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 Wholes and Parts and the Philosophy of Oops!

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Age : 46
Location: : Connecticut
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PostSubject: Wholes and Parts and the Philosophy of Oops!   Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:45 pm

I just found this sermon and think it does a pretty good job of introducing some of the basics of Integral Theory. I especially like the quoted section from 'Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution'. I think it does an excellent job of describing why I'm a deist and not an atheist.

Quote :
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Charlotte County
"Wholes and Parts"

Rev. Sam Trumbore March 10th, 1996


This reading comes from the first page of the introduction to Ken Wilber's book, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution.

    It is FLAT-OUT strange that something--that anything--is happening at all. There was nothing, then a Big Bang, then here we all are. This is extremely weird.

    To Schelling's burning question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?," there have always been two general answers. The first might be called the philosophy of "oops." The universe just occurs, there is nothing behind it, it's all ultimately accidental or random, it just is, it just happens--oops! The philosophy of oops, no matter how sophisticated and adult it may on occasion appear--its modern names and numbers are legion, from positivism, to scientific materialism, to linguistic analysis to historical materialism, from naturalism to empiricism--always comes down to the same basic answer, "Don't ask."

    The question itself (Why is anything at all happening? Why am I here?)--the question itself is said to be confused, pathological, nonsensical, or infantile. To stop asking such a silly or confused question is, they all maintain, the mark of maturity, the sign of growing up in this cosmos.

    I don't think so. I think the "answer" these "modern and mature" disciplines give--namely oops! (and therefore "Don't ask!")--is about as infantile a response as the human condition could possibly offer.

    The other broad answer that has been tendered is that something else is going on: behind the happenstance drama is a deeper or higher or wider pattern, or order, or intelligence. There are, of course, many varieties of this "Deeper Order": the Tao, God, Geist, Maat, Archetypal Forms, Reason, Li, Mahamaya, Brahman, Rigpa. And although these different varieties of Deeper Order certainly disagree with each other at many points, they all agree on this: the universe is not what it appears. Something else is going on, something quite other than oops….

    This book is about all of that "something other than oops."



I think many of us would like to believe, perhaps already do believe, that there is a Deeper Order to the universe than mindless random processes. The reading from Ken Wilber's book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution is the first part of a trilogy which synthesizes from many different scientific, religious, and philosophic disciplines a thread of Deep Order. Wilber is a voracious reader. Roger Walsh, reviewing this massive 800 page book, reports that this first part of the trilogy results from the integration of some 300 books on feminism, 300 on ecology, and more than another 400 on various topics such as anthropology, evolution and philosophy[1]. Since his first book in 1977, Spectrum of Consciousness, a synthesis of Western and Eastern psychologies, Wilber has been reading widely, seeking the patterns which connect disparate fields and ideas together, seeking the Deeper Order, seeking "something other than oops."

The pattern that Wilber presents in this book, is the idea of holons. Everything you see and everything you can't see - all that exists in time and space - are holons. You and I are holons, the chairs you're sitting on, your dog or cat, the Walter Vi-burn-um tree we just won from the Pine Cone tree raffle, the rocks in our sanctified bird bath, the dust mites crawling on your clothing, the oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules we are breathing in and out, everything is a holon.

A holon has two fundamental properties which define it. It has a "part" nature and a "whole" nature. Thus the title for this service, "wholes and parts." Because each holon has some kind of boundary which defines it in the first place, this is where it gets its "whole" nature. A cell has a membrane which surrounds it. We have our skin which encloses our bag of bones, connective tissue, muscles, organs and sea water. Molecules are discrete entities which have their own boundaries.

A holon may have a boundary that defines its limits but it does not exist alone. Holons of the same type tend to interact with each other; thus they also have a part nature as well. The cell of a tree leaf may have its own identity but it is part of something much larger than itself. Human beings are very social and create numerous social organizations, be they tribes or political parties or Fellowships such as this one. No child can survive birth without a social network (usually his or her mother) to support it. Molecules can be highly interactive with each other. The relationship between a holon's whole nature and its part nature is of course not the same for each holon. An ameba does not have the same part nature as a skin cell. A president has more part nature than a hermit. A polymer is not the same as a water molecule.

There is a tension between a holon's part nature and its whole nature, between the individual and the social. This is most obvious with human holons as we try to build up a society that protects individual freedom while also integrating people together to support the well-being of all. If a holon wants to be mostly a whole and not a part, this can lead to a pathology of alienation and repression. If a holon wants to be mostly a part and not a whole this can lead to a pathology of fusion and indissociation.[2] This is most easily seen in the stereotypical eternal struggle between the sexes with men wanting more autonomy and women seeking more connection. If we lean too far toward autonomy, the weak, the young and the vulnerable suffer greatly. If we lean too far toward the social, freedom and creativity are restricted for the good of the whole.

What is interesting about holons is that this part vs. whole struggle has no resolution at one particular holonic level. The only resolution found is the creation of a greater holonic level which encompasses that level and adds something more. This is the process of evolution...

Read on here...

"Enjoy every sandwich" ~ Warren Zevon
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PostSubject: Re: Wholes and Parts and the Philosophy of Oops!   Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:23 pm

Quote :
I think it does an excellent job of describing why I'm a deist and not an atheist.
Me too!
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PostSubject: Re: Wholes and Parts and the Philosophy of Oops!   Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:04 pm



The reading above truly has burrowed itself down into my soul…. Where it had always been. You see, I’ve read it before, in another form. I thought I had discovered (“created”) it already back before I had ever read it in this forum. I’ll quote from “Each Sparrow That Falls”
[A collection of papers, positions, etc. from Ministers of the Lykos Temple, ULC, taken from something Jubal Harshaw says to Ben Caxton in “Stranger In A Strange Land,” to wit: “It is said that ‘God’ notes each sparrow that falls, and so ‘He’ does, for ‘God’ cannot avoid noting the sparrow, for the sparrow is ‘God,’ as is the predator (cat) that stalks it.”]
From the thesis titled: “So What Is PanenDeism?”


“Both inertial and living energyforces (spirits) combine in ever-increasing, more powerful forms as mutual direction is gained: as in --- one wolf, the wolf pack, all wolves (including those not of the home Pack), all canines, all predators/hunters, all carnivorous mammals, all placental mammals, etc. All things possess a spirit within which is part of the greater Whole (who is all and yet each).

“So if rock possesses a "something" --- an innate force which makes all rock different from all other things (and, consequently, unique unto itself), then this is the aspect of "rock," which partakes of the spirit of each rock and infuses into each rock its spirit (or energyforce). This also equally applies to trees, birds, animals, people, and more. Each is part of the Whole which yet becomes part of another Whole, even as the "strength of the individual is the group and the strength of the group is the individual." Kipling spoke truer than he knew --- each is connected to everything else, yet remains itself an individual. You see, a tree has an innate force (and characteristics) -- a unique "treeness" -- which is recognized as singularly individual, yet it is also "connected" at the same time to all of a similar bent. Like you, it is a "child" of the Living Earth, and shares with Her other "children" certain qualities and affinities ... and as such, their energies share these qualities, too, and are thus intertwined. Interconnected and interwoven, everything and one is connected to all others, yet remains an individual while partaking of a possibly infinite number of groups --- according to its affinities and its nature.

“Take "John Doe," for example.

“True, he is "John Doe" (the individual). And yet --- he is also: a living thing, a back-boned mammalian, a Homosapiens, a man of English descent, a Caucasian, an American, a Californian, a denizen of Burbank, a member of the "Doe" family (and clan), a parent of "John Doe, Jr." and his siblings, as well as being "Jane Doe's" spouse. The number of members in each of these groups can be large or small; it doesn't matter. He can "tap" into all their gifts and strengths, if he knows how.

“"John Doe" is also part of the following groups: He is an Earthman, a citizen of the Sol planetary system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the known universe (known both to him and to us). And so, ipso facto, he is "related" to the tree on Earth, and to a Martian in various and innumerable ways, different and yet similar. So is the Martian connected to the tree on Sol III and to life on Alpha Centauri. Each group may have many members or only a few --- but the combined power (or energyforce) is at least equal to the sum-total of its members (or parts).

“As each individual animal belongs to an order, a species, etc., so does each individual living and non-living thing (corporeal and incorporeal) connect to great groups (or "wellsprings") of massive power and function (quantitatively, the related "members" in the "groups" can add up to an unimaginable number --- as witness the example of "John Doe"). Each connection (like a plug inserted into an electrical socket) draws power and gives power --- opening and closing connection (in much the same way as a switch), while interphasing with these "wellspring" repositories, which we call "overminds" (for lack of a better word. Others have used this word as well). Take note: because of our natural connection with these overminds, one may address their individual or collective power for the purpose of mystic celebration and to channel patterns of focused energy (ordered-chaos) on the goal or problem.

“As this might imply, other religions have perceived these overminds, but as "gods" and worship them, calling them by a variety of names. And although it is with these overminds that religious ritual and ceremony is concerned, still one must keep in mind that these are no more the "rulers" of humankind than the sun is the center of the universe (both concepts based on outmoded trains of thoughts). The names that people call these are without limit, but totally unimportant; remember that they are the same --- just different interpretations of the same Force. It is only the way that people perceive these powers which causes them to appear to differ.”

Read the above, go back to the UU’s sermon on holons & parts, and see why this struck me so profoundly… it’s almost as though we had been in mental contact with one another. The above was written back in 1981…. When I was first putting the book “Each Sparrow That Falls.” This is when I know that Lykos is a faith whose Time has come… again. I am fascinated.
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