Note 12 - Integral Science

Basically what I refer to as Integral Science can be sub-divided into three types that increasingly enable a deeper holistic integration of reality.

Though analytic science by its very nature tends to establish a separation as between the (psychological) observer and what is (physically) observed, the very goal of integral science is to demonstrate the ultimate unity of both aspects.

We can examine this integration in terms of horizontal poles within a given level, vertical poles between various levels and finally diagonal poles both simultaneously within and between levels.

Integral 1 which reflects the intuitively refined cognitive understanding of H1 (the psychic/subtle realm) - is based on establishing complementarity as between the horizontal poles (exterior/interior and interior/exterior) within a given level.

Integral 2 which reflects the even more spiritually refined cognitive understanding of H2 (the causal realm) is based on establishing complementarity as between vertical poles (whole/part and part/whole) and their corresponding relationship with horizontal poles. This entails "imaginary" as well as "real" holistic mathematical understanding reflecting the dynamic interaction of the unconscious with the conscious in experience.

Integral 3 which reflects the purest type of refined understanding representing the free interpenetration of cognitive (form) and spiritual (emptiness) is based therefore on establishing complementarity as between diagonal poles (form/emptiness and emptiness/form) both within and between levels.

I will briefly illustrate the nature of Integral 1 understanding with respect to two important notions from physics and economics respectively.

Within physics the uncertainty principle describes how at the sub-atomic level  it is not possible to describe accurately both the position and momentum of a particle.

Now a basic premise that underlies all integral understanding is that every asymmetric interpretation of reality with respect to one polar reference frame has an equally valid alternative interpretation from the opposite reference frame.

So the uncertainty principle - as conventionally understood - points to behaviour in the (exterior) physical world. Therefore there is an equally valid uncertainty principle that applies to (interior) psychological reality.

What this principle implies is that in dynamic terms it is never possible to fix both the perception of a phenomenon (say of an electron) and its corresponding conceptual interpretation simultaneously. In other words in dynamic terms, the act of perceiving, changes its relationship with the concept; likewise the application of the concept in turn changes the nature of the perception. So through the dynamic act of psychological interaction, perceptions and concepts are continually changed in relation to each other.

Now we can attempt to definitely "fix" perception by assuming the concept constant; likewise we can attempt to "fix" the concept by assuming the perception constant. However by definition we cannot hold both constant as the very act of forming perceptions and concepts change each other.

Thus we move to an integral understanding of this uncertainty principle by combining both the (exterior) physical with the (interior) psychological interpretation. Through this process we come to realise that (exterior) physical observed reality such as an electron and the (interior) psychological constructs of its observation, are in fact mutually complementary and mirrors of each other. The growing realisation of the unity of both poles in turn greatly enhances spiritual awareness, facilitating the process of achieving even closer complementarity regarding both aspects.

With relation to Economics scarcity is the fundamental notion.

However in conventional terms this again is given a merely (exterior) objective interpretation.

So if - as there clearly is a lack of sufficient economic resources to satisfy human wants, the implied solution is seen in objective terms i.e. to make more resources available.

However in dynamic terms exterior resources cannot be divorced from interior attitudes (to such resources).

So there is an equally valid opposite (interior) psychological interpretation of the problem of scarcity in that any perceived shortage of resources can be compensated by an adjustment of psychological attitudes where people willingly become satisfied with less.

Again we have two asymmetrical solutions to the problem of economic scarcity.

From the (exterior) objective perspective we need to produce more economic resources. This assumes psychological attitudes to these resources as given.

From the (interior) subjective perspective, we need to adjust psychological attitudes so as to become satisfied with the existing level of resources. This assumes such physical resources as a given.

Clearly from an integral perspective both aspects must be treated as complementary and brought into dynamic balance.

So from an integral perspective tackling scarcity might well mean transferring more resources to the less developed economies. However equally this might well suggest that the main problem in affluent societies is not lack of resources as such but rather the predominating influence of an unbalanced materialistic philosophy.

Thus in terms of this integral approach the very nature of economics changes. There is no longer a preoccupation with maximising any goal (e.g. growth, profits, utility). Rather the emphasis is on achieving a satisfactory relationship as between economic resources and our psychological relationship (to these resources). And when this happens the notion of scarcity (as objectively defined) loses relevance in dynamic terms.

Needless to say, integral meaning does not reside in the amount of economic goods and services which can be made available. This represents the false philosophy of materialism. Rather in this important respect, it relates to the nature of the dynamic relationship as between these (exterior) goods and our (interior) psychological attitudes (to these goods).

And as exemplified by contemplative religious communities in all traditions, where true spirituality exists, happiness can be very much compatible with limited access to material resources.