Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joseph DillardDr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: and his YouTube channel.


“Here be dragons...” means dangerous or unexplored territories.

Self-Development and Overall Development

Their Differences and Why They Matter

Joseph Dillard

This essay challenges a fundamental assumption of Integral, one which, as a psychotherapist and student of comparative religion, I have accepted for some six decades. Contrary to what I have assumed, self-development is not the purpose of life, and the implications of that reassessment have profound implications for psychology, religion, and Integral.
The higher one climbs in self-development without contextualizing self-development, the greater the likelihood of arrogance, exceptionalism, and hubris.

In this essay, the holon of self-development is compared with that of its hypothesized super-ordinate holon, overall development, including some of the limitations of self-development and conditions that can cause it to become pathological. Self-development based world views are then compared with that of overall development in order to understand how overall development influences self-development. The role that balance and ethical behavior, or the lack thereof, play in our ability to tetra-mesh overall development from one level to the next is considered. Cognitive and experiential multi-perspectivalism are differentiated in order to understand why the distinction between self-development and overall development is important. The implication is that many of the problems humanity faces can be traced to an over-emphasis on self-development and an under-emphasis on overall development.

The limitations of our maps limit our world view

Integral AQAL, along with just about every other map, focuses on self-development. While you can potentially go to places that are on a map, if it is a map of Earth, it won't include non-Earth destinations, like the moon, Mars, or the Pleiades. Because your map is that of the Earth, you aren't going to be able to use it to arrive at somewhere “off Earth.” Similarly, holons that transcend and include self-development are not on any self-development map; you can't see them, comprehend them, or access them using any map that is all about self-development. If you want to know that some larger holon exists and how to access it, you need a different map. Otherwise, you might as well be looking at a medieval map showing the edge of the Earth with the inscription, “Here there be dragons.”

Developmental holons

To understand any larger holon that includes and transcends self-development and consider whether its reality might be relevant for ourselves and integral, we have to first back off and take a look at what we know about holons. Wilber tells us that holons are “part-wholes,” or wholes that contain their own structural elements. These include at least four quadrants, each with at least an inner and an outer face.[1] Selves are holons and self-development is holonic development.

The idea that there might be relevant data that does not show up on the self-development map is not such a strange idea if we think about it in terms of holons. If self-development is thought of as a holon, as Wilber certainly does, with its four quadrants, and if it's “holons all the way up and all the way down,” that means that there is a super-ordinate holon that contains all individual human holons of self-development.[2] If that is the case, what might it be like?

Self-development is an agentically-centered holon since, after all, it is about the evolution of individual entities, even if those are social (foraging survival clans; horticultural ethnic tribes; agrarian feudal empires and early nations; industrial corporate states; informational value communities, holistic commons, or integral meshworks), or cultural (premodern archaic, animistic-magical, power gods, or mythic order; modern scientific-rational and pluralistic; or post-modern holistic or integral) systems.

Agency and communion appear to alternate through levels of self-development and the holons that immediately precede self-development are subjectively collective (in that they are sub-holons of self-development), and that holon which includes and transcends all human holons of self-development will likely be collective and communal in orientation as well, precisely because it contains all individual human holons of self-development. That super-ordinate holon contains all human self-development holons, which means that our self-development holons are subsets of the holon of overall development.

As such, like flatworms contemplating three-dimensional realities, no one individual holon of self-development can grasp the entirety of that super-ordinate holon, even if the holon of overall development were completely actualized, which it is not. Instead, it is in the early stages of emergence at the present stage of human evolution, somewhere between early prepersonal and mid-prepersonal in its own arc of unfolding. Therefore, it is not surprising that humanity has not grasped overall development or given it much thought. Lost in discovering itself, humanity has had an obsessive focus on its own self-development. It still does.

The basics of self-development

The self, which is the locus of perception and constitutes a developmental line called the self-system, is the climber of the developmental ladder.[3] A third-person descriptor for the overall self, the self-system is the locus of identification, will, defenses, metabolism, and integration. The self balances the various levels, lines, states, and types of consciousness.[4] It does so through a dialectical process of differentiating its subjective, or “proximal” identity from its objectified or “distal” identities, such as its roles, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. As it reincorporates or includes these, a synthesis occurs that allows a broader, more inclusive transcendent definition of self to become a new proximate self.[5] The self has climbed up a rung of the developmental ladder as a line or, if core lines have tetra-meshed, as a level.[6]

If this self moves to a cognitively multi-perspectival, vision-logic, or an aperspectival-integral world view, it relativizes all “self” definitions, because it understands the importance and functionality of each. For example, while late personal egalitarianism and pluralism is in conflict with late prepersonal egotism, a vision-logic perspective respects the perspectives both levels represent. If the self moves beyond vision-logic, it becomes a trans-egoic “Self,” accessing energic, devotional, formless, or non-dual identifications with oneness. Atman is Brahman, the I AM” that Wilber refers to in many of his texts.

What could possibly be beyond the non-dual? There are states of parinirvana and turiyatita, but these are ineffable Self states in which the self or Self is still the locus of experience. Even in Lex Neale's multiple-dimensional cubic extension of holons, the perspective of the perceiving self is still the point of reference of all perspectives, levels, and dimensions. These are multiple additional dimensions of the holon of self-development. Self-development remains the priority, not overall development.[7]

From the perspective of self-development, life concerns the development of individual selves. This world view favors the top two quadrants of the human holon because these are the quadrants of the individual self. The two collective quadrants address interactions with exterior, interobjective, and interior, intersubjective, others. For humans, the object of self-development is personal, individual, and interior: to reach either “normalcy,”—whatever that is!—a goal of mainstream psychology, or to attain high levels of transpersonal awakening, which is, at its extreme, a constant non-dual perspective, because that is not only the highest, it is the most inclusive level, in that it includes every other level of development, including, balancing, and transcending both agency and communion alternatively, up the ladder.

Limitations of self-development

As noted above, Integral AQAL maps self-development. It doesn't map overall development. You can't get to overall development using a map of self-development. Self-development has provided ample proof that while reason, and the inventions of commerce and law, as well as a slow expansion of our circle of inclusion, have in many ways rescued humanity from itself, a case can be made that self-development has created as many problems as it has solved.[8] The list of these problems is long, dreary, and dystopian, but perhaps, due to the audacity of the claim that self-development creates as many problems as it solves, a few of them should be listed:

  • Tolerance of life-annihilating nuclear weapons and their control by single individuals or small, largely unelected cabals;[9]
  • Widespread environmental devastation, due to exploitation;[10]
  • The Sixth Great Extinction;[11]
  • Tolerance of violence, both individually-generated and collective (war);[12]
  • Tolerance of inhumanity - human suffering, starvation, famine, homelessness, child neglect, and poverty;[13]
  • Dismissal of anthropogenic global warming, despite overwhelming evidence;[14]
  • Dismissal of the value of vaccination, despite overwhelming evidence;[15]
  • Our willingness to vote against our own interest;[16]
  • Our willingness to vote for “the lesser of two evils;”[17]
  • Addiction, and its imperviousness to advances in self-development;[18]
  • Milgram shock experiments demonstrating ¾ of the population can easily be trained to give a lethal shock to a stranger, and the Zimbardo prison experiment, which similarly demonstrates amoral and immoral behavior can easily and quickly be evoked in a majority of people;[19]
  • Role adaptability as training in culturally-induced sociopathy/character disorder (think CEOs, Wall St. gamblers, bankers, politicians, lawyers, and soldiers);[20]
  • Widespread enmeshment in pre-rational drama;[21]
  • Immersion in groupthink;[22]
  • The common use of reason and rationality to support pre-rational beliefs, world views, and self-sense;[23]
  • Cognitive science research showing almost all “thinking” is unconscious;[24]
  • Support of internationally illegal policies (for example, the US has killed over 20 million in illegal wars since WWII;[25]
  • The descent of the US into chaos;[26]
  • Support of apartheid and colonialist theocracy (Israel);[27]
  • Arming and supporting terrorists;[28]
  • Acceptance of US as chief exporter of world terrorism;[29]
  • Support of neoliberal/corporate economics: profit over people.[30]

It should be evident from the above litany that self-development doesn't go nearly far enough. For those who say that it just hasn't had enough time, the appropriate response is, “How much time is required?” How many wars and violations of human rights and international law are required before we decide there has been enough time? Just how badly does the environment have to be destroyed? Wilber's answer is, “Just the amount of time it takes to get 10% of the population to a 2nd Tier (vision-logic) world view.” Based on present conversion rates, I don't believe we can afford to wait that long. For those who say that this damage is all done by lower, “deplorable” levels, the appropriate response is, “Obama” and “Clinton.” In addition, the cream of the Ivy Leagues tends to end up on Wall St and in board rooms, using impressive intellectual prowess to generate massive personal wealth while adding nothing productive to human life. Do we first have to collapse civilization or destroy most capacities for self-development via global depression, nuclear war, or the Sixth Great Extinction before we conclude that self-development doesn't go nearly far enough?

Is it fair to lay these seemingly intractable human problems at the doorstep of self-development? What else could be responsible? Fate? God? Demons? Trump? The Russians? Terrorists? Jews? The Deep State? Globalists? The Tooth Fairy? If we wish to begin to right a sinking ship, we have to take an objective look at how our treasured self-development might be our own worst enemy.

What is a reasonable and workable formula for certain stages of development may not work for other stages. Self-development is an excellent and proven model for early to mid-personal development. However, beyond that, it becomes increasingly toxic and self-destructive. Self-development simply outgrows its own usefulness. For example, past mid-personal, the pursuit of both excellence and the transpersonal do not appear to significantly contribute solutions to the above problems. Transpersonal openings are intensely personal experiences that are notoriously difficult to share with others, because they are also ineffable and trans-rational. Anchoring them in everyday, practical issues that are the major concerns of most people is not impossible, but it is indeed difficult. Pursuit of the transpersonal has not been shown to translate into improved morality or greater socio-cultural goods. Benefits are individual, often while ignoring the quality of life of the larger population.[31] The pursuit of excellence favors some lines, typically the cognitive, self-system, interpersonal, and, in the case of Integral, the line of spiritual intelligence, while ignoring others, chiefly ethical behavior, throwing overall development out of balance. We can become wealthy, famous, and powerful while remaining amoral; in fact, capitalism routinely encourages same.[32]

Past mid-personal, self-development becomes increasingly pathogenic

Wilber notes that holons can be pathogenic:

…the cure of any diseased system consists in rooting out any holons that have usurped their position in the overall system by abusing their power of upward or downward causation. This is exactly the cure we see at work in psychoanalysis (shadow holons refuse integration), critical social theory (ideological holons distort open communication), democratic revolutions (monarchical or fascist holons oppress the body politic), medical science interventions (cancerous holons invade a benign system), radical feminist critiques (patriarchal holons dominate the public sphere), and so on. It is not getting rid of holarchy per se, but arresting (and integrating) the arrogant holons.[33]

Continuing, Wilber notes

…the holism between levels, goes pathological when there is a breakdown between levels and a particular holon assumes a repressive, oppressive, arrogant role of dominance over other holons (whether in individual or social development). On the other hand, normal heterarchy, which is holism within any level, goes pathological when there is a blurring or fusion of that level with its environment: a particular holon doesn't stand out too much, it blends in too much; it doesn't arrogate itself above others, it loses itself in others—and all distinctions, of value or identity, are lost (the individual holon finds its value and identity only through others).
In other words, in pathological hierarchy, one holon assumes agentic dominance to the detriment of all. This holon doesn't assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is the whole, period. On the other hand, in pathological heterarchy, individual holons lose their distinctive value and identity in a communal fusion and meltdown. This holon doesn't assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is a part, period. It becomes only instrumental to some other use; it is merely a strand in the web; it has no intrinsic value.[34]
Thus, pathological heterarchy means not union but fusion; not integration but indissociation; not relating but dissolving. All values become equalized and homogenized in a flatland devoid of individual values or identities; nothing can be said to be deeper or higher or better in any meaningful sense; all values vanish into a herd mentality of the bland leading the bland.
Whereas pathological hierarchy is a type of ontological fascism (with the one dominating the many), pathological heterarchy is a type of ontological totalitarianism (with the many dominating the one)—all of which we will discuss in detail in later chapters (where we will see that pathological hierarchy and pathological heterarchy are, respectively, types of pathological agency and pathological communion; and we will further see that these two pathologies are often associated, respectively, with the male and female value spheres—as with the work of Gilligan, Eisler, et al.—the males "ranking" and the females "linking," with the possible respective pathologies of dominance and fusion; feminists center on the male pathologies of dominance and miss the equally catastrophic pathologies of fusion).[35]

There is considerable to unpack here, and we need to back up and carefully consider some of the implications of what Wilber has said about the pathology of the holon of self-development.

“…the cure of any diseased system consists in rooting out any holons that have usurped their position in the overall system by abusing their power of upward or downward causation… It is not getting rid of holarchy per se, but arresting (and integrating) the arrogant holons.”

At stages of prepersonal through mid-personal development, the self-system is essential and fundamentally healthy, even in its arrogance and narcissism, because these are subordinated to the larger project of personality and self-integration. Starting somewhere in the personal levels (it is different for different people), self-development turns pathological in the sense Wilber has noted above. I have made the case elsewhere that self-development can generate exceptionalism, arrogance, and hubris.[36] This occurs largely because the cognitive, self-system, and various auxiliary lines normally outrun ethical behavior.

While the interior quadrant line of moral judgment normally tracks the cognitive line, more or less, it is ethical behavior that is the concern of the exterior quadrants. No correlation has been shown between the development of moral judgment and ethical behavior.[37] People of high self-development, including post or post-post conventional levels of judgment on the moral line, can be unethical in their relationships with others. A pathological turn of self-development past the personal levels is the norm—it is not a fluke or “shadow,” or some avoidable by-product of self-development.[38] This is because self-development focuses on excellence, which generates imbalances that are pathological while often running off and leaving ethical behavior. Self-development holonic pathology, as elaborated by Wilber in “The Spectrum of Psychopathology” in Transformations of Consciousness, is a natural and almost inevitable outcome of a failure to functionally place the holon of self-development within the broader, more inclusive holon of overall development. The higher one climbs in self-development without contextualizing self-development, the greater the likelihood of arrogance, exceptionalism, and hubris, and the more likely it becomes that this blindness, selfishness, and imbalance will not be recognized, much less addressed. We will think of ourselves as kind, loving, generous, intelligent, competent, and moral.

“…the holism between levels, goes pathological when there is a breakdown between levels and a particular holon assumes a repressive, oppressive, arrogant role of dominance over other holons (whether in individual or social development).”

What Wilber is describing can also be applied to what happens with the holon of self-development when it assumes a role of dominance over other holons of self-development, that is, of one person over another at any level, but most corrosively at late personal stages and above. Translated into the lower right realm of human interaction and social justice, this arrogance and dominance is operationally defined as non-ethical behavior, either as the trespassing of the codified social norms we call laws, or our more subjective cultural norms. While such breakdowns can occur at any level of self-development, they are most grievous at higher levels because of the assumptions of broader, deeper, more inclusive levels of development generating greater power, control, and responsibility, on the one hand, and greater entitlement to dominate the lower levels of self-development.

We see this in Integral when those who believe they have a superior understanding of the Integral map preach in a condescending way to those who they believe do not, generally discounting their perspectives and arrogantly dominating by calling them “green,” “orange,” “blue,” or “red,” ultimate Integral epithetic and condescending jargon. The hierarchical, agentic values of self-development are placed above heterarchical, communion values that typify not only half the levels of self-development, but also the contextual framing of the including and transcending collectively-oriented holon of overall development. This is normal hierarchy becoming pathological between levels of self-development, “when there is a breakdown between levels and a particular holon assumes a repressive, oppressive, arrogant role of dominance over other holons (whether in individual or social development).”

The opposing form of holonic pathology, the blurring or fusion of some level (in this case some level of self-development), is heterarchical pathology, where one

…doesn't arrogate itself above others, it loses itself in others—and all distinctions, of value or identity, are lost (the individual holon finds its value and identity only through others)…This holon doesn't assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is a part, period. It becomes only instrumental to some other use; it is merely a strand in the web; it has no intrinsic value.

In self-development, this is most clearly observed at both mid-prepersonal as fusion states and early personal as groupthink.

Integralists have a much clearer, objective awareness of heterarchical holonic pathology than hierarchical holonic pathology, because self-development itself is hierarchical and therefore prone to subjective immersion in that form of holonic pathology. “…in pathological hierarchy, one holon assumes agentic dominance to the detriment of all. This holon doesn't assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is the whole, period.”

Integralists succumb to this pathology when they either assume they grasp the entire map, while others do not, or that, because of development on the line of spiritual intelligence as the result of various mystical experiences, they assume that they not only know truth and reality; they know Truth and Reality, that is, universal Truth and Reality, and are therefore enlightened, meaning that they can legitimately claim to know and speak what is true for all perspectives, for all other individual holons of self-development.

This is an example of how advance into vision-logic and the transpersonal can increase agentic arrogance, exceptionalism, and hubris that Integralists tend to be blind to, including, and particular Wilber himself, as demonstrated by his unwillingness (or inability) to reconsider the role of spirit, idealism, and the nature of evolution in light of new data from science. He does not because he believes his perspective is correct, based on “the eye of spirit,” spiritual empiricism, justified not only by his own multiple mystical experiences, but validated by the consensual testimony of peers in that empiricism: other mystics. It may also be the case that to contemplate a different world view would create massive cognitive dissonance that would threaten his identity or sense of self, embedded in self-development. Wilber does not address the possibility that the consensus view of reality presented by mystics could itself be a product of factors intrinsic to the holon of self-development, such as assumptions of time and space, identity, built-in cognitive bias, and the general embodiment of cognition, as elucidated by George Lakoff, among others.[39]

Causes of Integral pathology

This background allows us to consider why Integralists have not given much, if any, consideration of the possibility of a relevant inclusive and transcendent holon.

This background allows us to consider why Integralists have not given much, if any, consideration of the possibility of a relevant inclusive and transcendent holon. Because of an intrinsic agentic bias built into self-development, any higher level holon, particularly if it is collectively oriented, as the next highest inclusive holon likely is, is likely to be viewed as pathological:

…not union but fusion; not integration but indissociation; not relating but dissolving. All values become equalized and homogenized in a flatland devoid of individual values or identities; nothing can be said to be deeper or higher or better in any meaningful sense; all values vanish into a herd mentality of the bland leading the bland.”

While this is a pathological possibility for any and all levels of self-development, and in particular those levels that emphasize heterarchy and communion, it is untrue and a distortion when and if applied to the holon of overall development. This is based on my own individual explorations of the outlines of the holon of overall development. However, I do not expect or want Integralists or anyone else to accept that conclusion on face value. They require proof that this is the case. In order to achieve validation of that claim, one must undertake a yoga that not only discloses the holon of overall development but demonstrates its relevancy to his or her personal satisfaction, in a way that it is non-reducible to simply one level of personal development.

Characterizing the excesses of self-development as “a type of ontological fascism” is not something that has occurred to me, but perhaps it is time that Integral took that charge seriously. When the one dominates the many, as 2nd Tier and higher, transpersonally-informed development claims it has the right to do, on the basis of including, yet transcending all levels, perhaps it is time to ask ourselves, “Am I practicing and endorsing a type of ontological fascism?” Just as “feminists center on the male pathologies of dominance and miss the equally catastrophic pathologies of fusion,” so there may be an inclination for Integralists to center on the female pathologies of incorporation and miss the equally catastrophic pathologies of hubris, arrogance, exceptionalism, and dominance.

There are examples of this that are plain enough. Science is viewed as a form of incorporation in a critique by Wilber that is blind to its own pathological dominance via an idealistic narrative. Politics is viewed by some Integralists as a form of heterarchical fusion with lower memes, such as the groupthink of Trump populism or nationalism. Integralists often ignore their own support of immoral politicians and policies. Because progressive politicians are higher up the hierarchy of self-development (Hillary or Sanders as opposed to Trump) and therefore “the lesser of two evils,” such Integralists can be blind to the amorality of such endorsements.[40]

These decisions are corrupt because they reflect the arrogance, hubris, and exceptionalism of placing excellence and cognition, preferences intrinsic to an agentic emphasis, which the holon of self-development personifies, before balance and ethical development. To get beyond the amorality and immorality that is intrinsic to the higher reaches of the self-development holon, namely 2nd Tier and transpersonal over-reach and arrogance, one has to learn how to access perspectives of overall development by cultivating experiential multi-perspectivalism.

World views occlude overall development

A root problem of self-development lies in the limitations of self-centered world views, and this can best be understood by comparing normal human perspectives to our perception of the world at large. The Ptolemaic world system reflects the reality of everyday sensory-based human experience. Earth is the center of the universe, as is obvious from the fact that the sun, moon, planets, and stars all orbit around it. Indeed, geocentrism is the reality of all life on the planet. Nature validates the internalization of this sensory reality as psychological geocentrism, the belief that the self is the center of reality. This is evident from the above definition of the self-system as the locus of perception and echoed in its external projection in the thousands of place names around the world that affirm this reality: “Rapa Nui” (Easter Island), the navel of the world; China calls itself the “Middle Kingdom,” meaning the “central realm.” Thousands of villages in India had their own yoni-lingam, indicating the center where divinity manifested into the Earth through one's own community; every city had its central temple proclaiming that “the divine is here;” “we are blessed” because “this is the center.” Pilgrimages to or around sacred spaces is an affirmation of connection to the transcendent and immanent sacred. Ptolemy merely codified archaic human sensory reality, creating a map that demonstrated Protageras' truth: “Man is the measure of all things.”

Psychological geocentrism in turn validated man's claims to dominion over nature. The Earth is the center of God's creation, man is the center of that creation, and “I” am the center of the universe. As Louis the XIV is reputed to have said, “L'État, c'est moi,” “I am the state.” Such validations of human exceptionalism were important to justify whatever we humans chose to do; to question geocentrism was to question the legitimacy of psychological geocentrism, threatening privilege, right, rank, and exceptionalism. While geocentrism has been overthrown, psychological geocentrism remains, perhaps because both remain experientially true. The US as the “exceptional” nation, divinely chosen by God, or Jews as “God's chosen people,” are examples of the ongoing reality of psychological geocentrism and the destructive hubris it justifies. Just as geocentrism is true and useful on a sensory level, so psychological geocentrism is true and useful at prepersonal levels of development and later, in terms of a functional definition of the self. Long after we have stopped identifying with the self, it remains invaluable as a tool with which to interact productively with the world, as well as a way to justify our perspective. We can see this with personalization and typical responses to challenging world views, conscience, or intuition; when we do so, many people become defensive because they feel personally attacked.

To challenge psychological geocentrism is to threaten national, religious, and ideological prerogatives. Therefore, Galileo, in his challenges to geocentrism, was an enemy of God, the natural order, and the power of God's representatives on Earth. Knowing this, Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) at the end of his life. To show that the Earth orbited the Sun was to question that “I,” “mine,” and “ours” is superior to “yours,” “theirs,” and “its'.” To challenge psychological geocentrism is to challenge the basic relational exchanges that sustain physical and emotional well-being: wealth, safety, security, power, and status. Subsequently, self-development beyond the personal can be a threat to those who are identified with psychological geocentrism, as we all are in our youth as well as all our lives, to the extent that we are dependent upon or addicted to, or physically or emotionally dependent upon, the prepersonal relational exchanges mentioned above.

Copernicus was not replacing geocentrism with reality, but with a closer approximation thereof. Heliocentrism views the Sun as the center of the solar system: we orbit around God. The sun is our center; the sun is our True Self. Our Self is our center. Atman is Brahman. Metaphorically, Copernicus replaced psychological geocentrism with psychological heliocentrism. But just as psychological geocentrism remained a reality for the sensory world, so had psychological heliocentrism always been a reality for mystics and those who experienced forms of oneness with the sacred. Copernicus simply arrived at a physical analogy to a timeless experience of the expansion of the self to Self, of amplification of identity to oneness with the Source. The analogy is to transpersonal stages, not states. Transpersonal states are available to almost anyone. As we shall see, transpersonal stages are largely the mythological extrapolation of transpersonal states as a form of psychological heliocentrism.

If psychological geocentrism is, in its negative attributes, prepersonal to mid-personal self-centeredness, narcissism, selfishness, non-reciprocity, and an absence of empathy, then psychological heliocentrism, in its negative attributes, is all of the above on steroids. The ego is inflated to the point where it is one with everything; because it is one with Reality, it knows Reality; because it is one with Truth, it knows not only its own truth, but Truth for everyone. This grandiosity is not evident, because it is clothed in limitless compassion, endless love, and expressions of encompassing inclusion. The overwhelming awe, majesty, and sacredness of becoming one with the “Light,” the source of life, is so overpowering that conviction and passion can be unshakeable. There are no facts, no persuasions, no obstacles that can overpower those who are identified with psychological heliocentrism. There are even those wise, even brilliant individuals, high not only on the cognitive and self-system lines, but on the line of spiritual intelligence, who deny science because of the Truth and Reality of their psychological heliocentrism. They have experienced Truth and Reality, so their belief is unshakable. Eros as spirit-in-action, a non-falsifiable dogma lacking any scientific standing, does not allow any threat to its psychological heliocentrism, to “I AM,” to the certainty of mystical visions of oneness, validated by mystics from many centuries and many cultures.

In this way, self-development past the personal levels of development becomes Self-development, a project of individual expansion, when a realistic evolutionary developmental progression would instead subordinate self-interest and self-development to that of the collective. But this is not what psychological heliocentrism does. Instead it subordinates the good of the collective to self-actualization, justifying this exercise in narcissism as bringing 2nd Tier utopia - if only enough people indulge in such grandiosity. How has this worked out so far? What mysterious forces are keeping it from working out today? Ignorance of the AQAL map? A lack of suitable “compassion” by the integrally informed for the poor, delusional deplorables? Not enough of the right kind of meditation by enough people to reach critical “tipping” conditions? We have more people doing more types of meditation today than at any point in history. We know far more about the benefits and varieties of meditation than ever before. Is the problem really ignorance? Is that explanation legitimate in a world in which we have the Library of Congress at our fingertips?

Accessing a non-psychologically geo- or heliocentric world view

Both psychological geo- and heliocentrism are forms of self-development. The first encompasses prepersonal and personal development through vision logic; the second encompasses transpersonal self-development. If you go to the charts at the back of Wilber's Integral Psychology and look at his many correlations between systems of thought and levels of development, you will find that all have psychologically geocentric stages and some extend self-development into psychologically heliocentric stages. But there is no “overall development.” It does not exist on self-development maps. Does it not exist because overall development is a delusion or because our map stops at the Earth and Solar System?

We are not the center of reality. Life doesn't care about us. We are epiphenomena. The only reason we maintain our inflated sense of self-importance is because we insist on perpetually looking at life not from the perspectives of countless centers of possibility, but from our frozen framing of self-development. We need training to get us unstuck, and meditation doesn't do it. What meditation does is generate objectivity in the perceiving self until that self becomes transparent and indistinguishable from all. This is a very different project from a collectively-centered, experientially multi-perspectival yoga that involves subjectively identifying with multiple alternative perspectives that have their own locus of perception, often completely indifferent to that of the self and its development. It is not only psychological geocentrism to deny these perspectives the autonomy we demand for ourselves, but reductionism, relegating alternative perspectives to “parts” or “symbols,” possessing derivative beingness, rather than that degree of authenticity that we demand for ourselves. A practice of experiential multi-perspectivalism through identification with multiple perspectives is at present a largely missing dialectical antithesis to meditation, necessary to propel the engine of evolution. It also opens the window to realities of overall development not included on maps of self-development

Differences between self-development and overall development holons

What are the fundamental differences between holons of self-development and the holon of overall development? While we have cultural and social lower quadrants in our individual holons of self-development, they interface with the objective reality of society and culture through our relationships with others and our exchange of world views, values, and interpretations. Just as the social and cultural quadrants of other individual holons are not aspects of our own self-development holon, so they are not the same as the holon of overall development. Society and culture themselves, as apart from the perception of this or that self-development holon, belong to the holon of overall development that transcends and includes individual holons of self-development. That holon of overall development has its individual quadrants. It is not any society and culture; it is this human collective that is the subject of this overall holon.

How the holon of overall development influences self-development

The holon of overall development, being collective in emphasis, thins out and de-emphasizes the personal, individual, and transpersonal development emphasized by self-development. In addition, the holon of overall development puts the brakes on self-development by demanding collective congruence, primarily in the area of ethical behavior. Unlike self-development, in which lines can run off and leave balance, development level to level does not happen without tetra-mesh of ethical behavior in overall development. Wilber alludes to this in Integral Spirituality when he notes that bronze age enlightenment is not as broad or deep as contemporary enlightenment because the socio-cultural conditions today are broader and more inclusive than two thousand years ago.[41] Epoch-related socio-cultural conditions reflect collective quadrant realities, and in particular, where overall development holonic factors interface with personal holonic factors.

These are prevailing ethical behavioral personal standards as well as social (and religious) laws and cultural norms. The breadth and depth of overall development, determined both by identification with self or Self, in combination with the degree of amorality/ethical behavior manifested socially, limits the breadth and depth of individual development, although individual lines race ahead.

Overall development does not have much impact on the prepersonal and lower personal stages of development, where physiological imperatives and scripted socio-cultural factors shape identity, focusing on the development of a strong self-sense and compliance with familial and societally-scripted morality and behavioral ethics. However, beyond early personal on the cognitive and self-system lines, both self and overall development are increasingly conditioned and limited by the prevailing socio-cultural matrix in which we live. While the prevailing socio-cultural milieu directs prepersonal and personal self-development, it works to ground, anchor, and block further development. It reinforces “normalcy.” When we accept amoral and immoral roles, as we often do to maintain relationships and financial security through employment, even those individuals who are highly developed on various lines are likely to be stuck at amoral and immoral stages of overall development that are roughly the mid-prepersonal. We often do not recognize this is the case because we identify with our most highly developed lines while viewing transgressions of ethical behavior as “normal,” and therefore largely invisible.

An analogy to polycentrism

We can now return to the universe for an analogy. If self-development is equivalent to geocentrism, and Self-development to heliocentrism, what cosmological model might overall development resemble? It is most likely analogous to our contemporary understanding of the universe, in which every point in the cosmos is the center, timeless and spaceless, containing all other points in a holographic way. Such a model is multi-perspectival, which should ring some bells. It most closely resembles Wilber's vision-logic or aperspectival-integral developmental stage.

While the self wants to continue its individual project of empowerment by expanding the self into the Self by accessing and stabilizing at transpersonal levels, the holon of overall development is accessed at vision-logic, not higher. This is due to the fact that vision-logic, like overall development, is thoroughly collective in orientation, in ways that higher octaves of communion, at mid-transpersonal saintly mysticism, and non-dual, which integrates agency and communion, are not. The difference is one between Self-centered development, whether as cognitive multi-perspectivalism at vision-logic, or at the four transpersonal levels, on the one hand, and, on the other, non-self-centered, overall development, which is fundamentally experiential and collective. It thins the self at vision-logic with an experiential yoga. It does not emphasize a self-centered approach to thinning the self, which both the transpersonal levels and various forms of meditation provide. “Self-centered” here refers to the “I” in the UL as the locus of perception, and the self-system as a whole, not to selfishness. Selfishness is obviously thinned in the transpersonal bands, with an authentic emphasis on selflessness. Overall development provides a collectively-based, multi-perspectival emphasis on ethical behavior that is optional for both meditation and transpersonal development. For example, one can excel on the line of spiritual intelligence without consistent ethical behavior. While ethical behavior is the foundation of all religions, it is enough to remember that intention, as well as deontological norms like the Ten Commandments are not ethical behavior, nor do they correlate with it, although they often imply it.

Overall development then, is most readily accessed as an experiential and multi-perspectival yoga most closely associated with vision-logic. Because overall development is polycentric in nature, it more closely resembles our current model of the cosmos than do analogies to geo- and heliocentric world views.

Transpersonal levels as a state/level fallacy

Why does overall development deal with transpersonal states but not with transpersonal levels? Here is one possibility, which is sure to outrage all upright, card-carrying, dues-paying integralists. In contradistinction to what experiencers and the general public believe, it may be that whatever transpersonal access has been attained has been with lines, as in the line of spiritual intelligence, or as transpersonal state openings that are then mistaken for stable level attainment. In such instances, nothing close to stable transpersonal level development been achieved in self-development. That is highly unlikely to occur until ethical behavior in the global socio-cultural collective moves from amorality and pre-conventional morality.

While the transpersonal bands, analogous to psychological heliocentrism, provide multiple personal benefits while serving as wellsprings of human creativity, humanity, and wisdom, at their worst they still feed human grandiosity. When we access mystical states of oneness, something that we now know even children and criminals can do, we are likely to commit elevationism, the second variety of the Pre/Trans Fallacy, and conflate state access with stable level acquisition. It is not difficult to rattle off a list of gurus and pandits who have done just that. The transpersonal levels are therefore most likely an example of a state/level fallacy by Wilber, integralists, and transpersonal developmentalists. I say this having had a number of remarkable transpersonal experiences in my own life.

Occam's Razor, or the Law of Parsimony, requires us to choose the simplest explanation that covers the majority of relevant data. In this case, mystical experiences of oneness can be explained as state access without appeal to the existence of any transpersonal stage or underlying developmental structure. The implication is that vision-logic is the top of the self-development spectrum; when you get to multi-perspectivalism you are topping out in self-development. How could this be true? Because we know that almost anyone can access mystical states of oneness at any level, given the proper circumstances. Those include near death experiences, head injuries, revelatory dreams, meditation, drug trips, or shamanic drum/dance circles.

While mystical state access is temporary, transpersonal stages are permanent. We know that it is possible to permanently access mystical oneness on the line of spiritual intelligence, independently of the development of other lines. If we look at the lives of mystics and saints, we can observe that it is possible to develop stable access to mystical states or the non-dual as an aptitude rather than as an outcome correlated with high self-system or cognitive line development. Non-dual meditating Japanese Zen monks taking up weapons and fighting for the emperor in World War II provide an evidential example of stable high mystical access being independent of self-development. These practitioners were clearly hugely dependent on the level of overall development of the socio-cultural milieu in which they were embedded, and an example of overall development limiting and conditioning self-development.

Is this reductionism? Is Occam's Razor reductionistic? There is nothing inherently reductionistic about not committing logical fallacies. Is it reductionistic to assume that stage claims are actually state access until and unless proven otherwise? If it is, how so?

In self-development the cognitive line leads; in overall development ethical behavior leads

Another fundamental and vital distinction between self-development and overall development is that, according to Wilber, with self-development, the cognitive line leads. This is because we can't see, objectify, and internalize what we aren't aware of. That the cognitive line leads in self-development also explains why so many integralists believe they are highly evolved: because we identify with our world view, with our cognitive line, and with our conceptualizations, we routinely assume our self-system is at about the same level of development as our cognitive line. Is it, or is that belief a convenient way to validate our high opinion of our level of self-development?

Overall development, in contradistinction to the holon of self-development, leads with ethical behavior. We all gauge respect, reciprocity, trustworthiness, and empathy independently of cognitive development. Horses can assess these things. Overall development doesn't care much about how high your various lines are; it is not centered on excellence (“climbing the ladder”), as is the self, but on balance. It is not centered on a leading cognitive line, but on ethical behavior, which interfaces not with our moral judgment or intent, but with others' assessments of our behavior. Individual holons of self-development interface with others fundamentally through ethical behavior, that is, through interactions in the lower right quadrant. Others may be impressed with how smart or talented or spiritual we are, but if we do not demonstrate respect, reciprocity, trustworthiness, and empathy, we may be envied and perhaps even respected, but also resented, feared, and defended against.

How many degrees we have, our charisma, mystical experiences, or talent may get our foot in the door, but the Peter Principle remains in force: we all rise to our level of incompetence, and when we do, we had better have some good reasons for people to keep us around besides our reputation and attributes that fade with time. Those factors that keep us in high regard in the eyes of others are very simple. It helps to be likeable, respectful, and useful. These simple things are independent of developmental lines and self-development in general. They are also universal, in that while we can use them to gain favor with in-groups, they are also essential for assessments by out-groups, those who are inclined to have a radically different world view from our own. The profundity and fundamental nature of ethical behavior might best be illustrated by a cross-species example.

Ethical behavior, unlike moral development, is not primarily developmental

Why do we keep dogs? It's not because they have reached 2nd tier; that's the territory of cats. At least cats seem to think so. We generally keep dogs because we like them, we feel liked and respected by them, and because they are actually useful—they improve our mood, get us out for walks, and entertain us. If we have sheep or goats, dogs can be trained to tend them for us. They can warn us about intruders and even protect us from them. We don't expect dogs to have the massive self-control that we expect of ourselves and others; we don't expect them to strive for excellence. We don't expect self-development of dogs, level-to-level, past perhaps balanced mid-prepersonal, although we can encourage development of this or that specific line, within reasonable biological constraints. We can cultivate relationships with dogs grounded in mutual respect, reciprocity, trust, and empathy.

While dogs require training in respectful mutual relationships, just as humans do, this is an inherited aptitude for both species. While dogs are amoral, respectful interactions with them can still include the basic components of ethical behavior, demonstrating just how fundamental and significant ethical behavior is to collective quadrant interactions, regardless of the level of development of our moral judgment. No one is likely to argue that dogs go through pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional stages of moral development, yet they are capable of manifesting core elements of ethical behavior in their interactions with humans. These realities should make us question assumptions regarding the relationship between self-development, and in particular cognition, and ethical behavior. Does self-development often run off and leave ethical behavior? Without a doubt!

Ethical behavior, at its foundations, where it matters most, as defined by mutual respect, reciprocity, trustworthiness, and empathy, is not developmentally conditioned, but rather a fundamental capability we share with at least some mammals. To talk about the ethical-like competencies of dogs is not an ode to romanticism or a plea for regression to simplicity. The past is highly over-rated because our memory of it is selective. We don't remember what we lacked and didn't see or know, but which we have now internalized and take for granted. While hopping on the “regress express,” does not make much sense, balance among the core lines and tending to the ethical foundations of human relationships does. Balance and ethical behavior include addressing out-groups with respect, reciprocity, mutual trust, and empathy.

This is not a mid-personal aptitude of obedience to universal law, as with some deontological moral standard, nor is it a late personal expression of egalitarianism and pluralism. It is much more basic than that, in that we can experience the foundations of respectful relationship with animals, indicating that such capabilities and competencies exist at mid-prepersonal, if not at early prepersonal. Instead of focusing on the stage over stage development of lines of respect, reciprocity, trustworthiness, or empathy, overall development views these in terms of adequacy for a particular relationship. This is much more a matter of clear communication of expectations than of level of development. “Deplorables” are therefore every bit as capable of expressing these ethical behavioral competencies as are those who imagine they are 2nd Tier, pandits, or gurus.

Due to the unreliability of human manifestation of fundamental ethical behaviors, including the tendency of power to favor “might makes right” over submission to international law, overall development as a super-ordinate human holon is somewhere between amoral and immoral in its level of socio-cultural expression, or somewhere between Kohlberg's amoral and his pre-conventional stage of morality. Based on the list of collective moral and developmental failings above, it is difficult to make a case for a higher level of overall development. We know that overall development is stabilized at this low level of development because that's where the socio-cultural morality in which we are embedded is stuck, as indicated by the above list of dystopian characteristics of contemporary civilization. That mid-prepersonal level of overall development reflects and limits our individual development within its context, as Wilber points out in Integral Spirituality.

While our self-development may race ahead, our overall development is contingent on how outgroups assess our morality. If we collectively conform to amoral roles at work in order to earn our salaries, get promoted, or maintain status, drop bombs on people, fund terrorists and dictators, bribe officials to maintain military bases, place profit before people, accept nuclear proliferation and trickle-down economics, these amoral and immoral behaviors stop our overall development. Overall development cannot tetra-mesh from mid-prepersonal to late prepersonal until the collective—not just individuals here and there—demonstrates an average of ethical behavior that transcends amorality and immorality. Does anyone doubt that, as a global civilization, we are currently far from that reality?

Cognitive and experiential multi-perspectivalism

Self-development at vision-logic involves cognitive multi-perspectivalism while overall development is based on experiential multi-perspectivalism. The difference is between the map and the territory, between Integral Life Practices regulated by self priorities and practices directed by self priorities that are aligned with our unique life compass and evolutionary autopoiesis, neither of which care much at all about our self-development. Experiential multi-perspectivalism is accessed by identification with emerging potentials. This is most easily accomplished by becoming and interviewing personifications of life issues and dream elements. Each time this is done, the self-system is thinned and expanded. The result, over time, is that the self is experienced as a functional construct and process rather than as an ontological reality. Multiple perspectives are experienced as legitimate loci of identity as the self or Self; together, they do not generate a collective self or Self that has anything to do with individuality as understood through the lens of self-development, whether that self is prepersonal, personal, transpersonal, or non-dual.

The importance of overall development

Overall development has massive implications not only for integral but for humanity in general. Here are some of them:

  1. Overall development emphasizes balance, not excellence. The pursuit of control and excellence in self-development eventually throws us off balance, requiring a major reset and recalibration.
  2. Claims of transpersonal stage access may be indicative of psychological heliocentrism, grandiosity, and pre/trans elevationism, a Stage/Level fallacy. Claims of transpersonal stage access are suspect. First rule out transpersonal state experience as the likely progenitor. Overall development associates mystical experiences with state aspect at any level, therefore reducing grandiose claims of higher level development.
  3. Based on both the state of human leadership and civilization in general, self-development is highly over-rated. When we grasp overall development, we start to understand why so many of our gurus, pandits, and leaders are labeled “personality disordered,” amoral, immoral, grandiose, or narcissistic.
  4. If we want to grow beyond psychological geo- and heliocentrism, objectively measurable ethical behavior, emphasized in overall development, needs to be our priority, not cognition, as emphasized in self-development.
  5. Expansion of cognitive multi-perspectivalism to experiential multi-perspectivalism is a major key to man's future evolution into overall development. Without a methodology and a practice to grow into experiential multi-perspectivalism, self-development is likely to continue to be stressed to the detriment of overall development.

Moving from a focus on self-development to a life centered in overall development

Moving from self-development to overall development involves out-growing ourselves without implying stage access to the transpersonal. State access to the transpersonal, particularly during every day waking experience, grows steadily. We transcend adolescent narcissism, grandiosity, and groupthink, conditions that can be evident in those who claim transpersonal stabilization. We begin to realize that the world doesn't orbit around us and that it is not enough to talk about universal human rights or focus on the attainment of high states of meditative clarity. We recognize that others, including future generations, will judge us based on what we do and do not do in the exterior quadrants of behavior and relationships much more than on our interior quadrant intentions, beliefs, or world views. The difference is not superficial but fundamental and critical; the emphasis of self-development is on control and excellence, which creates imbalance; while the emphasis of overall development is on balance, which creates authenticity, and the interdependent sharing of control and power, which generates both freedom and creativity.

To maintain its relevancy, Integral needs to continue its critiques of all four quadrants as well as other aspects of AQAL from a cognitively multi-perspectival vision-logic aperspectival-integral world view, including exploring applications for religion, law, anthropology, phenomenology, science, morality, hermeneutics, ontology, and epistemology, and its post-metaphysical spiritual critique. All of this, which is ongoing, important, and useful, is not enough. Those practices that are particularly relevant to the advance of overall development address personal and social justice in terms of ethical behavior as well as identification with a broad variety of alternative perspectives from dreams, life issues, and other realms of experience.


It was noted in the introduction that overall development has profound implications for psychology, religion, and Integral. For psychology, the movement from psychological geo- and heliocentrism to a polycentric world view is profound because it dethrones selves and their perspectives as the center of reality. For religion and spirituality, the movement from psychological heliocentrism to a polycentric world view is profound because it challenges the doctrine of transpersonal levels and replaces it with authentic, common access to transpersonal states previously imagined to be transpersonal levels of self-development. The sacred is not above and beyond in transcendent levels but equally embedded in moment-to-moment experience on any level. For Integral, the movement from cognitive multi-perspectivalism in which the cognitive line leads to an experiential multi-perspectivalism where ethical behavior leads, is profound because it amplifies humility while reducing the arrogance, exceptionalism, and hubris intrinsic to unbalanced agency.

Is overall development a malicious dragon at the edge of the known world? Is it something to be feared and avoided? The ignoring of overall development, mostly due to a lack of awareness of its existence and importance, its relationship with self-development, and the implications thereof, has not made overall development so much into a malicious dragon as an irrelevancy. Is it wise for Integral to continue to treat it as such? I think not.


[1] “Each whole is simultaneously a part, a whole/part, a holon. And reality is composed, not of things nor processes nor wholes nor parts, but of whole/ parts, of holons.” (p. 6); “Normal hierarchy, then, is simply an order of increasing holons, representing an increase in wholeness and integrative capacity—atoms to molecules to cells, for example.” (p. 23); “In any developmental or growth sequence, as a more encompassing stage or holon emerges, it includes the capacities and patterns and functions of the previous stage (i.e., of the previous holons), and then adds its own unique (and more encompassing) capacities. In that sense, and that sense only, can the new and more encompassing holon be said to be “higher” or “deeper” (p. 37). Wilber, K. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala. 1995.

[2] The next lower level holon is collectively-oriented because it is (or actually, they are) subjectively enmeshed in interdependence without a conscious self-sense. The next higher level holon is collectively-oriented because it interfaces with self-development holons primarily through the collective quadrants of social and cultural experience, not external individual behavior and interior individual intent.

[3] Major theorists of self-development who posit stages include Jane Loevinger, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Robert Kegan, Jean Gebser, (from an anthropological perspective), and Lawrence Kohlberg (morals), among many others. Howard Gardner's “Multiple Intelligences” and Wilber's psychograph address the stage development of various lines, of which Wilber has specified over twenty. Here is a list of some of the major lines Wilber lists: the cognitive line (or awareness of what is); the moral line (awareness of what should be); the emotional or affective line (the spectrum of emotions); the interpersonal line (how I socially relate to others); the needs line (such as Maslow's needs hierarchy); the self-identity line (or “who am I?” such as Loevinger's ego development); the aesthetic line (or the line of self-expression, beauty, art, and felt meaning); the psychosexual line, which in its broadest sense means the entire spectrum of Eros (gross to subtle to causal); the spiritual line (where “spirit” is viewed not just as Ground, and not just as the highest stage, but as its own line of unfolding); the values line (or what a person considers most important, a line studied by Clare Graves and made popular by Spiral Dynamics). Wilber, Ken - Wilber, Ken - Introduction to the Integral Approach (and the AQAL Map).

The major lines, required for tetra-mesh from one level to the next are the cognitive line, which “leads,” the self-system, and the moral line. Other lines are optional, and develop more or less independently of each other, meaning that there can be very high or very low levels of development in any number of lines. All lines involve self-development. While they increase the capacity to commune, unify, and identify with, as well as the depth and breadth of our ability to interpret those perspectives with which we identify with what they say and, beneath that, our ability to be transformed by identification with their presence, they do not define the essence of the “other.”

[4] DeVos, C., “Self-system., Glossary, IntegralLife.Com

[5] DeVos, C., Glossary, IntegralLife.Com Proximate Self: “One of the three major aspects of the overall self, along with the distal and anterior self. The proximate self is the intimately subjective self, which is experienced as an “I” or “I/me.” It is also the equivalent of the self-identity stream. Wilber's fulcrums of development refer to the stages of proximate self-sense development.” Distal Self: “The distal self is the objective self, which is experienced as “me” or “mine,” in contrast to the proximate self (“I” or “I/me”) and the anterior self (“I-I”).”

[6] At Integral+Life, the official AQAL website, Corey deVos defines “tetra-mesh” as “The act whereby a holon meshes or fits with the selection pressures (i.e., the validity claims) of all four quadrants. In order to tetra-mesh, each holon must, to some degree, be able to register its own exterior accurately enough (truth), its own interior accurately enough (truthfulness), understand its cultural milieu (mutual understanding), and fit within its social system (functional fit). Also referred to as tetra-enactment or tetra-evolution, meaning that all four selection pressures must be dealt with adequately in order for a holon to evolve.”

Tetra-mesh is important, because it stresses the interdependence of core lines, meaning that level-to-level self-development, unlike that of this or that line, does not occur unless the three core lines (cognitive, self-system, and moral) have some degree of balance in all four quadrants at some level. No balance, no tetra-mesh; no tetra-mesh, no advancement of the self from one level of development to the next. The cognitive and self-system lines pose no problem because we are largely identified with our thoughts. Identity closely tracks with cognition in almost all cases. This is not at all the case with the moral line, and the reasons for this are not immediately evident.

The moral line is core because self-development without morality is nonsensical. Is an amoral or immoral person highly developed? We can say, “yes,” when it comes to auxiliary lines. For instance, morality has little to nothing to do with mathematical, artistic, proprioceptive, musical, political or business competencies. In fact, a case can be made, particularly regarding business and political aptitudes, that amorality and amorality are advantageous and rewarded. However, most people find it non-sensible to associate high self-development with amorality or immorality. I agree.

There is no correlation between the development of moral judgment, as an internal quadrant cognitive ability, and actual moral behavior in the external quadrants. Barack Obama serves as an example. Obama would score at post-conventional on Kohlberg's scale of moral development, if not higher. He knows right from wrong; he was a professor of Constitutional law. However, as President his actions were sometimes amoral, as his bailing out bankers and Wall St. at the expense of millions of homeowners, and sometimes immoral, as his drone assassinations, illegal under international law. What this indicates is that morality has to be separated into two distinct aspects. One is the interior line, which develops in close proximity to the cognitive and self-system lines in many, perhaps most, cases. The other is not so much a line as a series of criteria by which others judge us regardless of our level of development. These are, “Is he respectful?” “Does she reciprocate?” “Is he trustworthy?” “Is she empathetic?” These determinations are generally tied to behavior. Individuals differentiate between ethical behavior in one area and in others. For instance, because someone can make change as a check-out clerk does not mean that they are not child molesters. These exterior quadrant determinants of ethical behavior do not appear to be a developmental line. For example, while individuals definitely develop broader and deeper levels of empathy and respectfulness, those capabilities may have no bearing on how ethical behavior is assessed by others in specific situations in the lower right quadrant.

If others do not assess our behavior as ethical in the lower right we cannot tetra-mesh to a higher level. Furthermore, it is not the opinion of our in-groups that matter, but those of out-groups. How do those who either do not know us or do not share our value system and world view assess our ability to be respectful, reciprocate, be trustworthy, and empathetic? Wilber has little to say about this because it makes self-development dependent, level-to-level, on other holons and not on personal aptitudes and intention. This is the realm of social justice, and its core is ethical behavior.

The consequence for this discussion is that prevailing social norms beyond our control limit not only our self-development, through an inability of the moral core line to tetra-mesh, but anchors our overall development to the moral level of our social-cultural context. The implication is that our overall development is somewhere between amoral and immoral, regardless of how altruistic and compassionate our personal morality might be. This is an extraordinarily humbling conclusion.

[7] Neale, Lex, The AQAL Cube Meta-Theory of Integral Relativity. IntegralWorld.Net, July, 2012.

[8] I am a supporter of Steven Pinker's analysis in The Angels of Our Better Nature that violence has been consistently reduced with the advance of civilization over centuries and that the quality of life has greatly improved and continues to improve. Further, I accept his position in Enlightenment Now that humanity needs to build on its strengths, namely reason, commerce, law, and a broadened circle of inclusion as foundational competencies for tackling the multiple problems that confront it. I do not read Pinker as making a defense of the neoliberal status quo or as ignoring multiple current disparities, abuses, and cataclysms, but as focusing on solutions, which is a pragmatic and realistic approach The point is that Integral is multi-perspectival: it can consider both positive and negative aspects of self-development.

[9] For example, this article argues that the horrors of nuclear war make war unthinkable, so nuclear weapons are good: Tepperman, J. How Nuclear Weapons Can Keep You Safe. Newsweek 08/28/09.

[10] Jared Diamond, in Collapse, has done an excellent job of analyzing the factors of human exploitation of the environment that have repeatedly led to civilizational collapse. All of those factors are in play today.

[11] Also known as the Holocene or Anthropocene extinction.

[12] As Pinker documents in The Better Angels of Our Nature, we are much less violent than we ever have been. However, as a collective we support war, even illegal, non-authorized ones. We support illegal drone assassinations, torture, and violations of laws of war by the military as indicated by the failure to sanction those who commit these acts.

[13] While we are less tolerant of inhumanity than ever before (slavery, infanticide, rape) we still have a long way to go (homelessness, debt slavery, unaffordable medical care, famine and starvation).

[14] NASA: Scientific Consensus: Earth's Climate is Warming

[15] Polls from 2015 suggest as many as three in 10 Americans think that vaccines should not generally be mandatory. Vaccination against polio, smallpox, tetanus, measles, and various other diseases has saved millions of lives. Herd immunity works and is essential for vaccination to work. Recognizing the incredible benefits of vaccination in no way ignores the reality that vaccinations sometimes maim and kill, that vaccinations need to improve, that they can be wrongly prescribed or be unnecessary in some cases, or that there is fraud in the pharmaceutical and scientific communities associated with vaccines.

[16] Riggio, R., Why Do People Vote Against their Own Interest? PsychologyToday.

[17] A most impressive example of this is the list of “Thought Leaders” who endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in the 2016 election. These people are all progressives, liberals, and intelligent, yet they voted for someone who had a public record of advocating for the invasion of a foreign country (Libya) and publicly laughing about its leader being killed by being sodomized with a bayonet. The ethical compartmentalizing required to endorse such a candidate is truly impressive. Dinan, S. Evolutionaries for Hillary Clinton. Change.Org.

[18] Addictions take a variety of forms, but in any case, they share a common mid-prepersonal intractability, a combination of physiological and emotional craving. These include not only the usual suspects, drugs and alcohol, but sex, internet, video, email, and social media, relationship, and addiction to one or more of the basic relational exchanges: wealth, power, safety, and status. Almost everyone is addicted to at least one of the above.

[19] The Milgram results have been duplicated for both genders in several countries, indicating that these findings are indeed stable and authentic. The Zimbardo experiment, which has not been duplicated, nevertheless produced findings that are congruent with those of Milgram, implying that these findings are indeed accurate.

[20] The classic documentary, The Corporation, elucidates how characteristics of corporations mimic those of personality disorder, including sociopathy. This infers that sociopathy is not merely an inherited mental health disorder but that sociopathy can be taught or generated by the right socio-cultural inducements. For instance, if one is rewarded for stealing, lying, and/or killing they will learn to steal, lie, and kill. To call such individuals “personality disordered” is incorrect; they are amoral or immoral within the context of specific social roles and may be perfectly humane and a model citizen outside of those roles. Barack Obama is a prime example.

[21] Psychological drama is emotionally-based, pre-rational and prepersonal enmeshment in the roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. Once one understands these roles and learns to look for them they can be found almost everywhere and in almost everyone. Psychological drama strongly implies prepersonal and pre-rational entrainment that can and does normally co-exist with high development in any number of lines.

[22] See Dillard, J., Integral Groupthink. IntegralWorld.Net.

[23] Over one hundred cognitive biases have been identified, of which a large proportion are emotionally grounded, meaning that they exist for prepersonal reasons, essentially to protect our sense of self from cognitive dissonance and perceived threats to self-control.

[24] Lakoff, G., Johnson, M., Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books. 1999.

[25] Lucas, J., US Has Killed More Than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” Since World War II. GlobalResearch.

[26] For example: According to a Gallup poll that was just released, Barack Obama and Donald Trump came in tied for “the most admired man in America” this year. They both got 18 percent in the survey, and no other man had more than 2 percent. In the United States, 84 percent of all stocks are owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of all Americans. The U.S. government is now more than 23 trillion dollars in debt.

During the Obama and Trump administrations, we have added more than 12 trillion dollars to the national debt. Every single hour of every single day, we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans. U.S. corporations are now close to 10 trillion dollars in debt. Total corporate debt has now reached 47 percent of U.S. GDP. That is the highest level in our history. Total U.S. household debt is about to cross the 14 trillion dollar mark. A study that was recently released found that 70 percent of all Americans are struggling financially right now. The average family in the United States cannot afford to buy a home in 71 percent of the country. 58 million jobs in the United States pay less than $793 a week. According to the Social Security Administration, 50 percent of all Americans make less than $33,000 a year. 63 percent of the jobs that have been created in the United States since 1990 have been low wage jobs. Roughly 40 million Americans struggle with food insecurity. 70 percent of Americans “have cried about money”. A recent survey found that more than two-thirds of all U.S. households “are preparing for a possible recession”. According to the most recent government figures, 24.6 million Americans have used an illegal drug within the last 30 days. 46 percent of all Americans have taken at least one legal pharmaceutical drug within the last 30 days. That is almost half the country. Over the past decade, the suicide rate among young Americans has risen by 56 percent. The suicide rate for the overall population increased by 41 percent between 1999 and 2016. One survey has discovered that 15-year-old students in China are almost four full grade levels ahead of 15-year-old students in the United States in mathematics. A different survey discovered that one-third of all American teenagers haven't read a single book in the past year. 23 percent of all U.S. children live with a single parent. That is the highest rate in the entire world by a wide margin. The U.S. fertility rate has fallen 15 percent since 2007 and is now at the lowest level ever recorded. The average American spends 86 hours a month on a cellphone. The average person will watch more than 78,000 hours of television programming over the course of a lifetime. Almost one-third of all U.S. Millennials are still living with their parents.

A survey that was conducted a couple of months ago found that 67 percent of all Americans believe that we are “on the edge of civil war”.

[27] Reimann, J., Israel Is an Apartheid State (Even if the UN Report Has Been Withdrawn) Foreign Policy Journal, Mar 2017.

[28] O'Conner, T., How ISIS Got Weapons from the US and Used Them to Take Iraq and Syria. Newsweek.

[29] Wikipedia. The United States and State-Sponsored Terrorism.

[30] Economists Michael Hudson and Richard Wolff offer clear, insightful explanations of this reality.

[31] For example, Tibetan Buddhism, which has given us some of our most sophisticated and sublime understandings of the transpersonal, existed in a feudal society in which monasteries owned the land and indentured serfs, comprising the majority of the population, supported the monasteries economically.

[32] At best the pursuit of excellence or the transpersonal have uplifted the religious or political collective with which they are associated. Outgroups remain excluded, neglected, or even despised.

[33] Wilber, K. (1995) Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES), Boston: Shambhala. P. 39.

[34] SES, pp 40-1.

[35] SES, p. 41.

[36] For example, see Dillard, J.: Trickle Down Spirituality; Integral and the Dynamics of Bubbles; Exceptionalism: Integral's Blue Pill; An Integral Journey: From Hubris to Humility. IntegralWorld.Net

[37] “Another criticism against Kohlberg's theory was that it focused too much on reason at the expense of other factors. One problem with Kohlberg's focus on reason was that little empirical evidence found a relationship between moral reasoning and moral behavior. Kohlberg recognized this lack of a relationship between his moral stages and moral behavior.” “Lawrence Kohlberg.” Wikipedia.

[38] Regarding “shadow” as a non-explanation, see Dillard, J, Problematic Aspects of Wilber's 3-2-1- Shadow Work. IntegralWorld.Net

[39] Lakoff, G., Johnson, M., Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books. 1999.

[40] For example, see the list of endorsers of Clinton in Dinan, S. Evolutionaries for Hillary Clinton. Change.Org.

[41] Wilber calls it “the sliding scale of evolutionary Enlightenment: “But an individual can only realize a complete oneness by moving through not just all the available structures, but the available states. Thus, an enlightened person is somebody who has developed to the highest available structures in the Kosmos at that time and navigated through the available states…” Wilber, K. Integral Spirituality Boston: Integral Books, 2006, Appendix II, p. 242.

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