(This continues my critique of "The Marriage of Sense and Soul". It demonstrates once again a series of half-truths, inconsistencies and confusions arising from Ken Wilber's failure to give a proper dynamic interpretation of relationships.
Ken starts off Chapter 6 "The Re-Enchantment of the World" with the following quote
"A Map of the Universe drawn by the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and continuing down today in the official mood of empirical science, would essentially be nothing but the Right half of figure 5-1. Interior holons such as images, symbols and concepts, were allowed no substantial reality on their own; they were merely representations of something in the Right-Hand world, the material world, which now alone was real"
In trying to represent the Collapse of the Kosmos as that of Left to Right-Hand quadrants, Ken misrepresents the true position.
In dynamic terms science involves both Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants (where mental constructs and sense data interact).
When we try to represent this interaction in (reduced) static terms two opposite interpretations are equally valid.
1) We can attempt to collapse the Left to the Right-Hand quadrant. Here experience starts with Right-Hand (exterior) data. Though Left-Hand (interior) constructs are also necessarily involved they are interpreted as having a direct correspondence with the sense data.
This is the empirical view of science (with which Ken Wilber identifies his argument).
2) We can attempt to collapse the Right to the Left-Hand quadrant. Here experience starts with Left-Hand (interior) constructs. Though Right-Hand (exterior) data are also necessarily involved they are interpreted as having a direct correspondence with the conceptual constructs.
This is the theoretical view of science (which Ken Wilber conveniently ignores).
Thus - in direct terms - empirical science represents the Right-Hand quadrant (to which the Left is collapsed).
However theoretical science - in direct - terms represents the Left-Hand quadrant (to which the Right is collapsed).
Thus it is very misleading to try and represent the disaster of modernity as the collapse of the Left to the Right-Hand quadrant (for equally it can be represented as the collapse of the Right to the Left Hand).
The real disaster of modernity is the attempt to view interactions - which are inherently dynamic - in (reduced) static terms (robbing them of true existential meaning).
So let us once again examine this reductionist process as it applies to science.
When a research scientist obtains empirical data (exterior), s/he will try and abstract an underlying conceptual pattern (interior). In other words the theoretical pattern is induced directly from the data.
Ken Wilber for example induced his four-quadrant model (interior) from extensive empirical data (exterior).
The crucial assumption is that the (derived) theoretical explanation corresponds directly with the sense data. Put another way the constructs are assumed to be neutral with respect to the corresponding data.
However when a theoretical scientist constructs a new hypothesis, s/he will then try and apply it to (exterior) sense data. Now the empirical data are assumed to correspond directly with the theoretical constructs.
So Einstein's Theory of Relativity was applied to astronomical data (to prove its validity). Its validity was thereby deduced from this application.
So here the empirical sense data are assumed to correspond with the theoretical constructs. The data are now neutral with respect to the constructs.
So if we represent empirical science as a Right-Hand event, then theoretical science must be represented in Left-Hand terms.
Thus science can be interpreted as either Right-Hand or Left-Hand (with direct correspondence with the opposite polarity assumed in both cases).
So the fundamental feature of science (whether empirical or theoretical) is the attempt to freeze the dynamic interaction as between Left and Right-Hand quadrants. Thus relationships - which are inherently dynamic - are interpreted in merely reduced static terms. In other words they are robbed of true existential meaning.
Now Ken Wilber tends to use interior to refer to what is (existentially) meaningful. However this is not strictly accurate.
This should be obvious from his own interpretation of mathematics, which he classifies as an interior Left-Hand activity. However mathematical understanding is devoid of true existential value.
So Ken is thus lumping together - in a somewhat confused manner - interior meanings (that are static) with interior meanings (that are dynamic).
However the true key to dynamic meaning is the interaction of both Left-Hand and Right-Hand events. Thus existential meaning can be equally associated with Left or Right (and not exclusively with Left which Ken implies).
This tendency to misinterpret the nature of dynamic meaning is also evident in the way he speaks about the Great Chain of being.
"For the Great Chain of Being was above all the great holarchy of interior consciousness as it developed from matter to sensation to images and symbols and concepts, to rational and higher rational capacities, into transrational modes of soul and spirit."
However is very mistaken to try and identify the Great Chain solely with interior consciousness.
Ken would accept that the culmination of the Great Chain (nondual reality) would involve both exterior and interior (for nondual reality is without polarity). So clearly it is mistaken to try and identify nondual reality solely with interior consciousness.
Once again Ken's problem arises from trying to view what is inherently dynamic in reduced static terms.
At he bottom of P.80, Ken says
"In not much more than a single century, the richly textured and multidimensional Kosmos underwent a shuddering collapse into a flat and faded system of monotonous IT's utterly devoid of consciousness, care, compassion, concern, values, depth and divinity."
Now this is a passionate statement, which contains a great deal of truth.
However in Ken's terms this represents the collapse of Left to Right.
Rather it is the collapse of inherently dynamic meaning to a reduced static interpretation.
Ken rightly feels that modern understanding has largely lost its true existential meaning.
However this loss of value more correctly represents the attempt to freeze dynamic interactions (in either Left or Right-Hand terms).
So compassion for example does not strictly belong to the Left-Hand quadrant but rather involves Left and Right (in dynamic interaction). In reduced static terms it can be represented in either Left or Right-Hand terms.
Thus if I go to a hospital and see someone in pain I may well feel compassion. However this value arises in the dynamic context of an interactive event (involving both quadrants).
So in static terms I could interpret my compassion as a Right-Hand event as induced through seeing the (exterior) patient.
However equally I could interpret it as a Left-Hand event as my compassion (interior) going out to the suffering patient.
It is similar with all values. To interpret them in merely Left-Hand manner is one-sided and unbalanced.
In the Section "The Disqualified Universe", he continues with his assertion that the Kosmos has been reduced to Right-Hand objects and ITs.
"This quivering collapse of the Kosmos into nothing but Right-Hand objects and ITs was not, as earlier noted, the result of a Newtonian worldview as opposed to an Einsteinian worldview."
The great irony of this statement is that both Newton and Einstein represent supreme examples of the conceptual Left-Hand approach to science. In other words both were primarily concerned with the construction of a theoretical scientific framework with universal validity.
So in seeking to apply this mentally constructed framework (interior) to the physical world (exterior) they were in fact collapsing Right-Hand relationships (to the Left). In other words they were operating under the assumption that the object relationships of physical science bear a direct correspondence to their theoretical constructs.
Ken is therefore making a big blunder through failing to notice the crucial difference as between the empirical and theoretical approaches to science.
The very heading of this section "The Disqualified Universe" in itself represents a confusion. Ken's point is that science is concerned solely with quantitative relationships (which he identifies in Right-Hand terms).
However whereas empirical data are quantitative (in a direct sense), theoretical constructs are strictly qualitative notions.
For example it is easy to accept that any particular number is quantitative. However the general concept of "number" is a qualitative notion. Likewise all conceptual constructs are qualitative notions.
In effect Ken is failing to distinguish static from dynamic interpretations.
So science deals with both quantity (empirical data) and quality (theoretical constructs). However it gives a (merely) reduced static interpretation of both notions.
In empirical science qualities (theoretical constructs) are derived directly from quantities (empirical data). Here the Left is collapsed to the Right.
However in theoretical science, quantities (empirical data) are derived directly from qualities (theoretical constructs). So here the Right is collapsed to the Left.
Thus science has both a quantitative and qualitative aspect (where both are given a reduced static interpretation).
In this (static) sense both quantitative and qualitative interpretations are robbed of true existential meaning.
When Ken refers to the disqualified universe he is really referring to the lack of a true existential notion of quality in the modern world (due to the dominance of science).
However he fails to distinguish this dynamic notion of quality from the (reduced) static notion.
He misleadingly identifies the existential meaning of quality with the Left-Hand quadrant. "The Left-Hand is the home of quality; the Right-Hand of quantity."
However in truth this (dynamic) existential notion arises from the interaction of both Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants (and cannot be exclusively identified with the Left).
There is a continuation of the same confusion in Ken's interpretation of the collapse of religious experience to Right-Hand quadrants.
Once more - in true dynamic terms - religious experience is neither a Left-Hand or Right-Hand event. It arises from the interaction of both quadrants.
So again in reduced static terms it can be given either a Right-Hand or Left-Hand interpretation.
Ken concentrates merely on the Right-Hand interpretation (which he identifies with identifiable physiological reactions in the brain).
However religion can be given a merely Left-Hand interpretation as a rigid system of conceptual beliefs (robbing them of true existential value).
Indeed this tendency is now leading in large measure to the decline of institutional type religion (as it lacks authentic spiritual inspiration).
Ken finishes this section with a number of very misleading statements which again exemplifies his failure to distinguish static from dynamic notions.
"For example, compassion is better than murder, but a planet is not better than a galaxy. Health is better than fullness, but a mountain is not better than a river".
As we have seen values only acquire existential meaning in a dynamic context (involving Left and Right-Hand quadrants.
So compassion can only be better than murder (in this dynamic context). So if I feel compassion - say for a sick patient in hospital - this event necessarily involves the interaction of both Left and Right).
When Ken then attempts to argue that planets are not better than galaxies he is giving a reduced static interpretation of objects (where exterior meaning is assumed independent of the interior observer). However strictly speaking this is "the myth of the given".
So the statement planets are not better than galaxies is only true if we accept "the myth of the given"
However in a dynamic context the observation of objects cannot be divorced from an underlying value context. This is a very important point. Science is not neutral and value free. For example the areas chosen for scientific investigation, the kind of data observed, the interpretation applied to this data all reflect an underlying value system (of what is scientifically meaningful).
So in this context a planet could be better than a galaxy. For example if planetary studies were currently deemed a valuable field for scientific research, then in this context planets cold well be better than galaxies.
So once again Ken's problems stems from his failure to distinguish a static from a dynamic interactive interpretation. He misleadingly identifies (quantitative) objects with the Right-Hand and (qualitative) values with the Left-Hand quadrant.
However this is only valid in a reduced fashion (where both are robbed of existential meaning).
If we are to give quality (and indeed quantity) a true existential interpretation then we must define them in dynamic interactive terms.
When he identifies "the disenchanted world" or "the disqualified universe" as having no quality or meaning this is true in a dynamic - rather than a static - sense (which unfortunately Ken never identifies).
In other words quality (and quantity) - in existential terms - results from the mutual interaction of both Left and Right-Hand quadrants. Both aspects have a reduced static interpretation as either Right or Left-Hand quadrants.
In the next section "The Postmodern Revolt against Flatland" Ken identifies four post modern rebellions Romantic, Idealist, Postmodern and Integral all of which represent an attempt to integrate the big three.
Ken speaks of Immanuel Kant as the first great philosopher to attempt this integration.
He gives a useful brief survey of Kant's three books. However one could raise some question marks regarding Ken's interpretation.
"The Critique of Pure Reason" does indeed expose the inability of monological reason to grasp metaphysical truths. As Kant showed (one-directional) reason can neither prove nor disprove the existence of spirit.
Indeed this is the starting basis for a more dynamic approach (where truth is seen in terms of the interaction of opposite polarities). This approach - arising from Kant's work - was later developed by Hegel.
However there is a problem when Ken says that Kant demonstrated that theoretical reason was confined to the categories that organise sense experience.
Later on in his book in discussing mathematics Ken makes a point of stressing that a concept such as imaginary numbers has no sensory interpretation. So clearly at certain levels rational (one-directional) constructs are not limited to the sensorimotor domain.
(By contrast one of the key assumptions of Holistic Mathematics is that - when dynamically interpreted - all mathematical notions, such as imaginary numbers, do indeed have an (exterior) physical interpretation).
Then in his second critique "Critique of Practical Reason" Kant showed that dialogical reason does tend to show a type of transcendental and spiritual knowledge. Moral reason can be believed to operate under the assumptions that Spirit does exist.
Actually Kant's view here is really the starting basis once again for a true (dynamic) interpretation of morality.
However this is not a "we" knowledge (as Ken maintains). Rather it represents the - relative - interaction of Left -Hand (I and we) with IT knowledge. So the ought of moral decisions arises from the interaction of both the personal and impersonal aspects of events.
So "The Critique of Pure Reason" concentrates on the more impersonal aspect of experience (science). "The Critique of Practical Reason" points to the more dynamic aspect (morality). The Critique of Pure Judgement then fills in the more directly personal dimension (aesthetics).
It is not really - as Ken states that aesthetics provides the bridge as between science and morality. Rather morality provides the bridge as between science and art.
I have shown before how Ken's identification of morality as "we" and aesthetics as "I" is untenable.
In a passage on P.88, Ken demonstrates the inconsistency of his own terminology.
"And that was the exhilarating message of Kant's second critique. It does'nt matter if the world of Its is a deterministic system, because in the moral stance of worldcentric ethical embrace, I am a free soul, free because these dictates issue from my own deepest being.
This clearly demonstrates an "I" language of morality (consistent with the existential position). However this is inconsistent with Ken's attempt to associate morality as "we" language.
All of these problems stem from the failure to come to grips with the true nature of dynamic interactions.
To be continued …