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

Mark EdwardsMark Edwards has an M.Psych in Developmental Psychology and a PhD in organisation theory from the University of Western Australia. He now works at Jönköping University in Sweden where he teaches and researches in the area of sustainability and ethics. Before becoming an academic he worked with people with disabilities for twenty years. He is the author of Organizational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory (Routledge, 2009) .

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

Through AQAL Eyes

Part 6:
Unpacking the Behavioural Quadrant
and a Proposal for a New Energy-Form Holonic Dimension

Mark Edwards

The story so far

My main intention in this series of essays on holons has been to improve the way that the holon construct is represented and applied within Integral theory. Holons lie at the very heart of Integral formulations and applications and it is essential that the foundational elements of the holon model be clearly understood and generally agreed upon. I have mentioned this several times in these essays but the point cannot be stressed enough. Integral theory needs to be based on a well accepted model of holons if it is to be further developed in a rigorous and systematic way. At this point in time holon theory still lacks an unambiguous and consistent articulation. There are major confusions in representation, terminology and the applied use of holon theory that are impacting in a big way on Integral theory's discussion of issues such as social membership, cultural development, indigenous perspectives and communication theory. As always, my objective is to identify those aspects of holon theory that are inadequately represented or conceived and offer some alternatives to improve the internal consistency of the theory.

Holon theory has never been fully integrated into the Integral-AQAL framework and the repercussions of this still flow through all manner of writings that utilise Integral theory ideas. Most crucially, of course, this includes the work of Ken Wilber and again I will be offering constructive criticisms of the ideas that Ken Wilber is currently producing. It is puzzling that, while there are many writers, organisations and researchers active in the practical application of Integral theory, there don't seem to be any apart from Wilber himself who focus on the theoretical development of the model. At least, it appears this way to me, given that I rely on the publication of Integral literature to gauge such things.

Ken moves forward at pace with his great instinct for working through the big picture but I see numerous areas where core aspects of the model that are not well formulated are used to analyse important issues. The results are sometimes not too flash. As an Integral theory advocate and practitioner this concerns me. In any event, I'll preface this latest essay with my usual comment that the objective here is to offer suggestions for strengthening the foundations of the Integral framework and not weakening them. A recent essay by Andy Smith (on Frank's site) suggests that my criticisms are undermining Integral theory in some way or at least that they show that I am no longer supportive of Wilber's Integral philosophy. While Andy always makes many interesting points in his essays, I want to make it clear to you few hardy souls who actually read any of this stuff, that I am dismayed by such a suggestion. My critiques of Wilber's ideas are all meant to be constructive.

A synopsis through AQAL Eyes

Here's a brief synopsis of the series so far:

  • Part 1 – The series begins with a critique of the Wilber-Kofman model of holonic categories. It's proposed that there is no need for objective categories of holons to solve the "mixing problem". The holonic tenets already do precisely that.
  • Part 2 – It is proposed that the AQAL matrix and holon theory are exactly the same theoretical framework and arguments presented to support that proposition.
  • Part 3 – The unified version of Integral holonics is applied to the example of individual, collective and global health and pathology.
  • Part 4 – Some inconsistencies in Wilber's representation of holons are identified. These include plugging holons into quadrants, mixing individual and collective holons in the same holonic system, and problems with terminology.
  • Part 5 – Some weaknesses resulting from Wilber's application of his "mixed-up" holon model are explored including his representation of the exterior quadrants, the privileging of interior quadrants and his definition of social membership

This episode, Part 6 of the series, explores further the implications of Wilber's "mixed-up" holon model for his new Integral theory of subtle energies.

A question of subtle entanglements

In the last essay - Part 5 – I argued that Wilber does not recognise the full developmental status of the exterior quadrants and particularly the behavioural quadrants. He regards them as simply the complexification of matter (or material systems for the LR, i.e. technologies) and always describes them in terms of the evolution of neural structures. In his view all the exteriors of every occasion are forms of "matter".

In the manifest world, what we call "matter" is not the lowest rung in the great spectrum of existence, but the exterior form of every rung in the great spectrum. Matter is not lower with consciousness higher, but matter and consciousness are the exterior and interior of every occasion. (Excerpt G, ¶ 30)

In fact, behaviours are not material and not even neurological. As I put it in Part 5, "behaviours are an organism's course of action, the activity of an entity, and the manner of a person's, animal's or object's conduct". Behaviour, conduct, and activity are not reducible to material motion or neurological complexity. I contend that there is an independent, developmental spectrum of behaviours that is as rich and generative of identity as the interior spectrum that Wilber has focused in so many of his books (for literature on the development of behaviour and activity within a socio-cultural-historical context see anything by Vygotsky, Leont'ev, Wertsch, Rogoff, Engestrom, activity theory in general).

Behaviours are not the result frisky neurological networks in exactly the same way that thoughts are not. Wilber has never recognised the developmental independence of behaviour because he operates on the basis of a "mixed-up holon" that separates holons into quadrants and reduces their exteriors to the ontological flatland of material complexification. In so doing he has reduced the rich developmental spectrum of behavioural psychology to the material development of neurological forms and, now, forms of energy.

What I want to do here is to salvage an understanding of behaviour that recognises its unique developmental nature. I want to see Integral theory to take on a more balanced view of the holonic dimension of interiority-exteriority, one that sees consciousness and behaviour as co-partners in holonic identity (along with values and social roles). Holonic agency is the result of both consciousness and behaviour. Our personal identity is the result of our behavioural and social lives as much as it is the result of our consciousness and cultural interiors. This balance is required by the fundamental quadratic structure of a holon. Wilber sees agency and developmental depth as primarily a Left Hand characteristic. The Right Hand for Wilber is the domain of material surfaces that only have the superficial depth of material complexification. This is why we find no table showing a spectrum of developmental behaviours anywhere in Wilber's writings or any discussion of how behaviour creates identity and a sense of self.

So the behavioural quadrant should actually be the home of the spectrum of behavioural level of growth. Instead it's been reduced to the levels of neurological complexification. In the process, behaviour and the exterior world of social activity in general has been subtly entangled with the development of physical complexity and organic bodies and brains. And now, our crowded behavioural quadrant has yet another guest – the spectrum of subtle energies. Wilber has now proposed that the Upper Right is inhabited, not only by behaviour and the complexification of material forms but also by the spectrum of subtle energies (and even the spectrum of "subtle bodies"). The way I see it, human behaviour, in Wilber's understanding of Integral theory, has no chance of being seen as the independent full partner in holonic agency and identity that it truly is, while it is entangled in, and relegated to, a reduced state of complexified matter/energy. The introduction of a new theory of subtle energies makes this entanglement even more problematic. The behavioural quadrant is now an overcrowded quadrant of subtle entanglements.

In previous essays (Parts 3,4 and 5) I have already proposed a full partnership between the Consciousness and Behavioural quadrants and outlined an Integral spectrum for several developmental lines pertaining to the exterior quadrants. I think that it's time that the complexification of matter-energy be clearly separated from behaviour and placed into its own dimensional "quadrants". The following essay is intended to show that we need to separate behaviour from material complexification and from the spectrum of subtle energies and subtle bodies. My objective in doing this is to let behaviour stand for itself as a full partner in the quadratic nature of identity.

A proposition for disentanglement

So, how do we see behaviour as behaviour and not continue to reduce it to, and entangle it with, complexifications of matter and energy? And how do we retain Wilber's otherwise very interesting and intriguing theory of subtle energies in the process? To achieve these worthy aims I propose the following:

  1. The Behavioural quadrant must be represented as the quadrant for describing the spectrum of holonic conduct/activity in both its individual and collective forms. This spectrum of conduct/activity is as definitive of holonic agency and identity as the Consciousness quadrant and includes preconventional behaviours, conventional behaviours and postconventional behaviours. The Behavioural quadrant is not the domain of the complexification of matter or energies or anything other than that of behaviour.
  2. The spectrum of matter-energy complexification that Wilber has recently outlined is a separate facet of holonic development that needs to have its own holonic space. This new spectrum of complexification needs to be separated from the behavioural quadrant and situated into new holonic domains that are defined by a new form-energy dimension.
  3. The form-energy dimension should be regarded as a new holonic dimension similar to the agency-communion and interior-exterior dimensions. Consequently, new quadratic sets will be opened up and made available for more detailed analysis of holonic energies, forms, and structures (bodies).
  4. The introduction of a new energy-form dimension disentangles behaviour from its current tendency to be reduced to simple mass-energy permutations. An more balanced Integral theory of behaviour can then be described.

These propositions are intended to give greater explanatory power to holon theory and to retain all the wonderful ideas that Wilber is developing in Volume Two of the Kosmos Trilogy. Hopefully, at the same time, the introduction of a energy-form holonic dimension will help rid Integral theory of the reductionist interpretation of the behavioural quadrant that has plagued Wilber's descriptions of it for some time. This approach of identifying a new form-energy dimension also gives many new possibilities to Wilber theory of subtle energies. (The use of the term "energy-form" to describe the new holonic dimension will be explained shortly.)

Figure 1 shows the relationship of the new energy-form dimension to the existing holonic dimensions. It is assumed to operate orthogonally from the other dimensions and thus will result in a holon that has three dimensions – interior-exterior, agency-communion and form-energy.
The introduction of a new dimension adds considerable complexity to the modelling capabilities of the holon model. It means that there are now three sets of quadrants because the new dimension can be crossed with both interior-exterior and agency-communion. This increased complexity might be seen as unnecessary to some. However, as I have said, the entanglements and reductionisms that are rife in the Upper Right Quadrant at the moment mean that, for me, this route is absolutely necessary if human behavioural is to reclaim its rightful place within Integral theory. In any case the increased complexity that comes with the introduction of a new theory of subtle energies/bodies means that the addition of a new dimension might actually bring greater clarity and even parsimony to the overall model.

The supporting arguments

In, "Through AQAL Eyes – Part 5" (and in the introduction here) I outlined my basic hope that we can salvage behaviour as a fully-fledged participant in how we understand the agency and developmental unity of a holon. Wilber's current reductionist-physicalist understanding of the behavioural quadrant is simply not in agreement with the great tradition of Vygotskian developmental psychology that has flourished in recent decades. In proposing a new form-energy dimension, I hope that behaviour reclaim its rightful place as a full partner in holonic identity. As well as the clarification of the behavioural issue there are several other reasons for going down this challenging track of proposing a separate energy dimension. These include:

  1. It is entirely likely that other holonic dimensions exist. There is nothing preset about the number of possible dimensions a holon can have. Wilber has always left that possibility open.
  2. Wilber's overcrowded behavioural quadrant would be rationalised and capable of representing its contents and dynamics in a more precise and clear manner.
  3. Wilber's theory of "subtle energies" as presented in draft form in Excerpt G is a mixture of interior and exterior energies, bodies and forms. Each of these developmental spectra would benefit from the added legroom that a new dimension would provide.

Let's take each of these arguments in turn.

1. An additional holonic dimension

Is it possible that there are other significant holonic dimension? Wilber has always recognised the possibility of additional holonic dimensions. It's just that for him the interior-exterior and the agency-communion dimensions are the pre-eminent axes by which development is defined. As he says, "there are at least these four [facets of holons]. These four are the minimum that we must use to understand any holon (Brief History of Everything, 1996, p.82 ). Several other theorists who have proposed very similar quadrant models as Wilber's have suggested other dimensions. Rom Harre ("Personal Being"), for example, as well as the existing dimensions of agency-communion and interior-exterior, suggests the additional dimensions of active-passive, private display-public display, and self-other. Others that could be considered are a power dimension (weak-strong), a freedom dimension (open-closed, order-free or permissive-controlling) and a structure dimension (chaos-order). Some of these are very similar to the existing two dimensions that form the quadrants but some of them are not. For example, the self-other dimension has some commonality with both agency-communion and interior-exterior. The freedom dimension of order-free, however, does not. Each of that dimension's defining poles could apply equally as well to each of the existing poles. Wilber has already, in fact, used a type of freedom dimension in discussing the possibility of an Integral politics.

So there is the possibility of a form-energy dimension being useful in Integral theory's categorisation of real-life phenomena via holonic dimensions. But why "energy-form" as a label for this new dimension, and in particular why have energy defining one pole and form the other. There are several reasons for my choosing these as the definitive poles of this new holonic axis. I am using the term "form" to describe the opposite pole to the energy pole because I think it best complements the concept of energy as a source of movement and motivational power. The meaning of the term "form" here is that of a structural body or manifest shape, topology or pattern. In this sense "form" is to "energy" as "agency" is to "communion". I have deliberately not chosen matter to define the opposite pole because physical matter is only one manifestation of form, a living body is another type of form, a feeling body is another, a purposive body is another, and so on. Matter is, in fact, a primitive and fundamental type of form (as I am using the word here). Energy is the dimension that discloses a holon's dynamic power whereas form is the dimension that discloses structural power. The energy wing is the arena of enervating motivation whereas the form wing is the arena of enduring stabilisation. Energy is my descriptor for that which empowers and enlivens a holon whereas form is my descriptor for that which substantiates and structures a holon. Hence, these are the definitive and complementary poles of a dimension best delineated by the poles "form" and "energy".

One rough way to test if this dimension can add any explanatory power to the model is to see if, in crossing it with the existing holonic dimensions, new and intuitively appealing possibilities for categorising phenomena are uncovered. The following table lists the possible cross-dimensional categories that we get from this process. There are a few examples presented for the developmental levels that exist in each domain. These examples are mostly for individual holons.

Table 1: A Form-Energy dimension crossed with existing holonic dimensions

Existing holonic dimensions Proposed holonic dimension
  Form Energy
  Quadrant Set 2
Interior the spectrum of interior forms – feelings, dreams, thoughts, visions, revelations, cognitive structures, the spectrum of 'subtle bodies' the spectrum of interior energies – etheric, emotional, mental, psychic, kundalini, shakral energies
Exterior the spectrum of exterior forms – gross, subtle and causal bodies/brains, the complexification of bodily forms the spectrum of exterior energies – nuclear, molecular, kinetic, potential energy, muscular, body energies
  Quadrant Set 3
Agency the spectrum of agentic forms – photons, atomic agency, molecular agency, cellular agency, organ agency, organismic agency the spectrum of agentic energies – gravitons, photons, molecular energies, cellular energies, muscular energies, body energies.
Communion the spectrum of communal forms – atomic communal forms (crystals, metals), cellular communal forms (tissues), forms of communal organisms, human communal forms the spectrum of communal energies – light wave frequencies, epigenetic energies, symbiotic energies, ecosystem energies, human social energy systems

Table 1 presents some ideas on how the spectral-holarchic contents of the new sets of "quadrants" would be. Of course, there are no longer four "quadrants" as such because there are now eight new domains for holonic development – interior forms, exterior forms, forms of agency, forms of communion, interior energies, exterior energies, agentic energies, and communal energies. These new aspects of holons can be called quadrant sets. The existing interior-exterior by agency-communion might be referred to as quadrant set 1. With the introduction of an energy-form dimension two new quadrant sets are produced. These are energy-form by interior-exterior, or quadrant set 2, and energy-form by agency-communion, or quadrant set 3 (see Table 1). The advantage of these new quadrant sets is that additional explanatory power is added to the model and some current confusions are overcome. The disadvantage is that the introduction of any new holonic dimension will dramatically increase the number of possible holonic quadrant sets and complicate the model accordingly. I believe that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and there seems to me to be no other way of salvaging the behavioural quadrant from its current overcrowded state.

The combinations of dimensional poles listed in Table 1 shows that a new energy-form dimension is practicable. All of these new domains look intuitively reasonable to me and they will provide plenty of explanatory space for resituating Wilber's new theory of subtle energies. Most importantly, the exterior forms domain and the new energy domains will be able to house all the material/neurological complexifications that are impeding a more non-reductive view of the behavioural quadrant. The new dimensional interactions from Table 1 can also be represented graphically as two new sets of holonic quadrants. Figure 2 shows the two new quadrantic sets that result from the crossing of the energy-form dimension with the existing holonic dimensions.

2. The overcrowded behavioural quadrant

Wilber's overcrowded Upper Right quadrant gains much needed clarity with this addition of a new energy-form dimension. At the moment the Upper Right of his holon model includes a number of different developmental spectrums including behaviour, "material complexes", "neurological forms", "subtle energies", subtle bodies, "morphic forms" and "gross bodies" (Figure 3).

Superficially, it could be said that all these various spectra of development are all developmental lines of the deep structure of behaviour. But on cursory inspection it's obvious that they are not. Behaviour has its own deep structure that defines the levels of development that belong to it. That structure can be seen in the developmental lines that include the spectrum of learning behaviour, inter-personal behaviour, goal-seeking behaviour, economic behaviour, problem-solving behaviour, occupations, stimulus/entertainment seeking behaviours, spiritual behaviours/practices and so on. None of these are reducible to material forms. None of these behaviours can be explained as surface manifestations of subtle energies, morphic forms or complex arrangements of matter. Similarly, complex forms and energies are not lines. They are dimensions that define domains for the categories of energies and form/structures that are identified in Table 1. All of these aspects of development will be correlated in some deep structure or prenormative-normative-postnormative fashion but this is the case for all deep structures and developmental lines from all of the quadrants. Correlation is no indication at all that two developmental spectra will be from the same quadrant. All deep structures and developmental lines in all quadrants undergo complexification (and one could add subtilisation) according to the progressive depth that they encapsulate. The corresponding levels between lines and quadrants will display evidence levels of complexity in each of the particular aspects of development that they display. Therefore a correlational relationship between lines does not mean that they come from the same quadrant. Complexity in behaviour is correlated with complexity of culture and personal consciousness but this is no evidence that the co-habitate the same quadrant.

I am referring to Wilber's Upper Right as the "quadrant of subtle entanglements" because it so many developmental lines and structures occupying the same quadrant with the resultant confusion of holonic dimensions, developmental lines and reductionism of different aspects of holonic development. I have already looked at how behaviour is being reduced to material complexity. But there are also some different types of energies and interior and exterior forms and bodies being confounded here. Wilber has mapped out a spectrum of energies that includes nuclear, ethereal, astral, subtle and causal energies. This is all very well but there are a multitude of energy types that have not been situated here. These include kinetic, potential, chemical, hydraulic, mechanical, biological, creative, artistic, technological, metabolic, reflexive, muscular, emotional, psychological, sexual, mental, kundalini, pranayama, tantric, chi, communal, political, commercial and so on. Where do all these energy types reside? Are we to think that all these very valid forms of energy are included within Wilber's new spectrum of energy or somewhere else in the Right hand quadrants? Surely they can't all be squeezed into the already overcrowded "behavioural" quadrant. If they can't, where would they be best situated within the holonic model?

3. How can Wilber's "Integral theory of Subtle Energies" benefit from the additional of an energy-form dimension to the holon model?

Energy has its own interior and exterior varieties but neither of these fit comfortably in with the Consciousness of behavioural quadrants. So what do we do with them? Obviously, the topic of types and levels of energy is a huge one for holonic development and it deserves its own dimension and its own quadratic sets to really have justice done to its varieties and forms. I am saying that the types of energies that Wilber has mentioned in his new theory plus all those not mentioned (see above) are much better understood if they are treated separately with their own energy-form holonic dimension. How might Wilber's new theory also benefit from this untangling process? Well, to begin with, it's clear that some of the energies that Wilber is including in the Upper Right refer to exterior physical phenomena and some of them refer to interior mental phenomena. The lower levels of energies are identified as "Gross Physical (gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear)". Wilber says that, "It is common to refer to these as "physical" energies or "gross" energies". But the thing is that, according to Wilber's model, these physical energies develop into higher energies that have a very "interior" look about them. These include the energy levels of astral, psychic 1, psychic 2 and causal energies. Of the astral levels Wilber says,

"Astral" can mean many things, but it particularly means a powerful emotional energy field" (emphasis in the original) (Excerpt G, ¶ 81)

Of the psychic levels Wilber says that;

"Psychic," in this case, simply means "thought fields," which are said to be produced by sustained mental activity. (Excerpt G, ¶ 86)

I understand here that Wilber is giving a rather physicalist connotation to the idea of "field" (a concept that has always been understood in the hard sciences in mathematical and not physical terms) but that still does not deal with the essential ambiguity of such definitions. What are interior qualities like "emotional energy fields", "thought fields" and the "products of mental activity" doing in the exterior behavioural quadrant? Wilber says that the psychic and causal energies have no specific labels as yet and the only ones he could provide are all internal ones which rely either on the Spiral Dynamics labels of internal values or on the traditional names of internal mystical states (nirvikalpa, jnana). He also says that these labels refer to the material signatures of internal levels of consciousness. I suggest that Wilber is having trouble finding labels for them because these subtle energies he is referring to are actually interior energies. The subtle types of energies he is trying to identify here are energy types that are not primarily defined by the material exterior or behavioural activity. And if they are not defined by observables why has Wilber located them in the behavioural quadrant? Wilber himself gives this example:

"a person says, "I'm running low on energy," she means she is running out of intention, not running out of extension. " (Excerpt G, Note 1)

This refers to the subjective awareness of an interior or "intentional" type of energy. As Wilber says this is not an energy of the exterior, it's an interior energy. This following quote makes it quite clear that this new spectrum of energy does not belong in Wilber's "material" quadrant. He says,

"These [interior] energies were said to form concentric spheres of increasing expanse, but they are themselves, in every essential way, non-gross-material (or ontologically pre-existing and separable from matter)." (Excerpt G, ¶ 72)

So there are energies that are "ontologically ... separable from matter". If we have interior and exterior varieties of energy and they aren't easily accommodated within the existing quadrants wouldn't it be more theoretically consistent to put them into new one. Instead Wilber seems to have elements of both interior and exterior energies in the overcrowded behavioural quadrant. While it is completely valid to say electromagnetism is a primitive physical energy and causal energy is a highly spiritual one, it is not valid that they both be placed in a holonic domain that describes both as exterior, observable phenomena. "Thought fields" and causal energies do not produce observable objective data. If they are in the exterior quadrant then they should. I am not saying that such things don't exist. That's another debate entirely. My point is simply that exterior energies and interior energies don't belong in a holonic domain that categorises behavioural activity or observable events.

To me the issue is fairly clear. Wilber is mixing two domains of energies that belong in separate quadratic domains. This again leads us back to the proposition of a separate energy-form dimension. Allocating a new holonic axis to energy-form opens up a huge new theoretical space to develop an Integral theory of energies and forms that also frees up the behavioural domain. So the new energy-form holonic dimension, when crossed with the interior-exterior and agency-communion axes results in the two new quadrant sets (i.e. 2 times 4 quadrants) described in Table 1.

Let's just look at the internal and external forms of energy for the moment. Wilber has both internal and external energies inhabiting the same quadrant space and clearly this needs to be resolved so that both spectrums of energy (interior and exterior) can breath a little easier in their own separate domains. The following figures shows a stylised representation of Wilber's mixed spectrum of energies (Figure 4).

We can see from figure 4 that Wilber's model goes from observable forms of gross exterior energy to mote subtle types of energies associated with spiritual endeavours. This he calls subtilisation. In a way all development can be regarded as a process of subtilisation. As growth occurs more and more complex and intricate forms of identity and abilities are achieved. So this is quite reasonable. But this does not mean that subtilisation is associated with greater interiority or less exteriority. All developmental levels increase in complexity, in subtilisation and in integrative power as they emerge through new developmental structures. This relationship connects all development in a holon and it does not indicate any special relationship within a particular quadrant. These relationships still hols after developmental lines/deep structures have been separated into different quadrants and all of Wilber's hypotheses concerning complexification and subtilisation will still hold in a holon that includes an energy-form dimension. Opening up the possibility of a new energy-form axis and crossing it with the existing holonic axes creates the dimensional space required to better accommodate the important holonic qualities of energy and form/structure. This new potential is shown in figure 5 for the energy wing when it is crossed with the interior-exterior holonic axis.

Figures 5 show that the possibilities of describing and representing holonic energies in their interior and exterior forms is greatly increase compared to the mixed state of Wilber's model. Exactly the same advantages are seen when we look at the form/structure wing of the dimension. Wilber mentions that energies are associated with various types of bodies and "morphic forms" and he argues that the developmental spectra of these characteristics also reside in the behavioural quadrant. The problem is that even these forms seem to come in interior as well as exterior varieties and yet Wilber lumps all of them in the Upper Right Quadrant. In the following quote Wilber clearly refers to the possibility of an interior form that is, "not limited" to the world of gross exteriors.

In an AQAL framework, we have this: There is a given actual occasion, or a given individual holon. Seen from the exterior, that holon has a discernible form or pattern; it is a morphic unit. Those forms are not limited merely to gross forms. In the dream state, for example, you can see all sorts of entities, things, events, illuminations, images of people, and so on. Those are not gross forms, they are subtle forms—but forms nonetheless; they are the UR quadrant in the dream state. (Excerpt G, Note 1)

So there are all sorts of "subtle forms" that are related to interiority and to the subjective realms of "dreams" and "images" and "illuminations" and these are experienced by "morphic units" when they are in the dream state (supposedly also the waking state). To this I would ask – why not simply put these interior forms in an interior quadrant that outlines a spectrum of development for such things. The new energy-form dimension does precisely this. Figure 6 shows the new developmental levels for the dimension of interior forms/structures and exterior forms/structures.

Figures 5 and 6 show that the new domains display the spectra of interior and exterior energies and forms/structures with greater clarity and detail than is the case when they are all crowded into the one quadrant. Figure 7 shows the combination of Figures 5 and 6 in summary form.

Exactly the same process can be performed for quadrant set 3 when the energy-form dimension is crossed with the agency-communion dimension. Once again very detailed developmental spectra could be outlined for this new quadrant set. Figure 8 presents an overview of quadrant set 3.

So far I have only discussed the spectra of energies and forms/structures for an individual holon and there will be corresponding developmental spectra for collective energies and forms as well. As Wilber says,

"the AQAL nature of all holons clearly implies that there would be, in the Lower Right, systems of collective energy fields associated with social holons," (Excerpt G, ¶ 96)

My arguments that developmental energies need a home of their own will also apply to the issue of collective energies and forms. Wilber has these plugged into the social domain and all the concomitant problems that we saw in the behavioural quadrant will also apply. Collective energies can be of interior and exterior varieties. Collective forms/structures can be of interior and exterior varieties. If we see collective energy purely as exterior energy (the way Wilber does) then once again we run the risk of reducing social activity to "mass-energy impacts and registrations". This reductive entanglement is avoided when the energy-form dimension is also applied to the collective holon. As with the individual holon this will also open new opportunities for categorising and analysing collective energies and forms/structures. As with all holons there will be several levels of development for each of the developmental lines running through each of the eight new quadrants (remembering that we have two new quadrant sets of four quadrants each). Figure 9 presents an example of this for a collective holon.


Wilber acknowledges that there are interior and exterior varieties of energy and interior and exterior varieties of forms and structures. He also points out that there are individual and collective manifestations of these energies and forms. Given that the many different types of energies and forms are not easily accommodated with the current dimensional layout of the holon it seems reasonable to me to suggest that they be extended their own quadratic domains. In doing this the behavioural quadrant and the social quadrant can give be given their full ontological value and not continue to be reduced to complexified "levels of mass-energy". The addition of a energy-form holonic dimension also opens up much more theoretical space for the analysis and description of interior and exterior, agentic and communal varieties of energies and structures for individual and collective holons.

© Mark Edwards 2003

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