An Integral Critique of Thomas Metzinger’s Talk on Spirituality & Intellectual Honesty

Thomas Metzinger’s talk last night at the Battery on Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty was good…

…but it reminds me of why I dropped out of Stanford in less than a quarter and why I generally find lectures a waste of time:

Everything covered was at an intermediate level (not to say T.M. can’t go higher himself) and his theory was muddled with what I would consider at least a half dozen fundamental errors:

1& 2) No mention of developmental structures consciousness on any spectrum (Kohlberg, Maslow, Commons, Graves, Loevinger etc)

This oversight played out on multiple dimensions of his talk:

a) Did not frame the fight between rationalist philosophers and the church in the proper perspective (Individualistic Modernism vs. Collective Traditionalism).

b) Did not really tap into the values or discuss the emergent behavior present in any of the worldviews beyond modernism (post-modernism, integral etc).

c) All discussions of ethics and intellectual honesty were framed in very dry modern terms based on the views of primarily 17th-19th century philosophers [Kant, Nietzche, Locke etc]. Much progress has been made since then. No mention of even any post modern philosophers like Derrida or Foucault, with their breakthroughs on the relativism of ethics, morals and truth.

3) No mention of developmental stabilization of states of consciousness (Gross, Subtle, Causal, Non-Dual)

4) Lack of knowledge about maps showing culture invariance in meditative and spiritual states of consciousness (…/what-is-the-wilber-comb…/)

5) No proper treatment of the concept of ego-transcendence which a fellow philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris has done a beautiful treatment of:

“As I will discuss in future essays, the form of transcendence that appears to link directly to ethical behavior and human well-being is the transcendence of egoity in the midst of ordinary waking consciousness. It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness—to our thoughts, moods, desires, etc.—that we make progress. Such a project does not, in principle, require that we experience more contents.[5] The freedom from self that is both the goal and foundation of “spiritual” life is coincident with normal perception and cognition—though, admittedly, this can be difficult to realize. –…/it…/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life

6) Psychographic Observer Bias

If Metzinger himself has not experienced “the goal and foundation” of spiritual life, much of his commentary on it is consequentially inconsequential. i.e. If you have never used a microscope to the resolution required to see bacteria, you are not a trustworthy source to comment about the fluid dynamics of bacteria.

Based on his talk he seems to be situated at Modern/Subtle awareness. At least that’s where his whole talk centered from. So any phenomena existing in structures and states higher than Modern/Subtle he wouldn’t be qualified to comment on.

It makes me want to do the work now to put down the the theories I’ve been working on for years into books and papers so that I can start giving talks.

I’ve effectively synthesized Integral Theory with Evolutionary Developmental Systems Theory which generates a wide range of valuable integrations, models and predictions.

To name a few:

– The Integration of Spirituality, Technology & Economy
(specifically accelerating technological progress on a path to a Kurzweilian soft-launch Singularity)

– A developmental path to Enlightenment consistent with developmental psychology, neuroscience and philosophy of mind. (I even construct upon some of Metzinger’s concepts like the Phenomenal Self- Model to create Post-personal Phenomenal Self-Models with non-dual enlightenment pre-requisites)

– A typology of post-enlightenment worldviews and structures of consciousness

– Solutions to the Mind/Body Problem, Free Will, Epistemological Pluralism, God, Moral Relativism, Absolute Truth etc.

– An ontological model of the universe that integrates objective and subjective reality with principles and processes that are embedded in all of the universe’s and likely multiverse’s subsystems.

(This piece has many practical applications. For instance, I used this model to build the ontological model of the Startup Genome for instance, which has recently gone through a significant iteration).

I am standing on the shoulders of some very brilliant, yet relatively unknown minds, so making one step further didn’t require that much effort. I applied a simple cross-paradigmatic approach and things kind of just fell into place.

Alas, this academic project is deep in the backlog right now as I’m prioritizing building businesses over disseminating theories and ideas.

I have decided to prioritize my time this way because the fundamental block in the world’s creative economy is not good theory but the institutions capable of turning good theory into meaningful societal change, in the form of products, services and policies.

So I’m focusing on building those institutions capable of turning theory into action before shaking things up in theory land.

Stay tuned.

And let me know if you want to help.

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