From the outset, the nature of this work has been clear. Prescriptions for nurturing truth and authenticity must fall within the realm of the social-organizational. After all, it must be admitted, nurturing honesty in any particular ‘you’ or ‘me’ would certainly be disadvantageous for anyone whose environment did not mutually support such disclosure. Therefore, for this work to have value whatsoever, it must quest beyond mere self-help prescriptions in order to deliver something resembling prescriptions for social reform. And yet, at the same time, we should also expect that those who have studied in the disciplines of behavioral psychology and group psychology to have learned a great deal about authenticity. After all, it is here that we find empirical investigations into that ‘art of attunement to our condition’ announced in the previous article — an ‘art’ which seeks an attunement for authenticity. Therefore, we proceed into this research. And we do so vigilant to the dangers which lay in demystifying and capturing the creative self-authoring human spirit into a prison of definitive language. We will use this research to draw out the primordial actio, αληθευειν (alētheuein, ‘to adhere to the unconcealed disclosive in the saying that lets appear’) — in turn, this actio will then guide our prescriptions for social reform in the emerging human project.
In an unpublished report, Open to Participate, the already mentioned generalist intellectual Bonnitta Roy reports on her experience from a business venture taking up exactly this ‘art of attunement’. Of particular interest is the descriptions which follow from the observation of subjects under the demands of group dynamics — those demands of servicing interpersonal needs and social expectations — dynamics which pose an obstacle to inward reflection. We proceed further with this report, even if in the end we wish to reach something of an organic and ecstatic authorship beyond sterile facilitator-driven environments.
In this document, Roy introduces ‘Collective Participatory Process for Emerging Insight’ — a facilitated process where the goal is sustaining ‘coherence’ in order to catalyze authentic disclosure. Coherence is defined as ‘sustaining participation in the process of making distinctions and revealing difference’. “Coherence depends on the full participation of individuals as unique agents in exploring the ‘fault lines’ where differences verge.” This priority on difference qualifies this research as relevant given that we have already decided to heed to that primordial disgust for the apprehension of the often-sought epistemic narrative which tells the story of a ‘oneness’ — of a ‘humanity’. In continuing, we find important the description of a definitive state of coherence in which, “Novel insights emerge from the adaptive processes of diversity-in-co-creative interplay.” “Diversity is maintained through high-state coherence” which “sets the level that the insight attains.” Roy’s research is founded upon that of the already mentioned psychologist Diana Fosha. In The Transformative Power of Affect, Fosha describes this ‘high-state coherence’ as a state,
“…wherein individuals are deeply in touch with essential aspects of their own experience. Experience is intense, deeply felt, unequivocal, and declarative; sensation is heightened, imagery is vivid, focus and concentration are effortless. Self-attunement and other-receptivity easily coexist. Mindfulness — the capacity to take one self, one’s world, and one’s own unfolding experience as objects of awareness and reflection—prevails. The affective marker for core state is the truth sense. The truth sense is a vitality affect whose felt-sense is an aesthetic experience of rightness…There is an internal experience of coherence, cohesion, completion, and essence.”
In the writing of these researchers we find this state of coherence referred to as ‘State four, Core State and the Truth Sense’. Roy prefaces this by three others. Namely, a “Conditioning that creates needs-based interactions, Deconstruction that reveals and releases them, and Individuation that leads to participation and the possibility of cognitive flow.” Given all the terminology which has come in the first article of the second half of this series, this four-stage description of the empirical evidence resonates. In fact, the language used to describe these states, ‘conditioning’ and ‘individuation’, is consistent with that which we have inherited through phenomenology. In as much, we can say that this clinical research confirms that which has been intuitively felt throughout the testimony of our historical continuum. However, despite this felt practicality of the research there is unquestionable originality in the report. What we find valuable is the creative spirit at work in Roy’s own authorship — particularly in the description of observed “cogitative flow”. In the document Roy remarks that,
“Artists and geniuses across the ages have reported this feature of creative flow — where insight and inspiration seem to come to one’s self from some other place, but what is required of the person is to build the capacity to receive and presence it, in feeling, speech and action.”
If we look carefully at the words used to express this sentiment we find particular interest in “receive and presence” especially in the mediums of “feeling, speech, and action”. But in thinking on these three mediums a question presents itself. What could it mean to presence insight from outside the self in action over-and-above what was already presenced in speech? Of course, this question comes forward in assuming that speech is not exhausted by verbal phenomena, but also includes in it body language and other observable speech behaviors. Therefore, we might also think this question a bit pedantic. Perhaps Roy has simply taken some artistic liberty, adding multiple words where simply ‘speech’ might have sufficed. On this point, we should not be too dismissive. There is depth worth elucidating — depth which we can be certain Roy was aware of herself.
Firstly, we should acknowledge that it would be narrow-minded to think of action as merely some physical-mechanical motion. And in looking beyond the discipline of physics we do find that there is such a thing as motionless action — an action which presences when phenomena is completely at rest. This action is present in the phenomena’s simply being there. This action is often successfully explored in science fiction. We can bring to mind H.P. Lovecraft’s extraterrestrial in The Colour from Outer Space or Arthur C. Clarke’s monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, to understand exactly this action which presences in the phenomena’s mere being there we can return to the language from the first half of this article series. In doing so, we recall αληθευειν (‘to adhere to the unconcealed disclosive in the saying that lets appear’). Aληθευειν is adherence as a motionless action — a constant action — one which displaces that which surrounds it simply in its being. Adherence is not some motion directed toward things outside of itself, but is a constant action as ομοιωσις (homoiosis, ‘the disclosive correspondence expressing the unconcealed’). If we consider those objects which we describe as beautiful, admirable, epic, exotic, or uncanny, we are captivated — captured — in a striking way, such that adherence provokes not our action (even explicit ‘cognitive’ thinking) but a primordial actio as reckoning. Only on account of this reckoning can any subsequent mechanical action occur. We could say that only by way of the adherence of the imperial ideal could episteme come to be, whatsoever. All surveillance and subterfuge throughout the Roman empire were mere mechanical actions in accordance with such an adherence of the imperial ideal. We should not be mistaken, action will always and forever lag behind and chase after the motionless action of adherence.
Of course, having been transported over to the domain of the imperium — the ‘I command’ — αληθεια (alētheia, ‘truth’) today belongs to the domain of judgement. It is here, in thinking on personal judgement, that we can understand the psychological research. We are now prepared to interpret Roy’s tripartite receiving and presencing of insight in “feeling, speech, and action”. We might say that adherence to personal judgment conditions the breadth of an individual’s actions. In this case, the adherence of αληθευειν is something of a social promise by way of one’s adherence to their character. The presencing of such a judgement also conditions the expectation of the moment — certainly towards the behavior of everyone who is present. This is to say, the presencing of personal judgement unfolds the mechanical and social hierarchy in the moment. Roy’s tripartite, therefore, refers us not only toward a subjective internal feeling and an external speech, but also to the λογος by which the phenomena of experience come into accord with one another. That ‘accord’ which presences in αληθευειν is a ‘picture of the world’ which constantly proves itself again-and-again through the adherence as constant action to that accord. And this presencing of the character of the moment completes the presencing of insight in “feeling, speech, and action” which we call authenticity.
While a reference to the Ancient Greek αληθευειν may feel pretentious, we may want to simply translate it as ‘sincerity’, ‘honesty’, or ‘genuineness’ (αληθευειν in modern Greek would be translated as ‘to truth’ — as in, for example, ‘to walk’). However, this would be to transport αληθευειν from an Ancient Greek understanding over into our own — which means to transport it into an economy of imperium, the epistemological. Conversely, attempting to transporting our way of thinking to before imperial comportment will prove essential for understand the conclusion which Roy draws to her research. Therefore, in digesting Roy’s conclusions, we will continue to draw on the language of Heidegger’s lectures on Parmenides and Heraclitus. In addition to this language, we must also recognize a presumption which the research takes for granted. No doubt, Roy’s research is founded on Fosha’s ‘mindfulness’ — a Western appropriation of Buddhist practice. Grounded in anattā, this practice offers only the platitude, ‘I am not my feelings.’ And what we discover in releasing ourselves from the ownership of even our own-most feelings is that there is no ‘subject’, no ‘object’ whatsoever, laying behind the fleeting phenomena of experience. The experience of anattā, therefore, draws out the presumption of the epistemological metaphysical subject. And this presumption calls for a definition. It is here, thinking on the definition of the epistemological ‘metaphysical subject’, which will offer a contrast between αληθευειν and any modern translation as ‘sincerity’ or ‘honesty’. This contrast will reveal a difference which allows for real world practical social organizational prescriptions.
The question of the epistemological metaphysical subject (including subjectivity and intersubjective transcendence) is a question that, perhaps quite unexpectedly, can be traced to the priority of man over animal — a priority which began with the Ancient Greek interpretation of the human condition. The Ancient Greeks believed that before the world was wholly in being, it was merely the realm of natural needs. Animals, for example, orient themselves through perception. They seem to have a kind of φρoνησις (phronēsis, ‘practical wisdom’). Yet, while animals make sounds φρoνη (phonē) that coordinate action, they do not speak or have a notion of the whole. Only through λογος does the world come into being. This is what Heidegger means when he says that human beings and the world ‘are’, but they are not quite ‘there’. Through the luminescence of λογος they are ‘da sein’ (being there). Speaking as uncovering or revealing αληθεια, according to Heidegger, always means for Aristotle speaking and revealing the world to other human beings. Man’s unique being is determined by λογος. The being of those having λογος then, for Aristotle, is a being-with-one-another, κοινωνια (koinonia, ‘communion’). As the rational animal, man is thus the political animal. The preservation of our humanity as the ‘there’ of ‘being’ depends on our capacity for what Aristotle calls αληθευειν, ‘revealing, ‘or ‘uncovering’ in the economy of the πoλις (polis). This housing of αληθευειν in the economy of the πoλις is a principal displacement which, throughout the history of the modernization project, has found many homes. Many definitive edges have been given to the πoλις. In its widest sense, πoλις defines the economy of ‘mankind’—’the ‘human animal’, ‘humanity’. This definition demands itself the delineation of ‘my’ experience as tantamount to a ‘yours’, such that the designation ‘human’ has meaning. Hence the usefulness of concepts like ‘subjectivity’ to describe the condition of that experience. Intersubjectivity, then, extends that condition to others. From here we find ourselves with the problem of intersubjective transcendence. This housing of αληθευειν in the economy of the πoλις also leads to the objective position—that historical omniscient observer of anthropology and sociology.
It is only in this light that we can understand how countless students, following the lead of professor Hubert Dreyfus, have contemplated the question of whether or not animals or machine could have da sein as their way of being. This question is only possible within the Ancient Greek priority of the πoλις as the economical domain of λογος. It is today a question which can only be raised as an epistemological question — that is, from a disposition of doubt. However, if we forgo the human subjectification of the ‘event’ of ομοιωσις — that subjectification which sets man apart from animal, then we can be delivered to a purely phenomenological position. In returning αληθεια to the ‘objective domain’ — that of nature itself — we find that ομοιωσις manifests in the phenomena of the heard word or visual body movements and behavior, or it comes from phenomena altogether besides the human animal. Aληθευειν, then, is not an exclusively human comportment toward the phenomena of experience. Unlike the ‘sophological’, ‘technicological’, ‘phronological’, or ‘epistemological’, αληθευειν (as that ‘to truth’ which presences λογος) is the comportment of the world wholly. In as much, man and animal, together with machine, collapse onto each other. In such a collapse, what remains is that primordial harmony with nature—that ‘wheeling and dealing’ discourse which alone constitutes the ‘metaphysical subject’. This ‘wheeling and dealing’ refers to the ‘center’ (E. F. Schumacher) or ‘consciousness, intellectus archetypus, or transcendental ego’ (Hans-Georg Gadamer), or whatever other name we give to that ‘object’ to which every worldly object can be traced back. In as much, we must admit that the critique of mindfulness—that ‘art of attunement to our condition’—does not so much ruin the efforts of the researchers. Instead, recognizing that in contemplation there is no ‘subject’, no ‘object’ whatsoever, laying behind the fleeting phenomena of experience points us forward beyond the epistemologist’s tabula rasa—John Locke’s ‘white paper’—that contentless metaphysical subject which was prepared for by Plato and above all by Aristotle. And while we can say that the Western appropriation of Eastern mindfulness manifested through the symptoms of industrialized life, we can also admit this was a coping as preparation.
It is here that we find sense in the conclusions to Roy’s research. If we genuinely wish to nurture conditions for truth and authenticity, then we require an attention to this ‘dealing’. A ‘dealing’ which takes place not only between people but with the entirety of phenomena in experience. Only on account of this rhythmic harmony with nature is any articulation of phenomena possible. Any speech act (whether body, verbal, or written) is merely a refinement — a further articulate form of discourse. The evidence for such discourse is the appearance of nature. Correspondingly, what we find in the concluding sections of Roy’s Open to Participate are prescriptions for a reunion with that primordial harmony with nature — through what she calls ‘civic engagement’ — as the applicable domain for psychology’s ‘State four, Core State and the Truth Sense’.
“In the past, civic engagement has primarily leveraged human needs for connection, sharing and belonging. Yet needs-based action tends to be re-active, not pro-active, functional, not creative, and is inadequate to the 21st century imagination fostering trans-human and post-human values and realist utopian ideals such as eudaemonia, thrivability and flourishing. Therefore, going forward, we must reinvent civic engagement as full participation in emergent capacities, such as insight and co-realization.”
Yet to do this,
“…we must move beyond merely modelling complex adaptive systems, to in vivo simulations of them, to actual immersion in participatory processes that enact them. And since complex adaptive systems, by definition, are non-linear and not reproducible, we will not be able to derive such practices through rules and fixed methodologies, but through meta-design principles for creating, and “model-free” process methodologies for facilitating practices that can catalyze emergent capacities.”
Roy’s words should not be read too quickly. Consider an economy in which ‘thrivability’ is paramount to ‘sharing’; ‘flourishing’ paramount to ‘belonging’. And yet, at the same time, imagine this economy beyond any motivations which could be described as ‘greed’ or ‘selfishness’. There is depth worth elucidating here. It is clear that for Roy, the presencing of insight (what we have called ‘authenticity’, that which manifests through feeling, speech, and αληθευειν) is conditioned by civic engagement. However, it is not entirely apparent why authenticity must manifest through such engagement. Or why another form of social value-adding engagement could not suffice. What constitutes civic engagement? Why it is ‘engagement’ at all? And why must that engagement be ‘civic’? Only in answering these questions can we come to understand social organizational prescriptions which could nurture our primordial encounters with the truth—that which is a condition for the disclosure of truth. Authenticity. Therefore, we take these questions seriously.
Firstly, to answer the question of ‘engagement’ we must expand our metaphysical architectonic. We must come to understand the venue for truth. Likewise, to answer the question of ‘civic’ we must understand the ‘forum’ in which truth is judged.
—Justin Carmien, November 17th, 2020