March 24, 2008

What is Altitude?

The notion that humans go through multiple levels of development is not new. It dates back at least to the beginnings of philosophy thousands of years ago. Today, science and experience are starting to tell us a lot more about the process and the nature of our life cycles.

The following is taken from the Holons weblog:

"What is Altitude?" - by Corey W. deVos

The concept of Altitude is a radically new approach to development created by Ken Wilber and presented in his book Integral Spirituality. In Holons, we use Altitude as a measure of development in both culture and consciousness.

A simple way to explain it is to say that Altitude indicates the degree of developmental unfolding of items such as complexity, consciousness, and the number of perspectives one can take. For example, in consciousness development as indicated below, one goes from the capacity to take only a 1st-person perspective, to also being able to take a 2nd-person perspective, to also being able to take a 3rd-person perspective, and so on.

Thus, in this example, you can see that the capacity for love increases (from being able to love only me, to being able to love us, to being able to love all of us, to being able to love all sentient beings....).

We believe that 'altitude' is both relative to one's position of power, and indicative of the inherent diversity of life formation - with the advancement of human cognition following directly from our ways of being-in-the-world.


Anonymous said...

"The concept of Altitude is a radically new approach to development created by Ken Wilber"

What!?! It is not a new concept, even in Ken's own writing. It's just a new name for vertical development. This is the kind of hyperbole that tries to hide the fact that there's nothing new coming from Ken and II.

All that II does is redesign and relaunch their web portal every two years.

... said...

I'd have to agree with you.

But i tend to cut them some slack because they are trying to popularize 'integral'.

Which I think is somewhat important (with caveats) because without some sort of stable cultural niche more critcal forms of meta-thinking have no chance of seeping into the thoughts and actions of everday life.

Yet, the only thing "new" about 'altitude' is the so-called postmetaphysical turn - e.g., vertical depth without reference to the specific contents on any particular line of development.

Corey, Clint and the other I.I disciples get very excited about what they do so the hyperbole tends to flare up on a regular basis...

Are you looking forward to the launch of Integral Life?


dj rekluse said...

Actually, i can't take credit for this particular hyperbole. The text was not written by me, but was taken from the previous incarnation of holons. The rest of the hyperbole you can probably blame on me though.


... said...


Thanks for the clarification. And for the record, we really appreciate the work you and the staff at I.I are doing (and not just with 'Holons').

Q: Do you really think Ken's conceptualization of "altitudes" is "a radically new approach to development"?

Thanks again,


dj rekluse said...

Hey Michael, thank you for the feedback. Your support is very much appreciated, especially when the loudest people in the community tend to be the detractors--people usually only seem to speak up when they have something negative to say, so it's nice to hear some encouragement. I think it's kind of like a restaurant - if you have a pleasant experience, you may tell one or two people, but if your meal tasted like shit you will probably tell 10.

So do i think Ken's idea of "altitudes" is radically new? Well, considering that the theory itself is completely based off the developmental models of Piaget, Maslow, Gebser, Graves, etc. i would have to offer a resounding NO. In this sense, Ken hasn't added any genuinely new developmental schematics.

However, i do think that Ken's SYNTHESIS of all these developmental models IS radically new, especially as each developmental stage relates to states of consciousness. Removing gross, subtle, and causal from the top of the ladder, and plotting them against structures of consciousness was a brilliant--and novel--move.

And "Altitude" as a very general barometer of growth, across many different developmental lines, is also unique to Wilber (as far as i know). But if by "Altitude" we mean the concept of depth itself, as the rungs in whatever developmental ladder you happen to be looking at, then of course this concept has been around for a very long time, and Ken has simply decided to use Colorado-centric terminology for it ^_^

Just a few pennies in the pond....

... said...

Thanks Corey,

I won't argue with your broad assessments here...

We owe Ken much for he efforts at synthesis, truly.

Again, keep fighting the good fight at I.I, and know that there is a large (mostly silent) population out here who appreciate what you folks are up to!


Related Posts with Thumbnails