Note 27 - Closed and Open TOEs (Analytic Integral and Radial)


The search for a TOE in Physics is of a closed analytic variety.

It is closed in the sense that it attempts to confine interpretation merely to physical reality (while ignoring its necessary interaction with psychological and spiritual domains) which in dynamic terms is untenable.

Secondly it is analytic and asymmetric in emphasis attempting to find an ultimate causal explanation for physical variables (as effects).

However it is the very nature of dynamic interdependence that everything is both cause and effect of everything else so once again the very notion of an analytic TOE is untenable.

We can also have analytic TOEs of a more open comprehensive variety which attempt to incorporate all major domains (e.g. physical, biological, mental and spiritual) in a coherent synthesis.
However because the process of integration in development is fundamentally distinct from differentiation, any asymmetric type treatment inevitably will tend to reductionism and considerable inconsistency from an overall perspective.


Integral TOEs - as I define them - are essentially very distinct.

Because all variables are understood from the onset to be ultimately interdependent, there is no emphasis here on asymmetric cause-effect type relationships (that have a merely partial local validity).

Rather the attempt here is to establish consistent circular type symmetry as between the fundamental polarities of existence (that condition the unfolding of all subsequent asymmetric type relationships in phenomenal terms).

So a true integral TOE is defined in terms of a both/and logic of complementarity and establishes paradoxical circular type consistency as between the fundamental polarities of existence.

Because these relationships are paradoxical they evade any attempt at dualistic (asymmetric) type understanding and ultimately point to the empty ground of everything that is.

Integral TOEs themselves can be grouped into two main types.

The more closed version attempts to deal with the interdependence of reality in terms of a coherent set of dynamic paradoxical type relationships that coherently deal with its main constituents (which inevitably to a degree separate in phenomenal terms).
However the problem here is that insufficient attention is given to these phenomenal asymmetric characteristics and their relationship to the ultimate integral ground (defined in terms of the paradoxical complementarity of related polar opposites)

The open integral version is more subtle and gives considerable attention not only to the nature of the interdependence of reality but equally as to the nature of the relationship (at all levels of development) as between integrated (interdependent) and differentiated (independent) aspects.

My own attempts at a TOE have represented the more integral kind. The earliest formulation (in 1970) was very much of the closed variety. However recent versions have become considerably more refined and represent very much the open approach (as I define it).


However the most comprehensive versions of a TOE go beyond the open approaches (of either the analytic or holistic kind) in what I terms radial approaches.

Again I would delineate two major types of radial approaches.

The less developed approach would be consistent with the considerable development of coherent analytic type understanding within specialised fields that is consistently reconciled with an overall approach to understanding that is properly integral. (The open integral approach leads naturally into this when applied to particular fields of enquiry).

However - even with this advanced approach - some problems may remain in that such understanding may not be fully reflected through ones overall personality.
In other words it can still remain isolated in certain respects from actual living.

In the more developed radial approach, one's intellectual understanding - in relation to all that one encounters - approximates consistency with one's full lifestyle. In other words there is no longer inconsistency as between what one intellectually thinks, what one emotionally feels, what one spiritually believes and finally what one actually does in life.
This represents therefore the most complete expression of an active life that is fully grounded in mature contemplation (both of which mutually support each other in a fully coherent fashion).

Paradoxically we move here beyond TOE's - in any absolute sense - realising that the search for the experience of everything (which in spiritual terms is equally nothing) must always be in the context of phenomenal understanding that is merely partial. So now there is full appreciation that in a dynamic sense the search for everything is continually veiled by the merely something (i.e. in contingent phenomena).