An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

powered by TinyLetter
Today is:
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at


The Jungian AQAL and the Self-Transforming Kosmos

The Dark AQAL

Joe Corbett

I will critique and modify Jung's model of the four ego functions and their corresponding dispositions or attitudes by using an AQAL framework.

There are many authors who can be critiqued for being unclear, incomplete, or wrong in how they have articulated their ideas and models, and such critique is generally how those ideas and models are improved and advanced in the course of history. Ken Wilber is among those authors, but so too is Carl Jung, and here I will critique and modify his model of the four ego functions and their corresponding dispositions or attitudes by using an AQAL framework to bring clarity and an expanded horizon to Jung's thinking.

The four ego functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition are essentially what makes the self we observe what it is, in other words, they constitute who we are in the world. Since they are Jung's conception of human nature at its surface, with the underlying and unmanifest Self of the collective unconscious and its archetypes being our deeper nature, their importance in the overall scheme of his work should not be underestimated. But rather than faithfully duplicate Jung's schema of the ego functions and their attitudes of introversion, extroversion, rational, and irrational, we can take these generalizing orientations and modify them slightly by placing his categories within the AQAL schema. The advantage of doing this is to provide some clarification of Jung's somewhat awkward classification of the feeling function as rational (judging) and the sensation function as irrational (perceiving), without losing (and even expanding) the diversity of psychological types in his classification system.

Transposing Jungs categories to the AQAL, we get thinking in the UL, self-evidently. Sensation is a bodily perception and is in the UR. Intuition in the LR can be defined as a sense of the parts in relation to the whole, which can only be intuited for any complex system. And feeling is something Jung himself defined as a judgement of moral value, which is the cultural domain of the LL.

As for the psychological attitudes, introversion is the interior hemisphere of the AQAL and extroversion is the exterior hemisphere, but this does not mean that only thinking and feeling are introverted whereas only sensation and intuition are extroverted. Similarly, the rational attitude is in the upper hemisphere of the AQAL and the irrational is in the lower, but this does not mean that only thinking and sensation are rational whereas only feeling and intuition are irrational. Rather, all quadrant functions partake in all four attitudes. It is only that thinking and sensation, for instance, are more “pure” forms of rationality, based as they are in logical introspection and empirical science respectively. Likewise thinking and feeling are more “pure” forms of introversion, or subjectivity, but not exclusively so.

Hence, thinking is rational and introverted (the philosopher) in its pure form, but it can also be rational and extroverted (the scientist), irrational and introverted (the fool), and irrational and extroverted (the psychopath), for a total of four basic psychological types for thinking. And the same can be done for each of the four ego functions, yielding a total of 16 psychological types, whereas Jung's original scheme only had 8. The ego self for Jung was a composite of these types, the many potential concrete forms of our being based on the foundational functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition, and their corresponding orienting dispositions or attitudes.

In addition, Jung thought that each of the psychological types were hierarchically ordered in every individual, giving priority dominance to one or two of the types in the functioning self of the ego, so that, in our revised AQAL schema for the psychological types, there would normally be anywhere from two to four or more psychological types in dynamic opposition within the self for any given individual. For Jung, it was through the ordering and dynamic play of these types that the essential process of the ego self unfolded. In integral parlance, the psychological types serve a similar role as the lines of development, giving typological texture to the self along particular pathways.

This is particularly important to understand, as Jung saw the self as a complex system of dynamic tensions, whose dialectical resolutions were part of the growth and individuation process. In Jung's quaternity of ego functions and attitudes, development and individuation occurs not by a linear progress through hierarchical stages, but by a process of circuambulation (in integral parlance, tetrameshing) around the self-mandala of the ego functions in dynamic tension. In order for healthy development to occur no one or two ego functions should dominate in such a way that the other psychological types of the self-mandala are suppressed to the point of being given no expression. At that point the suppressed functions become shadow forces within the ego, and the imbalance thus created will prevent the full development of individuality in the course of the individuation process.

Ideally, there would be full integration of all 16 psychological types (yes, even the inner psychopath), but in a hierarchically mediated and fully conscious way. Assisting in this process would be the archetypes from the deep storehouse of the collective unconscious, and their mediating phenomenon of synchronicity, as well as exploration of the subtle realm of dreams and the use of what Jung called the active imagination to stimulate access to the archetypes of the Self.

Thus, there are two levels of dynamic tension in Jung's model of individuation or self-realization. The manifest surface level of the ego functions and their psychological types, and the unmanifest deep level of the collective unconscious and its archetypes. There is interaction between the opposites of the psychological types, on the one hand, and interaction between the formation of these types and the deeper level of the unconscious realm on the other hand. Together, these two levels of dynamical tension and interaction constitute what is for Jung the essential process of the unfolding Self. This process also mirrors the model of interaction that takes place in the dark AQAL cube and the theory of trans-darwninism that I outlined in my previous essays.

If there is a single insight that can be taken away from this exegesis of Jung, it is that the Kosmic Self is a self-organizing complex system of dynamically interacting parts and undivided wholeness between it manifest and unmanifest aspects, whose self-similar iterations allow us to look up and within to find that familiarity we call home, that center from which our True Self has its everlasting expression.

Note: There is a problem with posting long comments. We are looking into this.

Comment Form is loading comments...