(This post is mainly concerned with identifying the shortcomings of Ken Wilber's's treatment of the pre/trans fallacy.
Ken's approach - which is somewhat rigid - is properly suited to translation of the unfolding of separate stages of development (i.e. differentiation).
However a comprehensive treatment requires that equal emphasis be given to the integration of these stages.
As I have stated repeatedly Ken continually confuses integration with differentiation. These processes are qualitatively very different and require for their translation distinct logical approaches.
We now move on to Chapter 10 of "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" entitled "Romanticism: Return of the Origin".
Ken begins this Chapter by saying that Kant ultimately failed in his attempt to integrate the big three.
I believe that Kant's approach was flawed in part because he tryied to integrate science and morality through aesthetics.
I beleive that the correct approach requires giving primacy to the spiritual dimension (i.e. morality).
Only through this centre can the other two aspects (science and art) be then meaningfully integrated.
Furthermore as the integration of the big three takes place - in a direct sense - through contemplative awareness, a different style of rational translation is necessary to (indirectly) represent this process.
This is what I refer to as bi-directional understanding, which in dynamic terms is very closely related to spiritual intuition. However, whereas Kant successfully exposed the limitations of conventional (one-directional) reason he never really made the full transition to true bi-directional understanding.
However as Ken states, the Romantics subsequently placed undue emphasis on the personal domain of aesthetics, sentiment and feeling in seeking this desired integration.
Ken devotes his next section to his the pre/trans fallacy.
Though this has become the most famous Wilberian doctrine it is very flawed as it is based on an interpretation of development that very much lacks a dynamic perspective.
Let me briefly explain.
There are really two ways of looking at development (which I refer to as the qualitative binary system).
The first is the linear (one-directional) approach i.e. the logic of form (which is the holistic interpretation of 1).
Here stages of development - which are treated as separate and distinct - are understood to unfold in an ascending (one-directional) hierarchical fashion.
So the prepersonal stages unfold first in development. These are then followed by personal stages and finally by transpersonal (or transrational) development.
In this approach a very clear division is maintained as between prepersonal, personal and transpersonal. For example it implies that authentic spiritual development is not possible before the "lower" personal stages have been properly consolidated.
Ken Wilber's interpretation of the pre/trans fallacy is based on a somewhat rigid application of this linear (one-directional) view of development.
However there is an equally valid alternative circular (bi-directional) approach i.e. the logic of emptiness (which is the holistic interpretation of 0).
Here the stages of development - which are treated as dynamically complementary - are simultaneously present at any given moment. This entails that we necessarily have access to all stages of development (as relative expressions of the underlying spiritual present). However the extent of this access varies greatly (depending on the quality of underlying spiritual awareness).
In this dynamic sense, prepersonal necessarily implies transpersonal for they represent complementary poles of development. (Similarly transpersonal implies prepersonal).
So it makes no sense from this perspective to sharply separate pre from trans (or trans from pre).
Ken Wilber's approach in fact is very one-sided as he ignores dynamic complementary (i.e. circular development) in his treatment of the pre/trans fallacy.
In a direct sense the linear (one-directional) method is properly suited to the differentiation of separate stages of development.
However when it comes to the proper translation of the integration of these various stages we need the circular (bi-directional) approach.
So in effect, Ken Wilber - because of the lack of a bi-directional approach - continually reduces the process of integration to that of differentiation (even though it is qualitatively very different).
His treatment of the pre/trans fallacy is only appropriate from a linear perspective (and even then in a very qualified manner).
Only here is it valid to separate "lower" prepersonal from "higher" transpersonal stages of development.
In this (linear) context Ken identifies the two forms of the fallacy as
1) Reductionism (where "higher" trans is confused with the "lower" pre).
2) Elevationism (where the "lower" pre is confused with the "higher" trans).
However when we look on the pre/trans fallacy from the corresponding (circular) integrated perspective the reverse position actually holds, as pre and trans are now - by definition - dynamically complementary terms.
Again here in this now (circular) context, we can identify two forms of the pre/trans fallacy.
1) the failure to realise that "lower" prepersonal development necessarily involves a transpersonal dimension (though generally in a very confused manner).
However, lucid moments of transpersonal insight are possible at these "lower" levels and are often experienced by those who possess an inherent mystical gift. (Several participants to the Forum have already testified to this truth!)
2) the failure to realise that all "higher" transpersonal development necessarily involves a prepersonal dimension (in a more mature enlightened manner).
In other words authentic spiritual development necessarily involves intense exposure to the neglected shadow side of personality. It requires a high level of spiritual awareness to literally throw light into the deepest recesses of this shadow. Full reconciliation with the shadow is thus not possible in the absence of such radical spiritual insight.
I have written before on how this dialectical aspect of spiritual development (entailing alternating periods of illumination and purgation) is brought out well in Christian mysticism. Indeed the same point is made by spiritual practitioners such as Jack Kornfield in "Dialogues with Ken Wilber" where the necessity of the Descent in terms of a balanced approach to spiritual development is strongly emphasised.
The question then remains as how to reconcile these apparently contradictory positions.
In the earlier stages of development pre and trans interact in a very confused manner. The key task is then to properly differentiate opposites in experience (so as to end this confusion).
This task (of differentiation) culminates in personal development (which strictly is neither pre nor trans).
However with "higher" spiritual development the key task is to integrate (what has already been differentiated). So one must unite again polar opposites in experience (this time in a mature enlightened fashion). In other words one must increasingly grow in the realisation that pre and trans are dynamic relative terms (which ultimately are identical)
However Ken Wilber's approach is suited merely to the differentiation of structures in development and his treatment of the pre/trans fallacy very much reflects this bias.
So when we examine carefully Ken's position, it is full of half-truths.
On P.92 he says
"Granted spirituality is in some sense beyond mere rationality"
Yes this is certainly so. However it only reflects one side of the truth (i.e. the transcendent other-worldly aspect of spirituality).
To maintain balance Ken should also stress that spirituality is in some sense within or inherent in rationality (i.e. the immanent this-worldly aspect of spirituality).
So spirit certainly lies beyond reason (i.e. it is transrational)
However spirit equally is inherent within reason (i.e. it is prerational). In other words without an underlying spiritual basis to personality it would not be possible to use reason).
So if the transcendent aspect of spirit is identified as transrational, then the immanent aspect is - in relative terms - prerational.
Whereas it is necessary in early development to properly differentiate structures (so as not to confuse pre with trans), equally it is necessary in later development to properly integrate these structures (so that pre and trans ultimately become identical in spirit).
Ken then goes on to say
"Prerationality includes all the modes leading up to rationality (such as sensation, vital life feeling, bodily emotion, and organic sentiment), and by its very nature tends to exclude rationality, no matter what lip service it might give to it."
I would very much disagree with this quote. Rationality (based on the cognitive function) is present - though in a confused manner - at all the "earlier" stages of development.
It is true that full specialisation of linear (one-directional) reason only becomes possible with the unfolding of the personal stages of development.
However the earlier stages involve a process through which rational ability is gradually formed.
Initially bi-directional reason (where opposite poles are greatly confused exists).
As differentiation of structures takes place one-directional reason gradually unfolds.
At first the infant learns to distinguish phenomenal form from emptiness (i.e. separate diagonal polarities). Later s/he learns to distinguish whole from part (i.e. separate vertical polarities). Finally s/he learns to clearly distinguish interior from exterior (i.e. separate horizontal polarities).
So, properly understood, reason exists at all of the earlier stages of development. However it remains somewhat confused as one-directional and bi-directional notions are not yet clearly distinguished.
Ken misleadingly believes that these "earlier" stages are not rational because he identifies reason solely with one-directional logic. This is the basis once again of a merely differentiated approach to development.
However, as we have seen, an integrated approach involves the incorporation of bi-directional notions. When we look at development from this dynamic perspective it is never possible to fully separate prerational, rational and transrational notions as they all necessarily co-exist.
It is precisely because overspecialisation takes place (in terms of the differentiation of stages) that the full unfolding of the "higher" spiritual stages is such a rare occurrence in Western culture.
When one attempts to fully separate pre from trans notions then one is left with development that is neither pre nor trans. Thus the very dynamic of further spiritual development becomes largely lost.
So from a dynamic perspective Ken Wilber's fundamental approach to development is very misleading. If literally followed it would greatly impede the unfolding of the "higher" spiritual stages.
Later in the same paragraph Ken goes on to say
"Once reason has emerged and consolidated, consciousness can continue to grow and develop and evolve, moving into transrational, transpersonal and supraindividual modes of awareness. Transrationality, unlike prerationality, happily incorporates the rational perspective, and then adds its own defining characteristics; it is thus never anti-reason, but in a friendly way, transreason".
This again is very misleading.
When Ken talks about reason he is referring to linear (one-directional) reason.
However the rationality that is compatible with authentic spiritual development is circular (bi-directional) reason.
The very basis of one-directional reason is to make clear polar distinctions in experience. However as spirit is without polarity such reason is incompatible with contemplative spiritual development. The very basis of bi-directional reason however is to create continual paradox (in terms of conventional rational experience). This in turn helps to lessen (rigid) identification with polarised phenomenal experience.
Now the most comprehensive level of development - which I refer to as Radial Reality - does indeed fruitfully incorporate linear as well as circular reason. This is simply stating that Radial Reality involves the mature differentiation and integration of both the rational (one-directional) and pre-rational and transrational (bi-directional) domains.
So Ken's treatment of the pre/trans fallacy is crucially flawed as it is based on a linear (one-directional) approach suited solely to differentiation of development.
However a comprehensive approach to the pre/trans fallacy requires the equal use of the circular (two-directional) approach (which is directly suited to the translation of integrated development).
Indeed in this binary approach to the pre/trans fallacy the crucial task is to show how these two approaches are themselves related throughout development.
I am not by dismissing Ken's analysis of the shortcomings of the Romantic position. However - because of his limited interpretation of the pre/trans fallacy - it is consistently based on a half-truth.
For example Ken says that the Romantics confused differentiation with dissociation.
In other words when they saw that (rational) differentiation had been pushed too far leading to the fragmentation of society they tried to push back to an earlier stage of development which inevitably led to dissociation.
Now this may in large measure be true. However it clearly represents a merely linear view of regression. However because Ken tends to identify regression with this linear view he fails to realise the vital dynamic role of circular regression in development.
However as this is such a fundamental point, I will reserve treatment for the next post.
To be continued…..