Update: His Ph.D. thesis is here. And a pdf copy is below.

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.

Mark Edwards article in the JITP: Evaluating Integral Metatheory

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 1

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 2

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 3

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 4

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 5

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 6

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 7

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 8

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 9

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 10

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 11

Mark Edwards ILR Interview: Integral Theory in Action Part 12

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I referenced Mark Edwards work on metatheorizing in p. 3 of the progressive economics thread. Returning to another of his JITP articles, "Evauating integral metatheory" (3:4 Winter 2008), he is criticizing McIntosh for eliminating the LR quadrant. Therein he echos previous criticisms against Wilber from Integral World:

"The artifact-in-use, sociogenetic, and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) traditions all see artifacts as intimately involved in the evolution of socio-cultural identity. While Wilber also neglects these approaches in his explication of the quadrants, at least his LR quadrant provides a space for the accommodation and exploration of these theories and paradigms from an integral metatheoretical perspective. As yet, however, AQAL-informed theorists, including Wilber, have not explored this sociogenetic tradition of human development" (73).

Recall earlier in this thread Wilber reducing Varela to just a LR systems theorist and thereby equivalent to a dictator. This is due to the kennilngus neglect of “not exploring the sociogenetic tradition.” Here Edwards goes after McIntosh for doing the same to Luhmann, who is reduced to a gross materialist:

“For Luhmann, consciousness is part of the personal systems and social system’s environmental ecology. Far from denying consciousness, Luhmann sees individuality as being immersed in a sea of consciousness as expressed in social communication. This is not an objectivist worldview, let alone a classical materialistic one. It is a worldview that emphasizes social communication in the creation of individual and collective systems of awareness and meaning rather than subjective intention” (75).

Here we see that P2P ideas such as these are really not limited to the LR quadrant but rather show the relationship of all the quadrants. Granted its focus and methodology might be something we can associate with that quadrant but it is certainly not limited to it.

He concludes again with the same arguments previously used on Wilber and we get the inference that they are still valid:

“Metatheory that sees all aspects of evolutionary development as essentially caused or designed by the dynamic unfolding of the subjective and the cultural suffers from a form of psychological developmentalism. Developmentalism reduces change processes such as learning, cognitive growth, and moral development to the unfolding of interior structures. It does not recognize the contributions of the embodied, relational, and interobjective theories of change and development. And so, we have the polarized views of a behaviorism that sees consciousness as epiphenomenal to behavior and developmentalism that sees the physical and the interobjective as epiphenomenal to the intersubjective. The debate between the cognitive and the sociogenetic perspectives on development, as exemplified in the contrasting of Piagetian and Vygotskian explanations of human development, is another variety of this polarization. In seeing interobjective explanations of evolution, such as systems theory, as epiphenomenal (i.e., as exterior “clothing” to an interior consciousness), McIntosh falls within this developmentalist tradition. A more integral approach would attempt to accommodate the valid aspects of both paradigms within a much more embodied and social understanding of mind” (79).

Edwards discusses insentience in Through AQAL Eyes, Part I. This distinction is contrary to the AQAL notion that all holons have development both on the inside and outside. Granted so-called insentient holons like a desert or a heap might have a very large and nebulous boundary, and take long spans of time to show development, still those characteristics are there. The following sounds a lot like Bryant's internal and external patterning described above about dialog.

"All entities, systems, processes, events and activities will always, therefore, have some characteristic form of internal and external patterning around which we can draw valid holonic boundaries when we wish to see, experience or investigate them in a true developmental context."

Later in this essay he deals with the individual/social split.

"Social holons have an individuality and a unity that is completely unique to that social holon."

Again it sounds like Bryant's dialog. He also gives the example of the human body, considered a individual holon yet could just as easily be considered a social holon, given the plethora of life-forms that reside therein.

"Similarly the behaviour of groups can be understood in some instances only when it is regarded as an individual holon and as a single system."

Recall Mark Edwards in this thread:

"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.

"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).... The defense 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."

I referenced Mark Edwards work on metatheorizing in p. 3 of the progressive economics thread. Returning to another of his JITP articles, "Evauating integral metatheory" (3:4 Winter 2008), he is criticizing McIntosh for eliminating the LR quadrant. Therein he echos previous criticisms against Wilber from Integral World:

"The artifact-in-use, sociogenetic, and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) traditions all see artifacts as intimately involved in the evolution of socio-cultural identity. While Wilber also neglects these approaches in his explication of the quadrants, at least his LR quadrant provides a space for the accommodation and exploration of these theories and paradigms from an integral metatheoretical perspective. As yet, however, AQAL-informed theorists, including Wilber, have not explored this sociogenetic tradition of human development" (73).

Recall earlier in this thread Wilber reducing Varela to just a LR systems theorist and thereby equivalent to a dictator. This is due to the kennilngus neglect of “not exploring the sociogenetic tradition.” Here Edwards goes after McIntosh for doing the same to Luhmann, who is reduced to a gross materialist:

“For Luhmann, consciousness is part of the personal systems and social system’s environmental ecology. Far from denying consciousness, Luhmann sees individuality as being immersed in a sea of consciousness as expressed in social communication. This is not an objectivist worldview, let alone a classical materialistic one. It is a worldview that emphasizes social communication in the creation of individual and collective systems of awareness and meaning rather than subjective intention” (75).

Here we see that P2P ideas such as these are really not limited to the LR quadrant but rather show the relationship of all the quadrants. Granted its focus and methodology might be something we can associate with that quadrant but it is certainly not limited to it.

He concludes again with the same arguments previously used on Wilber and we get the inference that they are still valid:

“Metatheory that sees all aspects of evolutionary development as essentially caused or designed by the dynamic unfolding of the subjective and the cultural suffers from a form of psychological developmentalism. Developmentalism reduces change processes such as learning, cognitive growth, and moral development to the unfolding of interior structures. It does not recognize the contributions of the embodied, relational, and interobjective theories of change and development. And so, we have the polarized views of a behaviorism that sees consciousness as epiphenomenal to behavior and developmentalism that sees the physical and the interobjective as epiphenomenal to the intersubjective. The debate between the cognitive and the sociogenetic perspectives on development, as exemplified in the contrasting of Piagetian and Vygotskian explanations of human development, is another variety of this polarization. In seeing interobjective explanations of evolution, such as systems theory, as epiphenomenal (i.e., as exterior “clothing” to an interior consciousness), McIntosh falls within this developmentalist tradition. A more integral approach would attempt to accommodate the valid aspects of both paradigms within a much more embodied and social understanding of mind” (79).

Mark Edwards (2010) says:

“I regard integral metastudies as a counterpart to the more typical forms of decentering and deconstructing postmodernism which seeks to identify and give voice to the personal story, the local history, the grounded experience, and the marginalized instance. These two postmodern activities are fundamentally different and provide critical counterpoints for each other’s development. Decentering, pluralist postmodern research is not something I believe is to be integrated within an integral metastudies. Decentering postmodernism and integrative postmodernism are complementary forms of knowledge building. Where integral postmodernism develops abstractions, decentering postmoderism develops grounded stories. Where integral postmodernism creates imaginative generalized frameworks, decentering postmodernism creates particular narratives and personalized accounts of human experience.

“This is not a developmental modernism versus postmodernism battle. It is an ongoing complementarity (e.g., Plato and Aristotle). An integral metastudies should not be seen as a rational project of integrating every perspective, concept, paradigm, or cultural tradition within its domain. There must be some things that, by definition, lie outside of its capacities to accommodate and explain. Consequently, an integral metastudies needs a decentering postmodernism that it cannot integrate, that lies outside of its scientific and systematic purview, which continually challenges it and is critical of its generalizations, abstractions, and universalizings. The decentering form of particularizing postmodernism is not something that integral metatheory can locate or neatly categorize somewhere within its general frameworks. Decentering postmodernism will always provide a source of critical insight and substantive opposition to the generalizing goals of an integral metastudies. In the same way that postmodernism often misunderstands integrative approaches as just some form of scientific monism, there is a danger that integral researchers can misrepresent the decentering and localizing concerns of postmodernism as simple relativism” (408 - 09).

Edwards, M. G. (2010) "‘Of Elephants and Butterflies: An Integral Metatheory for Organizational Transformation," in Integral Theory in Action: Applied, Theoretical, and Critical Perspectives on the AQAL Model, Esbjörn-Hargens, S. (Ed.) Albany, NY: SUNY Press, pp.385-412.

As Edwards said at the end of p. 1:

"There is nothing more threatening to the position of those in social power than transformation. Power is inherently conservative because change means the possibility of losing their privilege, their status, their ideological dominance."

This was in closing on AQAL's lack of a viable social mediation holonics. Which goes hand in hand with its top-down, hero-leader organizational structure, thereby maintaining that form of power relation.* Which is also rampant in conservative-regressive political bodies like Congress, which doesn't want transformation via education or actual citizen participation because then they lose their power.

As but one recent example, the Senate voted down reasonable gun background check legislation that was supported by 90% of people generally, and over 50% of NRA members. But in this new world of instant media to inform and transform the people 6 of those naysaying Senators are losing ground rapidly in the polls.

* And all the more ironic since I-I touts itself as a leader of personal transformation. But into what? Programmed zombies that vomit kennilingus verbatim and never question or examine its tenets or political and socio-economic structures? Yeah, do its injuctions and be confirmed into the catechism.

From this post and following posts: 

Since Mark Edwards is mentioned at the start of this thread, keep in mind his essay "An alternative view of states" at Integral World, Part 1 and Part 2. For example this from part 1:

"The current integral theory model of states is committing a category error, the Pre-trans Fallacy #2 to be precise, when it proposes that individuals access transpersonal states and/or realms when they enter into the natural states of dream sleep and deep sleep. This error has important implications for the whole of the Integral theory of states.

"How on earth...could Ken...the great surveyor of this previously unknown territory of the PTF errors, lose sight of this core landmark on the AQAL map in his treatment of states? Well, I have a few suggestions. One is his unswerving reliance on some aspects of the pre-modern Vedantic view of states."

Edwards notes near the end of Part I that there is indeed a "given" in the Atman is Brahman principle, "that God is present ...in all his fullness." But this is a metaphysical given versus the kind of given I'm talking about above. While I agree with him that this given is not the same from a more developed perspective, that this state is not realized until later, this metaphysical remnant remains and will be expressed more in Part II. 

I appreciate Edwards' caution beginning Part II that pre-modern spiritual traditions were not aware of stages leading to egoic identity and hence made many pre-trans conflations. Even Vedanta and (Vedanta influenced) Vajrayana, while avoiding some of these PTFs, nonetheless is a "tangled mixture" still clinging to other conflations that Wilber retains. Edwards' worthy goal then is to differentiate between the pre-trans elements within these traditions, focusing on Vedanta. 

Edwards notes the PTF notion of a "return" to a primordial, nondual unity, which of course is only after a "fall" from grace, said fall caused by the dual (Devil) Ego. Hence we often find retro-romantic notions of returning to a pristine origin before the fall. Even Edwards' presentation of the "true" Maharshi, who apparently does not equate deep sleep with the causal realm, nevertheless maintains the metaphysical idea that there is a "true" causal realm that must overcome the "illusion" of maya. Ironically the Devil is quite tricky to be hiding in the midst of such supposed nonduality.

Not surprisingly Wilber comes to our rescue in asserting that it is the self-system (aka ego) that integrates all of the various aspects of psyche. (See for example his "outline of an integral psychology," particularly page 4.) And that a strong, healthy ego is prerequisite to take such a journey into transpersonal nonduality, lest the trip be into psychotic dissociation. But again, Wilber is a mixed bag here, often framing such transpersonal integration withing traditional views and their own confusions, particularly with reference to states.

Now here's an interesting section from Part II, quoting Osborne on Maharshi:

"In fact, one name for the true state of realised being is the Fourth State existing eternally behind the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. It is compared with the state of deep sleep since, like this it is formless and non-dual; however, as the above quotation shows, it is far from being the same. In the Fourth State the ego emerges in Consciousness, as in sleep it does in unconsciousness."

Aside from the metaphysical words like "true" and "eternal" it is significant in that the Fourth State (was that Virginia in the US?) "the ego emerges in consciousness." The ego, hmmm. Edwards' diagram following this quote are illuminating in showing the pre-personal states of deep sleep, dreaming, rational ego, and then transpersonal "structures of identity" which integrates all of them.

And yet what does the integrating? What gets us past the ego? I.e., could it be done prior to the development of an ego? Can we ever go back to a state or stage that was before the ego once it emerges? Obviously we can enter nondual states of awareness where the ego is temporarily suspended, but is it the same state as before the ego came along?

In section on the "ever present" in Part II Edwards acknowledges that it is so from an absolute perspective as an inherent, given potential but it takes development in the relative realm to become conscious of and integrate it. I agree with this but the "given" is not an absolute potential but rather a much more relative, human one based on our embodiment. Edwards is right about Wilber's (and Vedanta's) conflation of dreaming and deep sleep with the subtle and causal states (and bodies) but he still adheres to the traditional, metaphysical interpretation of them.

His section on studies of meditators indeed comes to the correct conclusion that they become conscious of and integrate dreaming and deep sleep states. But we can interpret those prior states as subtle and causal, even transrational, in a postmetaphysical way sans an ultimate or absolute realm.

See this link for many of Edwards' graphics, as well as personal and family pictures.

This link is to Jon Reams review of Edwards' book Organizational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory.

Also see Michael Zimmerman's Integral World article, "Summaries of Mark Edwards constructive criticisms." This Edwards diagram from therein might be of interest?

In this post and the next I said:

“Also see this prior post and following, a discussion of the different definitions of body Wilber uses, including subtle and causal. In the last reference as to a body being the right quadrant of any left quadrant consciousness, then body in this sense isn't just a lower level but has an equivalent level, even for the highest inner level. So we can see that putting the body in the left quadrant as a lower level is problematic.”

Edwards deals with this in Through AQAL Eyes Part 6 by introducing the energy-matter axis in holonics. You can see with his diagrams that there is correlation with Joseph's cube 'faces.' I'm not sure to which face he'd find correlation with Edwards' combinations of agency-communion and interior-exterior with energy-matter.

No matter. I'm not so sure the Cube is an ideal or even better integral model at this point. You have a long road ahead of you to catch up to the kind of legitimacy Edwards has achieved, both in and out of integral circles.

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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?

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