Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
"2 X 3-Eyed Seeing": Integral Knowing & Knowledges
by R. Michael Fisher - Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 04:50 AM

"2 X 3-Eyed Seeing" (2X3ES) is presented in skeletal form as a 'new' (ntegral) version of "Two-Eyed Seeing" (TES). I have included a diagram of my model below, after I introduce you to the reasons and people that have led me to continue this course of work that revolves, more or less, around decolonization. I cannot say it enough, that any critical integral theory and education has to involve decolonization work, call it anti-colonial or anti-oppression, or anti-violence, if you prefer. The ultimate interest I have is to create a map and theory of fearlessness that includes a fearless epistemology basically, that is, of non-violence (or as close as one can achieve it).Note: just because "seeing" is given priority in this framework, doesn't mean literally only "seeing" with eyes, but rather it is much deeper and broader a conceptualization where it is multimodal-multisensorial, multi-dimensional in attunements to the Real (visible and invisible, material and metaphysical); simply for our purposes of introduction, think of "seeing" as perceiving-thinking-acting as interrelated and intimately constituted upon each other.

"Two-Eyed Seeing" (TES) is one new collaborative approach being taken to by full-blood Indigenous, mixed-blood (e.g., Metis) and non-Indigenous (e.g., White Euro-Westerners) to engage the Indigenous-Western encounter (i.e., colonialism, postcolonialism, neocolonialism) as problematic in our world today. There is a growing literature in the past decade, especially the last few years on "Two-Eyed Seeing" (taken from the Mi'kmaw elder Albert Marshall and the Mi'kmaw term etuaptmumk). I was inspired to research on this concept because of recently spending 10 days visiting and talking with Dr. Annette Schultz, Associate Prof., Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba, who came to visit Barbara and I as part of her sabbatical this May in Carbondale. Our wonderfully diverse conversations spun around her new funded research study "Diversifying Our Ways of Understanding Heart Health Among First Nations People in Manitoba: A Mixed Methods Study Governed by a "Two-Eyed Seeing" Approach. In the early stages yet, this study is composed of a large team, interdisciplinary, and includes Indigenous and non-Indigenous members. Annette, like myself, are non-Indigenous, and this creates a challenging tension of how to do such a research study not just "on" Indigneous peoples but "with" them. The legacy of epistemic violence and colonization is not something Annette or anyone sensitive to these issues wants to perpetuate.

So, on comes the scene recently of a theory, framework, methodology, approach (call it what you will) that attempts to bring the "best" of Indigenous ways of knowing with non-Indigenous ways (i.e., Western, for short). A contentious field of encounter, this site of tension, conflict, complementarity and/or opposition, is fluid and creative and dangerous and unknown. However, TES is being tried out in many fields and projects, too many to mention here, but in the concept of "Integrative Science" research and teaching (i.e., innovations in Science Education), it has been most studied and applied. Dr. Frederic Wien of Dalhousie University, has been awarded $446,396 over three years for a project called "Building a Social Policy Framework for the Health and Well-Being of Mi'kmaq Communities: A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach" (not unlike Annette's research). TES seems to have bloomed in the Canadian portion of Turtle Island (i.e., North America) more so than in the USA, at this time.

TES is many things, and there are variant versions, so I don't want to oversimplify it here, and suggest you look it up on the Internet and read about it yourself. In its most basic initiative it is an attempt to look a similiarities as focus (not just differences) between Indigenous and Western worldviews, and work collaboratively with the two side-by-side, or in some cases "blending" them and coming up with new critiques and knowledge and knowing that one could not gain by only embedding oneself in either Indigenous or Western ways. Of course, there is also a "thirdspace" (as some researchers are talking about) where one is in between (metis), and crossing between Indigenous and Western, or straddling them, and all of the complications that brings. I myself, in some ways, feel more like in between these worlds of Indigenous and Western, even though I am Euro-Western by blood and upbringing. Fact is, I have investigated and experimented with Eastern, Western and Indigenous ways for decades. I've never been satisfied with just one or the other. In the past three years I have steeped myself in a complex relationships with Jason Martez Massey (African-American), one of the CSIIE independent learners, and we have explored African-centric perspectives (1). In the past three years or so I have explored Indigenous-centric perpectives (contra Western) with Four Arrows in Mexico, all by correspondence and a phone call now and then (2). He is one of our CSIIE faculty.

TES has come along in my life and career at just the right time, for many reasons, and some I am still discovering daily as I dive-in to this work. It looks like Annette may be able to hire me to do some research for her project as well. I want to be very informed and aware of the literature on Indigenous-Western encounter, which could also be framed (for lots of good reasons) as Dominator-Subordinate, Oppressed-Oppressed relations (as encounter). These labels (categories) as binaries, useful as they are, are just as distortive and one needs to be very cautious, especially in a postmodern, postcolonial theorizing, not to forget to mention an integral theorizing. There are many Indigenous people that reject the concept that they have been "colonized" (more so, they are always in negotiation with the colonizer and colonization processes; but they do not see themselves as only victims).

I want to be critical and sensitive to this TES literature, but in the end, I see I am unsatisfied with it. What does it mean? (how does it work, really?) when you argue that it is a good thing to bring the "best" of Indigenous and Western ways together in the development of "Two-Eyed Seeing"? And what if, as I believe (as does Four Arrows), one cannot forget that Indigenous and Western have been (and still are) enemies, not just politically, racially, but also epistemologically. A long story, and I won't go into that. TES folks tend to downplay that aspect, or even would revolt against such a declaration (or would they?). At this point, I am talking to a few of these Indigenous and Metis scholars first-hand, but mostly I am doing a critical discourse analysis. I plan to write (co-write?) a good deal more on the problematics of TES (and thirdspace) frameworks in the future.

As well, I have to continually ask how my work may perpetuate White Supremacy privilege, that is, the worldview of the colonizer. Even Integral Theory and Integral Education (i.e., CSIIE as a whole) has to be put under this lens of self-reflexivity, always vigilant as to when I may be enacting epistemic violence toward the Other (in this case, Indigenous and Metis, for e.g.). Yet, I love working in this conflict site of learning (that is what my masters degree was all about. In many ways my work is about the encounter of Fear and Fearlessness. TES offers an interesting version for working in conflict sites, thirdspaces (in between) and is a form of teaching about and practice about what I would call conflict management education and below that it is fear management/education.

Well, I will close this very brief intro to my latest 'branch' of research work, and share a diagram (map) that I came up with after 3 intense weeks of reading and thinking about TES and its similar materials out there in the literature. I cannot explain this diagram in words, it would take many many pages to do so, but at least it gives you a visual as to roughly the alternative I want to put forward into the TES literature and expand the imaginary, make it more integral. If you want to chat with me about this diagram or other things in this field of inquiry don't hesitate to call me, make critiques, and offer ideas to improve it all. I welcome the multiple inputs. Before you dive-in to the diagram, be aware that I am focusing my research on TES on "philosophy" aspects (e.g., epistemology, worldviews). There are many reasons, but basically it most interests me, beyond identity politics, and treaties, social justice work, etc.


Again, so much could be said, but at least, I'll say that I am attempting here to take the Spirit of Evolution of Consciousness (Eros-Agape, as thick purple arrows = Love = Philosophia) and integrate evolutionarily the Indigenous way as best at "minimizing differentiation" via communal-traditional preference  (thus the tight core- colored 3 value spheres from Habermas, Wilber) and show that the Western has been best at "maximizing differentiation" via individual-innovation preference, of knowing and knowledges... risking to push the Indigenous to extreme experimentation (even chaos).. but that the same Spirit is the Indigenous-Western, they are "One" in that sense... the crux of the diagram tells us that the outward thrusting Western forces in creative evolution also need to return, and re-integrate continually with the Indigenous forces in creative evolution to keep the over all integrity in-tact ("whole" or whole/part)-- i.e., healthy, sustainable, etc. Pathology comes when differentiation turns into dissociation--both the Indigenous and Western worldviews and ways of knowing (epistemologies) can become pathological when they don't allow the other to keep them in 'balance'-- of course, that also applies to the 3 value-spheres... on a different operation of the diagram, the Philosophy inner core is based on a concept of "differential consciousness" (Sandoval's work)... but that's too complicated to go into here, other than to see Philosophy as the spinning axil of the 'wheel' and keeps it rotating (and, all the white around the domains is Environment and Conditions that knowing and knowledge has to intersect with in the Real.   -RMF






1. See the interviews I have done with Jason in Blogs on this site (Jun. 10, 2013), in Yellow Paper-11 (DIFS page), and my recent co-writing with him in Yellow Paper-12 "Decolonizing: What Makes for a (R)evolution?: Oppressor and Oppressed in Critical Integral Praxis"-- see also my Yellow Paper-13 "Aesthetics of a Decolonizing Mind".

2. I have recently been offering research and writing ideas to Four Arrows on a paper he is writing about the "only two worldviews" (Indigenous and Western) and his critique of the more liberal and postmodern approaches to this encounter, that he finds dissatisfying. I'll keep you posted on that paper. Also, I have co-written and offered a book chapter in two of his edited (and authored) books: The Authentic Dissertation (2008), and Teaching Truly (2013).