July 19, 2008

The Integral Puzzle

Determining the Integrality of Integral Theory

by Steven E. Wallis

Clearly, we need a new way to understand this process of assembling the puzzle we call “integral theory.” Forget, for a moment, the classic story of three blind men trying to describe an elephant; we are a community of the blind, attempting to collaboratively assemble a jigsaw puzzle. We can find, feel, and describe the corner pieces fairly easily. We can also count the number of pieces by touch. This gives us some vague idea of the shape and size of our puzzle. Trying to fit the pieces together is much more difficult. Someone picks up a piece and tries to describe it to the others. Is it rounded? Pointed? How many sides does it have? Who has another piece that might fit here?

Simply put, our community of integral theory thinkers does not have the vocabulary to describe the pieces we hold. That lack of vocabulary can lead to misunderstandings – a classic cause of conflict. Clearly, we need a new way to understand this process of assembling the puzzle we call “integral theory.”

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3 comments:

gregory said...

i would make the distinctions between theory and model and metaphor

theory has more class perhaps but integral anything is clearly a metaphor or a model

Anewpairofeyes said...

I see dialectic as being a healthy thing.

The dynamic tension of differing perspectives pushing up against each other is a source of energy and vitality, not a disease in need of a cure.

If the integral approach does what it should, it must provide a framework to orient us to the existence of interior realms.

Much of our exploration of human consciousness leads us to understand it is irreducible. People are not robots, and as such, unpredictable. Its not a sign of the failure of Integralism. Again, it is a manifestation of the vitality of life.

To miss that is to mis a huge swath of the integral puzzle.

Though the puzzle in a way may be an inappropriate metaphor, because after you have all the pieces and you put them together, you've got this static product. Its done, complete.

Let us hope that the reality of which we are building a map is not aiming at being "done" or "completed" any time soon.

. said...

Gregory - you make a very good point. i think the 'integral' model/metaphor works ONLY because it is not a theory (in a scientific sense), but a philosophical and conceptual collection of generalizations which produce an emergent sense of how 'things hang together'...

The integral metaphor may be a semantic catalyst for a certain kind of broad cognitive development; a signaling system that attempts to hold in awareness a type of hyper-rationality, and then only as a means for its own overcoming and release into some else... something POST...


ANPO - agreed re: dialectic, which in nothing but Evolution as such; with no endpoint or omega to come (in my opinion); because, as we know 'Nature' works in cycles not linear lines...

i think the Hindus captured this in their mythology well...

its a mattter of continuously tweeking the puzzle, always replacing some of the parts in order to come up with a 'working' whole - and not, as you rightly point out, to find THE ONE way to put things together...

that's why i advocate a 'kosmic pragmatism' over any version of philosophical certainty...

cheers,

david.

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