August 12, 2006

"abruptly original" !

Bruce Alderman: TSK Inquiry in AQAL Space: Applications of The Time, Space, Knowledge Vision in Integral Education
In this paper, I explore possible contributions of the Time, Space, Knowledge vision to Integral Studies, particularly in the context of teaching Integral Theory in the classroom. I contend that such a comparative work is merited on two accounts: the post-metaphysical orientation of both visions provides the theoretical foundation, and the emphasis in these traditions on inquiry grounded in a post-metaphysical perspective provides the practical foundation. The latest phase of Integral Theory emphasizes the need to develop a spiritual and philosophical paradigm that is sensitive to and inclusive of the important contributions of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern thought, and Ken Wilber recommends Integral Methodological Pluralism as a means of achieving this. I argue that TSK, as a living spiritual tradition that is alive to a postmodern, post-metaphysical sensibility and which includes a sophisticated praxis for disclosing these insights, may help teachers to powerfully elucidate or experientially ground key concepts of Integral Theory...
For the past three decades, beginning with the publication in the same year of Ken Wilber's (1977) Spectrum of Consciousness and Tarthang Tulku's (1977) Time, Space, and Knowledge, two visions of remarkable originality and integrative power have been unfolding side by side, with apparently little or no contact between them. But while their influence on each other has been negligible, their influence on contemporary intellectual culture has not been. Wilber's Integral philosophy is the inspiration behind such ambitious projects as Integral Institute and Integral University, and his books have been translated into twenty languages (Wilber, 1995). Tarthang Tulku's TSK vision has had less of a cultural impact overall, but his books have been adopted for use in over 100 university courses and programs around the world, and have inspired scholarship in fields as diverse and numerous as those that grace the roster of Integral University (Tarthang Tulku, 1990).
Given the breadth and inclusiveness of these two visions, and in particular the remarkable integration of traditional, modern, and postmodern concerns that each achieves, it is surprising that little if anything has been written on the consonance of their perspectives, or on their potential to contribute to each other. My own interest in exploring their relationship began only recently, as I was reflecting on Wilber's latest writings, particularly those that critics now classify as Wilber-5. Although I have been an active student of both visions for the past fifteen years, practicing TSK periodically while preparing for a career as an integral educator and writer, I had always kept them insulated from each other in my mind and had not considered any sort of comparative study until Wilber (2005a, 2005b, 2005c) began to articulate the particulars of what he calls Integral Post-Metaphysics and Integral Methodological Pluralism. I believe these important new developments in his theory open the way for potentially fruitful interaction with TSK on a number of levels, and I intend explore several of them here in some detail.
Wilber (2005e) claims that he has been thinking in post-metaphysical terms for the past ten to twenty years, but only recently has he begun to clearly articulate the features of this perspective. Early steps in this direction appear in Integral Psychology (2000), where, drawing on related ideas in the work of biologist Rupert Sheldrake and philosopher Charles Pierce, among others, he suggests that the abiding levels of the Great Chain of Being might be understood better as Kosmic habits, established and stabilized over the course of evolutionary history, than as pre-given metaphysical realities (p. 154). As I will discuss in greater detail in the pages ahead, Wilber (2005d) elaborates on this basic idea in his recent writings in several novel ways, the most important of which involves the claim that the world is composed fundamentally of perspectives, not things or processes or even perceptions (Part 1, Integral Post-Metaphysics section, para.9).
Wilber (2005e) regards the development of a post-metaphysical perspective as a revolutionary, "abruptly original" aspect of his theory, and as absolutely essential to the viability of integral spirituality in the modern world. I share his conviction that such a development is important - his passion in this regard is contagious, and the fruits of his own work in this area are impressive - but I do not believe Wilber-5 represents the first thorough-going post-metaphysical spirituality to have emerged in our times. This honor is due, in my opinion, to the Time, Space, Knowledge vision, which, as a phenomenological tradition of inquiry grounded in non-dual wisdom and sensitive to post-modern critical philosophy, has been breaking new ground for the past three decades.

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