Thursday, February 26, 2015

Additional Comments on Enhanced and Diminished Stages

In a previous blog entry, "Enhanced and Diminished Stages", I indicated how an enhanced appreciation of a "lower" stage can arise from the perspective afforded by a corresponding "higher" stage.

Thus as development though the various stages of the psychological spectrum properly unfolds, one is led to repeatedly modify one's interpretation of the "lower" stages already developed.  

However what  perhaps I did not fully emphasise in this entry, is that it also works in reverse, so that with the progressive development of "higher" stages, the interpretation of these, too, continually changes, through the modified perspective afforded by the revisited "lower" stages.

In other words, the process of vertical integration with respect to all stages works in two directions.

Thus we can have top-down integration, where the "lower" are modified from the perspective of later attained "higher" stages.
However, equally we can have bottom-up integration, where the "higher" are modified from the perspective of earlier attained "lower" stages.


Perhaps it would help to illustrate these two direction with respect to the concrete (conop) and formal (formop) levels that are associated in my approach with Band 2 on the spectrum.

Now in developmental terms, Level 1 (concrete) will be the first to unfold, which in a scientific context would be associated with empirical sense data.

Then all going well, Level 2 (formal) will later unfold, which again in scientific terms would be associated with more generalised abstract theories and hypotheses.

So in this context, Level 1 (concrete) represents the "lower" and Level 2 (formal) the - relatively -   "higher" stage.

Now when Level 1 initially unfolds, this provides the default interpretation of the stage. So this could indeed be associated with a wide range of empirical data. However the ability to organise such data into meaningful patterns (beyond a superficial level) would still remain very limited.

However when Level 2 then substantially unfolds, this leads to the ability to form meaningful abstract hypotheses of an increasingly general nature. And the initial substantial unfolding of Level 2 then likewise constitutes the default understanding of this formal stage!

So then when the scientist now returns to study relevant research data from this "higher" stage, a greatly enhanced appreciation could then arise (e.g. as confirmation of a general hypothesis).

This would therefore represent an example of top-down integration, where an enhanced interpretation of the "lower" concrete stage, arises from the perspective of the "higher" formal stage attained.

Indeed if we take the work of Einstein to illustrate, his two theories of relativity, offer a marvellous example of this "top-down" approach. Thus, from a few general principles, he was able to formulate a new theory universally applicable to global space-time relationships.

Thus when scientists then later sought to apply these theories to long unexplained empirical facts, e.g. the orbit of Mercury, they now appeared in a completely new light, as offering wonderful confirmation of the new theory.


However Einstein in his earlier career equally provided a striking example of the alternative "bottom-up" approach.

Here, rather than initially developing a new abstract theory that conflicted with established data, in his quantum physical studies on the photo-electric effect, Einstein observed striking new data that clearly were in conflict with established theory.

So, in the early 1900's when Einstein carried out this work, the accepted theory was that light is composed of waves. However by carefully observing the impact of light on electron particles, Einstein quickly realised that the evidence was in conflict with accepted theory. So this gradually led to reluctant acceptance of a new theoretical explanation of light as composed of particles.

Indeed ultimately the attempt to make sense of all the various experiments on light was to lead to an even stranger theory where light possessed complementary manifestations as both waves and particles!

Thus in this latter case (of Einstein and the photo-electric effect) the revised "lower" concrete stage of experimental data, led to a new enhanced interpretation of the "higher" formal stage where existing accepted theory was now clearly shown to be inadequate.

The clear implication of full acceptance of both top-down and bottom-up approaches is that ultimately "lower" and "higher" (like "left" and "right" turns at a crossroads) are purely relative terms.

So the attainment of complete union (in both physical and psychological terms), as the ultimate goal of development, is without any hierarchy (of a one-directional kind).

Unfortunately the intellectual clarification of the spectrum of development, invariably suffers from lack of a true appreciation of circular complementarity. This is always associated with an over-emphasis on dualistic type distinctions.
Any dualistic statement  is however always limited in that it attempts to establish meaning unambiguously (i.e. from just one direction). However when reference frames are switched, which continually occurs in the actual dynamics of experience, an equally valid unambiguous statement can also be made (from the opposite direction).

This is why in my binary approach to development, I place strong emphasis on both the linear and circular aspects of stage development.

Thus from a transcendent perspective, the formop stage is higher (in linear terms) that conop. However when we switch reference frames, from an immanent perspective, the conop is now higher than formop!

So when we attempt to dynamically reconcile both perspectives, we must adopt a circular (paradoxical) position where "higher and "lower" are merely relative (depending on context).

However to properly appreciate this circular aspect, one must equally emphasise, as illustrated in this blog entry, both the top-down (transcendent) and bottom-up (immanent) aspects of development.
And once again, the focus in intellectual studies is generally firmly placed on the former (as in the emphasis on "transcend and include") with the immanent aspect mentioned as an afterthought and therefore not properly integrated with the transcendent.


The diminished appreciation of stages, equally applies from both vertical directions.

So we mentioned in the previous blog entry on this subject, how a diminished appreciation of a "higher" stage can occur from the perspective of a corresponding "lower" stage. This would be associated with a momentary type of "peak" experience.

So for example one could have a diminished temporary exposure to the subtle level (i.e. Band 3, Level 1) from the complementary mythic level (i.e. Band 1, Level 3).

And it is important to state that this could apply to both temporary states and temporary structures, as both states and structures are dynamically interdependent in development.

However, one can equally have a diminished appreciation of a revisited "lower" stage, from the perspective of a substantially attained "higher" stage.  This would be associated with a corresponding  type of "valley" experience.

I have mentioned before how a spiritually mature person, when under sufficient stress, for example, could easily momentarily lapse back to more infantile appreciation.

For example such a person - say again at the subtle level - may typically understand religious myths in a non-literal fashion (as representative of important spiritual truths).

However, it is certainly possible that a temporary lapse could occur in proclaiming an over-literal interpretation, for example, when defending their religious beliefs against outside attack.

And again this diminished interpretation could apply to both states and structures. In fact it is perhaps more likely to apply to structures (as I can readily testify from experience).

For example when engaged in vigorous debate with someone holding opposing views, one may place too much emphasis on dualistic distinctions, which may seem  at the time persuasive, while later keenly realising, from a spiritual contemplative perspective, that all such distinctions are ultimately of a strictly relative nature..

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