A Systemic History of the Middle Way

The Biology, Developmental Psychology, and Cultural Change Behind Integrative Practice
Volume 3 of the Middle Way Philosophy Series: To be published early 2024

Systemic history is an approach to explaining the past, that tries to maximize our understanding of context. Unlike most history, it does not do this by just narrating a chain of causal relationships for a given group through time. Instead, it shows how simpler systems become more complex over time through the interaction of reinforcing and balancing feedback loops. Systemic history offers the best way of understanding the processes that shape the Middle Way, because the Middle Way involves improving responses to complexity, rather than falling back on shortcut simplifications (absolutizations).

 

This book examines the history of the Middle Way in four inter-related ways: as the biological development of organisms in relation to reinforcing or balancing feedback loops, as the psychological development of individual humans during a lifetime, as a succession of reinforcing and balancing feedback tendencies in human culture through history, and as a successive development of integrative practice. This shows how the Middle Way is a path distinctive to the human response to complexity, but nevertheless one rooted in the wider processes of all life. In the process it provides a detailed exploration of the relationship between the Middle Way and systems theory, biology, developmental psychology, and world history.

 

Contents

Introduction
1. Conflict and Integration in Organic Systems
   a. The Emergence of Self-Organization
   b. Electrical Responsiveness
   c. Competition and Predation
   d. Sexual Reproduction and Adaptivity
   e. Multicellular Organisms and Homology
   f. Nervous Systems, Senses, and Action
   g. Bilaterianism
   h. Bilateral Asymmetry
   i. Left Hemisphere Repression
   j. The Biology of the Middle Way
2. Stages of Psychological Development
   a. Issues of Psychological Development
   b. Birth and the Incorporative Stage
   c. The Impulsive Stage
   d. The Imperial Stage
   e. The Interpersonal Stage
   f. The Ideological Stage
   g. The Interindividual Stage
3. Provisionality and Absolutization in Human Culture
   a. Provisionality in the Old Stone Age
   b. The Two Faces of Farming
   c. Religious Archetypes and their Projection
   d. Desire, Exploitation and Liberation
   e. Literacy and Idolatry
   f. Sceptical Philosophy and its Appropriation
   g. Scientific Method and Scientism
   h. Technology: Shaped Things Shape Us
   i. Specialization and Over-Specialization
   j. Administration and Bureaucracy
   k. Relativism and Breakdown
4. A History of Integrative Practices
a. Archetypal Inspiration
   b. Ethical Observance
   c. Prayer and Meditation
   d. Bodywork
   e. The Arts and Imagination
   f. Philosophical Enquiry
   g. Education
   h. Humour
   i. Reflection and Autobiography
   j. Travel and Foreign Languages
   k. Recreation
   l. Democracy
   m. Psychotherapy
   n. Critical Thinking
Conclusion
Bibliography