Category Archives: Philosophy

Spiral Dynamics mapped to Morris’ Development Index

So, to follow on from this post and per the comments from alan2102, please find below some images of a combines SD dyanmics history and the Morris development index.

From 14,000 years ago:

from 4,000 years ago to make recent hisotry clearer:


Not the cleanest images, but I hope it gives a general indication of what i meant in my previous post.


The Absurd Life

All things float, or nothing does. I feel a strangeness in me. A return not to previous bad feelings, but something different. Its the sense of oldness. That all has been done, that all is ever so predictable. That every action from others is how I would expect it. But this is no-one’s issue. The issue is in me. Help Yourself. It can’t be forced. See the last 2 years have been years of nonstop lust for life. A lust that is nearly sexual in nature, the desire to fuck the world in a wonderful way, but no sense of domination, just flow. I’ve called it zen, being, and when i was at its heights, i literally had no idea what it would be like not to feel that good all the time. I look at what has caused the downfall. And its all me again. Because i haven’t stepped into the traps of life-drugs, haven’t grown obsessed by a love, or allowed chemicals or achievements to overpower me. I have taken alot on, and feel the starin of that pressure at times. But thats not it either, I have always loved pressure. So the reasons are still murky to me. And I know with all thats in me that the tripping balls on life feelings will come. The feeling that no matter how predictable the world is, there is joy in every small moment. Sitting on a bus and the sun peeks out. The taste of a tomato and mayonnaise toast sandwich. A kiss. The feeling of muscles screaming in the gym, or the wheezy crunch sound of rugby tackling someone. The sound of perfect techno, or mixing two tracks together to make something new. The moment when you stand in front of a crowd of people and explain your visions and dreams. Talking to my sisters about teen life and my brother about his most recent crazy sexual escapade. Being a pillar for mum. Being a pillar for others. Thats what i live for. And want to feel flow again. I hurt people over and over my entire life. A penance needs to be repaid. Irish guilt secularised within me. I see a world in turmoil and see the possible paths that lead from here. See the fact that the world will be so different in a handful of years and so excited I am alive today. Because this is the moment we all decide where the world goes; chaos or a new world. When a drunken man tells me he is proud of me, and I hug a friend who needs one, I feel two sides of a feeling; embarrassment and pride. Because pride in self is always best as an action, pride in your doing something. For someone. Being given words always feel undeserved. Its the action of someone who was sad a minute ago, smiling now. That is all thats needed. I can fly, can be an animal again, flowing and being of the world, connecting with people and being a living examplar for how stress and unhappiness can be bent to your will. But I dont know if i need to remember the old zen ways, or rediscover them. Because the collection of actions that led to the original zen of being is not something i can recreate. Such was the newness of the expereinces that August. But it must come from wihtin me. Because in the end that has to be fine before i can help anyone else. In the mythology I have creatd for the new world, I return to the well, fall down it to the very bottom. And then I can look up again, at the starry night sky, and feel the flow of all. And rise out of the well again. To go to another myth, as Camus says:

The absurd man says yes and his efforts will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is, but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Occupy Well-Being

From Jules:

 looking at Occupy, I realized the two movements have now come together: both the revolutionary anarchism of 1968, and the human potential movement of the 1970s. Occupy is now the revolutionary arm of the politics of well-being. The protestors take classes in meditation, in well-being economics, in ’emotion work’ and performance theatre. The personal is tied to the political.

The New Revolution

It is now clear to me, and more and more to the people I speak to, that we are on the cusp of some sort of revolution. A revolution of ideas as per Kuhn, rather then a revolution of violence. Those my age, the “Millenials” are looking at a set of political and economic structures whose collapse is all but inevitable. There are a number of elements of this:

1. The oligarchal system of the 20th century depended fundamentally on the idea that in a growing economy everyone is a winner. As long as the middle classes could see that their lot was being improved, the new class of the super rich were not only tolerated, but were held as exemplars. With permanent economic stagnation all but assured, the oligarch’s have irrevocably damaged their own place of power, by doubling down on their wealth, rather then taking some minor short-term pain through taxes and debt forgiveness to keep the middle classes happy. A history of oligarchies shows that it was ever thus, the oligarchal class always step too far.

2. The failure of institutions such as the EU and the US governments has made people finally see that their needs cannot be met by traditional institutions. The current generation in power has failed us. Daily I work with titens of finance and daily I see that the drive is for self-protection within the confines of existing institutions.

3. The clear unsustainability of GDP growth as a means for societal progress. We have started to see that as we finish up with the low hanging fruit of fossil fuels and early industrial productivity gains, that it is hard to see where future growth comes form, outside ever increasing technological productivity. Ever increasing productivity has the knock on effect of altering the types and quality of jobs people can do. This will create more and more stress on the current political system, and makes the emergence of a new system ever more likely.

4. Technology and our leaps in the ways ideas and people connect is still very ill-understood. It will take the maturation of the millenials, the first digital generation, to make sense of the world that is emerging around us. Societal and political shifts followed each previous technological advance, Agriculture the beginning of civilization, Industrialisation the end of feudalism and the beginning of capitalism. The digital advance has not had the same change in societal structure. I am more certain then ever, that History has not ended, that a new system will emerge.

5. A new conception of consciousness. This is the most wishy washy thing to pin down, but following Spiral Dynamics there are hints that many people can start to move into “second order” thinking. I cannot articulate the elements of this shift, but its the most profound of all and will be the worldview that will dominate following the paradigm shift we are on the cusp of.


One thing to note, I do not beleive in the objective progress of humanity. Any new system will not be “better or worse” then capitalism or fuadlism etc. but will simply be the next system humans use to organise themselves according to a new habitat. New systems are adaptive, not progressive.

Further I cannot say how a new paradigm will emerge. I feel it, I feel we are on the cusp of a black swan, who knows when, tomorrow, in a generation, it feels very inevitable.

I’m no Pangloss but…

We are living in the Best of Times:

One the oddities about the current economic doldrums afflicting the developed world is that if you look at the global average, this is almost certainly the best time to be alive in human history. Not only have we seen rapid per capita GDP growth in many poor countries, but even in countries that haven’t gotten richer major development progress has occurred. Last, but by no means least, the world is getting much less violent:

We are living in the best of times, and I honestly believe it will not last my lifetime. Its a real shame that the majority of the people living through the greatest peak of human existence, refuse to acknowledge it. It could all be gone so quickly.

Spiral Arguments

Spinning of some more Ken Wilber, when I debate with people on various subjects, I am often frustrated by the fact that we are using language in different ways and so we can’t actually communicate. In this contest, the Spirals of Understanding, be they mythic, logical, whatever makes a lot of sense. And it makes me thing that my method of argument is flawed.

For example, if I am debating someone who believes that the earth if 6,000 years old, typically I will go straight at the science. But hat never works, as my use and understanding of science is fundamentally different to theirs. Rather than pointing to geologic evidence, or archaeological evidence, I should be pointing to the notion of evidence itself. I should be getting them to query and question what it is to understand evidence. And their mythic viewpoint might subtly shift towards a more scientific based approach. Equally, I want to listen to the underlying reasons for their beliefs. Not to bring me towards a resolution of our issue based on a fictional “common ground” (you say 6,000, I say 4.8 Billion, lets take the average and say 2.4 Billion), but rather to understand why these belief patterns exist, What do they give people, what is missing from my scientific explanation that they get from their myth?

Its nearly like Socratic questioning is a type of spiral dynamics argumentation. We question in order to clear the ground to a jump to a different “meme” of understanding. Want to develop this notion of Socrates and Spiral dynamics later.

A Theory of Everything: How Conveniently The World Fits The Theory

This book has changed the way I think in a sudden and profound way. Not because Wilber is right on what he says, (alot of it is new-agey woowoo), but for the door he opens to a new line of thinking. Where I see the potential of what he says in a given statement and then he puts it in a fancy diagram and believes it to help explain things, while if anything it confuses us into thinking we can structure reality into lines and circles.  In the Amazon reviews, Carl of Mariemont, has a great negative review that I generally agree with.

Here’s what you do. Create a sort of Dewey Decimal System for reality. Slice it into chunks, cram the chunks into categories, nest concepts inside other concepts, then create lots of lists, levels, charts, graphs, diagrams, spirals, and hierarchies. Adopt a progressive color scheme to describe the levels of human progress, from beast to buddha. Make a four-quadrant diagram. Find a place for everything in one of the quadrants. In fact, make a bunch of four-quadrant diagrams to demonstrate that, with a little ingenuity, you can make everything fit.

That’s what’s magical. The human mind makes everything fit. In a sense there is a single big circle around Wilber’s 4 quadrants of understanding, that is just the human mind grouping and finding patterns. Would seven quadrants be too in-elegant? What of a society who had different conceptions of I and We? Four quadrants makes sense, because that’s how we are wired. And I don’t see how that fact is examined in Integral theory.

At least I couldn’t find the phrase “quantum consciousness”.

Who is Ken Wilber?

Never heard of him before today. Seems he’s a big deal. Also can’t find much on him being debunked online, so not sure if he is a BS artist like Deepak Chopra or not. Better get one of his shorter books to see what the story is!

Drugs as a Pathway to New Experiences

I have become heavily involved in the techno scene in the last year, East London, Berlin, Ibiza, next week, Montreal; all to sample the best DJ’s and most chilled vibes I can find. But you cannot think about the clubbing scene without thinking of the receational drugs associated with it. I have had a dialogue with a DJ mate of mine for the last few months on this. I quote him at lenght (with his permission!) as I think it adds an interesting perspective:

I love drugs, not for their immediate highs, though they are obviously great, but for what they teach. How when you come up on MDMA, you learn what a new experience is like, your neural pathways change. & then on some random bus to work, sunlight hits the world in a particular way, & in that moment, you feel so much love, so much connectedness, & yet distinction from the world, a cell amongst a billion other cells, but a cell all the same. That’s why I love drugs. There was one moment in particular last year,  in the middle of some random party, as I threaded the fine line between MDMA’s total bliss & the K-hole, I realized that here was something new. A new way of looking at the world. And I don’t know how to describe it. I just can’t wait for the moment, sitting in a field, or dancing with friends, or seeing some awesome piece of art, or hearing musical perfection, that this feeling will return, drug free. That’s why I do it.

Also great take on Magic Mushrooms from Andrew Sullivan+ Readers here.

There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.



An Ode to Space

Space,Space,Space. She got it right, its like you want to have sex with Space itself. Be inside it & outside it, melding with it, humans with our mix of the magical and the mundane, becomes a part of a place, a living architecture, an atmosphere like no club I have ever been to. A rolling beat pulling us along with it. Becoming part of the music, the lights, beats, people, moves, the random limbo, the indoor areas that rained on us, the bouncers & their subtle torches, people hugging, here for the music, little of the constant sexual rat race that was Pasha. No, this was about us all worshipping together, modern hedonists of Party, of inhibitions sinking, and the comfortable buzz of every cell tingling. We wandered, blew up coloured balloons, high fived every human being who has ever existed. We are happy.

Religious Turing Test

Interesting idea:

When there is a respectable disagreement (as opposed to one where the other side are just obvious crackpots), and important skill is to be able to put yourself in the mind of those with whom you disagree. Conservative economist Bryan Caplan formalized the notion by invoking the idea of a Turing Test: could a liberal/conservative do such a good job at stating conservative/liberal beliefs that an outsider couldn’t tell they were the real thing?

Obviously it would be fun to do this for religious belief, and Leah Libresco has taken up the challenge. She came up with a list of questions for atheists and Christians to explain their beliefs. She then recruited some actual atheists and Christians (they’re not hard to find) and had them answer both sets of questions. You can find the (purported) atheist answers here — I think the purported Christian answers are still forthcoming.


Do we know when we are in Love?

Interesting question on Love:

Does it make sense to tell someone that they do not really love someone they believe they love?

The answer:

Because love is a lot more than a feeling, people are quite capable of being wrong about whether they love someone. They can tell themselves that they don’t love someone when they really do (think of someone who swears they no longer love their ex-lover when it’s obvious to everyone else that they do), and they can tell themselves that they do love someone when they really don’t. The connection with behavior is clear. If love involves dispositions to feel and to act, then the actions someone actually performs can be signs of their real dispositions.

I think this very interesting. Because love (and other complex emotions) seem to have a strong back and forth with the underlying feelings we have (I AM IN LOVE) and the behaviors associated with those feelings (God, he doesn’t ACT like he’s in love). As above, the proof is in the pudding, one must act like they love, to really be able to claim they are in love. After all, the greedy person doesn’t claim to be generous despite their hogging of all the biscuits.

Social Black Swans

Let’s say there are an infinite number of possible worlds. In the range of all possible worlds one can imagine the following: at every part of the smallest slice of time a person can split into another version of themselves; in my case, I split into River 1, River 2, River n+1. Let us  presume that the me that is me in this world is River 0. But every other River n+1 regards themselves as the one true River 0. In a sense then, River 0 is uniquely linked to all possible River n numbers, by the fact that all River n+1, share the property of believing they are River 0. Its all a matter of perspective from which world I find myself in. This is the only way I can think of for free will to exist in a meaningful way. A choice is simply the decision to decide which River 0 one wants to be, and every other possible choice is made by another River n+1. Further, to an infinite number of other River n+1 (each of who regard themselves as River 0s), I (me as River 0) am simply a thought experiment, as they are each to me. That is fine, in a sense, that makes them each my brothers, our presumption of uniqueness, of our decisions being the starting point, of our being the true River 0, that is our shared bond.

Ok so, I am River 0. River 0 had certain turns of luck that led him here to this world. And some the Other Man 0 in this world happens to have had bad luck. Both of us worked hard. The one difference is that River 0 tried to enhance the serendipity of his life by simply never turning down a social event unless it was physically impossible to be there. Amazing things came from that. River 46 was always someone who stayed in on Saturday nights. As would River 15 (Fridays too it seems!). And I suspect Other Man 0 also did. Socially, there are black swans, I will go out a million nights for handful of remembrances and those are worth it, worth every boring moment, worth every tired head. And I will go back as I am doing now and try and narrate the steps as I am human, but all I can say is there are many Rivers that would have missed out because they were not willing to put themselves out there. And I am very happy to be River 0. But the other point is, its not a value judgement. River 0 is no better than River 87 in any moral way. Simply I want River 0 to have certain attributes, and one cannot give oneself attributes, but merely try and expose oneself to the range of experiences that might give an emotional black swan. And from such black swans (falling in love, feeling infinite happiness, partying to an unreal level) comes the experience to develop new attributes. Shyness disappears. But also humility comes with the security of knowing one’s own limits. DO not turn something down if you are tired, or feel it might be boring. You never know. Take the fucking chance.

Monogamy and Culture

Interesting article in Salon on Monogamy, where Tracy Clark-Flory interviews marriage historian Stephanie Coontz. Key graf:

Why does sex in particular seem to pose such a threat?

We’ve made sexual enjoyment so important to a love relationship — which is a good step forward from the old days when a woman was just expected to submit whether she liked it or not — but then you combine that with our tendency in the United States not to have strong relationships and feel serious obligations once the romantic relationship has ended. Then any sexual attraction poses a sort of existential threat: “Will this [affair] spill over and then take everything away from me?”

Some thoughts on this later.


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