Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

The Twenty Tenets

  1. Reality as a whole is not composed of things, or processes, but of holons.
  2. Holons display four fundamental capacities:
    1. self-preservation,
    2. self-adaptation,
    3. self-transcendence.
    4. self-dissolution.
  3. Holons emerge.
  4. Holons emerge holarchically.
  5. Each emergent holon transcends but includes its predecessor.
  6. The lower sets the possibilities of the higer; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower.
  7. "The number of levels which a hierarchy comprises determines whether it is 'shallow' or 'deep'; and the number of holons on any given level we shall call its 'span'" (A. Koestler).
  8. Each successive level of evolution produces greater depth and less span.
  9. Destroy any type of holon, and you will destroy all of the holons above it and none of the holons below it.
  10. Holarchies coevolve.
  11. The micro is in relational exchange with the macro at all levels of its depth.
  12. Evolution has directionality:
    1. Increasing complexity.
    2. Increasing differentiation/integration.
    3. Increasing organisation/structuration.
    4. Increasing relative autonomy.
    5. Increasing telos.

"Chapter 2 outlines "twenty tenets" that are common to evolving or growing systems wherever we find them. Many people counted them up and didn't get twenty, and they wanted to know if they had missed something. This simply depends on what you count as a tenet. I give twelve numbered tenets. Number 2 contains four tenets, and number 12 contains five. That's nineteen altogether. Throughout the book, I give three additions. That's twenty-two. But one or two of the tenets are not really characteristics, just simple word definitions (e.g., tenet 7 and possibly 9). So that leaves around twenty actual tenets, or actual characteristics of evolution. But there is nothing sacred about the number twenty; these are just some of the more noticeable trends, tropisms, or tendencies of evolution." (from the preface to the second edition of SES)

Source: Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, 1995, p. 35-78.

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