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Metaphysics of Adjacency: Three levels?
I was asked to explain a little bit about what I call the “three levels of the metaphysics of adjacency.” These are sometimes cited as MOA-1,2 and 3. What follows is a synopsis so brief as to assuredly seem ridiculous…
The metaphysics of adjacency (MOA) is my attempt to describe the type of metaphysics required by postmetaphysics and implied by pluralistic, integrative & nondual perspectives.
“Yeah? Well, that’s just like…. your opinion, man.”
That’s a quote by Dude from the Cohen Brother’s cult film The Big Lebowski. In order to make that kind of postmodern, relativistic statement, Dude has to acknowledge and accept that a contradiction between two truths, perspectives or realities. That’s his perspective.
So what kind of reality allows for meaningful worlds to be in collision?
MOA-1 is the most basic postformal cognition. It encounters a world of pluralism, multiplicity, contextualism, relativity & different perspectives. To perform this encounter, it operates as though the true world was the total arena in which all these relative contexts can potentially interact with each other. They are not SO different that no possible interaction can exist. These perspectives are at least close enough to disagree or conflict with each other. Yet they are not SO close that they perfectly overlap into an homogenous sameness. A degree of nearness is implied.
So the first style of adjacency metaphysics is simply the image of reality implied by the variable difference between different ways of organizing worlds and truths. Where do we go from there?
Above is a version of the famous “four quadrant” chart from Ken Wilber’s version of integrative metatheory. It shows the close intersection of whole types of perspectives. Wilber is an example of a person who assumes that coherent reality can enfold relativism, bring it to a higher degree of order and allow the fully different views to exist, complementarily, in closer proximity. Not spatial proximity but the basic affordance implied by mutual exchanges & functional comparisons.
MOA-2 is a slight intensification of MOA-1. It is the metaphysics required by integrative pluralism. This type of assumption about reality can be found in very diverse places — from Gregg Henriques’ Universal Theory of Knowledge to ancient Kabbalistic maps of the ten sephiroth realms; from Clare Graves’ model of developmental worldviews to Einstein’s construction of an integrated mathematical map to make all relativistic measurements mutually coherent.
You are taking more contexts into account and bringing them closer together so that they can cooperate more fully. And how “close together” can you bring different realities?
Well, you can bring them right to the threshold at which you could not count them as alternatives anymore. They would be so intimate, so similar, so overlapping in their patternings, that any notion of their plurality or difference would be virtual at best.
“The separator is the connector.”
That’s an old quote from me. It’s meant to suggest a condition of simultaneous difference and sameness. Same-difference.
MOA-3 is a complex way of thinking about the experiential & philosophical concept of nondualism. Nonduality is not the same as unity. It is “not-two” instead of “one” or “none.” It describes a condition of proximity between two versions of reality that gets so close you cannot tell them apart but also remain distinct. The unity of multiplicity. The common quality shared by separated elements such that they are similar enough to be compared as different. Syndiffeonesis.
This is a very rarefied way of thinking, certainly, but it is nonetheless possible. At any location along a gradient (and degree of adjacency), we find a simultaneous condition of partial similarity and partial difference. Betweenness is a shifting or elastic condition wherein duality is both transcended and not canceled.
It may seem weird to put the flexible in-between condition as the primary reality but that is the proposal of the metaphysics of adjacency. It gets a lot more complicated from there but that gives a small taste of the concept and the three complementary styles, grades or phases that are sometimes used in conversations about this stuff.
99 is the New 100%
Maybe almost IS good enough?