From intersubjectivity to collective objectivity: a socioeconomic imperative

There’s nothing like the joy, freedom, and deep intimacy of intersubjective space, in which ego-driven programs are effortlessly replaced by the curiosity of who we really are when we are free from the illusions of a separate self. A passionate yet playful curiosity of what our connection is about floats in the room when the tyranny of the ego’s desires and fears that drive our acts, is gone or, at least, suspended for the time of being together with other aficionados of Truth, Beauty, and Good.
Traditionally, the experience of reaching a heightened state of awareness and interacting from within it with others in the same state was the privilege of participants in shamanic dances, Tantric sex ceremonies, other mystic traditions, and the modern-day group experiments with “psychoactive vitamins,” and rave parties. They’ve certainly reached a level of intersubjectivity not accessible in ego-driven states but they all shared a pre-rational logic that made those occurrences of collective consciousness unfit for dealing with challenges that required cognitive skills in managing complexity.
Intersubjectivity in the trans-rational is a whole different ball game! What prompted this blog entry was my experience of it in a circle of “enlightened communications,” last Friday:


Our shared and passionate attention to what wants to come into being didn’t diminish, but rather it enhanced our senses, receptivity, deep intuition, as well as the faculties of thinking together, building on each other’s ideas and inspirations, and profoundly appreciating the value of everyone’s perspective. They became notes in a larger harmony that has a message that we can receive only when the chatter of the conditioned mind stops, and we share with one another what is perceived in that precious state.
When I went home, I re-read the part of the conversation between Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber that prefaced our session. At the beginning we read a couple of paragraphs from their “Following the Grain of the Kosmos” dialog published in “What Is Enlightenment?” magazine. Andrew told something to Ken, something that struck me and opened a whole new dimension of my experience. (See below.) That’s what is reflected in the title of this entry.
“The intersubjectivity is the dropping of ego boundaries and awakening to the Authentic Self simultaneously with other people. But in this there is the emergence of an unprecedented potential for collective objectivity — which is everything! To me, that’s more important than anything else. From a certain point of view, our future may depend on it. I mean,that’s the ultimate coming together. And in that coming together, a creative potential and source of, as you said, discriminating wisdom emerge that otherwise could never be accessed. That’s the ground from which we can begin to deal with just about anything and solve our real problems from a truly awakened, enlightened perspective. And what’s even more exciting is that as this thing emerges and gets stronger, it seems to get easier and easier for new people to have the experience.”
By now, we have probably all heard or read the famous saying of Einstein, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Have you wondered how we’re going to get to the new level of consciousness required? I have, and it was that quest that made me open the Blog of CI, in the first place. As the intersubjective experience awakens in widening circles, our capacity to transcend and include it in our collective objectivity becomes a measure of our maturity, both spiritual and socioeconomic.
Most of the wicked problems of the many-facet global crises persist because the inaptitude of large organizations–governed by obsolete, past-century rules of the game–to manage the growing complexity of the factors involved with any decision. Their best hope is to engage on a development path to intersubjectivity, and beyond, to collective objectivity.

This entry was posted in Collective Objectivity, Collective Wisdom, Intersubjectivity. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to From intersubjectivity to collective objectivity: a socioeconomic imperative

  1. Barbara says:

    I was stunned when I read this: “They’ve certainly reached a level of intersubjectivity not accessible in ego-driven states but they all shared a pre-rational logic which made those occurrences of collective consciousness unfit for dealing with challenges that required cognitive skills in managing complexity.
    “Intersubjectivity in the trans-rational is a whole different ball game!”
    George, I think you have brilliantly put your finger on the critical difference, which has been bugging yet eluding me about this. So, the question I have is how does a group move from prerational logic to transrational? This is something I’d like to explore in regard to the enlightened communications groups that we’re convening in the SF Bay Area.

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  2. Tom Atlee says:

    Approaches such as enlightened communication constitute leading-edge work in group-level collective objectivity. To expand it into the realm of societal-level collective objectivity where it can actually address our growing collective problems requires further work to explore:
    a) the need to gather information from outside. An enlightened being or group may yet be unconscious of a genetically engineered bacteria that could wipe out civilization or of the geochemical dynamics of accelerating climate change or of social innovations that could address such things. What forms of information-gathering and -sharing can inform [what kinds of] collectively intelligent groups to generate collective wisdom — wisdom that is thereby informed by encountering the Big Picture both from within and without? The use of experts, balanced briefing materials, web searches, and more advanced forms of informational collective intelligence are all grist for this mill.
    b) the need to ensure that any group-developed wisdom actually influences the world beyond the group. This could be accomplished through a wide variety of approaches, among them:
    * selecting leaders as group members so that THEY carry their new understandings out into their networks (this may be the least democratic, but it also may be efficient in the short run to buy more time for more participatory or systemic approaches);
    * selecting ordinary citizens [a microcosm of the community or country] as members and then widely publicizing their conversations and recommendations — or even institutionalizing this so that everyone in the society habitually looks to such citizen deliberative activities for guidance;
    * tying the decisions of such a group directly into official decision-making processes (e.g., legislators must abide by the decision or explain why… or the recommendations go to a direct vote of the citizenry… or…)
    As we discover and advance the possibilities for intersubjectivity and collective objectivity we must not let these become merely psychospiritual phenomena to be consumed by those seeking a group high. If we are to save our species and catalyze civilizational transformation, we must invest creativity in carrying these co-intelligent phenomena out into the political, governmental, and economic realms in ways that actually impact actual decisions and mass behaviors.

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  3. Barbara says:

    Are all of the terms “collective intelligence,” “collective consciousness, “intersubjective communication,” and “enlightened communication” synonymous? If not, could you mention their particular distinctions?

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  4. George Por says:

    Barbara asked:
    >how does a group move from prerational logic to transrational?
    Both pre- and transrational logic are non-rational but at different turns of the evolutionary spiral. Pre-rational occurs in the 1st Tier and transrational in the 2nd Tier, in terms of the Spiral Dynamics of Graves and Don Beck. There’s no direct move from pre to trans because pre-rational (magic, mythic, shamanic) societies have to reach and embrace the rational logic of the “red” and/or “orange” meme before they can transcend it and discover the transrational.

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  5. George Por says:

    > Are all of the terms “collective intelligence,” “collective consciousness, “intersubjective communication,” and “enlightened communication” synonymous?
    No, they are not all synonymous but “intersubjective communication” and “enlightened communication” are quite close to one another. In fact, during the early appearances of the phenomenon described by Andrew in several of his conversations with Wilber, it was frequently referred to as “”intersubjective communication”; nowadays it’s mentioned as “enlightened communication” but they are basically the same thing.
    Reagarding”collective intelligence,” it means many things to many people. The sense in which I use it is described in the upper left corner of every page of this blog. Finally, “collective consciousness” is a sociological concept that refers to the quality of a human group or community, by which its members recognize a common identity.
    I hope this helps.

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  6. Tom Atlee says:

    Interesting. I always thought of “collective consciousness” as meaning a condition in which all members of a collective (group, community) are aware of the same thing at the same time (rather than “consciousness of our shared collectivity,” which seems to be the sociological definition you are referring to, George).
    That awareness could be esoteric, in a group mind sense: the group sees through all the eyes of the group’s members and shares internal experience of that, and of reflecting on that. I have heard of cases of this, but it is certainly not common in modern cultures!
    However, collective consciousness could also describe, for example, the state of the nation after 9/11, where the overwhelming majority of US citizens had seen TV or photo pictures of the towers being hit and experienced a shared emotional reaction to that. In fact, any broadly experienced mass media event could be said to elicit collective consciousness in this more mundane sense. (Although experimenters at Princeton have supposedly found evidence that the collective shock of 9/11 effected random number generators around the world, so even that may have esoteric dimensions…)
    My own sense of collective intelligence is simply the extension of the individual definition of intelligence to collective levels. Intelligence is the capacity to take in and reflect on experience, build mental models of reality, and apply those models to reality, revising the models (learning) as necessary in one’s interactions with one’s environment. It is basically the capacity to respond appropriately to changing conditions. This is a somewhat measurable phenomenon and can manifest outside of human realms — as in artificial intelligence, both of individual computerized agents and collective computerized agents.
    As you say, it means different things to different people.

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  7. Bringing “Collective Objectivity” to Society’s Decision-Making

    As we discover and advance the possibilities for intersubjectivity and collective objectivity we must not let these become merely psychospiritual phenomena to be consumed by those seeking a group high. If we are to save our species and catalyze civili…

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  8. Headshift says:

    Blogtalk Monday afternoon sessions

    Summaries and rough notes from the Monday afternoon sessions at Blogtalk

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  9. Barbara says:

    I am trying to digest all of the above. But, I’m still not clear what the distinction is between George’s definition of CI (“the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and integration through collaboration and innovation.”) and enlightened communication. I’m trying to grasp this because within the groups I’m associated with, CI and EC are being used interchangeably. Is the essential difference that EC requires a transcendence of ego and CI does not?

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  10. George Por says:

    Elnightened communications is a real-time group experience of collective consciousness, a deep knowing of our oneness. There are many beautiful accounts of that experience in the June issue of What Is Enlightenment? magazine.
    Collective intelligence is a compound capability of human communities of any size to evolve towards higher order complexity and integration through collaboration and innovation. CI involves such capabilities as collective memory,mapping and sharing mental models, managing complex projects, etc.
    Does that help?

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  11. Larry Victor says:

    This is my first experience of Tom and George in direct dialog – exciting; and a hello to Barbara. My comment relates to how much “psychic phenomena” are critical to the new experienced and objective collectivity; not as a question to answer now, but as a factor to potentially affect our choice of strategy. This is as short as I could make it. [George, I Googled “trackbacking” but don’t comprehend how to apply it here, so I paste.]
    I propose that humankind (including us, now) not put its future eggs all in one basket (grand strategy). I propose two strategies, like plans A and B. But, plan B must be developed concurrently with plan A, because if plan A fails, we will not be able to start plan B. Plan B must be in full operation if it is to replace plan A as our primary strategy. An added benefit is that activities in plan B can augment activities in plan A.
    Both plans call for an uplifting/bootstrapping of human experience/behavior. Terms like “collective intelligence,” “collective consciousness, “intersubjective communication,” and “enlightened communication” refer, in their various interpretations, to new experientials and new behaviors occurring primarily in new forms of human-human organizing/learning. These new ways of living human thrive best when not in proximity to our contemporary Crisis of Crises. Yet, we seek these new ways, in part, to assist us in surviving. We seek retreats from those aspects we want to not exist in the future, so we can be free to become ourselves anu, now. Such retreats are essential for both plans A and B, and what happens during these retreats I will call “emergence”.
    Plans A and B differ in how achievements acquired in our retreats are applied to the Crisis of Crises facing Humankind/GAIA. Plan A calls for a non-violent encounter with the people and systems of contemporary society, eventually assisting them to shift their thinking and behaving into new forms. Their old forms of thinking and behaving will be transformed through the application of practices perfected in our retreats. Institutions of the contemporary order will be transformed into institutions for a new order – a new NEW WORLD ORDER. I believe that plan A should be tried, even though I can marshal an army of reasons why it can’t succeed. Primarily, because the special enlightening states (and stage shifting) that occurs in retreats may not occur during encounters with others who resist participation. The hope I have for plan A is that the changes that occur in our retreats open up new “psychic phenomena” that enhance our emergent intelligent collectivity; and that “armed” with new “psychic powers” the resistance will be “defeated”. I am willing to accept this “conquering” metaphor IF it enables humankind to survive. Although I know there are phenomena not explained by contemporary science, and they do manifest in situations like what we will be doing in retreats, I do not have confidence that they can be to our aide in the “conquering” metaphor. Thus, I propose we have a viable plan B.
    Plan B is designed to succeed as if there are no special psychic phenomena to assist our emergence; any that do manifest will be an extra. Plan B abandons any attempts at encounter with others intending to transform them, or assist them in transforming – in their environments. Instead, we continue constructing our own planetary society from within our retreats. We create our own social systems and institutions without attempting to transform the existing dysfunctional institutions. We are so successful in creating our own parallel world that others join us, abandoning their lives and functions in the old NEW WORLD ORDER. We do not become a “service” for the other; instead, the other is invited to join us.
    Plan B may still encounter remnants, which must be faced as best as possible. Where in plan A, on achieving a threshold of competence, the focus shifts toward transforming the other, and the self-organizing emergence may be slowed, and even halted. If plan A runs into difficulty, these difficulties will necessarily enter and contaminate our own continuing self emergence. This will not be the case, no matter what the others do, so long as we view the world of the others as a social environment we are temporarily passing through, not as a social system of which we are minority members trying to reform the majority.
    In my past writings, I called plan A the strategy of transformation and plan B the strategy of emergence.

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  12. There’s a fascinating slection of news stories and reports on the collapsing dollar, the declining U.S. economy, the rise of China, and the New World Order at http://www.nwointelligence.com/newsitem.htm, most of which never seem to get general media coverage.
    It does rather make one wonder about the degree to which new is ‘managed’ on behalf of North American readers….

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