Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Friday, August 21, 2020

Integral Philosophy & The Integral Left - Integrating Life, Nature & Politics

By way of introduction I've never heard of Integral Philosophy but am intrigued by it in its process-like cosmological, metaphysical, philosophical, and ecological relationships one to the other. Where integralist Ken Wilber fits into all of this is someone I am still looking into although I'm told his work on Eastern panpsychism may have summed up earlier philosophical approaches by re-integrating their studies in a similar to what Alfred North Whitehead had done a hundred years ago in his treatise, "Process and Reality," when working through a comprehensive cosmological metaphysics.

As to the subject of panpsychism I am hearing many open-and-relational theologians and process theologians speak to this topic. To date I have only gone so far in my mind allowing panexperientialism (PE) to all things within a process universe. Please note, PE is as much a statement of fact as it is a valid process within process thought (apologies for semantically repeating myself!).

However, having recently discovered Matt Segall the more I am reading and listening to him the more my comfort level continues to rise to the idea of evolutionary panpsychism vs evolutionary biopsychism (sic, emergentism). I am still in the early stages of listening and reasoning through his background, experiences, and ideas but they seem to resonate highly with my own ideas and theology about a process-based God, universe, and society, as an integral part of a process-based evolution in motion developing at every moment towards becoming something greater than it already is.

Overall I like how Matt is working through different ways of speaking to different matters from a process and perhaps, theistic viewpoint. To the latter, specifically to an open and relational theism. I'll touch on those aspects in a moment. Suffice it to say, if I were an Arminian theologian (sic, Wesleyan) wishing to posit freewill agency through creation all-the-way-down then Matt and I are speaking the same language.

In another article, I also liked how Matt is envisioning a post-capitalist, post-racist planetary cosmoecology tying in social justice with ecological balance and rhythm (see here and here). Like he says in video two below ("The Integral Left") - as contemporary "nationalized" nations we aren't able to discuss global community as we should. It isn't until we establish new ways of thinking about each other and attitudes towards one another in terms of crises, earth, war, locality, etc, that we might move forward.


Videos 1 + 2

So then, from what I know of Matt Segall, he is a process philosopher working through the many lands of philosophy, psychology and sociology towards a "Big Bang like Theory of Everything" for the metaphysical side of philosophy, ontology, and the existential experience.

In video one ("Cosmologies in Question") his protagonist, David Long, exercises a strictest version of determinism, closed futures, and the classic scientific mechanism of cause-and-effect. Matt rebuts these positions as being restrictive to the separate ideas of all things organic and inorganic possessing (ia) an urge to build beyond what they are; and importantly, (ib) without any outside interference or directive; (ii) to advance in their beingness alone - or in structure with other materials - towards something greater than itself by possessing an inner yearning to become more than it is; and, (iii) to feel outwards in relationship with other structures to infinitely possible futures of greater connectivity and becomingness.

Listening to video 1 will be deep (I've listened twice now). Video 2 was much easier to listen to - but it was about politics which everyone these days are interested in and seemed to be resident experts. The remaining videos I've yet to listen to though I did attempt to put them in some kind of order which might help us newbies gain an idea as to what Integral Theory is and isn't.

Forward Movement as Positive Movement

Now as a Christian, the idea of forward movement, or the urge to connect to become something greater than we are personally or with others, is more easily explained as God's Self being placed into, or wholly transferred within, the Creation God had formed. Though it began in a primodial soup of "nothingness" (which is more or less a quantum definition of the plasmic void) yet the ingredients within this soup shared its "essence" with God even as God did with it (as a good panen-theist would state; ps, not pantheist but pan-en-theist).

Matt was attempting to say this same thing without interposing God, or theism, into the inner (not outer, nor an outer directing influence)... but inner teleologic urge of nature in scientific terms. More simply said, God gave God's Self (some Christians prefer the older term God's Image). Birthing creation in this fashion would not require of God having to direct it. It is internally directed and internally discovering its divine "consciousness". That said, God's sovereignty may now be redefined not in terms of outside interference or divine fixer but sovereign partner, guide, presence, and calm.

You'll find Matt's struggle to express the science of it without using the theistic argument is very real as Dave Long pressed him on this matter again and again. And though Matt's answers were excellent they lacked the theistic position of "relational birthing" or "sharedness between God to nature and nature to God" that can more easily be spoken in panentheistic terms. To try to explain interior "process yearning" coupled with interior "freewill agency" is next to impossible at our current scientific levels of semantics or phenomenology without interjecting some form of panpsychism into the discussion. As a Darwinian evolutionist some will say there is an exterior presence such as God directing its process. But as an evolutionary panpsychist it would be far truer to say this teleological urge or yearning is birthed within the process itself without need or wont for exterior directedness or determination leading to closed futures rather than truly open futures. For myself, I like to think of God as fully present within His creation, experiencing fully creation's evolutinary process, and not knowing the future anymore than creation knows it. But together they each feel outwards the other towards generative, and collective, wellbeing, wholeness (fellowship) and love one with the other until each no longer can tell the difference except for the ontological essence of God's Self.

Creational Consistency With Itself

So where then did creation get its urge to be more, to become more, to yearn towards all the possibilities of something more that what it is in an infinite future full of possibilities? As a cosmos yearning to thrive, to be generative, to seek wellbeing within its interior and exterior structures of chaos and randomness?

Again, for the theist, we say God Himself. But for the agnostic or atheist it is not that simple. Like Dave Long, the arguments will be bare scientific mechanism without a nurturing process metaphysic or ontological presence pervading throughout this evolutionary mechanism. How to explain this latter without using theological language is the conundrum. Though some may not admit bare mechanism the ingredients of wonder, or value, or even a internally driven teleology of some kind, lie within the very bones of our emergent (and emerging) universe as it lumps along in infinite varieties of itself. (Notice I am using emergent as a dissimilar term to Dave's usage of emergence).

This type of value-filled cosmos tells us humanity is not alone in its virtue characteristics. And as human beings it is a telling summation of all we are from what came before us. We are what the universe is. We are not dissimilar in our constitutions. Significantly, humans themselves, or our societies, naturally yearn for the "moreness" found within the very DNA of today's dynamic cosmos. A cosmos yearning for wholeness, completion, relatedness, and connectivity within and without itself in innumerably uncounted ways.

A Process-Based Integral Philosophy Theory of Everything?

This then, is what an introduction to Integral Philosophy might look like when we come to self-awareness, or consciousness, and ask the questions of why, how, and whether it pervades the cosmos in similar but very different ways. Ways that are more than pan-experiential but exhibited in some form of evolutionary panpsychism that is held within the very thing itself - whether organic or inorganic - urging it forward. Down to its lowest levels of quantum energies and forces in some vague primitive form of outreach, construction, and relational connectedness.

Integral Philosophy then is the recognition that each-and-all things are bound together with one another in intimate relationship and moving together toward some greater form of complexity with each other which we cannot imagine but "feel" in our souls urging us also towards completeness, wholeness in everlasting conjunction, function, and fellowship.

Lastly, Integral Philosophy will have some relationship with beingness with other life experiences in the sense of yoga, silence, zen, and so forth. But the appeal to myself is towards the creation of just societies emphasizing peace and harmony both within and without to one another.

Without getting into mystic mumble-jumble I'd rather stick to the common sense of things: a walk through a woods; riding a bike; attending healing support groups or healthy community committees; creating and implementing ecological policies; helping transition from a busted state/corporate capitalism to a fair post-capitalistic society, etc. This is the appeal to me when considering how to build a new society for the future.

Thank you,

R.E. Slater
August 21, 2020
Revised & Edited August 24, 2020

First notes to myself re Integral Philosophy
It feels to me that Integral Philosophy may be the same, if not the very same thing, as Process Philosophy in not only summarizing all of life into one observation, but perhaps differing versions of each another. If there is a difference, Process Philosophy looks at the cosmos from a metaphysical perspective taking into account ontology and beingness. Whereas Integral Theory looks at the same cosmos from the epistemological perspective of the "organism" (whether inorganic or organic, inert or alive, quantum matter or force). Together, each provides a holism to the pragmatics of philosophy, the sciences, societal cooperation, individual formation, and so forth. 
Along these lines I felt perhaps Integral theory might be compared to the Big Bang Theory's search for the Theory of Everything (GUT) which is trying to include gravity into the force theories of quantum mechanics via String Theory (lately stalled as Dark Matter and Dark Energy are being studied for additional insight into String Theory). So that in application of the Integral Theory it may be applied to restructuring philosophical epistemology and the anthropological sciences of knowing (neurology, psychology, sociology) into one massive interlinked whole.
This would necessarily include religion, civilization, politics, and communication. By using process philosophy as a way forward - and for the Christian, process theology in all its many forms - Integral Theory touches on many facets of human construction and community with each other. From studies of consciousness to studies of healthy and healing political re-formation. There is no subject left untouched as it integrates all that is known about human awareness (or sentient awareness) as societies age, break apart, and reform again. - re slater
Second note to myself re Integral Philosophy
Reflecting upon American politics as it is under Trumpian post-truth fabrication and propaganda, it is why I can no longer support our kind of society as it is presently unless it is willing to become something greater than itself. something higher, freer, more fair, more ecological. The kinds of politics we should be supporting is wholly different than what we have now. Integral Theory works contends with concepts like causal-closure, epi-phenomenalism, semantic compatibilism. It speaks to evolutional panpsychism all the way down rather than emergentist biopanpsychism. Integral Theory tells us why we must abandon our sinful past to yearn for more. To yearn for what we were built for: To love, forgive, be compassionate, and restore each other and this earth we live on in some form of planetary or global ecological society of otherness over national interests. - re slater
Third and last note to myself re Integral Philosophy
Ken Wilber's Integral Theory (let's call it version 1.0) was not original to previous attempts at Integral Philosophy in the 18th and 19th Centuries (see Wikipedia article on Wilber at the end of this post). It was a modern recapture of those older ideas into a more Buddhist-like, or Eastern Zen-like, framework of itself. Since Wilber, Integral Theory has transitioned away from its Eastern elements more into a Process-based Continentalist and Western apprehension of itself (let's call this version 2.0). It goes back to the German Idealists, takes a passing glance at Wilber's integral version, and moves beyond all into a constructivist postmodern version of personal and societal perspectivism [(interior/exterior) + (individual/societal)]. - re slater

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Matthew T. SegallMatthew T. Segall is a process philosopher who teaches courses on process-relational thought and German Idealism for the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. His most recent course is ‘Process and Difference in the Pluriverse’, which applies process-relational metaphysics to the present social, political, and ecological crises. He has published articles on a wide-array of topics, including philosophy, Gaia theory, religious studies, psychedelics, and architecture, and his most recent book is titled Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology (2016). He blogs regularly at footnotes2plato.com

Amazon Link

Book Blurb

Whitehead was among the first initiates into the new cosmological story, but grasping the novelty of his vision also requires remembering the insights of the ancients, even if in a modern context. This book therefore situates Whitehead's animate cosmology in the context of the larger historical arc of Western natural philosophy dating back to Plato. It also bring's Whitehead's philosophy of organism into conversation with several components of contemporary scientific cosmology including relativistic, quantum, evolutionary, and complexity theories in order to both exemplify the inadequacy of traditional materialistic mechanistic metaphysics, and to display the relevance of Whitehead's cosmological scheme to the transdisciplinary project of integrating these theories and their data with the presuppositions of civilized society.

My guest today is Matthew T. Segall, PhD. Matt is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He teaches courses on German Idealism and process philosophy and has published on topics including religious studies, metaphysics, psychedelics, media theory, and the philosophical presuppositions of science. He blogs regularly at footnotes2plato.com.
Matt’s also a good friend and colleague of mine. I’ve known him now for just over ten years, so this episode was really a lot of fun to record. Matt was an early adopter of YouTube as a means of expressing and sharing his philosophical views—he’s been making his videos for about 12 years—so we started off by talking about the changing nature of academic scholarship in a post-Internet world before diving into some deeper philosophical issues related to science, philosophy, and religion.
In this episode I also tried something new in that I used Twitter to solicit questions for Matt prior to the interview. So the second half of the show is dedicated to answering those questions, which included topics like panpsychism and the nature of consciousness, language and phenomenology, the value of speculative philosophy [re-imagination in Whiteheadian terms], and more. I also had Matt respond to a few people critical of his positions, so do look out for that towards the end of episode.

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Cosmologies in Question (Matt Segall and David Long)
Integral Theory and the Theory of Consciousness
Streamed live on Aug 19, 2020

The Integral Stage. This is the first of a possible series of debates on the
place of cosmology in Integral Theory. In this discussion, Matt Segall and
David Long square off over David Long's contention that the idealist and
panpsychic elements in Integral Theory should be replaced with a strictly
emergentist account of the place of consciousness in the cosmos.

Growing Down Podcast - Integral Left Dialogues ft. Matthew T. Segall
(Politics and Political Integral Studies)
Streamed live on Jul 4, 2020

Philosopher Matthew T. Segall join us to talk about the possibility of
an integral left, political philosophy, and navigating the culture wars.

Subscribe to our podcast: https://anchor.fm/growing-down

Co-hosts Ryan, Matt and Jeremy explore the possibility of aligning
progressive culture--the new "radical majority"--with
integral philosophy and metamodern politics.

Process and Difference in the Pluriverse, Matthew Segall
PCC/ESR Symposium (December 2, 2017)

Consciousness- And What To Do With It
Matthew T. Segall and Aaron Weiss (Part I)
Apr 11, 2018

Consciousness- And What To Do About It. Matthew Segall and Aaron Weiss explore some of the current threads in consciousness research and Buddhist thought. Filmed at the PCC/ESR retreat April 3rd, 2018 at Bishop's Ranch.

“The Nature of Consciousness and What To Do About It, the Sequel,”
Matt Segall and Aaron Weiss
Nov 10, 2018

Consciousness- And What To Do About It- Matthew Segall and Aaron Weiss
explore some of the current threads in consciousness research and Buddhist
thought. Filmed at the PCC/ESR retreat September 25th, 2018 at Bishop's Ranch.

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Wilber Models of his Eastern-like Integral Theory 1.0

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The Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

by Julian Scott
UK, August 22, 2019

The American thinker Ken Wilber is well known in some circles, such as transpersonal psychology, yet despite being the author of 25 books he is barely mentioned in academia. His unconventional approach, which tries to integrate opposites such as science and spirituality has made him difficult to classify and has brought him into conflict with mainstream thinking.

In his work A Theory of Everything (2000) he proposes an “Integral Theory”, a theory which he developed by analysing and synthesising many different models of reality in a wide range of fields, from medicine and psychology to politics and theology. It is a way of looking at things from a variety of angles, while remaining open to adding new dimensions or changing one’s theory in order to improve it. As Wilber himself says in an interview conducted by Hector Gil in Esfinge magazine, “my best talent is probably pattern recognition.”

One of the models of his Integral Theory is shown in the diagram below known as the Four Quadrants, Tetra-Evolution or Aqal Model. This comprises two dualities of interior-exterior and individual-collective. This model can be used as a method for solving disputes and disagreements, for example on a political level.

In politics we find two apparently antagonistic positions: liberal (left-wing) and conservative (right-wing). Liberals have a tendency to attribute the causes of human suffering or happiness to external factors, such as social institutions, economic conditions, material well-being, environment and technological development. Conservatives, on the other hand, will usually say that such causes are to be found in the individual, in factors such as individual choice, morality, values and meaning.

What Integral Theory does is propose a third way which, instead of opposing the two positions, tries to integrate them. The method for doing so is to start from the principle that both the inner and the outer approaches are equally real and important, accepting that there is both a need to improve external conditions and for the individual to develop inner strength and resourcefulness. However, what often happens is that neither side will see the value of the other and they become locked in a never-ending and sterile battle.

In the same way, Wilber distinguishes between “subjective” and “objective” views of reality and affirms that both are equally valid and important. As an example, we can look at our own actions or those of others and we will see that there are always both subjective and objective elements involved. A person’s actions cannot only be interpreted in terms of their objective actions; subjective intention is equally important. Likewise, meaning, which is a subjective factor, has an impact on the way we live, to the extent that, if someone has no sense of meaning in their lives, they may commit suicide. Conversely, when someone finds a sense of purpose, their outer appearance may become transformed and they become more interesting and attractive outwardly, as a result of being more fulfilled. Victor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, explores this issue through his own experiences as a concentration camp survivor.

Wilber does not believe that all positions are equal, however. Indeed, one of his more controversial claims is that hierarchies are a fact of nature which cannot and should not be denied. There are hierarchies in the development of consciousness in all the kingdoms of nature, including the human. Thus, some human beings are at a higher level of conscious development than others, without this meaning that the outlook of those at a lower level should be rejected as invalid; on the contrary, all levels should be integrated within a greater whole. It is an idea which could give rise to an elitist view of human beings, but because it is based on a principle of integration (i.e. that all the levels are valid) this is theoretically avoided. One could imagine, though, that people who consider themselves as belonging to one of the higher levels would consider themselves superior to those on a lower level.

To explain his theory, Wilber uses the model of the “holon” and the “holoarchy”. A holon is a whole which becomes part of a greater whole, like an atom within a molecule or a molecule within a cell. The larger unit integrates the smaller so that the greater whole is more than simply the sum of its parts; each new level adds a new dimension.

By way of example, if we look at human societies, we will see that some people view things from a tribal point of view, which Wilber terms “ethnocentric”, considering their nation or ethnicity to be superior to others. Other people, with a wider outlook, view things from a larger humanitarian perspective. However, Wilber proposes that those with a wider perspective should not reject those with a narrower perspective, but integrate their point of view and try to widen it by enlightening and educating them. Unfortunately this generally does not happen today, because those with a more enlightened worldview are afraid of being considered elitist if they try to educate the less enlightened, so they opt to denigrate them instead – which makes them not only elitist but also selfish and narcissistic, because they are more concerned with preserving their own image as enlightened people rather than with helping others. We can perhaps see here why Wilber has made himself unpopular in some circles.

This horror of hierarchies arose, according to Wilber, from the hippie mentality of the 60s. However, it is not hierarchy itself that is bad (the word, after all, means “sacred order”). The problem is the confusion that has arisen between what he calls hierarchies of development or growth, and “dominator hierarchies”, which are the ones that people rightly rebel against. A hierarchy of development is, for example, a hierarchy of states of consciousness, which go from more limited and exclusive ones to broader and more inclusive perspectives on reality. In his view of the evolution of human consciousness, Wilber classifies this development as going from the egocentric-egoistic posture, through a tribal (group) ethnocentric level to a multicentric orientation of universal care: from “me” to “us” (but against the “non-us”) to “all of us together”. Consequently, the higher someone rises in a hierarchy of growth (growth of consciousness), the more inclusive that person becomes; whereas the higher someone rises in a dominator hierarchy, the more privileged and exclusive they become. Confusing the two types of hierarchy and wanting to eliminate all hierarchies, however, shuts people off from the possibility of growth and supports the existing structures that seek to oppress and dominate people.

We can see an example of this in religions. Religions can become dominator hierarchies when they are taken over by unscrupulous people who use them for political ends. However, the original function of all religions, which are founded by highly developed human beings living in direct connection with God (the non-dual reality) in every moment of their lives, is, in Wilber’s industrial metaphor, to act as conveyor belts that can lead people from one level up to the next. On the lower level, according to Wilber, you have “social religions” in which people perform rites and fulfil obligations in a more or less mechanical way, hoping to win the favour of their God(s) who will reward them with good fortune and prosperity. On the next level up, the follower of a religion would try to integrate the moral teachings of the religion into their everyday lives and try to live them, rather than just conforming to the rules and rituals for appearances’ sake. Higher still would be the mystical union with God and the direct experience of the ultimate non-dual reality.

In this way, according to Wilber’s principle of integration, all religious forms (except the “dominator” forms, which are a distortion and negation of true religion) should be embraced and integrated as necessary stepping stones to the higher, more real levels of direct experience.

To sum up, Wilber’s Integral Theory offers a way of resolving the apparent contradictions of life in a more harmonious way than is being done at present. If we had a more truly integral approach to life, we would probably be able to solve many of the serious and apparently intractable problems that face humanity today.

Ken Wilber’s own view of his work was expressed to a friend, Raquel Torrent, in the following terms: “I write so that people will fall in love with their soul, their evolutionary path, and can see themselves in the mirror of consciousness” (as quoted in Torrent’s article in the Spanish magazine Esfinge https://www.revistaesfinge.com/).

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Integral theory (Ken Wilber)
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Integral theory is Ken Wilber's attempt to place a wide diversity of theories and thinkers into one single framework.[1] It is portrayed as a "theory of everything" ("the living Totality of matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit"),[2] trying "to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching."[1]
Wilber's integral theory has been applied by some in a limited range of domains. The Integral Institute publishes the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.[3] Wilber's ideas have mainly attracted attention in specific subcultures, and have been widely ignored in academia.[4][5]

Origins and background


Ken Wilber's "Integral Theory" started as early as the 1970s, with the publication of The Spectrum of Consciousness,[6] that attempted to synthesize eastern religious traditions with western structural stage theory, models of psychology development that describe human development as following a set course of stages of development.[7][note 1]
Wilber's ideas have grown more and more inclusive over the years, incorporating ontologyepistemology, and methodology.[8] Wilber, drawing on both Aurobindo's and Gebser's theories, as well as on the writings of many other authors, created a theory which he calls AQAL, "All Quadrants All Levels".


Sri Aurobindo

The adjective integral was first used in a spiritual context by Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) from 1914 onward to describe his own spiritual teachings, which he referred to as Purna (Skt: "Full") Yoga. It appeared in The Synthesis of Yoga, a book that was first published in serial form in the journal Arya and was revised several times since.[9]
Sri Aurobindo's work has been described as Integral Vedanta [10][11] and Integral psychology (Sri Aurobindo) psychology,[12][13] as well (the term coined by Indra Sen) and the psychotherapy that emerges from it.[14] His writings influenced others who used the term "integral" in more philosophical or psychological contexts.
In the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, integral yoga refers to the process of the union of all the parts of one's being with the Divine, and the transmutation of all of their jarring elements into a harmonious state of higher divine consciousness and existence.
As described by Sri Aurobindo and his co-worker The Mother (1878–1973), this spiritual teaching involves an integral divine transformation of the entire being, rather than the liberation of only a single faculty such as the intellect or the emotions or the body. According to Sri Aurobindo,
(T)he Divine is in his essence infinite and his manifestation too is multitudinously infinite. If that is so, it is not likely that our true integral perfection in being and in nature can come by one kind of realisation alone; it must combine many different strands of divine experience. It cannot be reached by the exclusive pursuit of a single line of identity till that is raised to its absolute; it must harmonise many aspects of the Infinite. An integral consciousness with a multiform dynamic experience is essential for the complete transformation of our nature. — Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 114
Aurobindo's ideas were further explored by Indra Sen (1903–1994) in the 1940s and 1950s, a psychologist, and devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He was the first to coin the term "Integral psychology" to describe the psychological observations he found in Sri Aurobindo's writings (which he contrasted with those of Western Psychology), and developed themes of "Integral Culture" and "Integral Man".[15]
These ideas were further developed by Haridas Chaudhuri (1913–1975), a Bengali philosopher and academic who founded in 1968 the California Institute of Integral Studies.[16]

Jean Gebser

The word integral was independently suggested by Jean Gebser (1905–1973), a Swiss phenomenologist and interdisciplinary scholar, in 1939 to describe his own intuition regarding the next stage of human consciousness. Gebser was the author of The Ever-Present Origin, which describes human history as a series of mutations in consciousness. He only afterwards discovered the similarity between his own ideas and those of Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin.[17] In his book The Ever-Present Origin, Gebser distinguished between five structures of consciousness: archaic, magic, mythical, mental, and integral. Gebser wrote that he was unaware of Sri Aurobindo's prior usage of the term "integral", which coincides to some extent with his own.[citation needed]

Georg Feuerstein

The German indologist Georg Feuerstein first wrote about Integralism in "Wholeness or Transcendence? Ancient Lessons for the Emerging Global Civilization" (1992). Feuerstein used this term to refer to a particular outlook on spirituality which he saw present in the Indian tantric traditions. Feuerstein outlined three major approaches to life in Indian spirituality: nivritti-marga (path of cessation), pravritti-marga (path of activity) and purna-marga (path of wholeness).[18] The path of cessation is the traditional path of renunciation and asceticism practiced by sanyasins with the goal of liberation from this world, while the path of activity is the pursuit of worldly goods and happiness. Feuerstein ties this integral approach to nondual Indian philosophy and the tantric tradition. According to Feuerstein the integral or wholeness approach: "implies a total cognitive shift by which the phenomenal world is rendered transparent through superior wisdom. No longer are things seen as being strictly separated from one another, as if they were insular realities in themselves, but everything is seen together, understood together, and lived together. Whatever distinctions there may be, these are variations or manifestations of and within the selfsame Being."[19] An integral worldview also leads to body and sex positivism and an absence of asceticism. Even negative experiences such as pain and disgust are seen as integral to our life and world and thus are not rejected by the integral approach, but used skillfully.

Collaboration with Don Beck

After completing SES, Ken Wilber started to collaborate with Don Beck, whose "Spiral Dynamics" shows strong correlates with Wilber's model.[20]
In Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan use the term integral for a developmental stage which sequentially follows the pluralistic stage. The essential characteristic of this stage is that it continues the inclusive nature of the pluralistic mentality, yet extends this inclusiveness to those outside of the pluralistic mentality. In doing so, it accepts the ideas of development and hierarchy, which the pluralistic mentality finds difficult. Other ideas of Beck and Cowan include the "first tier" and "second tier", which refer to major periods of human development.[citation needed]


All Quadrants All Levels

Upper-Left (UL)
Interior Individual
e.g. Freud
Upper-Right (UR)
Exterior Individual
e.g. Skinner
Lower-Left (LL)
Interior Collective
e.g. Gadamer
Lower-Right (LR)
Exterior Collective
e.g. Marx
Ken Wilber's AQAL, pronounced "ah-qwul", is the basic framework of Integral Theory. It suggests that all human knowledge and experience can be placed in a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of "interior-exterior" and "individual-collective". According to Wilber, it is one of the most comprehensive approaches to reality, a metatheory that attempts to explain how academic disciplines and every form of knowledge and experience fit together coherently.[21]
AQAL is based on four fundamental concepts and a rest-category: four quadrants, several levels and lines of development, several states of consciousness, and "types", topics which don't fit into these four concepts.[22] "Levels" are the stages of development, from pre-personal through personal to transpersonal. "Lines" are lines of development, the several domains of development, which may process uneven, with several stages of development in place at the various domains.[note 2] "States" are states of consciousness; according to Wilber persons may have a terminal experience of a higher developmental stage.[note 3] "Types" is a rest-category, for phenomena which don't fit in the other four concepts.[23] In order for an account of the Kosmos to be complete, Wilber believes that it must include each of these five categories. For Wilber, only such an account can be accurately called "integral". In the essay, "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are in This Together", Wilber describes AQAL as "one suggested architecture of the Kosmos".[24]
The model is topped with formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being," which is equated with a range of "ultimates" from a variety of eastern traditions. This formless awareness transcends the phenomenal world, which is ultimately only an appearance of some transcendental reality. According to Wilber, the AQAL categories—quadrants, lines, levels, states, and types—describe the relative truth of the two truths doctrine of Buddhism.[note 4]


Holons are the individual building blocks of Wilber's model. Wilber borrowed the concept of holons from Arthur Koestler's description of the great chain of being, a mediaeval description of levels of being. "Holon" means that every entity and concept is both an entity on its own, and a hierarchical part of a larger whole. For example, a cell in an organism is both a whole as a cell, and at the same time a part of another whole, the organism. Likewise a letter is a self-existing entity and simultaneously an integral part of a word, which then is part of a sentence, which is part of a paragraph, which is part of a page; and so on. Everything from quarks to matter to energy to ideas can be looked at in this way. The relation between individuals and society is not the same as between cells and organisms though, because individual holons can be members but not parts of social holons.[25]
In his book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Wilber outlines twenty fundamental properties, called "tenets", that characterize all holons.[26] For example, they must be able to maintain their "wholeness" and also their "part-ness;" a holon that cannot maintain its wholeness will cease to exist and will break up into its constituent parts.
Holons form natural "holarchies", like Russian dolls, where a whole is a part of another whole, in turn part of another whole, and so on.


Each holon can be seen from within (subjective, interior perspective) and from the outside (objective, exterior perspective), and from an individual or a collective perspective.[27]
Each of the four approaches has a valid perspective to offer. The subjective emotional pain of a person who suffers a tragedy is one perspective; the social statistics about such tragedies are different perspectives on the same matter. According to Wilber all are needed for real appreciation of a matter.
Wilber uses this grid to categorize the perspectives of various theories and scholars, for example:
  • Interior individual perspective (upper-left quadrant) include Freudian psychoanalysis, which interprets people's interior experiences and focuses on "I"
  • Interior plural perspective (lower-left) include Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics which seeks to interpret the collective consciousness of a society, or plurality of people and focuses on "We"
  • Exterior individual perspective (upper-right) include B. F. Skinner's behaviorism, which limits itself to the observation of the behavior of organisms and treats the internal experience, decision making or volition of the subject as a black box, and which with the fourth perspective emphasizes the subject as a specimen to examine, or "It".
  • Exterior plural perspective (lower-right) include Marxist economic theory which focuses upon the behavior of a society (i.e. a plurality of people) as functional entities seen from outside, e.g. "They".
According to Wilber, all four perspectives offer complementary, rather than contradictory, perspectives. It is possible for all to be correct, and all are necessary for a complete account of human existence. According to Wilber, each by itself offers only a partial view of reality.
According to Wilber modern western society has a pathological focus on the exterior or objective perspective. Such perspectives value that which can be externally measured and tested in a laboratory, but tend to deny or marginalize the left sides (subjectivity, individual experience, feelings, values) as unproven or having no meaning. Wilber identifies this as a fundamental cause of society's malaise, and names the situation resulting from such perspectives, "flatland".

Levels or stages

Wilber discerns various structural stages of development, following several structural stage theories of developmental psychology.[note 1] According to Wilber, these stages can be grouped in pre-personal (subconscious motivations), personal (conscious mental processes), and transpersonal (integrative and mystical structures) stages.[note 5]
All of these mental structures are considered to be complementary and legitimate, rather than mutual exclusive. Wilber's equates the levels in psychological and cultural development, with the hierarchical nature of matter itself.

Lines, streams, or intelligences

According to Wilber, various domains or lines of development, or intelligences can be discerned.[32] They include cognitiveethicalaestheticspiritualkinestheticaffectivemusical, spatial, logical-mathematicalkarmic, etc. For example, one can be highly developed cognitively (cerebrally smart) without being highly developed morally (as in the case of Nazi doctors).


States are temporary states of consciousness, such as waking, dreaming and sleeping, bodily sensations, and drug-induced and meditation-induced states. Some states are interpreted as temporary intimations of higher stages of development.[33][34] Wilber's formulation is: "States are free but structures are earned." A person has to build or earn structure; it cannot be peak-experienced for free. What can be peak-experienced, however, are higher states of freedom from the stage a person is habituated to, so these deeper or higher states can be experienced at any level.[note 7]


These are models and theories that don't fit into Wilber’s other categorizations. Masculine/feminine, the nine Enneagram categories, and Jung's archetypes and typologies, among innumerable others, are all valid types in Wilber's schema. Wilber makes types part of his model in order to point out that these distinctions are different from the already mentioned distinctions: quadrants, lines, levels and states.[36]

Other approaches

Bonnitta Roy has introduced a "Process Model" of integral theory, combining Western process philosophy, Dzogchen ideas, and Wilberian theory. She distinguishes between Wilber's concept of perspective and the Dzogchen concept of view, arguing that Wilber's view is situated within a framework or structural enfoldment which constrains it, in contrast to the Dzogchen intention of being mindful of view.[37]
Wendelin Küpers, a German scholar specializing in phenomenological research, has proposed that an "integral pheno-practice" based on aspects of the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty can provide the basis of an "adequate phenomenology" useful in integral research. His proposed approach claims to offer a more inclusive and coherent approach than classical phenomenology, including procedures and techniques called epochébracketingreduction, and free variation.[38]
Sean Esbjörn-Hargens has proposed a new approach to climate change called Integral Pluralism, which builds on Wilber's recent work but emphasizes elements such as Ontological Pluralism that are understated or absent in Wilber's own writings.[39]

Contemporary figures

Some individuals affiliated with Ken Wilber have claimed that there exists a loosely defined "Integral movement".[40] Others, however, have disagreed.[41] Whatever its status as a "movement", there are a variety of religious organizations, think tanks, conferences, workshops, and publications in the US and internationally that use the term integral.
According to John Bothwell and David Geier, among the top thinkers in the integral movement are Stanislav Grof, Fred Kofman, George LeonardMichael Murphy, Jenny Wade, Roger Walsh, Ken Wilber, and Michael E. Zimmerman.[42] Australian academic Alex Burns mentions among integral theorists Jean GebserClare W. GravesJane Loevinger and Ken Wilber.[43] In 2007, Steve McIntosh pointed to Henri Bergson and Teilhard de Chardin as pre-figuring Wilber as integral thinkers.[44] While in the same year, the editors of What Is Enlightenment? listed as contemporary Integralists Don Beck, Allan Combs, Robert Godwin, Sally Goerner, George LeonardMichael MurphyWilliam Irwin Thompson, and Wilber.[45]
Gary Hampson suggested that there are six intertwined genealogical branches of Integral, based on those who first used the term: those aligned with Aurobindo, Gebser, Wilber, Gangadean, László and Steiner (noting that the Steiner branch is via the conduit of Gidley).[46]


Michael E. Zimmerman and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens have applied Wilber's integral theory in their environmental studies and ecological research, calling it "integral ecology".[47][48][49][50]
"Integral leadership" is presented as a style of leadership that attempts to integrate major styles of leadership.[51] Don Beck, Lawrence Chickering, Jack Crittenden, David Sprecher, and Ken Wilber have applied the AQAL-model to issues in political philosophy and applications in government, calling it "integral politics".[52] Sen has called the Yoga psychology of Sri Aurobindo "Integral psychology."[53] For Wilber, "integral psychology" is psychology that is inclusive or holistic rather than exclusivist or reductive, and values and integrates multiple explanations and methodologies.[54][55] Marilyn Hamilton used the term "integral city", describing the city as a living human system, using an integral lens.[56] Integral Life Practice (ILP) applies Ken Wilber's Integral model through nine modules of personal practice. Examples of "integral practice" not associated with Ken Wilber, and derived from alternate approaches, are Integral Transformative Practice (ITP), Holistic Integration, and Integral Lifework.

Reception in mainstream academia

Integral Theory is widely ignored, at mainstream academic institutions, and has been sharply contested by critics.[57] The independent scholar Frank Visser says that there is a problematic relation between Wilber and academia for several reasons, including a "self-referential discourse" wherein Wilber tends to describe his work as being at the forefront of science.[58] Visser has compiled a bibliography of online criticism of Wilber's Integral Theory[59] and produced an overview of their objections.[60] Another Wilber critic, the independent scholar Andrew P. Smith, observes that most of Wilber's work has not been published by university presses, a fact that discourages some academics from taking his ideas seriously. Wilber's failure to respond to critics of Integral Theory is also said to contribute to the field's chilly reception in some quarters.[61]
Forman and Esbjörn-Hargens have countered criticisms regarding the academic standing of integral studies in part by claiming that the divide between Integral Theory and academia is exaggerated by critics who themselves lack academic credentials or standing. They also said that participants at the first Integral Theory Conference in 2008 had largely mainstream academic credentials and pointed to existing programs in alternative universities like John F. Kennedy University or Fielding Graduate University as an indication of the field's emergence.[4]


The AQAL system has been critiqued for not taking into account the lack of change in the biological structure of the brain at the human level (complex neocortex), this role being taken instead by human-made artifacts.[62]

See also


  1. Jump up to:
  2. ^ This interpretation is at odds with structural stage theory, which posits an overall follow-up of stages, instead of variations over several domains.
  3. ^ This too is wildly at odds with structural stage theory, but in line with Wilber's philosophical idealism, which sees the phenomenal world as a concretisation, or immanation, of a "higher," transcendental reality, which can be "realized" in "religious experience."
  4. ^ The Madhyamaka Two Truths Doctrine discerns two epistemological truths, namely conventional and ultimate. Conventional truth is the truth of phenomenal appearances and causal relations, our daily common-sense world. Ultimate truth is the recognition that no-"thing" exists inherently; every"thing" is empty, sunyata of an unchanging "essence." It also means that there is no unchanging transcendental reality underlying phenomenal existence. "Formless awareness" belongs to another strand of Indian thinking, namely Advaita and Buddha-nature, which are ontological approaches, and do posit such a transcendental, unchanging reality, namely "awareness" or "consciousness." Wilber seems to be mixing, or confusing, these two different approaches freely, in his attempt to integrate "everything" into one conceptual scheme.
  5. ^ For example:
  6. ^ Note that Wilber presents Aurobindo's level of Being as developmental stages, whereas Aurobindo describes higher development as a Triple Transformation, which includes "psychicisation" (Wilber's psychic stage), the turn inward and the discovery of the psychic being; spiritualisation, the transformation of the lower being through the realisation of the psychic being, and involves the Higher Mind; and "supramentalisation," the realisation of Supermind, itself the intermediary between Spirit or Satcitananda and creation. A correct table would include Aurobindo's Triple Transformation and the Three Beings:
    Comparison of the models of Wilber and Aurobindo; differentiating between Aurobindo's levels of being and Aurobindo's developmental stages.
  7. ^ In his book Integral Spirituality, Wilber identifies a few varieties of states:
    • The three daily cycling natural states: waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
    • Penomenal states such as bodily sensations, emotions, mental ideas, memories, or inspirations, or from exterior sources such as our sensorimotor inputs, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting.
    • Altered states, is divided into two groups:
    • Spontaneous or peak states: unintentional or unexpected shifts of awareness from gross to subtle or causal states of consciousness.[35]


  1. Jump up to:
    a b Esbjörn-Hargens, S. (2010). Introduction. In Esbjörn-Hargens (ed.) Integral Theory in Action: Applied, Theoretical, and Constructive Perspectives on the AQAL Model. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press
  2. ^ Macdonald, Copthorne. "(Review of) A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality by Ken Wilber,"Integralis: Journal of Integral Consciousness, Culture, and Science, Vol. 1. Retrieved via WisdomPage.com on Jan. 7, 2010.
  3. ^ "JITP". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  4. Jump up to:
    a b Forman, Mark D. and Esbjörn-Hargens, Sean. "The Academic Emergence of Integral Theory," Integral World. Retrieved via IntegralWorld.net on Jan. 7, 2010.
  5. ^ Visser, Frank. "Assessing Integral Theory: Opportunities and Impediments," Integral World. Retrieved via IntegralWorld.net on Jan. 7, 2010
  6. ^ Grof, Stanislav. "A Brief History of Transpersonal Psychology"Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, StanislavGrof.com, p. 11. Retrieved via StanislavGrof.com on Jan. 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Zimmerman, Michael E. (2005). "Ken Wilber (1949 -)" Archived2010-01-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, p. 1743. London: Continuum
  8. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, Sean (2006). "Editor’s Inaugural Welcome,"[permanent dead link] AQAL: Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, p. v. Retrieved Jan. 7, 2010.
  9. ^ The Synthesis of Yoga, see Biographical Notes to the 3rd Pondicherry edition
  10. ^ https://americanvedantist.org/2012/articles/ramakrishnas-realization-and-integral-vedanta/
  11. ^ http://sacar.in/Auro_Vidya_Retreat_Programme.pdf
  12. ^ Ram Shankar Misra, The integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo, Banaras: Banaras Hindu University, 1957
  13. ^ Haridas Chaudhuri, Frederic Spiegelberg, The integral philosophy of Sri Aurobindo: a commemorative symposium, Allen & Unwin, 1960
  14. ^ Brant Cortright, Integral Psychology: Yoga, Growth, and Opening the Heart, SUNY, 2007 ISBN 0-7914-7071-7, pp.5-6
  15. ^ Aster Patel, "The Presence of Dr Indra Senji", SABDA - Recent Publications, November 2003
  16. ^ Haridas Chaudhuri, "Psychology: Humanistic and Transpersonal". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and The Evolution of Integral Consciousness; Bahman Shirazi "Integral psychology, metaphors and processes of personal integration" in Cornelissen (ed.) Consciousness and Its Transformationonline version
  17. ^ Ever-Present Origin p.102 note 4
  18. ^ Feuerstein, G. Tantra, path of ecstasy, pages 46-47
  19. ^ Feuerstein, G. Tantra, path of ecstasy, pages 44
  20. ^ Christopher Cooke and Ben Levi Spiral Dynamics Integral
  21. ^ Wilber, Ken. "AQAL Glossary," "Introduction to Integral Theory and Practice: IOS Basic and the AQAL Map," Vol. 1, No. 3. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2010.
  22. ^ Fiandt, K.; Forman, J.; Erickson Megel, M.; et al. (2003). "Integral nursing: an emerging framework for engaging the evolution of the profession"Nursing Outlook51 (3): 130–137. doi:10.1016/s0029-6554(03)00080-0.
  23. ^ "Integral Psychology." In: Weiner, Irving B. & Craighead, W. Edward (ed.), The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology, Vol. 2, 4. ed., Wiley 2010, pp. 830 ff. ISBN 978-0-470-17026-7
  24. ^ "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are In This Together"Ken Wilber Online. Archived from the original on December 23, 2005. Retrieved December 26, 2005.
  25. ^ See A Miracle Called "We" in Integral Spirituality and http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptA/notes-1.cfm.
  26. ^ Wilber, Ken; Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, 1995, p. 35–78
  27. ^ "Wilber's Integral Philosophy: A Summary and Critique"Journal of Humanistic Psychology48 (3): 364–388. 2008. doi:10.1177/0022167807309748.
  28. ^ Marian de Souza (ed.), International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing, Springer 2009, p. 427. ISBN 978-1-4020-9017-2
  29. ^ Integral world, Wilber's levels
  30. ^ Wilber 1992, p. 263.
  31. ^ Sharma 1992.
  32. ^ Wilber, Ken (2000). integral Psychology. Boston: Shambhala. pp. 197–217ISBN 1-57062-554-9.
  33. ^ Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and post-modern world. Boston, MA: Shambhala
  34. ^ Edwards, Mark (2008). "An Alternative View on States: Part One and Two. Retrieved in full 3/08 from http://www.integralworld.net/edwards14.html
  35. ^ Maslow, A. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin; McFetridge, Grant (2004). Peak states of consciousness: Theory and applications, vol. 1, Break-through techniques for exceptional quality of life. Hornsby Island, BC: Institute for the Study of Peak States Press; Bruce, R. (1999). Astral dynamics: A new approach to out-of-body experiences. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads
  36. ^ Wilber, Ken (1996). A Brief History of Everything. Boston and London: Shambhala. pp. 209–218ISBN 1-57062-187-X.
  37. ^ Roy, Bonnitta (2006). "A Process Model of Integral Theory," Integral Review, 3, 2006. Retrieved on Jan. 10, 2010.
  38. ^ Küpers, Wendelin "The Status and Relevance of Phenomenology for Integral Research: Or Why Phenomenology is More and Different than an 'Upper Left' or 'Zone #1' Affair," Integral Review, June 2009, Vol. 5, No. 1. Retrieved on Jan. 10, 2010.
  39. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, S. (2010) An Ontology of Climate Change: Integral Pluralism and the Enactment of Multiple ObjectsJournal of Integral Theory and Practice, V5.1, March 2010, pp.143-74
  40. ^ Patten, Terry. "Integral Heart Newsletter #1: Exploring Big Questions in the Integral World," Integral Heart Newsletter. Retrieved via IntegralHeart.com on Jan. 13, 2010.
  41. ^ Kazlev, Alan. "Redefining Integral," Integral World. Retrieved via IntegralWorld.net on Jan. 13, 2010.
  42. ^ John Bothwell and David Geier, Score! Power Up Your Game, Business and Life by Harnessing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, p.144
  43. ^ Josh Floyd, Alex Burns, and Jose Ramos, A Challenging Conversation on Integral Futures: Embodied Foresight & TrialoguesJournal of Futures Studies, November 2008, 13(2): 69 - 86; p.71
  44. ^ Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, ch.7
  45. ^ The Real Evolution Debate, What Is Enlightenment?, no.35, January–March 2007, p.100
  46. ^ Gary Hampson, "Integral Re-views Postmodernism: The Way Out Is Through" Integral Review 4, 2007 pp.13-4, http://www.integral-review.org
  47. ^ Zimmerman, M. (2005). “Integral Ecology: A Perspectival, Developmental, and Coordinating Approach to Environmental Problems.” World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution 61, nos. 1-2: 50-62.
  48. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, S. (2008). “Integral Ecological Research: Using IMP to Examine Animals and Sustainability” in Journal of Integral Theory and Practice Vol 3, No. 1.
  49. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, S. & Zimmerman, M. E. (2008). “Integral Ecology” Callicott, J. B. & Frodeman, R. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. New York: Macmillan Library Reference.
  50. ^ Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Michael E. ZimmermanIntegral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World, Integral Books (2009) ISBN 1-59030-466-7
  51. ^ Kupers, W. & Volckmann, R. (2009). "A Dialogue on Integral Leadership"Integral Leadership Review, Volume IX, No. 4 - August 2009. Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  52. ^ Ken Wilber (2000). A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, p. 153. Boston: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-855-6
  53. ^ Indra Sen, Integral Psychology: The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo, Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1986
  54. ^ Wilber, K., 1997, An integral theory of consciousnessJournal of Consciousness Studies, 4 (1), pp.71-92
  55. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, S., & Wilber, K. (2008). “Integral Psychology” in The Corsini’s Encyclopedia of Psychology. 4th Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
  56. ^ Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.
  57. ^ Michael E. Zimmerman. Ken Wilber Archived 2010-01-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, London: Continuum. 2005.
  58. ^ Frank Visser. "Assessing Integral Theory: Opportunities and Impediments," IntegralWorld.net, accessed 2010-1-7.
  59. ^ Visser, Frank. "Critics on Ken Wilber," IntegralWorld.net. Retrieved on Jan. 10, 2010.
  60. ^ Frank Visser "A Spectrum of Wilber Critics," IntegralWorld.net, accessed 2010-1-10.
  61. ^ Smith, Andrew P. "Contextualizing Ken", IntegralWorld.net. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2010.
  62. ^ Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, Paragon House, St Paul Minnesota, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55778-867-2pp.227f.


External links

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Incompatibilists agree that determinism leaves no room for free will. As a result, they reject one or both.
Incompatibilism is the view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that persons have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other. This view is pursued in at least three ways: libertarians deny that the universe is deterministic, the hard determinists deny that any free will exists, and pessimistic incompatibilists (hard indeterminists) deny both that the universe is determined and that free will exists.
Incompatibilism is contrasted with compatibilism, which rejects the determinism/free will dichotomy.


Metaphysical libertarianism argues that free will is real and that determinism is false. Such dualism risks an infinite regress however;[1] if any such mind is real, an objection can still be raised using the standard argument against free will[clarification needed] that it is shaped by a necessity or chance.[clarification needed] Libertarian Robert Kane (among others) presented an alternative model:
Robert Kane (editor of the Oxford Handbook of Free Will) is a leading incompatibilist philosopher in favour of free will. Kane seeks to hold persons morally responsible for decisions that involved indeterminism in their process. Critics maintain that Kane fails to overcome the greatest challenge to such an endeavor: "the argument from luck".[2] Namely, if a critical moral choice is a matter of luck (indeterminate quantum fluctuations), then on what grounds can we hold a person responsible for their final action? Moreover, even if we imagine that a person can make an act of will ahead of time, to make the moral action more probable in the upcoming critical moment, this act of 'willing' was itself a matter of luck.
Libertarianism in the philosophy of mind is unrelated to the like-named political philosophy. It suggests that we actually do have free will, that it is incompatible with determinism, and that therefore the future is not determined. For example, at this moment, one could either continue reading this article if one wanted, or cease. Under this assertion, being that one could do either, the fact of how the history of the world will continue to unfold is not currently determined one way or the other.
One famous proponent of this view was Lucretius, who asserted that the free will arises out of the random, chaotic movements of atoms, called "clinamen". One major objection to this view is that science has gradually shown that more and more of the physical world obeys completely deterministic laws, and seems to suggest that our minds are just as much part of the physical world as anything else. If these assumptions are correct, incompatibilist libertarianism can only be maintained as the claim that free will is a supernatural phenomenon, which does not obey the laws of nature (as, for instance, maintained by some religious traditions).
However, many libertarian view points now rely upon an indeterministic view of the physical universe, under the assumption that the idea of a deterministic, "clockwork" universe has become outdated since the advent of quantum mechanics.[citation needed] By assuming an indeterministic universe libertarian philosophical constructs can be proposed under the assumption of physicalism.
There are libertarian view points based upon indeterminism and physicalism, which is closely related to naturalism.[3] A major problem for naturalistic libertarianism is to explain how indeterminism can be compatible with rationality and with appropriate connections between an individual's beliefs, desires, general character and actions. A variety of naturalistic libertarianism is promoted by Robert Kane,[4][5] who emphasizes that if our character is formed indeterministically (in "self-forming actions"), then our actions can still flow from our character, and yet still be incompatibilistically free.
Alternatively, libertarian view points based upon indeterminism have been proposed without the assumption of naturalism. At the time C. S. Lewis wrote Miracles,[6] quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism) was only in the initial stages of acceptance, but still Lewis stated the logical possibility that, if the physical world was proved to be indeterministic, this would provide an entry (interaction) point into the traditionally viewed closed system, where a scientifically described physically probable/improbable event could be philosophically described as an action of a non-physical entity on physical reality (noting that, under a physicalist point of view, the non-physical entity must be independent of the self-identity or mental processing of the sentient being). Lewis mentions this only in passing, making clear that his thesis does not depend on it in any way.
Others may use some form of Donald Davidson's anomalous monism to suggest that although the mind is in fact part of the physical world, it involves a different level of description of the same facts, so that although there are deterministic laws under the physical description, there are no such laws under the mental description, and thus our actions are free and not determined.[7]

Hard determinism

Schopenhauer said "Man is free to do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills" The Hard Determinist says that obviously, then, there is no 'free will'
Those who reject free will and accept determinism are variously known as "hard determinists", hard incompatibilists, free will skeptics, illusionists, or impossibilists. They believe that there is no 'free will' and that any sense of the contrary is an illusion.[8] Of course, hard determinists do not deny that one has desires, but say that these desires are causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. According to this philosophy, no wholly randomspontaneous, mysterious, or miraculous events occur. Determinists sometimes assert that it is stubborn to resist scientifically motivated determinism on purely intuitive grounds about one's own sense of freedom. They reason that the history of the development of science suggests that determinism is the logical method in which reality works.
William James said that philosophers (and scientists) have an "antipathy to chance."[9] Absolute chance, a possible implication of quantum mechanics and the indeterminacy principle, implies a lack of causality.[citation needed] This possibility often disturbs those who assume there must be a causal and lawful explanation for all events.

Moral implications

Since many believe that free will is necessary for moral responsibility, this may imply disastrous consequences for their theory of ethics.
As something of a solution to this predicament, it has been suggested that, for the sake of preserving moral responsibility and the concept of ethics, one might embrace the so-called "illusion" of free will. This, despite thinking that free will does not exist according to determinism. Critics argue that this move renders morality merely another "illusion", or else that this move is simply hypocritical.
The Determinist will add that, even if denying free will does mean morality is incoherent, such an unfortunate result has no effect on the truth. Note, however, that hard determinists often have some sort of 'moral system' that relies explicitly on determinism. A Determinist's moral system simply bears in mind that every person's actions in a given situation are, in theory, predicted by the interplay of environment and upbringing. For instance, the Determinist may still punish undesirable behaviours for reasons of behaviour modification or deterrence.

Hard incompatibilism

Hard incompatibilism, like hard determinism, is a type of skepticism about free will. 'Hard incompatibilism' is a term coined by Derk Pereboom to designate the view that both determinism and indeterminism are incompatible with having free will and moral responsibility.[10] Like the hard determinist, the hard incompatibilist holds that if determinism were true, our having free will would be ruled out. But Pereboom argues in addition that if our decisions were indeterministic events, free will would also be precluded. In his view, free will is the control in action required for the desert aspect of moral responsibility—for our deserving to be blamed or punished for immoral actions, and to be praised or rewarded for morally exemplary actions. He contends that if our decisions were indeterministic events, their occurrence would not be in the control of the agent in the way required for such attributions of desert.[11] The possibility for free will that remains is libertarian agent causation, according to which agents as substances (thus not merely as having a role in events) can cause actions without being causally determined to do so. Pereboom argues that for empirical reasons it is unlikely that we are agent causes of this sort, and that as a result, it is likely that we lack free will.[12]

Experimental research

In recent years researchers in the field of experimental philosophy have been working on determining whether ordinary people, who aren't experts in this field, naturally have compatibilist or incompatibilist intuitions about determinism and moral responsibility.[13] Some experimental work has even conducted cross-cultural studies.[14] The debate about whether people naturally have compatibilist or incompatibilist intuitions has not come out overwhelmingly in favor of one view or the other. Still, there has been some evidence that people can naturally hold both views. For instance, when people are presented with abstract cases which ask if a person could be morally responsible for an immoral act when they could not have done otherwise, people tend to say no, or give incompatibilist answers, but when presented with a specific immoral act that a specific person committed, people tend to say that that person is morally responsible for their actions, even if they were determined (that is, people also give compatibilist answers).[15]

See also


  1. ^ Libertarian free will asserts that human actions do not have causes and are chosen consciously - i.e. are not random. This begs the question: what causes these actions? Since they can't be chosen at random by, as explained above, this question can be asked for each subsequent answer to it, thus forming an infinite regress. Similarly, in the 20th century, in the Frankfurt's concept of hierarchical mesh. Similarly, G. Strawson (1998, 2004), Free will, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  2. ^ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/incompatibilism-theories/
  3. ^ Williams, Peter S. (Summer 2002). "Why Naturalists Should Mind about Physicalism, and Vice Versa"Quodlibet4 (2–3). Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  4. ^ summary of Kane's views by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  5. ^ Kane, Robert. “Free Will: New Directions for an Ancient Problem.” (2003). In Free Will, Robert Kane (ed.) (2003) Malden, MA: Blackwell
  6. ^ Lewis, C.S. (1947). Miracles. p. 24ISBN 0-688-17369-1.
  7. ^ Sosa -- Free Mental Causation! (MS Word)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Saul Smilansky, Free Will and Illusion, Oxford, 2000
  9. ^ William James, The Dilemma of Determinism, p.153
  10. ^ Pereboom, Derk (2001). Living without Free Will. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ Pereboom, Derk (2014). Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ Derk Pereboom, "Defending Hard incompatibilism", Midwest Studies 29 (2005), pp. 228–47.
  13. ^ Eddy Nahmias, Stephen Morris, Thomas Nadelhoffer, and Jason Turner. (forthcoming).Incompatibilism Intuitive?,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  14. ^ Hagop Sarkissian, Amita Chatterjee, Felipe De Brigard, Joshua Knobe, Shaun Nichols, Smita Sirker (forthcoming)."Is belief in free will a cultural universal?" Mind & Language
  15. ^ Shaun Nichols and Joshua Knobe. (forthcoming).“Moral Responsibility and Determinism: The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions.” Archived December 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Nous.

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Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent.[1]
Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics.[2] They say causal determinism does not exclude the truth of possible future outcomes.[3]
Similarly, political liberty is a non-metaphysical concept.[4] Statements of political liberty, such as the United States Bill of Rights, assume moral liberty: the ability to choose to do otherwise than one does.[5]


Compatibilism was championed by the ancient Stoics[6] and some medieval scholastics (such as Thomas Aquinas). More specifically, scholastics like Thomas Aquinas and later Thomists (such as Domingo Báñez) are often interpreted as holding that a human action can be free even though the agent in some strong sense could not do otherwise than he did. Whereas Aquinas is often interpreted to maintain rational compatibilism (i.e., an action can be determined by rational cognition and yet free), later Thomists such as Báñez develop a sophisticated theory of theological determinism, according to which actions of free agents, despite being free, are, on a higher level, determined by infallible divine decrees manifested in the form of "physical premotion" (praemotio physica), a deterministic intervention of God into the will of a free agent required to reduce the will from potency to act. A strong incompatibilist view of freedom was, on the other hand, developed in the Franciscan tradition, especially by Duns Scotus, and later upheld and further developed by Jesuits, esp. Luis de Molina and Francisco Suárez. In the early-modern era, compatibilism was maintained by Enlightenment philosophers (such as David Hume and Thomas Hobbes).[7]
During the 20th century, compatibilists presented novel arguments that differed from the classical arguments of Hume, Hobbes, and John Stuart Mill.[8] Importantly, Harry Frankfurt popularized what are now known as Frankfurt counterexamples to argue against incompatibilism,[9] and developed a positive account of compatibilist free will based on higher-order volitions.[10] Other "new compatibilists" include Gary Watson, Susan R. WolfP. F. Strawson, and R. Jay Wallace.[11] Contemporary compatibilists range from the philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, particularly in his works Elbow Room (1984) and Freedom Evolves (2003), to the existentialist philosopher Frithjof Bergmann. Perhaps the most renowned contemporary defender of compatibilism is John Martin Fischer.

Defining free will

Compatibilists often define an instance of "free will" as one in which the agent had freedom to act according to their own motivation. That is, the agent was not coerced or restrained. Arthur Schopenhauer famously said, "Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills."[12] In other words, although an agent may often be free to act according to a motive, the nature of that motive is determined. This definition of free will does not rely on the truth or falsity of causal determinism.[2] This view also makes free will close to autonomy, the ability to live according to one's own rules, as opposed to being submitted to external domination.

Alternatives as imaginary

Saying "there may be a person behind that door" merely expresses ignorance about the one, determined reality
Some compatibilists will hold both causal determinism (all effects have causes) and logical determinism (the future is already determined) to be true. Thus statements about the future (e.g., "it will rain tomorrow") are either true or false when spoken today. This compatibilist free will should not be understood as some kind of ability to have actually chosen differently in an identical situation. A compatibilist can believe that a person can choose between many choices, but the choice is always determined by external factors.[13] If the compatibilist says "I may visit tomorrow, or I may not", he is saying that he does not know what he will choose—if he will choose to follow the subconscious urge to go or not.


Alternatives to strictly naturalist physics, such as mind–body dualism positing a mind or soul existing apart from one's body while perceiving, thinking, choosing freely, and as a result acting independently on the body, include both traditional religious metaphysics and less common newer compatibilist concepts.[14] Also consistent with both autonomy and Darwinism,[15] they allow for free personal agency based on practical reasons within the laws of physics.[16] While less popular among 21st century philosophers, non-naturalist compatibilism is present in most if not almost all religions.[17]


Compatibilism has much in common with so-called "hard determinism", including moral systems and a belief in determinism itself
A prominent criticism of compatibilism is Peter van Inwagen's consequence argument.
Critics of compatibilism often focus on the definition(s) of free will: incompatibilists may agree that the compatibilists are showing something to be compatible with determinism, but they think that this something ought not to be called "free will". Incompatibilists might accept the "freedom to act" as a necessary criterion for free will, but doubt that it is sufficient. Basically, they demand more of "free will". The incompatibilists believe free will refers to genuine (e.g., absolute, ultimate) alternate possibilities for beliefs, desires, or actions, rather than merely counterfactual ones.
Compatibilism is sometimes called soft determinism (William James's term) pejoratively.[18] James accused them of creating a "quagmire of evasion" by stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism.[18] Immanuel Kant called it a "wretched subterfuge" and "word jugglery".[19] Kant's argument turns on the view that, while all empirical phenomena must result from determining causes, human thought introduces something seemingly not found elsewhere in nature—the ability to conceive of the world in terms of how it ought to be, or how it might otherwise be. For Kant, subjective reasoning is necessarily distinct from how the world is empirically. Because of its capacity to distinguish is from ought, reasoning can 'spontaneously' originate new events without being itself determined by what already exists.[20] It is on this basis that Kant argues against a version of compatibilism in which, for instance, the actions of the criminal are comprehended as a blend of determining forces and free choice, which Kant regards as misusing the word "free". Kant proposes that taking the compatibilist view involves denying the distinctly subjective capacity to re-think an intended course of action in terms of what ought to happen.[19]
Ted Honderich explains his view that the mistake of compatibilism is to assert that nothing changes as a consequence of determinism, when clearly we have lost the life-hope of origination.[21][clarification needed]

See also


  1. ^ Coates, D. Justin; McKenna, Michael (February 25, 2015). "Compatibilism"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  2. Jump up to:a b Podgorski, Daniel (October 16, 2015). "Free Will Twice Defined: On the Linguistic Conflict of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism"The Gemsbok. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  3. ^ McKenna, Michael and Coates, D. Justin, "Compatibilism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = .
  4. ^ Locke, John (1690). The Second Treatise of Civil Government.
  5. ^ The Monist, Vol. 70, No. 4, Thomas Reid and His Contemporaries (OCTOBER 1987), pp. 442-452 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27903049 Accessed: 06-12-2019 22:28 UTC
  6. ^ Ricardo Salles, "Compatibilism: Stoic and modern." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 83.1 (2001): 1-23.
  7. ^ Michael McKenna: Compatibilism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.). 2009.
  8. ^ Kane, Robert (2005). A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. Oxford University Press. p. 93ISBN 978-0-19-514970-8.
  9. ^ Kane 2005, p. 83
  10. ^ Kane 2005, p. 94
  11. ^ Kane 2005, pp. 98, 101, 107, 109.
  12. ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur (1945). "On the Freedom of the Will". The Philosophy of American History: The Historical Field Theory. Translated by Morris Zucker. p. 531.
  13. ^ Harry G. Frankfurt (1969). "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility," Journal of Philosophy 66 (3):829-39.
  14. ^ Ridge, Michael (3 February 2014). "Moral Non-Naturalism"The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  15. ^ Lemos, John (2002). "Evolution and Free Will: A Defense of Darwinian Non–naturalism". Metaphilosophy33 (4): 468–482. doi:10.1111/1467-9973.00240ISSN 1467-9973.
  16. ^ Nida-Rümelin, Julian (1 January 2019). "The Reasons Account of Free Will A Libertarian-Compatibilist Hybrid". Archiv fuer Rechts- und Sozialphilosphie105 (1): 3–10. doi:10.25162/arsp-2019-0001.
  17. ^ Stump, Eleonore (1996). "Libertarian Freedom and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities". In Howard-Snyder, Daniel; Jordan, Jeff (eds.). Faith, Freedom, and Rationality. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 73–88.
  18. Jump up to:a b James, William. 1884 "The Dilemma of Determinism", Unitarian Review, September, 1884. Reprinted in The Will to Believe, Dover, 1956, p.149
  19. Jump up to:a b Kant, Immanuel 1788 (1952).The Critique of Practical Reason, in Great Books of the Western World, vol. 42, Kant, Univ. of Chicago, p. 332
  20. ^ Kant, Immanuel 1781 (1949).The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Max Mueller, p. 448
  21. ^ Honderich, Ted 1988 The Consequences of Determinism, p.169