The work of Carl Jung in Psychology of the Unconscious, Modern Man in Search of the Soul, Psychology and Religion, Symbols of Transformation, Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, Robert Moore’s King, Warrior, Magician, Lover and Jordan Peterson’s Map’s of Meaning, all point to something similar and profoundly important. The deep structures of the human psyche express an ageless wisdom, and this wisdom is expressed in the story telling capacity of the soul in the way that it has out pictured our deepest ontological considerations into what has become the mytho-poetic narratives of religion. The archetypes at the root of the psyche which make up the narrative components of the self and the soul, are expressing something we should really honor and pay attention to. Distilled into its most refined form, is the doctrine of perennialism.
Eros, telos involution and evolution are its basic parts. How did we get here? What does it mean for us to be? And what should we do about it? are questions this story begins to provide a frame work for us to answer. It proposes Spirit is the source and origin of existence, our true nature and the fundamental constituent of reality. Through the act of creation it has undergone a transformation and a descent in to time and form, making us and the world, as well as the laws of nature and the ladder of evolution - inner and outer. It suggests our remoteness from the source of light and life is a part of the purpose of creation since the descent and the forgetting of Spirit is remembered and made whole again by our participation in the evolutionary ascent back to the source point completing its mission. This is the law of Love. Integral is an expression of it. To eject this part of it prevents integral from being integral at all.
What Wilber has done is to provide the developmental component of modern science and really all the disciplines on the RT side, and the narrative component of spirituality on the LT, a means of connecting. It works beautifully. He’s set the table for both science and spirituality to sit down together and have a meal. Dinner hasn’t been served yet some might argue. But science - the RT leaning biases - seem to be complaining about what’s on the menu before giving it a chance and taking a bite.
We should be respectful here of the fact that the conversation is at least as much about meaning making, and values as it is about empirical facts and scientific descriptions. The idea that falsifiability of perennialism belongs to the rt quadrant is a non-starter. Also, the idea that the perennial narrative offers nothing legitimate or useful to the rt side is a non-starter. But we find the critics of IT often propose just that. Throw out Eros and Telos! Its woo-woo nonsense because science offers no proof of it. Eros and Telos are satisfactory, however imperfect conceptual scaffolding for a much deeper edifice of knowledge that has yet to be articulated in the language of physics. Nothing about these terms derides science or the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. They do require a loosening of the materialist bias and a reconsideration of the fragmentary atomistic paradigm to get at them more rigorously, but if we’re dealing with good skeptics rather than dogmatic materialists, we’ll be able to eventually sort things out in a way that preserves the meta-narrative and enriches our understanding of its material expression.
When we observe that the basic activity of thought, speech, and values - which is really helpful to look at when working toward getting shared reality - we inevitably see that our meta-filters are coloring and shaping the world we see and our relationship to it. Assuming our understanding of these terms (Eros and Telos) is sufficient or that Ken’s understanding of them is like our own, is dubious. We don’t really know what he means, we only know what we think we mean -which for the most part is a product of the tools with which we use to think. The values hierarchy that’s filtering perception and helping to define and encode meaning in to our understanding is largely determining the richness and complexity we are able to connect to beyond them. This is why the integral project is one of personal evolution. It’s situated in several intractable paradoxes like an Oroborus, reconstituting them even as we attempt to resolve them. We can only see what seems to be the case from our relative position, and our relative position predisposes us to a particular kind of thinking and meaning making. To deal with this, we need a higher position on the ladder so that we can get a better view.
One of the more stunning things about these paradoxes is that language is operating through the holarchical structure that the perennial narrative and integral altitudes illuminate. Holarchy or Holism we learn from not only Ken Wilber but Hegel, Spinoza, Bohm and many others, is the arrangement of parts within larger and larger wholes such that new emergent properties arise at higher orders of complexity providing deeper, more congruent meaning than any of its more fundamental units suggest. Everything seems to follow this organization of parts and wholes in all quadrants including language and thought. Its so ubiquitous even that its reasonable to suggest that we can know something about the properties of holons themselves by observing their effects in our own thinking. Essentially, this is what Eros and Telos are - analogies to describe the behavior of Holons.
The capacity to make these observations, that is to say, to be able to observe the subtle principals embodied the specific forms it takes, is what is described as vision logic. Ken suggests our best bet in developing this capacity is through state training, shadow work and integral life practice in general. There isn’t any evidence I’ve seen that suggests debating the framework helps to develop vision logic. But still, we have a social need for finding shared reality and mutual understanding so we share our views and ideas to feel a connection and hopefully deepen our understanding and find loving support and encouragement from our peers.
Somehow, when mutual understanding happens its because the meaning Holons at higher orders of complexity emerging from its lower level constituents, provide a felt sense of analogical coherence that transcends the sum of its parts. “understanding”. At least that’s the story of integral theory. Eros, Ken seems to suggest, is involved in the self-organizing, cohering, self- transcending, vertical flow of the emergent higher order analogies that we experience when overcome any of those pesky paradoxes or when we say “i get you and mean it”. Its a bloody miracle when it happens.
Douglas Hofstadter suggests that cognition is emergent from earlier holons. His books “Godel, Escher, Bach” details this idea spectacularly. His book “I Am a Strange Loop” also vividly details how cognition is analogical, suggesting that thought and meaning making are processes of the building up of analogies. And that analogies themselves are incomplete, self-referential high level symbol structures that never actually describe the objects they reference but only intimate them. This analogical reasoning is unavoidable, whether we’re talking about philosophy or physics because its how we think. Its what Wilber refers to as absolute subjectivity or the “paper on which the AQAL map is drawn” because whatever we’re observing or measuring, its being interpreted using the tools of symbols in the broader context of the meta-narrative and values structures we have access to.
When we see what some of those high level symbols are, especially in light of what Campbell and Jung and others have pointed out, we can see the significance of the transpersonal “big picture” lens of what IT really is. AQAL alone is useful, but the meta-narrative of “Spirit in action”, perennialism, and the Hero’s journey in our own evolutionary process, gives the model a deeper level of coherence since it sums up the motive force of the integral drive in relation to the full depth and breadth of considerations we can be involved with.
The state stages, in particular the subtle and causal “realms” provide us with the some of the more vivid views of the symbolic “bits” we use to codify our interpretation of reality. And, its specifically those states that provide us with the deeper insights with regard to the meaning of the words “spirit, eros and telos”. And, i think this is where there’s a great deal of contention, these states do lend explanatory and integrative power to observations of the objective domains and even helps to heal some of the paradigmatic blind-spots of science, at least as far as we deal with them in ourselves.
I apologize for being prickly, I am concerned about being marginalized for having a personal relationship to spirit. I’ve endured ridicule and its unsophisticated arguments more than i imagined i would in the integral community. The characterization of perennialism, and pansychism as being “woo” idealism and an “overreach” or the characterization that these views are anything like creationist arguments with their accompanying “cult like behaviors”, only serve to shove people like me back in closet. If you read the critiques Frank has published on Integralworld you’ll see these arguments in gory detail with ad-hominem attacks and straw-man takedowns everywhere. I’d rather that stuff not spill into this forum. Again I apologize. Your question is valid. I hope this has been helpful.