Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Mark has been cited more in this forum than probably any other source. I even started a few threads about some of his work but he deserves one in this room. The following are various posts from those threads and others where he is prominently mentioned. Again there is no rhyme or reason to the order, nor are posts or comments identified, again being the 'property' of this open source forum. As always if you need to identify the source they're easy enough to find.
In researching intersubjectivity and Mark Edwards I found the Institute for Integral Studies and Mark's blog on altitude sickness. Following is an excerpt. Sound familiar from our recent discussions?
As with all lenses the altitude lens is subject to different kinds of truncations and reductionisms. I call these reductionisms the varieties of altitude sickness and, in a spirit of playful finger-pointing, I will briefly describe a few of these here:
1. Lens absolutism: This is the general problem of relying solely on one lens to explain vertical development.
2. Stagism: This is where all developmental capacity is thought to be function of the whole-of-system movement from one stage to another. This ignores the evidence that incremental learning and evolutionary process can result in transformative development.
3. Developmentalism: This is the view that transformative change is the result of changes in an individual’s own structures rather than the structures that exist in their social and material surrounds.
4. Immediatism: This is the lack of awareness of the role of mediation in vertical development. For example relying on Piagetian models of structural change to the exclusion of Vygotskian ones.
5. Pigeon-hole(ism): This is the tendency for stage-based theorists to assume that those who are critical of stage-based models are relativists.
6. Vertical co-dependency (student variety): This is the assumption that only those at a higher stage can teach those from lower stages.
7. Vertical co-dependency (teacher variety): This is the assumption that those at a lower developmental stage need to be taught by those from a higher developmental level.
8. Communal altitudism: This is the assumption that a community of the adequate can only be constituted by those of requisite altitudinal level.
9. Individual altitudism: This is the view that you must know the altitude of your critic to judge whether their criticism is valid or not.
10. Altitude metricism: This is the seriously mistaken view that we need to be able to measure the altitude of individuals to be able to help them develop.
11. Lack of oxygenism: This is the syndrome of delusional symptoms that the human mind suffers from when it reaches a certain altitude.
12. Altitudinal fascism: This is the illness that besets a country when those who wish to take or maintain political power view all of its history in terms of the stage-based development of an elite group.
13. Altitudinal collectivism: This is the illness that besets a country when those who wish to take or maintain political power rationalise any action in terms of the stage-based development of the collective.
14. Altitudinal leaderism: This is the assumption that we need enlightened leaders to have enlightened communities.
And the following is an excerpt from Edwards' 6/2/10 blog:
"I don't see Wilber's AQAL as an integral model of development because it does not use these three lenses [stage, mediation, learning] but only the stage-based lens (sometimes in conjunction with other AQAL lenses).
"To unwrap this a little let's take the student-teacher relationship as an example. From the stage-based view the teacher is at a higher level and the student is at a lower level. The relationship is one of expert to apprentice. There is a qualitative difference in their identities such that the student does not understand what the teacher is taking about until some dramatic mysterious transformation occurs. We see this, for example, in stage-based model of spiritual development where we have the wise guru teaching and assisting the development of the devoted student or disciple. This is an ancient model that goes back thousands of years and is the prevailing model of the he student-teacher relationship used in the AQAL-informed writings and research.
"The weakness in the stage-based view is that the teacher can all too easily become the master and the student becomes the servant or slave. This relationship can obviously go very astray very easily and, by itself, this lens is an inadequate model to use for the development process in contemporary society. In my opinion, there is far too much reliance on this model for explaining the he student-teacher relationship in AQAL-informed circles. Particularly when applied to the area of spirituality the stage-based model suffers from serious shortcomings. First, the use of the stage-model needs some serious updating to contemporary views about stage-based development. Gurus and teachers who support evolutionary and stage-based view of development are very prone to overestimating the importance of the guru-devotee model and the qualitative differences that they assume exist between teacher and student. When practices within insular settings and non-traditional environments, these kinds of gurus often fall into all the traps of abusive power that many of us are aware of.
"My view is that the archaic view of the teacher-guru and student-disciple has done its dash and can only be defended by those who are so immersed in stage-based development that they see no other meta-level possibilities for articulating growth (this is one of the many forms of altitude sickness that I wrote about in my last blog). I see development and learning relationships moving way beyond these limiting views of guru and student and engaging much more with the language of relationality, situational choice, shared play, communal learning, distributed intelligence, collective wisdom, reflexive learning, and action inquiry. The defence of the ancient models of student-teacher relationship, particularly where development is focused on the stage-based lens, seems to me to be a sign of regression rather than evolution."
We can see many of the issues in recent threads, from Balder's conference paper to Batchelor to transitional structures, addressed by Edwards. Part of the problem with AQAL and MHC is their almost total reliance of the holoarchical lens. Granted Wilber also uses a spiritiual or absolute lens, and he does pay lip service to types, yet altitude via holoarchy is nonetheless the definitive lens in his "relative" plane. Edwards calls this altitude sickness (see link above) which aptly describes how we get such monolithic reductions of whole individuals or entire worldviews. For example, Edwards says in Part 9 of his interview at ILR (link below):
"AQAL metatheory has focused almost exclusively on the stage-based approach where development is seen as the holarchical emergence of qualitatively new forms of complexity and capacities. This is, what I call, the developmental holarchy lens. However, this is only one among many other explanatory lenses that might be used to describe and understand transformation.
"But I think that stressing the role of the developmental holarchy lens, that AQAL and SD and DAI have so importantly drawn attention to, has reinforced that old view that we need some 'Great Leader' to lead us out of our troubles. We need a messiah to transform us. The redeeming CEO who will say the word and we will all follow to some new promised land. This is a big mistake. I don’t think that is how transformation occurs. If integral metatheorists see social transformation as resulting from the developmental genius of individuals then it is being dangerously reductive. The use of the developmental lens has to be much more sophisticated that that. We need to combine it with and differentiate it from many other lenses if we are to see how stage-based development aligns with other aspects of transformation."
We can see that such a lens problem promotes exactly the type of guru-worship rampant in integral world, if not of Wilber then Cohen, or the traditional guru model in general.* You see this model also represented in the capitalist corporate structure, hence the often noted relation of Wilber's attachment to capitalism within his AQAL lens.
Edwards offers us many more lenses through which to interpret anything, a pluralistic variety of lens that curtail altitude sickness, yet nonetheless also themselves have relation to one another in a metatheoretical framework. Hence not just a monolithic relativism. See Parts 8 and 9 of the ILR interview for some of these other lenses.
* This is another example of "monism." Or perhaps in kennilingus argot we might call it "dominant monadism."
His Ph.D. dissertation can be found at this link: "An integral metatheory for organisational transformation." In Chapter 8.4 he details the inadequacies of the AQAL model. On p. 224 he lists lenses that are missing, including system dynamics, social mediation, postmodern decentering and evolutionary process. It sounds like a partial table of contents for my critiques over the years. In my modesty I'm almost embarrassed (not) to note that I'm given an honorable mention in his Acknowledgments.
And while I'm mentioning Mark check out his latest blog entry on climate change. I like this excerpt, questions I've repeatedly raised in several posts on the forum:
"Should metatheorising try to include all views even when those views may be endangering human sustainability? Is the task [of] integration endangering the responsibility to advocate particualr visions? And what does that mean for the goals and methods of doing metatheory? Are our ideals of being 'integral' rendering us impotent to present a particular way forward? Is the maxim of 'true but partial' reducing integral visions to 'balanced and irrelevant?' "
Also check out this extended review of Mark's new book, Organisational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory. New York: Routledge, 2010.