Meta-integral studies have two components:

1. The production, discovery and critique of various quasi-complementary theories and theorists who expound structures from the integrative, post-pluralist and reconstructive form of consciousness.

2. The integration, harmonization and promulgative utilization of these theories into a "best fit" superstructure that leaves out the minimum number of insights.

In order to perform the first task it is useful to have a popular/conventional model to play off. In order to perform the second task it is useful to have a very general, comprehensive and relatively stable model in order to build upon. This "orienting map" could change over time but for the moment that spot is more or less occupied by some variation of the AQAL model.

Our assumptions about the AQAL model must be two-fold, therefore:

1. It may be leaving something out, either in content, style or emphasis.

2. It can be voluntarily affirmed and reinterpreted to consolidate whatever may have been overlooked or minimized. 

Therefore part of the task of this site, of the people associated with it, of the people that it is drawn to, is to ask, basically:

What is Wilber leaving out or minimizing?

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I actually think a lot of what people bring forward as potentially left out, obscured, overly narrow or under-emphasized is already there in some version of the AQAL tool. But part of our dynamic task involves this interesting fact that every one naturally zeroes in upon different facets which we feel are insufficiently incorporated.

For me, personally, I find myself intrigued by the following:

  • Ken's seems, often, to a lot of folks, to be lightweight, underappreciative, excessively pejorative about "Green culture". This is perfectly understandable -- he wants to stake out post-Green territory, demonstrate Integral's nonbiased affinity for all the major value-blocs AND he did not personally spent much of his life getting deep into the contemporary popular culture. He has never been a drug-taker, social radical nor feasted much upon the nuances of the chaotic info-tainment space which reveals the still unfolding nature of Green. One place this stands out is the notorious (thus far) lack of prominent critique of the Orange Meme economy which has its faux-progressive foot on the throat of so many of today's developmental agendas. There is a lot more "spirit of Green" to be fleshed and emphasized.
  • Ken is not particularly artistic, poetic, etc. Yes, he's a hip dresser with a decent sense of humor and has tried his hand a few postmodern novels... but they come across a bit like Christian apocalypse fiction... a delivery vehicle rather than a delight in style. His theory therefore tends to exaggerate the importance of sober systematizers and well-established traditions over more elusive, prancing, tone-based integral theorists. As I have been arguing in my Zarathustra thread this leaves a particular neo-aesthetic territory to be... not excluded... but still largely unexplored as a component of integral philosophy.
  • Ken's wonderful efforts in language and philosophy have not yet created the integral bridge into math and physics. Yes, we should rejoice at "integral algebra" which opens up for us the Great Encyclopedia of the multiple perspectival signifieds which lurk behind our common signifiers -- but how does this map on physics such that machines can be built? Physical quantification is a key bridge to integral civilization which is scantly present in the model.

I know that many people feel that his version and/or character is also too light on the following points (which I actually feel are fairly well depicted in the existing map):

-Divergence, Minimal Difference, Difference as the properly structural and nondual element.

-Cube-models or other expansions of the AQAL map to incorporate the source of the map as its own content.

-Alchemical/transformational elements of occult and psychodynamic work.

What else?

Great questions, LP.  A few more points to add to your list:

  • In my most recent paper, which I believe will be published in a book on Integral Meta-Theories later this year, I argued that Wilber's more recent writings on post-metaphysics end up presenting a version "actualism" (which is a position critiqued by Bhaskar and the post-metaphysical speculative realist crowd).  If you look at Wilber's broader body of work, however, there are actually elements already present which, if they were included more explicitly in his postmetaphysical framework, would help him avoid such criticisms.  This is a relatively arcane concern, which would not be of interest to most causal readers of IT, but it has a number of important ramifications and implications (for science, politics, religion, etc), as Bhaskar spells out in his works.
  • Wilber aims for a postmetaphysical version of spirituality, but it seems his most common / popular presentations of the Causal domain repeat one of the main "errors" postmetaphysicians have critiqued:  the metaphysics of presence. 
  • Wilber seems relatively uninformed about some of the more cutting-edge trends in present-day philosophy and theology, and this undermines the impactfulness his work in certain circles -- to the extent that he presents IT as the "leading edge" of a field which, in his own presentation of it, is rather dated. 
  • Related to the above point, Wilber's (and IL crew's) hyperbole is more often than not a turn-off for me -- not because it shows an excess of grandiosity and enthusiasm, but because it is (for me) unconvincingly, uncompellingly grandiose.
  • For the Critical Realist / meta-Reality crowd, they regard CR/mR as stronger in its grasp of social issues, its explanatory critique of present social dynamics, imbalances, and structural deficits, and its work in the area of what Wilber calls relative or "horizontal" emancipation, than IT is. 

  • Similarly, CR/mR has a better command of science and philosophy of science than IT does (in Wilber's presentation),

(These last two points relate to the Meta-Integral interest in bringing these integrative meta-theories into alignment or fruitful exchange, at minimum).

Although there is a lot of leeway between popular post-metaphysics (simply non-mythic, trans-rational religion) and the description of a metaphysics of adjacency (which opens up "post-metaphysics" be stipulating it as a style of approach to metaphysics rather than a strictly non-metaphysical consistency) there is obviously a lot of room to dig around looking for tweaks in phrasing, tidying up edges, improving the "docking mechanism" between AQAL and, for example, the speculative realist crowd.

The production of a structure that can appear convincingly "leading edge" as the leading edge continues to change is a great tasks. Much has already been achieved but clearly there must be some positions which make integral even more unassailable to the emerging concerns of deep thinkers of today and tomorrow.

Now, as for the "hyperbole" of "Wilber and his crew" -- that is a matter of grave concern. It represents (as Theurj and I have explored quite a bit) partly their anchoring in the ideological assumptions of American capitalism. Partly it is the absolutely normal ethos of any institution. But in many respects (a la Zarathustra) it is not finding its way to the "opening" which represents the mood and style and cultural spirit which is appropriate to post-pluralism. Something is "off" about the "tempo". This is widely commented upon by people who do not phrase it well. And in fact I would like to suggest that "grandiosity and enthusiasm" like "arrogance" and "hegemony" and "idealism" are not inherently problematic from our perspective. They are miss the mark of what is going wrong in the tone. We should ask serious theoretical questions like: What would good grandiose enthusiasm look like from Integralites? What would a healthy arrogance feel like? What sort of hegemony and idealism and joiner-ism and dogmatic languaging would we rejoice to hear?

That would bring us closer to putting our finger upon the crucial element of this situation...



  • Related to the above point, Wilber's (and IL crew's) hyperbole is more often than not a turn-off for me -- not because it shows an excess of grandiosity and enthusiasm, but because it is (for me) unconvincingly, uncompellingly grandiose.

If you haven't read it yet perhaps the thread on Mark Edwards? He takes AQAL as the basis for his criticisms and solutions. And he's one of the few critics of which the Kennilingam approves, at least partially. I provided quite a bit of his work therein, with my commentary on both Kennilingam and Edwards. As but one sample from this post:

"Integration in the metatheory building context does not mean to create one super-theory but rather to bring many different viewpoints together so that their strengths and weaknesses can be recognized....Rather that simply reproducing dominant theoretical ideologies, metatheory undermines them through this reflexive raising of consciousness about the relationships between theories. And this is, in fact, why several metatheorists have argued that postmodernism is itself a metatheoretical enterprise" (13-15).

We should probably get into Edwards a bit more. But first in response to the sample you provided:


"Integration in the metatheory building context does not mean to create one super-theory but rather to bring many different viewpoints together so that their strengths and weaknesses can be recognized....Rather that simply reproducing dominant theoretical ideologies, metatheory undermines them through this reflexive raising of consciousness about the relationships between theories. And this is, in fact, why several metatheorists have argued that postmodernism is itself a metatheoretical enterprise" (13-15).

This expresses the position that is highly useful and incomplete. That it takes its incompleteness as a badge of honor is fine -- since that affirms its special task. But when it presumes that its enactment of incompleteness and multiplicity is the natural consequence of the implicit incompleteness and multiplicity in Reality then it goes slightly astray. 

The task of constructing one super-theory is distinct but related to the task of establishing a context for "metatheory building" in which different integralish viewpoints can be compared and contrasted profitably. Both projects are complementary aspects of meta-integral studies. However, since there is no real opposition between multiplicity and "dominant theoretical ideologies" we should be wary of the ethical impulse of the one to undermine the other. At the very least it runs the risk of retarding our efforts to create a reasonably good model which incorporates (rather than is merely accompanied by) its alternatives... and which can be widely used even by people who are metatheory builders.

To constantly keep before our eyes the need for a flexible interface between the comparison-mode & the convergence-mode seems to me very crucial. Especially since all manner of practical factors (such as difficulty and energy level and confidence) resist the construction of convergent model but present themselves as ethical or theory-based reluctance.


I think Edwards (particular in the lengthy interview) handles the balance pretty well. The notion of working at the interface between integral theory and integral action, tinkering with the theory and allowing alternatives to circulate freely, seems like essential work. Not only in terms of generating an increasingly competent but also consolidated model... but also in setting up some of the feedback flows which must be incorporated into the model in order to ensure that is stability is based on constant open-ended self-correction.

Other parts of Edwards seem to slightly exaggerate the risk that insufficient altitudinal conceptions make us vulnerable to things like archaic student-teacher relations, vertically-themed social power blocs, normative totalizing, etc. 

From the point of view of a computer programmer, meta-integral studies should be working toward an adequate automated version of the AQAL model. One which can encounter an encoded version of any particular insight or complaint and determine whether it is already included or, if not, where it should be included and what, if anything, that does to the "shape" of the system. This hypothetical AQALbot recieves input from a flexibly distinguished set of lines, types, etc. so that its systematization is not overly biased in favor of concepts from systematizers. 

From now on when I refer to AQAL I mean the living cathedral-like telos suggested by a entangling of a populist integral mandala of Reality and an thoroughly automated, humanly permeable, operating system which can adequately evaluate, encode and integrate any expressed perspective or insight it encounters. I.e. a conception of AQAL which incorporates both its superficial and potential aspects in a workable dynamic situation.

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