Sunday, October 25, 2009

Science and the Stages of Development

Perhaps it will help to put my approach to integral science in better context by briefly discussing the range of possible stages that can unfold throughout human development.

In my latest version there are 7 major bands - a band is defined as a general group of stages with the same basic structure - with three main levels within each band. Thus we have 21 main levels in all. Though all of these bands are open in some degree to all, very little specialised development takes place in Western culture beyond the first two bands.

From a cognitive perspective, all of these bands are defined by the interaction of two distinct logical systems - the linear and circular - which form the basis in turn for the nature of science.

The linear system can be described as the logic of form and is the appropriate basis for differentiated (i.e. analytic) interpretation of reality of a quantitative nature. The line is - literally - one dimensional and so likewise analytic science (which is currently misleadingly solely identified as "science") is based on the number 1 (as qualitatively interpreted).

The circular system can be described as the logic of emptiness and is the corresponding appropriate basis for integral (i.e. holistic) interpretation of reality of a qualitative nature. The circle is - literally - non-dimensional (in the shape of O) and so likewise holistic i.e. integral science is based on the number 0 (as qualitatively interpreted).

So just as the the digits 1 and 0 - when used in a quantitative sense - serve as the binary system that can be potentially used for the encoding of all information, the same digits 1 and 0 - when used in a corresponding qualitative sense - serve as an equally important binary system that can potentially be used to encode all transformation processes.

I describe three fundamental scientific approaches:

Firstly we have analytic i.e. conventional science based on the specialisation of the linear (1) logical system.

Secondly we have holistic i.e. integral science based on the specialisation of the circular (0) logical system.

Thirdly we have radial i.e. comprehensive science based on the combined specialisation of both linear and circular logic.
Indeed properly seen the other two aspects (analytic and integral) are but partial aspects of the truly comprehensive (i.e. radial) view of science.

The various bands (and more detailed stages) can be viewed in terms of the interaction throughout development of the qualitative binary digits i.e. the linear and circular logical systems respectively.

When development commences both of these systems remain totally confused with each other with (conscious) differentiation completely entangled with (unconscious) integration.

The first band of development (sometimes referred to as prepersonal) is concerned with the gradual unfolding of conscious (differentiated) understanding.

The second band - which is especially important with respect to standard science - then concentrates on the specialised development of linear logic.
In practice in Western society development then significantly plateaus at this band.

However as is clearly evident from the various mystical religious traditions more advanced development can - and under suitable conditions - does take place.

The next band is then concerned with the gradual unfolding of spiritual intuitive (i.e. contemplative) type understanding of reality that is of a qualitative holistic nature based on the circular logical system. Whereas linear logic is based on the clear separation of polar opposites (such as external and internal) in experience, circular logic by contrast is based on their corresponding complementarity. Though ultimately such complementarity of opposites leads to ineffable understanding that is directly spiritual, between rational linear understanding and this pure state there are many dimensions of ever greater refinement where understanding of form becomes increasingly dynamic and highly transparent.

So in a sense integral science can be viewed as the application of these higher dimensions of understanding (which have a precise holistic mathematical rationale) to the interpretation of reality.

Just as the second band was devoted to the specialised development of linear, in like manner the fourth band is likewise devoted to the specialised development of circular understanding in the consolidation of a truly contemplative - as opposed to merely rational - perspective on reality.

The fifth band is then concerned with the first unfolding of radial development where
both rational (linear) and intuitive (circular) understanding interpenetrate in a mature manner.

Once again the next band (sixth) is devoted to the specialised development of radial interpretation. However even here a slight bias is likely to remain with some personalities inherently of a more active type (where linear logic predominates) and others of the more contemplative variety (where circular logic - as the indirect rational basis of intuitive understanding - likewise predominates).

So in my account the final seventh band is designed as the attempted correction of this bias.
And as it goes somewhat against the inherent grain of personality, it is likely to be associated with much suffering. So here the more passive type may finally accept the need to assume a leadership role in promoting some special cause. By contrast the more active type may now accept the need to step back somewhat from involvement in affairs so as to more deeply engage with the inner life.

Of course in practice very few are destined to traverse all seven bands in a manner related to their full development. Rather I have designed them in such a manner to serve as template especially for a fuller scientific appreciation of reality.

So beyond the first two bands, which are necessary for appreciation of conventional (analytic) science, we have five more bands of potentially rich scientific significance. The third and fourth bands are especially appropriate for the holistic qualitative appreciation that is integral science while the final three bands would then be required for radial science.

Though I would see radial science as ultimately both the most important and comprehensive of the three approaches, I have confined myself in my own work in the main to integral science (which is still greatly unrecognised). So without the development firstly of this important integral aspect, there is no way likewise of developing radial science (where this integral aspect serves as a vital component).

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