This lengthy article was written in response to Mike Mc Dermott's
very stimulating essay "Hunting
the Snark". I would like to thank Mike for his considerable knowledge
and expertise in providing this comparison of Wilber v Collins.
Mike Mc Dermott strikes me as something of a modern Renaissance man. He has an important and demanding job, is much traveled, produces interesting work written in his own inimitable style, engages in meditation, appreciates the arts and is an informed and voracious reader of philosophy, literature and the sciences. I suspect he has many more accomplishments that I have not mentioned.
Mike was the very first to express an informed interest in Holistic Mathematics. Somehow he discovered my site on the Internet and was already well through reading "Transforming Voyage" when I received his opening e-mail. He has been in regular contact since, and has continued to offer valuable support while sharing his unique insights. This is all the more admirable as Mike is a professed great admirer of Ken Wilberís work. So his willingness to consider my fundamental critique of Kenís position displays considerable openness of mind and generosity of spirit.
I must thank Mike for his efforts in preparing this essay. It provides a wonderful basis for engaging in fruitful discussion on a number of important issues pertaining to both Kenís work and mine. Indeed I feel privileged that he considers it valuable to make this comparison.
He states from the onset that he is looking at my work as a Wilber admirer.
In that context, I think he has done a remarkably good job and I found it fascinating to read his observations. However having said that, to view my criticism from a Wilberian frame of reference does rob it somewhat of significance. So the Snark that Mike is hunting in this essay may have been rendered harmless with its teeth removed.
So in responding to Mikeís many points I hope to offer a Collins perspective
(which places the criticism in a very different context).
It was very perceptive of Mike to refer to Einstein in his opening remarks.
Perhaps he is aware that he exercised a profound influence on my intellectual development in several ways.
When I first heard about the Special Theory of Relativity, I was greatly impressed by the sheer boldness of thought leading to this exciting new vision of physical reality. It left a lasting impression and convinced me that given sufficient imagination, more startling breakthroughs in understanding would be possible.
Einstein essentially adopted what I would refer to as an intuitive experiential approach. In other words his physical intuitions about reality suggested the very notions that enabled his important discoveries.
However surprisingly his greatest influence was in a manner that he would not perhaps have intended.
I gradually realized that the very relationships that Einstein referred to in his Theory at a physical level had direct counterparts in terms of psychological experience.
This was the very seed that led to the development of - what I now refer to as - Integral Science.
Let me briefly explain.
Mike fittingly refers to the famous thought experiment where Einstein imagined what it would be like to travel along a beam of light.
The remarkable answer is that from the perspective of the light beam, time would not pass. In other words light - from its own frame of reference - travels continually in the present moment. Measurement in regard to its speed arises only in the context of a phenomenal reference frame that necessarily moves at less than this absolute speed. Then light can display complementary wave and particle aspects.
I will briefly explain the psycho-spiritual parallel to Einsteinís famous question (which illustrates the nature of this integral scientific approach).
What would it be like to travel on a beam of spiritual light?
Well the answer - as the mystical traditions testify - is that time has no meaning for this light (from its own pure perspective). So spiritual light "travels" continuously in the present moment.
Phenomenal (qualitative) measurements only arise when we try to measure from a phenomenal reference frame. Then light again displays complementary wave and particle aspects, which are commonly referred to as the transcendence and immanence of Spirit respectively.
So paradoxically, Einsteinís greatest influence on my development was the realization that - when formulated in appropriate language - every physical relationship (demonstrated by analytic science) has a complementary psychological counterpart. Equally from the psychological perspective, every phenomenon - say the "dark night" of mystical literature - has a remarkable physical counterpart.
However the appreciation of these very relationships requires that we actually experience reality in very dynamic terms (where opposite poles are understood as interdependent).
Integral Science - as I define it - is thus based on the recognition of the deep complementarity, and ultimate identity of physical and psychological aspects of reality (in horizontal, vertical and diagonal terms).
It makes direct use of the cognitive translations of the "higher" spiritual levels of understanding. It is very different from Ken Wilberís integral approach, which I would see as based on a reduced analytic method of interpretation.
In principle it can be applied to any discipline facilitating true integral understanding. It also greatly facilitates overall integration as between disciplines. (In my own investigations, I have concentrated chiefly on Mathematics, Psychology, Physics and Economics).
This very recognition and consequent process of appropriately formulating relationships in a dynamic complementary fashion, leads to the generation of remarkable new connecting insights facilitating overall integration of experience.
So Einsteinís legacy for me has been the coherent vision of a qualitative
holistic - rather than a merely analytic - approach to science which itself
can serve as a powerful force for integration in experience.
A Matter of Context
One final point! Einstein showed how important the frame of reference is to the way that reality appears to behave.
Likewise in a discussion of Wilber v Collins, the frame of reference is vital. Mike makes the important admission that his article is written from the perspective of a Wilber admirer. I would take from this comment, that he is looking at conflicting issues largely from a Wilberian frame of reference.
However I would maintain that this significantly reduces the nature of the criticism I make of Wilber (as his reference frame does not adequately cater for such criticism).
It is very much a matter of perspective. I do indeed see major flaws in Ken Wilberís approach, which I believe I fully substantiate. However their proper appreciation requires the acceptance that Ken Wilberís frame of reference in some important respects is quite limited. This may come as a major surprise to those who are convinced that he provides the most all-embracing approach available!
Mike refers to Ken Wilberís very brief response to my long article posted on Frank Visserís site.
I think that one can only say that this response is inadequate. It is most evasive and does not specifically address a single point made in the article. Also its highly general critical comments are offered without supporting evidence.
"So many people who read Collins material say they cannot understand it."
I question the purpose of this statement. Is Ken saying that he finds it difficult to understand? Apparently not, as he says later that he always enjoys reading my material. Yet he studiously avoids engaging with the important issues raised!
Also, he provides no proper context for his remark.
Mike mentioned Einstein. Most of those who initially read Einsteinís Theory at first could not properly understand it. However we do not doubt the enormous value of his contribution on that basis.
I am claiming something radically new when I suggest that a qualitative interpretation of mathematical symbols can offer a precise scientific basis for an integral appreciation of reality. This has deep potential implications for many important fields including Transpersonal Studies.
Therefore as I am offering such a different perspective, some difficulties are to be expected. However, Ken does not make any reference to this crucial point. This is all the more surprising, as he has often complained about the lack of interesting developments in the transpersonal field. Yet when presented with a radical new approach, he seems strangely reluctant to even acknowledge the fact.
I do in fact take great pride in the manner in which I communicate ideas and always attempt to do so in clear and effective manner. In view of the nature of what I am attempting, I recognize that initial misunderstandings are inevitable. That is why I greatly welcome discussion as a means of gradually resolving such problems. I am quite confident that given sufficient constructive dialogue, the merits of my approach will become increasingly apparent. And I want to thank Mike especially, as he has been foremost in engaging in that dialogue.
Because of lack of context, I would consider Kenís remark potentially
misleading as it perhaps unwittingly conveys the impression to the uninitiated
of confused thinking (which I would strongly deny).
Importance of Translation
Mike refers to my comment that Ken clearly does not provide an integral interpretation of the quadrants.
This is certainly so. As it is a very important point I will spend some time to put it in context.
Central to my criticism is the fact that Ken never distinguishes clearly - in intellectual translation - the nature of integration from differentiation. He primarily uses an analytic method that is geared for the differentiation of experience. So in effect, what Ken offers as an integral approach, is more properly a multi-differentiated interpretation of development.
Kenís translation method of vision-logic is based on the centaur stage. The centaur is the last of the middle (gross) stages of development before genuine transpersonal awareness occurs. (In my approach the centaur is the most advanced stage of the level H0).
The middle stages - especially in Western development - lead to the specialization of the rational linear method of understanding. This is well characterized by the scientific paradigm, which is so well suited for analysis and differentiation of reality.
Vision-logic represents the highest of the rational linear stages of development. Though it does enable a more flexible and multi-varied analytic interpretation, it still essentially views relationships in a sequential unambiguous fashion. So Kenís holarchical model is based on this absolute sequential approach to relationships (i.e. where connections are established in an unambiguous asymmetrical fashion).
Clearly integration must necessarily take place to some extent at every stage of development.
However even in terms of the centaur, this is necessarily a somewhat reduced, as it is defined in terms of an overall context of understanding that is heavily geared to differentiation of experience.
In the society we live in, the integration of the centaur would typically enable one to adapt in a successful manner. However this is but a reduced notion of integration and its imbalances are revealed through "higher" spiritual development.
Indeed in the very process of development the "higher" stages only unfold when one becomes especially sensitive to the unreconciled contradictions of the centaur.
What characterizes these "higher" levels is that they are geared directly to integration (which culminates with pure contemplative awareness).
So a true integral approach is based to on the "higher" spiritual levels of understanding.
Ken might indeed accept that full integration does indeed require the transpersonal stages. However the fact remains that he predominantly interprets development in terms of a "lower" method (vision-logic) which is not adequate as a means for properly translating integration.
So once again, vision-logic (as used by Ken) is simply the most advanced form of gross (one-directional) understanding and by no means the most developed type of intellectual translation available.
Very refined cognitive understanding unfolds with each of the "higher" levels (H1, H2 and H3) and forms the appropriate basis for true integral interpretation.
What is crucial to appreciate is that the very nature of this understanding is qualitatively different from the linear sequential type (that characterizes vision-logic). It is dynamically bi-directional where opposite poles are simultaneously involved. Though it is directly intuitive, indirectly it has a (reduced) rational translation, which is paradoxical in dualistic terms. Thus its very purpose is to undo the attachment to the asymmetrical interpretation of relationships that culminates with vision-logic.
Clearly in pure contemplative experience, recognition of differentiated phenomena is greatly minimized and does not directly enter awareness. This empty nondual understanding characterizes true integration (as opposed to differentiation).
So we differentiate by separating poles and making sequential asymmetrical connections (using the logic of form).
We integrate by uniting poles (that have been separated) by making simultaneous symmetric connections (using the logic of emptiness). This leads directly to spiritual intuitive realization.
Thus differentiation and integration of experience require using two distinct logical systems. These again are the logic of form (based on asymmetric sequential understanding) and the logic of emptiness (based on symmetric simultaneous appreciation). The first is analytic and linear (one-directional); the second is dynamically holistic and circular (bi-directional).
Finally, when we deal with both the differentiation and integration of experience we use a radial approach, which combines both logical systems in dynamic interaction.
Now when seen in this context, Kenís vision logic is certainly not suitable as a true intellectual means of integral translation.
At best it can only interpret the reduced integration that is consistent with the centaur stage of development.
One of the key weaknesses in Kenís approach is a failure to properly appreciate both the existence and relevance for integration of refined "higher" level cognitive structures.
Thus from my perspective, there is a vastly important dimension completely missing from his work.
My basic position is very coherent and simple. Vision-logic represents the most advanced understanding of the rational (linear) stages. It is a flexible and intuitively based use of the logic of form, which treats relationships in a sequential (one-directional) asymmetrical fashion.
As an intellectual method, vision-logic - as used by Ken - is designed for a multi-analytic (rather than a true synthetic) translation. Thus when we use vision-logic as a synthetic integral approach, overall imbalance and inconsistency is inevitable.
For proper integral translation we require the refined rational understanding of the "higher" spiritual levels. This spiritualized understanding is directly intuitive with a paradoxical bi-directional interpretation in rational terms.
In a number of recent articles I have enlarged on this point, outlining
a detailed "Spectrum of Translation Methods". This distinguishes clearly
as between analytic, suitable for differentiation, synthetic, suitable
for integration and radial methods suitable for differentiation and integration.
The Quadrants Revisited
Indeed in the recent article on Frank Visserís site, I suggested how the quadrants would be interpreted using all eight methods.
However from reading Mikeís account, one gets little sense of both the detailed nature of this criticism, and the constructive proposals I make to remedy the inherent deficiencies with Kenís approach. Again this is due to using a Wilberian frame of reference, which does not properly recognize these various methods of translation (and their respective applications).
We start with the analytic methods based on the logic of form.
Analytic 1 is based on the concrete and formal operational understanding of H0. It does not properly differentiate the four quadrants. So there is here - as pointed out by Ken - a marked tendency to reduce the understanding of reality to the perspective of just one quadrant.
Analytic 2 relates to the vision-logic of the centaur (the highest stage of H0). This is a more sophisticated analytic approach, and does indeed successfully differentiate the four quadrants (which Ken has ably demonstrated in his recent books!)
This indeed is a necessary and welcome step.
However from an integral perspective it is unduly limited.
When one looks at Kenís treatment he attempts to make unambiguous linear distinctions. In other words he tries to fix the locations and interpretations of his four quadrants in a definite fashion.
For example the Right-Hand quadrants deal with perception and the Left-Hand quadrants with interpretation; the Right-Hand deals with "it" understanding, the Left-Hand with "I" and "We".
However in dynamic terms we cannot successfully split up holons in this fashion, as a holon by definition belongs to all four quadrants.
Thus on closer examination, Kenís treatment is revealed to be full of inconsistencies. In my article in Frank Visserís site I illustrated this point at some length. It would be worth quoting the relevant passage, which shows that this criticism is very precise and detailed.
"In attempting to define each quadrant in unambiguous terms he himself uses a surprisingly reduced philosophical perspective. Indeed this is a fundamental problem with his general style. So often he attempts to analyze reality as if it were somehow independent of the interpreting mind. For example in describing his Right-Hand quadrants he says in "The Marriage of Sense and Soul", P. 117;
All Right-Hand events Ė all sensorimotor objects and empirical processes and ITs Ė can be seen with the monological gaze, with they eye of flesh. You simply look at the rock, the town, the clouds, the mountains, the railroad tracks, the airplane, the flower, the car, the tree. All these Right-Hand objects and "ITs" can be seen by the senses or their extensions (microscopes to telescopes). They all have simple location, you can actually point to most of them".This is a very emphatic statement of the "myth of the given".
There is in fact a basic problem with his approach. He starts with the
valid insight that every holon has exterior and interior aspects (in horizontal
terms), and individual and collective aspects (in vertical terms). So by
definition a holon belongs to all four quadrants.
However he then attempts to compartmentalize these same holons in terms of (horizontal) Right-Hand and Left-Hand, and (vertical) Upper and Lower quadrants.
A rock for example is clearly a holon that dynamically belongs to all quadrants. So it makes little sense to attempt to identify this holon in static terms with just one quadrant i.e. the Upper-Right.
A true integral approach requires greater subtlety. First of all, we accept that a holon does indeed belong to all four quadrants. Therefore in reduced linear terms, we can only identify locations by arbitrarily fixing our frame of reference. We can then consistently define quadrant locations (in this relative sense).
By switching our frame of reference, we can give four equally valid
quadrant explanations for any experiential event.
These explanations are paradoxical in terms of each other. However, they provide the very basis for an integrated approach.
In other words, through balanced paradox, we move from an either/or
logic (where quadrants are differentiated) to a both/and logic (where they
Thus when we differentiate the quadrants in horizontal terms, an event is either Right-Hand or Left-Hand. Depending on how we fix our frame of reference, we can give two equally valid asymmetrical interpretations of the event.
However when we integrate these same quadrants (simultaneously using both frames of reference), the event is understood as both Right-Hand and Left-Hand.
In a direct sense, these complementary opposites are reconciled through intuitive awareness. However bi-directional paradoxical translation itself greatly facilitates this intuitive recognition.
Ken clearly does not provide an integral interpretation of the quadrants.
Also, insofar as he differentiates the quadrants he does so in a rigid absolute - rather than a balanced relative - manner. Not surprisingly this leads to a considerable amount of inconsistency.
For example perception is associated with the Right and interpretation
with the Left. However this makes little sense from a dynamic perspective
(where such distinctions have a merely relative significance). Indeed the
"myth of the given" arises directly from the attempt to give perceptions
meaning without the need for corresponding (conceptual) interpretation.
He then identifies his Right-Hand quadrants in "it" terms as the home of (empirical) science. However as in dynamic terms, scientific perceptions are meaningless in the absence of corresponding conceptual interpretation, we could equally identify the quadrants in "it" terms as (theoretical) science. As Ken places mental concepts in his Left-Hand quadrants, then the theoretical aspect of science would be Left-Hand, and the empirical, Right-Hand respectively.
Likewise he identifies a value such as compassion with the Left-Hand
quadrant. However again in dynamic terms, an (interior) value has no meaning
in the absence of an (exterior) objective context. Thus the sight of a
suffering child might well be associated with compassion. However in reduced
linear terms this has two equally valid interpretations. We could say that
the sight of the child (exterior) causes the compassion; equally we could
say that compassion (interior) causes one to notice the child.
In other words, in dynamic terms the value cannot be exclusively identified with either quadrant.
There are other obvious inconsistencies. Ken tries to identify the Right-Hand quadrants with "it" and the Left-Hand with "I" and "We".
As he considers Mathematics to relate to the interior aspect this would be placed in his Left-Hand quadrants.
However mathematics is considered a supreme expression of "it" understanding (though he identifies the Left-Hand as "I" and "We").
Likewise his attempts to identify morality with "We" makes little sense. Morality has certainly a (collective) "We" aspect. However it equally has an individual "I" aspect (as with existential morality). Morality also has an important "it" aspect. The programmatic approach of the institutionalized churches to moral behavior is based on a strong belief in "objective" morality.
He also identifies beauty with "I" which is very one-sided. There is a strong cultural "We" component to our notions of beauty. Indeed modern marketing and advertising have conditioned aesthetic perspectives to an unhealthy extent. Beauty clearly also has an "it" aspect where it is identified directly with (exterior) object symbols.
Once again, by definition a holon includes all four quadrants. So as science, mathematics, morality, and beauty are holons, it makes no sense to try and exclusively identify them with just one quadrant. However it requires a dynamic relative treatment to preserve this balance.
Ken then represents the disaster of modernity as the collapse of the
Left to the Right. However if we associate the rapid growth of Mathematics
with modernity (which he identifies with the Left), this position is not
strictly tenable (even in his terms).
The real problem is that he fails to distinguish true interactive from (merely) absolute notions of the quadrants.
So properly speaking, the disaster of modernity represents the collapse
of dynamic notions of Left and Right to (merely) reduced static interpretations
(which can be identified with either Left or Right). Indeed in this respect,
Ken's attempt to use an analytic approach, as a means of translating integration,
is itself a reflection of the true problem of modernity.
Thus because of a lack of a dynamic approach, he continually comes down in favor of one side of a polarity (when the other is equally valid). From an integral perspective, his rather compartmentalized treatment of the quadrants is very confused, as he reduces dynamic interactions to rigid static interpretation.
It must also be remembered that Ken's four quadrant approach deals solely
with horizontal and vertical polarities (in an absolute fixed manner).
A more comprehensive approach would also require the inclusion of diagonal polarities leading to an eight sectoral approach. These would then be interpreted in accordance with both the (linear) logic of form and the (circular) logic of emptiness.
I would have further reservations regarding Ken's treatment that arise from his lack of diagonal polarities.
For example, he would identify physiological reactions in the brain as the (exterior) aspect of (interior) thought processes. He is thus treating these as horizontal polarities in the same manner as sensorimotor objects (though they are quite different). However I would see them more accurately described in terms of diagonal polarities (where physical and psychological aspects directly coincide). Thus one can look at an object but not at the physiological aspect of one's own thought process. "
So I point out in this article that a more subtle analytic approach - which is referred to as an Analytic 3 approach - is necessary before properly integrating the quadrants. (This is based on the understanding that bridges each of the "higher" levels H0 and H1, H1 and H2 and H2 and H3).
This leads to the view that we can in linear terms give four equally valid interpretations of the quadrants. Ken gives one! In terms of each other, these interpretations are paradoxical. However this is the very basis for moving on to a true integral approach.
The integral approaches then attempt to combine simultaneously these (opposite) paradoxical interpretations. In direct terms such understanding is intuitive; however indirectly it always involves bi-directional rational understanding (where - in relative terms - opposite dualistic connections are made).
An Integral 1 method combines opposites within a given level (i.e. horizontal polarities). Thus as regards the quadrants, divisions as between interior and exterior aspects are reconciled. It is based on the understanding of H1 (subtle realm).
An Integral 2 method combines opposites between different levels i.e. vertical polarities.
Here divisions as between part and whole i.e. individual and collective are reconciled. It is based on H2 (causal realm).
An Integral 3 method combines opposites both within and between levels i.e. diagonal polarities.
Here remaining fundamental divisions as between form and emptiness are reconciled.
This is based on H3 (nondual reality).
The most comprehensive approach - which I term radial - involves both differentiated and integrated understanding in dynamic interplay.
A Radial 1 still involves some sequential division as between the two approaches.
A Radial 2 involves a very high degree of interpenetration of both approaches (dual and nondual) in a simple form of awareness. These are based on - what in Christian mysticism is referred to as - the Unitive Life.
Ken in his "The Eye of Spirit" repeatedly refers to integration as an all-level, all-quadrant affair.
However once again this represents a multi-differential rather than a true integral perspective.
True integration is not about adding up levels or quadrants, but rather about their dynamic negation.
So we could more correctly say that integration is a no-level, no-quadrant affair.
In other words in pure contemplative awareness - which is the direct experience of integration - we no longer have distinct levels or quadrants.
A true integral approach should be more correctly concerned with demonstrating how we gradually remove all those dualistic distinctions, which are valid at a linear (asymmetrical) level.
However Ken has no adequate means of showing how such an integral approach is properly translated. It requires circular bi-directional rather than linear sequential notions.
Now it is true, that in terms of the understanding of quadrants, a radial
approach would allow for both their differentiation and integration. However
without a properly defined integral component, this radial approach will
inevitably be reduced to the merely analytic level of translation.
I appreciate Mikeís desire to provide a simple accessible way of demonstrating my approach to the quadrants. However in doing so he thereby robs my treatment - which is very detailed and precise - of its essential significance.
For example he uses a Wilberian way of looking at the quadrants to describe their very interaction. However this is ascribing to me a perspective which I do not use.
My key point is that in dynamic terms, we cannot separate the observer from the observed. Therefore a very subtle bi-directional manner of interpretation is needed to translate the interactions. Mikeís description of interdependence however is given in an analytic objective manner.
He then tries to identify linear with the left hemisphere, and circular
with the right and radial with the interaction between both. As a first
simplification this indeed is suggestive and has merit. However he then
uses this simplified model (in an inappropriate manner), as a basis for
criticism of my approach. This leads to inaccurate inferences and fails
to do justice to my true position (which has been outlined now in several
articles). In effect it represents an attempt to reduce my much wider frame
of reference to that of Ken Wilber, thus eroding its essential significance.
Mike refers to my central criticism that "vision logic as used by Ken Wilber is a sophisticated analytic method, and is not appropriate therefore for genuine integral synthesis."
Yes, I do say this. Moreover I believe that I fully support it through detailed investigation of Kenís actual treatment of various issues. As we have already seen in relation to the quadrants, Ken unambiguously fixes locations (which is the hallmark of the analytic method).
Mike then tries to draw a distinction as between vision-logic and integral aperspectival. I would certainly question this distinction. It is true that Gebser does not recognize "higher" stages of integration beyond the centaur. Ken does! However his vision-logic is based on the centaur and he himself identifies it clearly as integral-aperspectival. Here is a relevant quote from "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" P.131;
"Jean Gebser whom we have seen in connection with worldviews, coined the term integral-aperspectival to refer to pluralistic or multiple perspectives view which I also refer to as vision-logic or network-logic."
So vision-logic as used by Ken Wilber represents the understanding of the centaur, which he identifies with the integral-aperspectival approach.
I would find Kenís descriptions of vision-logic very unsatisfactory, as he makes many statements that are not properly consistent with each other. For example, Mike quotes the following;
"Where rationality gives all possible perspectives, vision-logic adds them up into a totality, which is simply the new and higher interior holon. . . [which] can hold in mind contradictions, it can unify opposites, it is dialectical and non-linear, and it weaves together what otherwise appear to be incompatible notions, as long as they relate together in the new and higher holon, negated in their partiality but preserved in their positive contribution". Vision-logic is Hegelís Reason, "unifying opposites and seeing identity in differences", transcending "the simpler empiric-analytic rationality of propositions, or Aristotelian logic" (SES, p. 185). "
Even within the same statement, we have obvious inconsistency. Ken starts by staying that "where rationality gives all possible positions, vision-logic adds them up into a totality, which is simply the new and higher interior holon."
To add up different perspectives is a linear activity. So Ken is defining the transformation into the new and higher holon in a reduced fashion.
In "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" P.131, Ken again states emphatically this linear viewpoint
"Where perspectival reason privileges the exclusive perspective of the particular subject, vision-logic add up all the perspectives privileging none and thus attempts to grasp the integral, the whole, the multiple process the multiple contexts that endlessly disclose the Kosmos, not in a rigid or absolutist fashion but in a fluidly holonic and multidimensional capacity."
What is revealing about this statement is that it shows that Ken tries to approach the integral from a flexible multiple perspectives approach (which accords accurately with the interpretation I give of his vision-logic).
However as we continue with Mikeís quote, Ken is already offering another view which is inconsistent with the opening part.
"It can unify opposites, it is dialectical, it is non-linear."
Adding up different perspectives is clearly linear, yet Ken is now defining vision-logic as non-linear.
Also we do not unify opposites by adding up different perspectives; we simply create an additional perspective. So Kenís asymmetrical approach to development itself represents a distinct perspective.
Finally Kenís use of vision-logic is not dialectical in the sense - for example - of Hegel.
Here again there is further confusion. He identifies vision-logic with Hegelís approach but his dialectic is quite different from Kenís use of vision-logic.
This is a crucially important point. Hegel has a clear understanding that the way we define opposite poles is simply a convention. For example we may fix one pole as positive and the other as negative; however we can equally reverse poles so that what was positive is negative and what was negative is now positive. The very dialectic in experience comes from switching the frame of reference between poles, so that with sufficient dynamic interaction they become transformed into a new synthesis.
However when we look for example at Kenís quadrants, his treatment is greatly lacking in this dynamic appreciation. Locations are unambiguously fixed and Kenís subsequent analysis is very much based on this rigid understanding.
So vision-logic as used by Ken Wilber is not Hegelís reason. Hegel genuinely engages in a circular form of understanding, which characterizes a true dynamic approach. Apart from poetic type statements on the nature of nondual reality, Ken Wilber does not.
Ken makes several other statements regarding vision-logic that are either confusing or inconsistent.
For example he comments on the aptness of Gebserís "integral-aperspectival" terminology.
In fact it is quite inappropriate. Aperspectival literally means "without perspective". More correctly the term should be multi-perspectival. Ken actually means a multiple approach (where no single perspective is privileged). However aperspectival is again "without perspective". So the term integral "multi-perspectival" rather than aperspectival would be more accurate.
The reductionism in the term is also quite apparent. A multi-perspectival approach is a multi-differential approach (where each perspective is clearly identified). So to identify integration with such an approach leads necessarily to a merely reduced notion of integration.
On P. 132 of "The Marriage of Sense and Soul", Ken makes another inaccurate statement.
"Vision-logic is not yet transrational but we might say, lies on the border between the rational and the transrational and thus partakes of some of the best of both."
This makes little sense. The centaur on which vision-logic is based is not a transrational stage. To include some of the best of the transrational would imply true experience of these levels and clearly this does not happen at the centaur.
To properly incorporate the transrational we - logically - need the understanding of the " higher" spiritual levels.
On P. 141, Ken clearly identifies the integral with a multi-differential approach to reality.
"The Integral Approach therefore attempts just that Ė an integration just as they are of the Big three of art (aesthetic-expressive, self, and self-expression, subjective phenomenology, morals (intersubjective justness, ethical goodness, cultural communion and science (objective nature, the empirical world, concrete occasions). Nothing spectacular has to be done to any of these three value spheres (or four quadrants); we take them more or less as we find them. All that is required is that each begin to harbour that its truth is not the only truth in the Kosmos."
True integration is quite different. In integral understanding, the Big Three have no separate existence; likewise separate quadrants have no meaning. So Ken offers a very reduced notion of integration (which confuses it with differentiation). Once again we can preserve the differentiated aspect in a comprehensive radial approach. However if we do not properly distinguish the nature of integration in experience, the radial itself largely reduces to a differentiated approach.
Mike, in trying to dispute my description of vision-logic, puts words into my mouth (which I do not use) and then attempts to criticize me on the basis of his own insertions.
He says that Collinsí criticism of it (vision-logic) as being just "a sophisticated analytic method" rankles because nothing is "just" anything. But I am not describing it as "just" anything. I am describing it as a "sophisticated analytic method" which as used by Ken Wilber it demonstrably is!
In the context of my position, this criticism is very valid. Ken claims to be writing from the perspective of vision-logic. However his descriptions are far from clear and indeed often inconsistent. In effect, vision-logic is sometimes used as a catchall phrase to describe Kenís approach. However when one examines his work carefully, Ken uses different approaches, so that arguments sometimes employ a style of reasoning that is below vision-logic. At other times he speaks in more poetic vein reflecting a stance above vision-logic.
What I am saying is very straightforward. There is a great need to clarify the type of understanding associated with each stage of development. In terms of rational understanding, this has certainly been done with the detailed investigation of conop and formop thought. To a lesser extent it has been also done in relation to the centaur (vision-logic) with its multi-perspectival approach.
However the centaur simply represents the highest stage of the gross realm.
There is an obvious paradox with vision-logic. It claims not to privilege any single perspective. However Kenís multi-perspectival (set of all sets) approach itself represents a distinct perspective. So by Kenís own logic his approach should not be privileged above any other.
The problem is that true integration cannot take place at a centaur level (in personal terms). If it could there would be no need for subsequent transpersonal development.
Likewise as a method of translation, the vision-logic of the centaur does not represent a true integral approach. We cannot empty ourselves of identification with perspectives while operating in a phenomenal manner, representing distinct perspectives. And Ken Wilber certainly does provide an identifiable perspective with which in many ways one can sharply disagree.
The very point about "higher" translations is that through their very refined and dynamic nature, they lessen attachment to phenomenal symbols. So we are gradually led to see integration as the emptying of differentiated phenomenal experience.
Now, Mike agrees that vision-logic does not complete "genuine integral synthesis", period. "And I consider that Wilber would completely agree with that."
However he does not follow up with the obvious implications.
As there are more refined intellectual translation methods associated with each of the "higher" levels, then obviously we need to use them.
There is in fact an enormous gap in Kenís work where a vast terrain of refined cognitive development is largely ignored.
So what is greatly missing in Kenís approach is any kind of systematic way to deal with the increasingly subtle type of understanding that unfolds with the "higher" spiritual stages.
Also the very nature of these translations differ in key respects from earlier more linear constructions.
At the higher levels, understanding becomes increasingly curved (and circular) reflecting the growth in paradoxical type awareness. This is not reflected in vision-logic (which simply represents the most advanced of the linear forms of understanding).
Thus the very attempt to translate with vision-logic - where it is not appropriate - can itself constitute a considerable barrier to authentic transpersonal development.
In other words by preserving the translation of vision-logic, we can
actually view reality in a way that is inconsistent with the understanding
of the "higher" levels.
Circular Bi-directional Logic
Mike then raises objections to my circular logic, with which I would not agree.
"For example, he calls circular logic bi-directional (Ref 1, p 26/42) in one place, and formless in another (p.2/42), and the logic of emptiness in others."
This criticism seems to me far-fetched and without foundation. As I use them, formless and emptiness are similar terms, so there is no inconsistency here.
Also - which is not at all clear from Mikeís comments - I consistently define circular logic in dynamic terms.
Again we have to think of the circle with its horizontal line diameter through the center. This line intersects the circle so we have two points, which are common to both the line and the circumference of the circle.
Inherent in the very drawing of a circle is the notion of a line. So if we use a compass to draw a circle of unit radius, we first measure one unit on a ruler. Then holding the compass at a central point, we extend to this length and transcribe the curve. When we complete the radius to the other side of the circumscribed curve, we have a line in both directions. Thus the circle in geometrical terms encloses a line that is bi-directional from its center.
So I use these simple geometrical notions, in a dynamic qualitative sense, to define circular understanding. Circular appreciation always contains, as an inherent component, bi-directional (linear) understanding. In this process the paradoxical awareness of opposite statements (from a dualistic perspective) prepares the mind for a qualitative transformation in intuitive insight. This in turn enables deeper appreciation of bi-directional rational statements at a linear level.
So bi-directional (linear) and circular (intuitive) understanding are dynamically inseparable and mutually enhance each other.
Not alone would I argue that my interpretation is fully in accord with the actual dynamics of experience, but I can also demonstrate in my explanation, direct parallels with the quantitative interpretations of the line and circle.
So all in all, this is a fine example of the holistic mathematical approach in operation, where close parallels are drawn as between the (analytic) quantitative and (holistic) qualitative interpretation of symbols.
"Bi-directional seemed to me a more accurate term than either circular or formless, using as he does the example of cars retreating from one another (similar to ĎEinsteinís carriageí)."
I would not agree. The very point about my interpretation is that it is interactive, where linear and circular interpretations are inseparable.
So in dynamic terms we cannot come to realization of the circular or formless, without appreciation of bi-directional (linear) understanding. It is this bi-directional appreciation that erodes identification with the phenomena of form, and thereby reveals the formless aspect that already inherently exists.
So Mike in reflecting a Wilberian perspective is simply indicating that this understanding is lacking in sufficient dynamism. It is indeed somewhat dualistic and tries to separate formal from formless understanding.
However the very nature of dynamic appreciation is that both form and formlessness interpenetrate.
So using Mikeís own terms we have both Left and Right Hemisphere activity.
We cannot properly appreciate the understanding that characterizes the
"higher" spiritual stages without grasping this key point.
Atoms and Molecules
"There appeared to be a conflation here", I thought. Collins says in footnote 4 (p. 27/42) that one needs a Zen-like paradox to recognize the limitations of rigid (dualistic) understanding; but equal recognition of opposite (excluded) poles on different levels does not mean that molecules are included in atoms!
This is simply a misinterpretation of my position. This is due to the use of a rigid dualistic manner of explaining a relationship to criticize a more subtle bi-directional interpretation.
Let us examine this more fully.
When we say that atoms are included in molecules (and molecules not included in atoms), we are using the asymmetric scientific way of viewing relationships, where the qualitative aspect of experience is reduced to the quantitative. So strictly Mikeís statement is only true in this scientific sense, which ignores qualitative appreciation.
However when we properly allow for both quantitative and qualitative aspects, understanding becomes bi-directional and symmetrical.
Thus if the atom is quantitatively transcended and included in the molecule, thereby the molecule - relatively - is qualitatively included and made immanent in the atom.
This reflects the all-important difference as between cognitive (impersonal) and affective (personal) type awareness.
With scientific (cognitive) understanding, we typically define parts in the context of wholes. This is the transcendent perspective.
However with aesthetic (affective) understanding, this position is - relatively -reversed, so that we define wholes in the context of parts. Thus when we see a whole world in a grain of sand, this reflects the immanent aesthetic perspective.
Mike is simply trying to dismiss a more subtle bi-directional appreciation that recognizes both quantitative and qualitative aspects, with a reduced scientific interpretation (based merely on the quantitative aspect).
So there is no conflation here! Rather there is a clear recognition of the subtle dynamic of circular understanding where intuition and bi-directional rational interpretation mutually interpenetrate.
"If I had conveyed this to him, Collins rejoinder to this may have been that I had failed to fully realise his point about needing partarchy to balance the holarchy - to see the world in a grain of sand as well as the grain of sand in the world, the necessary reciprocity of immanence and transcendence. Ah, Peter, I feared you may have said:
The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain -
But much yet remains to be said.
Lewis Carroll: The Hunting of the Snark
I would have retorted "thereís a difference between paradox and imprecision; you donít have to destroy the sense of linear logic, you just have to see its limitations and inevitable partiality. One transcends and includes to get to these Ďhigherí spiritual stages, not transcends and confuses. Seeing the world in a grain of sand is not the same as confusing the grain of sand for the world! Similarly, the paradox of immanence/transcendence is neither expressed nor facilitated by saying that the molecule is in the atom. A better vocabulary is required."
And I would retort Mike that the imprecision is coming from giving a reduced interpretation of what I actually say. I fully recognize the role of linear logic in its appropriate place. At the level of analytic science, I of course accept the validity of asymmetric distinctions such as that the atom is in the molecule (but not vice-versa).
However the key point is that this kind of appreciation is not strictly applicable at the level of circular understanding. This establishes the bi-directional symmetry, in dynamic terms, of all relationships! Also, I would fundamentally disagree with the continual emphasis on transcendence and inclusion. This again reflects very much a Wilberian bias, which is unbalanced.
Development is not just about transcendence; it is equally about immanence. To properly understand this, we have to keep switching as between the cognitive and affective manner of interpreting relationships.
Also, when one sees a world in a grain of sand, there is no necessary confusion involved. It is clearly appreciated in this context that we are referring - not to a scientific - but to an immanent qualitative type appreciation (which lends itself directly to poetic expression).
The confusion would only arise if one identified it directly with scientific analytic appreciation. But quite clearly I am not doing this, though you seem to say otherwise!
So once again it is very misleading to imply - without qualification - that I say that the molecule is in the atom. This does not reflect my actual way of interpretation, which is much subtler (and fully consistent within its frame of reference).
What I would say Mike is that following Wilber you are not properly recognizing immanent as opposed to transcendent type awareness. This in turn arises from a failure to distinguish in translation, scientific (cognitive) from artistic (affective) type appreciation.
So once again to imply that I say the molecule is in the atom is very misleading. One does not criticize Blake for seeing "a whole world in a grain of sand" for we know he is referring to a qualitative immanent appreciation. Likewise insofar as I identify the molecule with the atom, it is in this refined immanent sense.
Indeed because of the key importance of this issue, I have suggested a precise holistic mathematical way of preserving both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of understanding.
When we identify the quantitative as "real" then in a dynamic mathematical sense, corresponding qualitative meaning is "imaginary".
Therefore in this subtle holistic mathematical interpretation, the atom is quantitatively included in the molecule in real terms, whereas the molecule is - relatively - qualitatively included in the atom in imaginary fashion. If however we start by identifying the qualitative aspect as real, then the quantitative is imaginary. In dynamic terms, real and imaginary are merely relative terms.
Thus to preserve both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of reality, we need to move to complex rather than real interpretations.
This point has fundamental implications for science. Present science
with its undue "real" emphasis is very unbalanced and geared only for quantitative
appreciation of nature. So to solve this problem, it needs to provide a
mathematically complex interpretation of reality (with "real" and "imaginary"
Transcendence and Immanence
"From the above quote, Wilberís position is that immanence is an involution of the Formless, and that insight can be more readily recognized through evolution, but never realized by evolution. Collins seems to be saying, "well, whether thatís so or not, a complete model must account for that immanence at every stage, not just the process of transcendence." Again in that aspect, I believe that Wilber would agree."
Well, I would say to you in response that if Ken truly believes that immanence should be included at every stage, it certainly is not properly reflected in his holarchical model of development.
The very basis of this model is an emphasis on transcendence and inclusion. Earlier versions did not even mention immanence and recent ones only do so in a limited and misleading fashion.
For example in SES we get a merely top-down approach to immanence, where it is identified as the integration from above of the "lower" level. However, this simply reduces immanence to transcendence.
The corollary in development is to try and integrate the emotions from the perspective of "higher" rational understanding. Speaking from bitter experience this simply does not work.
We need to integrate from below as well as from above. So we need a bottom-up as well as a top-down emphasis. However this bi-directional appreciation of transcendence and immanence is very much missing from Kenís work.
"If my UR reading of Collins had been correct, then his abovementioned apparent conflation of the words Ďbi-directionalí, Ďformlessí, Ďemptinessí and Ďcircularí would have been completely understandable, because his right hemispheric faculties are attempting to grasp the left hemispheric tools of words!"
Again I would strongly dispute that there is any conflation. The meanings I attribute to these terms are fully consistent with my inherently dynamic understanding, where bi-directional reason and spiritual intuition mutually interpenetrate.
"Although I didnít say so at the time, it was with this in mind that I suggested to Collins that visual, spatial shapes and patterns may be a more effective method of communication. Mandalas, such as the Star Key, may communicate his meanings better, because they were the main means of communication of the right hemisphere. Certainly, the visualising example of the two drivers driving away from each other considerably facilitated my understanding of what he is talking about. The closest approximations, however, would share the dimensions of our universe - three space, one time, and many emergent levels."
Of course I would accept the value of visual spatial shapes. My approach is very much based on a simple mandalic pattern (with well known mathematical properties).
I am no artist and my skills in web-design are primitive. However I do provide the key diagram with its mathematical properties at my site.
Now Mike was kind enough to share his own fascinating Star Key, which demonstrates many remarkable number relationships. However, I have good reasons for my choice of mandala (which I attribute with universal type properties).
I am not at all averse to giving practical analogies if they can be of assistance. However though these may indeed be suggestive of meaning, they lack the more general significance that comes from a deeper conceptual appreciation. So I suppose it takes all types. I have a particular love of being able to process meaning in condensed form. Specific illustrations - though more accessible - lack this universality.
Another key point is that the very notion of three dimensions of space and one of time is asymmetric and only consistent with the analytic interpretation of reality.
This view of dimensions is inappropriate in terms of the circular appreciation (which characterizes holistic qualitative type understanding).
One remarkable connection I have been able to make, is the clear realization that the circular interpretation of dimensions corresponds exactly with the mathematical notion. This I believe is a truly important finding that can bring much greater integration to the appreciation of our world.
"But my reading was not correct; Collins is not talking about that at all. I do not know whether Collins has made any reference to the brainís UR organisation (although Wilber has [SES 95ff, for example], but perhaps only to the vertical divides [reptilian - paleomammalian - neomammalian], not the horizontal/hemispheric)."
No! I do not make any reference. Though I find research in this area interesting in its own right, it does not relate directly to my concerns, which are based on a deeply experiential approach.
Unfortunately, a lot of research in relation to the brain itself reflects the analytic type of interpretation, which greatly reduces its more mysterious holistic capacities.
So, any simple breakdown of brain functions is bound to be unduly simplified and misleading.
"No, Collinsí is saying something far more radical. He is saying that within every 1 (holon), there is a 0 (Wilberís Formless); Collins places as strong an emphasis upon immanence as Wilber does upon transcendence (when talking from within the Atman Project)! There is nowhere that immanence is not."
I would rather say Mike, that I place an equal emphasis on immanence and transcendence in development, as they are complementary aspects of Spirit. I do not see this complementarity adequately reflected in Kenís work and his treatment is decidedly asymmetrical (and therefore unbalanced).
"And Wilber says that, too! Wilber has not come to praise Caesar (the Atman Project), but to bury him."
Wilber may say so in certain statements. However when one examines his actual approach to development it appears otherwise. I think Mike that you are too willing to accept general non-specific statements, which - from my perspective - are often quite inconsistent with the actual nature of his approach.
"Despite these abstractions, I consider that they both do; that transcendence is required to see, and immanence, to do. Thatís why Iím bothering with them. And Collins is bothering Wilber because he considers that Wilber is not expressing this insight as accurately as Collins is."
Yes, quite emphatically, I do not consider that Wilber translates the relationship between immanence and transcendence correctly.
However this is simply a reflection of a far deeper problem of method. Putting it in general terms, Ken has no adequate intellectual means of explaining how linear gradually give way to purely circular notions.
So intellectually, Ken builds a decidedly linear (asymmetrical) model of development based on holarchy. Then in terms of nondual reality he is quite happy to wax poetic, giving a very different circular interpretation (based on symmetrical pairings of opposites).
However what is greatly missing is any consistent means of showing how development becomes increasingly curved at the "higher" - and indeed the "lower" - stages of development. This in turn leads to many important imbalances in his overall approach with the lack of emphasis on immanence being just one important example.
To use an analogy from Physics, Kenís approach essentially represents a Newtonian framework and cannot properly deal with the Einsteinian World of Relativity. (In actual fact the problems are even deeper that suggested by this analogy).
So just as I would not question Newtonian mechanics within its own frame
of reference, I would not question Kenís. However once we move into the
area of dynamic relativity in development, which especially characterizes
the "higher" and "lower" stages, his method of translation is very much
Form and Emptiness
"But still, my puzzlement with Collins was not resolved. Bi-directionality cannot apply to the nondual, emptiness, the formless; there is no direction towards it at all, not horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, nor anywhere within a 3-D matrix, because it is not within dimensionality! In our mathematical processes, we are apt to skip along from -2 to -1 to 0 to +1 to +2 without missing a beat: "oh yeah, zero - thatís between -1 and +1, right? Thatís what you get when you add those two together, or any such pair of negative and positive numbers."
I would not fully accept this Mike. Quite honestly I feel that there is an undue emphasis on merely intuitive states in eastern mysticism. I find more recognition of the important intermediary role of refined rational understanding in Christian mysticism (with which I am most familiar). I consider that this is more appropriate in terms of creating a proper bridge as between science and mysticism.
The very point about a dynamic approach is that we cannot properly separate rational and intuitive understanding (as they continually interpenetrate).
Nondual Reality, in dynamic terms, represents such a highly refined state of awareness that phenomenal representations are dissolved as soon as they arise leaving no trace in memory,
Now this could be misleadingly equated with intuition but more accurately it would relate to an extremely rapid switching of opposite poles with little remaining attachment to these poles.
So once again to separate Form and Formlessness is itself dualistic.
There is an aspect of experience that is without direction (dimension) and another with an extremely dynamic appreciation of direction.
Without direction would mean the fusion of both poles. So intuitive experience is without dimension as it represents the identity of opposite poles.
In dynamic sense, nothingness (0) represents the identity of opposite poles as pure spiritual awareness. So we represent these two poles of form as + 1 and Ė1, then 0 = 1 Ė 1 in dualistic terms.
However when we accept that dynamic logic is based on the inherent complementary of opposites, 1 Ė 1 in linear logic is 1 (in complementary logic) = 0.
So 0 as nothingness - which is indeed nothing in phenomenal terms - represents the pure creative potential for all form.
"Was Collinsí criticism of Wilber equivalent to saying "Ken, youíve failed! You havenít pointed out that inside every 1 there is a 0"? (PE?) But "0" is the signifier for nothing at all, not anything that can be described as "Formless" (a quality), "empty" (a quality), or "circular" (a shape or method). Holons do not have a quality of non-existence: holons have to exist before they can be called holons. So if one wants opposites, whether seen as complementary or not, is 0 the Ďoppositeí of 1, or of infinity? Or is 0 the opposite of nothing at all, otherwise implying as it does a dialectic, and therefore a holonic existence? Opposites are intra-holonic."
Again this has to be understood in dynamic terms. Reflection on the interactive nature of particle life will give greater meaning to my notions.
Physicists will readily admit that particles are literally born out of nothingness (the fundamental ground of matter). There is then a highly dynamic interaction with particles and anti-particles meeting and fusing in energy and being born as new particles. So Form gives way to Emptiness and Emptiness to Form.
In dynamic terms all holons do have a quality of non-existence i.e. they emerge from Emptiness and return to Emptiness.
So in your very attempt to dispute my point, you are giving a merely static definition of holons.
In static terms holons exist; in dynamic terms there is ceaseless holonic interaction as between existence and non-existence.
You ask if not 0 is the opposite of 1.
Once again I precisely define three kinds of opposites.
Horizontal would be represented as two lines at a 180-degree angle i.e. the x-axis. Interior and exterior (within a given level) are positive and negative with respect to each other.
Vertical would be represented by two lines at a 90-degree angle i.e. the intersection of the x with the y-axis.
Thus cognitive and affective for example, are vertically opposite in this sense and in dynamic terms are real and imaginary with respect to each other.
Diagonal would be represented by lines at a 45-degree angle to both the x and the y-axis.
Quite literally - using the Pythagorean Theorem - these diagonal lines are 0 in magnitude (null lines). (See my charts and diagrams at "The Science of Integration" for a full explanation).
So emptiness (0) is diagonally opposite to form (1) in this precise
qualitative mathematical sense. This is yet another example of where Holistic
Mathematics gives a fully coherent and precise explanation.
"But", I thought, "Peter must know this. I get it! He must be speaking
of the eternal Tao, the one that Ďcannot be knowní in the Tao te Ching,
the Ďeternal non-existenceí from where we can view the whole picture, in
contrast with the Ďeternal existenceí from which we clearly see its apparent
distinctions. Heís using 0 figuratively, to express Divine Immanence."
I am using 0 in a dynamic sense as Nothingness (which is synonymous with emptiness). For example St. John of the Cross uses the term nada (nothing) to refer to the state of pure Emptiness.
In other words 0 (Nothingness) - from a dynamic perspective - is empty of phenomenal form (and the creative potential for all form).
However this state of dynamic Emptiness refers not alone to the immanent
aspect of Spirit, but equally to the transcendent.
Holistic Mathematical Approach
I am particularly grateful to Mike for the next section. It clearly shows that not only has he taken the time to thoroughly study my material but has been able to present it in a way which is valuable.
Now it is necessary to put this model of development in perspective.
It represents the application of the holistic mathematical approach, where the all of the major number types e.g. prime, rational, irrational, imaginary are used in their dynamic holistic sense to precisely structure the various levels (and sub-levels) of the Spectrum.
Now at first sight this might seem somewhat strange. However properly understood, I would strongly contend that it offers the most scientific approach available.
It is all based on a very simple rationale.
Number is the most appropriate means we have in the static analytic realm, for ordering quantities. Indeed number is synonymous with order in this sense.
However, properly interpreted, in a dynamic holistic sense, number is the best means we have for ordering the qualitative structures of reality.
Therefore when the holistic interpretation of number types is used, it provides the most appropriate method for qualitative ordering of the various levels of the Spectrum.
So here is a vitally important use for number, which is all but unrecognized. Yet the connections between number types and levels of the Spectrum are so strong that they are indeed synonymous with each other.
Thus if another psychological level was to be discovered on the Spectrum, this would entail the complementary discovery of a new unique number type; likewise the discovery of a fundamental new number type would imply the existence of a corresponding (unspecified) level of the Spectrum.
Thus in a very real sense, the levels of the Spectrum (which equally represent consciousness and nature), are synonymous with number in its dynamic holistic interpretation.
I will remodel this Spectrum slightly, giving its holistic number interpretations.
Transition between L3 and L2 - differentiation of diagonal direction; separation of finite notions from a complex confused state
Transition between L2 and L1 - differentiation of vertical direction; separation of real and imaginary
L1 Natural and Integers
Transition between L1 and L0 - differentiation of horizontal direction; separation of positive and negative
L0 H0 rational - concrete, formal and integrative (one positive
Transition between H0 and H1 - integration of negative (with positive)
H1 Irrational (algebraic) - concrete, formal and integrative (two directions: positive and negative)
Transition between H1 and H2 - integration of imaginary (with real)
H2 Transcendental Ė concrete, formal and integrative (four directions: positive and negative, real and imaginary)
Transition between H2 and H3 - integration of real with complex notions
H3 Transfinite (eight directions: the four formal directions
and four null directions)
Radial 1 (all previous qualitative number notions in both linear and circular senses)
Radial 2 (Simple interpenetration of dual and nondual)
There is one important qualification I would make.
Mike refers to this model as representing a progressive increase in wholeness.
However with H1, all structures have both positive and negative directions in development.
So in effect, interior and exterior aspects are - relatively - positive and negative with respect to each other. So development dynamically entails both progression and regression at H1.
Then at H2 structures have real and imaginary directions of development.
What this means is that development is seen in terms of the bi-directional emergence of both more collective wholes (transcendence) and also more unique parts (immanence). In this way, linear notions are seen through intellectual translation to become more circular (i.e. curved).
The fallacy about the holarchical approach is that it requires the emergence of wholes to be based on (given) parts. However, in dynamic terms, the uniqueness of the parts is itself only properly realized through development. So, at H2, there is a clear recognition of the need for both holarchy (where "lower" parts are transcended in "higher" wholes) and partarchy (where "higher" wholes are made immanent in "lower" parts). Both relationships are dynamically complementary in a bi-directional sense.
Mike then asks the interesting question.
But how far is it possible to extrapolate our personal experience to universals?
Personal experience is of course unique in so many ways. However there are basic structural features - the development of which can vary considerably with individuals - that are universal. And the very point of the holistic mathematical approach is its precise definition of the nature of these universal structures.
It is a little like a system of personality types. If we take the well-known Enneagram system, the nine types are universal in that they are applicable to all personalities. However individuals can vary considerably with the profile of one particular type best describing their personality.
So I would say that my account is fully authentic in the sense that it is based on personal development.
I would not of course consider the precise nature of this development as universally applicable.
However I would maintain that the structures which have been identified are indeed universal and present, to a varying extent, in all personalities.
It must be remembered that I am mainly interested in extracting - for the purpose of precise scientific translation - the structure of each level.
Though child development varies greatly, we can identify various stages with well-identified features. Likewise, I would say that development at "higher" stages also varies greatly but yet reveals structures with a universal validity. These structures can be precisely identified in holistic mathematical terms.
"Collins has assuredly sought confirmations from the literature; presumably, it was in just such a context that he encountered Wilber in the first place, and is the context in which he seeks feedback on his model by putting up his homepage, and engaging in discussions on the KWF. "
I would distinguish my approach from Ken Wilberís in that it is very much an experiential approach, based intimately on clarification of my own development.
Of course this does not exclude research and I would be able to draw distinct similarities as between personal experience and other spiritual accounts. I could therefore write in the conventional language of spiritual mysticism (and show strong parallels with their typically defined stages of development).
However where I consider my approach radical, is in the precise scientific identification of "higher" level cognitive (and affective) structures. These have been greatly ignored in the traditional accounts.
And it is their very identification that prepares the way for radical new meta-paradigms of science (giving a unique perspective).
The meta-paradigm of conventional science is based on the understanding of just one level H0, and is limited to analytic inquiry!
However the meta-paradigms of the "higher" levels lend themselves directly to more dynamic bi-directional appreciation (and are the basis for integral science).
I would then identify a more comprehensive form of science - radial - that combines the (rigid) analytic and (dynamic) holistic approaches.
The great benefit of my approach is therefore in providing a coherent
structured means for significantly enlarging on the framework of scientific
I distinguish three degrees of scientific inquiry.
Analytic science is based on linear sequential understanding where relationships are traced in asymmetric fashion in one direction (at a time)
This has three forms:
Analytic 1 Ė this is based on conop and formop understanding and provides the basis for conventional science.
Analytic 2 Ė this is a multi-analytic approach based on the vision-logic of the centaur. Ken Wilber with his four-quadrant approach is attempting to enlarge the range and comprehensiveness of scientific analytic enquiry.
Analytic 3 Ė this is based on the transitional stages of transpersonal understanding. It leads to a more subtle analytic approach where it is understood that - in reduced linear terms - all dynamic relationship can be given equally valid opposite asymmetrical interpretations.
Thus in analytic terms, at this level, development would be traced through
opposite pairings of asymmetrical relationships.
For example one could represent development in terms of holarchy as the (asymmetric) transcendence and inclusion of the "lower" parts in the "higher" whole. The other would see development as the (asymmetric) immanence and inclusion of the "higher" whole in the "lower" parts.
Ken Wilberís model does not reach an analytic 3 form; the vision-logic of the centaur is inappropriate for recognition of this understanding.
Holistic science is based on circular bi-directional understanding where relationships are traced in symmetric fashion in both polar directions (simultaneously). It is directly suited for qualitative integral understanding.
Again this has three forms.
Holistic 1 Ė this is based on the understanding of H1 (psychic and subtle realms) and involves bi-directional appreciation of horizontal polarities (interior/exterior).
This culminates in refined intuitive understanding where the division between poles ceases i.e. the horizontal polarities are integrated.
Holistic 2 Ė this is based on the understanding of H2 (causal) and involves bi-directional appreciation of horizontal and vertical polarities (whole/part)
This culminates in refined intuitive understanding where the division as between horizontal and vertical poles ceases (i.e. horizontal and vertical polarities are integrated).
Holistic 3 Ė this is based on the understanding of H3 (nondual) and involves bi-directional appreciation in relation to all three sets of polarities.
This culminates in the refined intuitive understanding where divisions as between horizontal vertical and diagonal polarities cease and integration thereby takes place.
Holistic science is very different from the analytic variety. It is based on the inherent structural complementarity of relationships in relation to both physical and psychological aspects.
Thus in principle every structure in physical science - when dynamically interpreted - has a corresponding structure in psychological terms. I have also illustrated this with reference to the nature of light in both its physical and psycho-spiritual manifestations!
The reverse is also true. Every structure in psychological terms has a correspondent in physical terms.
This complementarity can be then studied in relation to horizontal, vertical and diagonal levels.
Radial science combines both (static) analytic and (dynamic) holistic understanding. It is suited for the combined process of differentiating and integrating reality.
This involves some sequential separation as between (circular) holistic and (linear) analytic understanding
This approaches simultaneous interpenetration of circular and linear
understanding in a truly simple form of understanding.
Experience v Research
"Collins has assuredly sought confirmations from the literature; presumably, it was in just such a context that he encountered Wilber in the first place, and is the context in which he seeks feedback on his model by putting up his homepage, and engaging in discussions on the KWF."
Yes, I eagerly wish for open and constructive dialogue on the issues that arise with those who genuinely can contribute.
However research based confirmation - by definition - is not a suitable way for appraising a radical new approach. Apart from tentative suggestions, I have not come across anything in the literature that bears comparison to what I am attempting. So proper appraisal can only come from people who are genuinely willing to study these new ideas while remaining open to the manner in which they lead to a uniquely different interpretation of experience.
The detailed criticism of Kenís approach represents an indirect means of appraisal. The very fact that my approach can be so effectively used to diagnose problems with Kenís model (and provide coherent remedies) suggests the great potential power of the qualitative mathematical approach.
"As far as I know, Collinsí model has not been empirically verified or refuted by statistically valid surveys in its own right (but Collins is a statistician, so maybe!). Yet Wilber tells us that "developmental psychologists tend to find that it is not very current on recent research" - a comment that Collins found unsupported and somewhat gratuitous, and disputes (Ref 3)".
As I have said what is first required is a willingness to genuinely appraise these new ideas. Mike has written a fascinating article which refers to String Theory. He knows that String Theory has not yet been empirically verified and yet it is creating an enormous buzz in the physical community.
This is largely due to the internal coherence and consistency of its ideas. At a more dynamic qualitative level of experience, I would maintain the same in terms of my own very different approach. However my model can be applied - and is being applied - to a wide range of issues with very fruitful results.
I thought Kenís remark was ingenuous. Firstly he gives no information as to these anonymous psychologists. For my part I wonder if they can have any real appreciation of what I am attempting.
Secondly, Kenís remark was in response to an article based on methodological criticism of his approach. So in this context such a remark was not relevant.
Once again a new approach must be considered within its own frame of
reference if its value is to be assessed.
"However, it seems apparent to me that Collinsí descriptions of the
various levels and stages could not have been intended as all being necessarily
only interpretable through Holistic Mathematics (HM). Otherwise, the only
ones to have ever become enlightened would all have to have arrived there
along a holistic mathematical path - the path that Collins has pioneered!
Clearly, he is using HM as a translative medium that he finds allows more
precision than the left hemisphereís linguistic tools do alone. If he were
asserting that his HM method of translation should be regarded as the only
path, his model would collapse into a pile of self-contradictions and should
be kicked out the door. Reading his works, the thought occurred to me that
some may even infer that, but I do not. He is simply using one mathematical
vocabulary to describe the process of differentiation and integration required
for the growth of complexity, another for a description of the emergent
stages through lifeís path, and integrating them."
Of course the levels are not only interpretable through Holistic Mathematics. When I started writing "Transformation Voyage" I was not at first viewing development through a mathematical lens. It was only later that I saw qualitative mathematical categories as providing a wonderfully precise framework.
However, just as with ordinary science, I would see mathematical vocabulary to have a special value as a precise integral form of understanding.
So in this sense Holistic Mathematics is not just another language.
It is ideally suited for qualitative scientific appreciation.
Illustration of Qualitative Mathematical Approach
I would like to briefly illustrate the way that this mathematical translation can be used.
Remember that this Spectrum approach is dynamic including both linear and circular interpretations! The circular is based on the complementarity of psychological and physical aspects of reality, that operates between levels (horizontal) within levels (vertical) and both within and between levels (diagonal).
Let me illustrate briefly this understanding.
For example H2 in my model (which equates well the causal realm) is defined by the holistic qualitative interpretation of transcendental numbers.
Now there are several ways of demonstrating the qualitative meaning of transcendental numbers.
p is the best known transcendental number and the most important constant in mathematics. It is the quantitative measurement of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its line diameter. So in quantitative terms, the value of the most significant transcendental number is based on the relationship between the line and circle.
The number p in its qualitative holistic sense serves as an archetype of the mathematical notion of the transcendental, which is always based on the dynamic relationship as between linear and circular type understanding.
So transcendental understanding is extremely subtle. In its cognitive expression it is neither based on linear (rational) or circular (intuitive) understanding separately, but rather on the interactive relationship between both.
What characterizes transcendental understanding from an intellectual perspective, is an extremely close relationship as between refined reason and intuition.
In quantitative terms, the point at the center is common to both the circle and line diameter. In like manner intuition and reason are reconciled through the spiritual center of being.
So the refined phenomenal understanding of the transcendental level of understanding is very much the expression of oneís spiritual center.
A transcendental number in mathematical terms has both finite and infinite aspects. In other words, though a number like p has a finite value, it cannot be expressed in rational form so that its decimal sequence expands indefinitely.
Likewise transcendental understanding has a finite phenomenal aspect but also an infinite (intuitive) aspect inseparable from its phenomenal translations.
This very refined transcendental understanding is intrinsic to the very nature of Holistic Mathematics.
So mathematical symbols have both quantitative analytic (linear) and qualitative holistic (circular) interpretations. Holistic Mathematics enables a common basis to be established as between both sets of interpretations. I have been using this understanding to interpret lines and circles in both the analytic and holistic sense and then linking this interpretation to the notion of the transcendental in Mathematics.
So a basic principle is that Holistic Mathematics has complementary dynamic interpretations in both physical and psychological terms.
I am illustrating this fact in the very way that I construct my Spectrum. It is a holistic mathematical interpretation where all the structures can be equally applied to Psychology (as a Spectrum of Consciousness) and to Physical Reality (as a Spectrum of Nature).
Now vertical complementarity would suggest that the structures of H2 have close parallels with L2.
Thus L2 represents in confused form what emerges in more mature fashion at H2.
This would suggest that there are close relationships as between the transcendental and prime number interpretations in qualitative terms.
Fascinatingly this is also true in quantitative terms. The Prime Number Theorem relates the distribution of primes to a transcendental number i.e.
Now prime numbers in qualitative terms have very close parallels with the level of reality we refer to as strings (or superstrings).
A prime number has no factors other than itself and 1. So a prime number is inherently one-dimensional (no factors). Strings are likewise characterized as one-dimensional.
Also when we combine prime numbers to get a composite number, a qualitative dimensional aspect arises. So prime numbers can relate to quantitative or qualitative phenomena but not to both.
The implication of this in dynamic terms is that strings are special "objects". Normally we understand phenomena with reference to a defined background of space and time. However we cannot do this with strings. The dimensions in a sense are embedded in the strings. It is the subsequent dynamic interaction of both aspects of the string (i.e. vibration) that generates particles in space and time.
Just as the interaction of prime numbers (i.e. multiplication) generates the natural numbers, the interaction of strings generates the natural phenomena (forces and particles)
So the string in its passive state, as it were, incorporates both phenomenal and dimensional meaning and its dynamic activity generates particles within a phenomenal background.
This also throws clues on one of the mysteries of strings, which requires a "higher" number of dimensions than the customary framework.
Our four dimensional notions are based on the clear separation of phenomena from their dimensional background.
However by definition as strings belong to what are qualitatively prime dimensions, this does not apply.
So the way of interpreting "dimensions" here, is as a configuration of existing (entangled) dimensions.
So the meaning of a "dimension" is different at the level of strings where it relates to a certain permutation of the original four dimensions.
We can equally look at a personality type as representing a "dimension". In this way, each personality type can be looked on as representing a unique configuration of the psychological experience of space and time. I have used diagonal complementarity to establish links between the meaning of a "dimension" with respect to both personality types and strings.
Another idea is that of mirror symmetries. However again this is easy to appreciate as strings actually have a dual identity as objects and dimensions. So if one theory is a description of strings (as objects), the mirror theory is a description of strings (as dimensions).
Also String Theory is based on a deep appreciation of the underlying symmetries of nature. Holistic Mathematics provides a more dynamic appreciation of this symmetry.
Now when we accept horizontal complementarity at the string level of L2, we have the fascinating insight that it has direct psychological aspects.
Thus the psychological behavior of L2 remarkably demonstrates similar features to strings.
Once again the notion of a prime number is paramount. In fact it has direct links with the word primitive.
So infant behavior at L2 is instinctive and primitive. Once again this is based on an inability to separate qualitative dimensions from quantitative objects. So the infant has not yet formed the perspective to place phenomena within a stable framework of space and time.
So primitive instinctive behavior involves the direct confusion of holistic (qualitative) desire with specific (quantitative) objects.
Indeed this is the basis of instinctive response at any level. It represents a great loss in perspective, where one identifies holistic desire with the object of attention so that both are confused in the process. Quite literally with primitive instinctive behavior, there is a loss of a qualitative dimensional perspective (with which to place objects).
So an infant at L2 is living in a framework of objects and dimensions, where phenomena are not properly separated from holistic desire. Fulfillment is seen in terms of direct identification with objects.
Remarkably, one very creative way to get better insight into the nature of String Theory, is through structuring psychological experience in qualitative mathematical terms.
Because transcendental understanding is vertically complementary to prime, this means that the confusion that exists at the "lower" level is largely resolved at the corresponding "higher" level.
So H2 represents the significant freeing of confusion, which arises though identifying holistic desire with objects, leading to an extremely refined form of awareness.
Also it is very interesting that String Theory in its analytic form is largely mathematical. What I am saying, is that in dynamic qualitative terms, strings also ideally lend themselves to mathematical understanding (through the very subtle cognitive understanding that unfolds with H2). So the understanding of the "higher" level is the appropriate means to understand the "lower".
Just as conventional mathematical understanding represents a unique specialized expression of conop and especially formop understanding of H0, likewise holistic mathematical understanding, in its mature form, represents a unique specialized expression of the corresponding highly refined conop and formop stages of H2. So associated with each level of the Spectrum is a unique mathematical expression.
I have gone on here at some length. However my point is to show that this holistic mathematical approach opens up an entirely new way at looking at experience, both in its physical and psychological aspects. Science is still seen as an analytic expression of understanding. It needs to be balanced with its corresponding holistic expression and my approach is geared for this very task.
What is greatly missing with String Theory and its attempts to understand reality, is a proper dynamic holistic framework (which would put analytic findings in proper context). Scientists readily admit that they have little intuitive appreciation of its rationale.
Also I would consider that its standard representations are very inaccurate as they create a static representation of what is inherently so dynamic that it cannot be presented in conventional terms.
For example, strings are presented as open and closed loops. This clearly points to the interaction of circular and linear notions. Indeed just as the prime emerge from the binary numbers (1 and 0), strings emerge from the primary qualitative state where unity (1) is totally confused with nothingness (0). Thus, it is this binary phenomenal interaction in a highly dynamic - but still confused - state that gives rise to strings. However to picture them in static terms as identifiable loops is most misleading.
So there is a need to retranslate these rigid notions in more dynamic fashion.
Clearly, this qualitative mathematical appreciation is greatly missing
from current understanding.
"Dammit, Peter", I thought: "how can you say the writer of the chapter ĎThe Way Up is the Way Downí in SES, the unrelenting excortiator of mere ascenders, and the provider of the most explicit descriptions of transpersonal realms that I have seen (and the identifier of Zen quotes etc that certainly resonated in me) - how can you say that he Ďcontinually reduces integration to differentiation in developmentí?
I have been very clear in my position. I would not agree with you that Ken provides very explicit descriptions of transpersonal realms. Nowhere does he properly identify the refined cognitive (and indeed refined affective) structures that unfold at each of the various "higher" levels. You are simply not acknowledging this crucial point Mike, which is vital in terms of appreciating my overall criticism.
Again it is very simple. The centaur is simply the "highest" of the gross realms. In rational scientific terms, the language of these realms is one of differentiation and analysis. Vision-logic is therefore a flexible multi-analytic method of interpretation. I have already given two quotes where Ken specifically identifies integration in terms of this multi-differentiated method of translation.
I am not saying that Ken lacks an integral vision of reality. I am sure that he has. Also I am not saying that in actual experience he confuses integration with differentiation. Rather I am saying that in terms of intellectual translation, he typically reduces integration to differentiation.
So Ken in "The Eye of Spirit" repeatedly refers to an integrated approach as an all-level all- quadrant affair. However again this is defining integration in terms of differentiation.
Of course we must differentiate before successfully integrating. So I have no objection to an all-level, all-quadrant approach.
However integration strictly involves the reverse.
In dynamic terms, integration is a no-level no-quadrant affair. So with full integration, as in nondual reality, there is no longer any consciousness of levels or quadrants.
Now Ken would admit this. However he does not show how to translate understanding - in intellectual terms - as it moves from differentiated (linear) to fully intuitive (circular) appreciation.
This is the crucial point. A true integral approach from my perspective is designed to show how all the dualistic distinctions, which work so well at a gross level of understanding, gradually break down at "higher" levels.
Again, Ken may well admit that they do necessarily break down. However this is not reflected in his intellectual approach, which is basically asymmetric and linear in orientation.
"And how can you say that Ďhis approach is very distorted from a dynamic perspectiveí? Are you sure that you are not confining the definition of Ďa dynamic perspectiveí to your HM model? Pushing too hard in an attempt to set up a dialogue, and instead setting the stage for trench warfare?"
No! Mike you have to remember that I spent a considerable amount of time studying and reflecting on Kenís work before I ventured forth with any criticism. There is no rash overstating of my position. I mean exactly what I say.
For me, Ken does not think in a true dynamic fashion. He has a marked tendency to tie down his approach to development with a range of precisely defined concepts. He then attempts to deal with inconsistencies by extending these rigid definitions even further. I would maintain that the implications of Kenís extended positions are often at variance with his core assumptions.
However a dynamic approach has greater flexibility and allows for the paradoxes due to interacting relationships.
Hegel for example is a dynamic thinker in this sense. Jung is also inherently more dynamic in his approach. Indeed I would see much of Kenís criticism of Jung as invalid from a dynamic perspective.
Kenís lack of dynamism is enshrined in his somewhat rigid interpretation of the pre/trans fallacy.
Mike, I have explained repeatedly the basic reason why I consider that Kenís approach lacks dynamism. Once again it is due to his tendency to treat development in an asymmetrical sequential fashion. However true dynamic treatment requires a relative bi-directional treatment.
It is true that I use a holistic mathematical approach to formulate the principles of dynamic thinking. However it can also be stated without any specific reference to qualitative mathematical notions.
Let us look for example at the pre/trans fallacy. Kenís definition is based on a very strict division as between pre-egoic and trans-egoic structures.
So the relationship for Ken is one-directional. Development - as he repeatedly states - moves from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal.
Now this is a very linear way of looking at this matter.
When one uses a bi-directional approach, pre and trans become inextricably linked.
So when one identifies Ė in linear terms - experience as pre, it will invariably have trans elements (as it interacts with trans). Likewise when we identify experience as trans, pre elements will also be involved.
Now most of Kenís disputes with Washburn and Grof bring this difference to a head. What - from a linear perspective - seems like the confusion of pre and trans, can from a dynamic perspective look very different.
So the key issue in these disputes is the clash as between a somewhat mechanical - though superbly articulated approach - and a looser more dynamic rationale.
So I would see it as central to the proper appraisal of these dialogues to provide a more coherent and extended explanation of the pre/trans fallacy. Kenís approach is - I believe - only valid within a limited frame of reference. Though his critics are not explicitly using different levels of understanding to translate development, implicitly their views would sometimes be more compatible with bi-directional explanations.
As you know Mike, I have drawn up a profile of eight different pre/trans fallacies, which are valid for limited ranges of the Spectrum.
As for my HM approach, I have no apologies for an approach that brings great clarity to the nature of bi-directional understanding (which properly unfolds with the "higher" levels). As it can explain such understanding more precisely than other methods, of course it should be used! However once again, I can express all my key concepts without specific reference to HM.
No! I am not blind to other approaches. However it is the very lack of clarity that I have found in defining subtle concepts that has led me in my own distinctive direction.
I have said before that Hegel was the largest philosophical influence on my thinking.
Jung was a most important psychological influence. Both of these I would see as dynamic thinkers using concepts in a bi-directional fashion. Indeed it was largely due to their influence that I was led to formulating dynamic notions in a more precise fashion.
The analytic approach is suited to rigid interpretations of reality where meanings can be fixed. At certain levels of natural science this approach works very well.
Ken uses a very sophisticated multi-analytic approach. However there is a marked tendency in his writing to fix meanings too rigidly.
I am not of course saying that he does not recognize that development is inherently dynamic. Of course he does. However once more I am criticizing a characteristic method of translation, which in crucial ways misinterprets the nature of this dynamism.
Again this is very much exemplified in his treatment of the four quadrants.
I have already dealt with this, pointing out the limitations and suggesting what a true dynamic treatment requires.
This raises the matter of perspective. To appreciate this, you have to follow carefully what I am say within my terms of reference. Otherwise you will impute to me views that I do not hold.
"If Kenís isnít, can you think of any others that are? If not, doesnít that tell you something?"
Yes, I have already mentioned Hegel and Jung. In terms of his critics, the dynamic approach is to be found in the perspectives of Grof and Washburn. Recently, it is also apparent in contributions by Alan Combs and Gerry Goddard.
I am not saying that their contributions are better that Kenís. Indeed they often lack Wilberís strength which is a detailed analytic treatment of development. Also their dynamism remains somewhat implicit where its rationale is not fully appreciated, and is often confused with more linear notions.
I would believe that the key merit of my own approach is a more coherent way of defining the roles and limits of both linear and more circular dynamic approaches.
"Immanence is THE POINT of what Kenís saying! Heís emphasising the 3D aspect of reality (within the Atman Project) because heís predominantly trying to wake up flatlanders towards vision-logic, but that isnít all he says and does, itís the weighing he gives his work because of the prevailing mindsets!"
I would strongly question this view. I think it would be far more accurate to say
Transcendence is the point of what Ken is saying.
The holarchical model of development is a "transcend and include" model and in the Atman Project he actually makes transcendence synonymous with development.
Again I find it a great weakness in Kenís approach that he does not preserve the complementarity of immanence and transcendence throughout development. This reflects in turn the lack of a true bi-directional manner of treating the dynamics of experience.
I will accept that there is some validity in the argument that vision-logic might be the best means with which to communicate with a flatlander audience (used to the reduced notions of science).
Thus one could use vision-logic as Ken does to awaken many to the transpersonal, whereas a more specialized form of translation could initially create communication difficulties.
However even at this level, one would expect the limitations of this approach to be clearly pointed out in the text or at least accompanying footnotes with perhaps suggestions as to a "higher" level approach. However I see little evidence of this with Ken, and many of his notions such as the pre/trans fallacy - even within the context of a vision-logic translation - are given an unduly rigid interpretation.
"Are you being selective to be tendentious? Are you committing the PE to push your own barrow? Do you see Ken as the fastest gun in the wild, wild west of transpersonal studies, with them that fancy shooting irons from back East, and that if you can outdraw him, youíll be Top Gun?"
I do not accept this accusation. It is unfair to call me selective, because all my criticism is based on fundamental methodological criteria with widespread applicability.
As for talk about the fastest gun in the west I consider this approach quite unsuitable for genuine dialogue.
You know Mike, that I will of course defend my own position to the best of my ability (and I would expect others to do likewise), but I always deal with criticism seriously and never try to avoid any issues.
I am confident enough in the value of my own approach to deal with all points made in a constructive fashion. So I do not try to evade or use tricks in debate. I am interested in sincerely and honestly confronting the issues raised. To attempt otherwise would do no service to the truth.
"I finished with a resounding "Humph!" With that off my chest, I settled back, looking again at Collinsí model rather than Collins critique, and gradually became no longer so complacent as to think that I had a grip on where he was coming from, after all. Calming down, I realized that my emotional reactions expressed in the paragraph above were largely tommyrot. That kind of person was not the Collins I know, who is one calm, sophisticated, highly rational individual in my (cyber only) experience, and such beyond such nonsense. "No," I thought, "Collins is acting from a sincere intellectual conviction. I need to look closer."
Thanks Mike, Yes you are right. Whatever you make of my criticism, I
am genuinely operating from a sincere intellectual and - more importantly
- spiritual conviction. I always attempt to state my position as accurately
as possible (without exaggeration or hyperbole).
"Just the same, letís look at Collinsí work through the Star Key", I thought. There arenít 25 stages in the Star Key; there are seven nines along its spine, but wait! - 12 lines and 13 points with its radius of six (12+13 = 25). Sort of fits, but a bit of a stretch. "But there are 7 developmental levels, so they fit!" Letís see how well they fit, by going to Ref 1, Collinsí "Dynamic Model of Spectrum" (I am using edited quotes from Collins):
L3 - archaic subject-object confusion: curved space-time.
L3 to L2 - form separated from emptiness; beginning of bodyself/world differentiation.
L2 - lower point. The Magic Stage . Spacetime less curved.
L2 to L1 - whole is now separated from part, and individual identity from collective environment.
L1 - Lower circular. The Mythic Stage. Confused integration of horizontal polarities. Confusion of objective with subjective meaning.
L1 to L0 - linear differentiation of the remaining horizontal polarities
LO/HO - fully linear spacetime; analytical science
HO to H1 - explicit understanding of mirror translation, and the integration of horizontal polarities. All dualistic explanations now have mirror images.
H1 - higher circular level (the Psychic and Subtle stages). Integrated circular and horizontal understanding,
H1 to H2 - the unfolding of virtual understanding (Ďthe unconscious aspect, indirectly expressed - of all conscious phenomenaí), and the integration of vertical polarities.
H2 - higher point level. The Causal stage. (Circular) integration of both horizontal and vertical with (linear)differentiatipon of remaining diagonal polarities. Space-time now becomes increasingly curved.
H2 to H3 - the unfolding of complex understanding; integration of diagonal levels; integration of both horizontal and vertical polarities.
H3 - circular integration of all polarities - diagonal, vertical, and horizontal. The Null stage. Because we are now approaching total curvature of space-time the very notion of a level (which is a linear distinction) ultimately breaks down. Strictly, He and L3 represent no levels (diagonal polarity). Radial Reality involves the increasingly dynamic interpenetration of form with emptiness (and emptiness with form).
I am fascinated with Mike with your attempt to apply the Star Key to visualize the levels.
My approach is in fact designed to be directly compatible with a slightly different visual representation. The Star Key is based on a mandala pattern based on six equidistant points on the circle. My own is specifically based on eight equidistant points on the circle which allows representation of horizontal, vertical and (two) diagonal axes.
However the similarities are still close and the use of the Star Key to represent my basic levels is quite valid (and brings out key characteristics).
For example at the very middle of the circle, linear extension is at its greatest. Thus H0 is represented in the middle. Now as we move above and below this "middle" level, curvature increases and extension decreases. When we reach H3 and L3, linear extension goes completely and levels "collapse" to a point (which equally represents both their linear and circular characteristics).
Also Mike, you use your numerical representations to effectively represent horizontal, vertical and diagonal polarity.
As these features are critical in terms of the dynamic features of my model, I will briefly again indicate their relevance (the vast implications of which can easily be overlooked).
Horizontal complementarity implies that within a given level, all relationships have both physical and psychological aspects.
So String Theory can be identified with a level of my model (L2). This means that we have a psychological counterpart to the structural relationships of String Theory in the infant behavior appropriate to L2. So this insight provides a fascinating new way of looking at reality at this level and provides the means for making extraordinary connections. So in an integral scientific appreciation, we would use the same structural concepts to describe both aspects (demonstrating the inherent complementarity of reality at this level).
Vertical complementarity implies that between appropriate "higher" and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") levels we also have remarkable structural similarity.
What this means in effect is that the mature understanding of the "higher" level is required to interpret the understanding of the corresponding "lower" level
So therefore to properly understand the psychological experience of L2 in dynamic terms we need the understanding of H2.
Equally the relationships of the "lower" level can suggest the understanding appropriate to the corresponding "higher" level. So a two-way interaction is dynamically involved.
The implication of this is that vision-logic which represents the understanding of the "highest" of the sub-levels of H0, is simply not adequate to dynamically interpret the "higher" levels (H1, H2 and H3) or the "lower" levels (L3, L2 and L1). In other words, its understanding is not vertically complementary - in a dynamic sense - with these levels.
Diagonal complementarity involves understanding within and between levels.
Thus when I use the psychological understanding of a "higher" to interpret the physical relationship of a "lower" level, then this represents diagonal complementarity.
Strictly in dynamic experiential terms, H3 is identical with L3 (and all linear notions of hierarchy dissolve).
However I think Mike that you are still very reluctant to admit the difficulties that this dynamic appreciation causes for Ken Wilberís model.
After all, the holarchical model of development is - despite its refinements
-based on a linear asymmetrical treatment of development. Therefore right
away, it does not lend itself to this dynamic type of treatment where both
linear and circular notions interact.
Bias in Approach
"I do not think that for one second Wilber would dispute that "The truth is that pre and trans are necessarily interlinked in the dynamics of development." And yet Collins is criticising Wilber on that ground! Let me take a long quote from Wilber:
"I have often written about what I think are the three main types of value in the world: intrinsic value, extrinsic value, and Ground value. Intrinsic value is the value a thing has in itself. Extrinsic value is the value a thing has for others. And Ground value is the value that all things have by reason of being manifestations of Spirit.
"Intrinsic value is ranked according to its degree of inclusiveness and wholeness. A molecule, for example, has more intrinsic value than an atom, because molecules contain atoms. Molecules, being more inclusive, contain more being in their own makeup, and thus their intrinsic value is greater. Cells have more intrinsic value than molecules; organisms, more than cells; and so on. Likewise, worldcentric has more intrinsic value than sociocentric, which has more than egocentric, because the former, in each case, has more depth and more wholeness.
"But to say that a cell has more intrinsic value than a molecule is not to say the molecule has no value at all. It's a sliding scale, depending upon how much of the universe is embraced in a holon. The more being that is internal to a holon, the more intrinsic value it has. The greater the depth, the greater the wholeness, the greater the intrinsic value.
"Extrinsic value is pretty much the opposite of intrinsic. An atom has more extrinsic value than a molecule, because more holons depend for their existence on atoms than on molecules. Molecules themselves depend for their existence on atoms - but not vice versa - so atoms have more extrinsic value, or value for others.
"It's pretty easy to see: the higher a holon is on the Great Holarchy, the more intrinsic value it has. The lower a holon is on the chain, the more extrinsic value it has. Both are absolutely mandatory, because they can't exist without each other. Without the higher, the lower would have no meaning; without the lower, the higher would have no manifest existence.
"Intrinsic value is the value a thing has by virtue of being a whole with agency (and the greater the depth of the whole - or the more levels it contains - then the greater its intrinsic value, or the more of the universe it embraces and enfolds into its own being). Extrinsic value, on the other hand, is the value a thing has by being virtue of a part in communion (and the more things it is part of, the greater its extrinsic value). Agency concerns rights (we are individual wholes with individual rights, grounded in justice); communion concerns responsibilities (we are also parts or members of many relationships, grounded in care). All things are wholes that are also parts (all holons, without exception, are agency-in-communion), and thus all holons have both intrinsic and extrinsic value, both rights and responsibilities.
"Intrinsic and extrinsic are relative values; Ground value is absolute. Ground value is the value that each and every holon has by virtue of being a radiant manifestation of Spirit, of Godhead, of Emptiness. All Holons, high or low, have the same Ground value - namely, One Taste. Holons can have greater or lesser intrinsic value (the greater the depth, the greater the value), but all holons have absolutely equal ground value: they all share equal Suchness, Thusness, Isness, which is the face of Spirit as it shines in manifestation, One Taste in all its wonder."
Mike I consider this a somewhat unconvincing attempt to diffuse my criticism of Kenís key notion of the pre/trans fallacy.
You try to imply that Ken would agree with the more dynamic explanation.
Well if Ken would agree that pre and trans are necessarily interlinked in the dynamics of development, then it makes no sense to maintain that pre-egoic and trans-egoic states should be always clearly distinguished. This represents a merely linear notion of development, where trans is considered "higher" in development than pre.
However this is the very point. In terms of dynamic notions of vertical complementarity, pre and trans are necessarily interlinked. Thus we cannot have trans without pre, or pre without trans.
The long quote you make in no way supports your defense of Ken. It does not directly relate to the issue of pre and trans at all. In fact pre and trans are never even mentioned.
Even if this quote represented a dynamic viewpoint - which it clearly does not - it still would not address the point, for Ken could still be inconsistent in the manner he applies such understanding to the pre/trans fallacy.
So therefore I would expect that criticism of the pre/trans fallacy should be dealt with by reference to what Ken directly says about it (as he mentions it so often in his books).
The quote from "One Taste" in fact is a very strong statement of the linear asymmetrical interpretation of development (that is inconsistent with a proper dynamic approach).
The very point about such an approach is that words like "high" and "low" have in this context a merely relative distinction. However in terms of his actual approach to development, Ken gives them an absolute interpretation.
So for Ken "higher" holons have more intrinsic value; lower holons have more extrinsic value.
This reflects a merely transcendent perspective (which is very unbalanced). Also it leads to the misleading view that "higher" understanding is concerned with interior (subjective) value. This bias has been all too prevalent with Kenís over reliance on his UL quadrant in terms of portraying spiritual development.
However the important thing to grasp that in terms of a balanced integral approach to development, the interior cannot be elevated over the exterior aspect.
Far from demonstrating that Kenís treatment is dynamic, it in fact establishes the opposite. The very point again is that proper balance - by definition - cannot be maintained in an approach that is decidedly asymmetrical. This necessarily means coming down in favor of one side of a polarity,
So for Ken the interior is elevated over the exterior (in horizontal terms); the higher is elevated over the lower in vertical terms; and the transcendent is elevated over the immanent (in diagonal terms).
"Perhaps Collins comment that "a comprehensive approach would require a qualitative binary system based on the use at each stage of development of both the logic of form and the logic of emptiness (i.e. linear and circular logic)" could be stated by Wilber as "a comprehensive approach would require a qualitative binary system based on the recognition at each stage of development of both the intrinsic and extrinsic value of a holon.",
No! These are not equivalent positions by any means.
Once again when I say a qualitative binary approach, I refer to one that is based on both the logic of form with emphasis on the (linear) asymmetrical aspect of relationships, and the logic of emphasis with emphasis on the (circular) symmetrical aspect.
Though Ken does indeed distinguish intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of a holon, he does so largely within a context which is based on the translation of development by the logic of form. In other words Kenís understanding - as revealed in these quotes - is in terms of a sequential asymmetric interpretation (where polarized distinctions are given undue validity).
So from my frame of reference, Ken predominately uses a qualitative unary approach (i.e. a translation based on the application of one logical method).
Now admittedly, when describing nondual reality, he uses statements which are consistent with the logic of emptiness, but these are never properly incorporated into his treatment of development.
So there is a clear lack of interface as between linear and circular notions.
"Is Collins collapsing Wilber into speaking only of Ďintrinsicí value when he makes such criticisms?"
Of course not! The point I am making is that one can use different logical approaches in tracing the relationship as between extrinsic and intrinsic value.
In the logic of form, one treats relationships in an asymmetric fashion. Thus for Ken the "higher" holon has more intrinsic value.
In the logic of emptiness one treats relationships symmetrically. Thus when understood bi-directionally (allowing for both transcendent and immanent appreciation), any hierarchical distinction of value is purely relative.
"Because if he is, I consider that to be a flagrant PE. Logic doesnít contain values, but logic is used towards values. So, Wilberís valuational model can enfold logic in their assessment, while Collinsí multilogical model requires values for its engagement. Does Collinsí assertion of "the molecule being in the atom" involve a conflation of intrinsic, extrinsic and Ground values?"
Within my frame of reference there is certainly no PE. Indeed the truth of my assertion seems very obvious.
Once more to suggest that I say the "molecule is in the atom" is a very inaccurate reduction of my actual position.
I distinguish very carefully as between the quantitative and qualitative aspects of inclusion. This requires a subtle bi-directional understanding, which incorporates both the transcendent and immanent means of interpretation.
Again I say that from a (reduced) quantitative perspective - which reflects the asymmetric scientific perspective - the atom is in the molecule (and the molecule is not in the atom).
However from a more balanced refined perspective, if the atom is transcended and quantitatively included in the molecule - then in relative terms - the molecule is made immanent and qualitatively included in the atom.
I have also suggested a precise holistic mathematical way of preserving both quantitative and qualitative aspects of understanding.
So if we identify quantitative meaning as "real" then in a precise holistic mathematical fashion, corresponding qualitative meaning is "imaginary".
Therefore the correct statement of my position would be that in this context, the atom is quantitatively included in the molecule (in real terms), whereas the molecule is qualitatively included in the atom (in imaginary fashion).
Thus to preserve both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of reality we would need to move to complex rather than real interpretations.
"Wilber means the model, (not the person) particularly seems to lack a subtle grasp of transpersonal realities." But it must be mutually agreeable that the mathematical translative method is also necessarily confining at those levels - insufficient, but nonetheless not irrelevant, and potentially illuminating."
I found this comment of Wilberís particularly disingenuous. It was offered once more without any substantiation or indeed any attempt at all to grapple with the many important issues I had raised in my long article.
I strongly suspect that Ken is laboring under a considerable misapprehension as to the true nature of the holistic mathematical approach.
It seems to me that he believes that I am trying to interpret experience in terms of the reduced conceptual understanding of conventional mathematics.
However nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the qualitative appreciation of mathematical notions would not be possible without very refined spiritual intuition.
All phenomenal descriptions of ultimate reality are insufficient to translate the mystery involved. So in this sense the greatest spiritual masters in even daring to speak about the transpersonal, can be accused of reductionism.
However this is missing the key point, that just as mathematical language plays a special scientific role at the quantitative level, likewise mathematical language in its refined spiritual sense can play a key scientific role at the qualitative level also.
So therefore in terms of an integral appreciation of reality, holistic mathematical translation is especially relevant in scientific terms.
"Nothing Wilber says implies that the transpersonal lacks experience of Collins; he merely doubts the modelís translative capacity".
The fact is that Ken never specifically addresses my model. Therefore
any comments he makes lack a firm basis. I would not attempt to criticize
in such a manner, as I would consider it both unfair and unconvincing.
Mike agrees with my remark that "within Kenís own frame of reference . . . he is doing a superb job embracing a vast range of material in a coherent and profound way."
He also rightly acknowledges that I see my own perspective as being very different.
"From the very start I have been engaged on an extremely important issue that Ken does not properly recognize. Once again this is related to the key insight that there are a number of valid scientific approaches (based on the understanding of each respective level of the Spectrum)"(private correspondence).
I agree with this "key insight" of Collins. But I donít see Collinsí "very different" perspective as requiring any endorsement, or even comment, from Wilber."
However Mike, this is simply to ignore that the acceptance of a range of differing methods for translating reality has intimate implications for evaluating Kenís work.
In my Spectrum of Methods, vision-logic represents just one of eight translations (and is not included as a true integral method).
I am not just talking in general terms. The implication of the Spectrum of Methods is that we can take any concept and produce a range of differing interpretations (with a limited partial validity).
As you know I have applied the "Spectrum" to the pre/trans fallacy. The simple logic of my argument is that there is in fact no pre/trans fallacy, but rather a wide range of differing fallacies that apply at the various stages of development.
Thus to apply an interpretation based on vision-logic as the pre/trans fallacy, is from my perspective, most inaccurate and very limiting.
"But Collins has come to terms with that, I believe (as I have with the Ďpast tenseí criticisms of Collins I made above; they are in the past). What he finds hard to swallow is that he has discovered significant flaws in Wilberís model by application of his own to it, and that Wilber still virtually ignores him!"
This is precisely it! I see Ken giving considerable attention to far more superficial objections to his approach. However when this truly fundamental criticism is made, it is apparently ignored.
However the plain fact is that my substantial points have not yet been addressed by Ken (not alone answered).
Mike then disputes my contention of finding significant flaws in Wilberís model with the following quote.
"I also know that every tomorrow brings new truths, opens new vistas, and creates the demand for even more encompassing views. SES is simply the latest in a long line of holistic visions, and will itself pass into a greater tomorrow where it is merely a footnote to more glorious views. In the meantime, it is quite a ride."
Ken says here that he sought an integral philosophy. I have already explained my deep reservations on this score. His approach is integral only within the reduced confines of a vision-logic interpretation.
Once again I do not consider that vision-logic - as used by Ken - is appropriate for a true integral translation and have clearly explained why. Ken translates integral in a manner that is not properly distinguished from differential. Thus his integral approach is really multi-differential (based on a reduced notion of integration).
Of course like so many I greatly admire the comprehensive nature of Kenís vision and his seemingly indefatigable capacity for so much work of a very high quality.
I accept that Ken offers orienting generalizations, which for many are indeed deeply suggestive of the ultimately undivided nature of reality. However once more they are based on a vision-logic translation that is not adequate for proper intellectual integration.
When one closely examines the manner in which he treats issues, numerous imbalances and inconsistencies arise, that are not properly reconciled. As Mike well knows, I have elaborated on these at length in other Forums. They strongly suggest the need to move beyond vision-logic.
I think the best argument in favor of Kenís approach is that vision-logic is perhaps more accessible to the Western differentiating mind than the more refined bi-directional approaches.
There is no doubt therefore that Ken has been able to use it successfully to inspire many with a vision of a comprehensive framework, and even with the desire for genuine transpersonal understanding.
However just as there are different levels of integration in experience; equally there are differing levels of integration in terms of translation methods.
I consider the chief merit in my approach is in identifying the nature of the various levels of translation and their corresponding ranges of application.
I believe it greatly extends the potential scope for scientific appreciation
"I think that, at the level of orienting generalizations, Wilberís work
works just fine. I do not accept Collins criticisms of Wilber at that level."
With considerable qualifications, I would accept that at the level of orienting generalizations Wilberís work is fine. However to leave it at this, is simply to ignore the very essence of my criticism regarding the limited applicability of such generalizations (which again are only compatible with a very reduced notion of integration).
So this remark really reflects the use of a Wiberian frame of reference to reject a criticism, which itself is based on a much wider frame of reference.
There is nothing superficial or incidental about my criticism. It is truly fundamental with major implications for every Wilberian concept.
However appreciation of this important fact is not reflected in your remark.
"I think that, at the level of 3-D cognitive translation, Collinsí work works just fine. I accept some of Collinsí criticisms of Wilber at that level. But, as Wilber points out above, he is not working "on the level of details - that is finitely impossible":
I am still not quite sure what criticisms you accept Mike. Also your comment that Wilber is not working "on the level of details - that is finitely impossible" is not pertinent in this context. I am even less working at the level of details and yet can see fundamental difficulties with his approach.
"His acceptable criticisms are those towards more precise articulation, such as Collinsí model can provide. OK, but as Wilber points out elsewhere, orienting generalizations are often all that is needed to move through the stages."
No! It is gravely understating my position to suggest that I only have reservations with the way that Ken articulates matters. It is much more fundamental than that.
At the risk of being repetitive, I find key imbalances and inconsistencies in Kenís work, which reflect the use of a translation method in circumstances where it is inappropriate.
At the most general level, my criticism relates to Kenís failure to properly reconcile linear with circular notions of understanding.
This is about so much more than precise articulation!
As I have already stated Kenís orienting generalizations may be fine
as a starting intellectual framework (compatible with transpersonal development).
However further along the journey they are far less compatible. He encourages
an intellectual belief in asymmetrical notions, when really spiritual awareness
is about the emptying of such dualistic thinking. So the task of a true
integral approach is to show in cognitive terms how this emptying takes
I want to thank Mike for creating a framework for this very constructive dialogue, which helps to clarify both the nature of my approach and its fundamental criticism of Kenís.
Once again I will refer to the key point.
Ken Wilber has perhaps done more than anyone to promote the important notion of a Spectrum of Consciousness with all its varying levels and stages.
However what has been largely ignored is that this notion of a Spectrum has critical implications for the very way we intellectually translate reality.
There is a unique method of translation associated with each major level of the Spectrum, with mature translations based on the middle and "higher" levels (and Radial Reality).
Vision-logic represents the intellectual interpretation of the most advanced stage of the middle level. It is thus quite limited in its range, and not appropriate as a means of translating either the "higher" or "lower" levels. The "lower" levels are complementary with the "higher"!
We need to get away from this defensive and unhelpful approach whereby vision-logic can be vaguely understood to mean anything that one wants it to mean.
I strongly suggest that we need to devote a great deal more attention
to the precise clarification of the nature, range and limitations of all
the various translations on the Spectrum. Holistic Mathematics has an especially
valuable role to play in this hugely important task. It has to power to
radically alter the very way we look at reality and significantly enlarge
the scope of scientific inquiry.