home page autotelic self  
idealizing a protean intrapsychality Of being in Time
May 8, 2011

1 | Why “protean”?

1.1 | Though the appeal to me of the notion began many years ago with R. J. Lifton, the classical Greek origin projectively (as a god) indicates that appreciation of our manifold psychality is deeply historical. Proteus was a sea god in service to Neptune who had the power of assuming different shapes. In fact, cultural hybridization happened first and foremost with seafaring civilization (maritime empires). Psychal complexity arose from cultural hybridization, led by seafaring culture. A man back from sea could be forever changed, as if possessed by other gods. The deepest god of that power of transportation was the sea itself, the landscape of the waters giving forth the medium of transportation (Proteus) that men embodied, the spirit of shape-shifting men reborn from the sea. Proteus is an Odyssean man who has returned home. He is filled with plural perspectives, thus capable of astounding changes of mind and heart, as if possessed with multiple selves. Modernly, to be protean (lexically, thanks to Merriam-Webster Unabridged online) is to be capable of acting many different roles, yet generally being capable of displaying great diversity of character.

1. 2 | I’ve already developed the notion of protean self far beyond this attention to roles or diversity of singular character. At this point in my sojourn, giving attention to etymology feels regressive. But the great point (beyond my upcoming discussion) is the historicality of individuation whose legacy remains captured in literary history. Our modern capability for manifold selfidentification has its horizon in a futuring evolvability expressed deeply in evolved Time, as the appeal of masking and variable dress, spirits and gods mirrors evolving mindality projecting all worldliness as its own potential for imaging differences—aspirational Differencing, with eventually-metaphysicalist pretense (giving way to theology), fading in light of historicist appreciation to become the fallibilistic evolutionarity of evolving minds (I would argue). Our Story is an open capability for weaving stories, now scientifically informed, thus really entrancing (to some minds), e.g., potentially overwhelming stories about the life of the cosmos.

1.3 | Yet, such a conception gains existence relative to a comprehending life, the cosmos of the life comprehensively comprehending. So, we (some of us) push the envelop of our explorability—more fruitfully relative to our Earth, the only life we know, than relative to all the cosmos (a mathematization of mentability, I call it, mindality as mathesis, I should say). So, the envelop of explorability is at least a function of mentability, which is at least a psychality (not to psychologize mathematics!). Taking a path of thought wherever it goes (via recursive generation of themes) is part of a developmentality necessary for the evolvability of mentability.

1.4 | So, I don’t wish to contribute to the evolution of cosmology, but get elational thoughts of appropriating into what I can do the comprehensible accounts of those who do pretend (in the tenable, academic sense) to contribute to the evolution of conceptability.


2 | multimodalization of psychal engagement

2.1 | So here we are: a life of “the” mind in partial terms of the life of a mind (venturing a developing site). The psychality (psyche-ness, “psychicness,” mindality) of individuation, again, “may become highly differentiated or enriched complexly in very capable, flexible, and creative lives...” [¶13], which I’ve prospected as modes of being as manifold self differencing [¶12].

2. 2 | In psychology, a complex is standardly associated with a problematicness which education or psychotherapy untangles or dissolves. But Analytical Psychology of the late 20thC converted the notion into a generative potential of individuation—or, at least, the neo-Jungian motivation was that a higher individuation (beyond standard notions of human development, e.g., Piaget, Erikson, Kohlberg) in the so-called “second half of life” (a common Jungian notion) would give to psychotherapies a human potentiating telos, rather than remedial telos. In the early ‘90s, I passionately appropriated this psychological value. The notion of “plural psyche” (“A. P.” link above) embodies or expresses my long-manifold fascination with psychal variety, imaginability, memorability, perceptibility, legacies of character and life eraic ecologies that I can autobiographically trace back to an undergraduate profusion of literary, psychological, and philosophical interest that was born from godknowswhat natural enchantment with books and reverie that seems intrinsic. Now, I’m surrounded by a library kaleidoscopically mirroring a tacit conception of autotelic value—an appeal of generative complexification—that I will not let become merely idiosyncratic.

2. 3 | A psychal ecology that’s transpersonal—relative to lovely theaters of interpersonal and interpsychal life (tending to be dramatistic and appropriative)—can become Self reflective in nontrivial manifolds of conceptuality—manifolds of interconceptuality born of that “same” worldliness, now “purely” psychological or literary or philosophical, as if conceptual gravities speak for themselves relative to mindal environmentality—modes of discursive inquiry within and across standard domains.

2. 4 | So, I wondered years ago: How manifoldly conceptual can we constructively understand (validly, fruitfully) the individuation of a psychal ecology without metaphysicalism? This seems to antedate any “postmetaphyscial”ist philosophical conception, since post-anything remains relative to the “anything” posted, as it were. “OK, post-that is what?” That’s the open question of our evolutionarity (an overtly post-metaphysicalist notion, relative to worries about metaphysicalism), which emerges as a discursive formation from scientific inquiry conceptualized apart from any [post]metaphysicalist interest as such—conceptualized as cohering narrativity of our real evolving, a horizonality forever unmet and having a wandering appeal (the pole star moves, as a telic cohering of horizonal appeal is evolving, too).

2.5 | So, who knows how to tenably characterize the unmet but anticipated cohering of some high manifold of discursivity? In any case, isn’t this what being philosophical is intuitively about—Wonder that loves conceptual wandering?

2. 6 | At least, being “philosophical” is symbolic of my longstanding love for prospecting a high manifold of discursive cohering. Why not? Given time, what do I want with what money can buy? Give me time.... Psychal, Literary (poetic), Conceptual (“philosophical”)—what fun to prospect in manifold ways, intrapsychally relative to the work of others (upcoming, prevalently). How high and far can we cogently go? How high and far can inquiry go tenably?


3 | autotelic life in a Conversation of humanity

3.1 | Universalistic stages of development are minimalist skeletons by which netweaves may ensure their contestable integrity. In particular, being merely “postconventional” is a still-sociocentric notion about a formal, rational, universalistic post-provincialism that serves a planetary interest in our common ground (both cosmopolitan and not yet so). The protean/plural-selfidentical sense of mindality I’m developing isn’t a claim about a generalizable developmental stage.

3. 2 | But the humanistic evolutionarity of what I’m doing entails, I would argue, sociocentrically speaking (which has great validity!—in its province), a postconventional scale of valuation (or social value of reason) within its (my—I realize) scale of inquirial engagement. But this is too “thin” or minimalist for my interests. From the perspective of developmental theory, what I’m pursuing is too substantive to be universalistic. Exemplarity of our evolving (writ small as one inquirer) is the most I would hope for, and I don’t aim for that (but I don’t lose sight of the value). Desiring substantive universalism is untenable—apart from mathematics, physics, biology, cognitive neuroscience—and there’s the rub: How far can we go with tenable universality? What can we say about ontogenic emergence of minds in a singular evolutionarity of our kind which weaves into what can only be, at best, exemplary of the ongoingness of our ongoing? Inquiry which searches for ontological confidence apart from this Conversation of humanity expresses a metaphysicalism of conceptual desire which is undermined (enactively deconstructed) by evidentiary realities of our emergent evolving.

3. 3 | However, the sense of mindality I’m exploring (thus developing) is a generalistic interest (as all discursive inquiry is) in writerly, artistic, and philosophical identifications with high creativity. Though it’s fair to hope that my selectivity (including writers, ideas, and leading problems, to my mind) eventually weaves into emergent conceptions of cultural evolution (e.g., Godfrey-Smith’s ch. 8, “Cultural Evolution”), philosophical work can only be a voice in the landscape (I shall presume). But especially-philosophical selfidentification is not egoistic or merely idiosyncratic, inasmuch as its thematic scalarity is historically sedimented relative to leading work, keeping one’s pretensions conceptually prospecting “the” Conversation (taking the elusiveness of “the” as nebulous pole star), though we have a general interest in gathering examples of trying to contribute constructively to our developing (evolving?) sense of our evolving humanity.

3. 4 | Relative to differences between society (objectively interactive) and culture (psychally interactive), my Project is asocial: an aspirational and prospective manifold of textuality/psychality and inter-textuality/psychality that’s not analogous to interpersonal relations, yet whose potentially interpsychal aspects (via textual intimacies) easily (hopefully) prospect what can be done intrapsychally through wording.