Category:Integral Theory

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Material about various integrative/integral, i.e. non-reductionist approaches, such as "Integral Theory" proper, metamodernism, transmodernism, macrohistory, etc ...

P2P Foundation Context

The P2P Theory approach was initially conceived as a further specialized development within the tradition of integral theory, and while I have never pushed this part of our intellectual identity, it was always present in the background, if only by using the non-reductionist AQAL (all quadrants, all levels, the hermeneutic approach proposed by Ken Wilber).

I explain what lies behind our heuristic approach here: Integral Research Methodology. And also how we relate broadly to other subcurrents within the broad contemporary integral approaches, see: Place of the Integral Approach in P2P Theory.

This being said, there are a lot of the members of our research network that do not focus on this, but would instead using participatory forms of actor-network theory for example. The full gamut of our theoretical inspirations is outlined in this overview of Sources of P2P Theory.

To conclude, in my understanding, an integral approach is one that;

- respects the relative autonomy of the different fields, and looks for field specific laws,

- affirms that new levels of complexity cause the emergence of new properties and thus rejects reductionisms that try to explain the highly complex from the less complex,

- tries to formulate level-specific laws that relate the objective and subjective aspects, refusing to see any one aspect as a mere epiphenomena of the other,

- is subjective-objective in that it always relates the understanding of the objective, through the prism of a recognised individual perspective in general,

- and attempts to correlate explanations emanating from the various fields, in order to arrive at an integrative understanding; in this sense it is a hermeneutic discipline focusing on creating meaning.

Personally (Michel Bauwens), I feel the closest to Critical Realism as it attempts to blend both the objective approaches of modernity, but integrating the valid concerns of postmodern critics. My approach would be transmodern in that it attempts to salvage and integrate the best of indigenous, traditional, modern and postmodern approaches; the two first may be lacking in CR but are present in the partipatory epistemologies of John Heron and Jorge Ferrer.

General Context

We do not restrict 'integral theory' to the approaches of Ken Wilber and the ulterior developments of this school of thought, but pay attention to full gamut of integral thinkers, before, during, and after this reconfiguration of the integral approach. So we would include names like Sorokin, Sarkar, Aurobindo, but especially Jean Gebser, and the further integration of Jean Gebser's thought by Peter Pogany for example. We also include Transmodernism (Irene Ateljevic) and Metamodernism (Hanzi Freinacht) based approaches. Macrohistory and macrohistorians would also be included, as would partipatory and integrative futures methododologies as those developed by Sohail Inayatullah or Jose Ramos.

Key Resources

Key Articles

Key Books

* The Ever-Present Origin. Jean Gebser.

It's not enough to understand the evolution of socio-economic structures, we must also understand the cultural intersubjective and subjective mentalities that co-evolve with them. This is 'the' book, to understand the evolution of consciousness, in its archaic, magic, mythological and rational forms. Gebser sees how each mode of apprehending the world, has its generative phase, but also its 'deficient' or degenerative phase. The rational mode of consciousness becomes deficient when calculations dominate everything, and the whole can no longer be seen. Civilizational changes are also 'mutations of consciousness'.

* Rethinking the World. Peter Pogany. 2006.

If you have read Karatani to understand the evolution of socio-economic systems and Gebser for the attendant 'modes of consciousness', then we still have the task to integrate them. No one has done this so far, but Peter Pogany, a Hungarian-American trans-disciplinary researcher, who has also connected socio-economic structures in their thermo-dynamic realities. So this is basically a three-level history of the world (thermo-dynamic reality, socio-economic system, mode of apprehending the world). His second book is focused more explicitly on the current transition and is called Havoc. How does the global system evolve to finally take into account the planetary boundaries that determine the survival of any form of civilization? I recommend reading Havoc first, it's about 60 pages, and if you are hooked, you can go for the real meat, i.e. his first, more theoretical book. Pogany's theory of change is a theory of pulsation: from stable system, via chaotic transition, to new stable systems, and so on, forever.


See also our recommended reading list on P2P and Commons-related topics: What You Should Read To Understand the Commons

Key People

  • Irene Ateljevic, for her work on synthesizing transmodern approaches, see our article on Transmodernism

Key Podcasts

Key Themes

Pages in category "Integral Theory"

The following 121 pages are in this category, out of 121 total.