Monday, September 29, 2008

What does integral look like?

(Cross-post from the Integral pod on Gaia)

This is a thought that's been cooking for a while: how will integral naturally emerge, and will it look like the way Wilber has described it?

I might be wrong, but from reading wilber, I get the impression one of the main characteristics of integral is vertical thinking, developmental awareness. deeper levels of understanding. I do think this is an important characteristic, but what people seem to be witnessing is a deeper, complex way of thinking, yet seen as a horizontal complexity. It's still development, but not quite “linear” as it used to be.

Or in other words, the heirarchy, the classical “beaurocratic” levels are breaking down for a networking society.

So we're seeing the rise of the “network” instead of the “institution.” there are alot of thinkers along these lines, and to me this seems like where civilization is headed. i think this fits perfectly into integral, without needing to structure in levels just yet. it can fit into the maps, for sure, but common understanding of 'vertical' development is something that doesn't need to happen first. instead, we are re-thinking and seeing the relationship and organization in a totally new, complex structure.

We're seeing a breakdown of classical institutions, the information age has created collaborative efforts, open source organizations— and the internet is the best place to see new structures of society emerging.

So, what does integral look like, without the language, without the theory? or in other words, what does it look like without the map?

Networks, organic patterns, collaborations and decentralized organization.

I think Wilber, and many other integral theorists have correctly criticized “flatland,” and postmodernism for simply accepting the break down of heirarchy, centralized ways of thinking as the end-all, be-all. The story doesn't stop there. But instead of immediately creating vertical maps, it seems that it is naturally happening by first seeing organic patterns in the chaos. people are structuring naturally, organizing and networking. this way, underlying themes begin to be seen… and yes, maybe eventually we will have a deeper vertical awareness. for the moment, the depth comes from understanding the space between perspectives, but we're in the midst of creating the map. relationship and flex-flow will become prominent– and this is resonant with spiral dynamics, the 2nd tier “integral” value memes. If Wilber, and many of the integral theorists are correct, we will see maps arise naturally, and the “integral” attitude arising naturally in many creative ways.

If you want to see where it's headed, I think some great thinkers who are not associated with the integral theorists, per say, are clay shirky, who has an excellent ted talk here: Institution vs Collaboration

Another thinker is Manuel Castells– a sociologist who is strongly for moving beyond postmodernism, and wrote a book called “The Rise of the Network Society,” as well as “1000 Years of Non-Linear History.”

Do you know of any others? i'm not sure this is all coherent, but what i'm trying to get at is that we're seeing “integral” pop up organically, and sometimes the language of these theories can get in the way from seeing the seeds grow right under our feet.


Anonymous said...

That is a powerful essay. Still, it was quite addictive to be in Wilberianism, of course Wilber being a very important man of the integral movement. I've consciousnly tried to be integral in all my endeavors for the past 5 moths, and I'm already post-Wilber or at least detatched from Wilber's way of thinking, compared to 3 months ago. Before that, I was in a flat yellow meme terrtory. Organically - that WAS kinda the point of every integral philosopher, if I'm not mistaken. Even Ken Wilber's models are or nned to be centered around organics of sort to even work...


Anonymous said...

To be precise, before being Wilberian, I was yellow/pre-yellow flex flow systems and extremely influenced by nagarjuna, daoism and advaita, kinda like Ken Wilber... hmmm parallel evolution that can be mystified... mmmmm

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