October 13, 2008

The Depth of the Exteriors - Part 2

The Depth of the Exteriors
Part 2: Piaget, Vygotsky, Harre and the Social Mediation of Development

By Mark Edwards

In the first part of this series I presented Ken Wilber's view that all exteriors are "material" and that all exterior development is the layered complexification of matter in sensori-motor space. Ken sees the Right Hand exterior quadrants of behavioural and social development as a Flatland of "surfaces" that can be "registered with the senses" and which is "all empiricism, all monological gaze, all behaviourism, all shiny surfaces and monochrome objects" and which contain "no depth". As Ken puts it, "the Right-Hand quadrants are all material".

In the sections that follow I investigate some alternative views of the behavioural and social exteriors. Views that, while recognising the reality of interiors and subjective consciousness, nonetheless provide very different understandings of the Right Hand quadrants and the part that they play in human development.

In contrast to Wilber's interpretation of the Right Hand quadrants, I propose that a truly Integral understanding of the exteriors recognises their qualitative depth, their causal and developmental equivalence to the interiors, and their richness and profundity in terms of unfolding ontological complexity. I am arguing that, in a more balanced statement of Integral Theory, the Right Hand is not a Flatland any more than the Left Hand is. We not only need to include all quadrants in the explanation of human behaviour but we nee to have a valid understanding of what each of those quadrants represents and how they relate to each other.

I am suggesting that Ken sometimes misinterprets the developmental relationship between the interior and the exterior quadrants and that he has neglected several very important schools of developmental thought that focus on exterior aspects of evolution and personal growth.

This second part of the series will take a look at some of these schools, and in particular the sociological tradition of Cooley and Mead, the cultural-historical tradition of Vygotskian developmental studies and the Activity Theory approach to human development.

Read More: Here

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