The following key points come up for me from the paper, along with questions that may merit discussion and/or further study

• Scientific materialism tends to mistake the unknown for the non-existent, a persisting legacy of ‘flatland’ thinking. How can our culture become more attuned to 'the marriage of sense and soul'?

• ‘The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.’ How can this insight be ‘mainstreamed’ in social institutions of today, including the critical role of the ‘quality of attention’ in interpersonal spaces that lead to phenomena such as ‘limbic revision’ and the SCARF Model? 

• The case against Dominator Hierarchy Models and the need for a Constructive Development Theory to address this issue of ‘problematic homogeneity’ and the issue of power misuse. Can academic research in Social Psychology and Behaviorial Science enrich the AQAL/IMP study on how LR/LL structures reinforce each other to perpetuate prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination in various socio-cultural milieus, and how to disentangle them from the inertial ‘rules of the game’ through a revisit of ‘validity claims’ of truth, truthfulness, justness and functional fit? 

• Can the art and science of mindfulness be brought to bear on neuroplasticity and other strands of brain sciences to deal with the important matter of ‘diversity tolerance’? May be Shinzen Young’s and Dan Seigel’s work could be a good starting place?

• ‘We may not have free will, but we certainly have free won’t’ – how can this controversial insight be contextualized to different developmental altitudes of meaning making so that a sane interpretation of the nature-nurture debate serves human agency?

• How can models of the likes of Hofstede, Trompenaar and Rosinski be incorporated into the AQAL model for an academically rigorous study of the evolution of culture (specifically Zone 4 – ethnomethodology)?

• While this paper deals with diversity as a problem to have to deal with in the lower quadrant dimensions of social holons, complexity theory deals with diversity as an asset for perspectival multiplicity and collaborative problem solving. That is a subject for a different discussion thread perhaps.

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I think you've offered an excellent set of summary points and questions, Neelesh. Thank you. Many of these were elements and questions that stood out for me as well when I read the paper.


I felt several of the threads in this essay, while each important, were a bit too loosely related; perhaps an additional few pages might have helped to tie them together more clearly and satisfactorily (for me), but I also understand the author was writing under a page limitation.

I appreciated the author's insight into the common conflation of "culture" with "difference" in diversity studies, and her suggestion that AQAL can contribute, for instance, to greater recognition and appreciation of intra-cultural diversity as well.

Similarly, I appreciated Aiken's thoughts on the usefulness of developmental models for interventions which aim to train individuals to intervene in impulses towards racial bias (i.e., the exercise of "free won't").

I would have liked a fuller explication of the phrase, "re-appropriation of the quadrants," just for clarity's sake. I expect the phrase recommends greater emphasis by Integralists on all-quadrant practices and disciplines (for an intentional, cultivated life), rather than privileging the UL. I agree with the author (and Patten et al) that much Integral discourse to date has tended to underemphasize certain quadrants (esp., in my view, the LR). Wilber describes two modes of emancipation in A Sociable God, the absolute and the relative, but the emphasis has tended to be on the former. Aiken's (and Forman's*) work on diversity studies can help correct for this.

* See Ch. 13 of Integral Psychotherapy, for instance.

Welcome Neelesh. In response to your question of free will (or won't) see this thread. It's a start to an answer. The last page references Thompson's work on the subject, which has been explored more in depth in this thread.

 I found this paper to be quite interesting, and I appreciate the work Aiken is doing to "bring integral practice into social spaces for a wider impact in changing people's perception of difference when certain groups are treated with unreasonable hostility."  It seems to me a very wise approach to combine new discoveries about neuroplasticity along with quadrants and a careful use of developmental stages in how she works to achieve her goals. I think social change agents in a variety of contexts should find this approach to be useful.

Too often I've seen evolutionary psychology invoked as proof that our brains are not yet evolved enough to react appropriately to the difficult predicaments now facing humanity; that we're hard-wired to fail. Therefore I find the discussion about brain based behaviors not cast in stone refreshing.

Jeffrey Schwartz is mentioned as the one who claims we have "free won't", but I don't see him listed in the references at the end. I've enjoyed a couple of his books, and am curious where he discusses this concept.

Neelesh, I agree with using the work of Shinzen Young and Dan Seigel as a starting place for examining mindfulness in relationship to neuroplasticity.  Young's expertise is in the UL, but he also recognizes the importance of the exterior correlates ('The Science of Enlightenment'). By the same token, Dan Seigel has expertise in the UR, but recognizes the importance of interior correlates ('Mindsight').

Regarding diversity as an asset for perspectival multiplicity and collaborative problem solving: if you look at this from the perspective of ecological succession, diversity is not necessarily an asset in younger growth oriented ecosystems where the most competitive weeds prevail. As systems mature (as in an old growth forest), and resources become less abundant/more balanced, complexity with cooperative diversity prevails (embedded in non-dominator hierarchies).

Bruce, I agree that the LR quadrant has been underemphasized in integral discourse. I think and hope this is starting to change.

Note: Aiken names the Norman Doidge book as The Brain That Heals Itself.  The actual title is given correctly in the References: The Brain That Changes Itself.  Fascinating book.

Hi, David, just a quick note to say I'm glad you joined the discussion.  We're working our way alphabetically through the papers, so we'll be getting to Winton's after just a couple more reviews; hopefully there we can take up some of the other questions you raised about the paper (which were left pending in a previous thread).

Thanks Bruce. I am excited about the idea of discussions on all the papers. I hope I can keep up, though it already looks daunting, as I'm still digesting this first one.

Speaking of which, another point that fascinates me from this paper is the reference to Ian Weinberg's Triangles Model (page 10). And this relates to Winton's paper as well.

Winton discussed Howard T. Odum's Maximum Power Principle (the proposed 4th Law of Thermodynamics) and the concept of Emergy (energy memory), proposing this for consideration as a Final Cause - "the fundamental tendency of the cosmos is to expand a huge amount of energy quantity that will transform into smaller but more complex scalar holarchies of evolving energy quality." Odum called this evolving energy quality "transformity."

And so, it interests me that Weinberg is looking at how increasing energy quality in the human brain can lead to greater integration. The chart used in Aiken's paper shows Energy on the vertical axis, and integration on horizontal axis. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to see parallels between the concepts of integration and transformity. I can easily see in my mind an Odum chart with Energy on the vertical axis, and Transformity on the horizontal axis.


Odum, Environment, Power, and Society for the 21st Century, 2007, p. 285 Life cycle of human beings passing through hierarchy of age and experience, with stages in which functions of higher transformity are added.

A recent article on Transformity - The Transformity of Personal Action - can be found here, by Odum's daughter, Mary Logan.

I'll close here with a quote from Odum himself:

The energy control of evolution applies to any reproducing system on any scale, including primitive organisims and our complex society. The evolutionary changes on a large scale may require emergy inputs of high transformity such as those from the deep earth, astronomical impact, or innovative information.

Odum, Environment, Power, and Society for the 21st Century, 2007, p. 238.

And so, I'm interested in now following more closely the work of Ian Weinberg.

Hi David,

Odum's book looks really interesting and pertinent, as does the notion of energy quality- thanks for pointing to it. A bit expensive though!

On a related note of greater integration, you may have come across this article which makes relevant reading both in light of your post and this paper itself, as it explores the neurophenomenology of development.

Looking forward to diving deep into Winton's paper soon, as also Witt's (the next upcoming one) which touches on energetic fields. 

Lets give a 10 day break before the next review, for us to metabolize the 3 papers to date - Bruce's paper needs at least 5 readings to do proper justice to it!


A bit expensive, yes, as most textbooks are.  I was fortunate to find a used copy for $12.  Keep an eye out at

Thanks for the link to the Eric Thompson article, I will check it out. I'm a recent customer of i-Awake, currently enjoying "Harmonic Resonance."

Now that you mention Eric Thompson's article, one might also explore our own thread on the topic, "an integral postmetaphysical definition of states."

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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