Here's a juicy new post - salvo? - by Ken Wilber, which he's written in response to Sean's ITC presentation on "Integral 2.0":


"There has been, for quite some time, a considerable misunderstanding about how the AQAL Integral Framework views 2nd person (e.g., “you,” “thou”).  I haven’t helped this, because although I’ve explained it, it is somewhat technical, and I myself have occasionally slipped into an easier, simpler introductory—but technically not quite right—way of describing it.  But there was yet another presentation at this year’s Integral Theory Conference that gave the same bad misunderstanding (accompanied with some other serious inaccuracies), at least as I see it, so I thought it was time to address this fully.

The confusion stems around just exactly what “2nd person” means—because there are two very different meanings, and these are constantly confused.  There is also a major confusion about just what has to happen for a “you” to actually become a real “you.”  AQAL fully allows all of these meanings to be clearly differentiated—but it is exactly this lack of differentiation that causes the misunderstandings (and misunderstandings that virtually all of AQAL’s critics in this area perpetuate themselves)."

[Continued here.]

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I suppose Sean's presentation on Integral 2.0 was included in the live video stream, and that's how Ken was able to see it? I'm feeling pretty frustrated, because I chose to attend a different presentation at that time, and I was hoping to read the paper and listen to the audio, but neither of these were available to ITC attendees.  No audio recording in the audio package, and no paper offered.  

I would think this would be a pretty important topic to make sure was included.  I have also been unsuccessful in finding any info about it online, other than the blurb about it. 

I share your frustration.  I was not able to attend his presentation either because I was presenting at the same time, and I had been looking forward to checking out the paper or recording later - but no luck.

I think there is a (perhaps unintentional) sleight of hand in this:

Ken Wilber: "Moreover, many people using the terms '1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person methodologies' aren’t aware of developmental studies at all, and thus don’t even realize that each of
those methodologies could be used by people at a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, etc. level of development—with drastically different results. AQAL fully covers this by having individuals using various methodologies report their own developmental altitude—e.g., 'I’m using a 3rd-person methodology from a 6th-person level' (thus covering both meanings). In these cases, AQAL is handling many more of the crucial issues here than its critics are."

Wilber starts out talking in general about people using the terms, "1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person methodologies," who may not be aware of, or take into consideration, developmental studies. Which is true, if you consider the broad academic use of these terms. But then in the last line he switches to talking about critics of AQAL, implying their own unawareness of - or lack of consideration of - developmental perspectives and their influence on the use of these methodologies. And this is categorically not true. Wilber's essay is in response to a presentation by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens, who is certainly intimately familiar with (and does not ignore) the importance of development on perspective-taking. And other so-called "critics" of AQAL, such as Mark Edwards or others -- I see them not primarily as critics, but as individuals trying to further contribute to Integral Theory -- are also quite aware of the importance of development in IT. I don't know of any person who has written on this issue (of the pronouns) who is not.

Good catch, Balder. For a sleight of hand, that looks like a rather clumsy one. 

I haven't read the essay yet. Does Ken make any points that might be considered important clarifications of AQAL, or fair critiques of AQAL critiques? Does he say anything that is relevant to your grammatological/onto-choreography work?

Hi, David,

Yeah, that doesn't seem to be a very charitable move on his part -- particularly given how much Sean has done to try to promote, support, and develop Integral Theory through conferences, books, a journal, a master's degree program, etc.

This new essay doesn't introduce much new for me, in terms of my integral grammatology project, but I do take two things away from it (as you'll see from my comments from the FB version of this thread below):  1) KW makes a good case that a "You" quadrant doesn't need to be included and the "you" can be handled in other ways, and 2) I'm more convinced now than before of the value of accounting for "you" somehow, despite Wilber's arguments.

Here are some excerpts from the FB thread:

I think Ken does make a good case for his preference for the "we" over the "you" based on his quadrant model - as a primordial distinction in Kosmic creation, and as an element of the individual holon. It demonstrates Ken's preference for what William Desmond calls the (dialectical) "erotics of selving," in distinction from something like Desmond's metaxological approach.

However, even after communication commences, the "you" resists and exceeds inclusion in the individual holon's internal we-making -- and it is this resistance and excess, in part, that is a driver for the growth and development of the "I" of the individual holon. So, there is good reason to retain a place for the "You" independent of its subsumption in the individual holon's "we." And Ken's suggestion to handle the "You" by drawing a separate 4Q map is a workable way to approach this -- although we seldom ever see this being done. It calls perhaps for a new practice of (and model for) interholonic mapping...which I would approach prepositionally...


In the essay, Wilber argues that "You"/2p differs fundamentally from the 1p and 3p distinctions that inform AQAL -- that it doesn't have the same ontological reality. I think there may be something to this, that the 2p may occupy a different ontological register...though I'm not sure I accept "you" as just a temporary placeholder for an emergent "we" or "it." Wilber seems to treat 1p and 3p as correlates for 'interior'/subjectivity and 'exterior'/objectivity, and if we take every holon to consist of this union of interior 'consciousness' and exterior energetic form, then in that context, the 2p is derivative of this: 2p marks the emergent relation between one 1p/3p holon and another. Meaning, the 2p is also a 1p/3p holon (not a fundamentally distinct ontological entity from a 1p/3p holon). A 1p/3p holon can also relate to itself in a 2-p manner (it can be a 2p for itself), but this arguably is a later emergent capacity (not available to all sentient beings).

This way of framing things suggests a disjunction between the pronouns and the person-perspectives. For instance, in Integral math, Wilber allows for both 2p and 2-p as fundamental terms (differing, here, from AQAL distinctions), but the fuller representation of "you" is as 2p(1p) - acknowledging that the "you" is (also) a first-person. Similarly, "he" or "she" are not just 3p, but 3p(1p), to indicate that they also possess their own interiority. "It" would just be 3p(3p). (Following what I was saying above, perhaps "you" should be written 2p(1p/3p) - if you wanted to acknowledge that a second person is a full interior/exterior or 1p/3p holon in itself [skipping the individual/collective distinctions just for short-hand here]. And "He" or "S/he," to the extent that they imply interiority as well as exteriority, would be on par with "I" or "You" in representing a holon, whereas "It" can only represent a heap or artifact or an abstracted element of a holon).

In any event, it seems a distinction between 1st-person plural and "we" might need to be made (and may be implied by some of Wilber's remarks). Wilber describes a context of two first-person entities encountering each other, represented by drawing two quadrant maps -- a plurality of first persons. When intersubjective contact is made, Wilber says the other ("you") moves to the LL quadrant of the first individual in the form of an emergent "we." (And the same thing happens with the second holon in the encounter as well). This "we," at least in the context of Wilber's essay above, is an internal object-relational representation, which becomes part of the individual holon's self-constitution. This representational "we" is not the same thing as the plurality (1p/pl) of holons - or at least unique interiorities - encountering each other (and does not exhaust them).

As Wilber notes: "And the fact that these two 'we’s' might not match up very well is the fundamental foundation of all sorts of complex misunderstandings and conflicts, which wouldn’t happen if there were only one 'we.'"

This suggests, to me, that the "you" is not reducible to a component of the "we," even after intersubjective resonance is established. It continues to exceed it, and continues to need "accounting" outside of the establishment of our internal we-representations. And this means that the I-Thou is not a synonym for "we," either; I-Thou is greater than the "we" (as it is described in this essay). The I and Thou both exceed whatever "we" representations either may generate out of their mutual encounter, and they will both continue to impact each other even outside of such representations.

Wilber may not need to change his quadrant model, but (to repeat what I said earlier in the thread), I think there is ample room, and need, in the theory to account for the "you" relation outside of the "we" of the LL -- whether that is through the math, as he already does, or through the interface of multiple quadrant models, as he proposes in the essay. This is the case even if the "you" does not have the same ontological (kosmogenetic) priority as 1p-and-3p*.

* And that is something yet to discuss...


Layman Pascal: "I think the more or less obvious thing here is that he thinks AQAL does not need, and does not justify, an independent 2nd person structure in the sense of a "Thou". And that seems sound. In fact he (or me?) makes a great case that all the laudable effects we associate with a Thou-like 2p are grounded in permutations of shared resonance (which cannot be teased apart from a being's LL). So the 2pish effects of every 1p's LR are what make sure that Others are not reduced to 3ps. That's fine because now of these effects are removed. It might even be nicely postmetaphysical in a certain way."

My position is close to this. I think Wilber makes a good (enough) case that a separate "you" quadrant doesn't need to be included on the AQAL map (and I've gone along with that in my comments above). I do not think the Thou can be fully teased apart from the individual's LL, but neither do I think it can be reduced to it -- that the Thou-relation involves but also escapes representational closure or erotic inclusion. If Wilber wants to account for this richness and excess through drawing two holons in relation -- a 1p interfacing with a 1p, which is different than a 1p/pl representation in the LL -- that is fine with me. But doing something like that is, indeed, valuable, and adds something "more" to integral modeling than operating as though the LL / We quadrant fully "takes care of" 2-p relations.

Layman Pascal: "However if we want to use non-AQAL integrative metamodels to situate a special THOU zone/structure then such a thing -- which jives with a lot of people's hopes -- is worth exploring."

Yep, I agree. I'm investing time in this discussion not only because I'm a geek, but because Wilber seems to be saying, with his essay, that there is no value to be had in creating new models which allow for this. And I think that's unfortunate.

This is a very select field if Integral inquiry and not my thing per se ; but a few general thoughts from way down here, anyway . I can only see the meta-metta-cross analyzing of Kenny's opus as a good thing; Bhashkar and Desmond (theurj) to name a few have much to add,IMO.; there maybe something along the lines of Integral process philosophy developing. Having said that, I do tend to see this fixation on intellectual property as a kind of OCD that seems to me more akin to Gebser's deficient rational rather than a truly new Integral wave of conscious development . Was there really intellectual property squabbles over the scientific method itself? Did anyone try and TM the method itself?

As Andrew said, "a very select field of Integral inquiry." I'm pretty sure there are others as math challenged as myself, whose eyes glaze over at the sight of Wilber's integral math. And even for those who can understand and translate it, I've never seen anyone do it in real time as a means to assist them in interpersonal and intra-personal dynamics. Not to say there is no value in it theoretically, but it appears to me to be of little practical value. And as Andrew also stated, it also comes across as over-the-top rational thinking - perhaps signifying Gebser's deficient rational. 

Something more elegant is needed. Pulling up a second quadrant diagram is more helpful. Balder's diagram adding the pre-positional element and emphasizing the relational aspect of an integral vision is even more elegant. It may not be the complete answer to all that is being discussed, but I think it is a move in the right direction. 

P.S.  Weird. I just had a dejavu moment, remembering that I had already written this post long ago! And remembering that at the time of that writing, I didn't quite understand what I was writing or why.

Andrew, yeah, this is a pretty geeky, theory-wonkish kind of discussion -- definitely not everyone's cup of chai.  I agree, obviously, that Bhaskar, Desmond, and others have something to contribute to IT.  Did you put theurj's name next to Desmond because you associate them, or were you listing theurj as another thinker who has something to add?  I think I've probably been the primary person discussing Desmond here, after taking a class with him and reading some of his writings.  Theurj appreciates him, too, I believe, but even moreso, theurj is someone who has good things to contribute to IT (or whatever comes after it).

David, thanks.  Wilber's new essay did stir some new thoughts on how I might approach some of the issues he addresses through my integral grammatology, so I'll be working on that.  Since I believe my ITC paper may also appear in JITP, this means Wilber will likely read it and review it, so I'll get to hear straight from him whether he finds my 'integral grammar' experiment worthwhile or waste of time... :-)

Very weird about the deja vu!  Now I'm wondering if I've seen you post this before....

The  latter on theurj, bracketed only because i don't sense that Ed. is an academic scholar in the usual sense ( or same status as Desmond or Bhaskar ) . 

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