CHAPTER THREE WILBER’S FOUR QUADRANT MODEL: STRUCTURE, METHODOLOGY, AND EPISTEMOLOGY
The previous survey of Wilber’s interpretation of holonomy, discerned in variegated forms and contexts as consciousness ascends from disintegration to non-duality, now provides sufficient background to appraise his Integral Model. Wilber’s inclusion of multidisciplinary approaches to physical, intellectual, socio-cultural, and spiritual development form the rudiments of his Model and he distinguishes them into four basic Quadrants – each of which unfold in coaxial Levels or Waves of increasing holistic capacity. These Waves contain Lines or Streams which facilitate the Translation and Transformation of Structural phenomena which, in turn, are navigated by a quasi-independent Self-System as a mechanism of identification. Each Quadrant also submits to the jurisdiction of appropriate measures of validation.
These quadrant-specific validity claims are the product of Wilber’s underlying epistemological architecture. Wilber abstracts methodologies from reconstructive science into all four Quadrants of his Model. He claims to achieve this by identifying three noetic domains which are respectively addressed by Three Eyes of Knowledge. Each of these Eyes are authenticated by the application of appropriate epistemological standards. The subjectivity of inner personal experience requires unique epistemological qualifications which nonetheless submit to a Three Step Exemplar in the same way that reconstructive science justifies truth-claims in the domain of physicality. The methodology of these approaches to epistemology is pragmatic, and for Wilber its application to the subjectivity of inner personal consciousness, right up to NDC, legitimises a form of empirical mysticism. An important question must however be asked: can validity claims addressed to physicality be transported into highly subjective meta-physical absolutes without compromising the coherence of the epistemology? In other words, to what extent is a scientific epistemology delimited in its application to trans-rational ontologies and vice versa? Moreover, if there are such limitations, how can claims to ultimacy be veridical?
Wilber’s theoretical strategy is designed to transcend both the amorphous constellations prevalent in pluralism, and the undifferentiated co-substantiations more typical of monism.109 His Integral Philosophy therefore admits appropriate contexts within which all epistemic and experiential domains are claimed to be functionally viable and he thereby animates differentiation as graded levels of awakening to an essential Kosmological non-duality. Only in NDC is the Kosmos truly seen as the Seer, a mystical Oneness that is entirely the Kosmos and yet never reduced to any aspect of it. Can Wilber’s underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions justify his truth-claims
The Construction of the Four Quadrant Model
It has been shown that Wilber’s progress as an Integral theorist was inspired by his observation that conscious apperception functions according to three primary domains of relational experience. His early model was based on Plato’s categorisations of the Good (inter-relational morality), the True (propositional and objective truth), and the Beautiful (the intra-relational and aesthetic dimensions of personal experience) (Wilber 1995c:120). Wilber then equated these three provinces of interpretation with those identified by other eminent philosophers. Kant’s landmark trilogy in The Critique of Pure Reason (1781 Concerning objective science), The Critique of Practical Reason (1788 Dealing with morality), and The Critique of Judgement (1790 Referring to aesthetic judgement and art) was found to correspond in broad principle to Popper’s distinction of the cultural, objective, and subjective worlds.110 From a philosophical vantage point, Wilber reveres Habermas (1929 -) and Gebser (1905 – 1973) as the world’s greatest recent philosophers, but he also criticises Gebser for limiting his integral-aperspectival level of consciousness to reason as the highest level attainable (Wilber 1997c:77). Wilber nonetheless annexed Gebser’s terminology and then superimposed his own ‘subtle’, ‘causal’, and ‘non-dual’ dimensions to create his spectrum model. Wilber’s inclusion of Habermas’ (1979) three validity claims, inter-subjective justness, objective truth, and subjective sincerity, is then correlated with his own notion of the so-called Big Three.111 He then translated these three categories into his own simpler titles; the inter-relational and socio-cultural dynamics in the dimensions of ‘we’; the objective and empirico-rational dimensions of physical ‘its’; and the interior dimensions of personal consciousness within the ‘I’ (1995c:120; 1997a:20, 227; 1998a:74-75). Wilber later distinguishes the socio-cultural dynamics in the domain of ‘we’ that function in the collective of society, and the variables of inner personal integration of those outer dynamics. He thus split the dimension of ‘we’ into two parts: the behaviourist exteriors of socio-cultural patterns, and the interior subjective dimensions of those learned and shared world views, both of which give rise to, and enable social interaction. The result of the separation of inner and outer variables in the we, says Wilber, ‘… gives us a grid of exterior-individual (or behavioural), interior-individual (or intentional), exterior-collective (or social), and interior-collective (or cultural) – a grid of subjective, objective inter-subjective, and inter-objective realities’ (1997b:71-92). These four basic categories may be illustrated as follows: Diagram 2
The Upper Left Quadrant (ULQ) of subjective first person definition is experienced and expressed from the inner self where truthfulness conveys its validity claims through holarchical gradations of awakening to its climax in NDC. The ULQ, says Wilber, ‘… is your presence, your consciousness, your subjective awareness’ (1996f:120-121). The Lower Left Quadrant (LLQ) incorporates abilities to procure and integrate cultural and behavioural Structures recursively shared with the social groupings within which a person defines and communicates her social character. Here the focus is on inter-subjective meaning and the expression of appropriated social traits is measured by justness. The LLQ furthermore contains commonly shared background contexts and worldviews without which our individual subjective identities could not function and without which objective realities could not be interpreted. Importantly, Wilber maintains that postmodernists and constructivists have demonstrated the important function of cultural contexts in fashioning individual consciousness [in the ULQ]
The Upper Right Quadrant (URQ), most familiar in its empirical sensory access to scientific epistemologies, constitutes the domain of measurable objectivity in nature. Its validity claims are propositionally established and its manifestations subsist in the physical dimensions represented in the model. It is, says Wilber, ‘… the standard hierarchy presented by modern evolutionary science: atoms to molecules to cells to organisms, each of which transcends but includes its predecessor in an irreversible fashion’ (1997b:72). Wilber describes the variables of the URQ as neutral and value-free in their submission to the standard languages of the empirical, analytic, and systems sciences and they are thus definitively monological. Wilber elsewhere qualifies this assessment, but it cannot reasonably be claimed that quantum science and cosmology are exclusively monological and neither are they value free. Quantum theory frequently addresses dimensionality by inference and whilst the expression of value may flow from the left Quadrants, it does not follow that Physicalism ascribes no value to the processes or substance of its objects.112 This objection will be developed further shortly.
The Lower Right Quadrant (LRQ) is the domain of exterior collective systems which are manifest, for example, in cultural patterns, social norms, and politico-economic traditions. These objective social systems consist in the nurture (be they constructive or dysfunctional) of individuals in groups and the validity of these systems are discerned through their relative functional fit. The diagram below represents one among many versions of Wilber’s Model and indicates the Quadrants and Waves in each Quadrant:
Some general principles pertaining to Wilber’s Four Quadrant Model should be noted. Firstly, for Wilber the four Quadrants are not representative of conflicting truths, but dimensionally different views from the various Waves of their respective emergence in the Spectrum of Consciousness. There are according to Wilber, exterior and interior dimensions, and collective and individual dimensions. Thus, the upper half of the model refers to individual holons, and the lower half to their collective forms. The left Quadrants refer to interiorised consciousness, whereas the right Quadrants contain exteriorised physical appearances (1997b:75). Secondly, the unfolding Waves and Structures of consciousness in each Quadrant also exhibit Lines or Streams of development which trace the Involutionary and Evolutionary arcs of holarchical unfolding. Thirdly, all four Quadrants reveal phase-specific states such as brain states in the URQ, states of material affairs in the LRQ, conscious states in the ULQ, and personal social value states in the LLQ. Fourthly, the Quadrants ‘tetra-evolve’ in the sense, explains Wilber, ‘… that an objective organism in the URQ, with its DNA, its neuronal pathways, its brain systems, and its behavioural patterns, mutually interacts with the objective environment, ecosystems, and social realities [in the LRQ] and individual consciousness [in the ULQ], with its intentionality, structures, and states, arises within, and mutually interacts with inter-subjective social mores and cultural symbols [in the LLQ].113 For this reason every Quadrant has correlates in all the others.114 In other words, every holon in every Quadrant appears to have four facets (intentional, behavioural, cultural, and social), and each of these facets, claims Wilber, has specific correlations in all other Quadrants. There is therefore an intimation of causality in Wilber’s model and human consciousness cannot then be reasonably claimed in the absence of any Quadrant (Wilber 1997b:80).115 Consciousness, by definition for Wilber, therefore prevails in all four Quadrants without reduction or exclusion.116 It is for this reason that Wilber claims, ‘… an ‘all-quadrant, all-level’ [AQAL] approach [as] the minimum degree of sophistication that we need in order to secure anything resembling a genuinely integral theory of consciousness’ (1997b:82).
The problem of causal mutuality is not however, this straightforward. With reference to the Hard Problem, Wilber’s model still does not show how consciousness arises in the brain. For Wilber, consciousness is neither caused by, nor reducible to the brain, but is rather an expression of the holistic intra-dynamic tensions of holonic emergences in and as all four Quadrants. Wilber’s modular inclusivity is not contested, but his particular notion of causality should be challenged since it assigns a trans-elemental ontology to consciousness as a pre-existent, transcendent, and yet wholly immanent essence. The Hard Problem cannot in this sense be solved by Wilber’s Four Quadrant Model because his theory of consciousness is extrapolated from paradoxical tenets: absolute claims in an axiomatic model; locality in spaceless-ness; progression and evolution in timelessness; and ineffability in representation. Moreover, the very process of theorising is implicitly dualistic because theory is always about something. Wilber’s theoretical process is therefore necessarily relational and it cannot therefore resolve the Hard Problem on the pretext of non-dual claims that do not have correlates in all four Quadrants. It is, in other words, not rational to claim the resolution of dualism by positionally integrating all duality from an absolutist premise. Davies (1992:74) makes a similar observation:
The raw data gathered by our senses are not directly intelligible as they stand. To link them, to weave them into a framework of understanding, requires an intermediary step, a step we call theory. The fact that such theory is subtle and mathematical can be suggestively expressed by saying that the laws of nature are in code. The job of the scientist is to ‘crack’ the cosmic code, and thereby reveal the secrets of the universe.
Admittedly Wilber ascribes only metaphorical status to his Four Quadrant Model, and yet, as has already been shown, he attributes absolute qualities to its realisation in NDC.117 Within the epistemologies of the mystical traditions Wilber’s notion would be viable and he admits as much in his claimed solution in Satori, but its postulation that the model is scientific is inconsistent in several ways
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Finding the Right Questions
1.2 The Quest for Consistency and Coherence: The Purpose of this Research
1.3 Philosophy, Science, Mysticism, and Non-duality: The Integral Problem
1.4 Research Methodology: The Challenge of Interdisciplinary Consistency
1.5 Demarcation of Chapters
1.6 Legitimacy and Responsibility: Literature Survey
CHAPTER TWO THE FOUNDATIONS OF WILBER’S INTEGRAL PHILOSOPHY
2.2 The Perennial Philosophy
2.3 Transpersonal Psychology
2.4 Emergent Principles of Wilber’s Integral Philosophy
CHAPTER THREE WILBER’S FOUR QUADRANT MODEL: STRUCTURE, METHODOLOGY, AND EPISTEMOLOGY
3.2 The Construction of the Four Quadrant Model
3.3 Wilber’s Epistemological Method
3.4 A More Considered Appraisal of Wilber’s Epistemology
CHAPTER FOURTHE CONTEXTUAL IMPLICATIONS OF WILBER’S INTEGRAL PHILOSOPHY
4.2 The Science-Religion Debate
4.3 From Modernism to Post-Modernism and Beyond
4.4 Legitimacy, Authority, and Authenticity in Religion
CHAPTER FIVE THE ROLE OF DUALITY IN WILBER’S PHILOSOPHY
5.2 The Dualistic Idiom: Background Perspectives
5.3 Wilber’s Interpretation of Duality
CHAPTER SIX NON-DUALITY IN MYSTICISM: METHODOLOGICAL AND LINGUISTIC PROBLEMS
6.2 Christian Mysticism
6.3 The Phenomenology of Mystical Consciousness
6.4 The Nature of Consciousness According to Wilber
6.5 Linguistic Problems in the Study and Expression of Mysticism
CHAPTER SEVEN A PHYSICALIST ALTERNATIVE TO WILBER’S PHILOSOPHY OF NON-DUALITY
7.2 Wilber’s Rejoinder: Reductionism and God’s Existence
7.3 Reconsidering Existing Hypotheses: Is it Time for a New Approach?
7.4 The Epistemological Context of a Physicalist Approach
7.5 Finding Criteria to Moderate a Physicalist Approach to NDC
7.6 Conclusion: Does NDC have a Place in Physicalist Theories of Consciousness?
CHAPTER EIGHT CONCLUSION
8.1 The Foundational Context of this Research
8.2 General Conclusions
8.3 NDC: A Mystical Disambiguation
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT