The Marriage of Sense and Soul  (7)

(This post tackles the key issue of how to move from a merely differentiated to a truly integrated understanding of the four quadrants.

The basis point is quite simple. Whereas absolute notions of movement are adequate to differentiate the quadrants (considered separately), dynamic relative notions are necessary for a truly integrated understanding.

When dynamic relative notions are not used, major inconsistencies arise in terms of successfully integrating the quadrants.

Once again as Ken Wilber employs a merely static approach (based on absolute notions of movement) his approach is suited solely to differentiation of the quadrants.

Thus when he tries to fit them together (i.e. achieve integration) he runs into key difficulties (many of which he does not properly recognise).

We are still on Chap. 5 and have reached the section "The Four Faces of the Kosmos" where Ken attempts to fit the quadrants together.

However on close examination his approach is simply untenable.

I have distinguished before as between absolute and relative notion of movement. Whereas absolute notions of movement can be applied to any of the quadrants separately (as a means of differentiation), relative notions must be used when quadrants are combined (as the appropriate means of integration).

So when we use absolute notions of movement to achieve a differentiated understanding of each of the quadrants (considered separately), we can seemingly deal with them in a consistent manner.

However when we try and fit the quadrants together major inconsistencies become apparent, for the logical approach that applies to any one of the quadrants (considered separately) is inconsistent in terms of the quadrants as a whole.

Because Ken Wilber uses absolute notions in a context where relative notions should rightly apply his attempted integration of the quadrants is on close examination inconsistent.

For example Ken tries to identify his Upper-Right quadrant with the scientific account of the individual components of the universe atoms, molecules, cells etc.

He tries to give these components an absolute exterior existence (independent of mind).

However in dynamic terms this is invalid. When we observe an object such as a molecule a two-way interaction is involved. On the one hand we have what is externally observed (in relation to the interior observing mind). Equally we have the interior observer (in relation to the exterior observed object).

So the experience of the object necessarily entails both exterior and interior aspects (or equally interior and exterior aspects).

However Ken Wilber attempts to collapse this dynamic interaction in very one-sided fashion by giving the exterior object an existence (independent of mind). This is a good example of the "objectivist" fallacy or "the myth of the given" (where one believes in meaningful perceptions without the need for corresponding conceptual interpretation).

Thus properly understood when we attempt to translate the dynamic experience of the object in reduced rational terms, two opposite interpretations are equally valid.

We can - as Ken does - attempt fully with the objectivist fallacy (i.e. exterior perceptions without interior interpretation). When we do this we can place the scientific account of individual components unambiguously in one quadrant (which Ken identifies as the Upper-Right).

However we could equally identify with the subjectivist fallacy (i.e. interior interpretation without exterior perception). When we do this we must place the scientific account of individual components - relatively - in the Upper-Left quadrant.

Thus when we understand the dynamic experience properly, the scientific account of the individual components of the universe can be equally placed in either quadrant (giving locations a purely relative validity).

Now any individual perception such as "a molecule" is meaningless in dynamic terms in the absence of the corresponding collective concept of "molecule". So again in the dynamics of experience, individual and collective aspects are involved in a ceaseless two-way interaction. We have the individual perception of "molecule" (in relation to the collective concept of "molecule"). Equally we have the collective concept of "molecule" (in relation to the individual perception "molecule).

So when we once again try and express this (vertical) relationship in (reduced) rational terms, two equally valid interpretations are possible.

We can express the experience - as Ken has done - in terms of the Upper-Right quadrant (where the individual perception of molecule is given a validity (in the absence of the collective concept of "molecule")

However equally we can express the experience - relatively - in terms of the Lower-Right quadrant (where the concept of "molecule" is given a validity (in the absence of its corresponding perception).

This clarifies a vital distinction which Ken repeatedly overlooks as between the empirical and theoretical approaches to science. With the empirical approach the emphasis is directly on the exterior object. However with theory the emphasis is - relatively - on the interior conceptual construct.

Thus when we reduce the dynamic experience of observing a physical object to linear rational terms, we now have four equally valid interpretations.

Let us define emphasis on the exterior aspect as the Positivist approach and the (opposite) emphasis on the interior aspect as the Idealist approach respectively.

With the Positivist approach that Ken adopts - the (exterior) object is given a validity in itself (which is simply reflected by the viewing mind).

However with the Idealist approach, the position is reversed and the perceived object is interpreted as a projection of the creative mind.

Likewise we can define emphasis on the individual (exterior) aspect - as Ken does - as the Empirical approach. Here the individual object is given an identity (independent of its collective concept).

However we can equally define emphasis on the collective (interior) aspect as the Theoretical approach. Here the collective concept is given an identity (independent of individual objects). So individual objects are seen here as the reflection of organising concepts.

So Ken collapses the dynamic experience which involves all four quadrants to just one.

Thus Ken adopts the Positivist Empirical approach and places the scientific account of individual components in the Upper-Right quadrant.

However we could equally adopt the Idealist Empirical approach and place this account - relatively in the Upper-Left quadrant.

We could also adopt a Positivist Theoretical approach in which case we would place this scientific account - relatively - in the Lower-Right quadrant.

Finally we could adopt an Idealist Theoretical approach in which case we now place the account in the Lower-Left quadrant.

Thus in dynamic terms any experience of individual objects necessarily involves all quadrants. Thus when we try to fix quadrants in reduced rational terms, we must do so in a strictly relative fashion.

I have illustrated here how from a dynamic integrated perspective - with reference to the scientific individual account of components - we come to realise that all quadrants are necessarily involved.

We could equally demonstrate the same in relation to each of the other quadrants.

However because it is so important I will briefly illustrate also with reference to Ken's Upper-Left quadrant (which relates to individual interior experience) for it clarifies a very important point in relation to authentic spiritual development.

It is true that when one starts out on the spiritual journey of transformation that one interprets this as an individual experience (of the interior self).

However this view is quickly shown to be untenable as the journey unfolds. In Christian mysticism this is well illustrated through the dialectical swings of illumination and purgation.

With illumination the spirit is given - a relatively - exterior focus. So during such phases one begins to see all objects in a new radiant light. (Indeed this is the basis for a new subtle qualitative view of science). However through such illumination necessarily is an integral part of one's spiritual development, it would not be tenable to identify it as (merely) relating to the (interior) aspect.

With purgation however the direction generally switches to a profoundly (interior) experience where one becomes intensely aware of the faults of the shadow self.

The very reconciliation of these mystical swings is the realisation that exterior and interior are purely relative terms. It is strictly wrong therefore to identify spiritual experience as relating to the interior aspect. More correctly spiritual experience is without polarities (and combines both exterior and interior aspects indivisibly).

At the next level of development (the causal) a new problem develops in relation to the proper reconciliation of the individual and collective aspects of experience.

One still tends to think of spiritual development as pertaining to the individual self. However one gradually realises that this view is not tenable in dynamic terms. In other words one gradually learns to accept that one's individual self is inseparable from a wider collective or cosmic self (shared by all humanity).

So when the journey has been completed one no longer separates the individual ego from one's true cosmic self (representing all humanity).

This explains well why at the final stages there is often an enhanced desire to go out to others. This is simply due to the fact that one now realises that what one has received through spiritual development really represents the evolution of all humanity. So though one may initially have interpreted spiritual development as relating to just one quadrant (the Upper-Left) at the end of the journey one realises that it embraces all.

We could equally demonstrate how in the case of each of the two Lower quadrants that dynamic understanding leads to the realisation that all quadrants are necessarily involved.

So rather than just one way of fixing the quadrants (in static fashion), we have in fact four equally valid ways of fixing them (in relative terms). Furthermore this approach is necessary to avoid glaring inconsistencies.

If we start as Ken does by fixing the scientific account of individual components in the Upper-Right quadrant (using the Positivist Empirical approach), then the other quadrants will initially appear similar to Ken's (with the important difference that they are now understood in a relative rather than absolute fashion). The precise significance of this will be made clear as we proceed.

However if we adopt the equally valid Idealist Empirical approach then Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants are reversed i.e. we change horizontal locations.

If we start with the Positivist Theoretical approach, Upper and Lower quadrants are reverse i.e. we change vertical locations.

Finally if we adopt the Idealist Theoretical approach, both Right-Hand and Left-Hand and Upper and Lower quadrants are reversed i.e. we change horizontal and vertical locations.

Ken Wilber adopts a Multi-Differentiated approach (Type 1) where quadrant locations are absolute. Because this misleadingly preserves the value of dualistic distinctions it does not lend itself to an integrated viewpoint.

I describe this dynamic fixing of quadrants as a Multi-Differentiated Approach (Type 2) where quadrant locations are purely relative.

The very rationale of the relative approach is that it creates continual paradox in terms of linear interpretation (which is the very basis for truly integrated intuitive understanding).

So in relative terms movement in Right-Hand and Left-Hand quadrants takes place in opposite directions.

This is a highly important point which Ken Wilber repeatedly overlooks. The unfolding of exterior and interior stages of development take place in opposite directions. Thus development necessarily entails progression and regression. If growth in (exterior) knowledge of the World is deemed as progression, the corresponding growth in (interior) knowledge of the self is - relatively - regression (for dynamically speaking these are now purely relative terms).

In terms of Ken's holarchical maps this implies that if a map drawn up for the Right-Hand quadrant is viewed as model of evolutionary Ascent, then the corresponding map for the Left-Hand is - relatively - one of involutionary Descent. (Of course if we start with the Left-Hand map as representing evolutionary Ascent, then the Right-Hand represents involutionary Descent).

The problem with Ken's holarchical maps - in dynamic terms - is that he does not properly distinguish the exterior and interior aspects of stages. Every stage - by definition - has exterior and interior aspects. In the former case we obtain understanding of the world (in relation to self); in the latter case we obtain understanding of the self (in relation to the world).

Of course in experience these two aspects interact. This however creates considerable problems when one attempts to maintain - as Ken does - a one-way holarchical approach.

So if we start by looking at the exterior aspects of stages (in isolation), development will appear to take place in a transcendent fashion. Thus for example the exterior aspect of the formop stage will appear to be higher that the corresponding exterior aspect of the conop stage.

Likewise when we look at the interior aspects of stages (in isolation), development will again appear to take place in a transcendent fashion. The interior aspect of the formop stage will appear higher that the corresponding interior aspect of the conop stage.

Thus when we draw up these holarchical maps in isolation, development appears to take place in both cases in a transcendent holarchical fashion.

This is anolgous to two two drivers heading in opposite directions along a highway. When we view movement in absolute terms each driver moves unambiguously in a positive forward direction.

However when we compare both drivers we must now use relative notions of movement. So if driver A moves forward (relative to driver B), then driver B moves backward (relative to driver A); equally if driver B moves forward (relative to driver A), then driver A moves backward (relative to driver B).

It is exactly similar with holarchical maps (in dynamic relative terms). If movement in the holarchical map for the Right-Hand quadrant takes place in a positive (forward) direction then - relatively - movement in the Left-Hand quadrant takes place in a negative (backward) direction; likewise if movement for the holarchical map in the Left-Hand quadrant takes place in a positive (forward) direction, then movement in the Right-Hand quadrant is in a negative (backward) direction.

Thus if a holarchical map in one quadrant is a model of the Ascent (and evolution), then - relatively, the holarchical model in the other quadrant (horizontal) is a model of the Descent (and involution).

And our choice as to what constitutes evolution and involution is purely arbitrary.

Now Ken Wilber completely overlooks the dynamic implications of his model and invariably puts far too much emphasis on evolutionary Ascent.

Likewise Upper and Lower take place - relatively in opposite directions. (I have already discussed the matter in replying recently to a perceptive post by Jase Crown).

Just as all stages have exterior and interior aspects, likewise all stages of development have individual and collective aspects. In psychological terms this corresponds to the highly important distinction as between affective (emotional) and cognitive (intellectual) development. Thus in dynamic terms experience always switches from the individual aspect of one mode to the collective aspect of the other (and vice versa).

So once again though we can view either affective or cognitive development (in isolation) as having a forward positive direction, this is not so in relative terms.

However there is a crucial difference between horizontal and vertical aspects (which when grasped revolutionises our appreciation of reality).

Because scientific accounts are based on reduced quantitative notions, all phenomena are viewed in real terms. Thus we have real objects in real dimensions of space and time.

However if we want to properly distinguish qualitative from quantitative notions then we must introduce imaginary (as well as real notions).

Thus strictly speaking we live in a world which is dynamically complex (with real and imaginary aspects).

The implications for Ken's holarchical maps is profound.

I have demonstrated before that Ken's notion of holarchy (with respect to his Upper-right quadrant) is based on a reduced notion of holism (where wholes are effectively defined as the sum of quantitative parts).

However if one is to clearly distinguish a true qualitative from a merely quantitative notion of holism then one must switch over to movement that is mathematically imaginary (rather than real).

Thus when Blake saw a world in a grain of sand this was an "imaginary" (qualitative) rather than "real" quantitative realisation of holism.

Thus if the holarchical map in the Upper quadrant is deemed to be "real" (in terms of a quantitative view of holism), then the corresponding holarchical map in the Lower quadrant is "imaginary" (in terms of a qualitative view of holism). Alternatively - in precise holistic mathematical terms - a (real) transcendent map is equally an (imaginary) immanent map; likewise a (real) immanent map is an (imaginary) transcendent map.

When understood properly - in dynamic terms - Ken would need to define four types of holarchical maps. In terms of (horizontal) individual and collective quadrants we use "real" notions with movement taking place in - relatively - opposite directions. This means that each map can be viewed as a model of either the Ascent or Descent (depending on relative positions).

In terms of the vertical relationship between quadrants we use "real" and "imaginary" movement.

This means that each map can then be viewed - relatively - as either a transcendent model of holism, or equally an immanent model of partism.

Thus when we try to represent development - which is inherently dynamic - in linear hierarchical terms we get deep paradox. A map representing Ascent in one (horizontal) quadrant, represents Descent in the opposite quadrant.

Likewise a map representing transcendent holism in the same horizontal quadrant, represents immanent partism in the corresponding vertical quadrant.

So in dynamic terms, development moves forwards and backwards (in both horizontal and vertical terms), though the relationship between movement in opposite directions can vary considerably.

It would perhaps therefore be more accurate to represent development as a spiral (taken in both horizontal and vertical directions), though again the nature of these spirals could vary greatly depending on personality and level of development.

In a precise mathematical sense, Ken Wilber employs a strictly one-dimensional approach in his interpretation of quadrants as he adopts (solely) real positive notions of movement.

It is real in that he basically adopts the conventional (reduced) quantitative model of holism. (Thus for Ken molecules transcend atoms because atoms are quantitatively included in molecules (whereas the reverse does not hold in quantitative terms).

It is positive because his trend line of movement in development is strictly forward (i.e. his holarchical map is a model of Ascent).

All of this has very deep connections with elementary mathematical notions.

Let us start with the simplest of all numbers (i.e. 1) which is defined one-dimensionally (i.e. implicitly is raised to the power of 1).

Now if we square this number (raising it to two dimensions) the quantitative value will still be 1. However when we get a (reduced) one-dimensional interpretation (by obtaining the square root) we now get two answers that are equally valid i.e. + 1 or - 1.

I define HL1 (the subtle level) in two-dimensional terms as it clearly recognises these opposite polarities (corresponding to exterior and interior aspects).

Thus when we look at movement in our holarchical maps from a two-dimensional (rather than one-dimensional) persepctive we see that movement can equally be taken in positive and negative directions (which corresponds to dynamic relative understanding).

If we now raise 1 to the power of 4 (i.e. define it is four-dimensional terms) and then extract the four roots we get + 1, - 1, + i and - i (where i is the square root of -1).

Thus we now get two real and two imaginary solutions.

I define the understanding of HL2 (the causal level) as four-dimensional for it is sufficiently subtle to distinguish (additionally) as between quantitative and qualitative notions of understanding.

Thus if we define quantitative interpretations as real, then corresponding qualitative interpretations are imaginary (in relative terms).

A full understanding would require dealing with diagonal (as well as horizontal and vertical aspects)of holons.

This would correspond with eight-dimensional understanding (which can precisely translate the most fundamental distinction of all i.e. form and emptiness).

This eight-dimensional understanding unfolds with HL3 (nondual reality).

If we are to meaningfully integrate reality, we require this higher-dimensional understanding (of HL1, HL2 and HL3) which only unfolds with authentic transpersonal development.

Ken Wilber in using the vision-logic of the Centaur stage is simply using the most advanced form of one-dimensional understanding (where understanding takes place in real positive terms).

This is sufficiently refined to distinguish different polarities of experience (horizontal and vertical), but it is not sufficiently subtle to treat them in dynamic relative fashion.

Once again vision-logic is not geared to a truly integrated understanding. More properly it provides a multi-differentiated approach (in absolute terms).

Thus there is no hint of exaggeration when I emphatically state that Ken Wilber cannot claim to provide a truly integrated persepctive of reality. His method is properly geared to a multi-differentiated (rather than integrated) approach.

To be continued….