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Integral Science

Last post 14 hours, 17 minutes ago by coppersun. 20 replies.
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  •  07-22-2006, 2:26 PM 1761

    • DavidKirke is not online. Last active: 16 Aug 2006, 4:57 AM DavidKirke
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    Integral Science

    Hi

     

    I have just watched the clip "evolutionary biology" on IN.  In this Ken said that when II and IU launch he would like to discuss in more detail how neo Darwinism and evolutionary theory can fit in with AQAL.  Well II is here so I was wondering if we can start the discussion.

     

    I would be interested in this personally as I am a professional scientist with a PhD in molecular microbiology.  In this field I obviously experience evolution first hand and am still (after 11 years in the field) constantly amazed at the levels of complexity that can emerge in what most people still consider to be primitive organisms (bacteria and viruses).

     

    After spending so many years (before I discovered Ken and integral) struggling with the supposedly irreconcilable differences between science and religion or spirituality ( or the UR and UL) I am so grateful that II is finally here and has opened its doors.  Integral theory has done so much for my personal understanding and I believe it could do for many more scientists who in my experience are secretly far more open to new ideas and new ways of thinking than most people generally think.

     

    So we have integral spirituality, integral medicine, integral art etc, now let’s start talking about integral science.

     

    David


    David Kirke

    Integral Scientist
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  •  07-23-2006, 11:12 AM 1779 in reply to 1761

    Re: Integral Science

    Hi David

    I'm not a scientist, but I'm curious as to how you encountered Ken's work, what you first read by him, and how you reacted to that?  In your case, it sounds like you had an openness to spirituality before encountering Ken, and I'd like to hear a bit about that, if you'd like to share.  Was there any connection in your mind/heart/soul between your scientific work and your spiritual awareness, or did they seem at the time to be parallel worlds that had no relation to each other? In other words, did you sense that there was a connection but couldn't articulate it, or was your exposure to integral theory mind-blowingly revelatory?

    More generally, I'm curious as to how you would introduce these ideas to someone who is very much in a rational/reductionist/materialist frame of mind, for example fellow scientists who are not necessarily spiritually open at this point?  I have a friend who is like that, and I have an ongoing pet project to "convert" him to the integral worldview.  (I'm not pushy about it...and we've long had conversations/debates about spirituality, going back years before I got into Ken's work, so it's not like I showed up on his door with pamplets one day.) 

    arthur



    "Dwell in possibility" - Emily Dickinson
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  •  07-23-2006, 1:10 PM 1781 in reply to 1779

    • DavidKirke is not online. Last active: 16 Aug 2006, 4:57 AM DavidKirke
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    Re: Integral Science

    Hi Arthur

    I actually came from a highly reductionist place myself.  For a lot of years I was in complete identification with the UR.  At the same time I was always interested in religion, mainly in the way Richard Dawkins is, attacking its inconsistencies.

    I then started reading about Buddhism after practicing martial arts.  As I was reading I was expecting to find the inconsistencies that I had always experienced with mainstream Christianity, but they didnt appear.   Instead of this as I read about the Dharma, I found it made complete sense, there was nothing supernatural about it, nothing difficult to understand (except the concept of rebirth, but even this I understand now).

    From then on there was no stopping me, I wanted to find out more, I started meditating, read more about Buddhism and got more and more involved.

    I discovered Ken and Integral when my wife bought me a copy of What is Enlightenment.  After reading the Guru and Pandit interviews I realised Ken was onto something Big, I subscribed to IN, read Integral Psychology, Spiral Dynamics, joined the London Integral Circle and now here I am.

    Although the concepts of levels and lines, states and stages were most inspirational to me on a personal level, it was obviously the four quadrants that allowed me to finally see how science and spirituality are related and how the reductionist scientific views are entirely correct but only in the UR which is why they cannot make predictions about the other 3 Qs.  I am now finding the Kens 8 perspectives to be even more powerful in their ability to explain what I originally thought of as contradictions.  I can't wait for volume 2 of the Kosmos trilogy.

    As for how to introduce the ideas to other UR reductionists, like you I am always trying but I am still not sure of the best way.  As I said in my earlier post, in my experience most scientists (at least the ones I know) are not as narrow minded as you might think and although I dont think I have yet "converted" anyone, people are often interested.  In fact one experience I had was someone who (like I used to) was trying to uncover inconstiencies.  When I explained Buddhism and AQAL to him he was dissapointed as he was expecting to be able to attack my ideas and point out the problems but there was nothing he found he could question.

    David

     


    David Kirke

    Integral Scientist
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  •  07-24-2006, 1:22 PM 1820 in reply to 1781

    Re: Integral Science

    i look forward to reading this thread!  i'm not a scientist so i don't expect to contribute much.  however, i do have favorite ways of approaching strict empiricist scientists. one of them is what ken stated on the I-N interview with steve paulson---scientists can't prove that waking state is "more real" than dream state.  yet, how many scientists would doubt that?  how many scientists would doubt that the interior sensation, experienced by them likely hundreds of times, of "aha! now i understand this" is an internal experience reflecting a real state of comprehension.  an internal comprehension, in fact, that the scientist relies upon when verifying scientific truth claims.

    later,

    gene

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  •  08-07-2006, 8:30 AM 3621 in reply to 1820

    Re: Integral Science

    here's an interesting flash explaining the 11 dimensions of string theory.  its heirarchical structure fits right alongside the traditional "great chain of being" with its nested relationships.  and it's an elegant example of "the subject of the present level becomes the object of the subject of the next level" . . .

    http://www.tenthdimension.com/flash.php

     

    later,

    gene

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  •  08-07-2006, 12:05 PM 3642 in reply to 3621

    Re: Integral Science

    gene, i just listened to the first bit on ten dimensions, which sounds like an introduction to the notion of higher dimensions. that part, like you suggest, could apply to any number of things besides string theory, many of which, i feel, are actually more interesting than string theory. ralph

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  •  08-11-2006, 7:13 AM 4072 in reply to 3642

    Re: Integral Science

    non-scientist question:   with respect to darwinian evolution, ken has mentioned a few times (e.g. on audio recordings and in BHoE) that in order for e.g. a wing to evolve there must be one male with a proto-wing, or what have you, and a female with a similar proto-wing, then they have to meet up, go on dates, etc., mate . . . .  but what about dominant genetic attributes----that requires only one organism to have the dominant "mutation" in order to pass it on, right?  and it could be passed on through different mates to many offspring . . .

     

    later,

    gene

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  •  08-11-2006, 1:47 PM 4120 in reply to 4072

    Re: Integral Science

    gene (your name is so appropriate!),

    what you're talking about is inheritance of a trait under the control of a single, dominant gene, as is the case for Huntington's disease, i believe. these can arise because of a single, isolated mutation. in other words, Huntington's disease did not exist until some point in the past, no doubt hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years ago, when that single mutation occurred in the gene for Huntington's disease in the DNA within one of the 23 chromosomes (i don't happen to know which one it would have been) in the nucleus of a germ cell of some human, who subsequently mated with a person of the other sex so as to allow that germ cell to unite with one from that other person in what we know as conception (presented from the point of view of the male germ cell in a woody allen movie), giving rise to a new human with the first case of Huntington's disease. half of that person's germ cells would have inherited the mutation by means of the meiotic cell division required for their formation, and anyone of those that succeeded in taking part in conception would have given rise to a person of the next generation with Huntington's disease, and so on.

    however complicated that might sound, it's nothing compared to the fantastic sequence of events the theory of darwinian evolution, in effect, assumes would have to occur in order for a species with wings to evolve out of a species with fore limbs. i think the current theory is that birds evolved from some species of dinosaur, and they may even have found fossil evidence of a species that had amazingly wing-like fore limbs, but could only take big hops with them, say, and not actually fly and, therefore, was still officially a dinosaur. but even if fossils could be found that begin to fill in all the intermediate positions in this trail of evolution, they would still be left with individual steps involving some enormous evolutionary changes that would have had to take place in too short a time to be accounted for by the random mechanisms, for example, gene mutations, posited in various versions of darwinian evolution. we really need at least something like eros to begin to explain what might have been going on here. but all we get from flatland are iou's.

    i wish my answers were as simple as your questions. ken's caricature of an answer has the advantage of being much simpler.

    ralph

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  •  08-12-2006, 5:20 PM 4215 in reply to 4120

    Re: Integral Science

    here's the part of your post that, for me anyway, gets at the crux of the matter . . .

    . . . but even if fossils could be found that begin to fill in all the intermediate positions in this trail of evolution, they would still be left with individual steps involving some enormous evolutionary changes that would have had to take place in too short a time to be accounted for by the random mechanisms, for example, gene mutations, posited in various versions of darwinian evolution. we really need at least something like eros to begin to explain what might have been going on here. but all we get from flatland are iou's . . .

    would the darwinians agree with this? are the evolutionary changes too enormous in too short a time?  or is that an opinion?

    later,

    gene

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  •  08-12-2006, 10:38 PM 4238 in reply to 1761

    Exploring Rationality

    Hi all.

    David, thanks for making the call for integral science. I share your sense that the scientific community is capable of a great deal of openness. I think a lot people are in a position to transcend many of the traditional culture clashes that have been weighing us down. So without further ado, let me jump into some of "the issues" that I've encountered. I'll start a few topics and see which ones attract interest.

    I think evolution is a good topic. So important for practical and immediate ends and also for big questions about Who we are and How we got that way. And Ken has indeed ruffled some feathers in this area. I intend to reutrn the topic after some theoretical excursions that will help me to contextualize the knowledge quest...

     

    Elegance and Utility

    I find it interesting how often I hear statements like "That's a beautiful Theory." This usually plays out along the lines of elegance, conciseness... some version of Occam's razor. Yet the phenomenological reality is, I believe, one of genuine beauty. I think this is important because it's one way that theoretical discussions become personal. You tell me I need to make additional assumptions and I experience it as someone treadding on my flower garden. And I can easily sidestep the subjectivity of this validity claim by pointing out objective reasons to espouse Occam's razor. (e.g., with each added axiom, there is an new possibility of entailing some formal inconsistency.)

    I think conceptual elegance is a fascinating and important topic. For one, it reaches deep into existentialism. Also, more conciseness of a theory suggests a deeper integration of the domain it covers. (If you doubt this, consider the extreme case: every possible datum is taken independently of all others. You have no integration and a theory the size of the territory!) That said, the main danger I see in the quest for conciseness is a constriction of space, an increased willingness to sacrifice some outliers for the cause.

     

    Perception and Inference

    Ken's three strands of good science go a long way toward reconciling science and spirituality. Both are based on injuction (go and look), data (notice what arises), and confirmation (check it with your peers). The major difference I see remaining concerns inference. The spiritual seeker measures success by his/her ability to bring forth the desired data/experiences. (David Deida's caricature of the man who has just had his first satori: "Yes! I am the master of the universe!!!" C'mon, admit it.) The inferences that follow (e.g., God exists) are important, but they aren't criteria for the adequacy of the endeavor. The scientist, however, tends to measure success by the survival of his/her systems of inferences (theories). In fact, there seems to be a deep relationship between inference and the quadrants/zones. They seem to crop up every time you find a "3" in Ken's integral calculus. And in zone 1... meditation treats inferences as abjects of the witness like everything else and phenomenology explicitly brackets them off. To further complicate matters, some inferences seem to serve validity claims other than truth, either explicitly or implicitly...

     

    Action and Abstraction

    Here's a notion that I've found helpful lately. It's about territories and maps. It's about being and comprehending.

    All knowing is doing (a la Varela), but the knowing is not generally the doing that the knowing is about. This peculiar result of our embodiment can cause confusions like the performative (doing) contradictions (knowing) of extreme pluralism. So our maps have two levels, if you will, of injunction. Implicitly, "See the world this way." And more explicitly, "You might want to follow this road signs on the map." For example, research shows that meditation can synchronize brainwaves. Explicitly, "If you want to synchronize your brainwaves, meditate." Great. Implicitly, "See meditation as a brain-event." This can be toxic if you don't have the ability to pull out of that perspective. So there are maps with valuable contributions that can yet take a toll of their bearer.

    We can build onto this distinction what I think is a version of the descending and ascending currents of consciousness. This ability of know one's acts is ascent. This happens moment to moment: "Whoa! That was a satori." The complementry ability to act on one's knowledge is descent. Both are difficult in some cases: "Observe the actions of you unconscious mind." Or descending, "Satori is a state consciousness without form. Now do it." So, broadly speaking, these two types of action are movements between action and abstraction. And of course, a good ILP would include both. In particular, in settings deficient in the descending impulse, there is a danger of fallaciously dismissing the relevence of actions by putting them into maps. "It's not real, it's just a brain process..."

    I'm working on understanding this stuff. It also relates to normative impulses and cognitive systems. Furthermore, these strands are are often undifferentiated. This segues nicely into the riddle running through my mind right now...

    What are Reason's reasons?

    Cheers.

    Devin

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  •  08-13-2006, 5:51 AM 4243 in reply to 4215

    Re: Integral Science

    coppersun:

    here's the part of your post that, for me anyway, gets at the crux of the matter . . .

    . . . but even if fossils could be found that begin to fill in all the intermediate positions in this trail of evolution, they would still be left with individual steps involving some enormous evolutionary changes that would have had to take place in too short a time to be accounted for by the random mechanisms, for example, gene mutations, posited in various versions of darwinian evolution. we really need at least something like eros to begin to explain what might have been going on here. but all we get from flatland are iou's . . .

    would the darwinians agree with this? are the evolutionary changes too enormous in too short a time?  or is that an opinion?

    Well, Darwinists come in different shapes and sizes, if we define darwinism as the idea that Darwin's double mechanism of random mutations and natural selection is the explaining principle behind the origin of species. This theory appeals to many, because it doesn't seem to need a Creator.

    Darwin predicted that, if his theory was right, we should find many fossils with only slightly varying shapes between linked species. Such was not the case, and Darwin attributed that to the fact that not enough fossils had been found yet. In Darwin's time, that was a reasonable assumption to make, but a full century later that situation hasn't improved much, like Ralph said. Paleontologists agree that 'stasis' is the common pattern among fossils: species usually appear fully complete, remain stable for long periods of time, and then go extinct. The long and continuous series of gradual shapes that Darwin predicted were never found.

    There are some areas where Darwin's theory does work; it provides an elegant explanation for the adaptation of species in a new environment. But it only explains the differences between some related bird species, for instance, which is why it is termed micro-evolution. Macro-evolution is about going from bacteria to birds, and for that Darwin's theory is far less convincing.

    KW also refers to mathematicians, who's calculations showed that random mutations could not explain the origin of new species. Murray Eden, for example, showed that it is virtually impossible to get to a functioning protein by random mutations. The main response from neodarwinists like Ernst Mayr was denial: evolution had to have happened by chance mutations and natural selection, so the computations could not possibly be right.

    Alternatives for macro-evolutionary theories have been brought forward, like symbiosis (Lynn Margulis) and complexity theory (Stuart Kauffman).

    Some, like the paleontologist Simon Conway Morris, who considers himself a Darwinist, argue that evolution does not work by chance, but that it always leads to similar structures and solutions, and that the mechanism by which new species arise is a mystery.

    I'm sure people can come up with objections and additions to all of this, so fire away. And hasn't neodarwinism become somewhat of a dogmatic, very Orange religion, or what?

    Peter


    Albert Einstein is the Wilber of physics.
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  •  08-15-2006, 5:36 AM 4343 in reply to 4215

    Re: Integral Science


    gene,

    what i neglected to emphasize was that, while a single gene mutation like that responsible for Huntington's can be horribly destructive for many generations, to get something as remarkable as a bird from a reptile via random changes is, as typically rendered, like getting a bunch of monkeys, each typing away randomly at a keyboard, to come up with something like Hamlet. it aint gonna happen.

    construction, involving creativity, is a bit more difficult than destruction.

    ralph

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  •  08-15-2006, 8:41 AM 4352 in reply to 4238

    evolution


    hi david and devin,

    i, too, am interested in an integral science. i think there are enormous possibilities once we become attuned to, and begin using, the aqal map. in fact, i'm amazed that younger people (i'm 64) aren't just jumping on the many possibilities.

    take evolution, which seems to have become the primary topic of this thread. (unfortunately, i haven't been able to listen to the IN presentation 'evolutionary biology'. i'll do that as soon as possible.) incidentally, i worked in molecular biophysical research for a number of years, basically, the 80's. i was at a green altitude, i would say, and i became fascinated with the evolutionary and 'vital', as opposed to 'material' implications of emerging fields such as molecular cell biology. official scientific thinking, or consciousness, remained at the reductionistic level of matter, mainly physics and chemistry, but it was plain to see, for those of us so open, that the dirt we were examining was awfully frisky. i didn't yet see spirit, but i at least saw 'life'. officially, of course, anything that hinted at a vitalist sort of leaning would have been laughed at as horribly medieval if it had ever ventured into the light of day, which it didn't, of course, because it was strictly verboten, taboo.

    the emergence of life became for me the great mystery, and life itself an infinitely precious gift, to be treasured for however long it lasted. i eventually begin studying, in the mid 90's, to become a physician. i gave that up, too, a decade later, out of frustration at the lack of an integral medicine--i had been reading ken wilber for several years by that time.

    oh! yes! evolution! even though i haven't yet listened to 'evolutionary biology', the integral approach, i imagine, is pretty straight forward. of course, we want to include the latest in conventional science--what peter has alluded to. but that's, at best, only two quadrants. we want to include the other two as well, and how they correlate, how they tetra-mesh. what about 'irritation', 'sensation', etc. in the UL and their correlates in the LL, the interiors of eco-systems, for example? even with occam's razor, don't we need something like the notions of 'eros', 'agape' and a 'morphogenetic gradient' to give all this the motion it obviously has?

    devin, i hope that, in pursuing the various, demanding threads you've introduced in your first message, you can help us by relating it more to the aqal map. i'll give you an idea of the difficulty i'm having understanding you by attempting to respond to your message:

    elegance and utility--the aqal map aims, of course, at an integral balance. in this case, i would say, it aims to be both comprehensive and simple, in order to be as useful as possible, but useful in a way that opens us to the beauty of the kosmos.

    as to theory and the related concept of inference, my impression is that they're relegated more or less to the back seat in the integral approach. perspectives are primary. the taking of a perspective entails the taking of an injunction, a paradigm, that enacts, illuminates a world. ontology and epistemology, being and knowledge, are already in the perspective. only later do we come along and tidy things up a bit, or clutter them up, it could be argued, by introducing inferences and a theory.

    integral itself is a meta-paradigm, so to speak, for making use of all the paradigms available to us and not, unwittingly, marginalizing some of them. ken doesn't use this term, perhaps, because the new age has almost rendered it meaningless. he does use the term 'meta-theory' as well as 'praxis' and 'theoria', both of which, of course, are to be honored in an integral approach.

    as to Reason's reasons, don't we have to go beyond Reason for that?

    ralph

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  •  08-15-2006, 9:53 AM 4357 in reply to 4343

    Re: Integral Science

    ralphweidner:
    gene, what i neglected to emphasize was that, while a single gene mutation like that responsible for Huntington's can be horribly destructive for many generations, to get something as remarkable as a bird from a reptile via random changes is, as typically rendered, like getting a bunch of monkeys, each typing away randomly at a keyboard, to come up with something like Hamlet. it aint gonna happen. construction, involving creativity, is a bit more difficult than destruction. ralph

    thanks, peter and ralph, for the interesting input.  here's another question: would you say the same thing you said above with regard to evolution of the human eye?

    i'm wondering if the length if time makes it difficult to conceive of developing a wing from a forelimb, or is it empirically proven that there is not enough time.  i wonder what the inputs are for the mathematical calculations, and whatever other inputs in other analytical methods might be.  do the neo-darwinists agree that the inputs are correct?   carl sagan mentioned that hundreds of millions of years is an awful long time for allowing random events . . . can we adequately conceive and/or contemplate this?

    later,

    gene

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  •  08-15-2006, 2:20 PM 4374 in reply to 4357

    Re: Integral Science

    gene!  you're the student any teacher would love to have.


    incidentally, a friend has reminded me that, as much as i like to think my years in scientific research makes me a scientist, the actual fact is that i'm a mathematician.  your questions remind me of that, and that i had better let peter, whether he's a scientist or not, answer them. 


    what i can tell you mathematics has to offer here is what is called a random walk.  if a drunk, just to make the story interesting--i'm copying here, attempts to venture out from a lamppost he's grabbed to steady himself, he can expect, after taking n steps, to have made it something like the square root of n steps away from the lamppost.  after 4 steps, for example, he can expect to have gotten 2 steps away from the post;  after 16 steps, 4 steps away; after 100 steps, 10 steps away, and so on.  the rub is that there's no telling in what direction it will be, assuming there's adequate clearance in whatever direction the winds of inebriation take him.  so, after 100 steps, he may be something like 10 steps to the east of lamppost, but after 400 steps, me might be something like 20 steps to the west of the lamppost.  according to the mathematics, he could end up anywhere.  similarly with evolution depending only on random processes.  the fore limb might begin to become a wing, but switch to becoming more like a tail or who knows what.


    for what it's worth,


    ralph


     


     




    oops! the mathematician forgot about natural selection, which would favor certain drunks more than others, say, those who, for whatever reason, veered towards the moon, whereever it happened to be in the sky. they might actually get somewhere, but it would be slow going: 1M drunken steps, which might take awhile, to accomplish 1K sober steps.

    of course, this is in no way meant to be a realistic model, but rather a heuristic model of the iou's involved in flatland claims.

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