Comments on “Vaster than ideology”

Well said

Charles McCown 2021-12-16

You’re almost there

Thank you for persevering

Simon Mundy 2021-12-20

Dear David,
This seems to me to be an excellent precis of the direction of developments in self- and cultural understanding we humans would benefit from cultivating. I admire the way that you’ve woven threads of intra-personal, relational and socio-cultural … ummm… stuff into the always incomplete cloth of “meta-systematicity”.

I’ve been sporadically following your writings for a while and value the way in which you are following your own prescription. I remember several to many years ago when you (and Jayarava Attwood) encountered Robert Kegan and see in your formulation the threads of his sketch of self<>world relating/conceiving (in at least 2 senses).

I’m somewhat addicted to the simplification “All models are wrong; however, some models are more useful than others for particular people in particular circumstances for particular purposes”.

Best Regards & Thank you again.

Two forms of metasystematicity?

mtraven 2021-12-28

I like where this piece ended up. But I’m a little confused by the terminology; it seems there are two meanings of metasystematicity. The first is wielding systems as tools (as opposed to being owned by them), but that has some of the same problems as base-level systematicity: “When you tried to have systems, you tried to make yourself a bigger, stronger one than them.” The self hasn’t changed much even if it is more intellectually sophisticated.

The second involves acknowledging the pervasiveness of systems and our real relationship to them, and necessarily involves an alteration in the self, or the construction of a self of a different order, one that acknowledges nebulosity and resonates with vastness.

This distinction makes sense to me and I feel I’ve had experience with both of these at different stages of my own development. But are they both metasystemic? Seems they are different enough to need different names. Maybe I’m just confused.

Speaking of terminology, there is no page for “vastness” and I feel like I might be making up my own definition of it. This post made it seem like it is has connotations of interconnectedness: “You extend indefinitely across systems of meaning, from which you are not separate”.

I like that. I think both religion and politics can, when properly practiced, be systems of meaning that are participatory modes of connection, rather than rigid ideologies. But mostly they are not practiced that way.

Yup, it's ambiguous and needs more thought

David Chapman 2021-12-29

Your observation is accurate and astute I think!

In my newsletter issue about this page, I wrote:

I was stuck on the last, explicitly metasystematic bit. There was something about it I felt I was not understanding correctly. It turned out that feeling was accurate. Recently, my spouse sorted out my misunderstanding while we were discussing something else, and with that piece in place I was able to finish the writing with a few hours work.

The confusion you describe was exactly the issue that Charlie pointed out I was not clear about myself. In the final write-up, I tried to make the distinction, but I didn’t introduce new terminology for it, and that may have been a mistake.

My discussion here is heavily influenced by adult developmental psychology. That field is frustratingly vague when it comes to post-systematic ways of being. There’s pretty solid empirical evidence that there is such a thing (or things), but it’s difficult to round up enough people who be that way to do experiments on. They are rare, mostly not self-categorized as such, and generally have something else they’d rather be doing. (Versus studying the pre-systematic to systematic transition, where you can use psychology undergrads as inexpensive experimental animals.)

So developmental psychology discussions of post-systematicity are largely speculative, and often verge on woo. Several theorists postulate a series of post-systematic stages (and some describe one or more of them as “metasystematic.”) I don’t find any of these models conceptually compelling, and none has a substantial empirical basis.

I’m reluctant to follow suit by positing multiple post-systematic stages myself. It could only be on a “seems to me” basis. Maybe I can be useful that way anyway? I don’t know.

Re vastness: yes, “connotations of interconnectedness.” It’s closely related to a lessening (or even complete breakdown) of the perception of a clear self/other distinction. I’m reluctant to try to define it, because I don’t understand it fully. The page on wonder has some speculation that is also grounded in empirical psychology research. (Caveat lector: the psychology replication crisis is a thing.)

Situationists vs. "situationism"

Danyl Strype 2024-01-20

Then you might try to reject all ideologies. That seems to be impossible, and also loses what is good and right in each.

It is better to retain systems’ insights, as ways of working with meaning, while letting go of their underlying eternalism

This is a point you’ve made many times. But did you know there was a whole political movement - the situationists - who were making it in the 1960s? They refused to describe their body of theory as “situationism”, in an attempt to avoid their anti-eternalist critique being distorted into yet another eternalism (an “ideology”, as they used the term).

There’s a 1975 pamphlet called Revolutionary Self-Theory that offers a good intro to their ideas;