I will start off by illustrating the nature of the true dynamic approach to holons with reference to Ken's Upper-Left quadrant.
He tries to identify personal psychological development with this quadrant. However in dynamic terms this is untenable.
This raises an extremely important point (which is persistently overlooked in Ken Wilber’s account).
Stages of development – if they are to be meaningfully interpreted – must be understood in a dynamic relative fashion.
Thus every stage has both an exterior and interior direction.
For example, if we take the well-known stage of formal operational development (formop) this can unfold in two opposite directions.
Thus we can understand in an (exterior) objective fashion. A pure a mathematician would be making specialised use of formop in this manner.
However we can equally understand in an (interior) subjective fashion. So if someone formulates - from experience - general ethical principles of behaviour, formop will be used in the opposite fashion.
The great problem with conventional (linear) interpretations of development is that this important internal dialectic at each stage is not properly recognised. Thus exterior and interior aspects to some degree remain confused (with the interior generally reduced to the exterior aspect).
Likewise every stage has both an individual and collective direction. Ultimately this points to the extremely important interaction as between affective and cognitive development. Once again these take place –relatively – in opposite directions. However this is again persistently overlooked in conventional interpretations.
Indeed it is only with authentic transpersonal development that this horizontal and vertical complemenatrity (which is inherent to all stages) is properly understood.
However Ken Wilber shows no recognition of this and indeed makes glaring errors (e.g. in his persistent refusal to recognise the mature dynamic role of regression).
So if start with Ken’s Upper-Left quadrant and attempt to formulate development in holarchical terms we must use four different sets of interpretation, (which are understood in dynamic relative fashion).
Thus if we identify stages in terms of their exterior aspects, then we can formulate development in conventional holarchical fashion. In this sense we can say that the (exterior) formop is "higher" than the corresponding conop stage.
Equally in terms of stages, if we identify them in terms of their interior aspects, again we can formulate development in conventional holarchical fashion. The interior aspect of formop is "higher" in developoment than the corresponding aspect of conop.
One might therefore be tempted to think that the holarchical maps for exterior and interior aspects of stages are identical.
However this is not the case for in dynamic terms these move in opposite directions. Thus if the holarchical map for the exterior aspects of stages represents the Ascent, then – relatively - the holarchical map for the interior aspects represents the Descent.
Equally however if the holarchical map for the interior represents the Ascent then –relatively - the corresponding map for exterior aspect represents the Descent.
What underlies this is a very fundamental fact.
Development of the exterior aspects of stages involves movement from the unconscious (in the direction of the conscious).
However development of the interior stages involves the reverse movement from the conscious (in the direction of the unconscious).
Thus by refusing to represent this regressive unconscious direction of development Ken Wilber ultimately distorts its true dynamic nature.
Each stage of development equally has both an individual and collective aspect (which again must be understood in dynamic relative terms).
Once again Ken Wilber’s treatment is very one-sided where he concentrates on merely the collective aspect. So for Ken, progression in development represents a process whereby "lower" level parts are transcended and included in "higher" level wholes.
However development equally entails a progression in individual uniqueness. (It involves immanence as well as transcendence).
Thus from this complementary perspective, progression represents a process whereby "higher" level wholes are made immanent and included in "lower" level parts.
So we can draw up a map of progressive development – as Ken does - representing holarchical transcendence. In this sense the formop stage is "higher" than the corresponding "conop" stage.
However we can equally draw up a map representing holarchical immanence.
Now, from a static linear perspective these maps again might appear identical. However in dynamic relative terms they are directly opposite.
Thus the process of transcendent and immanent development takes place in opposite directions.
To properly distinguish these opposite movements (in horizontal and vertical) terms we must use holistic mathematical notions based on the complex number system.
Thus movement in development takes place in both "real" and "imaginary" directions.
Thus if the exterior and interior aspects of stages unfold in positive and negative directions (in real terms), the individual and collective aspects unfold in positive and negative directions (in "imaginary" terms).
Thus to properly represent the dynamics of development we need (at the very least) a four-dimensional map (representing the four quadrants of the complex number system).
Quite simply therefore from a dynamic perspective Ken Wilber’s treatment of development is grossly inaccurate.
There is another related problem associated with Ken’s hierarchical approach to quadrants (which again highlights the lack of a proper dynamic approach).
Ken places atoms as his first category of holons (in the Upper-Right quadrant). However the very interpretation of atoms is dependent on perceptions and concepts that have a far higher ranking in Ken's Upper-Left quadrant. This again illustrates Ken’s fallacy of the "myth of the given" where he attempts to give atoms a meaning (independent of "higher" interior interpretation).
One final – and very important – difficulty at this stage is Ken’s very way of looking at his (exterior) Right-Hand quadrants.
He attempts to do this in a direct physiological manner where the exterior aspect is treated as a body correlate to the interior psychological aspect.
So from this perspective, he would maintain that if a person forms a conceptual construct (which is interior) that this leads to a physiological reaction in the brain (which can be identified in exterior physical terms).
This is certainly true. However this is only one of three fundamental ways in which the exterior physical aspect can be identified (and seems to me somewhat confused).
I would distinguish as between horizontal, vertical and diagonal ways of distinguishing exterior and interior aspects of holons.
I will illustrate each of these briefly now.
First of all there is horizontal polarity.
Ken places atoms as the first of his holon categories in the Upper-Right quadrant.
However the exterior recognition of atoms (as physical "objects") is inseparable from the interior interpretation (given by the corresponding perceptions of atoms).
This in experience – in horizontal terms – the exterior recognition of (individual) object phenomena is always matched by corresponding interior perceptions.
Again this is a two-way interaction. In dualistic terms if we use perceptions simply as the reflection of "independent" objects, then – as Ken does – it is appropriate to place these in the Upper-Right quadrant.
However – as is equally valid - we use objects as the reflection of "independent" perceptions, then it is appropriate to place them in the corresponding Left-Hand quadrant. (However Ken Wilber persistently misses out on the significance of this dynamic interaction).
Now let us examine vertical polarity.
In the dynamics of understanding any individual object such as an atom has no meaning in the absence of the collective conceptual construct of "atom".
Vertical polarity then arises when we match the individual object with the corresponding collective concept. Here we recognise that we cannot recognise an (exterior) individual atom without a corresponding (interior) collective interpretation. Equally we cannot recognise the (exterior) object class of atoms without corresponding (interior) individual inetrpretation. And once again the relationship here works both ways.
Finally let us examine diagonal polarity.
This is the most immediate of all polarities. Thus in the dynamics of recognition, changes in physiological electro-chemical reactions are directly associated with psychological behaviour.
Now Ken tends to interpret the relationship as between exterior and interior in this third sense (and even then in a very restricted one-directional fashion).
However he seems to me to persistently miss out on the other equally important ways in which exterior and interior aspects of experience are dynamically related.
I will explore some further issues in relation to the Four Quadrants.
As every holon has both an exterior and interiors aspect, then we should have direct comparability as between Left and Right-Hand quadrants.
For examples if we take - in Ken's own terms - his Upper-right Hand quadrants we will see atoms listed as the bottom of the hierarchy. Now atoms already recognise a relatively advanced level of material organisation. Below these we have sub-atomic particles.
Once we accept the reality of the sub-atomic world, then it becomes - strictly speaking meaningless - to try and separate individual from collective holons (as for example implied by Bell's theorem). Ultimately once again this points to the problems arising from the lack of a dynamic approach.
Also as atoms have a corresponding interior aspect, then the bottom of the corresponding Upper-Left quadrant should represent the interior of atoms. Now it is very difficult to see this direct comparability in Ken's approach.
For example prehension is the bottom of the (interior) Upper-Left quadrant. It is hard to see how this directly corresponds to the interior aspect of atoms.
Now let us go to the other end. The complex neo-cortex is listed at no. 10 in the Upper-Right quadrant. Ken has concepts listed as no. 10 in the corresponding Upper-Left quadrant. Again it is hard to see any direct comparability as between these two categories. In what sense do concepts (exclusively) represent the interior aspect of the complex neocortex?
Now Ken may - with some validity - maintain that he is using existing hierarchical structures that were drawn up independently (without considerations as to their comparability). However once we recognise that every holon has an exterior and interior aspect then this should be directly reflected in the hierarchical representations (in Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants)..
Again if we look at Ken's Lower quadrants, the same problem surfaces.
Thus galaxies (representing the exterior-collective) are listed as the lowest rung in the Bottom-Right quadrant.
The corresponding entry in the Bottom-Left quadrant is physical-pleromatic). Again one could validly ask if physical-pleromatic truly represents the interior of Galaxies.
So there is a need to draw up the quadrants (Left and Right, Upper and Lower) so that complementary entries in each hierarchy directly correspond with each other. At best the correspondence is only approximate in Ken's approach.
When Ken tries to link the four quadrants to the Big Three of (I, We and It) he makes a number of highly questionable statements.
Now Ken identifies I with art and then maintains that this directly corresponds with the Upper-Left quadrant. However this is not strictly speaking correct.
For example - even in Ken's own treatment - mathematics is strongly identified with the Upper-Left quadrant. Ken also clearly understands mathematics as a science. So there is an obvious problem in trying to correlate this with the I (which is associated with Art).
So consciousness cannot be exclusively identified with affective artistic experience; it equally has a cognitive scientific dimension. So once again Ken Wilber is presenting us with - what at best is - a half-truth.
Ken identifies We (the second of his Big three with morals) and then tries to associate this with the Lower- Left quadrant.
However once again this is not strictly speaking tenable.The Lower-Left really represents cultural levels of consciousness (or worldviews). Now whereas morality may be a component of such worldviews it is simply incorrect to try and identify cultural experience with morality. So again we are presented with the very misleading half-truth. (Also it is again untenable to tryand identify morals solely with We in the first instance. The very basis of existential morality - for example - is its strong I focus).
Now Ken might seem on firmer ground by identifying It with the Right Hand quadrants (Upper and Lower). However from a dynamic persepctive this is also untenable for scientific understanding has necessarily a personal (as well as impersonal dimension) and cannot be exclusively related to It.
So in short Ken's treatment once again reflects the lack of a true dynamic approach leading to many misleading conclusions.
The nub of his problem is demonstrated at the end of the Chapter. Ken summarises the disaster of modernity as the collapse of Left to Right.
But again - even in Ken's own terms - this is simply not tenable. Once more Ken fully accepts that mathematics (which is scientific) belongs to the Left-Hand quadrants.
But the continued development of Mathematics is very much associated with the rise of modernity.
So in this respect Left clearly has not been collapsed to Right.
The real problem in fact is due to the collapse of a dynamic interpretation (of the interaction of Left and Right) to a merely static interpretation (where interaction between quadrants is frozen).
Thus a static interpretation is equally consistent with the collapse of Left to Right (which Ken recognises) and the collapse of Left to Right (which he does not recognise).
(This incidentally explains why his treatment of mathematics is inconsistent with his overall viewpoint).
The simple fact of the matter is that Ken Wilber consistently fails to distinguish true dynamic notions of interaction from (reduced) static interpretations.
Indeed for all its sophistication his own method very much represents the (reduced) static approach of modern culture and therefore itself exemplifies the true disaster of modernity (that Ken consistently fails to accurately identify).