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Giorgio Piacenza Giorgio Piacenza is a sociologist student in the Certificate program leading to a Master's degree in Integral Theory at JFK University.


Integral Shadows

Giorgio Piacenza

I see the integral shadow present in pontificating about other cultures from the "Californian Integral Milieu".

From living in a semi former colonial, semi Western, modern-yet-traditional society, I think that the excessive emphasis upon stages found in this discussion is still part of a very pre integral, Eurocentric, American individualist spiritual mindset. For most people the stages are not so well defined here in Latin America, although we also indeed have more defined red and mythic segments of the population. Here the situation is more adaptive; with less clear cut monolithic traditions for a U.S. American style culture warfare to take place. I would say that here, generally speaking approximations to ways of being are accepted more readily. They are more blended.

I think that most of the leaders in the current stage of the U.S. Integral Movement arising from Wilber's great discoveries (I accept many of his discoveries) cannot see their own blind spots and pontificate their self-reinforcing partial truths on the rest of the world. They are still too strongly under the influence of modernity and postmodernity and dismiss some of the valid empirical discoveries of the tribal, ethnic and mythic historical stages. They are very content in staying in their "integral" cultural box circularly validating what they believe in a certain agreement with Buddhist characteristics. Many discoveries are simply dismissed as pre modern with a smile.

While, Yes, the AQAL model has many important discoveries to offer, (actually crucially important discoveries) and (at least in lip service) an inclusive, integral attitude of accepting all partial truths with an open-ended approach is great , I think that the Buddhist humanistic transformational ecological "alternative Californian" style cultural development leading to the support and understanding of Wilber's Integral Movement also blinds their participants against other integral elements, perceptions and traditions found in other cultural lines of development.   

Where's the "Integral shadow?"  What is not perceived as a legitimate Integral concern by the Wilber-based integral community even if it is legitimate? Even if some developmental studies on individuals have been done internationally do they apply to individual development growing up in post-colonial cultures that have integrated much of Western culture for more than 150 years? (perhaps the situation also is different in the Middle East, colonial Africa or in current communist China). While we all develop individually, our values and particular elements of development according to our CULTURAL CONTEXT can be rigid or flexible and, in the case of Latin America, they seem to be FLEXIBLE to the point of not being able to clearly tell who is cleally in one stage or another as one may be able to according to U.S. standards. 

I see the integral shadow present in pontificating about other cultures as if from the "Californian Integral Milieu (so to speak)" integral theoretical discoveries were the clearest to define what is integral or not in the rest of the world. I also see that Integral Shadow in the overall avoidance of other valid integral discussions and developments that can lead to an Integral Planetary Civilization and have to do with Subtle level connections such as the scientific study consciousness, survival research, exopolitics, the paranormal, psi, holographic explorations that can be hierarchically structured and so on but in rational and experimental experiential ways (even ways following Wilber's own Integral Methodological Pluralism: All of these subjects also promise to helps us shift our world views beyond post postmodern understandings. The attraction of the current orthodox Integral Movement a la Wilber is still quite too limited to Middle class Euro American Westerners feeling drawn to psychology, self-actualization, Buddhism, ecology, business coaching which is great but still TOO PARTIAL and thus NOT REALLY "integral" ENOUGH.

As of today, there are several integrative areas of research and interest, each capable of partially expanding the mindset of people willing to learn on what is being discovered with greater collective, empirical, rational certainty. Many are ceasing from being considered “taboos” and include forms of spirituality. Integral Theory with its emphasis on Non Duality, a five-element AQAL map and a particular reading on “evolution” is one of them, but certainly not enough to lead a world-wide transformation. I think that for an integral transformation we'll need a more comprehensive next stage: For the integrative movements (and not just those currently acceptable in the Wilberian-based “Integral  Movement”) to recognize each other's importance and come together. For this next stage, Integral Theory (which can offer a mostly valid structural framework and guidelines) must not just enrich itself with the post postmodern philosophies of Morin's "Complex Thought" and Bhaskar's Ontological Realism (which are similar or in the same vein, complementary in the sense of emphasizing different aspects found in all three); it must also more daringly expand its interests to recognize what it has been missing.

Are there "Integral Taboos" associated with the "Integral shadows?"  Well YES: We also need Avant-Garde physicists, philosophers, Near Death Experiencers, Survival Researchers, Exopoliticians and even (believe it or not there is physical collective repeatable evidence for this) genuine physical contactees who can demonstrate that there are even more inclusive (extraterrestrial) society holons that can serve as important "others" or comparative references for our human societies to perceive themselves within a larger context. ALL of these legitimate areas of research that offer evidence and are amenable to IMP also challenge reductionist materialism and nihilism and verified discoveries would not just advance science and knowledge but reinforce many if the main arguments, spirit and applicability of Integral Theory.

We need INTEGRAL visionaries daring to include in a rational but integral way) more than psychology, business, Buddhism, self-development, and –perhaps – a Wilberian understanding of evolution also as legitimate areas of concern!! Without that, Integral Theory will not be complete and coherent enough to promote a unified, truly “integral” evolution-transformation-revolution because its ideas and perspectives would leave out crucial areas of knowledge and being needed to re-create human understanding about self, culture and nature within physics, mind and spirit.

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