It's the future, Jim, but not as we know it...

There's more to tomorrow than robots, flying cars, and a faster internet.
22C+ is all about Deep Futures, futures that matter. Welcome to futures fantastic, unexpected, profound, but most of all deeply meaningful...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Courage to be Clear

When I was doing research my for my doctorate I came across a piece of writing that intrigued me. It was written by somebody with a passion for the very things that I am passionate about, and arguing for many of the things I argue for in my writing. I would like you to consider her argument.

I… advocate an ontological agnosticism regarding who or what exercises agency and suggest a spectrum of agentic capacities instead. Commending a phenomenological approach, I then suggest that agentic capacities emerge and interact across this spectrum. At one pole I envisage pre-personal, corporeal processes and at the other, a transpersonal, intersubjective interworld that requires a novel social ontology. I locate individual or collective agents in the middle of the spectrum where they emerge as contingent singularities (Diana Coole,  2002).

You probably had a little trouble understanding that the first time through. Coole is saying that we should be open-minded about the intelligence that lies behind human evolution. There may be both physical and spiritual processes involved, and we may have to develop new theory to understand it. Unfortunately, I suspect that not many readers would be willing to battle through the rest of the text to try to grasp what she is saying. 

Some less kind individuals might just call it a piece of bullshit. There's a lot of that going around in the academic world.

There is often a certain amount of fear for people like me who write and talk about intuition and spiritual experience. There is the temptation to use overly-wordy prose. If you are able to confuse people enough, maybe nobody will really know what you are actually talking about. And there is another advantage in dressing up what are essentially spiritual concepts in intellectualism. The critics and skeptics might be thrown off for long enough to allow us to make our getaway unscathed. Or maybe they will be really, really impressed with how smart we are.

I prefer not to disguise what I think. My goal is to be perfecctly intelligible, and to actually make criticism (in the true sense) easier. And that is the way it should be. Understanding will not grow if we deliberately (or unconsciously) foster confusion.

The other factor at play here, I suspect, is that advocates of concepts related to the mystical/spiritual worldview are scared that they will be labeled “stupid” for their views. After all, only stupid and backward people could possibly believe in stuff that is spiritual, right? Parapsychologist Dean Radin has made this point often. So the psi proponent may feel a little insecure and try to demonstrate that he is just as smart, if not smarter, than the psi skeptics.

I like to skip that part of the script.

We need to be clear here, and move beyond ego. What is at stake is something bigger than the human individual and fragile egos. The discussion of the frontiers of human intelligence, including the concepts and the tools which enhance it, should not be an exclusive club accessible only to an intellectual elite. It must be available to all who have a desire to know and understand it.

And especially to practice it.

In short, some people writing in spiritual and transpersonal fields are overly wordy or just plain wishy washy. The advantage then, is that in being vague they can disguise the precise mystical and psychic elements of their theory, and thus divert potential criticism.

I say “Here it is, as it is.”

To be clear is to be vulnerable. That is the price one has to pay.


No comments:

Post a Comment