As I continue to think a good deal (and pray for some creative insight) into how to proceed with this other form of writing I’m looking to do,I’ll be posting some quotations from integral philosophers as a way of helping to introduce theoretically what is moving my thought and what I’m hoping to achieve in a more experimental writing format.
Here is a longish (but crucially important) one from Ken Wilber:
We saw that deep features are inherited, not surface features. That is, even though the general patterns (or morphogenetic grooves) of these holons are handed to us by Kosmic karma, all of the actual contents, surface features, and expressions of these habitual patterns are determined by relative, culturally, and personally contingent factors in all four quadrants.
But this is where we start to move beyond any of the typical definitions of “deep structures,” “deep features,” or “deep patterns”: for Integral Post-Metaphysics, a “deep pattern” is not an actually existing form or structure but simply a term that represents the probability of finding a particular type of holon in a particular mode of spacetime.
Thus, if we say that a person is “at the red wave,” and the red wave’s general features include egocentrism, preconventional morality, and strong power drives (among others), that does not mean that there is some sort of concretely existing structure, pattern, or adaptive intelligence called “the red structure” (or the red meme or the red module, etc.) such that this person is somehow operating within it and bound by it (or that is somehow “in” the person). All it means is that the person that we identify as operating at or from red is acting in a space where the probably of finding those types of responses is very high (i.e., responses that are egocentric, preconventional, power-laden, etc.). The fewer of those responses you find, the less the person is “at red”–the less they are operating in the space of probabilities of that particular Kosmic habit.
A deep pattern, then, is simply a probability wave. The deep features that are characteristic of that probability wave are discovered by doing a reconstructive investigation after the fact of its existence, and not something that we can deduce in a Platonic or Hegelian or Aurobindian fashion before the fact. In other words, to say that consciousness is “at the red wave” simply means that it is vibrating at a particular probability wave: from the outside, we say that it is flowing along a particular morphogenetic field that represents the probability of finding certain types of behaviors at that point in spacetime; from the inside, we say that the feeling-awareness of that holon arises within a horizon of individual and collective prehensions, such that the probability of feeling a certain type of feeling is very high at that particular wave.
In English what that means can best be described by an analogy. Take the human skeletal system. There are 206 bones in the human body. If you are going to be born and live as a human being you are going to have a human skeletal structure. Of course specialists can discern differences (in general) between male and female skeletal structures, between people of East Asian, Africa, or Caucasian hertiage, young or old, big or small. But even with those basic variations, there is the same basic structure the planet over. That is the deep structure. Presumably there was a point when that structure came into being (over a period of time to be sure) but now it is set.
That structure however (along with say the muscular system, nervous system, also structures preceding the birth of an individual, formally) does not predetermine what a person will look like or how they are as a person–e.g. kind, evil, expressive, shallow, etc. With that basic structural similarity an infinite number of potential permutations are possible. Those are the “surface features” in Wilber’s language.
Update I: For the really nerdy among us, check out footnote #9 here, which explains how deep/surface are relative-sliding constructs.