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

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British-born, Canadian Gerry Goddard was an astrologer, metaphysician, transpersonalist, consultant, writer, teacher and scholar whose special interest was the bridge between foundational astrology and the field of post-Jungian transpersonal studies. Gerry died unexpectedly in November of 2007 at the age of 64. Much of Gerry's written work is available at his memorial website:

Further thoughts on
holons, heaps and artifacts

Gerry Goddard (1943-2007)

I have never had a problem with the 'heap' distinction from SES onward - it is a most central and important distinction on which the very intelligibility of evolutionary hierarchy rests. (And through which any notion of panexperientialism or panpsychism could be preserved - Griffin in his book stresses this). The 'artifact' distinction did give rise to some confusion, but I always saw that it was implicit that such (i.e. ideas, institutions, mathematical concepts, technologies etc.) did not fit the natural evolutionary chain but, needed to be mapped as the creative productions of certain levels. These necessary elaborations do not however alter the thrust of my own arguments and main concerns.

From the beginning I have greatly appreciated Wilber's arguments against the common holistic and mistaken notion of the sequence: atoms, molecules, cells, organismic individuals, societies/eco-systems, biosphere, cosmos. I certainly have no arguments with the necessary parallel logic (all the way up) of individual and social.

Also, I agree that any truly integral approach must include inner and outer, individual and social dimensions - I, we, and it. In that sense the 4-Quad. model is fine methodologically as far as it goes (but only if it remains fluid, which means it has to be open to criticism that may sometimes cut deeper than merely adding details). The whole Integral Institute thing sounds most exciting and promising. We certainly do need an approach that reaches beyond current fragmentation and chaotic multiplicity toward holarchically higher perspectives which transcend and include. But if any one model or philosophical approach, no matter how far reaching its scope, becomes paradigmatic for that higher Integral perspective, then that model should be open to a process of critique and modification as one aspect of the integral process itself.

More specifically, if the notion of *Integral* is founded too strictly on KW's Four-Quad. model precisely as mapped, then this otherwise fine notion of Integral might implicitly truncate or disallow certain views that are unfairly and prima facie relegated (by focussing on their less adequate - even if common - formulations) to lower levels of the chain. Such a disallowing of the criticism of its basic structure characterizing them as a lower level green Meme, would be doing what Wilber says of green; namely, that it looks at yellow but sees only red!

My concerns in my paper are:

  1. the agentic/communal polarity needs to be more satisfactorily integrated into the model mapping its logical relation to individual/society;
  2. that Left/Right and Upper/Lower should not be mapped at different logical levels (i.e. as mapped, Upper/Lower is meta-holonic relating two types of holon, not two poles of one holon as is Left/Right);
  3. that Left/Right needs to reveal its inherent dyadic epistemological logic;
  4. that the dialectical cross polarity of the agency and communion poles of both types of holon be mapped;
  5. that an ontological equivalence of particle and field, individual and collective underlying the developmental epistemological interplay of individual and group be mapped (i.e. I believe that there is an implicit ontological bias toward the individual pole in Wilber's conception whereas such imbalances are developmentally epistemological this side of the transpersonal).

My view distinguishes between "Janus-faced" and "dialectical" polarities while opening a logical space for views which I believe have been somewhat simplistically characterized and rejected by Wilber. However, I am certainly not here disputing that which is valid and most important in his critiques of flatland holism, fanatically closed greenism, and extreme constructivist postmodernism. But I believe that there are some important core concepts within some of the views he interprets and dismisses as rigidly green or obsolete. I believe certain of these concepts or approaches can be re-framed in terms of my modified map insofar as it carries some different implications as to what constitutes an "integral" perspective.

Thanks for the opportunity to share these thoughts.

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