact*.

Over time, the amplification of such characteristics through the market dynamics, products and services inherent to profit-centric owner-shareholder enterprise models will inevitably decimate the human species. It’s already happening, and the only current bulwark against a steepening downward spiral is regulatory oversight…which is also failing. As the State can never adequately react to the fluid and persistent energies of the profit motive (or worse, succumbs to its capture), this will always be a losing battle; the organs of the State are simply too cumbersome, while rent-seeking is a wily and pernicious viper. That is, unless and until: All enterprise submits to worker self-management, community level oversight, and daily democratic controls; all resources are freed of private ownership and returned to the commons; and profit is redefined to support civil society rather than undermine it. If not, humanity is doomed to become dumber, less healthy, and more ethically incompetent with each generation. There can still be competition and indeed limited markets in a left-libertarian world, but those mechanisms will be subjected to the collectively agreed upon priorities of civil society - instead of the other way around as things are today. Essentially, then, market fundamentalism has to go the way of all other forms of fundamentalism to avoid any new mutations of feudalism that can degrade our genome.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Does-libertarianism-lead-to-social-darwinism-1/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are some of the principles of moral creativity?


I discussed the importance of moral creativity in my book Political Economy and the Unitive Principle. So it's nice to have the opportunity to promote the concept.

In a general sense, moral creativity indicates both the preconditions for moral development, and the ongoing synthesis of moral maturity; it describes an aspect of the human condition in which our collective beliefs, aspirations, values and strength of character shape the trajectory of our society over time. In a meta-ethical sense, it is akin to saying "we create our own moral realities," but this does not mean those realities are purely subjective, arbitrary or relativistic. As an example, I write in Political Economy and the Unitive Principle:

"If we accept the belief that a cohesive and compassionate society, a just and moral society, is desirable and worthwhile, we tend to assign moral weight to this belief. So it follows that the degree to which we are willing to invest in society - from the perspective of embracing collective responsibilities - may depend on our relationship with that basic assumption, the quality of our imagination, our capacity for love, and whatever innate proclivities we possess to make such an investment. In essence, it will depend not only on the quality and quantity of affection for our fellow human beings, but also on our creative capacities for expression."


Expanding on this basic idea, I would assert that mature moral creativity represents an intersect between functional intelligence and advanced moral development; in other words, it indicates a high level of self-actualization and integrity in our ability to operationalize our values hierarchy, while at the same time being primarily motivated and guided by inclusive and "wise" moral sensibilities. But there's the rub: this can't happen in a vacuum. The conditions that support the development and expression of all moral imagination are social, cultural and systemic in nature - in order for mature moral creativity to thrive, it must be intersubjectively and interobjectively excited and reinforced. So there is a synthesis of factors that depends on both nature and nurture.

Now this might still be considered a fairly abstruse explanation, and it is dependent on a lot of other concepts that I've developed over time they may not be familiar. So I'll offer yet another way to approach the importance of moral creativity....

Let's say moral function runs along a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is emotionally repressive, antisocial and destructive conditioning that is rooted mainly in fear, and is centered around amplifying and justifying individual egoic impulses (I/Me/Mine). At the other end of the spectrum is a emotionally expressive, prosocial and constructive mutually affirming interplay that is rooted mainly in love (agape), and is centered around amplifying and enhancing collective well-being. In this context, moral creativity describes both the consequence and supportive conditions of this mutually affirming interplay; it is a semantic container for the generative and expressive social dynamics of a compassion-centered moral function, patterns of thought and behavior that invite ever-enlarging and more inclusive arenas of action and intention. So, instead of limiting moral judgments to black-and-white dualism, a vast array of subtle variables and perspectives can be included - ambiguity and uncertainty among them. As such, mature moral creativity can become a self-reinforcing upwards spiral toward the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the greatest duration...rather than a downward spiral into the freezing wasteland of an isolated, atomistic, self-serving ego that can't help but oversimplify and reduce moral judgments to vacuous polemic. At least...well...it is my contention that this is the fundamental belief that can (even if it is not self-evident to the skeptic) generate its own positive consequences. As is the case with most assertions regarding prosociality, the proof will be in the pudding.

Lastly, we might still ponder: why is moral creativity socially dependent - or in any way conditional? Shouldn't it flow naturally and effortlessly from an individual's state-of-being, regardless of conditions or precursors? In rare instances, and with sufficient strength of character, a person of high functional intelligence and advanced moral orientation could operate as a rebellious non-conformist in a less developed, unsupportive society - at least for a while. But the interpersonal tensions such a contrast will inevitably produce most often lead to mistrust, derision, ostracism and conflict - a consequence at the heart of the saying "a prophet is never welcome in their home town." In order for advanced moral function to bear fruit - that is, to instigate an advanced morally creative synthesis - there must at a minimum be sufficient social acceptance of a majority of goals and values represented by the proposed moral position, so that it can be collectively reified. This is, in fact, an extremely critical consideration, and it is why the fortified islands of I/Me/Mine that are supported by individualistic, economically materialistic cultures are so antagonistic to human development. It is also why - and this is a main thrust of my book - advanced political economies will ultimately fail without careful attention to the issue of moral creativity.

My 2 cents.

Comment from Jeff Wright: "This is a comprehensive and also very clearly stated answer / analysis. A lot of the explanatory effort hinges on deconstructing an individualist paradigm of intelligence and social action / agency (and consequently creativity and morality).

Regarding “a prophet is never welcome in their home town”, this brings to mind a Sufi story about another side of this phenomenon, a town where, it seems, everyone is a prophet. A town where, it seems, it’s more or less clear to all that morality is an emergent, collective property of the community....

From (Helminski, Living Presence, p.125)

A Sufi came to a remote village where he knew no one. After meeting some people he found that those of this village had an unusual hunger for spiritual knowledge. They invited him to share his knowledge at a gathering they would arrange. Although this Sufi was not yet fully confident that he could transmit spiritual knowledge, he accepted their invitation. Many people attended that gathering and the Sufi found his audience to be extremely receptive to what he had to say, and most significantly, he found that he was able to express the teachings he had received with an eloquence he had never before experienced. He went to sleep that night feeling very pleased.

The next day he met one of the elders of the village. They greeted each other as brothers, and the elder expressed his gratitude for the previous evening. The Sufi was beginning to feel very special. He even reasoned to himself that he had been guided to this village to impart the wisdom that he has accumulated through his long years of training and service. Perhaps, if these people were sincere, he could stay with them for a while and really offer them some extended instruction in the Way of Love and Remembrance. They were certainly a deserving and sincere community. Just then, the elder invited him to another gathering that evening.

The villagers assembled again that evening, but this time one of them was chosen at random to address the gathering. He, to, gave a most eloquent discourse, full of wisdom and love. After the meeting the Sufi again met with the elder. "As you can see," the elder began, "the Friend speaks to us in many forms. We are all special here and we are all receptive to the Truth and so the Truth can easily express Itself. Know that the "you" who felt special last night and the "you" who felt diminished tonight are neither real. Prostrate them before the inner Friend if you want to find wisdom and be free of judging yourself harshly."

I also think your line of analysis here is refreshingly beyond Wilber (known as an “integral” theorist and even biasing this field of concern) and his seeming fixation on individualism as the site of development of consciousness (moral intelligence, etc.).



A great story - thank you Jeff!

Yes, I think it is hard to break free of individualistic thinking when one’s surrounding relationships and culture are constantly reinforcing and elevating that perspective. In fact this phenomenon (with Wilber and other thinkers) would be an example of precisely what I’m alluding to in my answer. I think there is a tacit understanding of this when folks express sentiments about “operating within the Zeitgeist” or “navigating the contemporary noosphere,” but language itself can begin to exclude important possibilities due to such bias. And of course most of the time I think we are relatively unaware of this phenomenon and its impact on our own insights and development - fish in the sea and all that.

Comment from Jeff Wright: "All true. I think we have most to gain theoretically by regarding individualistic and collective thinking / intelligence as dual, complementary, and co-constituting. I’ve seen nothing in Wilber’s recent missives indicating an awareness of this issue. On the contrary, it has been centered around a kind of projection where individuals of a certain level of conscious development (according to his way of thinking) are (collectively) projecting an unhealthy influence on society as a whole. But in my view this gets pretty close to the sociological theory of “moral panic” and its “folk devils”, which mirrors the conservative right’s construct of immigrants as blameworthy problem-causers.

Meanwhile theories of collective moral intelligence seem undeveloped across the board .. moral panic theory is a gesture in that direction, but I’ve not found much in either sociology or social psychology that comes to grips with this. I believe it’s currently emergent knowledge, that’s still in the zone of not having a recognizable formulation. One of the difficult issues (and avenues of approach) to emergent knowledge is determining in what ways current conditions are unique and in what ways they recapitulate past historical situations (such as the “gilded age” and plutocracy of the industrial revolution of a century ago, followed by emergence of labor power and social welfare governance).

This potentially opens the way for an analysis of the current clash of value paradigms that can validate concerns while questioning specific interpretations, for groups and individuals in multiple political groupings. Meanwhile, the blind spots — the water surrounding the fish — need further articulation. You’re doing that with your analysis of the structural conditions surrounding consciousness, moral creativity, and other modes of understanding.

Do you know of any relevant work regarding this question of emergent social knowledge and its boundary phenomena?"


Jeff great observations and I think you might enjoy the European tradition of “social anthropology,” especially in its qualitative methods around precisely the area you seem to be narrowing in on here. Social anthropology operates entirely differently than the “cultural anthropology” studies we have in the States - or than the emphasis on quantitative analysis in sociology. Again, imagine intersubjective methods to evaluate anthropology of social knowledge (cultural constructions and narratives, etc). In any case I think this may be one place to look. If you find some interesting reading, please let me know - I think you’re onto something. :-)

What is the things-in-themselves philosophy in simple terms? What are some illustrative examples to help me understand it?

An interesting topic…here’s my take.

From a Kantian perspective, we have what I would call categories of abstraction in our encounters with and understandings about “what is.” They are:

1. The thing-in-itself (i.e. “what is”).

2. Positive and negative noumena (i.e. unknowable and knowable conceptions of “what is.”)

3. The unknown something (i.e. a given transcendental object within the noumenon).

4. Perceived phenomena (i.e. representations to ourselves of that unknown something).

5. Concepts and categories of understanding to boundarize and organize all-of-the-above, often via dualistic contrasts (i.e. space and time; cause and effect; existence and non-existence; plurality and totality; possible and impossible, activity and passivity, etc).

6. That which can be intuited, but remains unknown.

This is a very fancy way of saying that “what is” (i.e. the thing-in-itself) is separated from the objects of thought that represent it by a vast mediating chasm of a priori processes and imperfect perceptions. It is this chasm that many philosophers have attempted to bridge or explain in various ways. For example, I would say this is what Hegel’s subject/object dialectics regarding alienation from the Absolute seeks to address. It is also what many cognitive and spiritual disciplines (in particular, those from contemplative, mystical and enlightenment schools) seek to engage through “direct apprehension” of the noumenous/numinous (i.e. via unmediated experiential gnosis). In other words, other approaches before and after Kant embrace some version of the “intellectual intuition” that he mostly dismissed, specifically to navigate the mediating chasm Kant seemed to view as insurmountable.

As for examples, consider of the adage: “Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.” Kant was simply saying: “Hey, we’re all wearing rose-colored glasses…we just don’t realize it.” If it were possible to take those glasses off, we could finally apprehend what really is (the thing-in-itself).

My 2 cents.

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” To what extent do you agree with this Karl Marx quote?


This is one of a few areas where I think Marx oversimplifies things - mainly because he restricts the definition of “class” to an individual or group’s relationship to the means of capitalist production, and consequent self-identification and collective affinities as a consequence of that specific relationship. Because of this narrow focus, Marx then centered his ideas about class conflict around the bourgeoisie (those who control production, and benefited most from it) and the proletariat (those who don’t control production, and are exploited by it). And I think this was an overly reductive error.

As to why…well let’s start with some factors - in addition to, or aside from, control of production - that contribute to power differentials, freedoms, agency and so forth in civil society:

1. Economic status and mobility - from abject poverty to rentier, there are plenty of conditions and privileges that have nothing to do with control over production.

2. Race/ethnicity - this has a tremendous impact on freedoms, agency, opportunity, institutional bias, justice, etc. and also have nothing to do with control over production.

3. Gender & sexual orientation - ibid.

4. Native intelligence and levels of education or language ability - ibid.

5. Physical disability - ibid.

6. **Religious beliefs** - ibid (though more so in some societies or periods of history than in others…)

There are other variables, but this provides a general idea about how different “classes” of people can percolate up out of any given population, and how these class variables can potentially overlap or countervail each other. From thirty-thousand feet, Marx may have wanted to sort all of these different characteristics into his two major class distinctions, but that can result in a pretty inaccurate snapshot.

Let’s examine just one potent example to illustrate this point. A rentier does not - unless they are an activist investor - exert much control over production…if any at all. They are often purely beneficiaries of abstracted instruments of investment, having very little idea or concern about how their investments accrue, or how they impact society. So how, according to Marx’s definition of class, are they participating in class struggle? Through indulgent consumption of certain goods and services? Through supporting certain political causes? Through supporting certain types of capitalist? Okay…but what does that have to do with control over the means of production…?

Now what I do think Marx got right was that human history is very often energized by the struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed - within a given society, or between different societies. But this oppressive relationship can exist outside of the confines of control over the means of production (or exploitation by the means of production): to wit, women’s rights, or the cultural scapegoating of certain ethnic minorities, or prejudices around someone’s age or physical appearance, and so on. So while economic status certainly has a huge impact on oppressive relationships, so does the color of one’s skin (i.e. “white privilege”), or one’s gender, or whom one falls in love with, etc. Thus “class conflict” is IMO trumped by “the struggle between oppressors and the oppressed;” they may intersect, but they are not always the same.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/%E2%80%9CThe-history-of-all-hitherto-existing-society-is-the-history-of-class-struggles-%E2%80%9D-To-what-extent-do-you-agree-with-this-Karl-Marx-quote

When is persuasion a form of bad manipulation?


Some insights on this have become a lot clearer to me in the last few years….

The way I would frame this issue is in the context of expressions of personal will, and the impacts of those expressions on both the human agency of others and, ultimately, the good of All.

Inherent to my persuading someone is an impact on their agency - the imposition of my will on theirs. Beyond a specific threshold, this imposition is inherently problematic, regardless of intent or outcome. And what is the threshold? Well, it will be different for different people. Issues like personality disorders, anxiety disorders, PTSD, codependence, differences in social status (including gender status, familial status, positional influence, etc.), and level of ego development (e.g. moral maturity) can all result in a very different threshold for different people…or the same person in different situations. It is therefore incumbent upon me, wherever possible, to understand and appreciate the context and subjective conditions involved. For if I knowingly and willfully impose my will on someone and deprive them of agency, I consider this destructive manipulation.

The challenge here, of course, is in the phrase “wherever possible.” In posting this answer, I could conceivably persuade someone subject to the very vulnerabilities I’ve described to do something “against their will.” But I really can’t know that, can I? So the best I can do in this context is try to state my case and “let the chips fall where they may.” That changes in interpersonal situations, where I can hopefully be more sensitive and perceptive. Even so, some portion of responsibility still rests on a person who is easily persuaded (against their will) to signal their own vulnerability. Likewise, I am also responsible for communicating my own vulnerabilities to others in this regard. But of course both of these situations depend on a fair amount of self-awareness, ability to communicate, and self-control….

Which leads us to intent: what do I intend? If my intentions are sincerely focused on the good of the person I am trying to persuade, issuing from a place of compassion and affection, perhaps this can mitigate some level of manipulation (as imposition of will). Any parent knows this has to be true in regarding their children! But I must also be aware that, to whatever degree possible, if I really do wish for the good of others, then I need to empower them to make the best decisions on their own…that is, to provide good information and - whenever possible - insulate them from persuasion. If mutually agreed to, this helps keep everyone’s agency intact, and (in my observation and experience) enhances efficacy and positive outcomes ten-fold. Indeed, this is also true of parenting.

Lastly we come to outcomes: what is the result? The good of All - that is: the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the greatest duration? Of course this may be desired, but it is never guaranteed - just as the effectiveness of any approach to ethics is not always certain. Which is why wisdom comes into play - including factors of discernment, awareness, insight, timing, etc. And indeed constant practice and discipline; this is how ideal and praxis intersect.

So for shorthand, we could use the formula: compassionate intentions + situational awareness + self-awareness + appreciation of cultural/power dynamics + situationally adaptive skillfulness + predictive efficacy = non-manipulative persuasion.

As you can see, there is quite a complex balancing act here. And honestly I believe many cultural value systems promote this balancing act in the normal course of human interaction - in other words, it is tacitly implicit, and transmitted by example. Unfortunately, some cultures (and indeed some individuals) lack the emotional intelligence, language and perceptive ability to recognize, internalize or actualize such a formula. And such challenges can then be exacerbated by commercialism, consumerism, individualism, materialism, selfishness, family abuse, workplace stress, social injustice and so forth. For those cultures where tacit understanding and transmission are absent…or for individuals and relationships that have yet to fully invest in such compassionate dynamics…well, then it would have to become a more conscious enterprise. The challenge then becomes that, for certain folks who routinely capitalize on manipulative persuasion (i.e. profit-driven marketing and advertising, religious zealots, political ideologues, etc.), there is tremendous resistance to such awareness, sensitivity and caring about the agency of others.

My 2 cents.


From: https://www.quora.com/When-is-persuasion-a-form-of-bad-manipulation/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is there evidence against (substance) dualism?


I suspect that will depend on what you will accept as evidence. Some possible avenues of exploration:

1. Quantum physics.

2. Unio mystica or “nondual” peak experience.

3. Sartre’s existential nausea.

4. Perceptions evoked by psilocybin.

On the other hand, we also have what can be considered “supportive” evidence for substance dualism, such as:

1. Experiencing astral projection.

2. Ian Stevenson’s research on reincarnation.

3. The reports of various religious adherents regarding visiting other realms of existence.

4. Encountering a ghost or spiritual entity.

Then again, having researched and/or personally experienced all of these myself, I’d have to say that dualism (of any sort) is an operational state that pulls at our consciousness like gravity, while nonduality is an enveloping and interpenetrating foundational substrate that - in a cyclical and iterative dialectic of creation and destruction - both generates and dissipates that duality. I suspect that the relationship between the two even hints at the origins of consciousness itself…like the impact of tidal zones on evolution. They are not, therefore, mutually exclusive, but synergistically linked.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/Is-there-evidence-against-substance-dualism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What percentage of philosophers accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason?


I would offer two ways of approaching this question:

1. What percentage of philosophers - historically or contemporarily - explicitly and intentionally subscribe to, support or expand upon the PSR as a philosophical principle?

2. What percentage of philosophers - historically or contemporarily - unconsciously or implicitly demonstrate some acceptance or utilization of the PSR in their work?

These are very different questions, and the first is much easier to answer than the second. As to the first, the percentage is relatively small when including ALL philosophers in the West. The PSR wasn’t explicit until Leibniz, and since then has been the subject to a fair amount of debate - with just a handful of folks arguing for some version of the PSR. We might arrive at a formal percentage of around 15–20% of pro-PSR, post-Leibniz philosophers in this way - though of course debates over variations/extensions of the PSR have continued to this day.

The second question is much more difficult and conditional, relying on subjective assessments of an implicit reliance on - or demonstration of - the PSR, rather than explicit statements by the philosopher in question. It also will vary widely depending on which particular definition of the PSR is being employed (there are many - see Kant, Shopenhauer, Wolff, Hume, Leibniz, etc.). However, if we were to take every definition of the PSR into consideration, it becomes pretty clear that - at some point or other - nearly all philosophers in the West either employed a version of the PSR in their thinking, or it was otherwise implicit in their style of reasoning. Thus, using this approach to survey all philosophers in the West throughout recorded history, we arrive at close to 100%.

The real issue at hand, IMO, is what constitutes a priori (deductive) processes. That is really the ultimate “ground” from which the PSR arises, and why it is so difficult to escape. In psychological terms, we might say that PSR actually stands for the “principle of sufficient rationalization.” Human beings are quite clever at ordering their suppositions, evidence, language, semantics and logic around what they want to believe. And of course this includes the use of a posteriori (inductive) processes - resulting in various forms of bias. In other words, our tendency is to reinforce or affirm a priori beliefs with a posteriori experiential knowledge, despite all efforts at analytical rigor. Stepping back a bit, it is really rather humorous when philosophy attempts to escape the fetters of its own contingent parameters: to think itself out of a maze created by - and conditioned upon - human thought.

So I would say that, when attempting to answer such questions, it is important to examine one’s epistemology, hermeneutics and what I would call “semantic containers” (affinities/categorizations of thought and experience) before diving in. Because it is likely our methodology for defining, say, what a “brute fact” is, or what constitutes causality, that will likely be distorted by our a priori conditions - often to the point of glaring internal contradictions.

My 2 cents.

What reduces your free will?


A wide range of internal and external influences or conditions that constrain our ability to either formulate independent thought and action, or to follow through with them or expand on them. In my paper The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty: A Proposed Method of Differentiating Verifiable Free Will from Countervailing Illusions of Freedom, I call these “variations of poverty.” They include things like:

· Poverty of existential security – lack of food, shelter, clothing, safety from harm.

· Poverty of justice and equality – experience of social prejudice, disruption of ability to obtain competent legal representation, inferior treatment under the rule of law, unequal treatment in the workplace, etc.

· Poverty of economic freedom – disrupted ability to generate disposable income or access desired goods, lack of opportunity to trade, disruption to development of desired skills and abilities, lack of employment opportunity.

· Poverty of trust and social capital – experience of alienation or disenfranchisement, lack of access to supportive social networks, consistently encountering closed doors rather than open ones.

· Poverty of knowledge & information – lack of access to established knowledge, or to accurate and independently verified new information.

· Poverty of self-reliance – disrupted capacity for confidence or independence, and lack of access to tools or experience that support a belief in own self-efficacy.

· Poverty of education – disrupted ability to think critically (i.e. carefully evaluate new information, challenge internalized assumptions, relax cognitive bias, escape conditioned habits), learn valuable skills, or gain a well-rounded understanding and appreciation of the world through diverse, interdisciplinary learning.

· Poverty of moral development – disrupted ability to mature past an egoic, tribal, or individualistic orientation (I/Me/Mine or Us vs. Them).

· Poverty of access or opportunity for advancement – being “in the right place at the right time” never seems to happen, no viable pathways out of one’s current situation seem available, no amount of effort seems to change these conditions, and barriers to access and opportunity persist.

· Poverty of emotional intelligence – disrupted ability to interpret social cues, facial expressions, emotional content of interpersonal exchanges, or to empathize with the experiences of others.

· Poverty of love – disrupted ability to develop compassionate affection for self and others, or experiencing a consistent lack of compassion from others.

· Poverty of self-expression – lack of opportunity and support for creative, athletic, intellectual or other form of self-expression.

· Poverty of spaciousness – lack of discretionary time, quiet, solitude.

· Poverty of common property – lack of resources held in common, or lack of access to those resources.

· Poverty of physical or mental health – poor nutrition, excessive stress, unhealthy family dynamics, genetic predispositions for illness or substance abuse, subjection to psychologically incompatible or physically harmful environments.

· Poverty of perception and awareness – disrupted ability to see past the spectacle, perceive or process things multidimensionally, or maintain a neutral holding field while assessing complex information.

· Poverty of spirit – disruption of connection with higher Self, spiritual insights and gnosis, and/or relationship with divine mystery.

· Poverty of holistic perspective and vision – disrupted ability to comprehend the bigger picture, cultivate a guiding purpose and intentionality, or to keep these in mind throughout the trials of daily life.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-reduces-your-free-will/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is The Night of the World, as Hegel puts in?


Cheng Wen pretty much nails it. Here’s what I would add:

In one sense the “night of the world” is the undifferentiated unity of everything - of existence and non-existence, of being and non-being, of the “I” and everything that “I” symbolically projects within itself and outside of itself (including itself). From this perspective it is close kin to what Sartre would later describe as evoking an overwhelming experience of existential nausea. In another sense it is the fundamental consciousness of the soul (human/Divine Spirit) that intuits this undifferentiated unity as a negation to itself, and responds by differentiating, symbolizing, “naming” and organizing…thereby synthesizing an active interdependence of being. In another sense, the “night of the world” has the flavor of Jung’s collective unconscious. What Hegel then alludes to is that we can glimpse this night in ourselves and in others for the briefest of instants…and it is terrifying in its power of negation and nothingness. As a former existentialist and current mystic, I can attest to the accuracy of Hegel’s depiction of this encounter - both as an intellectual intuition, and as a felt experience of mystical gnosis.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-is-The-Night-of-the-World-as-Hegel-puts-in/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Georg Hegel (philosopher, author): What is the Hegelian concept of freedom?


Hegel’s conception of freedom contained these essential ingredients:

1. As a precondition of freedom, the individual may unconsciously or reflexively conform to social norms - and to the order of community and State - while at the same time cultivating a voluntary choice to do so (ideally as a consequence of learning, thinking, intuiting and understanding the deeper currents in play…such as the next three ingredients).

2. While inherently an expression of Divine, universal spirit that self-actualizes through human beings, the individual spirit can become aware of that essence, relationship and purpose, and in the process actualize its own freedom and will.

3. While previous iterations of society and the individual have inherently been more self-limiting and less free, they provide the groundwork and context for the next iteration of actualization, which is less limited and more free.

4. While the individual is alienated from a full understanding of themselves, their society and the world around them, they have very little freedom. But once they apply a rationally speculative dialectic process to these subject-object relations, they can liberate themselves from that ignorance.

To appreciate how all of these syntheses aggregate and interact within Hegel’s worldview, I recommend researching the term Aufheben, and then widening your reading out from there.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/Georg-Hegel-philosopher-author-What-is-the-Hegelian-concept-of-freedom/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the philosophical responses to emotivism?


I will approach this from my own framework regarding moral judgements.

To reduce moral judgements to any one thing is, in my view, an error. Why? Because they represent - realistically, pragmatically, observably, developmentally - a much more complex intersection of factors. These might include:

1. Innate, genetic predispositions (for example, a prosocial disposition vs. an antisocial one)

2. Learned and integrated responses from modeling observed in childhood (family of origin, peers, etc.)

3. Predictably observable, cross-culturally consistent stages of moral development (Kohlberg et al)

4. Conditioned conformance to societal norms (to facilitate survival, acceptance, social agreement, etc.)

5. Intuitions informed by emotional sensitivity and empathy, somatic responses, spiritual insights, intellectual leaps of deduction and synthesis, etc.

6. Conclusions and convictions that result from s reasoned analysis of prosocial efficacy (utilitarianism, virtue ethics, etc.)

7. Inculcation of formalized belief systems (religious education, military codes-of-conduct, study of philosophy of ethics, etc.)

Now of course most people do not consciously synthesize their values hierarchy - but neither do they reflexively adopt a rigid, unchanging one. So there is a spectrum of convictions, learned behaviors, experiences, insights and so forth that fluidly shape and maintain each individual’s moral thought-field. In addition, most moral responses are context-sensitive, and moral judgements in-the-moment will shift based on the relationships involved, being observed by others, the expectation of social obligation and reciprocation, current mental or emotional state, and so forth. These variables are what inevitably generate tensions between our ideal self, our perceived self, and our actual habits and proclivities as reflected back to us by others.

So can we really - with any intellectual honesty - maintain the meta-ethical position that individual moral judgements can be reduced to subjective emotions, or collective moral standards to a consensus agreement around such reactions? I really don’t think we can. In fact I think it would be a particularly foolish oversimplification.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-philosophical-responses-to-emotivism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How did Aristotle influence the development of the West?

What a great question.

I might be overstating this…since I am a big fan of Aristotle…but I would say that Aristotle’s impact on Western civilization is probably only equalled by one other historical figure: Jesus of Nazareth. Although others - such as Aristotle’s teacher Plato - laid much of the groundwork for what became the philosophical tradition in the West, it was Aristotle who, more than any single influence, framed the trajectory of empirical observation, civic obligation and ethics, metaphysics, and analytic/reflective analysis that would lead to formal Christian theology, the scientific revolution, and the Enlightenment. Now I realize this may seem like an outrageous statement on the surface, but we can actually follow Aristotle’s profound influence on nearly all subsequent developments over the centuries - across innumerable hard and soft disciplines and specialities, including:

Civics and Democracy

Virtue Ethics

Psychology

Christian Theology

Biology

Medicine

Physics

Epistemology

Logic


Keep in mind, however, that I am not saying Aristotle’s conclusions were always correct or upheld by later thinkers and research. In fact you could say that Aristotle became important precisely because so many historically influential writers and researchers attempted to refute his assertions (sometimes succeeding, and sometimes not). In other words, Aristotle’s positions show up in nearly all of the later dialectics within areas of study to which he contributed (or invented)…all the way up into modern times. It’s incredible, really. As just one less-well-known example, most people in the West are familiar with Freud’s assertions about the pleasure principle, libido, id and ego in human motivation and ideation, and consider him to be the father of modern psychology. Except…well…it was Aristotle who first elaborated on those very same observations, though he named them differently. We could say with some confidence that Aristotle is the patron saint of the intellectual academic tradition itself. Aristotle has been so influential, in fact, that some less scrupulous authors have used his name to bolster their own positions. One of the more notable figures who did this was Ayn Rand, who very clearly misunderstood Aristotle on a fundamental level, but nevertheless claimed to derive many of her ideas from his writing.

So a modern citizen of the West can effectively thank Aristotle for living in democracies with institutions of higher learning, technologies and medicine that resulted from empirical science, a strong cultural tradition of analytical analysis and problem-solving, a much greater awareness of the human condition and the workings of the psyche, and the lingering (albeit waning and/or commodified) legacy of neoplatonic mysticism. What we can’t thank Aristotle for is capitalism, which we know from his writings he would have found repulsive, unethical and debasing.

Lastly, we should also not forget that Aristotle was also revered in Eastern cultures that came in contact with his teachings.

My 2 cents.



From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-did-Aristotle-influence-the-development-of-the-West/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the main flaws in Objectivism?

There are many, and many that have been widely discussed here on Quora. Please see:

T Collins Logan's answer to Why is Ayn Rand not received well in Academia?

T Collins Logan's answer to What was Ayn Rand wrong about?

Following up on these, the main problems are that a) humans aren’t primarily motivated by self-interest as Rand defines it, but by prosocial impulses, b) effective human reason and rationality are not confined to logic as Rand defines it (for example, human emotions - and empathy in particular - are key cofactors in human decision-making capacity and efficacy), c) human perception is highly variable and unreliable, in contradiction to Rand’s assertions, d) there is evidence that a priori knowledge is accessible and available to people who cultivate specific skills of insight, also in contradiction to Rand, e) her definition and consideration of free will are woefully incomplete. There is more, but these are some core issues that have been contradicted by a growing body of research since Rand’s initial proposals.

Hope that helps.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-flaws-in-Objectivism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is calculated neglect the most powerful, most destructive weapon that no one sees, talks about, hears about or recognizes?


Thanks for the A2A Carl. Oh yes, absolutely I think you are correct. Calculated neglect (twin sibling to deceptive manipulation) is the Pit yawning behind the spectacle - the Abyss of Despair just beneath the superficial surface of panem et circenses. In terms of identification and disclosure, I think these are known threats to human well-being - and indeed human existence. But they are artfully concealed and (routinely) rhetorically dismissed. I find religious language from the Judeo-Christian tradition quite useful here. The references to the tactics and evidences of the Beast in Revelations, for example, align with surprisingly accuracy to globalized capitalism. And of course the warnings about evildoers in Proverbs are really…well…they are also spot on. In other words, whether one is religious or not, there is clear evidence that this kind of “evil” has been clearly identified - described in careful detail - for millennia. It’s just that we’ve gotten out of practice at recognizing it. We have, culturally and individually, lost our capacity for discernment.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Is-calculated-neglect-the-most-powerful-most-destructive-weapon-that-no-one-sees-talks-about-hears-about-or-recognizes/answer/T-Collins-Logan

In layman's terms, what is philosopher Gianni Vattimo's idea of "weak thought"?


LOL. Reducing complex philosophical concepts to “layman’s terms” is perhaps itself a byproduct of weak thought - as we can only frame such discourse in the concepts we have learned via the culture through which we swim. Be that as it may….

My understanding is that Vattimo is passionately invested in the idea that nothing a priori - and most certainly not our “being/essence/ousia” - is self-evident, extant, or a reliable basis for philosophical disclosure. Thus to engage in a priori speculation is to demonstrate “weak thought.” We can only know (in the sense of strong thought, i.e. a posteriori “deductive cogency”) from our experience and, more reliably, what Vattimo calls “scientific calculation and technological organization.” Thus “Being” per se is fluid - it has no definite or stable structure. From Vattimo’s Weak Thought (2012): “One has access to Being not through presence but only through recollection, for Being cannot be defined as that which is but only that which is passed on [si tramanda].”

First I would say that this idea isn’t particular new - Proust makes clear reference to the same observations about transience and recollection in his writing. Of course I wouldn’t dream of implying that Vattimo is reappropriating here. I’m just saying it’s not particularly original.

Secondly I would say that Vattimo’s argument narrowly holds true for a very thin slice of concrete sequential reasoning, and not for the many other cognitive input streams humans have available to us (see Sector Theory 1.0 – Todd's Take on Epistemology). This is what I would call classic exclusionary bias. When Vattimo asserts that “we do not have pre-categorical or trans-categorical access to Being,” he is simply mistaken.

Lastly, where Vattimo seems to claim that the metaphysical tradition has no ”coherent unity,” IMHO he is evidencing his own incomplete understanding of that tradition - and his oversimplifying (or reducing) of its nuances - rather than any demonstrated continuity in his own logic.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/In-laymans-terms-what-is-philosopher-Gianni-Vattimos-idea-of-weak-thought/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Post-Postmodernity's Problem with Knowledge

Sell Sell Sell


This may actually be a pretty straightforward problem, with a challenging but nevertheless obvious solution. Here's my take....

I would propose there are nine primary forces at work in present-day knowledge generation, dissemination, evaluation and integration, which I would sketch out as the following inverted values hierarchy:

A. Titillation to entertain or make money.
B. Arrogant ideological agendas.
C. Tribalism and groupthink.
D. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.
G. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
H. Critical self-awareness.
I. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.


What seems immediately evident when looking these over is that personal and collective values have tremendous influence on the efficacy of a given approach to knowledge - and, perhaps most importantly, this influence can and does defy any institutions created to sustain a more diverse or fruitful values system. For example:

1. If the profit motive reigns supreme, then titillation to entertain or make money will trump all other variables. This has clearly had a role in news media, where entertainment and sensationalism have far outpaced accuracy or depth. More subtly, this has also had an impact on scientific research, where competition for grant money has distorted methodology and data in order to attract sufficient funding.

2. If a particular belief system is venerated above everything else, then arrogant ideological agendas destroy truth in favor of persuasive propaganda - especially when combined with tribalism and groupthink. We see this with religious indoctrination and exclusionary bias (i.e. denial of empirical evidence), with conservative news media that promote neoliberal political and economic agendas, and with the refusal of institutions of higher learning to allow truly diverse or controversial perspectives among their events and curricula.

3. When democratization and diffusion of knowledge is prioritized above every other value, then we end up with the armchair Dunning-Kruger effect, where folks believe they have mastered a complex discipline after reading a few Internet articles, and are then able to confidently refute (in their own estimation) the assessments of more educated and experienced practitioners in that field. Social media seems to provide considerable reinforcement of such knowledge-distorting self-importance - as do participatory systems and institutional dialogues that refuse to qualify or evaluate sources of information or their veracity, and give all input equal weight.

4. With extreme self-protective specialization, we end up with isolated islands of understanding that do not fully comprehend or appreciate each other - and in fact often can't function harmoniously together in society. One consequence of this are graduates of universities who are preoccupied with scholastic performance at the expense of actual learning, or who cannot understand their field in a way that actually adds value to its execution in the real world. In other words, an education system that rewards one narrow flavor of performance, while devaluing creative productivity in order to generate compliant specialists.

There are also some nasty values combinations in the post-postmodern era that seem increasingly pernicious in the destruction of knowledge, mainly because they deliberately exclude F, G, H & I - that is, the humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth, fluidity of exact knowledge, critical self-awareness, and appreciation of ever-increasing complexity and interdependence. Really, whenever these four characteristics are deprioritized or absent, insight and understanding tends to be thoroughly crippled. But let's briefly take a closer look at each of these fundamentals....

What is "critical self-awareness?" I think it could be summarized many ways, such as taking one's own opinion with a grain of salt, or having a healthy sense of humor about one's own understanding, or being able to effectively argue against one's own position and appreciate its flaws - i.e. some of the central themes of postmodern thought. The "humbly inquisitive ongoing search" is certainly a kindred spirit here, but also implies that our journey towards the truth is never-ending; it's not just humility about conclusions, but about the process of seeking itself. Appreciating the "fluidity of exact knowledge" is an additional variable to balance out other, less rigorous impulses. It means there will be few black-and-white conclusions that are accurate; that ambiguity and imprecision are inevitable; that assertions should be tested in small arenas for limited periods, rather than as sweeping revisions; and so on. This fluidity does not, however, insist on a nihilistic or dismissive orientation to qualitative truth; on the contrary, it can recognize and integrate absolutes while remaining keenly aware of context. And, finally, "complexity and interdependence" means that we will of necessity be synthesizing a collective understanding together - there isn't much opportunity for elitist leadership or vanguardism, except perhaps in a few highly abstracted or technical areas. In other words, functional truth is perpetually intersubjective. At the same time - again as a balancing factor to the diffusion and democratization of knowledge - we will also need to appropriately weight the insights of experiential "experts" to help us navigate complexity.

These four characteristics can be viewed as attitudes, character traits, virtues, priorities, beliefs, operating assumptions, etc. The point is that if we prioritize these four above all considerations - subordinating our other beliefs, reflexes and desires to them - we can begin to formulate a healthy, fruitful relationship with knowledge, both culturally and interpersonally. If we don't prioritize these characteristics...well, then I suspect we'll keep making the same kinds of errors that have led us into our current state of apoplectic befuddledom. We simply can't afford to constrain the four essential qualities of truth-navigation in a straight jacket of what really should be extraneous and subordinated values and habits. And thus we arrive at a proposed values hierarchy that maximizes the utility of any approach to true and useful knowledge:

A. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.
B. Critical self-awareness.
C. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
D. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.

E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
G. Tribalism and groupthink.
H. Arrogant ideological agendas.
I. Titillation to entertain or make money.

As you can see, this is simply an inverted version of the current status quo. Okay...if we can entertain this thesis, how do we get from here to there? Well I think education about this issue will help, but really we need to evaluate what is generating the memetic force of competing values hierarchies, and disable or de-energize that force wherever possible. How is it that titillation to entertain or make money has gained such prominence? Or that arrogant ideological agendas or tribalism and groupthink have usurped both the scientific method and common sense? Why has extreme, self-protective specialization so often shattered collaborative, interdisciplinary exchanges and synthesis? And how has the democratization and diffusion of knowledge rallied itself into such a farcical exaggeration...? Is there a common denominator for all of these trends...?

Well I think the answer is pretty straightforward, and I along with many others have been writing about it for a long time - it was Aristotle, I believe, who most clearly identified the same core issues we face today. The central problem is our highly corrosive form of capitalism. But perhaps I should forsake my own confidence for a moment and - applying the very virtues I've exalted here - humbly offer that a culture of acquisitiveness, infantilizing consumerism, competitive egotism and blindly irrational faith will likely not facilitate the four essential qualities humanity requires for thriving and productive knowledge. And I do believe this is a cultural decision - one in which we have all become complicit, and have all reinforced through tacit acceptance of the status quo. To break free of our shackles, we will need to let go of some of the habits and appetites we most covet and adore. But I could be wrong. Perhaps we can achieve equilibrium through our continued bluff and bluster, through ever-greater fabrications, self-deceptions and carelessly conspicuous consumption. That seems a risky bet to me...but again, I might be mistaken.

Can anybody simplify Hegel's theory of alienation?



This is a tough one but I’ll give it a shot….

My understanding of Hegel here is that, in order for consciousness to understand itself, it enters into an ongoing synthesis of self-discovery. This self-discovery occurs through first observing an object “outside” itself, then realizing that the object is really a subjective conception of that object, and then realizing that, via experience, a sort of confirmation of the subjective conception can then be verified or negated. Once experience moderates the subjective conception of an object, an objective understanding of that object becomes a bit more real…a bit more objectively concrete. This dialectical synthesis of subject-object relations is thus the process whereby consciousness can ultimately recognize its own functions…and by implication can recognize itself as an object as well. So, through experience, consciousness advances closer and closer to an “absolute” understanding of the subject-object relationship, inclusive of its own subject-object existence.

What is alienation, then? Alienation would be not understanding the process as just described - whereby consciousness is alienated from both a more accurate understanding of its own function, a more accurate understanding of the world in which it exists, and a more accurate understanding of the dynamic relationship between the two. In this way spirit is also alienated from material existence. Can consciousness ever completely overcome this hurdle? Hegel indicates several milestones in its progress, but I seem to recall he also indicates the process is ongoing. It also appears evident that consciousness isn’t always aware of its various levels of alienation…and that becoming aware is not only a healthy part of our growth, but that deliberately invoking alienation (as when consciousness objectifies itself) is a means of achieving greater understanding. The key, it would seem, is for us to remember our previous errors in understanding (i.e. our misunderstanding of the stimulative subject-object interaction), and continually moving to the next horizon of dialectical awareness. And of course all of this is cradled within a unitive spirit, which continually supports and integrates the interplay of subject and object.

Now this dialectic can also be applied to cultural development and our context of “self” within society, so that culture itself evolves to support more and more complete self-realization with a more unitive aspect (with the self becoming less differentiated from others), thereby (ideally) alleviating alienation in both individual consciousness and society. This is what Marx then took and ran with in advancing his own variations on history and human value.

So…I don’t think that was terribly simple, but perhaps it will help. Please let me know if it does.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Can-anybody-simplify-Hegels-theory-of-alienation/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Some people say that people should be able to be slaves if they consent to it. Why is this morally wrong?


Here are some different takes on why voluntary enslavement is morally wrong, assuming that the “slavery” involved is for a prolonged period of time and for purposes that primarily benefit the slaveowner (i.e. not just an afternoon of bondage fun and games):

1. Such an agreement is immoral because extinguishing one’s own agency - even voluntarily - and participating in the extinguishment of another person’s agency are both heinous interferences with a person’s individual sovereignty and liberty. They are, effectively, akin to suicide and murder.

2. Such an agreement is immoral because the volunteer abdicates personal and social responsibility regarding how they live their life - that is, they are shirking their sociopolitical obligations and their individual quest for meaning and purpose.

3. Such an agreement is morally wrong because it violates the spiritual principle of reciprocation: that because the Universe has conspired in favor of our consciousness, we should conspire in favor of the Universe.

4. In an Aristotelian sense (somewhat ironically, as the case may be), such an agreement is morally wrong because it a) demonstrates a lack of courage, b) abdicates temperance to another’s will, c) disables the capacity to be just or good (i.e. to effect justice against wrongs in society).

5. Such an agreement is morally wrong because it artificially imposes a power dynamic that inevitably (historically and as shown by psychological experiments) leads to exploitation, degradation and generational disadvantage.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Some-people-say-that-people-should-be-able-to-be-slaves-if-they-consent-to-it-Why-is-this-morally-wrong/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is the difference between liberty and autonomy?

Autonomy is the ability to act on your own, from your own initiative, according to your own values, in order of your own priorities, and without reliance on someone or something else to actualize a given objective. In this sense autonomy is individualistic in its orientation, and is concerned most with an individual’s self-directed thought and action.

Liberty is a much broader and deeper semantic container, with many other components and considerations. In an individual context, having autonomy is just one facet of liberty. Additional facets include lack of substantive interference with autonomous thought and action, and productive conditions that facilitate individual ability to self-actualize, and even enhance opportunities and capacities to do so. In a more collective context, liberty is a consensus expectation of mutual (passive) permission and (active) support for maximized autonomy. This is where “enhanced opportunities and capacities” become a collective, mutually beneficial consideration.

However, in a collective context there is the added layer of an agreed-upon values framework. In other words, a framework within which some actions are permitted, but others are not. This is where the intersect of collective standards of liberty and individual aspirations of autonomy can potentially interfere with each other, and it has frequently been the aim of civil society at various points in history to reconcile the two.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-liberty-and-autonomy/answer/T-Collins-Logan

I can't get over the meaninglessness of life. Everything we do is an invented meaning, is there any universal meaning in life?


If I told you what the meaning of life was, it wouldn’t be particularly meaningful to you. Because you need to experience the answer for yourself. So I can encourage you to look within, to open yourself up to a deeper experience of life, to nourish all of your dimensions of being, to flourish in heart, mind, spirit, body and soul. I might also offer a few tools - meditation, time in Nature, time alone, deeper friendships, encountering excellence, breaking out of your routine, letting go of pain and grief, and so on - but again, you would need to take responsibility yourself for employing them. But really, the primary means of overcoming that existential, often overwhelming sense that life is meaningless…is to just accept it. That is a beginning. After that, if you nurture every aspect of your being (see Integral Lifework Home), you might find a spark or two of meaning will ignite within your heart and mind.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/I-cant-get-over-the-meaninglessness-of-life-Everything-we-do-is-an-invented-meaning-is-there-any-universal-meaning-in-life/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Todd's Take on Epistemology: Sector Theory 1.0

Pieces of this particular puzzle have been knocking around in my head for some time. In particular, those already familiar with my essay on Constructive Integralism will encounter a familiar feel...but now it's in a simple infographic! Actually the graphic is not-so-simple, and requires some further (and likely ongoing) clarification. However, most of the pieces are there, and perhaps the underlying concepts will gel more quickly for some folks in this format.

A couple of introductory notes:

1) The "realm of exclusionary bias or conditions" includes descriptions of widely researched conditions and characteristics - some clinical, some subclinical or forme fruste - that have a known impact on neuroplasticity, perceptive ability and general flexibility of thought. This is a deliberate effort to group similar cognitive tendencies into affinitive buckets for a given sector. However, they aren't intended to ascribe causality.

2) Please assume that all of the lines that divide the circle (and create the sectors) have arrows indicating the relationship between the "exclusionary barrier" and the realm of exclusionary bias - those go hand-in-hand.

3) Abbreviations are as follows: GOB = ground of being; PPD = Paranoid Personality Disorder; ICD = Impulse Control Disorder; NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder; OCPD = Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with OCD!)

4) Although I discuss it within the FAQ, a more extensive elaboration of the Omega Point at the center of the circle will be a project for a later time - though I suspect some folks may already intuit the direction I am going. The processes represented by the Sector model are akin to those discussed at length in the Constructive Integralism paper, but with ontological as well as epistemological implications.

5) My usage of specific terms is discussed in detail among my other works - primary drives, for example, as well as ground of being, codependence, agape, hyperrational (also see Constructive Integralism essay), rigidified associations (or rigid "chained associations"), memory field, and so on. Please forgive my lack of detailed definitions here; instead, I have linked them to the source material in this paragraph - so you can simply follow the link and perform a search within that document on the linked term. Please note that, since the source material is in different formats, the search facility available to each also operates differently. For example, for the Publitas books, you will need to "open" the book and select the magnifying glass icon on the left, then enter the search term in the text window above it. For PDF files, you can open them in your browser viewer and use the browser search facility (command + F), or download them and use the search facility within Adobe Acrobat or other PDF viewer.

6) Implicit to Sector Theory is that all sectors must be included in the final integration to approach a virtual approximation of what knowledge is true, reliable and cohesive. To exclude any sector completely is to initiate an unacceptable bias, and either muddy the truth or miss it altogether. It is of course understood that "truths" operating within a given sector do not necessarily require involvement from other sectors. But there's the rub, because over-reliance on any one sector inevitably results in Cartesian, reductionist distortions that exclude completeness and complexity, even for what is perceived as basic, rudimentary information. This has been an understandable consequence of the specialization and separation of disciplines in the modern age, but it seems long overdue that we move beyond it to a more inclusive, integralizing understanding. In many ways this framework echoes Integral Lifework itself, where all dimensions of being require attention and compassion in order for the whole to thrive.

7) I plan to add additional FAQs to the section after the graphic in the coming weeks...stay tuned....

Lastly, a special thanks to Ray Harris for challenging me to clarify my epistemological positions.

Okay...so here it is...enjoy.



SECTOR THEORY FAQ

Why Sectors in a Circle?

There are a number of aspects to this representation. One is the obvious allusion to Aristotle and the Tao. Another is a differentiation of the unique perception-cognition available to us in each sector - that is, multiple ways of knowing. Another is the principle I've promoted in much of my writing that we tend towards two orientations with respect to knowing, identity, morality, wisdom and so forth: one is to look within, concentrating and distilling our attention and perception, listening attentively and letting go of preconceptions, and then relying on that process to both inform and measure our progress; the other is to become dependent on resources and authorities outside of ourselves or our own judgment, to externalize and diffuse our points of reference as they become ordered and organized by someone or something else, and to avoid internal inquiry. The wedge shape of a circle's sector is an elegant representation of these two directions, with the wider end projecting into an homogenizing externalization of our consciousness (i.e. the "realm of exclusionary bias and conditions"), and the narrowing end refining, concentrating and distilling our consciousness into an eventual "single-pointedness" of clarity. You will also notice left-right distinctions that roughly mirror some neurological brain structures - though this is more to illustrate contrasts and dialectical tensions inherent to our cognitive input streams. Although each sector represents a unique perception-cognition processing space, their boundaries (both functional and structural) tend to be soft, flexible, permeable and interpenetrating rather than impermeable and fixed. All of this becomes important in appreciating balance between contrasting sectors and groups of sectors, and encouraging synthesis rather than excluding inputs - because all sectors have something to contribute. There is also the issue of temporal speed and orientation, which tends to be different within each sector, and which I cover in the "What is the Integral-Contextual Crucible?" FAQ answer below. Lastly, the size of any given sector will vary from one person to the next, based on native tendencies, learned habits and nurtured facilities. Their representation here is ad hoc.


What is the Exclusionary Barrier?

Now the "either exclusionary barrier or integrative faculties" ring within the circle is really a kind of semi-permeable cell wall around our innermost processing centers. It represents the ideas illustrated by the following belief/learning flow diagrams:



The first diagram illustrates how we can easily ignore, resist or exclude new information that does not conform to our current understanding; the second diagram illustrates how we can more thoughtfully evaluate and integrate such new information. Rigid exclusion or more fluid integration - sometimes these become a reflex, sometimes a choice...but always, eventually, they become part of our cultivated habits. It is simple to observe how confirmation bias, logical fallacies, cognitive dissonance and other impedances to learning and growth can be represented by these diagrams. It is also easy to observe how different sectors can have different permeability and flow for each of us.


How Does Sector Theory Compare With - Or Add To - Traditional Proposals?

This is an extensive topic that will need to be elaborated upon with additional detail, but the basic ideas are as follows....

Traditional Western epistemology would define "knowledge" as a) a sincere belief that is b) factually true and is c) justifiable, as applied primarily to a priori and a posteriori propositional knowledge. Although there is broad agreement regarding the first two components, over time there has been significant variability and discussion around approaches to the justification question, and Sector Theory tends to focus on this area along with some other unsettled challenges. For example, Sector Theory seeks to:

1) More comprehensively account for justification, inclusive of diverse perception-cognition processes (including those that are nonrational, non-discursive, preconceptual, etc.), different forms of evidence, moral (deontological) components and the impact of moral development, internalistic vs externalistic qualities, and testing for reliability and operational efficacy in the real world.

2)(a) Differentiate modes of introduction for all knowledge that account for interior and exterior emphases. For example, formal inculcation will usually arrive via exterior introduction, whereas deductive reasoning will arrive via interior introduction.

2)(b) In a similar way - though as a subtly different phenomenon - describe how the justification orientations of each sector will be either externalistic or internalistic. For example, the discursive sector will tend towards internalistic justifications, while the empirical observation sector will tend towards externalistic justifications.

3) Elevate the issue of exclusionary bias, and how that bias (as an over-reliance on one sector or another) can color the same evidence, perception, logic, justification, etc. - even for two different people confronted with precisely the same information (and even via the same modes of introduction) - which consequently leads them to different but equally justifiable conclusions.

4) Speak to the Gettier problem by providing additional avenues of exposing false beliefs and accounting for defeating propositions.

5) Include additional areas of knowledge in the mix, such as procedural knowledge, relational knowledge (i.e. knowledge by acquaintance), other forms of non-propositional knowledge...and indeed wisdom.

6) Address the issue of time, along with some intimately related phenomenological and ontological implications.


Why is any of this important? Because traditional Western models tend to reinforce and enable an atomistic, materialistic, mechanistic, Cartesian, reductionist intellectualism...to the point of disconnection with operational reality. This is not a new criticism of epistemology. In this sense, Sector Theory aims to introduce a dynamic, multipersepectival pragmatism that expands traditional proposals without obliterating them. Those proposals are, after all, limited only because they represent the perception-cognition processes of certain sectors, while inadvertently excluding others.


What Is The Role Of Language In Sector Theory?

Appreciating the role of language is a profound piece of this knowledge puzzle, because each sector relies on and effectively amplifies its own unique vocabulary, grammar, information organization style, communication style and even cultural-linguistic milieux - an often self-contained form of language that best facilitates that sector's inputs and perception-cognition. We can observe evidence of this fairly easily by examining the literature of specialized fields of study: Buddhist sutras that explore the gnosis sector are grounded in language that is fairly inaccessible to many other sectors - just as mathematical proofs that inhabit the systematizing sector are most appreciated in that sector, or poetry that navigates the somatic-aesthetic sector has greatest utility there, or the tacit and unconscious understanding that inhabits the social sector is most useful for social interactions, or the dense and interrelated data of the empirical observation sector has greatest relevance to scientific study. In fact we can quickly recognize just how robust our own utilization of any sector is when we encounter new language that resonates with a flavor of perception-cognition that we routinely inhabit and integrate, or when we take stock of the vocabulary of our own experiences, perceptions and sensitivity in a given sector (for example, our emotional vocabulary). By the same token, when we feel alienated by new language - or it seems strange or unfamiliar - this can indicate that the sectors such language is describing are inaccessible, challenging or uncomfortable for us.

What is also quite fascinating is how some language is able to unify several sectors into a symphonic expression - here I'm thinking mainly of dance, instrumental music, graphic art, sculpture, poetry, song and other art forms; but indeed among humanity's greatest scientists we also find poetic, deeply felt sentiments in response to observations of the elegant order of Nature and the Universe. In other words, there is linguistic evidence of unitive movement across multiple sectors. In all of these instances, I think there is also a strong correlation between our language facility - even if that "language" is more of a felt sense or ineffable intuition - within and across multiple sectors, and our ability to utilize, integrate, and harmonize their input streams.


How Does "Faith" Play Into Any Of This?

Faith becomes part of the discussion for me because the variations of faith relevant to knowledge seem to be widely misunderstood. My approach to the question of faith is discussed in detail in this previous blog post: "Faith" as an Intentionally Cultivated Quality of Character. In that essay I assert that associating "belief" with "faith" is an incorrect approach to spiritually authentic faith, which is much more an expression of trust and hope, and one that is grounded in devotion, trustworthiness, and stick-to-itiveness inspired by love. Spiritually authentic faith is not dependent on a particular belief or dogma, but is a way of being and doing that honors relationship; that is, it is a carefully cultivated prosocial character trait. In Sector Theory I would tentatively observe that spiritually authentic faith is a product of experiences, insights and knowledge that arises primarily from an intersection and synthesis of right-hemisphere sectors as they are currently defined - though the left-hemisphere sectors can be involved as well. So this is one way to approach spiritually authentic faith, and one we might say is not only independent of religious beliefs, but frequently contradicts them.

There is another kind of "faith," however, which is much more common in our daily vernacular, and that is the casual equating of faith and belief. This kind of faith has a spectrum of quality and depth, from irrational whimsy...to reflexive assumption...to carefully rationalized conviction...to assertion justified by unreliable evidence...to conclusion grounded in evidence that is continually revisited and tested, and remains persuasive. Eric Fromm would likely describe one end of this spectrum as "irrational faith," and other end of this spectrum as "rational faith." What I would assert in Sector Theory is that this spectrum of faith exists within all sectors. In fact, the spectrum predictably traverses the axis in each sector between the realm of truth and the realm of exclusionary bias. When discussing faith in the more casual or conversational sense - the sense that equates it with belief - I think each sector evoking its own spectrum of faith has profound consequences. Why? Because it effectively means that we can drift into both rational and irrational faith, or belief that is justifiable and belief that is unjustifiable, regardless of the basis of our knowledge and the individual sectors involved. This should be substantial wake-up call for any of us who believe we are safe and secure in our knowledge and beliefs, simply because the sectors we prefer are reinforced by our chosen tribe, culturally favored, historically ascendent, or intellectually in vogue.

I would then take this one step further in saying that, unless as many sectors as possible harmonize around a given belief - unless the elements of a particular flavor of faith honor a healthy majority of sectors - then the resulting dissonance will tend to push a particular faith towards the unjustifiable end of the spectrum. That is, the end of the spectrum that revels in exclusionary bias. So this is yet one more reason why respectful and compassionate integration of all sectors is the aim of Sector Theory...to avoid the calamities of irrational faith.


What is the Integral-Contextual Crucible?

Explaining this concept is challenging. The essay Managing Complexity with Constructive Integralism begins to wrangle together many of the ideas I've introduced in writing over the years that speak to the essence of this concept. But, frankly, even that essay and all of the other writing it references are still not the full picture. My goal here will be to distill and refine the main idea just a little bit more...and to do so as briefly and concisely as possible. I suspect this will still be just one more step in an ongoing process.

I've called this a crucible because it can perform several unique functions. For example, it can separate out desirable elements from less desirable ones, or extract a rare essence from an obscuring muddle of factors. It can also combine seemingly mundane ingredients (experiences, insights, sensations, perceptions, observations) in ways that create new substances and structures that have unusual properties. A crucible performs these functions under specific conditions as well; for example, with the application of extremely high energies, with just the right combination and proportions of ingredients, with just the right container materials, and so on. As a metaphor, the crucible is very useful.

The term "integral-contextual" has a specific meaning here as well: to integrate and harmonize within a broadening comprehension of context, inclusive of all apparent paradoxes. Now because every sector has its own inherent contexts, and because the relationships between sectors often introduce additional contexts, we are already brushing up against orders of magnitude in contextual complexity. For example, the mimetic-semantic sector alone has cascading memeplexes of context, some of which seem to operate entirely independently of each other. When these intersect in any way with, say, contexts that evolve in the social sector, the result is a snowballing tug-of-war over which contexts have primacy in which environments and situations, over which evidence is reliable or applicable in each context, how all contexts integrate with or revise an existing values hierarchy...the snowball can quickly can get out of hand. On top of this, we could throw in the tensions between interior and exterior justifications - that is, between the realm of truth that inhabits our interiority, and the external authorities and influences that pull us toward the realm of exclusionary bias. And the incredible human being - with all its intrinsic intelligences and vast capacity for perception, experience, learning and memory - somehow navigates all of this while performing countless other tasks and maintaining myriad relationships. Even as the contextual storm approaches an infinite number of often competing combinations, we somehow manage to manage it - and often in a fairly unconscious way. It is an awe-inspiring feat.

But the main point here is that the integral-contextual process is occurring whether we intend it to or not. And so the question becomes one of conscious, active engagement: how can we participate in our own integral-contextual journey in the most fruitful and skillful way?

First let's touch upon the concept of a neutral holding field. In order to navigate complexity - and indeed fully integrate all the sectors in this model - we need to cultivate some safe interior spaciousness. The neutral holding field is just that: a place where all contradictory and competing concepts, information, experience, insights, observations, etc. can peacefully coexist...without favoritism or exclusion. In the chart, that is effectively the space between the inner ring and the outer ring around all sectors. We can think of it as the workbench where we have set all of our ingredients in preparation for adding them to the crucible; they are all on the same plane of consideration.

Remembering that we will require high levels of energy to "heat up" our crucible, where will that energy come from? Thankfully, we have a number of sources to choose from - human beings are superb at generating immense interior and exterior energies from next to nothing. But which ones will work best for us here...? Will power, because it is most concerned with immediate action, reification and operationalization, tends to magnetize anything floating around in a neutral holding field, causing them to crash into each other or quickly clump into amorphous blobs. So we need to relax our will a bit, and allow that to be at rest. And this means that the many of the more petulant offspring of our will also need to take a nap: anger, egoic cravings, acquisitiveness, jealousy...these sorts of critters. And how can we accomplish this? Most often this will be a consequence of the mental, emotional and physical self-discipline that emerge from consistent meditation practices. There are other roads to a neutral holding field, but meditation has proven to be quite reliable when it is engaged with the right intention. I discuss this "letting go" in more detail in other writings (such as Essential Mysticism), but the basic idea is that a neutral holding field is a cultivated condition.

Which leads us back to the question of which energy will work to energize the crucible. In short, the ideal energy source also happens to tie neatly into the ideal intentionality behind meditation practice: a compassionate affection that aims for the good of All. This is the primary unitive engine for our crucible, and a critical filtering mechanism as well (in terms of discernment and skillfulness). And although we sometimes think of compassion, love or agape as quiet, soft, caring, quiet, generous gentleness, the reality is that these have high-octane, explosive, exponentially amplifying characteristics as well. In fact, I would say that the only energy equal to the task of integrating infinite complexity is infinite love-consciousness. It can integrate, harmonize and unify just about anything. But where does that unitive energy come from? Ah...well that is a topic I'd like to explore in another section of this FAQ, but suffice it to say, for now, that it can be unleashed through the same process that creates the stillness of a neutral holding field: meditation.

There is also another kindred energy in play, and although I believe it issues from a similar Source, its characteristics are quite different. It is the energy of a tidal zone, or of changing seasons, or the tension between dialectic components, or of a musical progression that yearns for resolution, or indeed of emergent complexity itself. It is the energy of evolution, synergy and synthesis. As such, this energy is not really a conscious choice. We can encourage circumstances (in our environment, in our relationships, in our minds) to allow this energy to emerge and play itself out in a co-creative fashion...but we have no real control or influence over it. It was before us, and remains beyond us. And although we might also associate this continually emerging force with agape, it is not really the same vocabulary of experience as our embracing charitable love-consciousness. It is, perhaps, a different order of the same energy, but again it is outside our realm of choice, intention and volition. Nevertheless, this force plays a critical role in generating interior and exterior momentum and growth - and in supercharging the integral-contextual crucible.

[As a side note: Those familiar with Ken Wilber's work will recognize echoes of his definitions of "eros" and "agape" amid my descriptions of these multiple facets of agape. However, I don't divide the "transcending to unify" from the "reaching down to include" forms of love in the same way; in fact I think it is an error to make that division or use these descriptions. Instead, I tend to refer to the difference as an intrinsically emergent (an immanence, if you will) vs. a conscious response or choice of love-consciousness (as a component of growth and moral development). This latter formulation is as much a cooperative mechanism for transcendence as it is a recognition of what is already here, now.]

The terms a friend recently used in exploring this territory are emission and attraction, and I think those are excellent descriptors. The convergence and integralization of all sectors (and all the seemingly disparate material and energy produced within those sectors) that occurs within the crucible is a product of attraction, of unitive power. At the same time, emission is also simultaneously occurring - from within the crucible into all other sectors. Truth is radiating outward and modifying all information it encounters. And yet...when those emissions "forget" where they came from - when they disconnect from the integral realm of truth entirely - they can revert back to a state of incompleteness, of partial truths, in which they appear to operate within each sector. And so the process begins again...as a byproduct of the tidal currents of existence. In this sense questions about absolute truths vs. relative ones, or interior vs. exterior justifications, or qualities of logic and evidence, or transcending and including each realm of conception...all of these distinctions begin to dissolve. There is an ebb-and-flow, a relinquishment and recapitulation, a cycle of apprehension and actualization that is in constant flux. We might call it the pneuma of wisdom; the breath of truth.

As a final note, there is also the issue of time - both processing rates and time orientation or context - that extends from each sector into the crucible. Each of the sectors represented tends to operate at a unique processing rate, and with a unique orientation to past, present and future. Some can process very quickly...seemingly instantaneously...and may be primarily future-oriented. Others are very slow...glacial even...and preoccupied with the past. Some hum along at a more conversational processing rate, and are quite comfortable in the present. And in some of them time does not seem to exist at all, or seem to operate with past, present and future as concurrent contexts. Previously (in the book True Love) I had organized these processing speeds into just five spacetime designations: mental, emotional, somatic, spiritual and soul. But as the Sector Theory chart illustrates, there are at least twice that number of sectors...and possibly more that I have failed to include. And all of them can operate at their own unique processing speed. Why is this important? Because, just as we can become biased about the sector within which we prefer to operate, excluding one or more of the others, we can also become biased about the processing speed we prefer. And this is a fairly counterproductive tendency when it comes to the many nuances, insights, connections and conclusions among different kinds of knowledge. So, both within the neutral holding field that surrounds the crucible, and within the crucible itself, our expectations and operations regarding time will also require suspension.

To summarize, then: the formula - if we can call it that - for activating the crucible is mainly a product of interior discipline. And, like various forms of meditation, this interior discipline is not simply a metacognitive process, or felt experience, or intellectual intuition, or anything that could be confined to one sector. It is, instead, an opening up of a particular quality of interior space and time that welcomes the input streams of all sectors into convergence. The specifics of the practice are not the focus of this FAQ, but they are amply covered in the writings referenced throughout my elaborations here. Now...how did I arrive at any of these conclusions? Well I bet you can probably guess by now: via meditation and mystical practice; in other words, through a slow and difficult opening to sectors that have often been neglected in the scientific era (gnosis, somatic-aesthetic, intuitive-empathic), a gradual application of that understanding and awareness in the integration of multiple sectors, which in turn stimulated a modicum of discernment, and eventually a clearer appreciation for my own responsibility to actively introduce and refine that synthesis. This is what led me to the conclusion that consciously engaging the integral-contextual crucible was necessary. I hope I have conveyed some spark of illumination as to why.


What Importance Do Ethics and Moral Development Hold in This Model?

Here we can again find a parallel between Integral Lifework's nourishment dimensions and sectors of knowledge. Our moral maturity will act as a clarifying and focusing lens for all sectors, changing how we view and weigh the information in each sector prior to integration, the quality and sophistication of integrative capacity we bring to bear on that information over time, and how we apply our most distilled and integral understandings in real world environments, relationships and situations as we mature. One of the more pronounced aspects of this moral development is the importance and role of morality itself - that is, its involvement in various ethical systems and our willingness to consistently apply those ethics. Moral sensitivity and ethical frameworks will also have a strong influence on how we view various sectors outside of our habitual comfort zone: Can we tolerate them? Can we accept them? Can we value and trust them? Can we actively expand them? Can we appreciate them as equal contributors? Can we openly and eagerly integrate their information? In this sense the habits of externalizing, exclusionary bias are either a consequence of moral immaturity, or can become a substantive barrier to moral growth. The more calcified and reflexive our rejection of any sector becomes, and the more deeply ingrained our habit of over-reliance on preferred input streams, the more suppressed our interior evolution and moral sensitivities will be. In contrast, if we cultivate multiple sectors and consciously reinforce their unitive synthesis in the realm of truth, a natural byproduct of this effort is an encouragement of moral development and operationalization.

For an overview of the phases of moral orientation that I believe roughly track a progressing maturity, check out my Integral Lifework Developmental Correlations chart.


What Is The Realm of Truth?

In an Hegelian sense this would be where Absolute Knowledge comes to fruition - where subjective and objective conceptions are reconciled; where the external object and internal subject become more intimate. But, across all sectors, this process of de-alienation is occurring iteratively - in higher and higher orders of resolution throughout a gradual embrace by the integral-contextual crucible. Are there subordinate, "less complete" truths? Of course, that would be the isolated, still differentiated knowledge within each sector and time-space - where subject-object relations remain less intimate and more alienated.

Another way of describing the realm of truth is as the outer courtyards of the residence of suchness, where the phenomenological foundations of perception-cognition begin to intersect with the ontological foundations of existence. Here words and concepts begin to fall away from integrated material, hinting at their unitive essences. Differentiation and non-differentiation comfortably coexist in this space, as do structure and structurelessness, content and contentlessness, infinite time and its collapsed finitudes, and the spontaneous arising of inter-paradigmatic and rhizomatic interactions with new information.


What is the Omega Point?

As I began to summarize my thoughts about this, I realized a full elucidation of the Omega Point will be a much larger undertaking; so I will be writing another blog post or essay and linking to it here. In brief, however, I have come to accept the proposal that the Source of all sectors of knowledge and all modes of experience is the same as the Source of all strata of existence and being, which in turn has been mirrored and amplified in the perceptions, structures and processes of consciousness itself (at a quantum level). Consciousness, then, in conjunction with spirit, helps synergize a reflective, participatory interplay between the unmanifest and manifest, so that the Universe may become aware, the Source be able to understand itself more fully, this teleios can express itself with spontaneously creative freedom, and the Perfect, Absolute Unity return to itself as a single point in spacetime. These are all facets of the Omega Point. Much of this isn't new - as those who have studied mysticism, the history of philosophy, and the physical nature of our Universe will recognize - but my aim has been to cobble together some clearer phenomenological, developmental and metaphysical models to encompass the whole.

Understandably, there are a lot of different components to this proposal that will be covered in more detail later on, but only a few central conclusions that impact the sector model, so I'll touch on those here. The first is that love-consciousness is the carrier frequency throughout every phase of origination, differentiation, integration and unity; it is a fundamental constant and cofactor, energizing and shaping every process - both observable and unobservable. The second is that our primary drives (to exist, explore, affect and adapt) both manifest and construct an evolutionary impulse across all dimensions of existence; they are our persisting co-creative instruments, and thus deserve special attention as they generate enduring artifacts of will. And lastly, the reason there is such beautiful symmetry between origination and unification is that the manifest has never been orphaned from the unmanifest - the Omega Point is the beginning, the end, and everything in-between. It is merely our finite understanding - our small part in the forgetting, reflecting and remembering - that fractures that continuity in being and time.

However - and this is a departure from variations of the anthropic principle - I believe there is an important caveat to keep in mind: we cannot assume humanity is a particularly accurate, artful or necessary representation of any of this. Making such a characterization leads us into an anthropocentric trap, where humanity retains an inflated significance that may in fact need to be earned...if it is valid at all. Copernicus revisited. Instead, I would say homo sapiens is much more likely to be one of many expressions of evolutionary energy across many variations of spacetime - and perhaps we are even particularly limited, flawed or ultimately vestigial with respect to an emergent self-awareness of the Source. The humans of this Universe may not even be the best representations of ourselves. And, surely, consciousness and complexity have found additional vessels, and likely ones more suited to the journey than we are. So the outcome of the Universe may be a given, but humanity's role and destiny are not. Which implies, I think, the necessity of conscious and continuous engagement. As I have written before regarding what I feel is an imperative reciprocation: "Because the Universe has conspired in favor of my consciousness, my consciousness conspires in favor of the Universe."

Ouroboros - The Eternal Return



More FAQs to come....

What arguments are there for or against the existence of free will?


In my musings on this topic I’ve taken an approach that creates some metrics for evaluating whether free will is actually in play, and whether its qualities are adequately sustained in a “Goldilocks Zone” of operational efficacy. My conclusion is that free will is essentially emergent and fluid. In other words, the absolutes of a free will/no free will debate are a bit nonsensical, because we cannot step outside of our Universe to observe the infinite interdependencies of its beginning, middle and end. But we can assess the relative free will of our individual and collective existence, if we develop a careful enough way of describing it. We can understand it qualitatively. And because free will, liberty, freedom, individual sovereignty and autonomy all interrelate, I believe they should be incorporated into one semantic container in the course of that description.

So to explore these ideas in more detail, in The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty: A Proposed Method of Differentiating Verifiable Free Will from Countervailing Illusions of Freedom, I go describe the generative components of free will this way:

Free will is a synthesis of the subjective felt experience of free will, the intersubjective social agreements that ensure it, the interobjective systems and conditions that facilitate self-determinant choices and activities, participatory mechanisms that support and moderate these factors in the most diffused and egalitarian ways, and objective metrics for all of these factors that continually assess their efficacy and contribute to an ongoing synthesis.

To better define the key factors of a synthesis of integral liberty:

1. Subjective felt experience of free will as individual sovereignty over choices from moment-to-moment, as well as regarding future plans, as observed in the energization and active expression of four primary drives (to** exist,** to **express**, to **affect**, and to **adapt**).

2. Ongoing, constantly renewed and reinforced intersubjective social agreement that individual sovereignty should be collectively supported and maximized, acknowledging that without such agreement and intent, individual sovereignty will inevitably be either compromised, interfered with, or entirely inaccessible. Further, there should be ongoing communal engagement and dialectic around this agreement and its characteristics; this is a dynamic rather than static process, and would need to be customized to unique variables at cultural and community levels.

3. Interobjective systems, conditions and artifacts that foster the felt experience of individual sovereignty and ongoing intersubjective social agreement. Although still malleable and customizable, there would likely be little debate about these universal processes, and they would have cross-cultural value and representation as relatively static features and functions of society. Thus these become social objects, systems, artifacts and conditions that relate to each other and society in fixed ways, rather than via dialogical dynamics between individuals and groups.

4. Participatory mechanisms with built-in accountability for supporting, enriching, moderating and promoting all other factors in the most egalitarian, diffused and distributed fashion. These could include distributed, daily direct democracy; Open Source initiatives and petitions; regular community meetings and online forums; participatory economics; worker- owned cooperatives; community management of banks and land; as well as civic lotteries for citizen commissions and all levels of polycentric governance networks.

5. Objective metrics employed at frequent and regular intervals for all of these factors to assess their ongoing efficacy in generating the greatest authentic liberty, for the greatest number, for the greatest duration.”

Once we have defined free will according to these perspectives, we can begin to assess where we operate in the spectrum of freedom. Again - whether there is or is not free will in some absolute sense isn’t really a practical consideration, but whether we are or are not operating in a manner consistent with a felt reality of free will and its ongoing mental causation is, I think, quite useful.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-arguments-are-there-for-or-against-the-existence-of-free-will/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do you consider to be the limits of your responsibilities both personal and social?


Personally I don’t believe there are any limits to my responsibilities other than pragmatically; that is, what I can realistically accomplish. Fundamentally, I owe everything I have, am and will ever be to my society, and likewise am deeply indebted to every personal relationship in my life for nourishing and nurturing me and inspiring me to grow. What mitigates my responsibilities - that is, the quality and extent of my “response” to these incredible gifts - is my time, energy, accessible resources, life-balance, integrity in adhering to my own values hierarchy, and the priorities, agreements and contracts I have already committed to. In other words: where one area of indebtedness competes with another area of indebtedness, I am forced to prioritize and of necessity exclude some actions. There is only so much time in a day. However, if I had unlimited time, unlimited resources, and unlimited personal energy, then my responses from a place of affectionate compassion (on a good day) or dutiful obligation (on a baseline day) would be equally limitless.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-consider-to-be-the-limits-of-your-responsibilities-both-personal-and-social/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do you consider to be the limits of your responsibilities both personal and social?

Personally I don’t believe there are any limits to my responsibilities other than pragmatically; that is, what I can realistically accomplish. Fundamentally, I owe everything I have, am and will ever be to my society, and likewise am deeply indebted to every personal relationship in my life for nourishing and nurturing me and inspiring me to grow. What mitigates my responsibilities - that is, the quality and extent of my “response” to these incredible gifts - is my time, energy, accessible resources, life-balance, integrity in adhering to my own values hierarchy, and the priorities, agreements and contracts I have already committed to. In other words: where one area of indebtedness competes with another area of indebtedness, I am forced to prioritize and of necessity exclude some actions. There is only so much time in a day. However, if I had unlimited time, unlimited resources, and unlimited personal energy, then my responses from a place of affectionate compassion (on a good day) or dutiful obligation (on a baseline day) would be equally limitless.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-consider-to-be-the-limits-of-your-responsibilities-both-personal-and-social/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What was the most profound insight you had from the study of philosophy?

This is of course a totally unfair question for a fan of philosophy. On the one hand, I am reminded of something Rousseau wrote in Emile:

“When I was told to believe everything, I could believe nothing, and I knew not where to stop. I consulted the philosophers, I searched their books and examined their various theories; I found them all alike proud, assertive, dogmatic, professing - even in their so-called skepticism - to know everything, proving nothing, scoffing at each other. This last trait, which was common to all of them, struck me as the only point in which they were right….”

A postmodern perspective so permeated my thinking for many years, I forgot why I loved philosophy. Then, after years of reading post-enlightenment thinkers, I returned to Aristotle. That’s when I realized - with more conviction than I had previously - that the questions Aristotle asked are the basis for many volumes of exposition that came later, and many of his answers were among the best ever written down.

This frames a “dialectic pair” of insight that I might consider profound regarding philosophy: a lot has been written, but not a lot has been said.

Along similar lines, I still consider virtue ethics the most attractive option for moral philosophy, and one which has only been amplified or expanded by later efforts.

Interestingly, after years of also studying spiritual traditions, it was difficult to escape a growing conclusion that similar intuitions seemed to have played themselves out across many cultures, and over vast expanses of time and place. This further reinforced the realization that a lot has been written, but not a lot has been said. On this note I would offer this quote:

“Of all the words yet spoken,

none comes quite as far as wisdom,

which is the action of the mind

beyond all things that may be said.”

—Heraclitus

But to drill down one more layer, I suppose it was dialectic tension-and-resolution itself that captured my attention early on and has stuck with me over the years, permeating all of my thinking across several disciplines, as influenced by the many different philosophers who incorporated it into their thinking.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-most-profound-insight-you-had-from-the-study-of-philosophy

What are the most important ideas you'd like to share with others?


That would probably be what I’ve written about in my books and essays - and what I still plan to write about. Those topics include:

- That it is imperative to replace capitalism and consumerism with a more egalitarian and compassion-centric political economy…soon!

- Encouraging multidimensional self-care that encourages moral development, healing and self-actualization.

- Ways to actively re-contextualize memories in order to heal past trauma and reconfigure self-concept.

- The underlying unity of all spiritual traditions and experiences, and the importance of practicing techniques that engage the spiritual dimension of being.

- That the most important thing in life is to learn how to love effectively.

My 2 cents.

From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-important-ideas-youd-like-to-share-with-others/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the most important ideas you'd like to share with others?

That would probably be what I’ve written about in my books and essays - and what I still plan to write about. Those topics include:

- That it is imperative to replace capitalism and consumerism with a more egalitarian and compassion-centric political economy…soon!

- Encouraging multidimensional self-care that encourages moral development, healing and self-actualization.

- Ways to actively re-contextualize memories in order to heal past trauma and reconfigure self-concept.

- The underlying unity of all spiritual traditions and experiences, and the importance of practicing techniques that engage the spiritual dimension of being.

- That the most important thing in life is to learn how to love effectively.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-important-ideas-youd-like-to-share-with-others/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is wisdom?

What is wisdom? I think wisdom is appreciating what actions, aspirations, intentions and consequences are the most holistically beneficial, for the greatest number and the greatest duration, as well as confidently intuiting why they are beneficial. This then leads to a practiced ability to generate circumstances over time - or make choices in a given instant - that support and enlarge such an understanding even as it is reified. In other words, wisdom will beget its own embodiment in being. I also believe when authentic wisdom is in play, there is a kind of effortlessness to its efficacy and amplitude, even as it propagates itself. Wisdom does not try to love someone or strive to “do the right thing,” it is instead on fire with a compassionate affection that knows just how to be, and inspires that same energy as a gift in others. What often prevents wisdom from either blossoming within us or bearing fruit in our lives is our impulse to lock it down in rational terms, or explain it in a language that can be universally understood. But because it is experiential in nature, such attempts will always fall short.

My 2 cents.

From Quora question https://www.quora.com/What-is-wisdom/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is wisdom?

What is wisdom? I think wisdom is appreciating what actions, aspirations, intentions and consequences are the most holistically beneficial, for the greatest number and the greatest duration, as well as confidently intuiting why they are beneficial. This then leads to a practiced ability to generate circumstances over time - or make choices in a given instant - that support and enlarge such an understanding even as it is reified. In other words, wisdom will beget its own embodiment in being. I also believe when authentic wisdom is in play, there is a kind of effortlessness to its efficacy and amplitude, even as it propagates itself. Wisdom does not try to love someone or strive to “do the right thing,” it is instead on fire with a compassionate affection that knows just how to be, and inspires that same energy as a gift in others. What often prevents wisdom from either blossoming within us or bearing fruit in our lives is our impulse to lock it down in rational terms, or explain it in a language that can be universally understood. But because it is experiential in nature, such attempts will always fall short.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-wisdom/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is any theodicy reasonable?

Which do we trust - our hearts or our minds? Where do Reason and Passion intersect?


I think the details of this question are the answer to the question. Where reason and passion intersect is what is important. Continually navigating the relationship and synergy of felt experience and rational consideration is what is important. Developing a sense of discernment that proves itself reliable in predicting the rightness or efficacy of a given choice in terms of outcomes…this is what is important. Learning how to most skillfully express compassion for another human being and for oneself…this is what is important. Cultivating wisdom about how best to stimulate love-consciousness in others, and help them make wise, discerning and effective choices for themselves…this is what is important. Learning how to consult the spirit within, and adding this to the mix of inputs to synthesize final insight and judgment…this is what is important.

The goodness of God, in these contexts, is basically irrelevant. If you have a friend that you love, and who loves you, and your experience over a lifetime of friendship with them has been positive, supportive, edifying, empowering and encouraging to your maturity and wisdom…well, would it matter if someone could “prove” to you in some logical way that your friend was more bad than good? Or that they seemed hypocritical or insincere according to that outsider’s perspective? If your experience of that friendship - and your observations of your friend - contradicted these criticisms in fundamental ways, you would know how to answer that person, wouldn’t you, from your own experience? Your convictions about your friend would likely override abstract suppositions…because you know and love your friend.

I think it is such experience of relationship within which passion and reason intersect, and instructs us on how best to trust all of our being rather than just one part - our hearts and minds…and our spiritual insights, our somatic intuitions, our social intelligence, our learned life lessons and so on. Over time, experience instructs us how to integrate all such input streams into a sense of discernment and wisdom. It is from this perspective that a person can say to me: “So all of these internal contradictions I’m observing about the Divine make me just want to run away and deny the Divine exists at all!” To which my response would be: “That’s interesting. My experience of those same contradictions has deepened my wisdom and encouraged me to look deeper within myself for answers. In fact, I would say that my ‘disagreements’ with the Divine have been some of my most instructive experiences.”


From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Is-any-theodicy-reasonable/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How do you look into the aspects of reality and know it's not an illusion?

We don’t know it’s not an illusion. About the best we can do is participate in consensus and keeping checking it against our experience. What you are touching upon is epistemology: how do we know what we know, and how can we know that we actually know it for certain? Personally I answer this question with the following approaches:

- Is there a measurable, empirical basis for my assumption, and am I comfortable relying on the metrics involved?

- Is there a consistent, subjective felt experience that corresponds with my assumption?

- Do the results of choices and actions predicated on my assumption produce fairly predictable results?

- Have I been able to gain any insight into the veracity or efficacy of my assumption through reflection and meditation?

- Do others share a consensus about these correlations?

- Is there new evidence, experience or consensus that would lead me to consider revising my assumption?

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-look-into-the-aspects-of-reality-and-know-its-not-an-illusion/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is it true that it is possible to cook up a lot of logical arguments on any given topic?

Speaking to what I think is the heart of your question, let me relate a story from my early twenties….

I was trying to do research on something and sought resources at a university library. This was back in the 1980s when most periodicals, research journals and abstracts were put on microfiche for longterm storage. When I asked about available research, I was led down to a very large basement room full of filing cabinets, with a narrow isle down the middle of the room. I explained to my guide (a graduate student working at the library) what I was looking for: some data on the environmental impacts of various common chemicals on wildlife, ecosystems, habitats and so forth. He then asked, without any hint of sarcasm, “What kind of data are you looking for?” I was confused. I said I was trying to understand what the actual impacts were over time. He shrugged and pointed first to one side of the room, then to the other, saying, “On that side of the room you will find all of the government-funded academic research, and on this side of the room you will find all of the privately-funded research.” He began to walk away, and being young and naive, I still didn’t understand what was going on. I laughed nervously and asked, “Why is it set up this way, instead of just by research topic?” The grad student paused on the way back up the steps and said, “If you want research to support one side of the argument, stick to the stacks on one side of the room. Each side will provide different conclusions that…basically contradict each other.” And with that he was off.

In this case, it wasn’t just logical arguments, it was decades of “scientific research” that supported opposing conclusions. How was this possible?

I think that may be what your psychologist was getting at. Once we begin to frame a given topic a certain way, it is very easy to cherry-pick new information to conform with our frame. This is sometimes called post-rationalization or confirmation bias, but it’s really just “wanting to see what we want to see.” And humans are very good at this. So what for one person is a “logical” justification for their beliefs simply doesn’t hold the same sway for someone else; the logic isn’t persuasive. Nevertheless, it is quite easy - and common - for people to accumulate gobs of “logical” arguments to support whatever position they have decided to take, and then resist any “logic” that opposes their position. A close friend to this pattern of self-justification is cognitive dissonance - for which we humans also can have a very high tolerance.

I think this is one reason why the concept of “discernment” was developed over time - to counter what may seem logical at first, but really doesn’t make any sense. Discernment…and ultimately wisdom…combines different modes of perception, intelligence and assessment to reach a tentative conclusion about something that logic alone may not be able to reach. It is a skill that takes time to develop, and is supported by certain innate abilities like empathy, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, somatic intuition, social intelligence, general intelligence, and analytical skills.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-it-is-possible-to-cook-up-a-lot-of-logical-arguments-on-any-given-topic/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How conscience and freedom related to knowledge of self?

I think that if we have the freedom to act on the inward-focused impulses of our conscience - that is, our curiosity and trust in a felt reality within ourselves - then we can eventually arrive at genuine self-knowledge. Such freedom is often deprived by tribalism, the emotional manipulations of family, ideological groupthink, and various forms of poverty we allow to be imposed upon us (poverty of spirit, ideas, curiosity…material poverty that perpetuates a crisis mentality, etc.). So conditions that encourage freedom are essential. But so is nurturing that inward-focus, which some people are innately afraid to do. And if we don’t listen to the promptings of our conscience to examine that inward world - promptings that I think are inevitable for all human beings at some point in their life - then we will miss out on opportunities for genuine freedom as well.

My 2 cents.

What specific beliefs in a religion would tend to indicate that its other beliefs are misguided?

Interestingly, individual beliefs really aren’t that indicative of anything but the viability of the individual belief itself. Believing that a purple rhinoceros mated with the moon to produce the Earth’s sky doesn’t mean that some other belief is, purely by association, misguided or faulty. That is a bit of a classic “composition fallacy,” and can quickly lead to converse errors. Of more import, IMO, are the values, virtues and resulting ethos that a coherent and cohesive body of beliefs consistently support and inspire. That is, for me it is more about the aims of a hierarchy of beliefs - and whether that hierarchy constructively reinforces and enables those aims.

But first, why are coherence and cohesion important? Only in that, over time, if the belief and values hierarchies are rife with contradictions, inaccuracies, fallacies, etc. we can observe this will likely encourage an authoritative, dogmatic orthodoxy - one that seeks to remedy an otherwise ever-enlarging cognitive dissonance, and often becomes institutionalized. In other words, in response to an inherent instability in those hierarchies, its proponents can become more and more rigid, legalistic and controlling of each other, and in increasingly harmful ways. It is an understandable human reflex - though not a particularly attractive one - to avoid questioning if those questions can quickly undress core beliefs or undermine the structure and interdependence of a given set of values - especially if this then destabilizes social cohesion or personal status.

Also, the issue of emphasis is important. I’ve used the term hierarchy to specifically call this out. There are core values and core beliefs that are often intimately related, and tend to be grounded in human relationships and interdependence. For example, if I love my father and observe that - in our family at least - his role is to protect my family and materially provide for them, then it is much easier to cultivate a core belief that he is somehow deserving of that role, and that a “father” is in fact defined by these responsibilities. In this way values and virtues like loyalty, respect, obedience, self-sacrifice and so forth can quickly fall into place as consequences of those core assumptions and experiences. Once this is then observed and agreed upon within a community, supportive beliefs and values - and their cohesive and coherent hierarchy - can become generalized and self-perpetuating.

But what if, at some point, I ask my father where the sky came from, and he tells me about the purple rhino? If I accept the story, it is incorporated into my belief hierarchy…but far down the chain. It’s veracity is dependent on a very large tree of branching beliefs that are rooted in my love for my father and acceptance of his role in my life. Believing in the purple rhino - misguided as it may be - in no way dilutes the importance and operational basis of all the beliefs that came before it. It would only become problematic if I then inverted the belief and values hierarchy, and placed ritual and dogma regarding the purple rhino (or some other core belief or value not grounded in relationship) above my love for my father. This inversion is warned against in most religions. For example, that is the essence of the teaching in 1 John 4 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” And of course warnings against dogmatic inversions is a central theme of the New Testament narrative as a whole. More importantly, if a given belief or value isn’t facilitative of a given core set, it’s going to become vestigial or be entirely discarded…eventually. We might call this “pruning the belief tree.”

Circling back to the central question, then, I would recast it in the terms I’ve just described. Are the hierarchies consistent and coherent? Do they align with subjective and observed experiences? Do they facilitate core beliefs and values that have arisen from - and are intrinsic to - human relationship? Viewed as a whole, does a given belief and values system actualize and sustain itself, synthesizing outcomes that reinforce and amplify core beliefs and core values in its final ethos? If not, then there will be “misguided” consequences.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-specific-beliefs-in-a-religion-would-tend-to-indicate-that-its-other-beliefs-are-misguided/answer/T-Collins-Logan

In what sense the acts of conscience related to intersubjectivity?

Thanks for the A2A. I think this is an interesting question. Intersubjectivity means different things in different contexts, but here are some possible correlations within various domains:

- If you subscribe to the multilevel selection theory of evolutionary biology, the prosocial genetic programming that enables our ability to experience a personal “conscience” may itself have been a consequence of group selection. The implication here is that development and fitness are facilitated by socially productive relationships, which, in turn, are facilitated and reinforced by that conscience. Here we see active adaptation at work over time, though not with same personal, conscious engagement identified in other domains.

- What is considered appropriate and efficacious as an “act of conscience” is learned via interpersonal relationships, family-of-origin modeling, and cultural conditioning. Our personal felt experience of “conscience” may still be a consequence of the prosocial genetic programming just described, but our actualization of conscientiousness in the day-to-day is almost certainly guided by our emotional, social and psychological interdependencies, which define the milieux and desired outcomes of how our conscience operates in the world. In a psychosocial sense, then, application of conscience undergoes intersubjectivity through our interaction with others and with our environment. And in this case it might be viewed as an active adaptation or conscious learning curve.

- In a philosophical or theory-of-mind sense, intersubjectivity is also key to developing and exercising conscience. In this instance, however, the very substance of what constitutes both “a conscience” and “an act of conscience” would be created through our particular thought community. That is, as a more passively received inculcation, memetic propagation or manifestation of reflexive groupthink - rather than an active adaptation or consequence of social navigation. This could be viewed as a substantially unconscious process.

- In a spiritual context, intersubjectivity is one way of elaborating the interplay between ground of being, spiritual awareness and knowledge, a felt intuition of what is right or good, and the mental processes that integrate these input streams into discernment. “Conscience” in this domain becomes more active and reflective, leading through its application-in-action to skillfulness and wisdom, so that “acts of conscience” may embody agape.

In this way we can see intersubjectivity playing out across four distinct domains: consciously active adaptation; unconscious, multi-generational genetic adaptation; unconscious group acceptance as reflexive conformance; or the active interplay between being, spirit, intuition and mind.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/In-what-sense-the-acts-of-conscience-related-to-intersubjectivity/answer/T-Collins-Logan