October 15, 2008

The Depth of the Exteriors - Part 3

The Depth of the Exteriors
Part 3: Cooley and Mead and the Social Behaviorist View of Development in the Exterior Quadrants

By Mark Edwards

In any detailed discussion of Integral Theory principles relating to the AQAL framework, it becomes quickly apparent just how vague are the definition of many of its fundamental concepts. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of "The Exteriors".

But does this mean that when a mystical experience is described (or even remembered) in third-person terms that it becomes an exterior phenomenon. Does it mean that my behaviour should be regarded by me as a third-person "it"? Does it mean that the interiors and exteriors refer to the same holon or do they refer to different holons or does the context continually alter depending on one's perspective? Does ken's definition of the "exterior" mean that the Left Hand paths refer to first-person holons and the Right Hand paths refer to third-person holons or do they both refer to third-person maps or knowledge quests? Does it mean that these exteriors are flat material objects or do they have some type of exterior developmental depth. Do the basic holonic tenets and structures that Integral Theory applies to the interiors have exactly the same application to the exteriors? Are we to think that the term exterior refers to the objective world of scientific research and abstract knowledge or to the real world of eating, meeting friends, watching TV and going to school? I could go on, but I am sure that you get my message.

The answers to such questions might, in part, be buried within Ken's existing writings but even if they are they are not immediately accessible. The clarification of these issues is absolutely essential for the clear definition of many Integral theory concepts. In any event, these very basic issues have still not been widely debated within Integral theory or an integrally informed community of thinkers and consequently, in my opinion, some of the current ways of presenting and applying the AQAL model are highly debateable.

In writing this series on exteriors I hope to expose some of these shortcomings and confusions problems and to bring to light other models of the exteriors that also pose interesting problems for the way Integral Theory currently divides reality.

In this last essay on exteriors I will have a brief look at the American behavioural sociologistsCooley, Mead and Blumer. These theorists present a strong challenge to Ken's current way of defining the exteriors. These American sociologists were some of the greatest pioneers of the behavioural and social worlds and, interestingly, they each propose developmental models that explain the worlds of consciousness and interiority in terms of exterior developmental dynamics. They were "flatlanders" who acknowledged the existence of interior consciousness and proposed models that saw interiors as the result of exterior depth! Now there's a challenge to test the non-exclusionary capacity of Integral theory IMP.

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