INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Peter Collins is from Ireland. He retired recently from lecturing in Economics at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Over the past 50 years he has become increasingly convinced that a truly seismic shift in understanding with respect to Mathematics and its related sciences is now urgently required in our culture. In this context, these present articles convey a brief summary of some of his recent findings with respect to the utterly unexpected nature of the number system.
Clarifying Perspectives 3
Reconciling Distinct Perspectives with Overall Perspective
Though Ken Wilber's recent work on perspectives represents an important and interesting new development, his treatment is somewhat inconsistent when viewed in interactive terms.
The following contribution (the first of two) is not intended as a comprehensive response to Ken Wilber's very interesting recent work on perspectives.
It would perhaps be better to wait till a later stage, when this work can be better assimilated, before properly appraising Ken's attempts. In addition, so far we only some limited pre-publication extracts from his Shambhala web-site to go on which clearly does not comprise a comprehensive statement of Ken's position.
However I do feel it is perhaps valid to make some general comments from a dynamic interactive context, where I already see a serious problem apparent with respect to his approach. Ken has not satisfactorily solved the fundamental issue with respect to the reconciliation of (distinct) differentiated perspectives with overall integration of such perspectives. And this once again relates to the even deeper issue regarding the very nature of his approach, which in my judgement is simply not consistent in dynamic terms.
Many of the problems that I see in terms of Ken's handling of perspectives relate to his understanding of holons, which I will briefly summarise here.
1. The very terminology of a holon can lend itself to reduced interpretation through the suggestion of a fundamental "stuff" from which all reality is composed. And despite his best efforts to suggest otherwise this reduced interpretation is very evident in Ken's writings where so often he offers a fragmented - and thereby misleading view - of the holon's true nature.  Though there are potential problems with any form of terminology I prefer the more popular word "relationship" (rather than holon) which more easily lends itself to interactive understanding. 
2. As defined by Ken a holon is composed of both (heterarchical) interior and exterior and (hierarchical) individual and collective aspects. However the original meaning of holon is somewhat limited as it refers directly to just one of these defining parameters i.e. the vertical hierarchical aspect. So in this Wilberian context a holon is a (lower) whole that is also part of a (higher) whole. However this definition does not specifically include the equally important (horizontal) heterarchical aspects. So the term "holon" properly relates to just one of its defining parameters. 
3. A more considerable problem relates to the absence of further diagonal characteristics of the "holon" which I believe are vitally necessary for the proper modelling of reality. In other words an eight-sector rather than a four-quadrant approach is required.
As it is so important I will develop this point at somewhat greater length. Once again the horizontal aspects of a "holon" relate directly to heterarchical (exterior and exterior) poles that operate within a given level. The vertical aspects relate to hierarchical poles (individual and collective) that operate between different levels.
However the additional diagonal aspects relate to both heterarchical and hierarchical poles that operate simultaneously within and between levels. These relate to the most fundamental of all polar aspects of experience i.e. form and emptiness.
When human development commences, because differentiation of structures has not yet taken place, the infant is unable to separate experience within or between levels. Therefore we have here the confused continuum of both heterarchical and hierarchical aspects in pure instinctive behaviour (where the conscious is still intertwined with the unconscious). So the very definition of instinctive behaviour entails that (physical) form cannot be yet separated from (spiritual) emptiness with both interacting in a very confused manner. Put another way purely instinctive behaviour relates to fundamental psychophysical reactions i.e. where neither physical nor psychological aspects can be clearly distinguished. In other words body and mind have not yet been properly differentiated from each other.
From the other extreme at the corresponding "highest" stage where body and mind are finally integrated in mature manner, development is simultaneously both heterarchical within levels and hierarchical between levels. So as one approaches pure experience of nondual reality the very notion of a level of development (as discrete) loses any residual meaning.
So just as "lowest" development represents the confusion of form and emptiness (as undifferentiated), the "highest" stages represent the corresponding pure integration of form and emptiness. Therefore the diagonal polarities - where physical and psychological aspects simultaneously interpenetrate - are especially necessary to explain the dynamics of both the "lowest" and "highest" levels of development. And these are not specifically included in the four-quadrant model.
Considerable confusion emerges when we try to explain psychophysical interactions in polarised either/or terms (where the physical aspects are clearly separated from the psychological). And this problem has been very much in evidence in Ken Wilber's treatment of such behaviour. 
Furthermore the inclusion of the fundamental diagonal aspects (of form and emptiness) poses further problems for the terminology of a holon. Not alone are these aspects not specifically included in such terminology but more importantly they ultimately undermine the very notion of holarchic development (with which the "holon" is closely associated). 
4. By far the most important problem however with Ken Wilber's approach to "holons" is the lack of dynamic interactive appreciation enabling both the sequential (differentiated) and simultaneous (integrated) interpretation of quadrants to be consistently reconciled. So as I have repeatedly stated, this requires the combined use of both (linear) asymmetrical and (circular) paradoxical use of understanding.
Linear (dualistic) interpretation is necessarily based on the arbitrary fixing of polar reference systems. For example if we were lost in a desert and encountered a straight road we could arbitrarily designate one direction as "up" in which the other would thereby be consistently "down", However if we initially fixed our interpretation of "up" in the equally valid alternative manner, then the opposite direction would thereby be "down". So what is "up" in terms of the first referencing system is "down" in terms of the second; likewise what is "down" in terms of the first is "up" in terms of the second.
This example is deeply relevant for development, as all relationships are necessarily conditioned by polar reference frames (e.g. interior and exterior, forward and backward, pre and trans etc.) that have no fixed meaning from a nondual perspective.
When we consider development in an independent manner - where reference frames are arbitrarily fixed - the direction of relationships appears unambiguously asymmetrical. Such understanding is directly suited for the differentiated appreciation of development. However - what is generally overlooked - is that in such cases an equally valid opposite interpretation can be given (through switching of the polar reference frame). However when we consider development in a truly interdependent manner, opposite reference frames are considered in dynamic relative terms so that all relationships - that appear unambiguous in an independent context - now are revealed as deeply paradoxical. This latter understanding is directly suited for integral appreciation of development.
Therefore in the dynamics of understanding two distinct processes continually interact. Firstly we differentiate phenomena through arbitrarily fixing reference frames (in an independent manner) so that the direction of development - in any context - appears unambiguously asymmetrical. However we equally continue to integrate phenomena through implicitly recognising that such reference frames are inherently paradoxical in terms of each other (as interdependent). It is this very recognition that thereby enables us to keep switching as between opposite poles.
So for example in the context of exterior and interior, at one moment I am aware of the exterior world (in relation to the interior self). Then the relationship switches and I am aware of the interior self (in relation to the exterior world).
However when the emphasis in understanding is primarily on the differentiated aspect (as in our scientific culture) this greatly limits the possibility for smooth and balanced dynamic interaction as between opposite poles. In other words where the dualistic validity of phenomenal understanding is maintained, experience becomes somewhat one-sided and rigid with the integral aspect substantially reduced to differentiated interpretation.
The great weakness of Ken Wilber's approach to development is that it is predominantly based in structural terms on merely (linear) asymmetrical type distinctions. He never consistently shows how such dual understanding of phenomena (as differentiated) can be reconciled with nondual understanding (in integral terms). So we have a marked discontinuity in his integral approach as between spiritual appreciation (that is predominantly identified with nondual states) and intellectual interpretation (that is correspondingly identified with dual structures).
However the very point about a dynamic approach is to show how both of these aspects increasingly interact in experience. And despite its other obvious merits, I would find Ken Wilber's work very limited in this crucially important respect.  So if we are to preserve the terminology of the holon, and place it a dynamic context, it must be defined with respect to its three defining polar aspects in proper bi-directional terms.
Therefore it makes little sense from this perspective to unambiguously identify quadrant locations with specific phenomena e.g. all "its" belong to the Right-Hand Quadrants. In heterarchical terms all "holons" can in fact be given both Right-Hand and Left-Hand bi-directional meanings. Thus we always have two equally valid ways of obtaining differentiated interpretation. However though both of these interpretations appear valid within their independent reference frames, they are deeply paradoxical from an integral perspective i.e. when related to each other as interdependent. Therefore - when properly understood in integral terms - the direction of movement for any development relationship in Right-Hand and Left-Hand quadrants respectively always takes place in complementary opposite directions.
Likewise in hierarchical terms all holons can be given equally valid bi-directional differentiated interpretations in the Upper and Lower quadrants. The problem with the conventional interpretation of a holon is that it is defined in just one arbitrary manner as a whole/part where each whole is also a part of another whole. However a holon (or rather onhol) can equally be defined - in differentiated terms - as a part/whole where each part is also whole (in the context) of other parts.  In the actual dynamics of experience both of these meanings keep switching between one another with integral understanding - at least implicitly - rendering them paradoxical in terms of each other. However balanced hierarchical appreciation - where the bi-directional nature of the holon is properly preserved - is greatly lacking in present understanding.
Finally in diagonal terms (where heterarchical and hierarchical aspects are combined), all relationships have both transcendent and immanent spiritual aspects (which dynamically keep switching direction in experience). However once again Ken Wilber characteristically attempts to define the forward direction of development solely with respect to transcendence (which is very unbalanced). 
Thus a consistent dynamic interactive approach to development (i.e. radial) requires a great deal more subtlety in intellectual translation that is currently employed. This requires clearly distinguishing both the differentiated and integral aspects of understanding which in both cases requires a more refined bi-directional appreciation with respect to horizontal (heterarchical), vertical (hierarchical) and diagonal (simultaneous heterarchical and hierarchical) aspects of development.
With differentiated appreciation, unambiguous asymmetrical interpretation takes place with respect to distinct reference frames (considered as relatively independent). With integral appreciation paradoxical interpretation takes place with respect to these reference frames (now considered as relatively interdependent).
For example if two drivers set out in opposite directions on a straight road the direction of movement will be forward for each driver (considered separately). However relative to each other movement will be paradoxical. So if A is deemed to be moving forward (with respect to B), then B will thereby be moving - relatively - backward (with respect to A); however if we now switch the reference frame and consider B as moving forward (with respect to A), then A - relatively - will move backwards (with respect to B).
5. Though the dynamics of development can be expressed without specific reference to mathematical symbols, proper scientific understanding is greatly enhanced through the holistic interpretation of such symbols. Indeed - as I will demonstrate in the final contribution - the inherent structure of "holons" at all levels of development is mathematical in a dynamic integral sense.  Thus the appropriate dynamic mathematical interpretation of the four quadrants (of the circle) - and by extension the eight sectors - provides all the key tools for precise scientific clarification of both the differentiated and integral aspects of "holons".
It also raises important issues that are greatly neglected in Ken Wilber's treatment.
Ken typically attempts to deal with "holons" in "real" terms (i.e. through actual conscious interpretation).  However all "holons" have an alternative "imaginary" aspect that indirectly relates to potential unconscious appreciation. The "imaginary" aspect in this way serves as a dynamic bridge as between the actual world of dual phenomena and its potential realisation in nondual spiritual terms. Though conventional science attempts to deal with phenomena solely with respect to its "real" conscious aspect, the "imaginary" (unconscious) aspect is always present in the ultimate desire for spiritual meaning (which is mediated through phenomenal symbols). Therefore though we engage in conscious reality from a waking perspective, unconsciously we seek that such reality will realise our dream (for ultimate spiritual meaning). 
Thus when we dynamically incorporate the conscious with the unconscious aspect of experience all "holons" are now seen as "complex" (i.e. possessing both "real" and "imaginary" aspects).
Therefore not only do we have the bi-directional interaction of the four quadrants (and more comprehensively eight sectors) with both (linear) differentiated and (circular) integral interpretations, such interaction continually takes place with respect to "real" (conscious) and "imaginary" (unconscious) aspects.
So the further development of dynamic interpretation requires clarification not only of the dynamic interaction of 180 degree opposite poles but also the subtler interaction of 90 degree poles that are "real" and "imaginary" with respect to each other. 
6. It is perhaps worthwhile to briefly refer to a couple of other points. Ken Wilber attempts to distinguish as between sentient holons and insentient heaps (as a collection of individual sentient holons). This is a very fragmented distinction, which makes little sense from a dynamic perspective. Also I would refer to "holons" as experiential (rather than sentient). Sentience is closely associated with feeling (and affective response). Now clearly at "lower" levels "holons" do not possess feeling in the accepted human manner. However they do still possess the primitive capacity to respond to their environment. So in this sense they are indeed sentient. However such "holons" likewise possess some capacity for independent control (which at a human level would occur through cognition). Likewise these "holons" possess a basic evolutionary drive as the primitive desire for meaning which in human terms would be expressed through the volitional intent of will. So experiential seem to me to better incorporate these three capacities of response, control and evolutionary drive than sentience.
Finally I prefer to make use of the term poles (or polar opposites) with respect to "holons" rather than aspects or quadrants as it seems to me to better highlight the intrinsic nature of phenomenal development, which is always necessarily conditioned by opposite polarities. However it is important to remember that these poles can always be interpreted in both a linear differentiated manner as separate (where they are viewed as relatively independent) and a circular integral manner as complementary (where their relative interdependence is recognised).
However, as I have stated, I personally do not favour the holon terminology but because of its present popularity am happy to use it to facilitate communication.
I would prefer to say that all phenomenal reality is characterised by experiential being consisting of interacting relationships that are conditioned by three fundamental sets of polarities i.e. horizontal (within levels), vertical (between levels) and diagonal (simultaneously within and between levels).
These poles have both a linear interpretation (as independent) and circular interpretation (as interdependent) - relating to the differentiated and integral aspects of development - the precise configuration of which defines each stage of development. Finally as the inherent structure of reality is truly mathematical in a dynamic holistic sense, all such relationships can be given a precise scientific encoding through appropriate use of the most fundamental mathematical symbols. Indeed all development relationships can be precisely encoded in holistic binary terms representing the interaction of linear (1) and circular (0) understanding respectively. 
General Nature of Perspectives
As with "holons", Ken Wilber's treatment of perspectives suffers greatly from lack of an adequate dynamic context. Dealing with the issue first in general terms, Ken makes a rather sweeping statement regarding the nature of perspectives.
"But if we do view the Kosmos as being composed primarily of sentient beings--not systems, not processes, not webs, not information, not matter, not energy, but sentient beings--then we must simultaneously build a Kosmos composed of perspectives--not feelings, not awareness, not perceptions, not consciousness, for all of those are always already perspectives. If quarks have prehension, then the first quark is not a first particle but a first person. And whatever that quark registers is not a second particle but a second person. There is no way around this. The universe is built of perspectives."
The paradox regarding this rather absolute statement is that it is somewhat lacking in perspective.
In dynamic terms we can only posit the meaning of any phenomenon (what it is) in relative terms through corresponding negation (of what it is not).
Ken in actual fact starts to do this! So a perspective is "not systems, not processes, not webs, not information, not matter, not energy". However these "non-perspectives" are all necessary to provide the relevant context through which we can thereby distinguish the nature of perspectives.
To maintain that "the universe is built of perspectives" is strictly meaningless in dynamic interactive terms! A perspective therefore only has meaning with reference to what is not a perspective.
Also this position tends to ignore the important fact that the absolute spiritual nature of reality is nondual (and therefore lacking in any distinct phenomenal perspective).  And as dual and nondual necessarily interact with respect to all relationships, we cannot abstract the nature of perspectives from this dynamic interaction.
As I demonstrated in "Clarifying Perspectives 1" when we attempt to express the absolute nondual nature of reality in (reduced) dual terms, two equally valid opposite statements can be made.
So in nondual terms (emptiness) there is only Spirit (without distinct perspectives).
In reduced phenomenal terms (form) we then have two equally valid statements.
"The universe is built of perspectives"; "The universe is built of non-perspectives".
In dynamic terms - through interaction with the nondual aspect - these two (dual) opposites continually interact. Thus perspectives in experience are always somewhat provisional and limited serving as the means through which the absolute nondual nature of spiritual reality is reflected in phenomenal terms. Therefore by their very nature perspectives must keep switching in an ever more flexible transparent manner so as the better mediate the transmission of the ultimate spiritual light. In this way the ultimate union of form and emptiness can be better approximated in experience.
The very word perspective is derived from the Latin word "perspicere" which means "to look closely". So a perspective therefore involves a certain view which is necessarily limited in terms of overall (i.e. ultimate) reality. The obvious reason for this is that "to look at" implies "that which is looked at". Therefore though "that which is looked at" is necessary for a perspective to arise, its reverse relationship with the viewer, is not directly embodied in the revealed perspective. In other words relationships - in dynamic terms - are always two-way. However a perspective in this context implies a particular one-way view. So in dynamic terms a perspective necessarily implies its opposite direction (i.e. what is not in perspective) which thereby causes a switch in the direction of the (revealed) perspective. And the more readily we can freely switch the direction of perspectives in a balanced manner, the more integrated our overall awareness becomes. So ultimately when the seer and what is seen are one through becoming "seeing" we enter into pure ultimate nondual awareness (which is without any distinct partial perspective). So once again the very paradox regarding the nature of any distinct perspective is that - by definition - it always implies a lack of perspective (from its reverse equally valid direction). So we can only ultimately reconcile this problem in integral terms through the gradual realisation of pure contemplative awareness (which once again is without any distinct perspective).
I stressed earlier in relation to "holons" how we must carefully distinguish the (linear) differentiated from (circular) integral appreciation. We can now likewise see that we must carefully distinguish the (linear) differentiated notion of distinct perspectives from the more (circular) integral notion of overall perspective (which ultimately is without distinct perspectives). And by its very nature the dynamic interactive approach is designed to consistently interpret both these aspects.
Because the Spirit is necessarily present to some degree in all experience this implies that in integral terms, ultimate nondual perspective (without distinct perspective) is also present (though perhaps somewhat dimly). However in phenomenal terms we can only distinguish and thereby differentiate a distinct perspective (through failing to adequately recognise its opposite direction).
For example once again the (interior) self and (exterior) world are in continual interaction. However insofar as I am aware of the exterior aspect (as separate) I thereby fail to recognise the equal validity of the opposite interior aspect. Then in like fashion when I am aware of the interior aspect (i.e. self) as separate, I thereby fail to recognise the equal validity of the exterior aspect. However insofar as integral spiritual realisation takes place in experience, the evidence of any (partial) distinct) perspective will be rendered paradoxical causing a switch to its opposite perspective. Thus with growing spiritual realisation the ability to switch rapidly and smoothly as between opposite perspectives steadily increases. Therefore the purer realisation of spiritual emptiness in the attainment of ultimate overall perspective is associated at the phenomenal level with a great enhancement in the quality of dynamic interaction as between opposite (distinct) perspectives. In this way both dual and nondual mutually serve each other in complementary manner.
Using holistic mathematical language, we differentiate distinct perspectives through positing them in experience (i.e. where the opposite direction is not recognised). However we integrate perspectives (thereby moving to an overall perspective that is without distinct perspectives) through corresponding negation of what is posited. This requires the recognition that all perspectives have two equally valid opposite directions, which keep switching in experience. Again this means in effect that we can only (implicitly) move to the integral appreciation of perspective through recognising that - by definition - any distinct perspective is not in perspective from the equally valid opposite polar direction. And as the quality of this integral recognition increases we are thereby enabled to switch in more flexible and balanced fashion as between opposite (distinct) perspectives.
There is another important point!
In the earlier discussion on "holons", I showed how conscious and unconscious aspects are involved in both an actual "real" and potential "imaginary" fashion. This equally applies to perspectives. Thus we can form "real" perspectives that correspond directly with conscious understanding. However equally we can form "imaginary" perspectives that correspond directly with the unconscious (though indirectly expressed in a conscious manner).
Now the "imaginary" serves as the necessary bridge as between dual and nondual worlds representing the manner in which the spiritual is mediated through phenomenal symbols.
When the dualistic aspect of understanding is very dominant the unconscious is not properly recognised. It then tends to be expressed indirectly through projections, which attach themselves strongly to conscious symbols so that their spiritual nature is not properly recognised.
However given sufficient spiritual development, dualistic rigidity is considerably eroded. The unconscious is then able to express itself in a more transparent fashion with symbols serving as purer archetypes of ultimate spiritual reality.
So perspectives not only keep switching to their opposites (in conscious terms) through alternate positing and negating in experience. All perspectives keep switching as between a "real" (actual) and "imaginary (potential) existence serving as the very means through which both the dual and nondual interact in experience.
So to sum up briefly at this stage, I would find Ken Wilbers' approach greatly lacking in dynamic interactive terms. He does not properly distinguish as between the differentiated development of distinct perspectives and the integral appreciation of overall perspective. (At the higher spiritual levels the integral is increasingly without distinct perspectives). For example it is not strictly true to say in integral terms that all perspectives simultaneously arise. The very identification of (distinct) perspectives requires that we sequentially separate them (in space and time) from other perspectives. However when we grow in the realisation that such differentiation of perspectives inevitably leads to paradox (when treated as interdependent) this leads through dynamic negation to integral nondual awareness (where no distinct perspectives remain). Thus the integral awareness of the apparent overall simultaneous nature of distinct perspectives is properly nondual (and thereby strictly without perspective). So in dynamic experiential terms we have the inevitable interaction of opposite dual perspectives that sequentially arise (in space and time) and nondual spiritual recognition of the present moment. This renders the nature of such perspectives paradoxical (in dual terms) thereby enabling the continual switching as between opposite directions.
However, because Ken does not properly distinguish these two aspects he is unable to show how they paradoxically interact in positive and negative terms (through the interpenetration of what is in perspective with what is not) and in "real" and "imaginary" terms (through interpenetration of conscious and unconscious aspects).
Also I think it is important to state that one can meaningfully talk about perspectives through employing distinctive terminology (which in certain contexts may be of greater value).
Though I personally like the word "perspective" and have used it considerably in my own work, because of the confusion that can arise with respect to differentiated and integral interpretation (i.e. between specific distinct perspectives and overall holistic perspective) I have tended to identify the word with its integral meaning relating to overall perspective.
Also because distinct perspectives necessarily imply their opposites (that are not in perspective), I have preferred to use the more versatile word "relationships" to apply to distinct perspectives (with respect to both their revealed and hidden aspects). So I would see relationships as more basic than perspectives in that relationships can more easily embody both directions of perspectives (i.e. what is and what is not in perspective).
However different terminology may be more appropriate in other contexts e.g. scientific. For example for many years I have used the notion of fundamental space-time configurations - that could equally be termed as perspectives - in my study of personality types and the structure of matter.
However I certainly would not want to get hung up on any one word whether it be perspectives, relationships, dimensions etc. What is important that a clear consistent approach be used (reconciling both differentiated and integral aspects) whatever terminology is employed. 15
Ken's Fundamental Perspectives
As is customary Ken throws out a variety of perspectives on perspectives that are not strictly consistent with each other.
In one context he identifies four fundamental perspectives that correspond with his identification of the four quadrants as "I, we, it and its". However though the four quadrants can certainly serve as a valid starting point for the generation of fundamental perspectives, it is utterly misleading from a dynamic perspective to attempt to identify them directly with the quadrants.
If we examine this more closely we can see clearly the problem with Ken's approach. Basically he is attempting to unambiguously fix here the Left-Hand quadrants with personal ("I and we") and the Right-Hand with impersonal aspects ("it and its") respectively.
Also he is attempting to unambiguously fix the Upper with singular ("I and it") and the Lower quadrants with plural aspects ("we and its") respectively.
However as I pointed out in "Clarifying Perspectives 1", quadrant locations necessarily keep switching in the dynamics of experience so that we can fix them in four equally valid ways. Therefore Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants can equally be given both personal and impersonal interpretations; Likewise Upper and Lower quadrants can be given both singular and plural interpretations.
So associated with the four quadrants we have 16 (4 X 4) fundamental perspectives (and not 4 as Ken indicates). And in a more comprehensive 8-sector model we have 64 (8 X 8) fundamental perspectives.
Then when Ken moves to his 3-person model of perspectives (i.e. 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person) he immediately encounters a problem. For given his recognition that each of these persons has both singular and plural forms this therefore would generate 6 (rather than 4) fundamental perspectives.
So Ken's solution to this problem is to attempt - most unconvincingly - to reduce the 2nd person singular and plural (you) to 1st personal plural (we) so that these 6 can in turn be explained in terms of his initial 4 perspectives. 
The Language of Perspectives
Throughout his treatment of perspectives Ken lays great emphasis on 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person terminology.
However though I would accept that ultimately our appreciation of perspectives is necessarily expressed in terms of such language, in itself it serves as an inappropriate vehicle with which to understand the true dynamics by which the formation of perspectives actually takes place.
Thus when we examine our use of such terminology we find that it full of ambiguities and inconsistencies. Also considerable variations in the nuances of interpretation exist with respect to the well-known spoken languages. Therefore though our interpretation of perspectives does indeed become indirectly embedded in such ordinary use of language, scientific clarification of their true nature requires a distinctive approach. And only when we properly appreciate the true scientific nature of perspectives can we readily understand how their very structure is inherently mathematical (in a holistic sense).
The immediate problem I would find with 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person terminology is that - by its nature - it is couched purely in personal terms. However as the very dynamics of experience require complementarity to be maintained as between personal and impersonal aspects this is somewhat unbalanced.
Therefore though it may appear initially valid to refer to 1st personal ("I and we") and 2nd person ("you") as indeed personal, it makes little sense in this context to refer to 3rd person ("it and its") as personal because in popular understanding these words convey an impersonal meaning. Even when we referring to 3rd person as "he, she and they", it still generally conveys impersonal meaning i.e. where we indirectly identify them in objective terms. So 3rd person in general use more properly refers to impersonal recognition.
This leads on to an even deeper issue that is generally overlooked.
We can perhaps readily appreciate how the 3rd person derives from indirect objective reference to what is initially 2nd person. So for example I could perhaps directly address you "Do you want a drink?" which is 2nd person and then indirectly express this in 3rd person (properly impersonal) terms as "He (or she) wants a drink".
So in this way the 2nd person (i.e. as directly personal) is associated with the 3rd person (as indirectly impersonal).
However what is overlooked in our language is that this equally applies to the 1st person. In other words both "I and we" have personal and impersonal aspects. So for example I can refer to myself in directly (personal) or indirectly (impersonal) terms. Indeed very often the use of "me" and "my" carries an impersonal rather than personal meaning (as a manner of objective identification).
Therefore if we were to be logically consistent in our use of pronouns we would include a 4th person designation (referring to the impersonal aspect of "I and we").
However once again it would not really make sense to use 3rd person and 4th person terminology (as the meaning intended would be impersonal rather than personal). So really it would make better sense to define 1st person (as initial subjective reference frame) and 2nd person (as the subjective "other" or "others") in this context. Then we would also define in reverse complementary manner 1st impersonal (as the initial objective reference frame of "other" or "others") and 2nd impersonal (as the opposite objective "self or selves").
Also in dynamic terms we have to remember that meanings by their very nature keep switching as between personal and impersonal aspects (through dynamic interaction of polar reference frames) in a - relative - positive and negative manner.
So therefore it would be more valid to say that all "holons" - though I would prefer to say relationships - have both personal and impersonal aspects that continually switch as between their individual and collective expressions.
In this way we can properly match the language of perspectives with the four quadrants, while recognising that because of the switching of alternative reference frames that 16 (rather than 4) fundamental perspectives thereby emerge.
So when Ken uses the personal language of perspectives (1st, 2nd and 3rd) to generate 6 perspectives, it ignores the fact that there is also - using this terminology - a 4th person perspective that has been neglected (i.e. the indirect objective expression of "I and we"). So in this context, given singular and plural expressions, there should be 8 fundamental perspectives. However this still leaves 8 unaccounted for (which I will deal with later).
However before we proceed I just wish to point to some of the many anomalies that exist in the use of the ordinary language of perspectives.
Remember that in dynamic terms all phenomena have both personal and impersonal aspects. However in conventional usage we find it very difficult to allow - as we have seen - for the impersonal aspect of "I and we". Equally we find it difficult - especially in scientific contexts - to allow for the personal aspect of "it and its" (both singular and plural). For example if I am aware of the beauty of a wild flower, I am, strictly speaking, relating to "it" in 2nd personal ("you") terms. So all "objects" therefore have personal as well as impersonal aspects. However we would find it very difficult to refer to a flower (even in an artistic context) as a "person".
Even more interestingly, though we might well recognise that an animal such as the family dog has a distinct personality we would perhaps be reluctant to refer to "him" or "her" as a person. So there is a bias in our understanding whereby we only properly recognise human "holons" as "persons" (even though all "holons" - by their nature - possess personal aspects). So the ordinary use of language is heavily biased in terms of merely personal identification with respect to human and impersonal identification with respect to non-human "holons". However once again, in correct dynamic terms all "holons" possess both personal and impersonal aspects, which continually interact.
There are so many other anomalies! For example in singular terms we distinguish 3rd person by sex (i.e. him or her). However this distinction is not made at the plural level (they). Furthermore though we distinguish "it" from "him" and "her" at the singular level, in plural terms all are referred to as "they".
Likewise in English there is no distinction as between 2nd person (singular and plural) both referred to as "you". However in other languages this would not necessarily apply. For example in French we would distinguish as between "tu" and "vous". However we would have the added complication that sometimes it would be correct - if for example I did not know you well - to refer to you (singular) as "vous" though in a more intimate setting you (singular) would be "tu". So we would here be using two words - in different contexts - to refer to "you" (singular).
Also interestingly in French all objects are given either a masculine or feminine interpretation. So "the chair" would be translated "la chaise" (feminine). The rock would be translated "le roc"(masculine). Now on the face of it this would seemingly be associated with a greater tendency in French to recognise "its" (with respect to their personal aspects). However the point I am really making is that - though endlessly fascinating in its own right - the anomalies associated with ordinary language usage do not serve as an adequate basis for proper scientific understanding of the nature of perspectives.
Primordial or Indigenous Perspectives
Having - misleadingly - identified four fundamental perspectives, Ken identifies 8 primordial (indigenous, native) perspectives through allowing for each "holon" to have both an inside and outside interpretation.
On the face of it this appears to be a move in the right direction towards a more interactive approach. Once again in dynamic terms - because of the purely arbitrary nature of polar designations - interior and exterior keep switching in experience. Therefore in a relative context - where the polar reference frame is temporarily fixed, a "holon" will appear to have an unambiguous exterior aspect. However when the reference frame is changed the same "holon" will now appear to have an unambiguous interior aspect. Also we have seen how the integral aspect - at least implicitly - always requires recognition of the mutual paradox of these two positions (when viewed as interdependent) thereby facilitating the transition to nondual awareness.
However, though it certainly represents a welcome advance in his thinking, when we examine Ken's position carefully, it does not amount to a proper dynamic approach.
Saying that every holon has an inside and an outside, really amounts to saying - in Ken's terminology - that every interior holon also has an exterior aspect and that every exterior holon also has an interior aspect which would render the very definition of exterior and interior (in unambiguous terms) as problematic.
However, rather than grappling with the inevitable paradoxes created by any attempt to clearly identify quadrant locations, Ken attempts to still deal with each quadrant "holon" - though such fragmentation clearly makes no sense - in a more convoluted asymmetrical manner (where he now allows for both an inside and an outside interpretation).
Put another way, though his understanding has indeed become more comprehensive with regard to the nature of quadrant understanding i.e. with respect to how the four quadrants can lead to a greater number of perspectives, he still attempts to deal with their nature in a relatively static rather that inherently dynamic manner. In other words he still provides no consistent interface as between (partial) differentiated and (holistic) integral understanding.
In actual fact - in the static manner presented by Ken - his 8 perspectives do not really represent primordial but rather composite perspectives (where two or more primordial perspectives are combined).
For example when we look at Ken's attempts to identify the eight major methodologies that follow from his perspectives, he unambiguously attempts to identify them with specific quadrants. Right away this makes no sense from a dynamic interactive context where these methodologies should rightly be associated with all quadrants.
Then when we look for example at Ken's UL quadrant relating - misleadingly - to the (singular) interior aspect, the holons in this quadrant - which again in truth makes little dynamic sense - have now both an inside and outside interpretation. So Ken identifies the inside interpretation of his interior quadrant with one of his major methodologies i.e. phenomenology.
However one could question - even in Ken's terms - whether this represents an adequate identification. I would have thought that existentialism would have at least equal rights to be included (and cannot be reduced to phenomenology).
However a deeper issue relates to the fact that neither phenomenology nor existentialism - in the philosophical sense - can be based on just one perspective. Certainly worthwhile work in either field would require the authentic capacity for interior subjective experience. However it would also require the capacity to objectively reflect in a more impersonal manner before any useful philosophical reflection could emerge. So we would have here the significant requirement - in varying degrees - for at least two primary perspectives (1st person and 4th person). Of course one reason why this is seemingly missed by Ken is due to the fact that - as I have already stated - the very language of perspectives that he uses (i.e. 1st, 2nd and 3rd person) is inadequate and fails to clearly identify the objective impersonal recognition of "I and we" (i.e. 4th person).
However the same criticism would apply to each of his other methodologies which seem to me to have a very forced ring about them so as to suit Ken's system. For example I would not have considered cultural anthropology and social autopoiesis as among the major methodologies (though they are in Ken's system). However I would perhaps have included mathematics - with respect to both its analytic and holistic interpretations - though strangely this is not specifically mentioned in Ken's approach (even though he later attempts to define perspectives in integral mathematical terms). The problem is that we cannot really attempt to identify the major intellectual modes of inquiry directly with distinct primordial perspectives for the simple reason that they invariably entail a composite mix of such perspectives (both within and between stages). Furthermore as integral appreciation - by its very nature - entails the balanced reconciliation of opposite perspectives, therefore we can even less attempt to identify integral interpretation with respect to any of the major methodologies with distinct perspectives.
Another important problem I would find with Ken's approach is that his attempt to identify the major perspectives (solely) with major intellectual modes of inquiry could lead to very biased interpretation of the full range of perspectives (due to being heavily weighted in favour of cognitive type understanding).
My own favoured way of identifying the kind of understanding associated with each of the primary perspectives has been through close study of Personality Systems (where each type is defined by the dominance of one key perspective).
So for example if we take the Myers-Briggs (based on Jungian notions) it gives us 16 key (differentiated) perspectives (which I referred to in "Clarifying Perspectives 2").
Now, if we were to apply a Jungian critique to Ken's mode of identifying methodologies with perspectives, two key points could be made.
Firstly, though Ken's approach would allow for both T (thinking) and F (feeling) classifications, due to the emphasis on intellectual modes of inquiry it is somewhat biased towards T understanding.
Secondly it reflects a predominantly S (sense) rather than an N (intuitive) type orientation. This suggests therefore that there are 8 missing perspectives in Ken's primordial system that rightly reflect unconscious (potential) rather than conscious (actual) perspectives. What this means in effect is this! Again using Ken's own terminology not alone do all holons have both an inside and outside interpretation (relating to the horizontal aspects of the quadrants), but likewise all holons have both an individual (partial) and collective (holistic) interpretation. Now when we study Ken's characteristic use of the collective notion it predominantly reflects a merely reduced (S type) individual definition as the sum of the parts (Indeed the very designation of plural to signify his collective quadrants directly indicates this!) However the true (unreduced) notion of collective is qualitatively distinct relating to holistic (unconscious) appreciation (N type) i.e. where individual symbols resonate an archetypal universal quality.
Thus in holistic mathematical terms all holons have both "real" (conscious) and "imaginary" (unconscious) aspects. So in the dynamics of experience we have the continual interaction of both "real" (actual) and "imaginary" (potential) perspectives. Once again however Ken's system not alone does not properly recognise this important distinction but is not geared - by its very nature - to deal with their vitally important interaction.
And if Ken were to recognise that holons have both inside and outside interpretations and individual and collective interpretations, it would more easily suggest perhaps how all quadrant designations are necessarily contained in any one designation. However it would then require - as I have repeatedly suggested - a dynamic interactive approach to show how the differentiated notion of quadrants can be successfully reconciled with overall integral appreciation.
I would make one final observation at this stage. Ken's recognition that all holons by their nature embody simultaneously arising perspectives - though his actual treatment of distinct perspectives is not strictly in keeping with this recognition - creates inconsistency with respect to previous positions he adopted (based on an earlier fragmented understanding of quadrants).
For example Ken is now anxious to stress that mathematical symbols have meanings reflecting the four quadrants. I would agree with this (which has been my position now for several decades). However in earlier comments in "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" he identified mathematics with interior understanding (which in turn conflicts with his present stated view of the customary nature of mathematics embodying 3rd person abstracted abstractions).  So as always, though Ken is never less than interesting and stimulating for the variety of viewpoints he throws out on every issue, the great problem as I see it is that he is unable to maintain consistency as between these many positions. Thus when he is tackled on any point he has a marked tendency to shift the goal posts (and then invariably accuses his critics of misrepresenting his position when they aim for goal). In an account that is designed to be integral this ad hoc style of response is a major shortcoming!
The reason for this problem is very clear i.e. the lack of a suitable dynamic interactive approach which can consistently relate both the differentiated and integral aspects of experience. Because of the overriding importance of this issue, I continue to focus on it in my contributions. (In the final part of this series "Clarifying Perspectives 4" I will attempt to provide some much needed overall perspective on Ken's "Integral Mathematics of Primordial Perspectives" (as outlined in Appendix B to Excerpt C - the Way we are in this Together").
1. In a revealing note (4) to Excerpt C, Ken states
"There are not different holons in the four quadrants; the four quadrants are four dimensions of every holon. There are different dimensions of a single holon in the four quadrants, not separate holons. (Of course, those dimensions can be subconceived as holons in their own right, but those holons themselves then have correlates or dimensions in all the other quadrants, so they themselves are not separate holons either.) So when we say the insides of an interior holon, for example, that actually means the insides of the interior dimensions of a holon. But it is easier and simpler to say things like "holons in the UL quadrant," and so on, which is fine, as long as the tetra-nature of any holon is clearly remembered."
Ken starts by trying to outline a suitable integral view of quadrants, but then settles for a differentiated interpretation in the last sentence, which is simply inconsistent with the starting position. The problem is that Ken attempts to understand the dimensions of a quadrant in ambiguous terms (i.e. where locations remain fixed). However in the very nature of experience, due to the dynamic interaction of opposite poles, these locations keep switching rendering a statement such as "holons in the UL quadrant" as strictly meaningless. So by continuing to attempt to represent holons in this non-interactive fashion (as associated with specific locations), Ken offers a very reduced fragmented interpretation.
2. Of course the word "relationship" also suffers in that perhaps it does not itself sufficiently embody the "relatands" i.e. the constituent parts that are to be related. However at least here the primary emphasis is on relationship so that understanding is likely to be less reduced than with holons.
3. I am aware that Ken defines holarchy to include the heterarchical aspects of the holon. However this does not seem to me to be properly justified. Though hierarchical and heterarchical aspects are necessarily related they should - in differentiated terms - be initially treated in a distinctive manner. So for me holarchical properly relates to the hierarchical (vertical) aspects of a holon. Therefore we have no more reason to include heterarchy under holarchy (as holarchy under heterarchy).
4. In his terms, Ken does not properly distinguish as between psychophysical interactions (associated with brain physiology) and exterior physical phenomena which would both be identified in terms of - horizontally defined - Right-Hand (exterior) quadrants. However strictly speaking the former relates to - what I refer to as - diagonal polarities, where neither psychological nor physical aspects can be properly separated.
5. Ken's view of holarchy is a fine example of merely (linear) asymmetric understanding, which is the product of the middle levels of the spectrum. Therefore when we attempt to structurally interpret the nature of development through the cognitive understanding of the middle levels, it may indeed appear holarchic. However this is simply due to imposing the linear interpretation of the middle on all levels. However when we view these other levels in terms of the understanding appropriate to them development will not appear holarchic. For example at the "higher" mystical stages linear notions are rendered increasingly paradoxical (through circular understanding) and gradually break down. Thus we move here from unambiguous linear notions of holarchy to paradoxical circular notions (where holarchy is bi-directionally balanced by onarchy) firstly in "real" and then in both "real" and "imaginary" terms ultimately leading to pure nondual understanding.
6. A key problem with Ken's approach, which I have consistently identified, is that its interpretations in cognitive structural terms are confined to the somewhat asymmetrical type understanding associated with the centaur (vision-logic). However associated with each of the "higher" levels - psychic/subtle, causal, nondual and then the more comprehensive radial stages are more refined intellectual interpretations that entail the interpenetration of both linear (asymmetrical) and circular (paradoxical) understanding. However insofar as paradoxical modes are used by Ken, they are largely confined to the treatment of states. Therefore the structural interpretation of development that he provides remains remarkably linear (asymmetrical) throughout and is especially unsuited to deal with the nature of dynamic interactions (which in turn is required so as to properly reconcile differentiated with integral understanding).
7. When one properly understands the bi-directional nature of holons in hierarchical terms then it leads to the realisation that collective quadrants (in holarchical terms) are likewise individual from the corresponding onarchical perspective. Equally individual quadrants (in holarchical terms) are collective from the corresponding onarchical perspective. Thus the bi-directional interaction of holarchical and onarchical aspects is equally associated with bi-directional switching as between individual and collective locations (and collective and individual) with respect to vertical quadrants.
8. We need an eight-sectoral rather than four-quadrant approach to avoid confusing the direction of transcendence (and immanence) in development with that of holarchy (and onarchy). Thus whereas the holarchical (and onarchical) directions are represented in vertical terms (as the movement between levels) the transcendent (and immanent) are represented in diagonal terms (as the simultaneous movement within and between levels). Thus without adequate heterarchical translation within levels it is not possible to have successful spiritual transcendence (and immanence) between levels (as emptiness). From the corresponding perspective of form the diagonal polarities equally represent the psychophysical aspects of development (where mind and body cannot be fully separated). It is possible in a qualified sense however to have holarchical (and onarchical) development without adequate heterarchical translation. This is usually identified with the fluctuation in states between levels (without adequate structural development).
9. This is yet another important aspect on perspectives that I find largely missing from Ken's treatment i.e. a stage specific treatment of the development of perspectives. In other words in radial terms - where the differentiated and integral aspects of development are combined - a unique configuration with respect to perspectives characterises each major stage. Furthermore what is truly remarkable is that these configurations can be precisely encoded in mathematical terms. I will briefly outline a 12-stage model of perspectives (with corresponding holistic mathematical encoding) in the final contribution.
10. I have pointed to the fact before that from a Jungian perspective Ken's structural approach to development - especially in more recent years - is characterised by a strong S (and sometimes extreme S) tendency where he predominantly concentrates on the unambiguous (conscious) interpretation of actual structures of development. However the corresponding N tendency relating to the (unconscious) potential aspects of development is largely confined in Ken's writings to spiritual states. Thus because of the lack of a proper dynamic approach we have here a striking discontinuity as between structures and states (through being largely confined to separate domains).
In holistic mathematical terms the actual (conscious) aspect is "real" and the potential (unconscious) aspect is "imaginary". So in dynamic interactive terms all perspectives are "complex" (with both "real" and "imaginary" aspects). Interestingly Ken's S based approach concentrating structurally on the "real" aspect is illustrated directly by the following quote from excerpt C (Page 1).
"We will be discussing all of those items more carefully in the following sections. For now, our simple introductory point is that by honoring all of the indigenous perspectives of being-in-the-world, we can more graciously arrive at an Integral Methodological Pluralism that embraces the many modes of inquiry that human beings are already practicing in any event--and they are practicing them because these methodologies are "real" by any meaningful definition of that word."
11. The "imaginary" (unconscious) aspect of phenomena is often in evidence in conventional conversation. For example a person may speak of buying a "dream house". So the "real" house here also carries an "imaginary" aspect as the potential desire for true meaning.
12. 180 degree opposites refer to opposite ends of the horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines of the circle (that represent their respective polarities). I refer to the dynamic bi-directional relationship as between these polarities as Type 1 complementarity, which unfolds with H1 (the psychic/subtle level) 90 degree opposites refer to opposites of lines that are horizontal and vertical with respect i.e. in "real" and "imaginary" terms. I refer to the more intricate bi-directional relationship as between these polarities as Type 2 complementarity, which properly unfolds with H2 (the causal level). There is an even more intricate form of bi-directional relationship represented by the lines that are at 45 degree angles to each other (i.e. horizontal and diagonal and also vertical and diagonal). The bi-directional relationship here I refer to as Type 3 complementarity which unfolds at H3 (approaching nondual reality).
13. Integral understanding can only be indirectly represented though circular paradoxical type interpretation. In direct terms integral awareness is nondual (empty). However an important interaction continually exists as between the indirect (circular) integral expression of form and the nondual experience of spiritual emptiness with both serving the development of each other in experience.
14. In note 7 to excerpt C, Ken states
"Is there any perception that is not a perspective? Yes, I believe so, and it has to do with satori or nondual awareness (or pure Emptiness--consciousness without an object, which is therefore consciousness without a perspective), which I will explore in later excerpts. The conclusion of this integral reformulation of the wisdom traditions is that samsara (or the world of Form) is composed of perspectives, and nirvana (or Emptiness) is pure perception without an object or perspective. The union of Emptiness and Form is thus the union of perception and perspective, where in my pure perception I am one with everything that is arising (although as expressed through my own individual perspective, with which I am no longer exclusively identified). Finding Emptiness is a freedom from all perspectives (a nirvana free of samsara); a union with Form is finding the Fullness of perspectives that alone can express this Freedom (the nonduality of nirvana and samsara). Wisdom is transcending perspectives, compassion is embracing them all."
However this begs the obvious question that if there is perception (nondual awareness) that is not a perspective then it is not possible to maintain that "the universe is built of perspectives" (unless we hold the untenable view that the nondual does not interact with the phenomenal universe). Thus, though Ken indeed recognises the ultimate union of form and emptiness (perceptions and perception) he does so once more in a somewhat non-interactive fashion. The point is that dual and nondual necessarily interact at all levels of experience. Therefore we need to show the dynamic relationship throughout development as between perception and distinct perspectives (which are continually balanced by non-perspectives). This Ken does not do!
It is also perhaps worth mentioning that - strictly speaking - we can never experience primary perspectives (in isolation) as all primary perspectives must overlap to some degree to make phenomenal experience possible. Also primary perspectives overlap in turn with higher order secondary perspectives of an increasingly indirect nature. Put another way actual experience necessarily entails both the differentiated and integral appreciation of both primary and secondary perspectives. While recognising this, it is certainly true that experience can express in different contexts the dominance of one or more key primary perspectives. However a frequent problem arises through a failure to distinguish composite (where two or more perspectives are dominant) from primary (where just one dominates).
15. Because Ken puts so much store in his method of approach with his carefully chosen vocabulary (which he then presumably expects to set the standard for discussion in the area), he frequently gives the impression that no one else has grappled with the same issues. This is rarely the case! However it would require a willingness to look outside his own perspective (which perhaps Ken is not inclined to do) to recognise that others may have already explored many of the same issues, successfully dealing with unresolved problems in his own approach. Though he certainly brings his own inimitable style to bear on the issue of perspectives, I would consider that he has yet to properly recognise many key areas (which are especially relevant).
16. This issue is likewise addressed by Mark Edwards in an excellent article on this site "Through AQAL Eyes Part 7: "I" and "Me" and "We" and "Us" and "You" and "Yous": Sorting out Ken's Holon of Mixed Perspectives" which offers a more comprehensive - though often quite critical - view of Ken's work on perspectives (from within the Wilberian framework). Though I would broadly accept Mark's criticisms within this context, my own position would be much more radical in that I would see a consistent integral interpretation of development ultimately requiring a substantially different approach (i.e. that is properly interactive by its very nature).
17. For example in "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" Ken has this to say about mathematics on P. 153;
"When we "do mathematics," we inwardly perceive with the mind's eye, a whole series of symbolic and events. These are not "mere abstractions" as any mathematician will attest, they are part of an incredibly rich stream of often quite beautiful images, patterns, scenes, landscapes, which follow what seem at times divine patterns, exquisitely unfolding before the mind's eye."
Ken is clearly designating mathematics - in his terms - here with the Left-Hand interior quadrants. However in his Appendix B to Excerpt C he refers to the "typical mathematics of 3rd person abstracted abstractions."
Where is the consistency here? Earlier Ken was telling us that any mathematician would attest to the fact that mathematics is not just about "mere abstractions".
Also 3rd person abstractions - in Ken's terms - would be associated with the exterior Right-Hand quadrants. However earlier he told us that mathematics belonged to the interior quadrants.
And of course case the interior interpretation of "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" - though seemingly designed with respect to the true integral nature of mathematics does not equate with the all-quadrant interpretation now offered in the Appendix.
Wilber, K. (2003) The Ways we are in this Together: Intersubjectivity and Interobjectivity in the Holonic Kosmos, excerpt from Volume 2 of Kosmos Trilogy.
Wilber, K. (1998) The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion; Random House, New York.
Edwards, M (2002) Through AQAL Eyes Part 7: "I" and "Me" and "We" and "Us" and "You" and "Yous": Sorting out Ken's Holon of Mixed Perspectives.
Collins, P (2003) Looking for Perspective (Chap 15 of ongoing work "Development - the Radial Approach").