Pre/Trans Issues 3

- Twelve Stage Model Interpretations (A:  Lower and Middle)

(Notes can be directly accessed by clicking on numerical links throughout text!)

Having outlined the nature of the radial approach (with its twelve main levels) in the previous parts, we now show in greater detail how it can be used to define unique stage model interpretations of the pre/trans fallacy.
In other words a distinctive type of interpretation characterises each of the 12 levels (with in addition a wide range of enhanced and diminished versions of each type).

Part 3 concentrates on the first six interpretations corresponding to the main stages of the lower and middle bands.


In the previous article I provided a basic outline of the radial approach with respect to the 12 major levels of development.

Here, every stage is depicted as representing a unique dynamic configuration of both differentiated and integral aspects with respect to the three fundamental polarities (horizontal, vertical and diagonal).

What is remarkable is that all these dynamic configurations can be given a precise holistic mathematical interpretation, which from this novel scientific perspective defines the very nature of the stage.

Furthermore the approach can be extended to a considerable level of detail.
In my complete model I define directions and mirror stages, bands, levels, transitions between levels, sub-levels, modes (primary and composite), types and phases. 1

These can be given both linear (differentiated) and circular (integrated) interpretation (with a precise configuration for every stage). In all cases they can be defined with respect to stages of self and reality, structures and states and body/mind aspects.

So once again, the fundamental nature of all stages is mathematical (in this dynamic holistic sense).

Because this is inherently the case, enormous advances in our scientific understanding of development can take place when we begin to interpret development explicitly in the appropriate (holistic) mathematical fashion. 2

Enhanced Range of Interpretations

One of the key implications of the radial approach is that it clearly demonstrates that a unique understanding of development is associated with each stage. Therefore in intellectual terms this leads to a wide range of partially valid translations of development (each reflecting the understanding appropriate to the stage in question).

So using my radial model of development outlined in the previous part, by concentrating on mature translations - reflecting the main stages of the middle and more advanced levels of the Spectrum - we can give 12 distinct intellectual interpretations of development (each closely reflecting the understanding of the corresponding stage). 3

From this perspective a comprehensive approach requires using all 12 stage interpretations, each of which has a characteristic dynamic structure and unique range of application to development.

Also because all twelve interpretations are continuous in development, the use of any one interpretation subtly alters that associated with any stage!

So, not alone in this model do we have many interpretations that are more advanced than vision-logic (i.e. representing the understanding of stages "higher" than the centaur) but equally we have many distinctive interpretations of vision-logic (reflected through the understanding of these "higher" stages).

For example, H1 (psychic/subtle) is the next main stage following the centaur (H0).

Thus H1 is characterised by its own unique structural configuration leading to a distinctive form of understanding with a corresponding intellectual interpretation.
So this "new" understanding constitutes the H1 interpretation of the H1 stage i.e. the refined (subtle) intellectual interpretation corresponding to the understanding of the same stage.

However H1 also provides a "new" interpretation of the vision-logic (associated with the preceding stage - H0).

This could be referred to as the H1 interpretation of H0 (the centaur stage).
So as well as this new subtle understanding (of H1) we now have vision-logic interpretation of H1 (which is distinct from the vision-logic interpretation of the centaur).

If we move on to the next major stage, this is characterised by H2 (causal) understanding with a suitably refined corresponding (causal) intellectual interpretation (of H2).

However this also provides an enhanced understanding of the previous stages of H1 and the centaur.
Thus associated also with H2 is a H2 interpretation of H1 (an enhanced causal interpretation of subtle understanding) as well as a H2 interpretation of the centaur (i.e. an enhanced causal interpretation of vision-logic).
And of course we can extend this considerably further creating a vast range of interacting interpretations (that all have a certain relative validity in their respective contexts). 4

The implication of this enlarged perspective is potentially enormous.
It means for example that the discussion of any issue in development - when viewed from the radial perspective - can potentially be given a wide range of interpretations all with a certain relative validity within a suitably defined dynamic context.

In this article I am therefore attempting to briefly reflect this enlarged perspective (applicable to all development) to the pre/trans relationship.
The idea therefore that there can be one correct type of interpretation of this relationship (as exemplified by Ken Wilber's treatment of the pre/trans fallacy) makes little sense from this new perspective.
As the pre/trans fallacy reflects a certain limited interpretation of vision-logic understanding it cannot do justice to the many other distinctive interpretations reflecting the more advanced stages of the Spectrum. 5
Even less can it reflect the subtle dynamic interconnections as between these interpretations (all possessing a certain limited validity in the appropriate context).

As stated previously the mature intellectual interpretations of development are limited to the middle and more advanced stages of the Spectrum. 6

Early Pre/Trans Development

Of course pre/trans development is very important in the earlier stages and perhaps it might be helpful to clarify the nature of such dynamics.

With the start of life the differentiation of polarities has not properly commenced. 7
Therefore meaningful integration cannot yet exist.

It makes little sense therefore to portray earliest development as a discrete 1st stage (as this implies linear differentiation). Rather development is chaotically all over the place where higher and lower cannot be yet distinguished.

The very separation of pre and trans in asymmetrical terms requires the implicit differentiation of higher and lower stages (which is not yet appropriate).
Therefore at birth, pre is still greatly confused with trans (and trans with pre).
The confused trans element is expressed by the omnipotent sense of the new-born child through primitive wish fulfilment. This in turn represents lack of differentiation of conscious and unconscious aspects of personality.

The immanent element - relatively - is in turn represented by the purely immediate physical nature of reality experienced. So trans as empty Spirit is directly identified with pre as form in an amorphous material manner. Because Spirit has not yet become detached from such immediate physical identification, no genuine transcendence is possible. Likewise because Spirit cannot yet be reflected through matter, immanence does not meaningfully arise.

So in the earliest stage of development, the physical body (as confused pre) is naturally flooded in spiritual terms with the most primitive unconscious elements (as confused trans).

Thus lucid experience either of the transcendent or immanent aspects of Spirit is not yet possible.

However in the nature of the dynamics of experience a complementary two-way relationship exists as between integration and non-integration.
The very desire and drive for further integration results from the perceived experiential lack of such integration. Also each new level attained opens up realisation of the lack of integration yet achieved.

Thus as differentiation of structures gradually occurs through the "lower" stages the complementarity of the increasingly less confused expression of the relationship between pre and trans and its corresponding mature expression becomes possible.
Thus a degree of meaningful interaction now takes place as between "lower" and "higher" stages.

This entails in effect that a child who normally experiences this relationship between pre and trans in a confused (and yet largely undifferentiated manner) may have temporary access to the more mature understanding of "higher" stages.
Therefore lucid moments of authentic spiritual awareness are certainly possible as childhood unfolds. Indeed for one with a latent mystical disposition these are likely to assume a significant role in development. 8

However it is important to clarify a few points.

Lucid childhood moments of spiritual awareness represent not just an experience of "higher" states but also of "higher" structures.

Though the precise mix of state and structure can vary to a considerable extent, lucid moments are normally mediated through phenomenal symbols (appropriate for such mediation).

Though it is true that in the subsequent interpretation, "lower" level structures will be used, at the moment of the experience the structures of mediation will - though remaining implicit - be appropriate to the "higher" stage.

Moreover when a child has experienced an especially lucid spiritual moment, the conviction will remain - sometimes to a considerable degree - that the subsequent "lower" level interpretation is not really adequate to the experience.

This can then create a significant impetus towards more sustained spiritual development where realisation - that initially had been of a temporary nature - can be properly sustained. This is why indeed early mystical experiences often play a crucial role as a catalyst for rapid growth in the lives of those destined for substantial spiritual awareness.

Also lucid moments of childhood awareness can relate to both the transcendent and immanent aspects of Spirit.

The transcendent might arise for example through a feeling of awe evoked by the awareness of God's immensity or, perhaps in more negative fashion, though intense existential anguish arising from the absence of God's general presence. 9
The immanent might arise through a special delight in nature or through the realisation of being truly cared for by God.

So if we initially - and arbitrarily - associate trans with the transcendent and pre with the immanent directions respectively, then the "higher" levels can represent both "higher" trans and "higher" pre understanding (the precise meaning of which is rendered purely relative). 10

In other words any linear attempt to represent development as unambiguously moving from (lower) prepersonal to (middle) personal to (higher) transpersonal stages is very flawed from a dynamic perspective.

Insofar as linear (asymmetrical) attempts at translating development are used, we must remember in the manner of Heraclitus that - in a dynamic context - these can always be given two equally valid interpretations (that are opposite to each other).

Thus if we identify the forward direction with its transcendent aspect, then development will appear (within this partially independent polar reference frame) to move unambiguously from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal stages.

Likewise if we identify the forward direction with its immanent aspect, then development (again within this partial reference frame) will appear to move from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal stages.

However in dynamic relation to each other these polar reference frames are interdependent. Therefore forward movement with respect to the transcendent aspect implies backward movement with respect to the immanent; likewise forward movement with respect to the immanent direction, implies backward movement with respect to the transcendent.

So once again a circular - as opposed to a linear notion of direction - is appropriate in a dynamic integral context. Thus what is trans (from the transcendent direction) is pre from the immanent. However equally - when we switch our frame of reference - what is trans (from the immanent direction) is pre (from the transcendent). Thus in this bi-directional context what is trans is pre and what is pre is trans. We can only give an unambiguous meaning to each term by arbitrarily fixing the (forward) direction of development either with the transcendent or immanent direction (as separate). 11

It is also worth stressing that just as peak moments of lucid spiritual awareness are possible in childhood (when experience is still habitually of the "lower" confused levels), equally occasional valley moments of confused infantile understanding are possible for advanced mystics (where experience is characteristically of the "higher" mature levels).

So once again "lower" and "higher" (and "higher and "lower") levels are dynamically interdependent with respect to both their confused and mature expressions.

Now for a crucially important point!
Whereas in dynamic terms, development at the (confused) "lower" levels is concerned with the gradual disentangling of (undifferentiated) pre and trans elements, such differentiation (in itself) can lead to the considerable erosion of both pre and trans elements from (waking) experience. In other words successful development of the personal ego is strictly neither prepersonal nor transpersonal.

In other words - in dynamic terms - if we could fully differentiate and thereby completely separate pre from trans (and trans from pre), we would thereby lose the very possibility for spiritual experience. 12
Therefore, though differentiation is vitally important (as a means of outgrowing mere confusion) appropriate integration (of what has been differentiated) is equally necessary in order to preserve healthy spiritual potential for further development.

However once again, the integral aspect relates to dynamic circular understanding where pre and trans (and trans and pre) are understood as complementary.
Thus if we look at Ken Wilber's treatment of the pre/trans fallacy it is badly flawed from a dynamic perspective.

The emphasis here is strongly on the asymmetric distinction of pre from trans (and trans from pre), which is suited for their differentiation.

However there is no equal emphasis on the (necessary) complementary relationship of pre and trans (and trans and pre) from the corresponding integral perspective.
In other words a strongly reduced notion of integration (where integration is misleadingly identified with the differentiated aspect of development) is implicit in Ken Wilber's treatment of the pre/trans fallacy.

So when we look at pre and trans issues from the appropriate - inherently dynamic - radial perspective, differentiated and integral aspects must be consistently combined.

Let us now illustrate these points with respect to our twelve interpretative stage models.

(Confused) Interpretations

There is a pre/trans fallacy (implicitly) associated with each of the "lower" levels.

1. Confused 1ntegral 3

Development commences at L3 (archaic) with confused bi-directional appreciation with respect to all three fundamental polarities. So we could characterise initial development as a greatly confused state of integration. The first task at L3 - using my terminology - is the successful differentiation of diagonal polarities (form and emptiness) in the creation of a stable bodyself.
Clearly as the appropriate interpretative cognitive structures have not yet unfolded in experience, the pre/trans fallacy here is of an implicit - rather than explicit - nature and of two related types.

ptf-1 - the confusion of the bodyself (as form) with Spirit (as emptiness). This relates to a failure with respect to obtaining an appropriate level of transcendence (i.e. through separation of diagonal polarities) at this stage.

ptf-2 - from the reverse perspective the confusion of Spirit (as emptiness) with the bodyself (as form). This relates to a corresponding failure with respect to developing an appropriate level of immanence.

In dynamic terms what is trans (in terms of the transcendent direction) is pre (in terms of the immanent); likewise what is trans (in terms of the immanent) is pre (in terms of the transcendent).
However the very nature of successful differentiation is that it replaces paradoxical bi-directional with unambiguous one-directional (i.e. asymmetrical) understanding.
Therefore - though still necessarily operating at an implicit level - the two-way relative nature of pre and trans (and trans and pre) is now lost with respect to the most fundamental diagonal polarities (of form an emptiness) though such relativity still remains - of a confused nature - with respect to the other two sets of polarities.

2. Confused Integral 2

The main task at L2 (magic) is to successfully differentiate the vertical polarities (whole and part). This is generally associated with the emergence of a stable emotional self where the infant becomes aware of a personal identity as distinct from the collective environment (initially associated with the mother).
So the pre/trans fallacy, which again is of an implicit nature, takes two related forms.

ptf-1 - the confusion of the emotional self (as individual) with the wider environment (as collective). This relates to a failure with respect to obtaining an appropriate level of transcendence (through separation of vertical polarities) at this stage.

ptf-2 - from the reverse perspective the confusion of the wider (collective) environment with the (individual) self. This again relates to a corresponding failure with respect to developing an appropriate level of immanence.

Once more successful differentiation - this time with respect to the vertical polarities - breaks the two-way interactive link as between pre and trans (and trans and pre). However bi-directional interpretation - though again necessarily of a confused nature - still exists with respect to the remaining horizontal polarities.

The failure to adequately differentiate pre and trans at the early stages can later result in severe mental illness (where one cannot discriminate events occurring in the wider environment from those directly affecting the personal self).

3. Confused Integral 1

Finally the main task at L1 (mythic) is the successful differentiation of horizontal polarities (exterior and interior). This is associated with the emergence of a stable mental self so that the child can properly distinguish abstracted events with respect to the (exterior) physical world from the (interior) self. Once again the pre/trans fallacy, implicitly takes two related forms.

ptf-1 - the confusion of the mental self (as interior) with outside physical events (as exterior). This relates to a failure with respect to obtaining an appropriate level of transcendence (through separation of horizontal polarities) at this stage.

ptf-2 -the reverse failure to distinguish (exterior) physical events from the (interior) self relating to the corresponding failure to develop an appropriate level of immanence.

So though some confused bi-directional understanding (e.g. of a mythic nature) will still exist, a substantial amount of differentiation will now take place with respect to all three sets of polarities.
Put another way bi-directional confusion - which relates to a lack of sufficient differentiation - will have been considerably eroded.

Though still at an implicit level, this leads to a linear (asymmetrical) appreciation of the nature of pre and trans (i.e. pre as lower and trans as higher) in development.
Then with the development of the middle stages, where differentiated appreciation undergoes specialised development, this appreciation can then take - as with Ken Wilber's formulation - a strongly explicit intellectual form.

However such a formulation - as we shall see - is somewhat distorted as it greatly ignores the complementary appreciation of pre and trans (and trans and pre), which can only achieve its mature development with the unfolding of the "higher" spiritual stages.

Analytic (Differentiated) Interpretations

The analytic methods are based on clear asymmetrical distinction as between pre and trans (and trans and pre) and are thereby suited for clarification - in this respect - of the differentiated aspect of development.

4. Analytic 1

This is the very earliest of the mature intellectual stages L0 (rule/role) reflecting in cognitive terms what Piaget refers to as concrete operational thinking (conop).
Basically this provides a linear method of asymmetrical distinction with respect to variables that are specifically defined within a concrete situation.
I have implied already that the nature of conop understanding necessarily changes through the increasingly refined understanding afforded through the lens of higher stages.

Thus its most basic form is the L0 interpretation of the L0 stage. However - in terms of the middle levels - more refined understanding is provided from the perspective of formop (L0,H0) and vision-logic (H0).

As this is important let me illustrate further!

Initially when conop understanding unfolds in development, little adequate context is yet available for the interpretation of concrete situations. Indeed from a general perspective, mythic understanding is still likely to be prevalent.
Therefore successful asymmetric distinction is largely limited to the superficial understanding of perspectives in a local context.
However with the unfolding of formop, a much deeper and more consistent context becomes available for conop understanding.
This enables general patterns to be revealed through the interpretation of concrete variables.
Therefore, though the formop understanding of conop again relates directly to the asymmetrical interpretation of concrete phenomena, it is now seen in the context of more developed conceptual understanding, thereby greatly enriching its capacity.

From the perspective of vision-logic, an even more enhanced interpretation of conop is possible.
The essence of vision-logic is that it entails the flexible interaction of both the concrete and formal aspects of understanding of the middle level. Thus because - in dynamic terms - the application of formop to conop (and likewise the application of conop to formop) changes their nature, such thinking can become very creative with the interpretation of relationships continually transformed.
When vision-logic is further imbued with spiritual intuition it provides the capacity for a deeper synthetic view of development comprising vast arrays of interconnecting ideas.

Thus conop - seen through the perspective of vision-logic - offers an interpretation, which is continually modified (due to the creative two-way interaction of both conop and formop).

A child might find it difficult to provide adequate intellectual interpretation of a lucid spiritual experience (using the conop interpretation of conop).
However from the enhanced perspective of conop provided through formop and vision-logic, the young adult could give such a key event of childhood much greater coherence and meaning (through the enriched context provided by these later stages).

Though it is possible - though not really probable - that a child could have lucid temporary realisation of the causal and nondual realms, the most likely scenario would relate to the earliest of the "higher" levels i.e. H1 (psychic/subtle).

H1 is complementary with L1 (mythic). Because a fair degree of differentiation of structures may already have taken place at L1, the possibility of creative links as between the mythic and subtle levels therefore becomes much more likely.
Thus, though the habitual experience of pre/trans at L1 may be of a confused nature, temporary spiritual peak moments of H1 are especially common.

Now it is important to stress that such spiritual experience always entails the maintenance of a dynamic interaction as between pre and trans (and trans and pre) though the precise balance can vary considerably.

However when one comes to rationally interpret such an experience at the middle level it will be done in a manner whereby this dynamic interaction is broken.

So let's say a child has had an earlier peak experience of the subtle realm (while still differentiating the mythic structures).
In dynamic interactive terms, we would carefully distinguish the temporary lucid relationship of pre and trans from the habitual mythic relationship (where both aspects are confused). However, because we are using the rational understanding of the middle levels, we interpret this relationship in a (reduced) linear manner.
So now the person will - in effect - unambiguously identify the lucid experience as trans and the habitual earlier experience as pre.

However it bears repeating that lucid moments of spiritual realisation are of both stages and structures (though again the balance can vary considerably).
Thus in some cases - though phenomenal form may be indirectly involved - one may be especially aware of a purer spiritual state (e.g. the close presence of God).
In other instances one may be predominantly of aware of "higher" structures (through which heightened spiritual insight is indirectly mediated).

This is especially likely in the case of those with precocious genius. Thus a talented musician may well obtain an early peak moment of inspiration revealed through an appropriate artistic form.

Likewise a gifted scientist may have at an early age a key inspiration that provides the embryonic structure for a significant breakthrough to be accomplished at a much later date. 13

Thus to sum up the pre/trans fallacy at the Analytic 1 stage is defined in (linear) asymmetrical terms with respect to a specific concrete situation. It is of two types:

ptf-1 - the confusion of a specific experience relating to the (higher) transpersonal with a (lower) prepersonal stage (reductionism).

ptf-2 - the confusion of a specific experience relating to the (lower) prepersonal with a (higher) transpersonal stage (elevationism).

Though the dawning recognition of this fallacy could be already present with the conop interpretation of the conop stage, its clear recognition would in all probability require the conop interpretation of a higher stage. In other words the full significance of an early lucid childhood spiritual event (as distinct from the habitual experience of that time) would only properly emerge at a later stage of development.

5. Analytic 2

This interpretation L0,H0 (formal reflexive) of the pre/trans fallacy relates to the understanding of the second of the middle stages of development i.e. Piaget's formal operational (formop).
This is again defined in (linear) asymmetrical terms but now applying generally to all cases.

Ken Wilber's original treatment of the pre/trans fallacy could be best described - in terms of my classification - as a vision-logic interpretation of the formal stage.

Again the great paradox here relates to the fact that if we could completely differentiate pre from trans (and trans from pre) with no remaining confusion as between both aspects, then the very possibility for both types of experience would cease. In other words it is vitally important to remember that in dynamic (experiential) terms that pre is necessarily related to trans (and trans to pre) so that the mature "higher" reconciliation of both elements always entails some remaining degree of confusion with respect to corresponding "lower" levels.

Put more precisely, insofar as the integral aspect of development is (directly) involved, pre is always related to trans (and trans to pre) in a two-way interactive manner.

However with respect to the differentiated aspect, pre must be separated from trans (and trans from pre) in asymmetrical fashion.

In other words before we can properly integrate pre and trans in a mature spiritual manner we must disentangle to a considerable extent the confused relationship (where both aspects remain undifferentiated).

However again such integration always entails the bi-directional complementarity of the - relatively - differentiated aspects of pre and trans.
However even with respect to the differentiated aspect, there are various degrees of refinement possible (which only properly emerge with the "higher" levels of understanding).

Once more not alone does a distinct "new" type of simultaneous bi-directional appreciation emerge with each of the "higher" levels (H1, H2 and H3) but equally it provides a more enhanced refined interpretation of the nature of differentiation appropriate to the middle stages.

We have earlier seen how we can have formop and vision-logic interpretation of the conop stage (as well as the initial conop interpretation). Likewise we can have H1, H2, and H3 interpretations respectively of these three middle stages (which allow for continually more refined appreciation of the asymmetrical understanding appropriate to the level).

So the problem with Ken Wilber's original statement of the pre/trans fallacy is that it is greatly lacking in recognition of the corresponding integral aspect, where pre and trans (and trans and pre) are complementary. Therefore from a dynamic experiential perspective the classical pre/trans fallacy is quite flawed and indeed ultimately impossible to sustain.

He did indeed clearly recognise a problem with the Romantic position, which did not sufficiently distinguish earliest development from that of mature spiritual experience.

In effect - as I have stated in an earlier note - the Romantic position directly reflects an (unconscious) intuitive (N) rather than (conscious) rational (S) interpretation of the relationship as between pre and trans. However by its very nature spiritual intuition at the middle levels is not sufficiently developed to properly distinguish confused from mature appreciation of this relationship.

However in attempting to diagnose this problem, Wilber reduced somewhat a dynamic interactive developmental situation to merely asymmetrical interpretation. So he attempted to differentiate meaning by ignoring the dynamic context in which integration takes place.

He therefore concluded that prepersonal and transpersonal stages (as discretely defined) must be clearly separated in development (and so not confused with each other).

However once again this deals solely with the task of differentiation without due recognition of the corresponding need for integration.

The radial interpretation combines both differentiated and integral aspects in appropriate dynamic manner and can thereby preserve both elements in a dynamically consistent manner.

Thus in radial terms it is necessary from a differentiated perspective to distinguish the mature understanding of advanced stages from the confused appreciation of earlier development.
However from an integral perspective it is equally necessary to maintain the complementary relationship between pre and trans (and trans and pre). Therefore the understanding of "lower" thereby dynamically interacts with higher" (and "higher" with "lower") stages throughout development.

Once again though the Romantic position inherently was a dynamic one, its weakness was in the failure to properly distinguish confused from mature notions of development. Wilber clearly recognised this problem. However by attempting to distinguish pre and trans in a somewhat absolute manner, he reduced the integral aspect to mere differentiated interpretation. 14

Thus the pre/trans fallacy from an Analytic 2 perspective is similar to Analytic 1 though now applying generally to all experience:

ptf-1 - where higher transpersonal are confused with lower prepersonal stages (reductionism).

ptf -2 - where lower prepersonal are confused with higher transpersonal stages (elevationism).

Once again the merit of this position is that it attempts to distinguish (confused) infantile spiritual experience from its advanced (mature) equivalent.
However its chief weakness is the failure to appreciate the relationship as between pre and trans (and trans and pre) in dynamic terms.

The most basic interpretation of this position arises from a formop understanding of the formop stage.
However a more advanced treatment derives from a vision-logic interpretation of the formop stage. I would characterise Wilber's earlier statement of the pre/trans fallacy as belonging to this category where perhaps he was already alive to the need for further refinement of his position to deal with dynamic considerations.

6. Analytic 3

A vision-logic interpretation (i.e. a vision-logic interpretation of the vision-logic stage) - though still expressed in a linear asymmetrical manner - allows for further modifications with respect to the relationship as between pre and trans.
Indeed we can see many such refinements relating to Ken Wilber's attempts to deal with various issues arising from his original somewhat absolute treatment of the pre/trans fallacy.

For example he admits that - in terms of his definitions - that transpersonal experience can take place in early childhood (though he adopts what I would consider an unsatisfactory method of explaining this fact). 15

He also recognises that a person who is at a prepersonal stage can have peak spiritual experience of any of the higher transpersonal states (e.g. of psychic, subtle or causal realms).

Again he tries somewhat unconvincingly to argue that this refinement is consistent with his core position. 16

Then when dealing with his streams (or lines) of development he argues that a person can be at very different stages with respect to these lines.
Thus for example in his view one could be at a transpersonal stage with respect to cognitive, a personal stage with respect to affective and a prepersonal stage with respect to moral development.

However once we accept - as an integral perspective must necessarily imply - that a degree of interdependence exists as between these aspects then this entails that transpersonal, personal and prepersonal must be mixed in varying configurations for all these streams. 17

However Wilber never really gets to grips with this issue and tries to maintain - somewhat unconvincingly - that we can look at these streams in a relatively independent fashion. So once again he seeks in effect to deal with the differentiated rather than the integral aspect of development. 18

Finally the proper definition of four quadrants would have further implications for pre/trans notions. It is indeed a very important concept. However once more Wilber characteristically attempts to deal with the four quadrants in a relatively independent manner (that is suited solely for their differentiation). So rather than embracing the dynamic relationship as between pre and trans (which a truly interactive treatment of the quadrants entails), Wilber unconvincingly attempts to understand the relationship in linear terms. 19

Thus - to sum up - though vision-logic in its formal expression approaches development in an unambiguous asymmetric fashion, in its various refinements it tends to raise many dynamic issues which cannot be satisfactorily reconciled within this analytic framework.

When these inconsistencies are experientially recognised to a sufficient degree they lead to the need for higher (more integral) stages of development.

The emergence therefore of the "higher" spiritual stages arises from deep existential awareness of the limitations of centaur type integration. From a cognitive perspective this likewise entails recognition of the limitations of vision-logic as a coherent intellectual method of integral interpretation.

In terms of Analytic 3 the pre/trans fallacy would be stated in the same general manner:

ptf-1 - the confusion of transpersonal with prepersonal stages (reductionism).

ptf-2 - the confusion of prepersonal with transpersonal stages (elevationism).

However these are now subject to several modifications e.g. in relation to states and streams of development the dynamic implications of which - if properly recognised - would be seen to be inconsistent with the base position.

However rather than grasping this key issue Ken Wilber is still trying to adapt these dynamic implications to a core model that is simply unsuited to this task.

Indeed this criticism applies not just to pre/trans issue but also in fact to the manner in which he generally attempts to deal with dynamic issues in relation to all key aspects of development.


1. The bands are the most general classification of stages.

I define four bands (lower, middle, higher and radial). The levels (major stages) represent perhaps the most important category of stages. I define 12 levels.

The lower band comprises (in ascending order) L3, L2 and L1; the middle band comprises L0, then L0,H0 (and is thereby neutral in terms of lower and higher classifications) and H0.

The higher band has three levels which - again in ascending order - are H1, H2 and H3 and the radial band has three levels R1, R2 and R3.

Bridging each of the major levels is an important transition in development. Between L3-L2, L2-L1 and L1-L0 this represents a key (linear) differentiation with respect to one of the three fundamental polarities.

Between H0-H1, H1-H2 and H2-H3 it represents a key integration and finally between H3-R1, R1-R2 and R2-R3 it represents simultaneously both a key differentiation and integration with respect to these same polarities.
Each of the major levels in turn can be subdivided into sub-levels, which again are defined by the operation of the fundamental polarities within a given level.

Thus SL1 (sub-level 1) relates to concrete understanding (confined to horizontal polarities).
SL2 (sub-level 2) relates to formal understanding (which can combine horizontal and vertical polarities within a level).

SL3 (sub-level 3) relates to visionary (or more simply vision) understanding (which can combine horizontal, vertical and diagonal polarities within the level).

Each stage is associated with a corresponding mirror stage. Whereas the initial stage - in dynamic terms - is characterised by the conscious positing of phenomena, recognition of the corresponding mirror stage requires their corresponding negation. In this way each stage acquires a balance as between conscious (posited) and unconscious (negated) meaning which then enables recognition of the mirror stage.
Combining stages with their mirror equivalents leads on to the notion of directions.

The directions are the most fundamental in that they provide the basic master programme, which determines how all other stages are configured.

However in a secondary sense they also play a role in that each of the sub-levels can be defined in terms of directions (or dimensions).

Each of the sub-levels can be defined in terms of directions (or dimensions).
The middle level (L0, H0) has one direction (where mirror stages are not recognised).

Both L1 and H1 have two directions (in horizontal terms). This allows for bi-directional understanding with respect to horizontal polarities (in confused terms at L1 and a mature manner at H1).

Both L2 and H2 have four directions (in horizontal and vertical terms). Thus bi-directional understanding with respect to both horizontal and vertical polarities is possible (in confused terms at L2 and in a mature manner at H2).

L3 and H3 have eight directions (in horizontal, vertical and diagonal terms). Thus bi-directional understanding with respect to all three sets of polarities takes place at L3 and H3 (in a confused manner at L3 and mature fashion at H3).

Finally the radial levels (R1, R2 and R3) represent the combined interaction in varying configurations of differentiated (asymmetrical) with integral (complementary) appreciation of directions.

Each of the directions is then defined in terms of modes (which represent the most specific definition of stages).
I define primary modes (affective, cognitive and volitional) and composite modes which are - sometimes - misleadingly referred to as lines of development.

All these stages are defined in a linear (asymmetrical) and a circular (complementary) fashion with the precise relationship defined for any point in development (as is the basis of the radial approach).
These can be defined with respect to stages of self (and reality), structures and states (and body and mind).
I also define development with respect to types and phases.

The types refer to personality types. These are important as a particular personality type can significantly influence the likely path which development may take. I have 24 (key) personality types (again all defined with a precise holistic mathematical structure).

The phases define the dynamic pattern of development over a specified range of stages.
For example we could defined the unfolding of development (with respect to its dynamic features) over a major level.

Finally the dynamic structure pertaining to every stage can be precisely defined in a holistic mathematical manner.

2. By attempting to provide a scientific approach in this manner it is not my intention to argue against the need for other approaches.

A scientific approach - in the way I intend - certainly has great potential merits. However it cannot replace the value of other treatments (which communicate meaning in a distinctive fashion).

So my own attitude to development would be catholic in that I recognise the value of using a wide range of methods.

However in terms of the outlining of the primary structures of development, the scientific (holistic mathematical) approach would have a distinct advantage.

I would maintain that for the most part the major religious traditions are dealing (phenomenally) in secondary structures to communicate meaning. Though such structures have particular value for those raised within the respective traditions - by their nature - they cannot be successfully transferred across all traditions.

Thus the Bardo teachings of Tibetan Buddhists might therefore carry very little resonance for Christians.
However it should be possible for - say - a Buddhist and Christian to largely agree regarding the primary structural nature of "higher" stages while choosing very distinctive secondary patterns of devotion.

Indeed I would go further. The secondary phenomenal representations of religious traditions could in turn be greatly enriched through closer relationship to their primary structural nature.

3. About 6 years ago, I provided an earlier version of this stage model approach to the pre/trans fallacy (using 8 distinct interpretations).

Perhaps it would be of value to briefly compare these approaches.

In the earlier approach I combined Analytic 1 and Analytic 2 as just one stage i.e. Analytic 1.

What is Analytic 3 in the present then corresponded to Analytic 2 in the earlier approach.

My Analytic 3 (in the former approach) related in effect to the enhanced interpretations of Analytic 2 (vision-logic) afforded through the perspective of the "higher" stages (H1, H2 and H3).

Now my next three interpretations in the current approach (Holistic 1, Holistic 2 and Holistic 3) correspond closely to the equivalent interpretations (Integral 1, Integral 2 and Integral 3) in the former treatment.

The greatest change is with respect to the radial approaches. In the earlier attempt I was in effect offering a reduced interpretation (from the H3 perspective). Thus though I then defined two approaches (Radial 1 and Radial 2) I did not properly appreciate the dynamics associated.

This time - six years on - the approach more accurately reflects a (preliminary) Radial 1 model (with now three stage interpretations, R1, R2 and R3). Therefore though it is still - necessarily - reduced in terms of R2 and R3, it is possible - from the perspective of Radial 1 - to accurately provide the general nature of the dynamics associated with all three radial stages.

4. Of course interpretation works both ways.

Just as we can have an enhanced interpretation of a previous from a more advanced stage (e.g. a H1 interpretation of vision-logic) equally we can have a reduced interpretation of a more advanced from the previous stage (e.g. a vision-logic interpretation of H1).

If we are to accurately characterise the nature of Ken Wilber's approach we need to distinguish carefully his treatment of structures from states.

Though he communicates very well - from the appropriate standpoint of Eastern mystical traditions - the nature of the states associated with the "higher" stages he offers a somewhat reduced interpretation of "higher" structures. Indeed in strict terms he does not even recognise the existence of "higher" structures (such as cognitive) that are properly distinct from the asymmetrical nature of the vision-logic (of the centaur).

Now Wilber might criticise with some justification a writer such as Jung for not properly distinguishing - in Ken's terms - transpersonal from prepersonal stages. However Jung clearly recognises that there is a necessary complementarity between both aspects thus enabling him to maintain an inherently more correct dynamic approach to development.

Therefore though Jung's approach - relative to Wilber's - is greatly lacking in detail on higher contemplative states, implicitly it properly recognises the existence of higher level structures (that are distinct from the middle level) in a manner that is not at all evident in Wilber.

Though Wilber's model - in its own right - is undoubtedly superb - it represents in effect a sophisticated mechanical approach that never - to my mind - properly gets to grips with the nature of dynamic processes. Of course he recognises that development is inherently dynamic. However instead of stressing the complementary (and ultimately paradoxical) nature of all development processes he tends to deal with them though the ever more detailed application of (merely) asymmetric type distinctions.

Thus Jung (as with for example Hegel and Underhill) - whatever their limitations - deal with reality in an inherently dynamic manner.

They may well - at times be dealing with higher-level bi-directional structures in a reduced manner (though they at least they implicitly recognise their existence).

Wilber - with the hardening of his position around the pre/trans fallacy - essentially abandoned the possibility of appropriate dynamic understanding.

He saw correctly that - in explicit terms - the Romantics were reducing differentiated understanding to (confused) integral understanding.

However in trying to deal with this problem in a somewhat absolute fashion he fell into the opposite trap of reducing - in explicit terms - integral understanding to (confused) differentiated notions.

So once again the essence of integral appreciation of pre and trans - on which the Romantic position is explicitly based - is that they are complementary.

The essence of differentiated appreciation of pre and trans - on which Ken Wilber's counter position is explicitly based - is that are quite distinct.

Indeed we can fruitfully use Jungian notions of personality types to clarify an essential difference as between the Romantic and (subsequent) Wilberian positions.

The Romantic position essentially corresponds to the holistic type interpretation of the N (intuitive) type of personality. However when such an interpretation is based on (mere) understanding of the middle stages, this leads to a failure to properly differentiate pre and trans (and trans and pre) in a consistent asymmetric manner.
Ken Wilber's pre/trans fallacy is essentially based on such a weakness.

The Wilberian position - by contrast - in its explicit intellectual formulation corresponds to the analytic type interpretation of the S (sense) type of personality. Once again however when such an interpretation is based on (mere) structural understanding of the middle stages, this leads to a corresponding failure to properly integrate pre and trans (as truly complementary notions throughout development).

Ken Wilber certainly displays marked N (intuitive) abilities. However since his formulation of the pre/trans fallacy, a marked discontinuity has become apparent as between S capacities (which are largely confined to analytic structures of the middle levels) and N capacities (which are in turn largely confined to spiritual states of the higher levels). In other words no true evidence of the important dynamic interaction of structures and states (and states and structures) is evident in his writing.

It is my firm belief therefore that a consistent radial approach - which incorporates both the differentiated and integral aspects of understanding - is necessary to place both the Romantic and Wilberian positions in their proper dynamic context.

5. In relation to the pre/trans fallacy I maintain that Ken Wilber's approach varies from a vision-logic interpretation of the formop stage (in earlier writing) to a vision-logic interpretation of the vision-logic stage.

It therefore does not represent the enhanced interpretations of vision-logic that are offered through the perspective of the "higher" stages (H1, H2 and H3) and the Radial stages (R1, R2 and R3). (We will comment more on the nature of such enhanced interpretations in later notes!)

In this sense therefore his interpretation can correctly be viewed as a limited use of vision-logic.
Even less can Wilber's use of vision-logic therefore do justice do the (structural) understanding associated directly with the "higher" and radial levels.

6. Obviously one cannot provide an intellectually coherent interpretation of an early stage of development from the perspective of that stage (as cognitive development would not yet be sufficiently developed).
However there is an important vertical (and indeed diagonal) complementary interaction as between "lower" and "higher" stages.

Thus if one is to provide an adequate intellectual interpretation of an "early" stage, then it requires the understanding of the corresponding "later" stage.

Therefore to do justice to L1 (the mythic) we require the interpretation of H1 (the subtle). Thus the mature understanding of the complementary dynamics of H1 reflects the corresponding confused dynamics of L1.

Likewise to do justice to L2 (the magic) we require the interpretation of H2 (causal). Finally to do justice to L3 (archaic) we require the corresponding interpretation of H3 (nondual).

Now interestingly the middle of the middle levels (L0, H0) is complementary with itself, i.e. L0 is H0. Therefore the middle level interprets itself (with no complementarity involved).

However it is thereby seriously flawed to use such an interpretation of the middle levels e.g. vision-logic, to interpret any other level of development ("higher" or "lower").

As ultimately all levels are relatively discrete and yet dynamically continuous with other levels, it requires the interpretations of the radial levels to provide a sufficiently adequate perspective that properly interpret all stages.

7. Without getting into discussion as to the precise moment when human life starts, it clearly commences in the womb before actual birth.

So as soon as life commences - by definition - the differentiation and corresponding integration of structures (however embryonic) likewise commences.

8. Though it is theoretically feasible for peak lucid moments of mature spiritual awareness to arise at any stage of development (due to the complementary nature of stages) this is unlikely with respect to the earliest levels L2 (magic) and especially L3 (archaic). This is due to the fact that the differentiation of structures would be so limited that it could not properly support peak moments of integration (that implicitly depend on the reconciliation of poles that have already been differentiated).

It is however certainly possible that with some precocious children development of earlier stages (in some respects) could take place extremely rapidly this enabling lucid spiritual experience at a very early age.
The most common early (lucid) spiritual experience takes place at L1 (mythic). L1 therefore bears a very close relationship with H1 (psychic/subtle). Because they lie on either side of the middle level, with sufficient differentiation, they both partake - to some degree - of its differentiated nature.

Therefore though the relationship of horizontal polarities (interior and exterior) may be - for the most part - still confused at L1, sufficient differentiation will have taken place to perhaps enable frequent moments of the more lucid spiritual awareness (that typifies H1).
Equally - in reverse - because (advanced) spiritual maturity has not yet been properly consolidated at H1, frequent valley periods where one can lapse into the early mythical type spiritual understanding of L1, are also very likely.

9. I believe that young people are often capable of profound existential awareness (e.g. arising from early parental loss) though perhaps not yet able to articulate such experience in an adult fashion.

So we should not deny the authentic nature of an early "dark night" episode in a child due to lack of adequate intellectual interpretation. Implicitly, during such an existential moment, the appropriate structures are provided though explicitly these will be not be accessible after the experience has passed.

However, the more authentic the spiritual nature of such a childhood experience, the less satisfied will one be with the inadequate interpretation provided through habitual modes of understanding.

Thus the experience can thereby act as a considerable catalyst in the pursuit of more sustained spiritual development so that the existential meaning implicit in the early crisis can find its proper context.

10. Though there is a risk of becoming boringly repetitive on this point, it is worth stating - because of its key importance - a number of times.

So once again in asymmetrical terms the forward development of Spirit (the advancement of Spirit through progressive stages of development) has two directions i.e. transcendent and immanent, respectively.
Therefore when we associate the forward with the transcendent direction, development will appear to progress asymmetrically from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal stages.

Likewise when we associate the forward direction of Spirit with the immanent aspect, again development will appear to progress asymmetrically from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal stages.
However, in dynamic relation to each other, the transcendent and immanent aspects move in opposite directions.

Thus in dynamic relative terms what is trans (from a transcendent direction) is pre from the corresponding immanent direction; likewise what is trans from an immanent, is pre from the corresponding transcendent direction.

Therefore in integral terms (where the interdependence of transcendent and immanent directions is recognised) trans and pre (and pre and trans) are merely relative terms, the precise meaning of which - in any given context - is strictly arbitrary (depending on the polar frame of reference).

11. The key problem with Ken Wilber's approach is very easy to identify in that he misleadingly interprets development in terms of just one forward direction (i.e. transcendent).

Thus he repeatedly states that development is the process by which each (lower) is transcended and included in a (higher) stage.

As with many of his ideas his manner of dealing with immanence has not been properly consistent in his various writings. However his recent position would seem to identify immanence in terms of the top-down attempt to integrate each lower from the perspective of the corresponding higher stage.

However this does not strictly represent immanence but rather the transcendent aspect of integration.
The point is that the transcendent and immanent directions are equally important so that we can identify the forward development of Spirit with either aspect.

Only when we explicitly realise these two directions and then recognise their complementary nature through interaction with each other, can we hope to give a balanced interpretation of both differentiation and integration (each with forward and backward aspects).

12. This explains why development in our culture tends to largely plateau at the middle (personal) stages. Because of considerable emphasis on the specialised differentiation of structures (especially with respect to the cognitive aspects) the conscious becomes largely separated from the unconscious thereby reducing the creative interchange of both aspects.

In this way at the middle levels (which are dynamically complementary with themselves) one can become largely cut off from one's prepersonal roots and transpersonal destiny (with both aspects having a relative meaning!)

One indication of this problem is the manner in which the intellectual understanding of the middle stages (e.g. conop, formop and vision-logic) is applied to the interpretation of all development (thereby considerably distorting its dynamic nature).

With certain important reservations, understanding of a middle stage such as vision-logic is directly suited merely for interpretation of development with respect to the middle stages. It is not suited thereby for interpretation of any of the "lower", "higher" or "radial" stages (through it can be profitably used in conjunction with other methods for such interpretation).
This is why I find it so important to provide distinctive stage model interpretations for all development (with each "lower" stage intellectually interpreted through the lens of its complementary "higher" stage).

13. Mozart provides an excellent example of a precocious musical genius. It would seem probable therefore that his particular art form provided peak access (in structural terms) - at a very early age - to "higher" stages of spiritual development.

Einstein represents a famous scientist who - especially in earlier years - had a marked capacity for contemplative wonder at the nature of reality.

The key ideas leading ultimately to his formulation of both the Special and General Theories of Relativity arose from structural insights that were formulated long before the full rational formulation of his hypotheses.
For example the truly marvellous question he asked himself at sixteen "What would it be like to travel on a beam of light?" led later to a groundbreaking new explanation of the nature of light (and of the relationship between space and time).

So it would seem clear that in these quiet moments of deep reflection into the nature of reality that Einstein obtained peak access to "higher" spiritual levels in cognitive terms. (Indeed the relativity of space and time characterises - in dynamic phenomenal terms - the very nature of these "higher" levels).

Indeed I would strongly argue that often the capacity for fresh spiritual insight - ultimately leading to original new artistic and scientific forms - is especially alive in earlier years (before the rational structures of the middle level largely dominate interpretation of reality).

For example a certain hardening of position is often evident in the work of great scientists and philosophers.
So original insights of great power and originality can form at a relatively early age. However the continued attempt to articulate the many implications of these insights in an acceptable intellectual manner can lead to the gradual dulling of the creative insight, which gave these ideas birth.

This is certainly true of Einstein who never really abandoned his "objectivist" view of reality. It would also apply to great philosophical thinkers such as Hegel and Marx whose writings - though initially inspired by plentiful spiritual intuition - subsequently became over-intellectualised, laborious and even tiresome.

Perhaps this could even be said of Ken Wilber. I actually prefer his earlier books, which for me are fresher and inherently more dynamic than later work.

In a sense his formulation of the pre/trans fallacy marks a watershed and a hardening of his intellectual position, which in many ways is no longer continuous with his more poetic spiritual utterances regarding the ultimate nature of reality.
In other words with Wilber the dynamic two-way interdependence as between structures and states (especially for "higher" stages of development) has not been preserved.

One other fascinating issue that arises is that experience which might be largely prepersonal for one individual could through communication be transpersonal for another.

I remember listening over seven years ago to Charlotte Church (who was then 12 years old) and feeling intensely moved by her rendition of devotional religious songs such as "Pie Jesu" and "Panis Angelicus".
Yes, as The title of the CD proclaimed this was truly "The Voice of an Angel".
However one could have the gift to communicate in a deeply moving spiritual fashion with another through some artistic medium (without perhaps having attained much depth of experience in imparting that gift).
So a good actor for example could have an intense effect on an audience (perhaps in a spiritual manner) while perhaps lacking any real sense of personal identity.

Thus what could be largely prepersonal (or just personal) in the performance of the actor could easily be the medium of transpersonal experience for others.

14. I have read with interest the discussions as between Wilber and Washburn on the pre/trans issue.
Washburn - as befits one coming from a Jungian background - implicitly adopts a dynamic perspective (allowing for complementarity as between "higher" and "lower" stages).

However perhaps he does not properly distinguish differentiated from integral type appreciation. It is necessary to make explicit the precise contexts in which the separation of pre and trans notions is valid (differentiation) and then the corresponding contexts in which the complementary interpretation of these terms applies (integration).

Therefore because these distinctions are not made sufficiently clear he leaves himself open in some measure to the charge that he is confusing early infantile spiritual experience with its mature adult equivalent. What is really lacking here is a sufficiently accurate statement - in a dynamically consistent manner - as to how early infant experience is distinct from its adult equivalent.

However in making his point, Wilber somewhat exaggerates his claims. We know - and Wilber knows - that Washburn does not really equate infant with adult type spiritual experience. However it suits his argument to distort the degree of confusion implicit in the Romantic position.

Indeed it seems apparent to me that throughout this debate Wilber "doth protest too much".
He realises - perhaps unconsciously - that dealing with the issue in a fully balanced manner would expose weaknesses in his own position.

When one looks closely at Wilber's argument, it becomes apparent that it relies on (rigid) asymmetrical type distinctions (which in a dynamic context are quite inappropriate).

Here is just one paragraph (in speaking of the Romantic position) on p.154 of "The Eye of Spirit" to illustrate:
"The fatal problem with this view is that the second step (the loss of unconscious union) is an absolute impossibility. As the Romantics themselves soon acknowledged, all things are one with the ground; if you actually lost union with your ground you would cease to exist.

Rather there are only two opinions you have with regard to the Ground: you can aware of your union with Ground or you can be unaware of it. The union is always present, but it can be either conscious or unconscious."

Notice here how we have the reduction of a complex position to absolute either/or statements (suited merely for differentiated appreciation). So Wilber is in fact imposing a form of understanding, which properly reflects the rational level of development of the middle stages on a much earlier stage (where such understanding is inappropriate).

In dynamic terms there is a more appropriate (relative) view with respect to the Ground i.e. that you can be both aware and unaware of it. In other words the degree of experiential realisation of the Ground continually varies.

Therefore though in absolute nondual terms we remain one with the Ground, the realisation of this Ground continually changes throughout development (because of the interaction of both dual and nondual aspects of understanding). So in absolute nondual terms the union is indeed always present. However in relative terms (reflecting the dynamic process of development through the various stages) we are always to a degree both conscious and unconscious of this Ground.

In other words the realisation of the Ground in actual experience reflects the dynamic (two-way relationship) as between the conscious and unconscious aspects of personality.

So once again Wilber is attempting to deal with a dynamic interactive process (that entails two distinct forms of logical interpretation) with just one. In other words he employs a strongly reductionist form of argument in defence of his pre/trans fallacy.

Washburn has raised the possibility of a ptf -3 in his discussions with Wilber. Quoting his own (i.e. Washburn's words) he says:

"This fallacy begins with the premise that pre and trans states are phenomenologically and developmentally different in significant respects and then moves to the unwarranted conclusion that these two states are expressions of two dissimilar states of non-egoic structures or potentials."

First of all this ptf-3 - like Wilber's - really has two forms (which we can refer to as ptf-3 and ptf-4).
Thus ptf-3 would represent a failure to realise that "higher" states are related to "lower".

ptf-4 would then be the corresponding failure to realise that "lower" states are related to "higher".

Ignoring here the need to properly distinguish structures and states, ptf-3 and ptf-4 would thus imply a failure to recognise a degree of complementarity as between pre and trans (and trans and pre) states.
However Washburn's treatment is not sufficiently strong in bi-directional terms to show that such complementarity is the very essence of all integral processes.

It also requires demonstrating - which Washburn does not attempt - how the (integral) fallacies express themselves in a distinct manner for each of the "higher" stages.

Finally it is necessary to show how ptf-3 and ptf-4 are reconciled with ptf-1 and ptf-2 throughout development (which is the basis of what I refer to as radial understanding).

15. Wilber devotes the entire last Chapter of "The Atman Project" to giving his explanation of the Bardo realms (associated with Tibetan Buddhism).

However though I am fully willing to accept the rich meaning and depth of significance of such an explanation (for those associated with the respective religious tradition), I find it inappropriate in a theory of development, which is supposed to have a more general applicability.

As I see it Wilber's problem - as invariably is the case - is that he does not interpret development in a sufficiently dynamic manner. Therefore he tends to look at stages in a discrete (linear) manner without recognising a corresponding interpretation in a dynamic complementary fashion (i.e. where "higher" and "lower" are necessarily interdependent).

So Wilber accepts that transpersonal experiences are available during infancy. However because he adopts a largely discrete interpretation of stages (where pre is clearly separated from trans), he has the difficulty in explaining how these have arisen. Thus in his terms he has to deny that they come from any pre-egoic structures. So he uses - what I personally find a very unconvincing view - that they are attributable to "trailing clouds of glory" as the remembrance of past-life spiritual development.

However this explanation of infantile transpersonal experiences as a kind of spiritual "leakage" from a former life is but an unsatisfactory linear type explanation of what really should be interpreted in an appropriate dynamic manner (without the need for culture-specific Bardo teachings).

So from a dynamic perspective, the reason why transpersonal experiences naturally arise in early infancy is due to the fact that prepersonal and transpersonal (and transpersonal and prepersonal) stages are strongly complementary with each other (in a confused manner) in early development.

So the natural experience of early childhood is that both prepersonal and transpersonal aspects are still combined in a confused (i.e. undifferentiated) manner.

This would also explain why such "transpersonal" experience tends to die out as childhood unfolds.
As structures become more differentiated the (confused) link, as between pre and trans (and trans and pre) structures, is gradually broken (though never totally). Thus the middle level (where structures are properly differentiated) relate to the personal stages (i.e. neither prepersonal nor transpersonal).

16. I have written before on the fact that Wilber tends to confuse the state and structure aspects of stages (especially with respect to advanced spiritual development).

Of course states and structures can be defined in various ways.

In this context, we are dealing with their holistic meaning. In direct terms a (primary) state characterises the (empty) spiritual disposition, which underlines experience at any given stage; a (primary) structure then characterises its (formal) phenomenal nature in the dynamic configuration of poles that defines the stage.

Both states and structures have also more specific secondary expressions, which interact with their primary meanings. Thus actual experience can be characterised by a variety of states (relating to affective, emotional and volitional aspects). Thus the holistic spiritual state (characterising a stage) could be communicated through affective feelings of joy, grief, anxiety etc. cognitive control patterns such as discipline, alertness and volitional attitude such as desire and intent.

Structures also have secondary concrete expressions that are dictated by a variety of factors such as cultural, environmental and personality factors.

For example I would contend that the structures that are typically used by the mystical traditions to convey the spiritual meaning consistent with the "higher" spiritual stages are largely of a secondary rather than a primary nature.

Clearly from a dynamic perspective every stage - in primary terms - is characterised by the interaction of state and structure aspects (as emptiness and form) though the precise balance - in any context - can vary considerably.

Now in dealing with the "higher" spiritual stages, Wilber tends to confuse structures with the permanent attainment of states. He gives the impression that the transpersonal is somehow beyond structures of form (which is very mistaken from a dynamic perspective). Thus for example he offers no clarity on the precise nature of bi-directional cognitive structures that typify appropriate intellectual interpretation of the "higher" levels. As these structures are required for an integral - as opposed to a merely analytic - treatment of development this is indeed a major omission.

Thus in his terms Wilber accepts that it is possible to have peak experience of advanced spiritual states at any stage of development (for example mythic) but that permanent attainment of such states (as enduring traits) requires appropriate development of the higher stages.

However the implication of this position is that there can indeed be some link as between prepersonal and transpersonal stages. Wilber unconvincingly tries to maintain the consistency of his core position on the separation of pre and trans with respect to structures by arguing that spiritually lucid childhood experiences are generally reduced to the structures of the prepersonal stage.

However if this were fully the case there would be no way to distinguish lucid from confused experience of the spiritual. As always to do justice to such experience we need to preserve a proper dynamic context. Therefore at the moment of an actual lucid experience, the spiritual state will be implicitly supported by its appropriate phenomenal structure (or alternatively the structure by the state). Now subsequently after the event the interpretation may well be reduced in terms of the habitual understanding of a lower stage. However a degree of authentic awareness (i.e. of the higher stage) will remain so that one will to a degree remain dissatisfied with the lower level interpretation. This in turn - especially for those with an inherently strong mystical disposition - could act as significant catalyst for rapid spiritual growth so as to realise in a more permanent manner the meaning that has already been experienced on a temporary basis.

The point is that not only are structures and states related for all spiritual experience (whether temporary or otherwise) but that the distinction as between temporary and permanent attainment is always of a relative rather than absolute nature.

Everyone has some attainment of higher stages (however brief and shallow the experience). Likewise no one - in this life - achieves absolute total attainment of pure spiritual states (or structures). Development necessarily remains on a continuum between these two extremes (where pre inevitably interacts with trans and trans with pre respectively).

There is another major problem with Ken Wilber's treatment of spiritual states, which Mark Edwards has perceptively pointed out in two recent contributions to the Reading Room of "The World of Ken Wilber".
This relates to the fact that when using the terminology of waking, dreaming and deep sleep states to characterise the nature of the gross, subtle and causal realms respectively, Wilber mistakenly equates the natural phenomena of dream and sleep (applicable to everyone at whatever stage of development) with experience of the subtle and causal realms.

However for the most part - as Edwards argues - (natural) dream and sleep states relate - using discrete Wilberian definitions - to prepersonal rather than transpersonal experience. So Wilber in his anxiety to link up the great domains of experience (gross, subtle and causal) with the most natural states available to humans (waking dreaming and sleep) in this respect is guilty of one of his own pre/trans fallacies (i.e. ptf-2).

The root of Wilber's problem (in terms of his own definitions) relates to the inadequate way he which he attempts to link states to structures.

Because using such terminology we have only 3 states (or possibly 4 when we include a pure nondual state) we seem to have more distinct structures than states with respect to the various stages of development.
This then - for example - leads Wilber to arguing that the waking state can support earlier prepersonal structures (though the reverse is not the case).

However in dynamic terms this asymmetrical type distinction as between states and structures makes little sense.
In order to provide a balanced interpretation we must recognise that each stage is characterised both by a unique state (and unique structure) which in dynamic terms are interdependent.

Thus if we are to use the terminology of waking, dream and sleep and nondual states we must recognise that all these (except waking) have complementary confused and mature expressions.

So once again - returning to the confusion pointed out by Mark Edwards - this arises due to an inadequate delineation of states.

Using Ken Wilber's own terminology, dream, (deep) sleep and nondual states can be of either a prepersonal or transpersonal nature. For most people - because of insufficient development of the transpersonal realms - (deep) sleep and dream activity will predominantly relate to pre rather than trans experience.

However - because in dynamic experiential terms pre and trans (and trans and pre) are complementary - the possibility of occasional peak moments of awareness (during normal sleep) still remains. However - because of a natural dulling of differentiated appreciation - these are perhaps even less likely that when the waking state is operative in experience.

If therefore Wilber accepted the inevitable complementarity as between both pre and trans notions then it would pave the way for seeing the mythic realm as a (confused) version of the subtle, the magic realm as a confused version of the causal and the archaic realm as a confused version of nondual reality (i.e. in the final movement in development towards nondual attainment).

As Edwards points out however, in sometimes equating dream, (deep) sleep and nondual with the mature interpretations of stages, Ken is - for the most part - guilty of his own pre/trans fallacy (as in practice most experience of these states tends to be of the confused rather than mature variety).

17. Ken Wilber's linear approach to development is well reflected in the manner he refers to the streams of development, as lines that traverse in a relatively independent manner, the various main waves (or basic stages) of development.

However there are a couple of major problems with this approach.

He does not properly distinguish primary streams (what I refer to as key primary modes) from more composite mixtures of these streams.

When it comes to integration an important balance must be obtained as between primary (rather than composite) modes. Therefore from an integral perspective, it is important to distinguish primary from composite aspects.

Thus I would see affective, cognitive and volitional aspects as key primary modes. Like primary colours in printing, all other modes comprise varying configurations of these modes.
For example, artistic, affective, aesthetic and interpersonal development could constitute streams of development. However these are composite rather than primary (and in this case the affective mode would be important in all cases).

Secondly, though there is certain validity in treating streams as relatively independent at the middle stages of development, this is not really valid at "lower" or "higher" stages (especially with respect to primary modes).

Treating streams as relatively independent is dealing with the differentiated aspect of development. However - quite clearly - insofar as the integral aspect is concerned we must treat them as relatively interdependent (which Wilber does not properly do). It is all very well implying that the self is responsible for bringing overall coherence to development. However this does not constitute an adequate demonstration of the dynamics through which integration actually occurs.

In particular the view that the primary "lines" can develop in a relatively independent manner, becomes increasingly untenable as development proceeds into the "higher" spiritual stages.

18. Though I find it somewhat puzzling, in recent years Ken Wilber has been extolling the merits of Spiral Dynamics - which provides a much less impressive treatment of development - as basically in line with his own approach.

However I would strongly maintain that whereas Wilber's approach is undoubtedly superb in terms of its detailed treatment of development issues, it is mechanistic rather than dynamic in its orientation. Also I would be concerned by frequent stereotypical application of simplistic spiral dynamic categories to denigrate the perspectives of others (e.g. political and critical). Indeed in attempting to deal with criticism, Ken Wilber worryingly sometimes comes across as one defending a new ideology rather than an open system of thought.

The very image of a spiral combines both circular and linear notions. Therefore a true spiral dynamic approach to development should likewise combine both linear and circular methods of interpretation in a consistent manner. However as we have seen this certainly is not true of Wilber's approach. So by linking up with Spiral Dynamics he is creating the illusion - rather than the reality - of a proper dynamic method.

19. Let's introduce here some holistic mathematical terminology to interpret the dynamic nature of experience!
To posit simply means to make a phenomenon conscious (which implies separation with respect to the fundamental polarities).

This also implies the separation of conscious and unconscious (with the conscious aspect solely recognised). Therefore an undue emphasis on conscious positing gradually leads to loss of contact with the unconscious.
To negate simply means to make a phenomenon unconscious. However it is important here to distinguish as between rigid and dynamic negation.

Rigid negation arises whenever there is undue emphasis on the conscious positing of phenomena in experience. (In other words rigid negation is always associated with the rigid positing of phenomena!)
This imbalance - in terms of conscious meaning - leads to phenomena acquiring a rigid (absolute) form where only one pole is properly recognised. For example when we recognise objects we are thereby emphasising the exterior pole.

This leads then to unconscious repression (of the opposite unrecognised pole) in the unconscious (which then indirectly expresses itself through projection). So rigid negation implies (unconscious) repression of phenomena!

Dynamic negation arises when understanding is properly bi-directional (leading to paradoxical appreciation of the nature of all phenomena). This enables access to the unconscious in a fluid manner (without undue repression). Such activity only properly develops with advanced spiritual development.

As regards the quadrants, in dynamic interactive terms forward development with respect to - say - the exterior aspect of stages implies - relatively - backward development with respect to interior (and vice versa). This implies for example that trans with respect to one aspect is necessarily always associated with pre understanding with respect to the other.

However the incorporation of forward and backward directions requires the similar incorporation of both conscious and unconscious (through the positing and negation of all stages).


Wilber, K.
1980. The Atman Project: A transpersonal view of human development
Wheaton I11. : Quest books

1983. Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm: Anchor Books

1995. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The spirit of evolution. Boston: Shambhala
Rothberg, D & S. Kelly

1998. Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations with Leading Transpersonal
Thinkers: Quest Books

Mark Edwards, An Alternative View on States,, October 2003

Mark Edwards, An Alternative View on States, Part Two,, November 2003

Ken Wilber, (In-Staff) The Critics Circle: Ken Wilber Responds to Critics, 1/19/2004

Peter Collins, Integrating Structures and States, Part One, September, 2004

Peter Collins, Integrating Structures and States, Part Two, October, 2004