WHAT ---> HOW : A Look at Paired Subphases of the Evolutionary Spiral

We have something called the Spiral. It is an image of the wondrous whole of Reality described as one vast, shimmering, interlinked series of unfolding frequencies, tones & phases of consciousness. It is a spectrum of development. It exhibits both habit and novelty, advance and repetition, subjectivity and objectivity, etc. This is a metaphor for a basic structure in the integral worldspace. That means it is a fleshed out version of a certain chunk of insight that is commonly glimpsed by integralites.

If we wish to deepen our understanding of this "something" then we must get more involved with it. One way to do that is to explore it from different angles and to examine different versions. I will now present an invitation to a intriguing version of the Spiral that has been bubbling up in my soul for the past few days. It is based on: pairs.

Of course we already know one famous way of thinking about pairs of levels on the Spiral. That is the way that Dr. Clare Graves taught us. He envisioned the spiral as alternating between "more collective" and "more individualistic" stages. It seemed to him that Aboriginals, Nationalists & Progressive Socialists were typically more communal in their instincts, while Babarians, Modernists and Neophyte Integralists tended to be more interested in their private autonomy. This back-and-forth movement between levels provides an intriguing sense of "paired phases". What I would like do right now is suggest an image in which have half as many stages... but we divide each one into two parts.

More specifically, these parts: (1) What (2) How.

Let me explain.

In the early portion of a developmental wave, people acclimatize to the general forms of that particular worldspace. They learn to evoke many vague elements of the new bio-cultural landscape which they are learning to inhabit. Early forms are necessarily abstract, poorly definited, mostly symbolic or resembling a hypocritical pretense which masks the ongoing work of older, simpler instincts. At this point we are just getting started. We have begun to see WHAT is present at that level. And then, by grace and life and efforts, we start growing into the depths. We begin to understand HOW the functions of that worldspace operate.

For example, among tribal clans there first appears a superstitious mentality which naively obeys whatever rituals and occult aphorisms that have been passed down from the Grandmothers. These primitive clansfolk comprehend the "what" of a tribal worldspace. That is expressed in ideas like: We are the People. This is the Place. She is the Wise One. That is Raven. But as we grow to take more personal responsibility for our worldspace then there emerges an instinct for "how" tribes operate. The functional procedures start to appear in our consciousness. We realize that, in fact, our tribe could be anywhere and still behave in a tribe-like fashion. Roaming becomes very seductive. I realize that I could be the Chief. Our shamans can invent new messages. We are empowered by alternatives as soon as we start to grasp the way, or the mechanisms, by which our level operates.

Among patriotic, semi-rural nationalists-at-heart, there first appears a world of general chunks: tradition. These forms do not quite explain themselves and are often contradictory and dangerous. Yet they do let us organize ourselves and secure ourselves against barbarians. We sacrifice ourselves for rules and stereotypes that we do not really understand. Even if these old and sacred laws actually only go back one or two generations we still feel that they are primordial. In this worldspace there exists as strong dividing line between Official & Unofficial. The former is embraced as the painful but highly praised norm. The latter is either tolerated or hunted down... depending on the general level of social stress. All of this appears dangerously lunatic once we begin to see 'how' our orthodox facts are coming into existence. Modern constitutions exist because national people learned to make creative use of their traditions. The democractic ideal is the attempt to make good use of the "folk". The rationalist tries to fulfill the promises which the believers could not keep -- truth, equality, effectiveness, safety.

Later, the planetary pluralists appear. At first they only have a vague sense of What their worldspace involves. They discussion alternative perspectives, multiple realities, evolution, belief systems, inclusion, paradoxes, international ecological concerns, new social operating systems, trans-national and trans-rational and even trans-cultural culture! Yet there is a tremendous problem -- they do not fulfill these grand words. There is something distinctly oppressive about their anti-oppression efforts. At this level we refuse to acknowledge the absolute principle behind our relativity. Our universal egalitarian sentiments remain superficial and counterproductive. Why? Because although we have begun to see WHAT is involved in the planetary pluralistic worldspace we do not yet see HOW this can actually be accomplished. As we deepen into these forms, becoming more nuanced and flexible with them, we start to look and sound more integrative. We begin to see that is not enough merely to belief and assert that EVERYONE IS RIGHT... we also need to build certain structures of though which explain just how exactly that can be so. The integral quadrants are one powerful version of that. The notion of a evolutionary spiritual "vertical axis" is also a way to figure out how exactly we can arrange different perspectives and belief systems so that they actually fit together.

Let us not go on too long with this proposal. I simply sugggest that our sense of the levels of the Spiral can be deepened by considered that half as many "stages" exist... but each stage moves from a so-called WHAT phase to a HOW phase. Make of this what you will.

 


We have something called the Spiral. It is an image of the wondrous whole of Reality described as one vast, shimmering, interlinked series of unfolding frequencies, tones & phases of consciousness. It is a spectrum of development. It exhibits both habit and novelty, advance and repetition, subjectivity and objectivity, etc. This is a metaphor for a basic structure in the integral worldspace. That means it is a fleshed out version of a certain chunk of insight that is commonly glimpsed by integralites.

If we wish to deepen our understanding of this "something" then we must get more involved with it. One way to do that is to explore it from different angles and to examine different versions. I will now present an invitation to a intriguing version of the Spiral that has been bubbling up in my soul for the past few days. It is based on: pairs.

Of course we already know one famous way of thinking about pairs of levels on the Spiral. That is the way that Dr. Clare Graves taught us. He envisioned the spiral as alternating between "more collective" and "more individualistic" stages. It seemed to him that Aboriginals, Nationalists & Progressive Socialists were typically more communal in their instincts, while Babarians, Modernists and Neophyte Integralists tended to be more interested in their private autonomy. This back-and-forth movement between levels provides an intriguing sense of "paired phases". What I would like do right now is suggest an image in which have half as many stages... but we divide each one into two parts.

More specifically, these parts: (1) What (2) How.

Let me explain.

In the early portion of a developmental wave, people acclimatize to the general forms of that particular worldspace. They learn to evoke many vague elements of the new bio-cultural landscape which they are learning to inhabit. Early forms are necessarily abstract, poorly definited, mostly symbolic or resembling a hypocritical pretense which masks the ongoing work of older, simpler instincts. At this point we are just getting started. We have begun to see WHAT is present at that level. And then, by grace and life and efforts, we start growing into the depths. We begin to understand HOW the functions of that worldspace operate.

For example, among tribal clans there first appears a superstitious mentality which naively obeys whatever rituals and occult aphorisms that have been passed down from the Grandmothers. These primitive clansfolk comprehend the "what" of a tribal worldspace. That is expressed in ideas like: We are the People. This is the Place. She is the Wise One. That is Raven. But as we grow to take more personal responsibility for our worldspace then there emerges an instinct for "how" tribes operate. The functional procedures start to appear in our consciousness. We realize that, in fact, our tribe could be anywhere and still behave in a tribe-like fashion. Roaming becomes very seductive. I realize that I could be the Chief. Our shamans can invent new messages. We are empowered by alternatives as soon as we start to grasp the way, or the mechanisms, by which our level operates.

Among patriotic, semi-rural nationalists-at-heart, there first appears a world of general chunks: tradition. These forms do not quite explain themselves and are often contradictory and dangerous. Yet they do let us organize ourselves and secure ourselves against barbarians. We sacrifice ourselves for rules and stereotypes that we do not really understand. Even if these old and sacred laws actually only go back one or two generations we still feel that they are primordial. In this worldspace there exists as strong dividing line between Official & Unofficial. The former is embraced as the painful but highly praised norm. The latter is either tolerated or hunted down... depending on the general level of social stress. All of this appears dangerously lunatic once we begin to see 'how' our orthodox facts are coming into existence. Modern constitutions exist because national people learned to make creative use of their traditions. The democractic ideal is the attempt to make good use of the "folk". The rationalist tries to fulfill the promises which the believers could not keep -- truth, equality, effectiveness, safety.

Later, the planetary pluralists appear. At first they only have a vague sense of What their worldspace involves. They discussion alternative perspectives, multiple realities, evolution, belief systems, inclusion, paradoxes, international ecological concerns, new social operating systems, trans-national and trans-rational and even trans-cultural culture! Yet there is a tremendous problem -- they do not fulfill these grand words. There is something distinctly oppressive about their anti-oppression efforts. At this level we refuse to acknowledge the absolute principle behind our relativity. Our universal egalitarian sentiments remain superficial and counterproductive. Why? Because although we have begun to see WHAT is involved in the planetary pluralistic worldspace we do not yet see HOW this can actually be accomplished. As we deepen into these forms, becoming more nuanced and flexible with them, we start to look and sound more integrative. We begin to see that is not enough merely to belief and assert that EVERYONE IS RIGHT... we also need to build certain structures of though which explain just how exactly that can be so. The integral quadrants are one powerful version of that. The notion of a evolutionary spiritual "vertical axis" is also a way to figure out how exactly we can arrange different perspectives and belief systems so that they actually fit together.

Let us not go on too long with this proposal. I simply sugggest that our sense of the levels of the Spiral can be deepened by considered that half as many "stages" exist... but each stage moves from a so-called WHAT phase to a HOW phase. Make of this what you will.

- See more at: http://integrallife.com/node/257551#sthash.F4rC2ypd.dpuf

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Interesting, LP.  Making the common phases of development subphases (naive and mature) of the three most basic distinctions Wilber often makes: pre-modern, modern, and post-modern?

Yes, the choice of the number of descriptive phases is often somewhat arbitrary. If we confine ourselves to "human history thus far" then it seems like 6 subphases (dividing pre-modern, modern & post-modern) are a reasonably workable number. Three is convenient for casual discussion and 8-12 gets real technical, real quick. two other advantage accompany this approach. first, it makes clear that superficial forms are not antagonists to depth forms... since they are paired twins. second it explains curious phenomenon like the very non-global, non-humanitarian stances taken by putative orange modernists etc.

Compare and contrast your sub-phases with Wilber's notion (from this link):

fulcrum: A developmental milestone within the self-identity stream, or the proximate-self line of development. Fulcrums follow a general 1-2-3 process: fusion or identification with one’s current level of self-development; differentiation or disidentification from that level; and integration of the new level with the previous level.

And how about this from the Spiral Dynamics FAQ:

"Very simply, the Gravesian change model is a five-phase process: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and on to a new Alpha. The Alpha state is a time of balance and homeostasis. Helix 1 and Helix 2 are aligned. Beta is the point of doubt and anxiety with dissonance present in the field – something is wrong, but what and why are still unclear. At Gamma the apparent problems become clear, but solutions are elusive because the barriers feel insurmountable. External barriers get the blame though it’s often internal barriers which often stop movement. There is often anger and acting out, either inward or outward. With Delta there is a surge through the barriers with insight into alternatives and new ways of functioning which can restore balance. With consolidation and enough support, delta is followed by a next Alpha and a return to a stable state in a new Gravesian level."

What first came to my mind was Timothy Leary's 24 subphase model... in which each of his "eight evolutionary neurogenetic circuits" was subdivided into an input, processing & output stage based on the behaviour of neurons themselves. Wilber's three subphases are distinct from that. Beginning in fusion, moving to differentiation then passing to integration. These describe transitions between levels. They would therefore apply to any of the pair-phases or single sub-phases described in my WHAT>HOW picture. Neither the WHAT nor the HOW corresponds directly to any of the 123 movements which accompany a fulcrum shift. Or, more broadly, we could say that they describe a general movement which is occurring all the way through.

The five Gravesian change-subphases are closer here than the Wilber fulcrum stages. However these 5 could also be said to apply to each paired-level or each sub-level singularly. It they are taken as describing transition between pair-levels then, for example, the HOW phase of one level would be fleshed out to the point where it established an alpha of balance and homeostasis. Then its own functional self-awareness would begin revealing beta points of contraction and inadequacy in the way things are being accomplished. At gamma these points achieve parity with the current HOW-mind and a evolutionary struggle and confusion ensues. The struggle is overcome by a energetic orientation toward the new generalized WHAT attractors which solidify. Then be assimilating these, opening them up until their HOW starts to appear, a new alpha is established.

How about this article, which takes the MHC's inter-level transitional phases and adds fractal sub-phases?

"Currently, MHC explains that discrete orders of hierarchical complexity are constructed by coordinating lower order actions, but does not yet explain the how of those coordinations. Those coordinating actions are discrete for measurement purposes yet occur during continuous living system behaviors. Thus, the MHC does not yet describe transitional orders of complexity. Consequently, no formal theory yet accounts for the continuity of actions’ emergence comprising behavioral development" (7).

If you read Ross' paper perhaps you can help me decipher it. For example, these two sets of statements:

"Fractal means the repetition of self-similar patterns at different scales" (7).

"Every transition begins with some temporary equilibrium (A), regardless of when or where a transition occurs. This means transitions nested within transitions are ordered in exactly the same way" (8).

In the pomo/complexity and real/false reason threads complexity was differentiated between restricted and general varieties. This includes fractal chaos in the former variety, which it seems Ross is using. In the quotes fractals go from "self-similar" patterns to "exactly the same way." As I've explained elsewhere, actual fractals are themselves non-linear and while each iteration is similar it is also different, so not nested in "exactly the same way."* Not just the what of the content is behaving in a non-linear fashion but so is the math itself iterating non-linearly. While Ross wants a non-linear math to explain this process, i.e. the fractals and attractors of dynamic systems, she is still using the more restricted varieties of Bertalanffy and Mandelbrot instead of the more general versions of Prigogine and Cilliars (and DeLanda and Deleuze).

* Hence those pretty and symmetrical computer-generated pictures of fractals using formal bifurcations. Real fractals generate a self-similar yet novel iteration at each temporary equilibrium.

See this post for a critique of Mandelbrot's kind of complexity. And this one with Morin discussing the two varieties. From the latter:

"Restricted complexity refers mainly to the mathematical and computational approaches to complexity, often strongly informed by chaos theory. This approach, Morin argues, acknowledges the non-linear, relational nature of complex systems, but seeks to tame it in ways which reintroduces positivism and reductionism. General complexity on the other hand, argues for the limits of all approaches to complex systems and urges that we acknowledge these limits and recognise that we need a new language in which to do this, a language which moves beyond Enlightenment ideals of neutrality and objectivity."

The missing description might be generally provided in Deacon's recent book "Incomplete Nature". At the very least it addresses it to thinking through this issue:

theurj said:

How about this article, which takes the MHC's inter-level transitional phases and adds fractal sub-phases?

"Currently, MHC explains that discrete orders of hierarchical complexity are constructed by coordinating lower order actions, but does not yet explain the how of those coordinations. Those coordinating actions are discrete for measurement purposes yet occur during continuous living system behaviors. Thus, the MHC does not yet describe transitional orders of complexity. Consequently, no formal theory yet accounts for the continuity of actions’ emergence comprising behavioral development" (7).

There does seem to be a sense in which some theorists are looking to see WHAT regular patterns exceed linear description, while other (often more philosophic thinkers) want to see those types of patterns as restricted instances of the general WAY in which complex processes have their being. 

Deacon (mentioned in my previous comment) would point out that the initial equilibrium condition is actually already engaged in a form of asymmetric work which are counting as "zero" because it is relatively stable and available to be influenced by an external form of work. There seems to a parallel between anticipating the same "what" of the fractal repetition & neglecting how the initial system is operating prior to the thermodynamic or morphodynamic process we are screening for. 

Self-similarity, of course, can only go up to the maximal limit posed by the mutuality of sameness and difference. That is often ignored in favor of WHAT (appears to be) equal to itself. 

theurj said:

In the pomo/complexity and real/false reason threads complexity was differentiated between restricted and general varieties. This includes fractal chaos in the former variety, which it seems Ross is using. In the quotes fractals go from "self-similar" patterns to "exactly the same way." As I've explained elsewhere, actual fractals are themselves non-linear and while each iteration is similar it is also different, so not nested in "exactly the same way."* Not just the what of the content is behaving in a non-linear fashion but so is the math itself iterating non-linearly. While Ross wants a non-linear math to explain this process, i.e. the fractals and attractors of dynamic systems, she is still using the more restricted varieties of Bertalanffy and Mandelbrot instead of the more general versions of Prigogine and Cilliars (and DeLanda and Deleuze).

* Hence those pretty and symmetrical computer-generated pictures of fractals using formal bifurcations. Real fractals generate a self-similar yet novel iteration at each temporary equilibrium.

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