Edwards makes some questionable connections and erroneous assumptions

Continuing from this post, Edwards makes some questionable connections and some erroneous assumptions. He equates the three forms of theory—empirical, mid-range and the meta-level—with Bhaskar’s tripartite model of the empirical, the actual and the real. However the connection of false demi-reality with the empirical realm is questionable, as if the empirical is itself false. Granted it can be false if it is approached with a reductionistic ideology like scientific materialism, but that isn’t the material world’s fault. The ideology is what reduces it to an either/or dualistic conception, and in that sense it is indeed a meta-theory’s investigation into those mistaken theoretical assumptions of a demi-reality. As it is though, it makes the material world out to be demi-reality and that is itself an prime example of the sort of demi-real dualism it purports to address.

Another questionable connection is meta-theory with Bhasker’s non-dual realm. Now I can agree that meta-theory in Edwards’ sense is indeed not some separate realm from the empirical, material realm. Granted it is a second-order abstraction that addresses first-order middle theory, which in turn reflects on the empirical world theories of the material world. But that is not my impression of what Bhaskar means by the non-dual world. In Bhaskar’s The Formation of Critical Realism, for example, he speaks of matter being brute and inanimate, and that high consciousness can evolve to not need matter whatsoever (186). And in Reflections on Meta-Reality Bhasker speaks of a consciousness of “pure form” that is “without thought or mental (or emotional) content” (212). This hardly seems like the second-order abstract conceptions of meta-theory.
This is further confused in the discussion of the two truths doctrine. Edwards correctly sees a development in Buddhist thought from the complete separation of the absolute from the illusory relative realm to see the realms as complementary and co-dependent to the relationship as interpenetrating mutualities (87-89). But as we discussed in this* thread, there is ample evidence that both Wilber and many Tibetan Buddhist schools do not in any way see the non-dual relationship as interpenetrating mutualities but rather completely separate and distinct realms with the absolute the foundation of the relative, the latter being samsara. Edwards misinterprets Wilber on this and apparently is unaware of the actual Buddhist two truths debate within the Tibetan tradition. Both are though akin to Bhaskar’s notion of non-dual meta-reality and neither are postmetaphysical or related to the sort of metatheory of which Edwards speaks, since that sort of metatheory is located in second-order abstract thought, not some nirvanic absolute.

About theurj

Also known as theurj. I've contributed some essays to Integral World and co-founded Open Integral blog, now defunct. I continue to participate in Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum.
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