Tag Archives: Integral Wisdom

Spiritual Intelligence in the Quantum Entangled Global Age

Ever since Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983, a small but growing cottage industry of books on “multiple intelligences” has found an eagerly waiting reading audience. Gardner’s original list of multiple intelligences included the linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and personal intelligences. He later added natural or environmental intelligence, and most recently has added existential intelligence – that is, asking the questions of existence.

Probably no one has done more to creatively extend Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences than Daniel Goleman, writing ground-breaking books on emotional intelligence, social intelligence, leadership intelligence, and ecological intelligence. I have no hesitation in recommending all of these fine and insightful books to thoughtful readers.

Still I am hardly alone in wondering if there might be yet be “Something More” that Howard Gardner’s and Daniel Goleman’s excellent summations of multiple intelligences overlook. Recently in  reading SQ: Connecting with Our Spiritual Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, it occurred to me that SQ or Spiritual Intelligence may be that Something More. Simply put, the authors envision Spiritual Intelligence as the process of unifying, integrating, and transforming material arising from the rational and emotional, mental and bodily processing, including left brain hemisphere and right brain hemisphere, providing a fulcrum for self-actualizing and self-transcending values and meaning.

They develop a six-sided lotus model of spiritual intelligence. It  integrates J.F. Holland’s work on career guidance and six personality types; Jung’s six types as used in Meyers-Briggs (introversion, extraversion, thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition; and Cattell’s work on motivation. They also make connections with the seven chakras described by Hinduism’s Kundalini yoga, and to many other mystical and mythological structures found within Buddhism, Taoism, ancient Greece, Jewish cabalistic thought and the Christian sacraments. They could have further embellished their model by drawing the Nine Personality Points of the Enneagram; or the archaic, magical, mythic, mental and integral structures of consciousness expounded upon by Jean Gebser in his book The Ever-Present Origin. The could have also expanded their model by drawing upon the “All Quadrants, All Levels” integral paradigm of Ken Wilber, and by incorporating the Spiral Dynamics of evolving consciousness and culture as delineated by Clare Graves, and, following him, by Don Beck and Chris Cowen.

Using the symbolic model of the lotus flower with its six petals/personality types, Zohar and Marshall discuss six ways to be spiritually stunted and six ways to be spiritually intelligence. This gives the reader a map on which to find their own personality, their own strengths and weaknesses and their own best path to growth and transformation.

The six paths to greater spiritual intelligence include: 1. The Path of Duty, 2. The Path of Nurturing, 3. The Path of Knowledge, 4. The Path of Personal Transformation, 5. The Path of Brotherhood, and 6. The Path of Servant Leadership.

What are the general characteristics of spiritual intelligence. Zohar and Marshall suggest that the indications of a highly developed SQ include the following:

The capacity to be flexible (actively and spontaneously adaptive); a high degree of self-awareness; a capacity to face and use suffering; a capacity to face and transcend pain; the quality of being inspired by vision and values; a reluctance to cause unnecessary harm; a tendency to see the connections between diverse things (being ‘holistic’); a marked tendency to ask “Why?” or “What if?” questions and to seek “fundamental answers; being what psychologists call “field-independent  — possessing a faculty for working against convention (including the convention of restricting thinking to a single intellectual discipline or domain of life). They go on to say that a persona with high SQ is also likely to be a servant leader — someone who is responsible for bringing higher vision and values to others and showing them how to use it, in other words, a person who inspires others.

I would like to take Zohar’s and Marshal’s idea of SQ a step further. Today those who have abandoned the explanatory and existential adequacy of “reductive materialism” have begun to adopt a more organismic, holistic, integral and emergent worldview or conceptions of reality. They think both scientifically and spiritually in terms of such rubrics as sacred secularity, non-local quantum entanglement, morphic resonance fields, formative causation,  habits  of nature, the presence of the past, emergent structures, creative ontogenesis, nested holons, the self-actualizing cosmos, irreducible mind, the hunger for ecstasy, a quantum shift to the global brain, networked relationships of inter-cultural and planetary consciousness, and the unbearable wholeness of being.

The point is that both “science and spirituality” today are undergoing an unprecedented sea-change! Traditional literalistic  theists and modern literalistic atheists will still carry on their tired and antiquated debates, but the real action has moved elsewhere. Spiritual intelligence and scientific intelligence will begin to converge once more after three centuries of divergence under the oppression of the conflict model. An organismic and integral model of cosmology, life, consciousness and culture will not only reconcile the modernist conflict between science and spirituality but also the ancient conflict between philosophy and poetry, along with the conflict between history and literature as ways of knowing.

An organismic and integral spirituality for the 21st Century will encompass all our ways of being and knowing into a greater whole. It will awaken and connect the full spectrum of multiple intelligences. It will recognize in history’s great sages, saints, mystics, poets and polymaths a precursor to the New Humanity of the future in which all the potential and actualized human intelligences are connected to a Universal and Emergent  Information Field where wisdom and compassion dwell.

Spiritual intelligence in the quantum entangled global age will be sensitive to and aware of the radiant and diaphanous presence of Being-in-itself and in all-its-relations. It will enable us to experience the wonder and beauty of life in all its vivid and poignant immediacy. It will invite us to become social artists and servant leaders who inspire others to realize the fullness of their humanity through expanding the ecological complexity and diversity of what Emerson and the Transcendentalists called the World Soul. A quantum-entangled and globally-connected spirituality will unify, integrate and transform all the other intelligences into a self-actualizing and self-transcending center of meaning, purpose, imagination and love.

[One friend’s response to this blog was that while he appreciates the positive gest of what I’m saying that he hopes there is more to life than such jargon as “quantum entanglement” and “morphogenesis.” Well, OK. What I was getting at is that there are physicists, biologists and philosophers alike that are setting aside reductive materialism which is ultimately nihilistic for a worldview in which science and spirituality can be more rather than less compatible with each other.

In his book Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation, Rupert Sheldrake says there are three competing interpretations of morphogenesis. They are are mechanism, vitalism and organicism.  Toward the end of his book, Sheldrake sets forth the idea that there are four possible worldview interpretations of the implications of morphic resonance. Perhaps the same would hold true for quantum entanglement. They are modified materialism; the irreducibility of the conscious self along with the material world; a hierarchy of creative selves in a creative emergent universe; and finally, a transcendent reality that affirms the causal efficacy of the conscious self, and the existence of a hierarchy of creative agencies immanent within nature, and the reality of a transcendent source of the universe.  In a book entitled “Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga argues that where the conflict really lies is in competing worldview commitments, not in scientific knowledge as such.]




On Scientific Method Without “Reductive Scientism”

Multi-Functional Mind

Today there are many excellent introductions to the nature and methods of science available to read on the Web, and of course in textbooks. For our purposes it is sufficient to reference the beginning of the Wikipedia article on scientific method:

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”

What, then, is “reductive scientism” as distinct from “scientific method?” Allow me once more to reference the Wikipedia article on that topic:

Scientism is a term used to refer to belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints. It has been defined as “the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society.” An individual who subscribes to scientism is referred to as a scientismist. The term scientism frequently implies a critique of the more extreme expressions of logical positivism and has been used by social scientists such as Friedrich Hayek,philosophers of science such as Karl Popper, and philosophers such as Hilary Putnam and Tzvetan Todorov to describe the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable. ‘Scientism’ has also been taken over as a name for the view that science is the only reliable source of knowledge by philosophers such as Alexander Rosenberg.

Scientism may refer to science applied “in excess”. The term scientism can apply in either of two senses:

  1. To indicate the improper usage of science or scientific claims. This usage applies equally in contexts where science might not apply,such as when the topic is perceived to be beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, and in contexts where there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify a scientific conclusion. It includes an excessive deference to claims made by scientists or an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific. In this case, the term is a counter argument to appeals to scientific authority.
  2. To refer to “the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry,” or that “science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective” with a concomitant “elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience.”

The term is also used by historians, philosophers, and cultural critics to highlight the possible dangers of lapses towards excessive reductionism in all fields of human knowledge.

Obviously one may have great appreciation and respect for “scientific method” without falling prey to the excesses of “scientism,” that is: (1) excessive deference to claims made by scientists and an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific; and (2) the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in them, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry;” or that “science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective” with a concomitant “elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience.”

My discussion of “tacit and explicit knowledge” in the last two blogs makes evident the tacit if not explicit presence of the philosophical, ethical, psychological and social dimensions of experience, regardless of whether one is engaging the humanities, arts, or sciences.  It has been a myth of modern scientism (not science as such) that empirical truth-claims presented as “scientific” are objectively true, and that measurable and quantifiable “explicit knowledge” eliminates the subjective and inter-subjective personal and cultural influence of the tacit dimension. Philosophers and scientists like Michael Polanyi have come to realize that this assumption is intellectually simplistic and naive. Even scientists are human beings first (with tacit assumptions, perceptions, judgment, beliefs, values and commitments) before they are scientists, during their scientific experiments, and after they are done with their scientific work. There is no way to entirely remove the tacit dimension. All knowledge is embodied human knowledge and human knowledge is not “value neutral.”

Like anyone who has long been interested in various scientific as well as philosophical, religious, historical, literary and artistic accounts of the world, I’ve encountered countless physical, natural, cognitive and social scientists who have set forth different Theories of Everything. Sometimes these “grand theorists” cross over quite unknowingly from scientific method to reductive scientism. Many popular theories within the physical, biological, cognitive and social sciences have have attempted to elevate themselves — through scientistic reductionism — to universal explanatory principles or Theories of Everything. These have included Neo-Darwinian survival of the fittest, Dawkins’s selfish genes, Freud’s projection theory, Jung’s archetype fixation, Marx’s class struggle, Feminist’s oppressive patriarchy, Skinner’s operant conditioning, physicist’s Quantum Everything, Santayana’s animal faith, and Frans de Waal’s animal empathy. There are countless others. As partial accounts of the world they may be useful. As totalizing accounts they become ideology. If reality is more than we know, and if what we know is always more than we can tell, and if what we can tell is what we can effectively communicate to the understanding of others, then we will recognize that there is always “a surplus of meaning” that our language never fully encompasses. We never communicate the “totality of reality,” without remainder.

Of course not all physical, natural, cognitive and social scientists present their questions, hypotheses, predictions, tests, analyses and conclusions as Theories of Everything, but only as partial and probably explanations with limited rather than universal extension. But the hubristic temptation is to assume that one has “finally discovered” the Rosetta Stone, is key to all knowledge and understanding of the fundamental nature of reality.

There are several aspects to reductionism. One involves explaining (or explaining away) all religious, philosophical, ethical, historical, literary, artistic and aesthetic phenomena as “really reducible to” sociological, psychological, biological, neurological, physiological and/or computational, algorithmic and mathematical. Another aspect of reductionism involves fierce competition between the various reductive scientistic explanations within physics, biology, anthropology, psychology, sociology and economics that have all generated multiple and competing Theories of Everything.

Each of these reductive scientistic theories plays the game of King of the Mountain, seeking to be the interpretative key to all fundamental phenomena. As one listens for years to the exaggerated and grandiose claims of these various  and competing grand theories it is not surprising that some people have developed a post-modern allergy and suspicion toward Grand Narratives and Theories of Everything, including those that claim the imprimatur of science, god of the modern age.

The shift from scientific method to reductive scientism coincides with the tacit or explicit adoption of a materialistic, physicalist, mechanistic and deterministic worldview, as if it were the only show in town. Those who adopt dualist, theist, realist-idealist, neutral monist and pan-psychist worldviews may also engage the scientific enterprise with rigor and intelligence but perceive the world differently.

The tacit/explicit (softer/harder, autopoietic/representational, participation/reification) model of Michael Polanyi and others offers a way to temper the polarizing impulses toward post-modern relativistic subjectivism and ironism on the one hand and modern scientistic objectivism and reductionism on the other.

What is needed today is a recovery of the wisdom of the middle way. What is needed is a “third culture” that mediates between the humanities and the arts on one side and the sciences and technologies on the other. We can have reason without hyper-rationalism, science without scientism, psychology without psychologism, economics without economism, ethics without moralism, spirituality without fundamentalism, history without historicism, literature without escapism, and art without effetism. Liberal arts and cultural literacy are not our problem. Our problem is entrenched ideologies and totalizing dogmas, and they are never more pernicious than when they mask their agendas behind one or more of the liberal arts, including the great and liberating human enterprise we call science.


The “Polymath” Combines Tacit Knowledge & Explicit Knowledge to Create an Integral & Holistic Culture

Leonardo the polymath

It is no accident that Leonardo da Vinci, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Loren Eiseley and Michael Polanyi were all polymaths, fluent in both the humanities and the sciences.  For them there was no intellectual and cultural chasm between what C.P. Snow called “the two cultures.”

The multidisciplinary polymath as a pure type (and archetype) is a “universal human” who is equally at home in the forms and methods of discourse associated with philosophy, history, literature and the arts on the one side and the physical, natural, cognitive and social sciences on the other. In the modern age the intellectually and culturally complex multidisciplinary polymath has been almost entirely displaced by the narrowly educated professional specialist. This is one reason why the humanities and the sciences have drifted apart and tend to talk past each other, or else marginal or co-opt each other’s styles and methods of discourse.

Michael Polanyi lived in both the world of the humanities and the sciences, and he valued them both equally. His model of tacit and explicit knowledge gives expression to this attitude of mutual respect and complementary influence. He, like William James before him and many after him, came to recognize that knowledge has two polarities. Other terms for this duality of knowledge include interiorization and exteriorization, autopoietic and representational, context and content, background and foreground, tender-minded and tough-minded, soft knowledge and hard knowledge, participation and reification, form and substance, quality and quality.

For those of you who are “Ken Wilber readers” and identified with his “integral theory of everything,” the “four quadrants” of the non-dual Ecology of Being works in much the same way. The two epistemological approaches of  Personal Intention and Collective Culture have a natural affinity with the Tacit Dimension. The two epistemological approaches of Personal Behavior and Collective Systems have a natural affinity with the Explicit Dimension. Wilber is presenting an integral pluralist method and epistemological model that combines all four ways of knowing. Wilber’s model is “anti-reductionistic” since each way of knowing is allowed to speak its own disciplinary “language” and use its own terms of reference.

The idea of “embodied knowledge” was important to Polanyi. By this he not only meant that knowledge is not limited to either abstract philosophical concepts or concrete scientific experiments. Rather, what it means is that all human knowledge is embodied knowledge. We know and experience life through our sentient bodies along with our conscious minds. This includes all those “non-cognitive” dimensions that make us fully human, including our sensations, desires, hopes, fears, memories, emotions, dreams, imaginations, purposes, actions, habits, practices, values, beliefs, intuitions and illuminations. It also means that human knowledge is embedded in history, tradition, language and culture, and especially through “communities of practice.” Analytical philosophers and linguists call this our “hermeneutical circle and community of discourse,” those with whom we share a common “consensus reality.”

To aspire to become a multidisciplinary polymath, and indeed a universal human, is to abandon the self-limitation imposed by such oppositional terms of either “a man of letters” or “a man of science,” as if one needs to choose. Of course we have hardly spoken here of “the arts” as a primal and tacit way of knowing, but Polanyi’s view was that they, too, play a necessary and integral role along with the “humanities” on the one side and the “sciences” on the other.

Much of the appeal of the “Counter-Culture” ideal as variously expressed in modern history among the Bohemians, Romantics, Transcendentalists, Beat Generation, Hippies, New Thought and New Age Movements, Feminist Movement, Green Party and Occupy Movement has been resistance to the reign of quantifying, objectifying, competitive efficiency within the early industrial and now late capitalist technocratic society. What those who identity with the “counter-culture” object to and resist is the loss qualitative and non-quantifiable experience, which is the neglected “tacit dimension” beneath the tip of the iceberg of  explicit quantifiable and utilitarian knowledge.

The tacit dimension is home to primal experiences of natural wonder, sublime beauty, spiritual awakening, ecstatic joy, emotional authenticity, aesthetic creativity, moral imagination, loving relationships, cooperative community and compassionate living. A society that neglects the transcendental qualitative tacit dimension while it worships the utilitarian quantifying explicit dimension may be rich in material things but it will impoverish the soul.

And this is why the recovery of the tacit dimension matters today. This is why we need polymaths like Leonardo, Goethe, Eiseley and Polanyi who integrate tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge as they move fluently across and make non-reductive connections between the humanities, arts, sciences and technologies. The polymath combines tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge of multiple fields of inquiry to create “the third culture,” which is an integral and emergent rather than a polarized and reductive culture.