Before I learnt about integral I was incredibly well versed and wrapped up in the rationalist community. As I know it, starting around 2009 on www.lesswrong.com sprung up a huge community of people ranging from age ~15-35, interesting in thinking, thinking about thinking and more. The whole movement was started by Elieser Yudkowsky, with an interest in AI safety and moving in that direction. From that community sparked off a community of “effective altruism” focused on the concept of “doing good better” (https://www.effectivealtruism.org/). Turns out the clear thinking tools that were significant for a rallying flag for the area of AI safety was also a good flag for effective altruism and generally (from my perspective) capturing a generation of smart people and organising them to have shared understanding.
The lesswrong community focussed on thinking better, thinking tools and generally trying to solve all our problems by being smart about it. I think there was an underlying unspoken narrative of “you can think your way out of nearly every problem” and “you happen to probably be smarter than the people around you”. Two core books of the community are “Harry potter and the methods of rationality” www.hpmor.com and “Rationality: from AI to Zombies” which is a collection of Eliezer’s writings known as the sequences. It’s about 1500 pages long and 80% or more of the rationality community has read it. A community of people ranging from the thousands to the tens of thousands by the time you start trying to count the diaspora.
Myself along with a whole bunch of people, started getting drawn away from central rationality (as we saw it), towards therapeutic methods and meditative methods. Then something happened and those people , including myself, started talking gibberish. We crossed some kind of threshold of method from the generally safe, “think it through first then act” process to a very hard to communicate, integrated, often spiritual sounding process of emotions, embodiment, words that really don’t mean what they used to.
Naturally we freaked out a lot of people, started calling ourselves “post rationalists” and offended a lot of people who identified with rationality as an identity. It was important to us to differentiate from them because we just annoyed them with our gibberish but still needed a language for communicating with each other.
And so the “post rationality” movement spread out and ran away from the hub of Lesswrong where we couldn’t really talk. We made our own mini hubs and kept in touch with one another via emails and zoom links and practiced.
And I became more integral myself. Somehow all the weird post-rats could speak each other’s languages, despite us all coming from different languages, speaking different words, having different traditions, we could converge somewhere between our various gibberishes.
I recently read the link here: https://integrallife.com/integral-epistemology/ on integral epistemology and I realised that I know something that my understanding of the core of integral does not. I have a deep rational, logical, procedural, shared understanding of how to think and what to think that matches thousands of other thinkers (optimistically at least). I have a thinking machine, or at least I believe on some level that I have a thinking machine that points true.
The point of this story is an invitation for the integral universe in my life to go take a look and meet the rational, rationalist community, and hopefully an opportunity to learn what they know. You can look at this story through a lens of spiral dynamics or developmental level systems and say that I’m stuck at whatever level I’m stuck at, but I chose to post this because I see a lot of integralists who cannot enjoy rationality right now. Don’t think you are ahead of rationality, because I see a lot of people who would greatly benefit from checking out a community who cares about rational ways of being.
I often say that the rational community needs the spiritual resources, and there’s a need to dress them up as covert rational (like focusing as a therapeutic technique). I also say the same of the spiritual, creative community, they desperately need the rational, structural, stable resources available to the rationalists. Somehow we all have a habit of looking in the wrong places for the resources that we are needing.
In the rationalist community, we say that rationality is the art of winning at life, in whatever self defined way you choose to make that. I always struggled (and still do) in not knowing what I want. I suspect that’s why I loved the original rationality promise (“you can think your way out”) and also why ultimately it didn’t work for me.
This long winded story is for you to meet me, meet my background and possibly get inspired to check out those fun books I mentioned RAZ and HPMOR. Thanks for reading!