A New Community Initiative

When I arrived here I thought this was a Ken Wilber spiritually enlightened group of intellects. Those were my hopes and ideals but they may be the exact opposite of what most people here want?

What I have come to discover is a political chat room with two major players, the brilliant and snarky @raybennett and the honorable @FermentedAgave as highly entertaining wordsmiths, it was great reading. They proudly stand firmly on their intellect and brilliant commentary.

Then I began to see the “Man Behind the Curtain” politically tag teaming with Ray. All the topics being spun into a web of politics attacking ideas and positions. I have attempted to tone it down and I have even called @corey-devos out on it more than a few times.

So I thought I’d start a new topic here. Maybe we can start a new better comment string and see if we can keep it positive and off the toxic politics? How can we rise-above the politics and find common ground of connective thoughts and ideas that might attract new comments from non-political insightful people?

Let’s recognize everyone’s comments as worthy of understanding, and of being challenged but in a sound respectful non-political atmosphere. Is that possible?

I think this is an unkind assessment, but that’s okay. Ray and I agree sometimes. Other times we disagree. There is no “tag teaming” just because our views occasionally align.

I fully support this discussion. Here is an effort I previously made to do something similar:

When I was interviewing Stefan Schultz for our Journalism in the Disinformation Age discussion, he included some different strategies that each stage uses for what he calls their “conference culture”. I think we can see all of these strategies playing out in community spaces such as this, and I think it may be helpful to make some of these nested subjects into objects.

Amber stage — this is pure talking-point material, a top-down communication style. Perspectives are handed down through a perceived media or institutional “authority”, and then repeated uncritically by adherents to a particular ideology.

Early orange (expert) stage — this is “debate culture”, where the goal is always to compare the most idealized version of your own perspective (which is often established via Amber top-down communication), to the most negative straw-man depiction of the other’s perspective. Believes “critical thinking” primarily means to be critical of all perspectives that are not your own. The goal is to feel like the smartest person in the room.

Late orange (achiever) stage — this is more like “dialogue culture”, where the point is not necessarily to “win” a conversation (though that can take place as well), but rather to learn more about each other’s views and values. These dialogues can certainly take the form of debate, of course, but not the “bad faith” debate of early orange, which likes to make caricatures and straw-men out of opposing views. Instead there is more emphasis on “steel-manning” each other’s point of view, rather than straw-manning them, since “critical thinking” means we need to be even more critical of our own ideas than we are of other people’s ideas.

Green stage — this looks something like “discourse culture”, where the dialogue is opened up to far more perspectives, which can produce a far more robust conversation with a pluralism of informative perspectives across a wide spectrum of thought. At this stage, “alternative” perspectives are often actively prioritized over “mainstream” or “orthodox” or “dominant” perspectives. Often lacks a way to navigate these accumulated perspectives, or to recognize which perspectives may be more relevant/germane/legitimate (that is, a lack of a real “enfoldment mechanism”). This is the stage that many/most of our social media platforms currently run on.

Teal stage — I like to call this “enfoldment culture”, where participants have done the inner work to dislodge their identity from their political or ideological views, allowing them to have more robust conversations, to rethink or enhance their own positions, and to distinguish partial-truths from less-partial-truths, whether in themselves or from others. Can still be passionately invested in a discussion or a set of ideas, but there is much less “grasping” since that passion is yet another subject to be made into object. Has much more capacity to fold together seemingly irreconcilable truths, often by using methods such as polarity management, integral truth claims, and stage-specific interpretations of truth.

To me, this can a fairly useful way to gauge at least some aspect another person’s development as you are talking to them. It’s rarely a good idea to try to make an object out of someone else’s subject, unless you have direct and intimate access to their interiors — not only is that assessment often incorrect, it also tends to be rude. However, these different styles of engagement described above are often products of a person’s interpersonal line — and since “interpersonal” also means “intersubjective”, and requires more than one person/subject to participate, it gives the person/subject on the other end of the interaction more access to the first subject’s interiors, inferred from their overall preferred conversation style (so long as we remember there is often a gap between one’s interpersonal growth, and one’s intrapersonal growth, especially when emotions begin to flare up). Those at higher stages are capable of inhabiting the lower stages if/when needed or appropriate, but those at lower stages are incapable of inhabiting the higher.

Hopefully another useful heuristic to help us navigate discussions in this space, and to engage with each other with as much good-faith authenticity as possible!

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Let’s start continue this with two questions.

What can we learn regarding content topics you create and how people respond?

In grading the discussions and participation on this forum where can improvement be made?

Great questions! My theory?

#1: People are naturally attracted to discussions that feature disagreement.

For example, every month (well, most months anyway) I release a new episode of The Ken Show, which is far and away our most popular content series, which receives more engagement than any other program. And yet, the discussion threads for those episodes tend to be somewhat inactive. That doesn’t mean people don’t like the discussion — they seem to enjoy the series very much, they simply don’t engage with the attached discussion threads very much. Why is that? Well that brings us back to my theory — I think most people here likely agree with the majority of what Ken and I discuss in those episodes, and if social media tells us anything, it’s that disagreements drive the most “user engagement” in the attention age. People are more likely to voice a disagreement with a particular issue, than they are an agreement. Must be the primate in us.

So instead people gravitate to threads where, by their nature, every perspective is a partial perspective, because there is no such thing as a “fully developed political view” (though some views are more developed than others). Politics is as much the “art of the partial” as it is the art of the possible, so it’s a space where people can feel free to voice their disagreement. But we run into problems when…

#2: Social media conditions us to make our political identity our primary seat of identity.

Everything these days gets filtered through a political lens, and we tend to take our own political filters far more seriously than we should. It’s rare to find genuine epistemic humility when it comes to the ways we make sense of the world, and how we encode that sense-making into our political identities and actions. Everyone is radicalized, by virtue of participating with these sorts of flat postmodern information platforms, which creates a series of autopoietically self-reinforcing epistemic bubbles that can be very difficult to break out of. We are being conditioned by the ubiquitous algorithms we are perpetually surrounded by, the water we are all swimming in but few of us can notice, and those algorithms tend to send us down any number of rabbit holes rather than lifting us up the conveyor belt.

And the primacy of the political identity in the social media age is simultaneously perplexing while also making a bit of sense. By definition, the political sphere is the realm where we have the least agency and the least control, so it’s a bit funny that we place so much emphasis on our own political beliefs and leanings. But I have a feeling this results from an overcompensation for that lack of control, which would explain why we make our political views the most primary features of our identity, and the most primary filter we enact the world (and each other) through.

And that is also okay! History is literally made by people who strongly advocate their view, and since many of us wish to see any number of social, cultural, and personal transformations, there is wisdom in bringing strength to your own political advocacy. But there is also a transparency that becomes necessary at integral stages, I think, or else we get lost in idolatry — either idolatry for someone else, or idolatry for ourselves.

So we invite the voltage, but high voltage also needs to be properly grounded, or else someone gets electrocuted.

As for your last question, where can improvement be made, this is why I shared the stages of communication strategy above. I think if we can better identify what stage we are consolidating to at any given time, we can create some basic guardrails for ourselves that can hopefully guide us gently toward more developed, more discerning, and more depth-based methods of engagement together.

Just some quick reflections around your questions, I hope they are helpful.

Let’s first start with the fact that Corey started this discussion about Spirituality fifteen hours before you started this thread:

Here we have a matter of options and choice.
There was a perfectly nonpolitical discussion available and ready to have a discussion about it.

So - what can we learn about the topic Corey Created, and how people responded?

While @excecutive you say you hoped for one thing - when presented with such a discussion you ignored it. I have the opinion that this discussion is instead a passive aggressive axe grinding.

Today or tomorrow I will listen to the “Dream Yoga” topic. I will try to decide if it is cultural appropriation or otherwise, then see if there is anything I can apply to my own spiritual practice.

If you want to discuss Integral spirituality sans politics and snark - I will meet you there in a few days after enough people have a chance to listen to it…

I agree with both … 1. People are naturally attracted to discussions that feature disagreement. and 2. Social media conditions us to make our political identity our primary seat of identity.

I think most people love to watch their side being defended or their opposition exposed. If that happens with fairness and balance everyone is learning and engaged. When it’s one sided you have a TruthSocial platform

I think this comments fundamental point is flawed … please hear me out.

I don’t think there is a concrete formula or stage upon which truth is built. There is only the understanding of it. I think you and those who understand this should be probing and encouraging exploration around these sensitive topics to lead and/or redirect the discourse to accommodate these stage variables.

@FermentedAgave at least presents a contrasting view … yes that contradicts and triggers those on the Left. He may rely on those political reactions to flare rebuttals of “what-aboutisms”. He’s mostly alone here in his views and so a few of us have tried to show intellectual solidarity, acknowledging his side of an argument. Try using FoxNews to make a point with Progressive’s, you’re dead on arrival. I hope that makes my point?

Approaching a person on the right and/or left with information that opposes their thinking undermines their attention and heightens distrust. I would suggest a balanced use of information. Approach people using their own side to make a point. Then use honest Socratic thought provoking questions about their own side.

Ask honest questions and then listen, be sure to let them be heard. Acknowledge understanding their view, even if you disagree. This tends to encourage more thinking and positive dialogues. This approach may actually rise to the level of discourse toward influencing and reaching others in a deeper more profound way?

I would suggest that You specifically, as the face of this forum, lead this type of positive interaction. If you need to attack the snarky loud-mouths create a new profile to do that with. I think there should be moderate and friendly leaders who can direct and manage a better, more progressive engagement among all the people here. Maybe we will even improve the number of replies from those who show up here?

Thanks for hearing me out! ~ Peace :slight_smile:

Thank you @raybennett for pointing out Cory’s post. I hope you engage and other do too, I promise to read and participate where I can contribute constructively. This post was not to undermine his efforts promoting his own platform. I started this as a spin-off of the Propaganda post because it’s on fire at the moment and I want out of that space.

Thanks for hanging with the discussion @excecutive, this stuff is important to get right.

A few clarifications.

I think most people love to watch their side being defended or their opposition exposed.

I can say, this is not really the case for me. I mean, I can surely locate that within me, but it’s not typically how I conduct myself. I feel much more creative when I am talking with people who disagree with me. Sometimes because there is some new shared underlying agreement that helps reshape my own views, often because the disagreement helps me sharpen and reassert my own views. It’s a constant process of perspectival give-and-take. Which is why my closest friend group that I talk to every day is composed of some who often agree with me, and others who more often don’t, which greatly helps me identify the blindspots and biases in my thinking, and when I need to do some careful re-thinking. It doesn’t make my unique views evaporate, if anything it makes them stronger and more defensible. As it’s supposed to be, I believe.

Some of my best writing over the last couple years have come from disagreements in this space. Just last week I did a talk with Ken that featured a comment I wrote for a political discussion here, discussing the overall regression that Ken sees in Jordan Peterson. I basically took that entire comment (which was about the nature of regression, how “re-integration” can sometimes lead to regression, how our worldviews are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of regression because they are largely influenced by our peers and informational terrains) and repurposed it for the Ken Show. That particular discussion with Ken would not have surfaced if it were not for the disagreement in this space.

I hear you, and have some partial agreement here. But I just want to point out — after making a case for why we should “listen to everybody” without pointing out flaws in each other’s thinking, this is precisely what you just did with me. Which I do not take any kind of offense to, I’m just pointing out how challenging this particular frame can be, and the sorts of contradictions that can come with it. I don’t see a whole lot of distance between saying “your fundamental point is flawed” and “I see this view as mythological and/or belief-based”.

I think you and those who understand this should be probing and encouraging exploration around these sensitive topics to lead and/or redirect the discourse to accommodate these stage variables.

Sort of. If we want to have a talk about, say, “Integral Cosmology”, we don’t need to include the idea that the earth is a flat disk resting on four pillars supported by a giant turtle. If we are writing a book about “Integral Psychology” we don’t need to include a chapter about phrenology. If we are discussing Integral Medicine, we don’t need to include bloodletting. If we are talking about religion we don’t need to include animal or human sacrifice. Et cetera. We can talk about how different realities get interpreted up and down the developmental spiral, sure! We can talk about how astrology led to astronomy, how alchemy led to chemistry, how phrenology led to psychology — but that doesn’t mean we need to actually include the views from those particular stages. We always want to include “the rungs of the ladder”, but we do not need to include the views from each of those rungs (particularly the views from early rungs).

I would suggest that You specifically, as the face of this forum, lead this type of positive interaction.

Here’s what I think might be overlooked by this — I wear multiple hats. I built the site, I produce our media and writing and graphics and communications, I get on camera to host the ongoing programs and series. Which means that sometimes I am advocating the network as a whole, other times I am advocating my own views as a node within that network. And since many of my shows depend on having a cogent and coherent view as we look at multiple different kinds of issues, this is a space where those views can be developed and put to the test. It’s literally my job to have a view, and to find a way to make space for multiple other views. I don’t think it’s fair to ask me to only do one, but not the other — especially when people are responding to a particular view that I put forward, which may not align with their own.

So when I am acting as a single node in the network, I will inevitably share views that not everyone will agree with. Some views will be straight up incompatible with other people’s views. And I think that should be allowed. 2 + 2 cannot equal 4 and 5 at the same time, even if we are trying to get as many flavors of mathematical thinking as possible into the room. At some point there needs to be some bottom floor of basic shared agreement.

So I would invite you to take a fresh look at the various kinds of contributions that I regularly make to this forum, see how often I try to “lead this type of positive interaction”, and recognize that sometimes I am speaking for my own views (especially when those views are challenged), while other times I am speaking for the network and the overall integral principles of “non-exclusion, enfoldment, and enactment” as a whole. I can be both whole and part, yes? I think the issue here may be that you only seem to want to hold me to one of those standards, but not allow the other, and therefore not allow my own unique expression to also come through (funny enough, this feels like a classic Enneagram type 9/Type 4 conflict. I am a 4, but I don’t know your type. That’s just the dynamic this reminds me of, and perhaps part of our difference here is merely typological :slight_smile: ) And this expectation is difficult, when my job is literally to craft and share my own unique view, my own sense-making, my own enactment of “truth” as I see it. Which, sorry to say, will sometimes run counter to your enactment of “truth”.

@FermentedAgave at least presents a contrasting view … yes that contradicts and triggers those on the Left. He may rely on those political reactions to flare rebuttals of “what-aboutisms”. He’s mostly alone here in his views and so a few of us have tried to show intellectual solidarity, acknowledging his side of an argument. Try using FoxNews to make a point with Progressive’s, you’re dead on arrival. I hope that makes my point?

I have told Agave many, many times in the past that I value our interactions, even when (especially when) we disagree — which is often. And I have made efforts multiple times to build some kind of bridge with him, but in my view he has quickly burned almost every single one of those bridges. From our very first interaction he has been rather antagonistic, aggressive, and dismissive of my views and contributions, both in this community and in the world, even when I am trying my best to find agreement with him — and even on non-political threads. There is only so much you can expect me to do with that.

Alas, I’ve also told Agave several times that this is a members-only community, even while we wait for the technology to be able to automatically sign non-members out of the forum (which may have been today, according to our tech guy? We are still testing the code in the background.) As I stated a month or two ago, there are already enough non-member Integral groups out there, this one was originally designed only for supporting members who give us the oxygen we need to continue running the ship, as we have done for the last 20 years.

And one final note — my name is Corey, not “Cory” :wink:

Hope this is all as well-received as I intended it to be. Be well.

Well received :slight_smile: … Thank you for hearing me out and not spinning this into politics.

This comment was not an attack on you personally. When I am attacking you I promise I will reference you. It may be misspelled, sorry for that, but I will always be frank and respectful.

I realize this is your profession and you do a lot of work here, I thank you for that. :slight_smile:

I still suggest that your role as “Man Behind the Curtain” be more like an Umpire in a baseball game. I have never seen Ken Wilber weight in here, at least that I am aware of? Having different roles with unique uniforms might avoid bleed over in judgments into the political spin realm?

I’m curious, does anyone in this online community ever meet up in the real world?