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

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Jóse Díez FaixatJóse Díez Faixat is an architect, non-violent conscientious objector, ecologist, rural community member.From 1979 he has focused on research into basic reality, of form both as experienced (mystical, non-dualistic) and as theoretical (study of spiritual traditions and the sciences of the New Paradigm). In 1993, he published his hypothesis in the journal of general evolution World Futures, edited by Ervin Laszlo, and later, in 1996, develops this work in the book Between Evolution and Eternity (Editorial Kairos). He later published Being nothing, I am All (Editorial Dilema).
See also: Frank Visser, Some False Notes:
A Response to Faixat's Musicological Musings on Evolution


The Hidden Rhythm of Evolution

Addendum 4: Inner evolution


In Addenda 1 and 2, we have seen the great similarities between our hypothesis regarding the rhythm of evolution and the research of other authors who have also independently studied the surprising phenomenon of evolutionary acceleration from different perspectives. Almost all of these researchers have taken their data from the “objective” or “external” world.

In Addendum 3, we insisted that, in the phenomenal world, “objects” cannot exist without “subjects” or “outside” without “inside”, as both aspects are mutually dependent. Inexorably so.

Therefore, in this Addendum 4 we shall refer specifically to a number of authors who have methodically studied “inner” dynamics, mainly in the field of developmental psychology. This scientific discipline chiefly studies the regularities that occur in the process of psychological development of human beings throughout their life cycle. The specific areas of study can be highly diverse —cognitive, moral, emotional, etc.—, yet in all cases, a detailed description is given of a number of very specific stages which humans sequentially pass through from birth to death given the appropriate circumstances. The existence of these successive stages is not at all mere speculation, but is based on data provided by a major body of research.

We would like to point out here that, as the field of research of developmental psychologists chiefly focuses on the process of human life from birth onward, the spectrum of reality these studies cover is hence restricted to only the last stages of evolution. In principle, it could be thought that this limitation might hinder our attempt to test the hypothesis that we are developing. However, the truth is that the abundance and accuracy of the data we have found has enabled us to carry out the test very easily with very positive results.

To describe the different “lines” or “currents” of development which are the subject of research in this field of psychology, Ken Wilber uses the analogy of a mountain which can be climbed via a number of routes. (We postulate that it is a stratified mountain, like Plank's “quanta”, Gould and Eldrege's “punctuated equilibrium” or Mandelbrot's “fractals”). The landscapes spotted from each of these routes may be very diverse, but in all cases, the paths taken must inexorably pass through successive levels (in our words, strata) to access the summit. That is to say, all the lines or currents of development, each with its specific characteristics, advance along the same altitude gradient, defined by the degree of consciousness, in such a way that the higher the degree of consciousness, the higher the development of a particular line will be.

Wilber posits a graph —a “psychograph”— with the colours of the expanded visible electromagnetic spectrum —from infrared to ultraviolet and beyond— to define the different levels of development. He uses the same psychograph for all lines or currents, since, as already stated all progress through the same altitude gradient. Note, however, that altitude is simply a measure or a marker of something, yet, in itself, lacks any particular content. Similarly, consciousness, in itself, is not a concrete phenomenon, but the vacuum within which all phenomena emerge. Nor is it a specific line of development among many others, but rather the opening in which all the lines of development unfold. Thus, the degree of consciousness allows us to determine the height at which each of these lines passes at any given time.

As already stated, after analyzing the work of countless researchers of psychological development, Wilber has designed an integral chromatic altimeter that precisely defines the successive general levels through which the different lines pass. For instance, we may speak of orange cognition, an orange sense of identity, an orange vision of the world, etc. Thus, the “chromatic altimeter” shows the general similarities between the different lines or currents of development.

Dear reader, if you have followed what we have been explaining in this article so far, you may have noticed that our basic hypothesis is ultimately no other than a “sound altimeter” of overall evolution and individual development. As you will recall, we stated that, starting from the vibrating unity of original energy-consciousness —the dual appearance of ever-present Self-evidence—, the successive second harmonics generated the entire spectrum of “potential levels of stratified stability” which, as we have shown, channel the entire process of evolution and development. Amazingly, our “sound altimeter” exactly coincides with Ken Wilber's “chromatic altimeter” in its totality, level by level!!! Wilber's infrared corresponds to our B-4, magenta to B-5, red to B-6, amber to B-7, orange to C-1, green to C-2, teal to C-3, turquoise to C-4, indigo to C-5, violet to C-6, ultraviolet to C-7 and clear light to beyond series C, i.e. beyond the transpersonal witness. All twelve levels!!! Full house!!!

In Figure 12, we have attempted to show the full correspondence between the stages in human life observed by developmental psychologists and the evolutionary levels proposed in our hypothesis. We have placed our “sound altimeter” on the left side of the chart, Wilber's “chromatic altimeter” on the right, and the names and areas of study of 15 of the most renowned researchers in human psychological development along the top: Jean Piaget, Michael L. Commons and Francis A. Richards (cognitive), Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber (worldviews), Abraham Maslow (needs), Clare W. Graves and Jenny Wade (values), Don E. Beck and Chris Cowan (spiral dynamics), Jane Loevinger and Susanne Cook-Greuter (self-identity), Lawrence Kohlberg (morals), James Fowler (stages of faith) and Robert Kegan (orders of consciousness). The solidity of the resulting plot is almost complete. Fundamentally, in the section most investigated by these psychologists (between our steps B-4 and C-3), the coincidence between the stages posited by each of these authors and the levels indicated in the two reference altimeters (sound and chromatic) is overwhelming. It thus seems that our hypothesis passes (how could it not!) the test of “inner development” with honours. We insist: Can anyone honestly think that this is pure coincidence?

To illustrate the rapid emergence of these psychological stages along the course of the evolutionary and historical process, we had intended to use Wilber's chromatic altimeter. We have encountered, however, the problem of the lack of contrast between the colours representing the successive cycles —magenta, red, amber. etc.—, which makes it difficult to perceive successive phases and interfaces. So, finally, we have chosen to use the colours suggested in Spiral Dynamics, as in this case, cool tones alternate with warm, so the graph presents greater contrast and is therefore more expressive and clarifying. Obviously, the drawing is also applicable to any other line of development ... but without colours.

Let us then first outline a basic understanding of this transdisciplinary (bio-psycho-social-cultural) model of Spiral Dynamics, which has major similarities with our proposal. Subsequently, as already stated, we shall graphically express these correlations in Figure 13. Finally, we shall draw a very suggestive conclusion from all this.

Spiral Dynamics is rooted in the long-standing and thorough research of professor of psychology Clare W. Graves into the evolution of individuals and societies. Analyzing the different ways of thinking and ways of being of human beings, he identified a number of common patterns or basic value systems and integrated them into a multi-layered model of progressively complex levels. Graves held that the nature of human beings is an open system in constant evolution which advances by quantum leaps from a stationary state to another through a hierarchy of ordered, relatively stable systems, which unfurl spirally over the entire historical process of humankind from its beginnings to the present. He posited that these emergent stages are not rigid steps, but rather flowing, overlapping and interrelated waves, leading to the expansive spiral dynamics of individual and collective development, driven by their own internal dynamics and changing conditions of life. As it possesses a broader perspective and a more complex capacity for organization, each emergent wave “transcends and includes” —as Wilber puts it— all previous waves, acquires the maximum importance for a period of time and ultimately ends up being “transcended by and included in” a new, broader-ranging and more complex wave.

After Graves' death, his co-workers Don E. Beck and Chris Cowan continued to develop and corroborate their mentor's theoretical model and used it as the basis for their book Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change. These authors call the successive paradigms that define each of the eight basic levels of the spectrum “value memes” or “vMemes”. As can be seen in Fig. 12, the eight levels of Spiral Dynamics exactly coincide, one by one, with all the cycles of our hypothesis between B-4 and C-4. It occurred to Beck and Cowan to identify each of these levels with a certain colour, thus facilitating the understanding and dissemination of their intelligent and effective model. The basic characteristics of these levels or colours are as follows:

Beige: Survival Instinct. Satisfaction of physiological needs. Impulsiveness. Biological automatism. Immediate action. [Nomadic hordes. “Savagery”.]

Purple: Kin Spirits. Loyalty to the chief, the clan, tradition. Ethnocentric culture. Safety. Magic-animistic thinking. Superstitions. Taboos. Rituals to appease ancestral spirits. [Tribal settlements. “Barbarism”.]

Red: Power Gods. Egocentric. The grandiose, impulsive, omnipotent Self. Triumph of the strong. Myths of heroes. Fighting. Conquest. Domination. Exploitation. Tyranny. [Ancient empires. “Enslavement”.]

Blue: Truth Force. Absolutist thinking. Certainty. Existence ordered via a divine code. Regulations. Rules. Traditions. Obedience. Discipline. Guilt. Self-sacrifice. Deferred reward. Order. Stability. Conformism. Socio-centric culture. [Medieval kingdoms. “Feudalism”.]

Orange: Strive Drive. Effort. Pragmatism. Empiricism. Positivism. Scientism. Strategy. Competition. Dynamism. Growth. Success. Results. Achievements. Free market. Material goods. Consumerism. Individualism. Autonomy. Control. [National states. “Capitalism”.]

Green: Human Bond. Community Collaboration. Solidarity. Associative movements. Building of consensus. Relativism. Pluralism. Multiculturalism. The sensitive Self. Emotional communication. Feelings. Equality. Sense of injustice. Human rights. Feminism. Environmental awareness. Sustainability. Ecology.

Yellow: Flex Flow. Process integration. Systemic thinking. Complexity. Interdependence. Collaborative networks. Multiple realities. Open systems. Acceptance of uncertainty. Questioning mentality. Curiosity. Inquiry. Flexibility. Utility. Functionality. Spontaneity.

Turquoise: Global View. Global synthesis. Chaordic (chaotic-ordered) world. Fractal reality. Life as an unfolding of holoarchies. Spiral dynamics. Multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Communion with the whole. Understanding of universal harmony. Collective consciousness. Holographic connections. Transpersonal mentality. Cosmic spirituality.

Fig. 13 shows the successive vMemes (colours), both individually and collectively, illustrating the historical periods in which each began to emerge (increasing gradation of colour), the stages during which they dominated the collective panorama (continuous colour) and the phases during which their predominance waned (decreasing gradation of colour). The conclusions to be drawn from the graph are evident. On the one hand, we have said that spiral dynamics is expansive and therefore with each twist —transcending and integrating all previous stages—, its level of consciousness and ability to embrace greater complexity increases. On the other hand, we have found that the duration of the successive stages decreases, one after another, at a dizzying rate, and that within a couple of centuries a moment of infinite creativity will thus be reached. At that moment, in that Singularity, consciousness will have transcended and included the entire spectrum of reality and will thus become manifest in the world of forms, the ever-present truth in the timeless Emptiness or Void: the non-duality if energy and consciousness, of object and subject, of origin and end.

Ray Kurzweil, one of the most prestigious researchers of technological acceleration, locates the moment of Singularity in 2045. He states that the non-biological intelligence created in that year will be a thousand million times more powerful than all human intelligence today. However, that does not seem to really be the true evolutionary summit, because, subsequently, in his book The Singularity Is Near, he states that our civilization will expand outward, turning all the dumb matter and energy that we comprise into highly intelligent (and transcendent) matter and energy. So, in a sense, we can say that the Singularity will eventually imbibe the universe with its spirit. Kurzweil specifies that we will manage to saturate the universe with our intelligence before the end of 22nd century and states “Once we saturate the matter and energy of the universe with intelligence, it will 'wake up', be conscious, and sublimely intelligent. That's about as close to God as I can imagine.” Accordingly, it thus seems that the real evolutionary summit will not take place in 2045, but will occur in the late 22nd century, when all the energy and intelligence of the universe will be experienced in a unified way.

Seen in this way, the coincidence with my proposal seems quite clear, in terms of both date and content. As we have posited in this article, at the beginning of the 23rd century —around the year 2217— energy and consciousness will reveal their ultimate non-duality. According to Ray Kurzweil, at the end of 22nd century, all the energy of the universe will be saturated with intelligence and the Singularity will eventually imbibe this universe with its spirit. Doesn't that all sound very similar?

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