From my buddy Juma Wood. If at all interested in this topic, this is a must read. Every word of it.
As the old Wilber guard scrambles to find distance from its toxic personality cult, there is a danger of watering down the central insights of the integral model: namely, that every moment arises in four fundamental dimensions (or eight, splitting it finer with IMP), that worldview determines vantage, and that collapsing the context into any of these areas produces partiality by definition.
This last point is where I’d hope the conference would veer itself: the basic Integral Model is the starting point for each and every perspective or action. It is what Hargens in the WIE interview meant when he said that integral was ‘content-free’ (to which critics might agree, but replace the word with ‘empty’). The model should not be asked to do more. That is the work of other theory, other work. Torbert’s work, for example, fits well within this context, including many if not most of the central insights and promises. But it should neither attempt to replace the integral model, nor assume it operates outside its scope.
This is not a debate of either/or, but rather effectiveness and applicability. The integral map does well when it is static, over-arching. It is the scaffold into which the pieces take shape and arrange themselves rightly. There is no ‘integral politics’ or ‘integral ecology’ or ‘integral art’. These are each arenas within which wisdom and approach are exclusive to the field of study, but through which insight and integration can be gained with other disciplines once having oriented properly, via the integral map.
Which is to say this works on (at least) two levels.
One, the model simply clarifies/organizes what already is taking place within a discipline. This is why the best stuff applying integral (see here for economics, here for biology) are from those already well versed within the confines of the discipline to which they offer up an integral simplifying/clarifying view (but simplification). Those who read Integral (read: Wilber) first and then think they have reached the end have the mental cart before the horse. Then end up spouting on all manner of topics without being grounded in the knowledge community first.
[When such healthy coherence is achieved within different disciplines–and again this is a sorta second-order type move it in no way replaces or substitutes for the canons and methods already established within the disciplines themselves–then they could finally cross-fertilize with a common language.]
Two, the model is a mental yoga. This is what Juma describes as every moment arising in four dimensions and to collapse the context is inherently partial. Wilber often cites the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna’s famous admonition to Arjuna: Remember the Lord and Fight. That is, Remember the Truth about the Spiritual Nature of Reality and yet you still have to battle in this world of division.
To play off that notion, we are always going to be collapsing the context–that is always having to specialize and enter the disciplines and one or the other of these dimensions (principally) on their own terms. Nothing ever is achieved otherwise. But in so doing one can not forget the prior move and the ground. Or else there is nothing integral and it will simply be whatever the general tendency therein reduces it to (modern, postmodern whatever).
So weirdly put (but not weirdly intending): Remember the Quadrants and Collapse the Context could be the rallying cry. And by remember not some nerdy mental recollection but rather remember the space of consciousness in which the four co-arise. Actually think-feel them. Remember that you are purposefully entering one and then worlds open up within those (quadrivia). Embrace limitation from the position of transcendence.
As a final note, Juma is appropriately loving and critical to all sides in this debate, aware of the strengths, but not (over)hyping the value. What Heidegger called the basic stance of dasein as Care. He models Care in this post. And others would do well to heed what he is saying. Integral will bumble and stumble along as it has to date until his message gets through in a serious way.