Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].


Constructor Theory and Integral Theory

In 3 parts, with an Afterword

Joe Corbett / ChatGPT

In my last Chatgpt essay on Universal Grammar and Universal Genome, common patterns between disparate domains of physical reality were disclosed. By all indications, syntax is an ordering principle of the universe, a recursively hierarchical property that allows for the generation of infinitely complex embedded forms most beautiful, whether in linguistic or species-specific genomic formations, and whether we see particles coming together to form atoms or atoms coming together to form molecules, and molecules coming together to form life-consciousness and its many levels, we are essentially seeing the universe language itself into existence.

In this Chatgpt essay, I seek to disclose how the forms of the universe are constructed, and what principles may be involved as foundational to the existence of—everything.

Chatgpt prompt 1—Write a 2000 word essay on what constructor theory is, its main premises, and the operations and transformations it stipulates, giving examples to illustrate how it might work.

Constructor Theory: Unveiling a New Framework for Understanding the Physical World


Constructor Theory, proposed by David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto, serves as a novel framework to comprehend the fundamental laws of physics. Unlike traditional theories that focus on describing what processes can occur, Constructor Theory shifts the perspective to explaining the limits and possibilities of what can be constructed. This essay aims to explore the main premises of Constructor Theory, its operations and transformations, and provide examples to illustrate its potential applications.

Main Premises of Constructor Theory

Constructor Theory rests upon several key premises that challenge conventional views of physics:

1. Transformability:

Objects can be transformed between different states while preserving their essential properties and information content.

2. Constructors:

Physical systems should be understood as entities that possess the capability to transform inputs into specified outputs, irrespective of the actual processes involved.

3. Fundamental Physics:

Understanding the properties of physical systems requires identifying the fundamental principles that govern their transformations.

Operations and Transformations in Constructor Theory
1. Constructor Superposition:

The ability of constructors to work together in a superposition provides a powerful mechanism to create complex, emergent phenomena. By combining constructors, new properties can emerge, enabling the description of phenomena that were previously difficult to characterize.

Example: Quantum Superposition—In quantum computing, the superposition of quantum bits (qubits) allows for exponentially greater computational power. By referring to the collective system of qubits as a constructor, Constructor Theory offers insight into the transformative potential of these superposed states.

2. Constructor Composition:

Constructors, much like Lego blocks, can be composed together in various ways to create larger, more intricate systems. This composition allows for the explanation of complex systems from the smallest building blocks.

Example: Molecular Structures—The composition of atoms into molecules demonstrates how Constructor Theory can explain the properties and behavior of complex structures. By understanding the specific arrangement of atoms, constructors can predict the resulting properties and transformations of the molecular system.

3. Constructor Deletion:

A constructor's ability to destroy or delete certain objects or states is a vital aspect in understanding the potential of transformations.

Example: State Erasure—In quantum mechanics, the process of erasure involves the deletion of information about a quantum system's initial state. Constructor Theory provides insights into the fundamental limits and capabilities of erasure, illuminating the relationship between physics and information theory.

4. Constructor Transformation:

Constructors can transform objects from one state to another, leading to changes in the possibilities and constraints of the system.

Example: Entropy and Thermodynamics—Constructor Theory offers a fresh perspective on the concept of entropy by viewing it as a measure of the impossibility or difficulty of transforming a system's state into others. Constraining or transforming the configurations of particles within a system can impact the overall entropy, shifting the possibilities for transformations.


Constructor Theory defines a new paradigm within physics, focusing on the transformative capabilities of entities and systems. By emphasizing the constraints and possibilities of transformations, Constructor Theory provides a framework to expand our understanding of the physical world. This essay has explored the premises of Constructor Theory and highlighted various operations and transformations within its scope, utilizing examples to illustrate its potential applications.

While still in its early stages, Constructor Theory offers promise in diverse fields, such as quantum computing, molecular biology, and advanced engineering. By broadening our understanding of what is possible, Constructor Theory strives to move beyond descriptive physics and becomes a tool for exploring and unlocking new frontiers in scientific inquiry. As our comprehension of Constructor Theory deepens, it may bring about paradigm shifts in our understanding of the universe and guide the development of advanced technologies and novel scientific paradigms.

Chatgpt prompt 2—Consider the elements of quadrants and levels in Ken Wilber's AQAL theory to be two possible constructors within constructor theory. Describe what might be constructed out of quadrants and levels using constructor theory as a guide.

In constructor theory, the concept of constructors refers to fundamental entities or operations that can be used to build and transform physical objects or systems. These constructors follow certain laws or principles, allowing for the prediction and understanding of the behavior and properties of the constructed entities.

Considering the elements of quadrants and levels in Ken Wilber's AQAL (All Quadrants, All Levels) theory as possible constructors within constructor theory, we can examine how they might be utilized to construct entities or systems while adhering to the principles of constructor theory.

1. Quadrants as Constructors:

In AQAL theory, the quadrants represent four fundamental perspectives or dimensions of reality: the individual interior (I), the individual exterior (It), the collective interior (We), and the collective exterior (Its). These quadrants provide different aspects of any system or phenomenon, offering a comprehensive framework to understand and analyze them.

In constructor theory, quadrants as constructors could potentially be used to build complex systems by considering the various perspectives or dimensions involved. By incorporating the perspectives from all four quadrants, a more holistic view of the system is obtained, leading to a deeper understanding of its nature and behavior.

For example, in constructing a social system, one might consider the individual subjective experiences (I), the physical attributes or behaviors of individuals (It), the collective values or norms (We), and the observable social structures (Its). By integrating all these perspectives, a more complete and accurate model of the social system can be developed using the principles of constructor theory.

2. Levels as Constructors:

In AQAL theory, levels represent different stages or developmental levels that individuals or systems can progress through. These levels provide a framework for understanding the growth, complexity, and evolution of phenomena in various domains, including individuals, cultures, or consciousness.

In constructor theory, levels as constructors could be used to describe how different systems are constructed and transformed as they progress or evolve. Each level would represent a distinct state of the system, with its own properties and behavior. The principles of constructor theory would then guide us in understanding how a system transitions or progresses between these levels.

For instance, in constructing a cognitive system, levels as constructors would allow us to describe the different stages of cognitive development a person might go through, from simple sensory processing to complex abstract reasoning. By understanding the principles governing the transitions between levels, constructor theory could provide insights into how cognitive systems evolve and develop.

Overall, by applying constructor theory to the elements of quadrants and levels in AQAL theory, one could construct more comprehensive and insightful models of complex systems or phenomena. By considering multiple perspectives and developmental stages, constructor theory would provide a powerful framework to understand and predict the behavior and properties of these systems.

Chatgpt prompt 3—If we were to take the 4 quadrants in Ken Wilber's AQAL theory and call the upper-right It quadrant the principle of 3D manifestation, the upper-left I quadrant the principle of variation, the lower-left We quadrant the principle of preservation, and the lower-right Its quadrant the principle of recursive and hierarchic selection, what might constructor theory say about how things could be constructed in this system?

Constructor theory is a framework within theoretical physics that aims to provide a fundamental account of physical laws in terms of transformations and the boundaries of what can and cannot be constructed. It focuses on the possible tasks that can be carried out rather than specifying the precise physical processes involved.

In the context of Ken Wilber's AQAL theory, it is important to note that AQAL is a model of human consciousness and includes various dimensions such as subjectivity, intersubjectivity, and the objective world. On the other hand, constructor theory deals with the fundamental principles underlying physical laws rather than directly addressing consciousness or subjective experience.

That being said, if we were to use the AQAL quadrants as you have described in the context of constructor theory, we could speculate on the principles underlying the construction of phenomena in each quadrant:

1. Upper-right It quadrant (Principle of 3D Manifestation):

This quadrant deals with the objective and external aspects of reality. In this context, constructor theory might suggest that the construction of physical phenomena in this quadrant is guided by principles related to space, time, and causality. It may involve principles of symmetry, emergent properties, and the transformation of matter and energy.

2. Upper-left I quadrant (Principle of Variation):

This quadrant focuses on the internal subjective experience of individuals. Constructor theory might propose that the construction of subjective experiences involves principles related to information processing, neural dynamics, and the emergence of consciousness. It could examine how variations in neural states and information flow give rise to the richness and diversity of subjective experiences.

3. Lower-left we quadrant (Principle of Preservation):

This quadrant deals with intersubjective relationships and social systems. In terms of constructor theory, the construction of social systems might involve principles related to communication, coordination, and the preservation of information. It may focus on how social norms, cultural evolution, and collective decision-making processes shape the construction of social structures.

4. Lower-right Its quadrant (Principle of Recursive Selection):

This quadrant relates to both the objective systems and subjective experiences interacting and influencing each other. In this context, constructor theory might investigate principles of feedback loops, self-organization, and adaptive processes. It could explore how the interaction between subjective experiences and objective systems leads to the selection, adaptation, and evolution of individuals and societies.

It's important to note that this exploration of constructor theory within the AQAL framework is a speculative exercise. While AQAL provides a useful perspective for understanding the different dimensions of reality, constructor theory itself is still a developing framework, and its application to complex systems like consciousness and social structures is an ongoing area of research.


Clearly, chatgpt is a very knowledgeable, but not a very bright student, severely limited in its ability to think outside the box. Kind of like an autistic idiot-savant citizen of flatland, but a very well-adjusted member of that collectivity. One thing that strikes me about the main premises of constructor theory is that it seems to hold the phenomenon of transcend and include as a universal property of how constructors operate. While simultaneously erasing and preserving old information, the processes of construction create new forms according to the constraints of general principles of formation rather than specific mechanisms that apply to all forms and levels of formation. In other words, each form and level may have different mechanisms of formation, but those will always operate according to the same general underlying principles, the principles found in the universal constructor.

Reformulating the Four Quadrants

Principle of Variation

Principle of 3D Manifestation

Principle of Preservation

Principle of Recursive Selection

The general principles of formation that I have identified here and in previous essays as being characteristic of the four quadrants (3D Manifestation in the UR, Variation in the UL, Preservation in the LL, and Recursive Selection and Hierarchy in the LR) seem to provide a comprehensive framework for a constructor theory of everything, the ultimate goal of constructor theory as originally proposed by David Deutsch.

Although chatgpt is unable to go beyond the given categories of standard theoretical terminology, it is clear that the principles underlying the construction of phenomena in the four quadrants go beyond specifically human subjective and intersubjective phenomena to include the subjective and intersubjective aspects of physical reality all the way down, to particles and atoms, and all the way up, to planets, stars, and galactic systems, in terms of the information processing that goes on at those levels and between the forms of those levels. The principles of Manifestation, Variation, Preservation, and Recursive Hierarchy operate at all levels of physical reality, and can be considered to be the foundational principles of the universal constructor, no less than in the form of the AQAL itself.

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