From: Ken Wilber
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:52:55 EST
Subject: vision-logic


Just read the posting of Jordan's discussion of vision-logic. I liked the discussion (except for Kaisa's part, which has little to do with vision-logic, and which Jordan retracts as an afterthought. Incidentally, Kaisa has said that what she means by "seeing" is best described in the last chapter of The Eye of Spirit).

The following endnote from Integral Psychology already addresses most of the points that Jordan brings up, so I thought you might like to see it. Can be posted anywhere if desired. Ken


Note 77. I have also added a "nondual line," for tracing the development of states of subject-object union, from prenatal to childhood to adulthood to states of postformal samadhi. We are justified in including this cognitive line because, just as with other cognitive lines, which were based on the existence of the natural states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep (and thus available to all), so this nondual line is based on a natural given, namely, the natural mind or the primordial mind, the mind of One Taste that is ever- present in all sentient beings. (But, again, its appearance in infancy and childhood is largely filtered and interpreted through preconventional and conventional structures-egocentric and ethnocentric-so this "mixed blessing" needs to be kept in mind.) As with the other cognitive lines and states, the nondual itself only becomes a permanent trait with sustained postformal, post- postconventional development. Nonetheless, all four realms (psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual) can be traced as relatively independent cognitive lines all the way back to the earliest of stages. Another benefit of this way of conceiving the relation between the cognitive lines is that it allows, for example, subtle cognition to begin alongside of gross cognition (without one first having to complete gross cognition). In the gross-reflecting cognitive line, the very highest stages involve, as I suggested, various types of vision-logic. To use Commons and Richards' version, the highest levels of the gross-cognitive line involve meta- systematic, paradigmatic, and cross-paradigmatic thinking (which work with systems, systems of systems, and systems of systems of systems). I believe that is true; but that does not mean that being able to think about systems of systems of systems is a necessary prerequisite for developing into the psychic, subtle, and causal realms (which it would be if these were all sequential stages in a monolithic line). A basic competence in vision-logic might be required in order for overall consciousness development to move permanently into the higher realms (see below), but cross-paradigmatic thinking is simply an extreme accomplishment in the gross-cognitive line, which may or may not be mastered by various individuals in their overall growth into the transpersonal realms. Seeing gross and subtle cognitive lines as in some ways parallel, not always sequential, allows us to accommodate that fact.

But that doesn't mean gross cognition can be bypassed in general development, or that sequential development looses its significance. First of all, there is no evidence that gross cognition can be significantly bypassed, only that the extreme versions of any of its stages are not necessary for transpersonal development. Second, gross cognition (like the frontal ego) involves those vehicles necessary for adapting to the gross/waking state, and without them, adaptation massively derails. Schizophrenia is in some ways the classic example of what happens when people get lost in subtle-cognition without a grounding in gross-cognition. Third, the strongest drive of the self is to integrate all of the various developmental levels and lines in its own makeup, and an unbalanced growth-too much subtle, not enough gross-is felt as a major self-dissonance. Fourth, the highest developmental insight is nondual, or an integration of all three major realms in one embrace, which includes a competent gross, subtle, and causal consciousness-a major defect in one will obviously preclude balanced integration. Because vision-logic is listed as a general wave in the Great Nest, does that mean, in overall consciousness evolution, that a general (not extreme) competence in vision-logic is required for stable growth into higher levels? Yes, I very much believe so. Why? Because everything from the Golden Rule to the bodhisattva vow is impossible to comprehend without vision-logic. You cannot sincerely vow to liberate all beings if you cannot take the perspective of all beings in the first place, and, researchers agree, that is a vision- logic capacity. We are not talking about an extreme development in vision- logic (such as cross-paradigmatic thinking), but simply its general capacity for postconventional, worldcentric, global perspective taking. Without general vision-logic as a foundation, the higher levels are experienced only as passing, altered states, without becoming permanent realizations, and for the simple reason that it is the nature of those higher states to be universal and global, and without a frontal development capable of carrying that global perspective (namely, vision-logic), those states cannot "fit" permanently, and without distortion, into the self. Only as vision-logic becomes a permanent capacity can the even-higher levels themselves become permanent. But that is simply a general question that is faced at every level of development. How much of any stage (moral, cognitive, affective, needs) do you have to satisfy before you can move on to the next higher stage in that line? Research tends to suggest that a general competence needs to be established at each major wave in order for its successor to emerge. I have indicated this in figure X. The nine basic waves are drawn as a cross-section of nine concentric circles. The question is, how much development in any given wave is required for the next higher wave to stably emerge? Using vision-logic as an example, I have drawn four subphases-a, b, c, and d. The subphases "c" and "d" are specialized, "extreme" developments of vision-logic, such as the capacity to think about systems of systems, and systems of systems of systems (what Commons and Richards all "paradigmatic" and "cross- paradigmatic" thinking). Phases "a" and "b," on the other hand, represent a basic competence in vision-logic (e.g., similar, in part, to what Commons and Richards call the capacity for some systematic and metasystematic thought, or panoramic vision and multiple perspectives), which is a necessary component (subholon) of higher development (transpersonal and spiritual) if the transpersonal is to become a stable adaptation and not merely a passing peak experience. The same conclusion would hold for each of the basic waves. The "a" and "b" subphases are the necessary ingredients of higher developments (i.e., since each basic wave is transcend and included, the "a" and "b" are the parts that are included, whereas their exclusivity is transcended). This holds for each of the basic waves as enduring structures. A certain competence ("a" and "b") is required in sensorimotor development, but one does not have to become an Olympic athlete ("c" and "d"), and so on.

Place figure IX approx. here

This diagram (a greatly expanded version of a diagram originally used by Werner) also indicates that, because the basic structures are mostly enduring structures, each wave remains in existence and can be exercised and developed on its own, indefinitely. One can extend and sharpen physical capacities, emotional intelligence, intellectual acuity, vision-logic capacities, and so on (the "c" and "d" and even higher subphases in each of the basic waves). Most of the developmental streams, on the other hand, are not enduring structures but transitional structures. They still follow "transcend-and- include," in that each stage provides basic competences that are incorporated in the succeeding stages; but once a stage has served its purpose, it does not remain in existence as a separate function itself (e.g., a person at moral stage 5 does not simultaneously exercise moral stage 1; but a person at vision-logic can and does simultaneously exercise all of the lower basic structures, such as sensorimotor and emotional-sexual). But the same general developmental rule still applies: a general competence at each stage is required for the stable emergence of the next. In many cases this competence is necessary but not sufficient for the emergence of the next stage; exactly why higher stages emerge, or conversely, why developmental arrest occurs in any line, is still not well understood, although theories abound. (The most likely candidate is, of course, a combination of numerous factors: individual constitutional factors, individual upbringing, individual interior dispositions, social institutions, life circumstances, possible past life history, cultural background, cultural values, and cultural encouragement/discouragement, to give a sampling from all four quadrants.) As for which aspects of a basic wave are "a," "b," "c," or higher, in most cases only empirical testing can tell. Finally, a few words about vision-logic itself. As a basic structure, it includes, as subholons in its own being, all of the previous basic structures, sensorimotor to emotive to fantasy to formal to its own postformal being, and, ideally, it integrates all of these components. It is not that vision-logic is without fantasy or emotion or rules, but that it simply holds all of them in its own wider space, so that all of them can flourish to an even greater degree. Commons and Richards, Fischer, and Sinnott tend to emphasize the cognitive component of vision-logic (and often its extreme developments), while Basseches, Pascual-Leone, Labouvie-Vief, and Deirdre Kramer highlight more of its dialectical, visionary, integrative capacities. Arieti stresses that vision-logic is an integration of primary and secondary processes-fantasy and logic-and thus it can be very creative (the "magic synthesis"), and Jean Gebser stresses the transparency, integrative capacity, and multiple perspectives of the "integral-aperspectival" structure. All of those, in my opinion, are important snapshots of vision-logic taken from different angles. Vision-logic, like any cognitive capacity, can take as its object any of the levels in any of the quadrants, resulting in drastically different perceptions. To focus first on the quadrants. When vision-logic looks at the Lower Right quadrant, the result is dynamical systems theory in any of many forms, from cybernetics to chaos to autopoiesis to complexity theories. What they all focus on are the networks of interobjective processes and the dynamical patterns of existence and development. When applied to the human aspects of the Lower Right quadrant, the result is a social systems science that highlights the importance and influence of the material modes of social interaction, forces of production, and relations of production (exemplars include Comte, Marx, Lenski, Luhmann).

When vision-logic looks at the Upper Right quadrant, the result is a systems view of the individual organism, which views consciousness as an emergent of hierarchically integrated neuronal networks. This emergent/connectionist view is perhaps the dominant model of cognitive science at this point, and is nicely summarized in Alwyn Scott's Stairway to the Mind, the "stairway" being the hierarchy of emergents said to result in consciousness. (All of these emergents and networks-including all of the very influential models of autopoiesis-are objective systems described in third-person it-language; a similar objectivistic view of consciousness can be found in Tart's systems approach to states of consciousness. I am not saying these accounts are wrong; I am saying they cover, at best, only one-fourth of the story. I myself use those approaches, as well as structuralism, which are all Right Hand approaches to the phenomenon of consciousness; but I emphasize that consciousness itself must also be studied in first-person, Left Hand, phenomenal approaches-direct experiential investigations of consciousness via introspection and meditation. See chapter 13.). When vision-logic looks at the Lower Left quadrant, the result is an appreciation of the vast role of cultural contexts and backgrounds, a grasp of the role of mutual understanding, an intense focus on discourse, and a general understanding of hermeneutics. Exemplars in this approach include Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Charles Taylor, Dilthey, and Kuhn, among others. Incidentally, when these cultural or intersubjective signifieds, in their intersubjective semantic fields (LL), are viewed in terms of the structure of their material signifiers-written word, spoken word, grammar and syntax (LR)-and especially when these signifiers are cut loose from any referents-the result is various forms of postmodern poststructuralism, from Foucault's archaeology (the grammar of discourse/archives) to Foucault's genealogy (the interobjective structures of power/knowledge) to Derrida's grammatology (the study of the chains of written signifiers)-all of which are LR approaches to LL phenomena, approaches that, not incidentally, destroy any genuinely intersubjective realms and, via performative contradiction, deny any existent referents. Again, I am not saying these approaches are wrong, but that they favor only one quadrant (in this case, they use LR techniques in an attempt to "elucidate" LL phenomena, and to the extent that these approaches go too far and deny the existence of the LL on its own terms, they end up committing subtle reductionism), and when they thus claim to have the final word, wind up in various untenable positions.

When vision-logic is applied to the Upper Left quadrant-when vision-logic looks within at its own domain-one of several things can result. First of all, as with any basic structure, the fact that a person has access to vision- logic does not mean that the person's self is living from vision-logic. Just as a person can be at formop, and yet still be at moral stage 1, so a person can be at vision-logic, and still remain at any of the lower levels of self and self-line development-moral stage 1, an impulsive self, safety needs, and so on (as we saw, basic structures are necessary, but not sufficient, for other developments). Thus, a person can be a very low level of self, moral, and spiritual development, and yet still be a great systems theorist (they are applying vision-logic to the exterior world, but not to themselves). This is why simply learning the "new paradigm" does not necessarily transform a single person, and why the 415 Paradigm and other "holistic" approaches often leave interior transformations untouched.

It is only as the person's self-the center of gravity of the proximate self- moves from conop (where it is a conformist self or persona) to formop (where it is a postconventional self or mature ego) to postformal vision-logic (where it is a centaur, or a relatively integrated, postconventional, global, autonomous, existential self)-only with that interior vertical transformation does vision-logic come to be directly applied to the person himself. His moral sense is thus postconventional and worldcentric; his needs are for self- actualization; his worldview is universal integral; and he stands on the brink of permanent transformation into the transpersonal realms. Likewise, vision-logic can be applied (as can most cognition) to any of the major levels (or realms) in any of the quadrants. As indicated in the text, I usually simplify these realms to body, mind, and spirit (or prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal). In its own quadrant (UL), vision-logic can look down to matter, across at mind, or up to spirit. Looking down to matter is the same as looking at any of the Right Hand quadrants, since they are all material, and the result, we saw, is systems theory. Looking across at other minds is the same as looking at its own level in the Lower Left quadrant, and the result, we saw, is hermeneutics. Looking up to spirit-or, alternatively, having a spiritual peak experience-results in the higher realms being interpreted according to the structures of vision-logic itself, and the result is what I have called mandalic reason (see Eye to Eye).

My comments