Sunday, March 4, 2012

Towards an Integral Theory of Power

Some Neo-Whiteheadian Categories*

Hey, all. I've been working on a book about power from an Integral perspective, and I've decided to post some of the preliminary definitions I'll be working with. Hope you find it interesting! --max

Power (General Definition #1): The ability and degree to which an agent or group can actualize its/their will or desire(s).

Power (General Definition #2): The ability and degree to which an agent or group can intentionally influence other agents, groups, or physical objects.

A Typology of Power

(Basic Types):

Autopoetic Power (F. Capra, Whitehead): at the cellular level, the power of entities or systems to “self-actualize” their potential; At the human/animal level, the ability to “decide” or choose.

Erotic Power (P. Tillich, R. N. Brock, C. Hayward): An aspect of thePower of Love.” Erotic power is the power that makes healing, wholeness, and forgiveness possible. (In some Christian circles, an aspect of Creative power attributed to Christ.)

Kinetic Power (Newton): The ability of one agent or entity to push, pull, lift, or otherwise move another agent or entity. Importantly, the use of Kinetic power requires physical distance.

Ontological Power (P. Tillich): The “Power of Being,” the power to exist. The power to resist “nonbeing.” Includes an incorporation of “lifeforce” energies: Ki, Chi, Prana, Manas, etc.

Persuasive Power (Whitehead): At the human/animal level, the ability to lure, influence, “convince,” and/or “manipulate” the minds of others.

Relational Power: At the human/animal level, the ability to relate to others and to understand the interdependent nature of reality. AKA power-with.

(Compound Types):

Coercive Power (D. Griffin): the ability to physically force, restrain, or otherwise affect others. Often involves threats or the use of Kinetic power. AKA power-over.

Corporate Power: the power of a group to actualize its goals or desires, and to exert influence or control over others. This is also the core of Political power, and usually includes some combination of many other types of power.

Creative Power (Whitehead, H. Wieman, S. Kauffman): The power of transformation. Creative power is the power to transform the past into something novel. In Whitehead's word's, "the (past) many become the (new) one, and (the past world) is increased by one."

“Demonic” Power (D. Griffin): The deliberate, intentional use of (Coercive, Persuasive, Kinetic, and/or Creative) power to repress or destroy the freedom, creativity, value, or “being” of others.

Theonomous Power (P. Tillich, J. Haught): “Divine” power; the sort of power believed by many to be characteristic of God/dess. Theonomous power is empowering power, the power that makes it possible for agents and entities to make themselves; the power of possibility. Thought to include Ontological, Creative, & Persuasive power, but not Coercive or Kinetic power.

*With some helpful insights from Paul Tillich, David Ray Griffin, John Haught, and others.

Yet another blog dedicated to the gentle propagation of a constructive postmodern, "integral" worldview