Once again I find that Ken is at his best in terms of differentiating the nature of the problem in question (which is admittedly a very important task).
However I believe that he is on far weaker ground in his suggestions for integration. which he only does in very general terms. Ultimately this reflects on the inadequacy of his overall methodological approach (which is inherently unsuited to the task).
My ultimate purpose in this round of posts is to put forward - what I would consider - an approach adequate for the task of integration.
This will involve a detailed translation of the "higher" levels of understanding (indicating clearly the nature of affective (artistic) cognitive (scientific) and volitional (spiritual) understanding at each level and how they are interrelated. This will in turn provide the essential context for meaningful discussion of the desired marriage.
However initially I consider that it is a very useful exercise to go through Ken's book focusing on how he handles key issues. As well as being interesting in its own right this should gradually establish why I feel an alternative approach to the problem is urgently needed. In this post I am largely concentrating on his opening Chapter.
I of course agree with his statement regarding the need for the integration of science and religion.
However Ken's approach is really only appropriate for the differentiation (rather than the integration) of these two realms. As I have many times before that Ken's multi-differentiated approach to reality at best constitutes a quasi integrated model which when closely examined reveals several key inconsistencies. (These I believe will become more apparent as I proceed).
Now I again agree with Ken that the common core of the great wisdom traditions comprises the essence of religion. However I have grave misgivings regarding the metaphor which Ken uses to illustrate this core wisdom (i.e. The Great Chain of Being).
The root problem as I see it with Ken's overall methodology is that he never reconciles linear with circular notions of understanding.
In fact for the most part (merely) linear notions dominate Ken's presentation.
The essence of linear understanding is that development is translated sequentially in one-directional terms.
Linear thinking is the appropriate language of differentiation leading to a phenomenally based asymmetrical view of reality.
By contrast the essence of circular understanding is that development is translated simultaneously in two-directional terms (where opposite poles of experience are treated as dynamically complementary). Now in direct terms this leads to an immediate intuitive awareness of an ever-present reality. When expressed indirectly in linear terms it creates paradox. So the indirect rational translation treats development in relative (rather than absolute terms).
Circular understanding is the appropriate language of integration leading ultimately to a purely symmetrical spiritual worldview (i.e. nondual reality).
So right away we can identify a fundamental problem with Ken's approach.
Ken predominantly adopts a linear (one-directional) logic in this book. Now by its very nature this either/or logic is suited to the differentiation (rather than the integration of experience).
However true integration involves a growing appreciation of the circular (two-directional) logic (Ken rarely employs this alternative both/and logic). Not surprisingly when Ken attempts to move from the task of differentiating the nature of science and religion to suggestions as to their integration major inconsistencies in terms of his approach become apparent.
I would suggest that the real task - which Ken never addresses - is to demonstrate how to move from linear (asymmetrical) notions of reality (appropriate for differentiation) to circular (symmetrical) notions (appropriate for integration).
A full understanding in fact requires three modes.
Firstly there is the task of adequately differentiating experience. The culmination of this ability is represented by the vision-logic understanding of the centaur stage (which Ken ably exemplifies in his writings).
Secondly there is the task of adequately integrating what has been differentiated in experience. This ability is increasingly developed through the understanding of the "higher" spiritual stages (culminating in the pure emptiness of nondual reality).
Finally there is the most comprehensive mode of understanding - what I term Radial Reality which involves the simultaneous ability to both differentiate and integrate experience.
So once again Ken's vision-logic is appropriate for the task of multi-differentiation of experience.
So even when Ken is attempting to talk about integration he in fact focuses on further differentiation.
The following quote from P. 184 illustrates this point.
Should this integration prove to be sound, as I believe it will the Great Chain of Being can take its rightful place within the differentiations of modernity. The massive amounts of data from the traditional spiritual sciences can then be correlated and integrated with the equally massive amounts of data from the modern objective sciences (such as biology, neurology and medicine), the cultural sciences (such as hermeneutics, semiotics and political theory), and the social sciences (such as systems analysis, ecology and sociology).
Once again the task of a truly integrated approach is to show how we move from all this profusion of data to the emptiness of pure spiritual awareness. Of course in primary terms this is a spiritual contemplative task. However indirectly this requires translating through a dynamic relative means (which Ken rarely if ever uses). (In my own approach Holistic Mathematics is especially useful in this context).
Finally in the most comprehensive approach (i.e. Radial) we combine the specialised understanding of both linear (differentiated) and circular (integrated) understanding.
So the first mode leads to a multi-differentiated understanding of reality. The second mode leads to a simply integrated understanding of reality. The third leads to both a multi-differentiated and simply integrated vision simultaneously.
So in effect there is a major translation problem evident in Ken's in Ken's work. Though it certainly is not his intention - because of a failure to adequately translate the true dynamics of integration - he in effect largely collapses mode 3 to mode 1.
Put another way Ken consistently confuses in his formal translations the notion of integration with differentiation (though qualitatively it is very different).
As I have siad this confusion is inherent in the way he treats the Great Chain of Being.
Now this linear (one-directional) approach is evident in this quote
"According to the nearly universal view, reality is a rich tapestry of interwoven levels reaching from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit."
However Ken admits that The Great Chain is more like a Great Nest because each senior dimension enveloping or unfolding its junior dimension. Note again that this qualification is translated in unambiguous linear terms. The senior envelops the junior (but not the other way around).
He then illustrates this Great Nest on P. 8 with a series of concentric circles. However it is clear that he is viewing these circles in a very linear manner.
So in the diagram you can see Level 1 of Matter (with its counterpart Physics) represented by A.
The next level of Life (with its counterpart Biology) is represented by A + B. So when Ken says that Level 2 transcends and includes Level 1 he is doing so in a crude (merely quantitative) manner.
The third level of Mind (with its counterpart Psychology) is then represented by A + B+ C.
The fourth level of Soul (with its counterpart Theology) is represented by A + B + C + D.
Finally the fifth level of spirit (with its counterpart of Mysticism) is represented by A + B + C + D + E.
Ken never really explains the dynamic processes by which envelopment takes place.
Quite clearly it involves qualitative as well as quantitative dynamics (which are not allowed for in this diagram).
Also Ken in his one-directional holarchical approach keeps emphasising that each "higher" stage transcends and includes the preceding "lower" stage. However this is very one-sided and unbalanced.
In proper dynamic terms the movement is not just from "lower" to "higher" in transcendent terms. It is equally from "higher" to "lower" in immanent terms.
In the first case the emphasis is on the means by which "lower" level (quantitative) parts are transcended and included in a "higher" level (qualitative) whole. So the movement here is from quantitative to qualitative.
However in the second case the emphasis is on the means by which the "higher" level (qualitative) whole is made immanent and included in a "lower" level (quantitative) part. So the movement is here from qualitative to quantitative.
So Ken Wilber in his writings basically supports the holarchical transcendent view of evolution moving progressively from "lower" matter to "higher" spirit.
However the opposite "partarchical" immanent view is equally valid where evolution moves - relatively - regressively from "higher" spirit to "lower" matter. (And of course in dynamic terms progressive and regressive are purely relative terms).
Of course truly integrated view will see both of these transcendent and immanent aspects as purely relative expressions of the absolute (nondual) present moment.
However Ken's (one-directional) linear approach continually leads him to coming down in favour of one side of a polarity. Thus even when he tries to slip in the opposite polarity it (e.g. emphasis on the descent) it appears as simply inconsistent with his evolutionary emphaisis.s
So we could not have a more obvious example than this of a merely linear translation.
Now whereas this may well work in terms of a differentiated understanding it quickly breaks down when one attempts the corresponding task of integration.
This is even obvious in terms of Ken's own later suggestions regarding the integration of narrow science with religion.
"For objective empirical science is no longer relegated to the bottom rung of the hierarchy (which the traditional approach gave it and which comtemporary epistemological pluralism gives it); rather empirical science is accessing the exterior modes of all the higher levels as well."
So this of course implies that if a physicist is operating from the understanding of the psychic, subtle or causal levels of understanding, then s/he will be accessing in scientific terms the exterior modes of each of these levels respectively.
However if this is the case then it no longer makes any sense to place matter (Physics) as the bottom level of the Chain (or Nest). It should equally - from an integrated perspective be placed at any of the five levels in the diagram. However far from Ken satisfactorily reconciling these two perspectives he does not even seem to see that there is a problem.
The basic difficulty arises from trying to translate circular notions in inadequate linear terms.
Now it can help greatly if we think in terms of conventional geometrical notions when viewing the diagram the concentric circular diagram on P. 8.
If one views a straight line drawn (horizontally) from the centre in both directions to meet the circumferences of the various circles then in each case if the line is positive (in one direction), then it will be negative in the other.
Now translated in holistic mathematical terms this means that all levels have both positive and negative poles. In other words from a correct circular perspective we should view levels in dynamic terms as representing the complementarily of polar opposites.
Thus in horizontal terms each level has an exterior (positive) and interior (negative interpretation) which of course in dynamic terms are strictly relative. We could equally start with the interior (as positive) and the exterior (as negative).
Likewise in vertical terms each level has a higher (positive) and lower (negative) interpretation which again in dynamic circular terms are strictly relative. This explains for example how we can find the "lowest" level (matter) at the "highest" (spirit) and equally find the "highest" (spirit) at the lowest (matter). So matter can be fully transcended in spirit; equally spirit can become fully immanent in matter.
Finally we can view each level in diagonal terms which views complementary relationships within and between levels simultaneously. The culmination of this ability leads to nondual reality.
Now Ken's four quadrants do view levels in horizontal and vertical terms respectively.
However once again he views these in a differentiated rather than integrated manner never really treating them in dynamic relative terms.
The very realisation of opposites (through the growing recognition of paradox) is itself the preparation for a shift to a truly spiritual (nondual) appreciation of relationships. And this intuitive awareness in turn increases the keenness of paradoxical appreciation (at a reduced rational level). So both aspects are vitally necessary in the dynamics of understanding.
So even when Ken attempts to apply his four quadrants at the "higher" levels he does so in a differentiated manner. However the very point of this development is to learn that these distinctions have no ultimate validity. Horizontal (exterior and interior) polarities generally are first to be merged (leading to transcendent spiritual awareness). Vertical (individual and collective) polarities are later united (leading in addition to immanent spiritual awareness). Finally diagonal polarities (involving the simultaneous fusion of horizontal and vertical directions) are united culminating in the emptiness of nondual spiritual reality.
So one could accurately say that true integration takes place when separate quadrants no longer exist.
However Ken greatly misses the whole dynamic of this integration in translation (which makes nonsense of earlier carefully constructed linear notions).
I consider that it is vital to structure - what Ken refers to as the Great Chain or Great Nest in an appropriate fashion (allowing for both linear and circular interpretations).
Not surprisingly my own model of seven major levels is constructed precisely with this in mind. (I am confident that it can successfully deal with the inconsistencies inherent in Ken's approach).
It is based on the notion of the qualitative binary system (i.e. linear and circular) which in holistic mathematical terms is the basis of translating all transformation processes. Most of the subsequent problems of how to translate both differentiation and integration in experience simply melt away when the basic approach is correct.