Do Cultures Develop? An Integral Question

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In this video Jeremy Johnson offers some respectful but critical (and thought-provoking) challenges to the way in which cultural development is often portrayed in integral writings. His launching off point is his current reading of Carter Phipps' new book Evolutionaries. I'm also reading Evolutionaries now and I'm really enjoying it. But I do share Jeremy's questions around the framing of cultural development in this and other related texts. I really appreciate Jeremy's contribution in this short video; it helped me clarify in my own mind thoughts and questions I've had stirring that I've struggled to articulate. 

So I wanted to riff a bit off of Jeremy's piece. The basic question Jeremy is raising is whether notions like development and in particular progress make sense when applied to culture. 

I think the question of whether cultures develop or not is too broad. I think we need to specify in which contexts we are (and aren't) talking development. 

For example, in the realm of technology there is clear development. The great theorist Gerhard Lenski is a major influence on Wilber's work. Lenski shows societies moving technologically from hunter-gathering to horticultural to agrarian to industrial to now informational. While there's various points to argue about here and there, overall I think that's a valid general scheme. 

Or consider the work of Max Weber, another strong influence on Wilber. Weber showed how societies go through rationalization processes--how the state apparatus becomes more complex and develop, how bureaucracies arise, expand, diversify, and begin to interrelate to one another. 

Or Marshall McLuhan's description of the great inventions in communication.  

There's also the strong body of research studying individual development in psychology--again another strong influence on Wilber and via Wilber to the rest of integral theory. In that context, development does occur through a stage by stage development. It's never perfect and neat to be sure but there it is. 

But for one thing it's not clear to me that cultural development parallals so neatly individual development. Also, as I've written elsewhere, I don't think self-development makes one a better person. I still think it's good to develop, I just don't think the good is the kind that makes one better. I don't think development should necessarily be equated with progress or more widely evolution. Applying that same logic in this case, I would say cultural-development does not make a culture better either. 

This is why I prefer the term process to progress. I think the processes get more complex and develop in certain ways but I think there's too much conflation of developmental processes with progress. I'm not saying there is no progress either just that it is a much more multi-variable reality than it is often made out to be in the integral world.

Further I think there is another area entirely that development is not the appropriate term: what for lack of a better word we might call culture. Last night my wife and I watched Rocksteady, a documentary on the great Jamaican genre of music (the direct ancestor of reggae). Is music more developed or less since Rocksteady (mid 1960s)? Does the question even make sense? 

So while I think there are some areas of societies that show development, there are others that I don't think do. In the language of integral theory itself, there is a lack of interest in the entire realm of health (states, translation, adaptation). 

levels

I think all this has important implications when it comes to how integral theory often deals with worldviews (and whether they are developing or not).

Integral theory holds itself to be a post-postmodern form of thought. It argues that includes the best of traditional, modern, and postmodern societies while transcending the partiality of each. 

A number of the top theorists working in this world are from the United States: e.g. Ken Wilber, Don Beck, Steve McIntosh, and Carter Phipps. In the US context modernity still rules. However much there may be some soul searching in the wake of the post-2007 financial meltdown, the dominant mythology of the US continues to be the modern dream: financial success via hard work, ingenuity, and pulling oneself up by the boostraps. 

In the US context of much integral writing, postmodernism is therefore considered a cultural value system. Postmodernism is not typically seen as a political and social reality. For much of the integral scene (especially in the US), postmodernism means things like caring about the environment, supporting gay rights (and minority rights generally), and multiculturalism. It might also include New Age elements or spirituality of some sort. In the US, postmodernism is largely seen as a lifestyle choice and value set rather than a movement of consciousness with consequences for politics, society, and economics. 

By framing postmodernism as a cultural value system, integral writers can argue that they are including these values (environmentalism, minority rights, etc) and therefore have incorporated postmodernism into their outlook. They typically then equate modernism with progress and industriousness. So when they offer their integral (or post-postmodern) vision they basically end up advocating a modernist political and economic system with a more compassionate, supposedly postmodern, value system. And this, it is argued, is post-postmodern: transcending while yet including modernism and postmodernism.

This is how we arrive at ideas like Conscious Capitalism and also, I would argue, Holacracy (note: see Olivier's reponse disputing that point in the comments below). In other words, we are to assume the modernist structure of globalized capitalism and then seek to find ways to bring integral consciousness within that reality (including more postmodern values of sensitivity). 

Jeremy quotes Steve McIntosh who sees integral consciousness as modernity in a higher harmonic. Full Disclosure: Steve sent me a galley copy of his forthcoming book Evolution's Purpose--like Carter's book I really have enjoyed it and there's a great deal I agree with and yet this notion of cultural development raises some questions for me. 

conscious capitalism

I'm not against things like Conscious Capitalism or Holacracy. I think it's going to take a lot of people working in many different ways for real change to occur. But I think these more reformist-based efforts are, at best, transitional responses. Others are going to have to work developing entirely new social, economic, and political realities

But to my mind postmodernism is more than simply a cultural value system. Postmodernism also has its own social, technological, and political contexts--contexts that are missing in the US and therefore I think from much of the American integral theorists. 

For example, postmodernism is built around networks (particularly as seen in nature) rather than strictly vertical conceptions of the universe. Postmodernism historically comes from the post-colonial world. The Europeans had lost their empires after two world wars. The US has not lost its empire--in fact its trying to expand it. 

In other words, postmodern politics looks less to me like political correctness and more like Occupy

And this brings us to the question of value. In integral theory there is a notion of three kinds of value: ground, fundamental, and intrinsic. Steve's forthcoming book goes into this point in excellent detail. Ground value is the value that all things are ultimately equal. All beings are equally the display of Emptiness (in Buddhist language), or all are One (in more Vedantic language) or are all the children of God (in theistic language).

Fundamental value is the notion that what is earlier in evolution is more fundamental. If all the bacteria on this planet die, then all other forms of life would be wiped out. If all the humans on the planet die, the bacteria will still be able to survive. Bacteria have more fundamental value than humans. This is also called instrumental value. From the perspective of humans, bacteria are instrumental because without them humans would not survive. Whereas humans are not instrumental to bacterial existence.   

Lastly there is intrinsic value (aka significant value). Humans, like us, are having this conversation whereas bacteria (as best as we know) are not.

Now as a very general point, integral thought tends to emphasize intrinsic value. This is where we get Jeremy's point about an excessively vertical emphasis, with its smooth lines. Sometimes integral also emphasizes ground value (aka the oneness of all reality). The combination of over-emphasizing ground value and intrinsic/significant value leads to a spiritualized philosophy of ascending evolution. This is most apparent in the realm of cultural development--which is why I think Jeremy has focused his aim perfectly in raising the question in the way he has. 

meta types

But integral doesn't have to lead with intrinsic value (or intrinsic and ground values). It could work in reverse. And in fact I think it would be better to do so. As an example, check out Tim Winton's work on Pattern Dynamics. Tim takes enduring patterns in nature and sees forms of human consciousness (or if you prefer cultural consciousness) as able to be based upon patterns in nature. It's a social and political and cultural form of biomimicry in a sense. My sense is that Pattern Dynamics leads with ground value (what he calls Source) and foundatlonal value (the foundation of enduring, sustainable, healthy ecosystems). It then derives the levels of consciousness as patterns in nature. In Pattern Dynamics, postmodernism isn't the Western counterculture of Boomers but rather organic realities like creativity, emergence, adaptation, and so on. The intrinsic value of humans in this model is one in which they have the conscious choice to incorporate these patterns, leading to a fully integrated sphere of mind (noosphere) and sphere of life (biosphere).

That, to me, would be a more developed culture but that had developed by going deeper (not higher). 

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Update I: For those interested in exploring further the view Jeremy is sharing, check out his recent piece on Electric Fairytales--The Return of Mythic Consciousness in Movies. Jean Gebser is a major influence on Jeremy--Jeremy mentions Gebser in the video. Gebser did not see the worldviews he articulates as moving in a vertical developmental sequence (contrary how he is often depicted in integral theory). Gebser is for me the great cultural theorist, whereas Wilber is more influenced by trends in technology, psychology, and sociology. I do think there are strengths and weaknesses to both approaches and it's good to study both. 

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35 comments

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Wednesday, 04 July 2012 15:07 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    This is fantastic, thank you Chris and Jeremy for this critical inquiry. Your points so deeply resonate with me, and start to scratch some of the same itches I've felt.

    One point I found interesting.

    Chris, you said: "Now as a very general point, integral thought tends to emphasize intrinsic value. This is where we get Jeremy's point about an excessively vertical emphasis, with its smooth lines. Sometimes integral also emphasizes ground value (aka the oneness of all reality). The combination of over-emphasizing ground value and intrinsic/significant value leads to a spiritualized philosophy of ascending evolution. This is most apparent in the realm of cultural development--which is why I think Jeremy has focused his aim perfectly in raising the question in this way. "

    I completely agree. I also like your distinction between individual and cultural development.

    I also want to throw in there, that one of Ken's big influences on cultural development was also Jean Gebser, and I would say that Gebser actually has a more nuanced and different take on cultural development than the straight progression model that is emphasized in integral and the EnlightenNext community.

    I love Gebser because his notion of the Integral "stage" is not a linear development. He actually never used the word evolution because he thought it was too bound into rational thinking and linear views of time and progress. Gebser argued that time radically changed at the integral level, and past and present all became transparent and available in the now.

    This is why the constant emphasis on transcendence and needing to push people to integral never really resonated with me. Energetically, I feel much more of a falling quality~ falling into transparency and beauty with all that is and being able to access multiple-streams of intelligence and knowing all at once.

    That doesn't mean losing important distinctions and discernment, but I would argue that it does mean letting go of rigid linear developmental conceptions.

    I often feel the heavy transcendent energetics of certain pockets of the integral community carry a phobos quality (Phobos is what Wilber articulated as when we fear the lower), and that it distorts and constructs evolution within a somewhat fear-based and not openly breathing reality for me (hence why I'm doing all this work on the dark side right now :)LOL.

    I think there is, like Jeremey mentioned, also a need to be at the "cutting edge" that gets tied in with how we construct developmental reality, and can carry its own elements of fear, hubris and constriction...


    Anyways, thanks again for this respectful, open and important inquiry!

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Wednesday, 04 July 2012 18:11 posted by David MacLeod

    Chris and Jeremy, very important material here, thank you! And Vanessa, what you have added is extremely helpful - "Energetically, I feel much more of a falling quality~ falling into transparency and beauty with all that is and being able to access multiple-streams of intelligence and knowing all at once."

    Since we may be at or near the end of the industrial growth era, it is very important to be thinking about our models of evolution, progress, and growth. We tend to have horrible connotations associated with downturns and "collapse."

    "Having been on the mountain so long, we can barely remember the home in a far-off valley that we fled as it was PROGRESSIVELY destroyed by forces we did not understand. But we know that each step brings us closer to a sheltered valley where we can make a new home."
    - David Holmgren, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

  • Comment Link Tim Winton Thursday, 05 July 2012 10:30 posted by Tim Winton

    Thanks Jeremy, Chris, Vanessa and David. I've been sitting with what is actually emerging for me in this discussion and why I've been thinking about it all day. Jeremy has identified a really important point when he asks, 'how can we incorporate all of this [focus on an evolutionary perspectives] into a world culture?' That's the nub of it for me. How will focusing on one particular pattern, one that has been selected from a large number of other general patterns of organisation at work in the universe, help us create a better world. I think Jeremy's intuition is correct–it won't really, and it could actually be counterproductive, if a large chunk of the population of that world has good reason to believe you have chosen that particular pattern because is happens to be one that works for you.

    The problem as I see it isn't that 'evolution' as a concept isn't useful. I think it can be, but only if it is incorporated into a discussion where other patterns, perhaps ones mentioned like 'health' or 'emergence' or 'network'–patterns that might actually help recognise cultural strengths and contributions outside any particular (powerful/privileged) subset of global culture–get equal billing, or at least the potential for equal billing where relevant. Likewise we need the same inclusiveness for perspectives, like 'falling into transparency and beauty', 'multiple intelligences all at once' and the 'dark side', that Vanessa has been working to include.

    I think that the selection and prioritisation, of any small set of these patterns (I refer to them as meta-types) is potentially problematic. Zach Stein's presentation at ITC 2010 where he pointed out the parallels between the Integral community and the Eugenics community sent chills up my spine. Its not the selection of a pattern or set of patterns that is dangerous, its the mono-focus where they are given explanatory powers well beyond their useful domain that is the problem. The five AQAL meta-types are fine as far as they go. They are very useful as truth amongst truths, but they are potentially dangerous where they are promoted as a dominant 'truth'. It is the same with any chosen pattern or patterns. That's why it is no good reacting to the excessive us of one pattern, with its opposite. Or, thinking that it is somehow 'bad'.

    I haven't read Evolutionaries, so I can't really comment on whether this kind of obsessive focus is happening there, but it feels to me that this is part of the concern being expressed in Jeremy's critique.

    In response to this 'totalizing' tendency that seems to creep into perfectly good (but partial) theory, I'm advocating two things: firstly, that we include as many patterns as are reasonably useful in our cultural discourse (I think there are hundreds at least) and secondly, that we have an ongoing all inclusive conversation that allows us to determine what patterns should be the basis of our normative commitments in any given context. It just doesn't seem sophisticated enough to privilege a few patterns, imbue them with wide ranging explanatory powers across multiple contexts and expect that this will work in our now very complex planetary environment.

    I've never really described the pattern language I use as a form of socio/politico/cultural bio mimicry, but this is an astute insight. If I'm in the garden and my primary focus is on the 'eveolution' of the plants, or even the succession of plant communities, then the garden will fail. In the garden I have to pay attention to a multitude of natural patterns like 'network' interactions (pollination), 'emergent' dynamics (like pest infestations), and the general 'health' of the garden as a whole. In fact, by observing and interacting with natural systems you begin to see that you can't get stuck on one or even a few patterns of organisation. You have to develop this fluid ability to shift and change patterns and perspective as the dynamics of the system dictate, and you can only do that as a kind of deep inquiry/conversation with the garden itself. For me, its not necessarily the pattens we choose, but our ability to share them equitably and effectively that is the most important thing for creating a healthy planetary cultural.

  • Comment Link Bonnitta Roy Thursday, 05 July 2012 12:32 posted by Bonnitta Roy

    Hey there,
    Thanks Jeremy and Chris for exploring this question....

    I agree with the overall impression that is being communicated in the video.

    Just noting how the terms "development" "evolution" "symbiosis" "emergence" slip in and out in the video. Seems to me that the field of inquiry deserves a closer inspection on how these dynamics actually work, what the words are saying when we are saying them.

    This is part of what the new evolutionary developmental systems theorists are tackling -- how are all these dynamics related in a larger process system?

    Great stuff!

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Thursday, 05 July 2012 22:15 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    "Conscious capitalism" seems a bit like the Magna Carta to me, limiting the authority of the king and establishing firm rights for nobility. The triple bottom line amounts to saying that profit is primary, but no longer absolute and that social and environmental responsibility now get some weight within the corporations own decision making process beyond what government regulators are forcing on them.

    Holocracy, Robb Smith's 'Benefit Corporation', Nucor Steel's organizational model, and the Mondragon Co-op are all advances towards a more postmodern approach that has healthily absorbed the deconstruction of unhealthy industrial capitalism at the least.

    You don't get all the way out of the capitalist mode until you get into the Eisenstein-ish territory. While we're still plugged into the present system of profit-maximizing international finance and debt-based central bank currency we're fundamentally stuck.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 05 July 2012 22:53 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all the comments. These are really rich.

    @Vanessa, I really dig the falling imagery. I really feel that in my bones.

    @David, I think your point there about our struggles with notions of collapse and so on is potentially very fruitful. If you're interested, I'd love to hear you write a piece maybe on the subject. I personally think that would be a fascinating read.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 05 July 2012 22:57 posted by Chris Dierkes

    @Lincoln. Thanks for the comment. I do agree those systems are better than what we've got. As someone who works in a very established (and creaky) institutional structure I do have a personal affinity and heart for reformers. I respect what they bring.

    What I don't sense though from those quarters is a realization that they are reformers. I don't think the mindset is one that necessarily agrees that such work is a means to some further much more radical end. Fair enough--that's a point of view, it's one I happen to share and others might not. It's up for debate for sure.

    So, with my biases out there, I would say their rhetoric strikes me as a tad naive--as if such movements are simply going to fix everything. It's a little too much wanting to have their cake and eat it too for my tastes.

    Nevertheless what I do not agree with (whether in commerce or politics) is what I would see as revolutionary naivete--it's all the same, there's no difference between the political parties (or in this case various business models), what we need is total revolution, etc. While I'm partially critical of some of the elements like Holocracy, I do think it is qualitatively better than what we currently have and that improvement isn't something to denigrate.

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Friday, 06 July 2012 00:12 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    @ Chris: Yes, I like to think about the 13 colonies in the USA before the revolution. They all had representative assemblies prior to 1776 so the people were familiar with the concepts and systems of self-governance. The radical leap from Monarchy to Republic was probably not as radical as is commonly seen in present propaganda for the average person of the day(well, for the average property owning white male voter).

    All these reform efforts in the conscious-green-cooperative capitalist constellation are getting people familiar and working out the kinks in the various forms of workplace democracy, multiple & equal stakeholder relations, mutual & cooperative ownership, and other concepts and systems that will come into play in an economy beyond capitalism.

    And I'm just talking about the direction I hope things go in the USA. I have no idea if this represents evolution or progress or just desperate adaptation to horrifying unnatural conditions, but I like to think that the way of life I'm dreaming of would be one where more people would be more free and more people would be more loved and cared for.

  • Comment Link Olivier Compagne Friday, 06 July 2012 03:00 posted by Olivier Compagne

    Hey Chris. I find myself in an interestingly uncomfortable position when reading your post here. While I am sympathetic to the general stance of your inquiry (I often frown upon the integral hubristic naivety myself), I wonder how Holacracy ended up in this basket.

    I work at HolacracyOne and use Holacracy every day, and in fact, one reason I love it is precisely because it avoids the pitfalls you attribute to it, simply by staying grounded in practice.

    I cringe when I read that Holacracy "assumes the modernist structures of capitalism and then seek ... ways to bring integral consciousness within that reality". Holacracy does exactly the opposite! It proposes to change the system and the power structures, but lets people be where they are, with whatever consciousness they have. It's usually one of the critiques I hear against Holacracy: it doesn't try to "develop people" enough.

    Holacracy is anything BUT a model trying to develop people, the tribe, the culture... Rather it's a new "game" with new rules that are made to prevent individual egos to dominate others or the organization. And I personally think that, as a side effect, people end up having better conditions to "grow", though it's not at all an intention baked into the system.

    And if you were to push the logic of Holacracy to a larger scale than what it is currently applied to, you would find that it points to new social, economic and political realities - and it does so through extrapolating on concrete, current applications, not by advocating grand principles that others should apply. More importantly, I readily argue that Holacracy, as a system, is a qualitative leap forward compared to Cultural Creative movements AND integrally/evolutionary-oriented movements, because it bakes into a tangible structure the evolutionary and transpersonal principles that are only talked about in other movements.

    Everything I see that you associate with Holacracy is so far from what it actually is that I assume you have a very superficial understanding of it - and it may be partly HolacracyOne's fault for not providing enough free and open material. But if you are interested in supporting such claims about Holacracy, I respectfully challenge your conclusions and would like an explanation of how you reach them...

  • Comment Link Don Edward Beck Friday, 06 July 2012 16:57 posted by Don Edward Beck

    This is a very useful conversation. So many issues are semantic rather than substantial. Few in the so-called "integral world" truly grasp the interaction between and among the "codes" I will call them since they only become "stages" when frozen in time. Further, it is essential to consider THREE ELEMENTS -- the Life Conditions and/or Problems of Existence and then the Priority Codes (levels waves, orientations etc that rise out of the Life Conditions -- but then, the Beliefs and Behaviors that flow out of the Codes.

    One needs to bring the Whole Spiral to bear on serious or wicked problems by showing each of the evolutionary codes what's in it for them. I have tried to get the sustainability crowd to stop attacking Blue and Orange.
    I will use the color language t this point: There is Purple because there was/is Beige; there is Red because there was/is Beige and Purple; there is Blue because there was/is Beige, Purple, Blue etc. The developmental or "evolutionary aspects of the patterns are a function, not of the systems themselves, but primary because of the emergence of different Life Conditions of reality, complexity and the nature of indigenous capacities. We are about (Elza Maalouf and I) to begin a major study of the Life Conditions in Egypt with regard to the variations in Stratified Democracy (a developmental track) that will need to be considered in dealing with the full range of differences in the Egyptian Brotherhood, the Military, the protest generation, and the Middle Eastern context, including Israel (and of course the Yankee dollar!)

    History of full of examples of evidence of the patterns of emergence in cultures -- but they are NOT linear; they are NOT frozen stages: and all of the versions will reflect the indigenous cultures,
    historical antecedents, myths of origin,
    bioregions, land forms,weather patterns, and the biogentic foundations (genetics) of the population groupings. Add in wild cards and the luck of the draw.

    I like Holarchy -- you will see many of the concepts are reflected in Spiral Dynamics, especially in the template designs and bar code technologies.

    Let me also insist that the full Gravesian bio-psyo-social system is now being verified using fMRI research -- just as Graves predicted we would find in the "bio" element -- the degrees of activation of the Central nervous system. neurologal system.
    It is time for all of us to move beyond the initial states of "integral" into more mature, experiential, and practical perspectives. Professor Clare W. Graves was the very first to lay out this entire design in the mid and late l950s. We all owe him a great deal of respect
    If you are truly interested in all of this may I suggest you look at the 13th annual confab in Dallas in September. We are bringing back many of our veterans to make presentations from around the world.
    Best to all,

    By the way, Carter Phipps depiction of Spiral Dynamics and my role is amazing accurate. See the book Evolutionaries.
    Don

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 06 July 2012 22:39 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Olivier,

    Thanks for the comment. How I thought of Holocracy in this context was the image in the white paper ("Organization Evolved") page in the image titled 'from hierarchy to holarchy'. The image takes the classic modern-era business enterprise and then draws circles rather than simply unilateral descending lines. As I said I think that's better than what the modernist status quo. But it makes me wonder whether that is truly a radical break of the order you are speaking about it or a reform of the existing reality.

    http://www.holacracy.org/sites/default/files/resources/organization_evolved.pdf

    As I said in the piece my concern is that the integral world too much sees postmodernism as a cultural value set only (and not as consisting of various technological and social formations) and therefore the integral (or post-postmodern) approaches are assuming too much modern structure while incorporating more postmodern (and potentially post-postmodern) values.

    All that being said, I would be very interested if you wanted to write a rebuttal to that position about Holocracy that we could put through edits and possibly publish here. I think it would be a great debate to have.

    In particular I think you should flesh out your argument in these two 'grafs:

    "Holacracy is anything BUT a model trying to develop people, the tribe, the culture... Rather it's a new "game" with new rules that are made to prevent individual egos to dominate others or the organization. And I personally think that, as a side effect, people end up having better conditions to "grow", though it's not at all an intention baked into the system. And if you were to push the logic of Holacracy to a larger scale than what it is currently applied to, you would find that it points to new social, economic and political realities - and it does so through extrapolating on concrete, current applications, not by advocating grand principles that others should apply. More importantly, I readily argue that Holacracy, as a system, is a qualitative leap forward compared to Cultural Creative movements AND integrally/evolutionary-oriented movements, because it bakes into a tangible structure the evolutionary and transpersonal principles that are only talked about in other movements."

    I'd like to see what you mean there. In other words, I'm open to being schooled :)

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 06 July 2012 22:40 posted by Chris Dierkes

    sorry that was supposed to be page 3 in the second line.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 06 July 2012 22:49 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Tim,

    I'm glad you connected with the Biomimicry idea.

    I really like what you say here:

    "The problem as I see it isn't that 'evolution' as a concept isn't useful. I think it can be, but only if it is incorporated into a discussion where other patterns, perhaps ones mentioned like 'health' or 'emergence' or 'network'–patterns that might actually help recognise cultural strengths and contributions outside any particular (powerful/privileged) subset of global culture–get equal billing, or at least the potential for equal billing where relevant... It just doesn't seem sophisticated enough to privilege a few patterns, imbue them with wide ranging explanatory powers across multiple contexts and expect that this will work in our now very complex planetary environment."

    Amen dude.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 06 July 2012 23:49 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I think it's important to remember that Ken's primary background comes from the mystics and psychology, developmental psychology in particular. In those domains, there are maps that portray (with validity) movement in stage-like formation. It's very individual-based. It has strengths and weaknesses.

    But I'm less clear that social or cultural development work that way.

    So I think Graves' work (much like Gebser's) got interpreted through that lens. I'm personally skeptical of the psycho part in the Gravesian bio/psycho/social. In particular from Katie Heikkinen and Zak Stein's work on developmental metrics and models.

    http://integral-review.org/documents/stein%20and%20heikkinen,%20models%20metrics%20measuremt%20vol.%205%20no.%201.pdf

    I do think there is a lot of of potential for the social in the Spiral work. iow, Stages are stages and codes are codes. I love that you mentioned weather patterns. I think the ecosystem side of Spiral is potentially quite fruitful.

    When it comes to the social, I like the distinction around Life Conditions, Priority Codes, and Behaviors/Beliefs). I think a notion from Wilber's post-metaphysics would be helpful here as well: the notion that structures are probability waves of locating certain actions, beliefs, behaviors, etc.

    In this sense I agree with Tim Winton above--we are really talking about patterns and we humans are selecting, emphasizing, and combining various patterns at various points. I do think the patterns the Spiral points to the as the Priority Codes are deeply valid and potent ones. But I take them in a more post-metaphysical way: they are patterns that help offer us probabilities of organizing best practice and locating belief systems, behaviors, and so forth.

    Overall I continue to question whether there is as synthetic a link between individual developmental and cultural/social development. I think the latter is a much tougher nut to crack. I'll be interested to see what you and Elza come up with in response to Egypt.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 06 July 2012 23:51 posted by Chris Dierkes

    I also recommend for anyone interested, Zak Stein's points around the limits of developmental theories in relation to individuals.

    http://developmentalobserver.blog.com/2011/10/09/zak-stein-on-limitations-of-developmental-theories/

  • Comment Link Olivier Compagne Saturday, 07 July 2012 03:18 posted by Olivier Compagne

    @Chris, if the image you have seen in the "Organization Evolved" white paper is your only exposure to Holacracy, I would appreciate more caution on your part in your post.

    The interpretation you made of this picture is yours, and it misses the mark - which is to be expected without reading the paper.

    I'm not very interested in writing a rebuttal post if you don't provide arguments for your point. Even less if, in spite of you knowing that you don't know much at all about Holacracy, you keep your post as-is, without any caveat letting the reader know.

    If you're interested in learning more on Holacracy, I'd suggest reading the white paper, or watching this 1-hour intro which might be longer, but more up-to-date: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogOG7mqSvSQ

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Saturday, 07 July 2012 06:26 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Olivier,

    I made a note in the piece telling folks to check out your comments to the contrary.

    My reference to the image was more indicative. But you're right I should have fleshed out more what I was trying to say there so here goes...

    And just for the record, I have read the whole white paper as well as a number of pieces on the blog and the site more generally (including the Constitution). I've found dynamic steering a very helpful practice (in particular the use of no objections. I've also been in a part of groups that used integrative decision making. There's an incredible amount of great thought and work that goes into it.

    But in thinking about this piece from Brian about leadership as a process (an idea & practice that's really sharp), I think there's a missing element.

    http://www.holacracy.org/blog/empowerment-is-dead-long-live-empowerment

    And that missing piece is an idea from Giorgio Agamben: the idea of the state of exemption.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Agamben#Homo_Sacer:_Sovereign_Power_and_Bare_Life_.281995.29

    Agamben discusses how since the sovereign enacts the law the sovereign is in a sense unbound from the law. With a constitutional democracy, the monarch is then bound to the constitution but the constitution itself might be in a state of exemption. And this might apply to those who enact the constitution (whether of a government or a corporate entity).

    And this is more what I meant above around modernism mixed with integral insights, particularly concerning globalized capitalism. I would say globalized capitalism is in a state of exemption from the law worldwide. There is no global legal commons.

    While there is a great deal of discussion, particularly in the US about the regulation of commerce by the government, I would say on the larger scale the governments serve the market.

    I went to the FB invite for the Evolutionary Markets discussion for Holacracy and these bullet points for the call caught my eye:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/345950375474223/

    - Why free markets work & how they catalyze cooperation;
    - The importance of the rule of law & property rights, which typically don’t exist within a company;
    - How current governmental systems invariably create space where certain people are able to forcibly coerce & dominate others through the sanctioned power of the state;
    - The potential impact of purpose-driven legal entities running with Holacracy, intertwined together, in helping to transform that system into something more effective & free of coercion.

    These strike a warning bell for me. Of course it's true that governmental systems do create space for coercion and domination through the state. And that needs to be dealt with. But from which angle and for what purpose? With the emphasis on free markets and property rights this could be a kind of Nozickian libertarian dreamworld (or maybe nightmare).

    As John Milbank showed it requires a large state with sanctioned violence in order to create property rights (whether of the individual or the corporation) and rule of law.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Milbank

    And what I don't see in that analysis is a recognition of the lawless state of capitalism--not simply the problems of governments.

    And this is my concern. Various organizations and companies might be Conscious in their capitalism, others Holacratic--and those are excellent things don't get me wrong--but basically they do so within a lawless system.

    The last bullet says 'in helping to transform to something more effective and free of coercion.' But to me that must include both state coercion and financial coercion (on the state and on society). Given the context, I read free of coercion to mean state coercion. And then we have the desire to cultivate the values of non-coercion, efficiency, property rights, and rule of law. Those are values of the modern era--they're good ones (if limited) but that sounds pretty modernist to my ears.

    So I'm back to your comment:

    "And if you were to push the logic of Holacracy to a larger scale than what it is currently applied to, you would find that it points to new social, economic and political realities - and it does so through extrapolating on concrete, current applications, not by advocating grand principles that others should apply. More importantly, I readily argue that Holacracy, as a system, is a qualitative leap forward compared to Cultural Creative movements AND integrally/evolutionary-oriented movements, because it bakes into a tangible structure the evolutionary and transpersonal principles that are only talked about in other movements."

    As I said before, I think it would be really great to read you flesh that out in a full piece. I think it would be great here on the site. I've raised a question and some concerns i have. I think it would be great to hear you offer your perspective.

    Being free of coercion is a valid value, but is there talk of justice and/or just distribution in Holacracy?

    To me the rub is we have a debt-based monetary system and therefore we are constantly having to follow the dictates of a growth-driven ideology in economics. It's based in scarcity. Corporations have to serve those interests.

    Holacracy has made a strong case for changing the perception and practice of power within an organization but I'm unclear what it thinks about the wider contexts of which it is a part, as a commercial entity.

    thanks man.

  • Comment Link karen Saturday, 07 July 2012 20:32 posted by karen

    What I find interesting in Wilber's model is he sees gross (senorimotor realm), subtle (world of thought) and causal (root of attention or witness) as waves or streams of development that develop simultaneously but not necessarily in the Hegelian transcend and include fashion.

    In Integral Psychology (p. 126), the subtle line takes a U shape, not the linear progression in the developmental models. Jenny Wade in Changes of Mind sees this pattern too as do subtle energy healers like Barbara Brennon. In short, somewhere around six years old when the self or ego comes on line, our space time orientation changes as does the entire world.

    For example, I had a near death experience when I was nearly four years old, but it did not look like the ones I read about years later when Moody came out with his book, because it was like a Giant Eye Episode in which I saw everything at once. This is opposed to seeing from a particular orientation like hovering over the operating table say. In my late 30's I began having what I called Giant Eye Episodes, which might resemble this U shape of development and not the linear transcend and include dynamic. It would look more holographic maybe.

    I do have issues with some of our cultural models like Spiral Dynamics. I ask: "Does Purple even exist in a world of anthropologists observing "Purple" in the field? In a sense we cannot say that we evolve from Square 1, because a three year old born in today's world is not genetically, environmentally, culturally Purple, because this child was not born into a Purple world (the one maybe 100,000 years ago).

    To reference Tim Wintun's symbol of evolution, which is a vertical line with arrows pointing up and down, and a spiral in between with no arrows in its trajectory, so what I see is the past evolves as we evolve... the spiral looking more like a moebius strip maybe. So, if some of our evolutionaries are seeing evolution as a vertical line with one arrow pointing up, then that could account for some dissonance.
    -K

  • Comment Link Olivier Compagne Monday, 09 July 2012 22:02 posted by Olivier Compagne

    Chris,

    My bad, I thought you had literally only looked at this image of circles drawn upon the organization chart.

    One simple reason you may have a hard time finding what you are looking for in Holacracy is that Holacracy is not trying to be an integral theory of socioeconomics. It was developed from direct practice as a system for the micro-level of the organization, not as a global solution for the world or as a system to govern people.

    Only recently, with other organizations becoming Licensed Holacracy Providers, we have institutionalized a system of cross-links across organizations. It's a new territory we are exploring, which is super exciting IMO, and very promising, but whatever evolution it will bring, is not here yet (more on this http://www.holacracy.org/resources/scaling-holacracy-across-organizations-the-lhp-circle ). So today, Holacracy has not much to say about the inter-organizations scale, let alone the larger socioeconomic scale. Maybe it never will, who knows?

    True, we can try to envision the future. When I see how Holacracy works, it's obvious to me that the system is in alignment with integral & evolutionary principles and enacts that reality at the organizational level (more on this: http://www.holacracy.org/resources/integral-theory-holacracy ). Now, I would also say that at this micro level, it carries seeds that, by extrapolation, can be considered pointing toward broader and global implications that would transcend a lot of the current global problems we face. But I don't really want to develop this topic here for two reasons:

    1. Because it is something you can really best see through practice. You need to have a good understanding of Holacracy first, before you can see and understand these clues. Without the shift of context assimilated (from conventional to Holacracy), you're bound to misunderstand the clues.

    2. And most importantly, because I could be taken seriously ;-) at this point these ideas are really just that, ideas. They're fun to talk about, but they are mental extrapolations ungrounded from practice - which means they are most likely wrong. According to Holacracy's evolutionary principles, upfront grand system designs are bound to fail because they inevitably contain a part of mental projection disconnected from reality. And reality always wins over what we want it to be. I'd add that such an attempt at grand design is a typical symptom of the modernist hubris - even the progressive ones that try to solve modernism's pitfalls. Instead, Holacracy provides a structure and processes to evolve the organization incrementally, in order to constantly fit as best as possible the ever-changing reality.

    So, Holacracy is not a specific organizational design that we at HolacracyOne think is the best. It's a meta-system to make an organization evolve to its most exquisite form, in the direction of the organization's purpose. It's a meta-system that bakes in mechanisms to ensure that the people using it cannot pervert it so serve their own ego, but instead can only use it to better improve the organization in service of its purpose. In that sense, Holacracy is clearly NOT a system that assumes modernist structures, it's exactly the opposite - and the only example of a truly post-modern structure that I have seen (though I haven't seen everything:). Not because the people within it claim to be "integral" or proclaim a grand integral mission, but because the structures of the system itself embed trans-egoic mechanisms.

    So, going back to the macro-scale you are talking about. I'm not sure that whatever system you would arrive at, by extrapolating Holacracy's micro-level processes to the macro-level, would correspond to what you imagine to be the next best thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure it would NOT correspond to your vision, nor mine, nor any of us', because the world is too complex for any of us to design a perfect system from our armchair - let alone to constantly evolve it as reality changes. It is the modern trap which Holacracy successfully avoids by only framing the meta-processes through which everyone can participate to evolving the system.

    Lastly, let me say that Holacracy is far from perfect and never will be. That's why it is constantly evolving. Holacracy is embodied in the Constitution, which is currently in version 3.0. It inevitably carries loopholes where some people can trick the system and dominate. That's why it is constantly being updated, based on feedback from reality.

    I haven't replied to you point by point, but I hope this helps clarify what Holacracy is and - as importantly - what it is not. Thanks for the stimulating discussion!

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Tuesday, 10 July 2012 03:58 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    That's awesome, Olivier!

  • Comment Link David Marshall Friday, 13 July 2012 03:34 posted by David Marshall

    Interesting article, Chris.

    Chris: "Gebser did not see the worldviews he articulates as moving in a vertical developmental sequence (contrary how he is often depicted in integral theory)."


    Are you sure about this? I am not a Gebser expert, but judging by his article (or chapter?) "The Invisible Origin: Evolution as a Supplementary Process" it sounds like he did consider integral as a higher developmental emergent structure, at least in some sense.

    Here is an excerpt:

    "This perceiving (Wahr-Nehmen) is, how the integral consciousness realizes, whereas the magical is bound to events, the mythical to experience and viewing, the mental-rational to concluding and representing. Thanks to the integral consciousness structure, all structures constituting us, the mental, mythical, magical down to the archaic, are becoming transparent to us and hence integratable. . . .

    "It is aperspectival, i.e. freed from the non-perspectival and the perspectival way of seeing and thinking; it is arational, i.e. freed from the prerational, irrational and rational forms of realization; it is integral, since all the earlier consciousness structures down to the archaical have become transparent to us. . . .

    "A more intensive consciousness, the integral, managing all the prior consciousness structures in a life and spirit conserving way without further violation by them, becomes capable to conceive through darkness, twilight and possible dazzle the pristine consciousness, or, as Sri Aurobindo calls it, the universal consciousness, the origin. Where this happens, our consciousness transforms itself into the integral, thanks to its participation in the pristine and cancels all our 'gridlike compulsive ideas.' "


    I think he may mean some different things by "integral," "intuition," and other such words than Wilber or Aurobindo, even when he says he's agreeing with Aurobindo, but it seems like there is some evolutionary unfoldment and hierarchy there.

    Does he present it differently elsewhere? One thing he does that's different than Wilber particularly but also Aurobindo is give "integral" a status kind of like "the witness" and place it outside of evolution in a sense. Unlike Aurobindo and Wilber, he conflates states and stages a little:

    "The integral consciousness, exists outside the consecutive steps of development of this world. This leads us to an obvious answer to the question just asked: How had the forming of the new consciousness become possible?"

    But this seems to be because he conflates "integral" with deep-state awareness a little too much. He does seem to rate the overall structure as a higher emergence, however:

    "It [integral] became possible, even necessary, since the human consciousness had exhausted the capability of the prior consciousness structures, even the mental-rat ional, to such an extent, that their excessive use threatened and partly already led to negative abuses of the magical, mystical and mental capabilities. But how is it in life when we have exhausted a possibility? To continue life we have to open up new ones, we should be open for novelties and ready. That must have been the case. The human was ready for a new consciousness possibility and hence a new mode of realization."

    http://www.cejournal.org/GRD/JeanGebser.htm

  • Comment Link David Marshall Friday, 13 July 2012 03:37 posted by David Marshall

    I said: "I think he may mean some different things by "integral," "intuition," and other such words than Wilber or Aurobindo, even when he says he's agreeing with Aurobindo."


    But I think there is also quite a bit of overlap. I was mostly referring to the difference between Gebser's interpretation of such words as "intuition" and Aurobindo's.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Saturday, 14 July 2012 05:29 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the comments. In terms of Gebser you're right he does see the integral as one that includes all the previous structures (transparent, diaphanous is his term actually). So yes in some sense integral is clearly superior in the sense that it is this inclusive transparency. But it's definitely different than the linear conception you see elsewhere.

    We'd probably need to call in Jeremy (maybe Bonnitta too) to do the Aurobindo/Gebser comparison. That could be really interesting. Though Gebser sees everything coming out of the Origin whereas Aurobindo's in for the descent of Supermind. So while I think there is overlap between Gebser's integral and Aurobindo's Intuitive (or perhaps more with Aurobindo's illumined mind) they are held in slightly different contexts. Though certainly Gebser does claim Aurobindo as an influence.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Saturday, 14 July 2012 05:55 posted by Chris Dierkes

    thanks Olivier. I think those are all really fair responses. I think this is an area that I hope The Holacracy folks start to look into. And I still think you should write that piece :)

  • Comment Link David Marshall Monday, 16 July 2012 00:56 posted by David Marshall

    Hi, Chris, nice to talk to you.

    Judging from the article I linked above ("The Invisible Origin: Evolution as a Supplementary Process"), it looks like Gebser has a view that's some kind of combination of the Great Chain and evolution. He writes, for example:

    "Evolution is in this view neither progress nor development, but crystallization of the invisible in the visible, that should be achieved by adequate work."

    And:

    "Under this aspect our subject becomes clearer: that we have to understand evolution as a space- and time-bound supplementary process that has been preceded in the realm of the non-visible. Evolution as a supplementary process of the precedent should therefore also be understood as complementary to the evolution as a forward movement."


    This sounds something like Aurobindo's "double evolution," which involves both an unfolding of spirit and an evolution of the manifest realm. For Aurobindo, it had to come both from "above" and "below" at the same time. For Aurobindo, there could be no unfolding of spirit without evolution, and Gebser seems to be taking the same basic view.

    But even if it's a pure Great Chain view, I think it still could be said to be "linear" because it isn't a random unfolding; it's a sequential unfolding--archaic, magic, mythic, mental, integral. At least in this essay it appears to be sequential.

    He does, however, add "evolution as a supplementary process." So I'm not really seeing how he's that different from Wilber and Aurobindo. It seems as though Gebser may believe more in pre-formed, archetypal stages than both Aurobindo and Wilber (Aurobindo doesn't believe in them nearly as much as Wilber has written, as I will show in an upcoming blog), but they seem to be in the same ball park as far as I have read.

    How would you say they are different? Does Gebser present it any differently in The Ever Present Origin?

    The Ever Present Origin was published in 1949, and "The Invisible Origin: Evolution as a Supplementary Process" was first published in 1970, so the latter essay might represent his later work.

    That might be the source of the difference in the way Gebser has been presented--some are reading the 1949 book; some are reading the 1970 article or both.

  • Comment Link John Wagnon Monday, 16 July 2012 17:27 posted by John Wagnon

    Hi Chris - nice article. I like how it invites me to think differently about the emphasis that American integral theory places upon modernism and modernist solutions and even modernist behaviors (our unabashed spiritual capitalism for instance).

    I like how your reference to Reggae invites us to consider the very short time spans we are talking about when we discuss post-modernism and post-post modernism. In the larger scheme of things can we even say that modernism is an enduring structure? Much less post- and post-post modernism? Defined broadly, it seems likely that modernism is an enduring structure - we can see it arising gradually over the past 2500 years, with its obvious flowering in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. But arguably, post-modernism started is, at most, a couple hundred years old - and that is being very broad with describing what one might call its first glimmers (just as I was with modernism) and if post-modernism had a similar flowering its only in the last 50 years or so.

    Does it make sense to talk about changes you can detect in Reggae over 50 years in terms of cultural development? And if you can't, then does it make any more sense to talk about post-modern culture as an enduring structure? Or is it just a "frothy" mutation - a transitional form on the way to something else?

    To me, its like talking about Third Tier. Are we just obsessing over minutiae in the data? Are these data points effectively outliers in the historical scheme of things? Or are we witnessing enduring structures? Could we tell if we were?

  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Tuesday, 17 July 2012 20:40 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Hi Chris and David,

    Good discussion going on here. I thought I'd chime in with Gebser's EPO to discuss his views on evolution, development, and progress. Since he's a foundational thinker whom Wilber adopted magic, mythic, etc., I think it's worth taking a look at the original works.

    Very early on in the work, he makes note that "every consciousness mutation is apparently a sudden and acute manifestation of latent possibilities present since origin." In other words, these structures of consciousness are already, in some nascent form, present within us. Socio-historical conditions, often a crisis where one mutation no longer becomes efficient towards the environment, causes these mutations to spring forth from Origin. Each structure of consciousness is a kind of relationship to time and space. This is an important note that I think gets lost on contemporary theorists adapting his work, because it has big implications for viewing one of evolution's biggest factors: time. Especially for evolutionary and integral thought, how we understand time, how we relate to it, is essential to understanding the process of becoming.

    But to continuous Gebser's initial thoughts, he says that "Origin itself comes to awareness in discontinuous mutation: consciousness mutations are completions of origin." And in parenthesis: "the German language associations "origin" with suddenness and discontinuity with respect to primordial events, whereas temporal inceptions are designated as "starts" or "beginnings").

    In the following pages, he is very clearly warning against the typical understandings of progress and development. He writes that,

    "The view that our epoch and civilization are on a higher plane of development, as propagated by defenders of the progress-thesis, has become tenuous in the light of its application and results."

    Gebser references the line of thinkers including Giambattista Vico, Hegel, Spencer, Schelling, and Auguste Comte, and writes, "according to this still widely accepted "law," the scientific world-view proceeds through successively displacing stages: the theological, the metaphysical, and the positivistic; and it is naively assumed that the displacement of theology and metaphysics by positivism precludes any possibility that theological or metaphysical thought might recur."

    I know this is Comte, and he's an out-dated but significant contributor to the social sciences (so I got to hear about him in undergrad, socio major), but what Gebser says, I think, may also apply to contemporary thinkers who utilize the same mode of thinking as he describes here:

    "The patently perspectival-sectorial fixity of Comte's postulate– with its almost biologized aspect and markedly teleological, finalistic, purpose and goal orientation, and its evolutionary thesis– underscores its incommensurability with our "four consciousness mutations."

    David, I think this speaks to your observation that these stages might be linear because they occur sequentially in time:

    "The apparent succession of our four mutations is less a biological evolution than an "unfolding," a notion which admits the participation of a spiritual reality in mutation. Under no circumstances is this form of development to be considered "progress"; we must accept the term Progress" for what it is and not for what it has become counter to its original sense. "Progress" is not a positive concept, even when mindlessly construed to be one; progress is also a progression away, a distancing and withdrawal from something, namely, origin."

    But then in the next paragraph he writes something that *might* imply some form of development, describing that this unfolding occurs with an "increase" in what he calls "intensity" of consciousness. What is gained is more dimensionality. These are the mutations – starting at pointedness (1 dimensionality) – but it also implies that increases in dimensionality necessitate an "increasing remoteness from origin."

    So he tentatively suggests that we can, possibly, see *development* in these mutations within limits, narrowed down if you will so it is no longer the center or focal point of consciousness mutation:

    "We can of course, eliminate this negative aspect [of remoteness] by projecting the idea of origin into the very development of consciousness; or, allowing the possibility that man can realize the idea of origin in the process of consciousness development, we can then speak of origin's development toward self-realization in man."

    This probably ties very closely to Sri Aurobindo's view, whereby there are spiritual forces working in the human being, such as the Psychic Being, that work towards a realization in the human being, the biological organism, and the universe itself.

    Again though, the emphasis is more nuanced, and Gebser pays careful attention to utilizing concepts like progress, development, etc. with way more subtly than I often see in modern thinkers, including Wilber himself, who seem to be quite alright with supporting terms like the "leading edge."

    More thoughts on this later. For now I think it's just important to bring in these ideas so we can be more cautious, and more mature about utilizing terms like development instead of merely re-introducing Positivistic ideals, or more specifically "modes" of consciousness. The integral structure is described by Gebser quite differently. That could be a whole other post. But what I see often in the Integral Theory is a reification of what Gebser described as the rational (the deficient mental) which is weighed down by spatial fixities, charts, and linear, progressive time.

    OK, end of rant. Thanks guys.

    -Jer

  • Comment Link Laurie Callihan Tuesday, 17 July 2012 22:39 posted by Laurie Callihan

    Hi Jeremy,
    I am not tied in my thinking to any particular theorist or philosopher, though I love to study and include all in my thought. I like what you are saying here. I think that in a broader view of the universe in consideration of quantum physics and space/time it may be quite ineffective from some viewpoints to focus on "development" and if you say that then I think you can say the same of evolution. Did she just say that? Yes she did. We bandy about these terms easily and their definitions have great impact on our intent and practice. There is definitely change, but I am constantly wondering how much ego is involved in placing "value" ratings on "distance from origin" as you point out which is clearly done either blatantly or subtly by the terms development and evolution. I would absolutely agree that Integral Theory often reifies the "rational" . . .

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Wednesday, 18 July 2012 18:55 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi John,

    You wrote:

    "Does it make sense to talk about changes you can detect in Reggae over 50 years in terms of cultural development? And if you can't, then does it make any more sense to talk about post-modern culture as an enduring structure? Or is it just a "frothy" mutation - a transitional form on the way to something else?

    To me, its like talking about Third Tier. Are we just obsessing over minutiae in the data? Are these data points effectively outliers in the historical scheme of things? Or are we witnessing enduring structures? Could we tell if we were?"

    These are great questions, I definitely think a good deal of what is simply mutation (as you call it) is jus that. Attempts being made to try new things out. Some will stick, some won't.

    The other thought that occurs to me is something Zak Stein said at the last Integral Theory Conference (he and Katie H. were leading a talk). Zak said he was working in a grade school and 3rd and 4th graders were talking about multiculturalsm but that was just because they had been taught about these things. They weren't all of sudden postmodern (i.e. postformal) in their cognitive orientation or whatever. And this is a problem of taking out certain words or phrases or ideas and labelling them a specific stage.

    I think that this is particularly difficult when it comes to postmodernism (and even more difficult with post-postmodernism).

    I do think there is a recognizably form(s) of postmodernism. We can see it in architecture, in anthropology (e.g. the great Clifford Geertz), in sociology, in the linguistic turn in philosophy and in particular folks like Baudrillard and Lyotard. Also I think of Manuel Castells work on informational age economics (post-fordism manufacturing styles, etc.).

    But that layer has only really embedded in a fairly small slice of the human population. Its effects are certainly widespread (through technology and globalization) but the mentality is pretty thinly dispersed I believe.

    And I'm still not sure we've seen (large-scale) postmodern politics or economics.

  • Comment Link Daniel Schulman Thursday, 19 July 2012 12:55 posted by Daniel Schulman

    Hi Jeremy - interesting stuff and lots to think about - I am mulling it ALL over quite a bit these days. I am curious - when you interviewed Phipps and MacIntosh, why you didn't take on these concerns of yours and go deep with both of them on these matters.

  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Friday, 20 July 2012 00:23 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Hi Daniel, great to hear from you in the comment thread! It's quite an intense, and massive discussion that's taken me time to internalize too.

    When speaking with McIntosh and Phipps, I felt it was inappropriate to raise some of these questions forcefully before fully understanding their position and work, as my own articulation is still in-the-works. Both authors have expressed interest to continue dialogue with me and hopefully hash out these deeper questions, but I didn't want them to be the focal point of our initial discussion/interviews. I'm very much looking forward to publishing further dialogues with them about these very questions! Especially after finishing Evolutionaries, and in a few weeks (hopefully) Evolution's Purpose.

    Anyway, thanks for asking. I've been developing my own perspective/thoughts on this through hashing it out here/Twitter/Facebook and emails.

  • Comment Link David Marshall Friday, 20 July 2012 02:47 posted by David Marshall

    Jeremy, great to hear from you.

    First of all, I resonate with your concerns about how a progress-oriented view can create issues in the intersubjective. It makes skillful means a challenge at times and sometimes stretches the boundaries that are normally accepted and expected in postmodern culture.

    That's not necessarily a reason to justify jettisoning ideas of progress in and of itself, but it does make it a challenge, doesn't it. I think this is what a lot people are trying to navigate: They don't want to fall back into the stagnation of postmodern culture, or the self-indulgence that usually comes with it, but at the same time they want their relationships to be without the friction that can come from ideas like higher and lower. It's a difficult thing to navigate.

    Jeremy: "This probably ties very closely to Sri Aurobindo's view, whereby there are spiritual forces working in the human being, such as the Psychic Being, that work towards a realization in the human being, the biological organism, and the universe itself."


    Yes, Gebser does sound like he is in agreement with Aurobindo. Another idea of Aurobindo's to keep in mind is that even two people within the same tradition won't pass through exactly the same stages or follow precisely the same path. So it can a little hard to tell who is progressing and who isn't at times.

    Thanks for the Gebser quotations. Take care,

    David

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Friday, 20 July 2012 16:25 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Hey all, I’m going to jump in here with some thoughts I’ve had as I’ve followed the (“massive, intense” as Jeremy said) thread over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been busy with my own writing, but feel compelled to add some thoughts now that I have some time.

    What I see happening is not so much a questioning of whether cultures develop, or something like structures of consciousness (or ‘codes’ SDi, ‘lifeworlds’ Habermas, ‘noetic regimes’ Coombs, etc.) exist, but how we understand this reality. The key move for me is the questioning of the linear, ladder-like conception of this, not the outright rejection of the view all together (this, I think, would be a rash philosophical response to a shift that folks are feeling).

    As fate (or the noosphere) would have it, Peter Merry (a long time Spiral Dynamics practitioner) wrote a piece about twelve days ago where he speaks to his own shift in understanding around all this, which echoes a lot of what’s happening here.

    http://www.petermerry.org/blog/2012/from-evolution-to-volution/

    Here’s one of the key points he makes, and it’s a bit of trip when the gestalt shift clicks- he argues that the Spiral Dynamics model itself was produced by the ‘yellow’ code of consciousness; thus when ‘turquoise’ understanding begins to come on line (prodded as it is by the planetary life conditions’ http://bit.ly/H09B3E), it’s going to need to reconceptualize the model from that emergent understanding, and this might look quite different. And I think that’s likely what’s going on intuitively for Jeremy, which I also feel, and obviously others do to given the response in this thread. Something is shifting, and the previous linear ladder-like conception is being challenged.

    [I’m also starting to think that SDi has never been the problem specifically, but the very simplistic way it’s been translated and applied. Here’s Don Beck from a note in 2006 that I just saw the other day- “First, it is important to avoid the linear trap; that is, the tendency to think of climbing a ladder where one leaves one step totally before moving to the next. Since these codes are more like complex chords than individual notes, one always has blends and admixtures…The entire spiral is within us as opposed to our being on the spiral”] [this was from a Facebook note that Albert Klamt posted, but I’m not sure how to link to that].

    What I hear happening in this piece and the following discussion is a sort of spatial shift. Instead of the Gebserian ‘integral consciousness’ (or SDi’s ‘turquoise’) being seen as a new emergent stack on top, the *experience* of this emergent understanding is one of moving inward or back. This why I think Vanessa’s statement resonated so strongly for so many (me too), when she wrote- “Energetically, I feel much more of a falling quality~ falling into transparency and beauty with all that is and being able to access multiple-streams of intelligence and knowing all at once”.

    We can add to this Bonnitta’s statement about the characteristics of ‘turquoise’ consciousness in the thread for Neotribal Zeitgeist. She writes:

    “It seems to me that the radical shift we are looking toward, is toward the direction of Being, as a reintegration of all that is enfolded in our own becoming. A fancy way of saying this is that our onto-genetic arising, moment to moment, always re-seeds itself in source, which, like "stem cells" retains all the potentials that have actualized, as well as all the possibilities that have not yet emerged... this is the message of Gebser's title phrase: *ever-present* origin…

    So the trajectory is in "a sense" "back to the future" except that in addition to this trajectory of being (onto) we need to add a new paradigm of meaning (logos) which does not codify ascent and descent (in the way Wilber does, for example in SES or the way he frames "up from Eden")”. http://bit.ly/MWmFIJ

    Her whole comment really bears repeating, it’s so dense and rich, but the key point for me is that here’s another description of a going back into Being, or that this new emergent conscious awareness is not so much a new ‘on top’, but a sort of falling back that holds all within it.

    David also says something similar in his description of Gebser’s view of the integral consciousness:

    “One thing he does that's different than Wilber particularly but also Aurobindo is give "integral" a status kind of like "the witness" and place it outside of evolution in a sense”.

    But David also goes on to say this:

    “Unlike Aurobindo and Wilber, he conflates states and stages a little:

    [Gebser] "The integral consciousness, exists outside the consecutive steps of development of this world. This leads us to an obvious answer to the question just asked: How had the forming of the new consciousness become possible?"

    But this seems to be because he conflates "integral" with deep-state awareness a little too much”.

    Perhaps it’s a conflation, or perhaps at this point the ‘states’, the inner spiritual dimension is entwined with, and affecting, the understanding and character of the cognitive aware-ness (ie. Stages). And really, how could it be any other way, of course there’s enmeshing and interplay. And maybe at this point the two-dimensional Wilber-Coombs Lattice (as revelatory and useful a step as it was) is being outgrown, with something more multi-dimensional being required. The parts in the AQAL model need to begin to flow and entwine and interact, and this is going to look quite different. As Susanne Cook-Greuter said recently in critical post on Integral Life- “The AQAL model separates humans experience into four distinct quadrants. It’s true that the quadrants are said to co-arise and influence each other. Yet overall the model is teaching its components as separate entities”.

    If you add to this Tim Winton’s point above that there’s not enough parts or patterns in the model to begin with- “I think that the selection and prioritisation, of any small set of these patterns (I refer to them as meta-types) is potentially problematic…I'm advocating that we include as many patterns as are reasonably useful in our cultural discourse (I think there are hundreds at least)… It just doesn't seem sophisticated enough to privilege a few patterns, imbue them with wide ranging explanatory powers across multiple contexts and expect that this will work in our now very complex planetary environment”- and it seems to me we have a new moment unfolding in the knowledge quest, the epistemic impulse is pushing toward new vistas, openings and formations. I think this is exiciting, and I’ve appreciated the collegial way everyone has taken part in that process in this thread.

    Lastly, I just want to reiterate a point that Bonnitta made above- “Just noting how the terms "development" "evolution" "symbiosis" "emergence" slip in and out in the video. Seems to me that the field of inquiry deserves a closer inspection on how these dynamics actually work, what the words are saying when we are saying them”.

    The analytic philosopher in me was feeling the same thing by the end of this thread, that things were starting to get a bit muddy. I think it would be helpful going forward if we kept an eye on defining terms and being as clear as possible on how we’re using the key terms we are. I’m not the biggest fan of analytic philosophy overall, but one its strengths is definitely clarity and precision, and holding that ethic in mind might be useful when we’re jumping into big theoretical shifts such as these.

    Anyway, those are my additions for what it’s worth. Great stuff everyone, love the dynamism of what’s unfolding, looking forward to more moving down the road.

  • Comment Link David Marshall Sunday, 22 July 2012 19:09 posted by David Marshall

    Trevor, great to have you in the mix!


    Trevor: "Here’s one of the key points he makes, and it’s a bit of trip when the gestalt shift clicks- he argues that the Spiral Dynamics model itself was produced by the ‘yellow’ code of consciousness; thus when ‘turquoise’ understanding begins to come on line (prodded as it is by the planetary life conditions’ http://bit.ly/H09B3E), it’s going to need to reconceptualize the model from that emergent understanding, and this might look quite different."



    I think this is an important point, and I think it sounds like what Jeremy is getting at as well. Wilber has said that Teal (yellow) has a tendency to be secular, kind of modernist, perhaps because it is differentiating somewhat from Green. And then Turquoise will bring it all together in a much more harmonious way, without the harshness I think we sometimes see in that early integral.

    It seems that with Teal there is a re-integration of those modernist views, and it is quite difficult to integrate smoothly with postmodern views and takes awhile.


    Trevor: "This why I think Vanessa’s statement resonated so strongly for so many (me too), when she wrote- “Energetically, I feel much more of a falling quality~ falling into transparency and beauty with all that is and being able to access multiple-streams of intelligence and knowing all at once”."


    Yes, I think this is an important aspect of it as well.


    Bonnita: "“It seems to me that the radical shift we are looking toward, is toward the direction of Being, as a reintegration of all that is enfolded in our own becoming. A fancy way of saying this is that our onto-genetic arising, moment to moment, always re-seeds itself in source, which, like "stem cells" retains all the potentials that have actualized, as well as all the possibilities that have not yet emerged... this is the message of Gebser's title phrase: *ever-present* origin…"


    Yes, I think this also is an important perspective. It reminds of something A. H. Almaas said about time and development:

    "Time is the concept we develop to account for the fact that we observe changes and movements. If there were no such thing as change or movement we would not need the notion of time. In other words, we need time to explain processes, the fact that phenomena progress from one form to another. We invent the dimension of time to account for this prolongation of phenomena, for it is not in space. However, we have seen that change is not from the past to the present, but rather from nonmanifestation to manifestation. Each stage of the progress of phenomena simply means that new creations have emerged. We need time, and feel the passage of time, only when we are in the midst of the changing phenomena. But when we are outside of all phenomena, and are experiencing ourselves from the vantage point of the logos, we directly perceive how all phenomena arise, and that nothing moves from past to future. It simply flows out, always in a new condition. We recognize that no time ever passes on anything, for all forms and objects are eternally new."



    Trevor: "Perhaps it’s a conflation, or perhaps at this point the ‘states’, the inner spiritual dimension is entwined with, and affecting, the understanding and character of the cognitive aware-ness (ie. Stages)."


    Yes, I think that's it. What I was getting at there was the givenness of states and the emergence of new structures, as Wilber discusses particularly in the appendixes of Integral Spirituality. According to that view, there is a given, already completed aspect of these states and also an emergent aspect when we assimilate and integrate these states into new structures, and that differentiation, in Wilber's view, can have a positive impact on spiritual practice.


    Susanne Cook-Greuter: “The AQAL model separates humans experience into four distinct quadrants. It’s true that the quadrants are said to co-arise and influence each other. Yet overall the model is teaching its components as separate entities”.


    There is some truth to this criticism, but I think there are good reasons that the components are taught separately, and it may not have to do with the categorizing tendencies of Anglo Saxons.

    For one thing, to speak and discuss the interactions between quadrants would be twice as difficult as discussing them separately (maybe four times or even eight!). The first step is learning and exploring each quadrant, in addition to the meta-view itself, and then as a latter, more-difficult step we could begin to talking about how they interact. Talking about how they interact would require deep understanding and fluency with the model and each quadrant or zone (as well as line, state, type, etc.), so first we would need to teach each one separately a bit and become conversant in it.

    And then also, we often do things separately in our lives. We go to our therapist from 1-2, go to the gym from 3-4, go shopping for healthy foods from 4-5, cook and eat 5-7, take care of some business after that. Our therapist and our trainer tend to be two different people in two different places, so each perspective/module (referring to the modules in integral life practice) tends also to involve particular activities and locations in time and space that we take separately, though of course we can be multi-taskers at times as well.

    Eventually also there is some coming together in action; for example, everything becomes a meditation; we become acutely aware of our dietary needs as we exercise; God is present in every moment and relationship, etc. But that coming together would come at a latter stage of learning as well, usually.


    That's all I have time for, and there is very little chance I will be able to respond in a timely manner. As I told you earlier, Trevor, I am going away, and the departure is tomorrow! So there is much to do and little internet access on the other end.

    Take care, and blessings. I think this is a crucial inquiry. Integral evolutionary conceptualizations have the power to derail relationships and even certain kinds of development, as well as further them, of course, and we need to explore how all this fits together and the potential downsides as well as upsides, etc.

    Cheers, everyone,

    David

  • Comment Link cherry blossom Monday, 23 July 2012 02:42 posted by cherry blossom

    It's interesting to notice that before the 60's there was also a renewed interest in the mythical/magical.

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