as it was put in The Spectrum of Consciousness, one is then looking at these structures and therefore is not using them as something with which to look at, and thus distort, the world). Each of these points is, in effect, a definition of transcendence. Yet each is also a definition of a stage of development. It follows that the two are essentially identical, and evolution, as has been said, is actually "self-realisation through self-transcendence."
(Eye of Spirit pages 238-239)
I would like to start with an important general point which underlies my position in all of these posts. Basically I am stating that the fundamental method employed by Ken Wilber in his approach to development is inadequate.
To a surprisingly high degree Ken uses the rational linear method (which is one-directional). By its very nature this uses a strict either/or logic that is static and absolute and tends to misrepresent the very nature of dynamic interaction.
What is also required - in terms of the study of psychological development - is a dynamic relative method based on the alternative circular (both/and) logic.
Modern physics (esp. quantum mechanics) is demonstrating the deep limitations of the classical linear paradigm and the urgent need for a radical new approach (appropriate for the understanding of dynamic relationships.)
Though the need for this new approach is arguably even greater - in terms of psychological development - effectively the issue has been largely ignored.
My criticism therefore of Ken Wilber is essentially one of method. I repeat again that there are severe structural flaws in Ken's work which lead to major inconsistencies..
However because so many still implicitly accept the validity of this linear approach these flaws do not seem readily apparent.
My purpose therefore through these posts is to gradually uncover the problems caused by Ken's method and then to indicate how a more balanced model of development can be constructed.
I have dealt with the first two points of the above quotation (from the Eye of Spirit) in previous posts to the Forum.
So in this post I am dealing with the third of these statements
"what is context becomes content i.e. context of cognition/experience of one level becomes simply a content of experience of the next);"
This statement is equivalent to Ken's oft-quoted belief that each "lower" stage is transcended and included in a "higher" stage.
I will illustrate this post with reference to the well-known rational linear stages of conop (concrete operational thinking) and formop (formal operational thinking).
This one who has only reached in developed the conop stage in Ken's view will see it as context (i.e. tend to interpret all reality through its mode of understanding).
However when - through the emergence of formop - one transcends this stage, conop understanding simply becomes a part of this "higher" stage. Though one will still be able to use its mode of understanding, one will no longer interpret reality exclusively from its perspective.
Now once again this involves a merely one-directional approach (where development moves in a forward direction).
Also there is no clear distinction made here as between the differentiation and integration of structures respectively (which are qualitatively different).
(Indeed as I have demonstrated at length in another post, the one-directional approach - by its very nature necessarily confuses differentiation with integration).
So Ken would on the one hand maintain that formop is a separate stage from conop (differentiation).
However he also maintains - somewhat confusingly - that conop is included in formop
The dynamic relative approach leads to a more comprehensive and subtle translation of development.
Here we distinguish carefully as between forward and backward differentiation of structures.
We equally distinguish as between forward and backward integration of structures.
Finally by distinguishing clearly the meaning of differentiation from integration we are enabled to appreciate their respective roles in development.
In dynamic terms "higher" and "lower" stages are linked in (vertical) complementary fashion. Thus conop as "lower" and formop as "higher" are linked in this manner.
Forward differentiation of formop involves the emergence of an abstract general conceptual appreciation of reality. In dynamic terms the identification with this new mode of understanding involves detachment from the "lower" concrete appreciation of specific phenomenal perceptions.
In this way, forward differentiation of formop involves the transcendence of conop in a new "higher" structure.
However - when properly understood - conop understanding can be greatly enhanced through the unfolding of formop.
This becomes evident when starts to apply the new abstract understanding (of formop) at the "lower" level (of conop).
Whereas forward differentiation of formop involves movement in a positive direction (away from conop), backward differentiation of formop involves movement in the reverse direction (back to conop).
In dynamic terms this involves the detachment from the "higher" abstract understanding of "formop" to identify again with the "lower" phenomenal perceptions of conop.
In this way backward differentiation of formop involves the immanence
of conop in a new "lower" structure. In other words the "higher" understanding
now reveals itself through the study of concrete phenomena.
Now this has a very important practical implications..
From a scientific perspective (forward) differentiation of formop is associated with the theoretical deductive approach; backward differentiation of formop is associated with the empirical inductive approach. Though these approaches are necessarily complementary, they should not be confused with each other.
I will now briefly illustrate both of these approaches (from a development perspective).
I have stated before that there are important similarities as between Jung's theory of personality types and Ken Wilber's four quadrant approach. Ken' four quadrants are interior individual (UL) and exterior individual (UR); interior collective (LL) and exterior collective (LR). Indeed Jungs' theory is also a four quadrant approach (based on the psychological functions of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition).
Now Jung's model illustrates the deductive approach very well. Jung was fascinated by certain mandalas (i.e. simple pictorial drawings) as signifying in a deep way the integration of the psyche. He considered the mandala of a circle divided into four equal sections by a cross to be especially important in this regard.
Not surprisingly his own model of psychological development can be perfectly represented by this cross diagram.
So Jung moved from a model of the holistic geometrical nature of integration (i.e. the cross mandala) to his formulation of psychological functions and personality types.
In this sense it was a good example of the transcendent nature of deductive science (where the "lower" parts are contained in the "higher" whole).
Ken Wilber's model illustrates very well the opposite inductive method. Ken's approach to science is very empirical where he likes to gather large amounts of data before looking for connecting patterns. He describes well in a "A Brief History of Everything" how he hundreds of maps of holarchical development (laying them out on legal pads). Eventually after examining these - apparently different - maps he was able to see a common pattern connecting them all. He derived his model from detailed examination of the data. This therefore is a very good example of the immanent nature of inductive science (where the "higher" whole is contained in the "lower" parts).
Of course there is a considerable paradox in all this. Ken invariably portrays development in transcendent holarchical terms (where "lower" level parts are included in a "higher" whole). However his own scientific method consistently displays the opposite (immanent) "partarchical" direction (where the "higher" level whole is included in the "lower" level parts).
From a dynamic perspective both forward differentiation of formop (where one moves from the phenomenal perceptions to the conceptual constructs) and backward differentiation (where one moves from conceptual constructs to phenomenal perceptions) are equally important.
The very dynamics therefore of identifying with conceptual structures requires the negation (i.e. detachment from) concrete phenomena. Now if someone continues to ignore such concrete data (e.g. the pure theorist), this will eventually set severe limits to the forward development of concepts due to gradual depletion of the concrete phenomenal base.
Likewise the dynamics of identifying with concrete phenomena requires
the negation (i.e. detachment from) conceptual structures. Again if someone
continually ignores such conceptual constructs e.g. the pure researcher,
this will set severe limits to the value of such research (due to the loss
of all conceptual connecting patterns).
So we have now looked at both forward and backward differentiation of structures (which in dynamic terms are complementary activities).
The next task is to look at the forward and backward integration of structures.
As I have stated there is huge confusion in the psychological development literature on this point.
The root of this problem is quite simple to state.
Scientific understanding - as conventionally understood - is based on the rational (linear) paradigm. Now by its very nature this paradigm is geared to the differentiation (rather than integration) of reality. Thus when one attempts to deal with integration in development (through use of the rational paradigm), it is necessarily confused with differentiation.
Ken Wilber is not exempt from this criticism. As he states himself in Sex, Ecology and Spirit, his scientific method is based on vision-logic (which is simply the "highest" of the rational linear stages). Now this represents a sophisticated multi-differentiated approach to reality. However this cannot be equated with a true integrated approach.
Now of course true integration in experience cannot ultimately be identified with subtle rational modes of understanding. However appropriate (indirect) methods exist for translating the levels (and stages) of development on the way to integration. Not alone are these indirect rational methods of translation extremely interesting in their own right - opening up fascinating new levels of integrated science - but they are in fact vitally necessary in terms of the dynamics of understanding. They serve as an essential bridge to pure intuitive modes of understanding. Without them intuitive understanding would not even be possible.
Now this brings us face to face with a major weakness of conventional science.
Creative work in mathematics and science is vitally dependent on intuitive insight. The truly great thinkers (e.g. Einstein) invariably excelled in this department.
However in terms of formal translation of their disciplines, this intuitive dimension is completely overlooked. Mathematics (and science generally) is presented - in formal terms - as a merely rational (differentiated) body of truths.
It has no means - within its own paradigm - of incorporating the intuitive (integrated) aspect.
Putting it simply, reason is the direct mode of differentiation (in experience); intuition is the direct mode of integration.
However reason and integration operate with qualitatively different logical systems.
Reason is based on the either/or logical system (where polar opposites are clearly separated).
Integration is based on the both/and logic (where polar opposites are united).
When we translate intuitive (integrated) modes of understanding in indirect rational terms we must use a bi-directional (rather than a one-directional approach).
The very purpose of this bi-directional approach is to confront - through paradox - the limitations of reason. This then prepares the mind for a qualitative transformation (in purely intuitive understanding). When one then again translates this understanding - in reduced rational terms - its bi-directional nature becomes more apparent. This in turn facilitates movement back to transformed intuitive understanding. Thus, direct intuitive understanding and bi-directional rational interpretation are themselves mutually complementary.
Now the full development of this intuitive understanding only takes place at the "higher" levels of spiritual development. Thus at "lower" levels - such as the rational linear level - it is merely implicit (and necessarily confused with rational understanding).
Thus we cannot have true integration of formop structures (either in forward or backward terms) at the rational linear level.
Again the integrated nature of such structures stems from radical intuitive
development (which does not take place at this level). Indeed it is not
till - what I term "Radial Reality" - that full integration and differentiation
(in forward and backward terms) can take place.
However a limited amount of implicit integration of structures (where its role is not formally recognised) is possible at the rational linear level.
I will now attempt to distinguish how this integrated understanding takes place.
Rational differentiation is based on the static absolute approach (where opposite poles are clearly separated). Thus in the forward differentiation of formop, understanding is one-directional. One is simply conscious of moving on to a "higher" formal (conceptual) level of understanding.
In the backward differentiation of formop, understanding is equally one-directional. One is now conscious of moving back to a "lower" concrete (perceptual) level of understanding.
Intuitive integration is based on the dynamic relative approach (where opposite poles are ultimately identical).
Thus in the forward integration of formop one is experientially aware that the "higher" necessarily involves the "lower" stage. Thus moving forwards towards formop necessarily means moving backwards from conop. It is this fusion of (vertical) opposites that enables a transformation in intuitive insight to take place. Depending on the quality of the experiential dynamics, formop structures will thus become imbued with a degree of intuitive insight. This insight by its very nature is holistic and transcendent (in quality).
It is in this direct intuitive sense that the "lower" stage of conop is included in the "higher" stage of formop.
In the corresponding backward integration of formop one is experientially
aware that the "lower" necessarily involves the "higher" stage. Thus moving
forwards towards conop necessarily means moving backwards from formop.
Again it is this fusion of (vertical) opposites that enables a transformation
in intuitive insight to take place. This time the insight is immediate
and immanent (in quality). In this direct intuitive sense the "higher"
stage of formop is included in the "lower" stage of conop.
Thus to sum up. When a new structure develops in consciousness we can understand it in terms of both differentiation (forward and backward) and integration (forward and backward).
I have illustrated this process with respect to formop understanding (which develops from conop).
Differentiation relates to the one-directional rational approach (where opposites poles are clearly separated.
Forward differentiation of formop in science is associated with deductive theoretical understanding.
Backward differentiation of formop is associated with inductive empirical understanding.
Integration always relates directly to intuitive understanding (where opposite poles are complementary).
In indirect rational terms integration is expressed in terms of a bi-directional approach. (The present post is illustrating its use in a vertical direction).
Forward integration of formop in science is associated with transcendent (holistic) intuition (where "lower" parts are reflected through a "higher" spiritual whole).
Backward integration of formop is associated with immanent (specific) intuition (where the "higher" whole is reflected through "lower" parts).
Thus in dynamic terms scientific understanding always involves the interplay of rational (differentiated) and intuitive (integrated) understanding taking place in forward and backward directions.
The great difficulty with the rational linear approach is that - by its very nature - it represents the specialisation of merely differentiated understanding. It is thereby not apprpriate for the translation of integrated understanding.
Now once again vision-logic (the scientific method Ken Wilber uses) is simply the most sophisticated expression of the differentiated approach (i.e. a multi-differentiated approach). It is thereby not suited to the translation of integration in development.
(Vision-logic represents -in effect - the attempt to combine both forward and backward differentiation of formop while maintaining a one-directional interpretation of this process. Indirectly it leads - due to experiential interaction - to a greater degree of intuitive insight than earlier rational approaches. This may well facilitate a quasi-integrated approach as exemplified in Ken Wilber's writing. However it does not provide a means of adequately translating the nature of this integration, and therefore inevitably leads to fundamental inconsistencies. The logical systems of the "higher" spiritual levels are necessary to adequately translate the dynamics of integration. Circular or subtle-logic is associated with HL1; point or causal-logic is associated with HL2; null or nondual-logic is associated with HL3.
True integration therefore is the expression of the "higher" intuitive levels of spiritual development (which have their own appropriate indirect rational translations).
These indirect translations are bi-directional (in horizontal, vertical and diagonal terms). However Ken Wilber - as I have demonstrated makes little or no use of such translations and cannot claim therefore to be offering a properly integrated approach.
Indeed the full interpenetration of (differentiated) rational and integrated
(intuitive) approaches does not take place until what I term Radial Reality
(which represents the full unfolding of a truly comprehensive paradigm.
When closely examined all his statements on development - because of his one directional bias - are at best only half-truths.
This is illustrated by the subject of the present posting (the 3rd of his statements in the quotation at the beginning of the post).
"what is context becomes content i.e. context of cognition/experience of one level becomes simply a content of experience of the next";
This strictly speaking is not true.
First of all he makes no clear distinction here as between the differentiation and integration of stages (which are qualitatively different).
Secondly there is no recognition of backward (as opposed to forward development).
A full statement would be bi-directional and as follows;
"what is context becomes content i.e. context of cognition/experience of one level becomes simply a content of experience of the next);
"what is content becomes context i.e. content of cognition/experience of one level becomes simply a context of experience of the next);
The first statement would refer to transcendent (forward) movement; the second statement would refer to - in relative terms - immanent (backward) movement. Strictly speaking these two statements apply to integrated (rather than differentiated) understanding.
As I stated in the post, there is considerable irony in the fact that Ken's own scientific approach (e.g. his discovery of the four quadrants) implicitly is an example of the second statement). The decisive breakthrough in the discovery of the four quadrants came from immanent intuition. Thus the realisation dawned that the whole (the general four quadrant interpretation) was contained in the parts (the empirical data that he had collected on development).
In this instance therefore, the content (research data) thereby became the context (the four quadrants).