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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Giorgio Piacenza Giorgio Piacenza is a sociologist student in the Certificate program leading to a Master's degree in Integral Theory at JFK University.


New Directions
for Integral Theory

Giorgio Piacenza Cabrera

In many ways, the concept of interaction as an important aspect of how things arise ... is missing. For this to change, the reality of the existence of other realms must be given more than lip service.

I think that, for the most part and, as a theoretical model, Integral Theory has been about simultaneously appearing aspects of reality, not about HOW these appear. While this approach may be good for building a shared, respectful understanding eventually informing the global polity that previously competing, reality-disclosing methods are equally valuable and complementary; that they are all useful in an overall (deductively and inductively disclosed) explanatory framework which might eventually influence world views in favor of greater tolerance and understanding, the theory has done a poor job in showing how these different aspects under consideration interact from a perspective of dissimilitude capable of generating causal predictions. Due to its non- dual brand of understanding (not sufficiently embracing of Maya and the contingent world in all its aspects), Integral Theory emphasizes simultaneity in the relative manifest world but above any unequal, interactive arising in the same.

I think that recognizing that aspects of reality (like the quadrants) arise simultaneously while emphasizing non dual unity in a non conceptual manner does accentuate the transcendental character of non duality while leaving aside its inclusivity of dissimilitude. It is subtly in favor of a dualistic emphasis on the transcendental and it doesn't include the fact that apparent aspects also arising dissimilarly in manifest duality do so under universal metaphysical patterns. This precludes us from developing an understanding of how other realms of existence may supply at least some material characteristics or interact with characteristics attributed to matter.

Within a more inclusive, non dual perspective there's also room for dualist interactionism and this has been lacking in Integral Theory. The dissimilarity of arising aspects must include hierarchical differences manifesting not just within a realm but across realms for the theory's internal coherence (as of the causal efficacy of its elements) to be more defined. This is especially so when apparent contradictories (such as mind and matter) coexist in actual experience. As per “Holons” (understood as metaphysical-structural, universal units, transcendentally common to all recognizable-experiential things and also understood as incomplete and complete parts and wholes) all forms of reconciliation of complementary contradictories must be expressed, including the relative, interactive arising of potential and actual states of manifested Being. Different intensities of the simultaneous quadratic arising within a particular phenomenon may be explained by unequal degrees of interaction with quadratic aspects in more inclusive realms. This would be the necessary inter-realm function of holons which, due to their incomplete nature, require extending themselves into other, more ontologically actual realms.

Lacking a more comprehensive understanding of dissimilarity in the arising of Holonic aspects may be why the theory is still not adequate at making useful predictions in relation to science. Moreover, it may well be that an emphasis on developmental concerns in addition to a (nonetheless basically valid) non dual vision (that states that all aspects are included and arise as appearances under a transcendental unity) has been inimical to any interest on how realms of existence may also mutually influence each other. In other words, the emphasis must not be on mysticism void of form but on a mysticism that also embraces and discovers how form is generated. Thus, in many ways, the concept of INTERACTION as an important aspect of how things arise and as how (ultimately non dual) Being itself manifests in a multi-leveled, interpenetrating Cosmos, is missing. For this to change, the reality of the existence of other realms must be given more than lip service.

A non dual, cosmological embrace emphasizing felt experience is valid but may have also delayed the rise of a non dual cosmological embrace emphasizing understanding. What lacks in Integral Theory to be more genuinely inclusive is the re-discovery of an equally felt and understood embrace of the “middle ground” (like the realm of subtle matter), their relations with physical matter and with active, psychic-conscious interactions continuously visiting and challenging our sensorially, entropically-limited sense of reality. Truly recognizing that both kinds of “embrace” complement each other may be a clearer path towards an Integral, non dual theory. We may both feel connected with all realms and understand them more. In fact, by becoming more conversant with knowledge explorers at the forefront of physical science and parapsychology and comfortable with the increasing recognition that other dimensions, parallel universes, other worlds, impinge in what we come to understand as our “reality,” by recognizing how (physical and non physical) realms of existence might interact under general metaphysical patterns and with physical consequences could give Integral Theory an improved predictive power and reinstate it as a serious and currently applicable (post non-integral) metaphysical theory.

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