This represents a continuation of my critique of Ken Wilber's "Marriage of Sense and Soul".
My major contention all along is that Ken Wilber does not offer a truly integrated approach and that this leads to many important inconsistencies in his position (which he never satisfactorily reconciles).
I outline in this section differentiated, integrated, and comprehensive
approaches to understanding. Even in terms of a differentiated approach
Ken's does not represent the most complete that is available.
We now have reached Chapter 5 of "Marriage of Sense and Soul" where Ken Wilber introduces his four quadrant approach i.e. "The Four Corners of the Known Universe".
He starts by addressing the disaster of Modernity - which in Ken's terms is that science (with its it language) has come to dominate the other spheres of art and morals (I and we).
However though there is undoubtedly a considerable amount of truth in his assertion, there are however a number of serious questions which can be raised regarding his overall approach.
He tends to identify modern science with empiricism (based directly on the senses and "the eye of flesh"). Hence he repeatedly asserts that science is monological.
However this position is not really tenable. Modern science can equally be identified with theory (based directly on concepts and "the eye of mind"). Indeed Albert Einstein who is perhaps the greatest known scientist of this century - ably illustrates the power of the conceptual approach to science. Furthermore "Superstring Theory" which is at the leading edge of contemporary physics is almost entirely a mathematical theory of reality. So clearly modern science involves much more than empiricism (and the "eye of flesh"). It equally involves theory (and "the eye of mind"). And these two aspects are very closely related. However Ken Wilber's polarised portrayal of science is somewhat one-sided and misleading.
He then goes on to give the impression that all "objectifiable" scientific processes have simple location (and can be verified directly by the senses). Again this is highly misleading.
Science deals with a wide range of objects varying from the sensible to the (totally) abstract.
Now it might be easy to think in terms of sensible verification in relation to the objects of physical science.
However even here it is not so clear-cut. It is only at the everyday macro level of physical reality that objects can have simple extension (in this sense). Basically this requires fixing their location (against a common background). The corollary of this in psychological terms is the fixing of perceptions (against a background of assumed concepts).
Thus it may indeed be true that in this restricted sense that a molecule has simple extension.
However in terms of the dynamics of physical objects (which are revealed at the sub-atomic level) this is not strictly the case. In what sense does an electron for example have simple extension?
Likewise against the background of true dynamic understanding (in psychological terms) notions of simple extension break down. In fact simple extension is a direct product of "the myth of the given" i.e. that what we see exists independent of the organisational concepts of the mind.
Then science deals with considerable more than with the objects of physical science. These other "objects" can be very complex indeed and not capable of precise location.
Take my own field of economics for example. Economists deal with a wide range of "objects". But most of these are simply static representations of what are in fact dynamic reactions dependent on human decisions.
In this context we could refer to an important "object" such as a financial market. However the precise boundaries of a financial market could be extremely difficult - and ultimately impossible - to locate (involving a complex network of computers and communication systems world-wide). Also as recent events demonstrate so clearly, psychological factors have an extremely important influence on such markets.
So this use of an object (from the social sciences) ably demonstrates what in fact is true of all "objects" i.e. that they represent complex interactions (that are both physical and psychological).
It makes no sense therefore to try and clearly separate the physical and psychological aspects of experience.
The success of science is really based on an assumed stability in these dynamic interaction patterns (which is most apparent at the macro levels of physical nature). So the predictive value of the scientific approach can be recognised without falling into the trap - as Ken so frequently does - of the myth of the given.
Thus using Ken's own terminology, by definition all scientific events are dynamic events involving both Right-Hand (sensible) and Left-Hand (mental) components. However because of the static nature of his quadrant approach, Ken unambiguously tries to identify science with merely Right-Hand events. In effect therefore he has to perpetuate "the myth of the given" by trying to somehow convince us that empirical objects can be simply seen with "the eye of the flesh".
Here is a striking example of Ken's "myth of the given" from P.117
"All Right-Hand events - all sensorimotor objects and empirical processes and Its - can be seen with the monological gaze, with the eye of flesh. You simply look at the rock, the town, the clouds, the mountain, the railroad tracks, the aeroplane, the flower, the car, the tree.
All these Right-Hand objects and IT's can be seen by the senses or their extensions (microscopes to telescopes). They all have simple location; you can actually point to most of them.
So Ken Wilber is clearly trying to tell us here that we can have sensible perceptions (without the need for corresponding conceptual interpretation). Indeed this view is necessary to sustain his quadrant approach."
Very shortly afterwards, he starts singing from a different hymn sheet. Now all meaning is context-dependent.
Let me quote you this comment from the "new" Ken on P.149
"The vast majority of scientists already reject the myth of the given and all that is required is to keep pointing it out.
Well that is precisely what I am doing and but Ken himself needs convincing on this point for his comments on P.117 are clearly incompatible with this view. Once again one cannot see "the rock the clouds, the mountain, the aeroplane the flower the car the tree" in the absence of organising mental concepts. What we see therefore results from the dynamic interaction of perception and conceptual interpretation (which strictly have no meaning in experience independent of each other).
This once again indicates that there are very serious inconsistencies
indeed in relation to Ken Wilber's overall position (which he never satisfactorily
reconciles). It seems to me that most people who attempt to defend his
position simply accept these inconsistencies.
Science also deals with abstract objects (with only direct sensible representations). Mathematics is a fine example of this scientific approach as applied to abstract objects.
Again there a serious inconsistency in Ken's approach (which he does not satisfactorily reconcile).
In Chapter 5 he is identifying modern science with "empirical" science. However he later says
"But sensory experience is only one of several different but equally legitimate types of experience. Which is precisely why mathematics - seen only inwardly, with the mind's eye - is still considered scientific (in fact is usually extremely scientific!).
However mathematics has been an integral part of modern science all along. On Ken's own admission it belongs to the interior Left-Hand (rather than exterior Right Hand) quadrants.
Therefore in this context it makes no sense to represent the collapse of the Kosmos in terms of a reduction of interior to exterior truths.
There is another important problem with Ken's view of simple location. To try and contrast the difference between exterior and interior truths he refers to exteriors in (particular) concrete terms and interiors in (general) abstract terms. However it is equally valid to speak of exteriors in (general) abstract terms and interiors in (particular) concrete terms.
And when we do this, we begin to see the relationship as between exterior and interior in a very different light.
So Ken says that an object such as a molecule has simple extension. He is referring here to the exterior object in concrete form.
However we can refer to molecules in a general conceptual way as the object class of all molecules. (Of course this is highlighting the equal important mental notion which Ken is trying to avoid).
We cannot reach out and touch this (abstract) object class.
Ken then says that you cannot put your finger on compassion. Yes, this is true because here Ken is using an (abstract) general class.
However it looks very different when you view compassion in concrete terms.
For example if I see a beggar on the street on a wet and cold day, I may well be moved to compassion. However the compassion arises here in the context of a specific exterior event where the simple location of the beggar will be painfully obvious.
The point I am making is a very important one. In dynamic terms interior and exterior aspects are inherent within all experience. The polarised distinctions we make in practice are due to what I call one-directional interpretations.
So in Ken's interpretation he identifies the exterior aspect in concrete terms and the interior in general terms.
Seemingly here, there is a clear distinction as between exterior and interior.
However this is directly reversed when we switch our mode of classification. So when we identify - what was formerly - exterior (in general conceptual terms) it becomes interior (as a mental construct). The specific molecule now becomes the subjective mental class of "molecules".
Equally when we identify what was formerly interior (in specific concrete terms), it becomes exterior. My general compassion is now given a direct object of concern.
Now this point is absolutely crucial to grasp for it distinguishes a truly integrated from a merely differentiated approach.
In a differentiated approach, one attempts to unambiguously identify opposite poles. So Ken tries to fix exterior truth with Right-Hand quadrants and interior truth with Left-Hand quadrants.
However this is merely the result of what I call a one-directional approach. In dynamic terms relationships are always bi-directional.
When one clearly realises this fact then fixing of quadrants has a purely relative validity.
Thus on one interpretation we can identify exterior truth with Right-Hand quadrants and interior truth with Left-Hand quadrants.
However in an equally valid opposite interpretation we can now identify what was formerly exterior with the Left-Hand and what was formerly interior with the Right-Hand quadrants respectively.
So the basis for an integrated (as opposed to differentiated) understanding is to recognise the total paradox of all dualistic distinctions. This recognition is based directly on intuition (allied to bi-directional understanding).
The very identification of polar opposites involves - by definition - a process of differentiation.
Properly understood integration involves the realisation that such distinctions have no ultimate validity.
This is task of the "higher" spiritual stages of development. This involves the dynamic interaction of a deepening intuitive awareness with bi-directional understanding.
I would define Ken Wilber's approach as a Type 1 multi-differentiated approach. This approach - which is based on the translations of the vision-logic of the centaur stage - can indeed distinguish that understanding is based on different polarities of experience (e.g. exterior and interior, individual and collective).
However because it is still based on one-directional notions, it tries to unambiguously fix the interpretation of these polarities. In other words as in Ken's four quadrant approach, it tries to fix locations in definite fashion.
The next step in understanding is to move on to what - I would refer to as Type 2 multi-differentiated understanding. This unfolds with the mirror understanding bridging the transition of the rational levels with the authentic spiritual levels.
Though one still fixes poles (as in the four quadrant approach), one realises that these positions have a purely relative meaning (and can be equally fixed in opposite fashion).
Truly integrated understanding occurs with the unfolding of the "higher" spiritual levels.
These levels are based on an ever-closer interaction as between deepening intuitive awareness and bi-directional rational understanding.
With what I call HL1 (the subtle realm), horizontal (exterior-interior) polarities are gradually reconciled.
This is Type 1 Integration.
With HL2 (the causal realm), vertical (individual-collective) polarities are additionally reconciled.
This is type 2 Integration.
With HL3 (nondual reality) diagonal polarities (which represents the simultaneous use of horizontal and vertical polarities) are reconciled.
This represents the peak in terms of integration (which results in purely contemplative awareness).
The most comprehensive form of understanding - what I refer to as Radial Understanding, involves both differentiated and integrated understanding in ceaseless interaction.
Again for convenience we could distinguish here two versions.
In a Type 1 Radial approach some division as between differentiated and integrated aspects still remains.
In the type 2 Radial approach a seamless interpenetration of both aspects is approximated.
In this context Ken Wilber's approach represents neither a truly integrated nor a truly comprehensive approach.
I would describe it as a differentiated approach (more precisely as a Type 1 multi-differentiated approach). Here though different quadrants of understanding are recognised they are interpreted in a fixed fashion.
This is the best that can be obtained using the somewhat limited understanding of the centaur stage (vision-logic).
However to move beyond this understanding we must incorporate the understanding appropriate to the "higher" spiritual stages.
A Type 2 multi-differentiated approach (where quadrants are interpreted in relative terms) depends on mirror understanding (which is the essential bridge to "higher" level understanding).
True integration (Types 1, 2 and 3) directly depends on the understanding of the three "higher" spiritual levels.
Finally comprehensive understanding (Types 1 and 2) entails both differentiated
and integrated understanding and unfolds with Radial Reality.