Reformulating the Pre/Trans Fallacy
The root of the problem lies in a misinterpretation of the true bi-directional nature of dynamic relationships.
As far as human experience is concerned the fundamental poles of experience
can be taken as the physical and psychological (that dynamically
interact) . Thus once we accept that prepersonal and transpersonal are
complementary opposite terms, then whatever is transpersonal from one direction
of experience e.g. the world (in relation to self) is prepersonal from
the opposite perspective i.e.. the self (in relation to the world). Equally
what is prepersonal from one direction is transpersonal from the opposite
Despite the great scope and sophistication of his writing, Ken Wilber basically adopts a linear approach in terms of human development (and evolution generally). Thus for Ken the direction of development is from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal.
This is clearly one-directional and is therefore inadequate from a dynamic
perspective (which is two-directional).
When we reformulate development - from the dynamic perspective, the
movement is from (confused) undifferentiated pre/trans (both prepersonal
and transpersonal) to personal (neither prepersonal nor transpersonal)
to fused and integrated pre/trans (once again both prepersonal and transpersonal).
Thus the lower stages of development are both prepersonal and transpersonal in nature (in a highly confused and undifferentiated state). Before proper integration can take place these confused poles must be first separated and differentiated which leads to the gradual development of a personal ego identity (that is neither prepersonal nor transpersonal). This separate ego identity undergoes specialised development during the rational "middle" stages. With the two poles (self and world) properly differentiated one is now ready for their fusion once more (this time in a mature integrated fashion).
Thus during the "higher" levels of development, the personal self (that is separated from the world), gradually gives way to a more holistic cosmic identity which is both prepersonal and transpersonal.
Integration of self with the world is completed when both are fully
united in a creative void (i.e. where pre and trans are identical).
The most mature and comprehensive stage of life involves the co-ordination
of poles in experience that are both fully differentiated and fully integrated.
Thus pre and trans have here - in relative terms - both separate (differentiated)
and complementary (integrated) interpretations.
When we attempt to represent the dynamics of human development in linear
terms, two opposite interpretations - which are both equally valid - are
Thus we can take development - in the manner of Ken Wilber - as the movement from (confused) prepersonal through (differentiated) personal on to (integrated) transpersonal understanding.
This is the direction of the masculine (cognitive) principle that emphasises the transcendent aspect of spiritual development (the ascent).
However we can equally take development as the movement from (confused)
transpersonal through (differentiated) personal on to (integrated) prepersonal
understanding (the descent). This relates to one's shadow personality (which
can only be properly appropriated at the "higher" levels of development).
This is the direction of the feminine (affective) principle that emphasises
the (complementary) immanent aspect of spiritual development.
As is typical of most formal accounts of spiritual development, Ken
offers a merely transcendent view of spirituality (the ascent). Though
he mentions the immanent aspect (the descent) it does not really fit in
with his overall approach. This problem is ultimately rooted in a misreading
of the true nature of pre/trans fallacy.
The problem therefore with conventional models of human development
is that they are unduly linear (leading to the fundamental problem that
I have mentioned).
I now wish to propose in basic terms an alternative model of human evolution that allows for both linear and circular interpretations.
In other words it allows both for the (linear) separation of polar opposites
(where these are rationally differentiated) and (circular) complementarity
of these same opposites (where they are intuitively integrated).
I will outline the basic nature of this model before returning to explain
it in more detail.
Each level is given a bi-directional interpretation in horizontal terms.
Thus any (given) level of human development can be viewed in external-internal fashion in two ways:
(Of course in dynamic experiential terms both of these poles are necessarily combined e.g. the body-mind. However in dualistic terms we separate poles).
Thus each level has both physical and psychological aspects (in horizontal
Each level can also be given a bi-directional interpretation in higher-lower vertical terms which again are:
The final complete stage of development involves physical and psychological
aspects (in diagonal terms). This entails finite (phenomenal) and infinite
(spiritual) reality in the growing and increasingly dynamic interpenetration
of both horizontal (analytical) and vertical (holistic) understanding.
The entire spectrum of development (physical and psychological) is simply
an expression therefore of what I term "The Theory of Everything" where
all reality can be understood in terms of three sets of polar relationships
(horizontal, vertical and diagonal).
Physical - LL3 - Psychological
Physical - LL2 - Psychological
Physical - LL1 - Psychological
Physical - HL1 - Psychological
Physical - HL2 - Psychological
Physical - HL3 - Psychological
Let us start here with the initial ground state that I refer to here as Lower Level 3 (LL3).
This is defined precisely as the identity (in total confusion) of both horizontal, vertical and diagonal polar opposites (physical and psychological).
Thus internal cannot be distinguished from external (horizontal). There
is no sense of either a (separate) self or (separate) world.
Quantitative cannot be distinguished from qualitative (vertical). No
distinction as between (individual) parts and (collective) whole is possible.
Finally, the actual cannot be distinguished from what is potential (diagonal). Finite phenomena have not yet emerged from the infinite void. We have here the - meaningless - integration of opposites that are completely undifferentiated.
So in this ground state polar opposites are identical (in diagonal, vertical and horizontal fashion).
The first crucial transition involves the symmetry breaking of (confused) diagonal complementarity.
This leads to emerging consciousness of (actual) phenomena distinct
from the merely (potential)void. Physical and psychological reality now
begin to separate in diagonal fashion. (This corresponds to the archaic
sensoriphysical stage in Ken's treatment).
The next level LL2 starts from a position where confused complementarity still applies to both vertical and horizontal poles. The infant cannot properly distinguish the whole of reality (qualitative) from the parts (quantitative). Also there is no sense of a separate ego identity (internal) in relation to the world (external).
There then follows the second transition involving the symmetry breaking
of (confused) vertical complementarity. Impersonal objects (parts) begin
to assume an identity that is distinct from an undifferentiated holistic
notion of self. This corresponds to the (magical) phantasmic-emotional
stage of Ken's approach.
With the unfolding of LL1, both diagonal and vertical polarities continue to separate. However confused complementarity still applies to the horizontal direction. There is still no clear sense of an (internal) self separate from the (external) phenomena that arise in experience. The third transition involves the symmetry breaking of (confused) horizontal complementarity. The subjective ego becomes distinct from the objective world. This corresponds to the (mythical) rep-mind of Ken's approach.
What I refer to as L0 is the rational (linear) level (which includes Ken's rule/role, formal reflexive and centauric stages). Specialised development of the separate poles of experience now takes place. (Confused) complementarity no longer exists.
It is important to remember that this is the only level where dynamic
relative notions do not apply.
Thus in terms of pre and trans we start from a position LL3 where reality
is pre/trans (i.e. both pre and trans) in (confused) diagonal, vertical
and horizontal terms.
The first transition involves the separation of the confused identity of pre and trans at a diagonal level. Thus reality at this (diagonal) polarity is now neither pre nor trans.
It is still (confused) pre/trans in vertical and horizontal terms at
The next transition involves the separation of the confused identity
of pre and trans at a vertical level. Thus in relation to both diagonal
and vertical polarities reality is neither pre nor trans.
At LL1, reality is still (confused) pre/trans in horizontal terms.
The final lower transition involves the remaining separation of the
(confused) identity of pre and trans at a horizontal level. Thus in terms
of diagonal, vertical and horizontal polarities, reality is now neither
pre nor trans.
Thus L0 represents a level where understanding is absolute (not relative).
In terms of the logic of this level reality is (a) either pre or trans
or (b) neither pre nor trans.
Now we can see clearly this linear approach in terms of Ken's approach.
He defines L0 (correctly) as neither pre nor trans. In other words this
level is simply personal (neither prepersonal nor transpersonal). However
though dynamic relativity applies at all other levels he still defines
them - in linear terms - as either pre or trans (prepersonal or transpersonal).
Thus Ken misleadingly defines all the lower levels as prepersonal and
the higher levels as transpersonal. More correctly all the lower levels
involve (a) circular elements that are both prepersonal and transpersonal
(in a confused manner) and (b) linear elements that are neither prepersonal
The higher levels involve the restoration of complementarity - in mature
integrated manner (horizontally, vertically and diagonally).
The first higher transition involves the return to symmetry of the horizontal poles (external and subjective).
HL1 then involves the (refined) intuitive recognition that external
(objective) and internal (subjective) reality are truly identical. All
the stages of this level involve increased realisation of this truth. This
is the circular level (subtle realm).
The next transition involves the additional return to symmetry of the
vertical poles (quantitative and qualitative).
HL2 involves growing intuitive awareness that all levels of reality,
(qualitative) wholes are indistinguishable from (quantitative) parts. This
is the point level (causal realm).
The final transition involves the return to symmetry of the diagonal
poles (actual and potential).
HL3 now entails the deeply intuitive realisation that actual phenomena
(finite) are ultimately indistinguishable from the (infinite) ground from
which they emerge. This is nondual reality.
In terms of pre/trans the first transition involves the growing (integrated)
realisation that reality is both pre and trans in horizontal terms.
At HL1 polarities are still separated in vertical and diagonal terms.
One still views reality - in terms of these polarities - as either pre
The second transition involves the additional (integrated) realisation
that reality is both pre and trans in vertical terms.
At HL2 polarities are still separated in diagonal terms. In terms of
this remaining polarity linear understanding remains.
The third transition involves the final (integrated) realisation that
reality is both pre and trans in diagonal terms.
HL3 leads to the deeply intuitive state where all linear understanding ceases.
Reality is now pre/trans (both pre and trans) in horizontal, vertical and diagonal terms.
My model is set up to deliberately show horizontal complementarity (at a given level)
with physical and psychological aspects.
Also the model shows vertical complementarity.
Thus HL3 is vertically complementary with LL3, HL2 with LL2, and HL1 with LL1.
One practical outcome of this approach is that prepersonal problems
of a lower level can only be resolved in terms of the prepersonal understanding
of the corresponding higher level. Deep-rooted prepersonal problems of
LL2 for example can only be resolved through coming to terms with one's
shadow at the corresponding HL2 level. Thus the (confused) undifferentiated
understanding of a lower level can only be resolved in terms of the (fused)
integrated understanding of the complementary higher level.
Thus we have the outward transition through the lower levels whereby understanding is separated (from confused complementarity) and differentiated. This culminates in the specialised development of rational understanding.
We then have the corresponding inward transition through the higher
levels where understanding becomes complementary again and properly integrated
(in a fused fashion). This culminates in the specialised development of
The most complete and comprehensive state of development involves the progressive interpenetration of both rational (differentiated) and intuitive (integrated) understanding.
One is now enabled to understand rationally (within a given level) while intuitively integrating (between levels). This represents the fullest expression of diagonal complementarity.
This is what I refer to as simple-complex reality (radial level). As
it continually arises out of the present moment (and returns to it) embracing
all intermediate stages (low and high) it is placed at both the beginning
and end of my model. (All intermediate levels have their relative source
and end in this contiual present state).
All of the above is based directly on "The Theory of Everything".
It demonstrates how the full spectrum of reality (physical and psychological) can be precisely modelled in qualitative mathematical terms.
It also leads - as I have illustrated - to a highly subtle interpretation of the pre/trans fallacy.
This basic approach can indeed be considerably extended to the detailed
outlining of various sub-levels (and a wide range of stages within each
sub-level), all in holistic mathematical terms. I hope to return to this
at some future date.