Category:Integral Theory

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"The attained Integral structure of consciousness is a recapitulation and intensification of all other structures, which allows Origin to be approached — touched and even embraced."

- Cynthia Bourgeault [1]


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

Here is a useful framing of the various sub-categories: Jennifer Gidley on Comparing Macro-Integral, Meso-Integral, Micro-Integral, Participatory-Integral, and Transversal-lntegral.

"Critical realism, integral theory, and complex thought are arguably among the most sophisticated 
contemporary integrative metatheories. We feel that all three can learn from each other in profound ways 
and so become more robust and powerful for addressing the global moment." 


Examples of integral theory:

  • Steiner’s integrative spiritual-science,
  • Gebser’s integral-aperspectival cultural phenomenology, and
  • Wilber’s integral-AQAL theoretic framework

There has been intensive dialogue between Wilber's Integral Theory tradition and Bhaskar's Critical Realism.

We have now reached a stage, through dialogues using Archdisciplinarity, to compare and contrast meta-theories for better mutual understanding of the cosmos, life, and human consciousness.

See the arc of development in research methodologies and paradigms, starting with

This arc to the broad cultural and societal paradigms of:

See the comparison table on Modernism Post-Modernism Transmodernism, below in this section.

The specific 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:

And also how we relate broadly to other subcurrents within the broad contemporary integral approaches, see:

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

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 recognized 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 participatory epistemologies of John Heron and Jorge Ferrer.

General Context

1. Michel Bauwens:

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 macro-historians would also be included, as would participatory and integrative futures methodologies as those developed by Sohail Inayatullah or Jose Ramos.

2. According to Irene Ateljevic pdf,

"different authors use a variety of terms to capture what can essentially be described as the synchronised phenomenon of emerging higher collective consciousness —

  • the transmodernity paradigm (Ghisi);
  • transmodern philosophy of political liberation (Dussel);
  • Hegelian dialectical triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis (Magda);
  • the reflective/livingsystems paradigm (Elgin);
  • the partnership model of caring economics (Eisler);
  • the relational global consciousness of biosphere politics (Rifkin);
  • love ethics (hooks);
  • the circularity paradigm of interdependence (Steinem)."

3. According to Joseph Dillard:

"According to Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, there are at least two other meta-theories with a different focus but a similar level of complexity as Wilber's,

  • Bhaskar's Critical Realism and
  • Morin's Complexity Theory.

Morin is a contemporary French philosopher and sociologist and his Complexity Theory is spelled out in a 5-volume work titled “The Method.” Esbjörn-Hargens views Wilber's Integral Theory as focusing on the interior of the individual (psychology and spirituality - upper-left quadrant), Bhaskar's on intersubjectivity and culture (lower-left quadrant), and Morin's on systems and processes (lower-right quadrant)."


3. Roland Benedikter and Marcus Molz

... recognize different 'generations' in integrative thinking [3]:

"We have to consider integrative emancipatory frameworks originating from different cultures, contexts and disciplines. We divide these into three categories:

  • first, those stemming from the first half of the twentieth century;
  • second, those of the phase of transition between the 1960s and the twenty-first century; and
  • third, twenty-first century approaches.

(1) The first half of the twentieth century gave birth to the pioneers of modern integrative worldviews, who laid the foundations for the basic idea of integrative worldviews within (and not against) evolving modernity.

(2) The second half of the twentieth century– and especially the period from the 1960s to the 1990s– can be considered a phase of transition, which brought about symptoms of the renewal of a renovated integrative intuition, manifested inter alia in the trend towards post-materialism in the 1980s and 1990s and in the ambiguous rise of a postmodern spirituality in the 1990s.

(3) Finally, the twenty-first century (presumably starting with the great political and cultural change of 1989/91) seems to be generating a new generation of integrative thought, which is still struggling to rise fully to the challenges of our time at the level of given problems and their comparatively increased complexity. Most representatives of this new generation of integrative thought and action seem to conceive themselves as part of a paradigm shift beyond classical modernity (including its latest stage of ‘postmodernity’), and as closely related with the emerging paradigm stage of a mature modernity."

For more, see: The Rise of Neo-Integrative Worldviews. Towards a rational spirituality for the coming planetary civilization? Roland Benedikter and Markus Molz. [4]

First Generation

  1. Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900),
  2. Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925),
  3. Aurobindo Ghose (1872–1950),
  4. Max Scheler (1874–1928),
  5. Jacques Maritain (1882–1973),
  6. Pitirim Sorokin (1889–1968),
  7. Thomé F. Fang (1899–1977),
  8. Jean Gebser (1905–73) and
  9. Herbert Witzenmann (1905–88)

The Second Generation

This 2nd generation refers to the deconstructive postmodern inter-regnum.

Third Generation

"Current leading thinkers" :

  1. Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921–90),
  2. Enrique Dussel (1934–),
  3. Basarab Nicolescu (1942–),
  4. Johannes Heinrichs (1942–),
  5. Roy Bhaskar (1944–) and
  6. Ken Wilber (1949–).

Other representatives of neo-integrative thought from a de facto (much) larger sample include

  1. Fred Dallmayr (1928–),
  2. Paul Ehrlich (1932–),
  3. Kensei Hiwaki (1945–),
  4. Michael Opielka (1956–),
  5. Harald Walach (1957–),
  6. Jaap Sijmons (1959–),
  7. Niko Kohls (1972–) and
  8. Nikolaus von Stillfried (1976–).

Today's Fourth Generation

(These are members of ARC, whose work I am aware of; check out more names at [5])

  1. Cory David Barker
  2. Daniel Görtz (Metamodernism)
  3. Gregg Henriques (unified theory of human knowledge)
  4. Bruce Alderman
  5. Layman Pascal
  6. Brendan Graham Dempsey (metamodernism and spirituality)
  7. Sean Esbjörn-Hargens (comparison of integral and critical realism meta-theories)
  8. Roland Benedikter



"The history of socially influential ideas – metatheories and metanarratives – has tended to be a primary and disproportionate driver in the trajectory of cultural history as a whole. Thus, if we are seeking deliberate transformation of our worldview and social formation to address our complex problems, the level of metatheory appears to be a powerful leverage point."

- Nicholas Hedlund et al. [6]


"I outline, with the help especially but not exclusively of Bhaskar’s metacritique of western philosophy, from the Axial Age to today, four major biases in the West: analytical over dialectical, epistemology over ontology, presence over absence, and exterior over interior. After reading McGilchrist, it was clear how they corresponded to key characteristics of the left and right hemispheres: atomism over holism, representation over reality (or map over territory), explicit over implicit, and surface over depth – respectively."

- Paul Marshall, Metamodern Forum, April 2021


"The secret of contextual thinking is that the whole discloses new meanings not available to the parts, and thus the big pictures we build give new meanings to the details that compose it."

- Ken Wilber [7] (p. 115)


"With self-consciousness comes the possibility of transforming ourselves by adopting new vocabularies, redescribing, and so reconstructing our selves and discursive institutions. While all of us are in some sense consumers of such new vocabularies, it is the special calling of some to produce them. And among those producers some take the construction of unique, potentially transformative vocabularies as the project by commitment to which they understand and define themselves. Among that group, some seek to produce those new vocabularies precisely by trying to understated the phenomena of sapience, normativity, conceptuality, reason, freedom, expression, self-consciousness, self-constitution, and historical transformation by subversive, empowering vocabularies. Those are the philosophers. They are charged neither with simply understanding human nature (human history), nor with simply changing it, but with changing it by understanding it.

—Robert B. Brandom [8] (2009, p. 150)

Brendan Graham Dempsey on Complexification and Knowledge

"The revelations of complexity science have been truly revolutionary. Across the many fields of inquiry in this diverse new scientific paradigm—from non-equilibrium thermodynamics, to origins of life research, to evolutionary biology, to consciousness studies—new discoveries and insights have been accumulating which radically shift our sense of how the universe works as well as our place in it. Ideas like self-organization, dissipative adaptation, emergent levels, and emergent causation have truly reframed reality as we know it. Today, these insights are being synthesized and integrated, yielding fascinating new grand unified theories that offer nothing short of a whole new worldview for our time. In these comprehensive, integrative visions, we can finally see how all of these incredible discoveries hang together—what it all really means, and what it means for meaning itself."

- Brendan Graham Dempsey [9]

The end of 'modern' science and the birth of 'integral' science

"With the end of the modern paradigm born in the Renaissance, the paradigm of classical science, i.e. mechanistic, analytical, reductionist and deterministic science, which considered the universe as an assembly of elementary bricks, interacting by chance through elementary forces, according to elementary laws within a space and a time independent of what happens there, is closed. Now, the paradigm of the complex science makes way for an organicist, holistic, constructivist and intentionalist science which will consider the Real as a global process woven of myriads of particular processes, founded on a substantiality, a vitality and a logicity which evolves by successive emergences caused by the need to dissipate too lively tensions between its various poles. The artificial frontier between "hard sciences" and so-called "human sciences" (which are only conjectures, often ideological) will no longer have any reason to exist: all processes, however complex they may be, such as the mind, history or human communities, will only be particular applicative cases of the complex cosmology."

- Marc Halevy [10]

Hierarchizing in Integral Theory

" "I am not saying in this conception of adult behavior that a style of being, a form of human existence is inevitably and in all circumstances superior or better than another form of human existence, than another style of human existence. 'to be. What I am saying is that when a form of being is more in conformity with the realities of existence, then it is the best form of life for those realities. And what I'm saying is that when one form of existence ceases to be functional for the realities of existence, then another form, either higher or lower in the hierarchy, is the best form. of life. I suggest, however - and I deeply believe it is - that for the overall welfare of the entire existence of man in this world, in the long run, higher levels are better than higher levels. and that the main good of the rulers of any society should be to promote human movement up to the higher levels of human existence. "

- Clare Graves [11]

""Many integral adherents seem to be attracted to the “good news” aspects of the integral message. The idea that more of every kind is better pervades recent writings: more cognitive complexity, more beauty, more goodness, more truth. This overlooks the fact that access to more complexity and interpretive power has just as much potential for self delusion, ego inflation, and large-scale disregard for people as it has the potential for benefitting and uplifting humanity"

-Susan Cook-Greuter [12]

The missing bridge between Rationality and Meta-Rationality

"In the 1970s and 1980s, the best postmodern/poststructural thinkers presented meta-rational views, based on their thorough understanding of systematic rationality. This first generation of postmodern teachers had a complete “classical education” in the humanities; they mastered the Western intellectual tradition before coming to understand its limitations.

Deconstructive postmodernism, their critique of stage 4 modernism/systematicity/rationality, is the basis of the contemporary university humanities curriculum. This is a disaster. The critique is largely correct; but, as Kegan observed, to teach it to young adults is harmful. Few university students have consolidated rationality. Essentially none are ready to move beyond it. Pointing out its defects makes their developmental task more difficult.

You cannot understand what is wrong with rationalism until you are capable of being rational. You cannot go beyond rationality until after you can use it reliably. You cannot become meta to systems you do not appreciate and do not understand how to deploy. You cannot move from stage 3 to stage 5 without passing through stage 4."

- [13]

Lene Anderson distinguishes metamodernity from metamodernism:

"Metamodernity [ind-tra-mo-pomo] would say: traditional, hierarchic, authoritarian, feudal power structure appropriating modern narratives (communism & capitalism) using postmodern technology, i.e. power structure for smaller political entity applied on too large a society with global information access, which means that the power structure needs to apply massive amounts of violence to stay in control. Where power structure, group size, narratives, and communication technologies match each other i complexity, power can be distributed accordingly, and humans can enjoy freedom, responsibility, and overall an absence of violence."

Lene Anderson, intellectual-deep-web forum, June 2021

Jon Freeman on What To Think About Stages of Development?

""Our problems are not with stages, but with judgement and excess. Whatever the system, if the stages identified are real, then they exist because they have a contribution to make. They are not dispensable, so the error is to treat them as if they are. The error is in the judgement of a stage, not in the observance of its existence. Rejection is shadow-creation. Rejecting stages and stage theory wholesale does nothing to change their existence and expressions in reality. Such blanket rejection merely prevents people from understanding what is and thereby making better choices for themselves and society as a whole. At the same time, any stage can be expressed in a way that is unbalanced. Some people will behave in those ways. The solution is not to eliminate that stage (even assuming that were possible) or to exclude all people who are operating from that stage as if they are inferior or worthless. No competent system or model would work that way. Instead it would be seeking to help all stages to be expressed within healthy degrees of balance and to avoid extremes. In the same way any competent system or model and any sustainable way of living would recognise that since all stages reflect something that was needed by the system and none are dispensable, the task is to support a healthy balance of expression between the stages."

- Jon Freeman [14]

Daniel Christian Wahl on Evolutionary and Integrative Design

"If our design decisions are fundamentally worldview and value-system dependent, a dynamic map of the emergence of progressively more inclusive worldviews in human society and consciousness could help us in understanding past design decisions as well as provide a way for taking future design decisions from amore holistic perspective. Such a perspective would be more fitting to the complex dynamics of the wicked design problems of an interconnected and unpredictable complex world. A collective re-evaluation of human nature may help us to reframe the guiding intentionality behind all design. This may lead to a more conscious approach to designing, from within a participatory understanding of reality and guided by world-centric ethics. An integral perspective can access a whole range of value systems and discern adaptive and evolutionary priorities, as well as which needs are best met materially and which immaterially."

- Daniel Christian Wahl [15]

Raimon Panikkar on the Relation between Mythos and Logos

“Mythos and logos go together, but their relationship is neither dialectic nor mythic; it is rather a mutually constitutive relationship. If it were logical, the spirit would be drowned in the logos. Were it mythical, the logos would be reduced to the spirit. Put another way, there is no logos without mythos – of which the logos is language – and there is no mythos without logos – of which the myth is the foundation … Only the pratîtyasamutpâda, the radical relativity of all that is, can maintain the harmony without domination between the mythos and the logos” (Intellectual autobiography”).

The reunion between mythos and logos is one that must also take place between subjectivity and objectivity, between the heart and mind, between rational thought and the spirit that flies free. This reunion is necessary so as to avoid falling either into the ancient submission to myth or into the submission of myth to logos, namely, falling into the present day logo-monism: “Reality is not given to us as logos, but rather offers itself to us as mythos, as that horizon against which we place our own idea of the world… Our world is given to us in mythos, and that world, equally ours, is discovered by the logos” (Pensamiento científico y pensamiento cristiano, Madrid 1994). Panikkar describes this double faceted reality as follows:

“Myth is not the object of discourse, but the expression of a kind of sui generis awareness. Myth and knowledge go together... A living myth does not leave room for interpretation, inasmuch as there is no need for an intermediary. The hermeneutic of a myth is in no way myth, but rather its logos … The myth is transparent like light, and the mythic story is only the form, the covering with which the myth finds itself expressed, concealed, illuminated. This does not at all mean we have to disregard, much less belittle, the value of thinking and ignore the realm and inviolable rights of the logos. I simply mean that man cannot be reduced to the logos, nor can awareness be reduced to reflexive consciousness” (Myth, Faith and Hermeneutics).

The theme of myth and its place in relation to religion and human thinking in general has greatly occupied Panikkar and has given rise to the publication of numerous works of his. He himself came to say, “It is necessary to rediscover the place and function of myth in human life and to situate rationality in the total human context.” (Blessed Simplicity).

An open dialogue between myth and logos is the foundation of his dialogical dialogue as the force for opening oneself to the other and respectfully entering into his reality."

- Raimon Panikkar [16]

Brianne Swinne on the Elements of the New Paradigm

"Since the mid 1980s, a number of leading theorists across academic disciplines have been involved in the common endeavor of articulating the outlines of what might be called a planetary civilization. It is in terms of this ongoing creative project that the significance of Louis Herman’s Future Primal can best be appreciated. . . . The primary motivation for this revisioning is the realization that the ecological and social devastation taking place around the planet will only continue until some powerful new ideas take hold in human consciousness.

My own sense is that, in a number of fields, remarkable progress has been achieved. Some of the landmarks would include:

  1. in economics, Herman Daly and his articulation of the theoretical foundations for economic sustainability;
  2. in technology, Janine Benyus and her recasting of industrial infrastructure as biological mimicry;
  3. in agriculture, Wes Jackson and his new paradigm of a perennial polyculture;
  4. in physics, Fritjof Capra and his deconstruction of scientism;
  5. in human-Earth relations, Susan Griffin and her work leading beyond the oppressions of dualism;
  6. in religion, Thomas Berry and his vision of the ultimate sacred community as neither humanity, nor a subgroup of humanity, but the entire Earth Community itself.

I would place the work of Louis Herman, (Future Primal, in this company of geniuses."

- Brian Swinne [17]

The Evolution of Consciousness According to Owen Barfield

"Having established that the world consists in collective representations, Barfield goes on to demonstrate the manner in which the mode of collective representation has undergone a metamorphosis through history.

He establishes three general epochs in the evolution of consciousness:

(i) the “Original Participation” of Ancient and Primordial peoples

(ii) the “Onlooker Consciousness” of Modern post-scientific cultures, and

(iii) the “Final Participation” of the age to come."

- Max Leyf Treinen [18]

The Impersonal Path vs the Personal Path of Evolutionary Love

"Evolutionary processes and impulses are assumed to be impersonal. All of this is a true and important teaching. But from the perspective of Unique Self enlightenment, it is only part of the story. In the teaching of the Unique Self mystics and in the leading edge of Integral Theory, the inner nature of the evolutionary impulse is none other than love. That love is both intensely personal love and at the same time fully beyond the personal—an impersonal love. Deeper truth always lives in paradox. Holiness is not paradise but paradox. The impersonal evolutionary impulse, which beats in your personal heart, is the very heart of the kosmos. It is one love. Personal and impersonal are simply distinct faces of the One."

- Marc Gafni [19]

Consciousness and self-understanding are not epiphenomenal

"Consciousness and self-understanding are not epiphenomenal — they are not merely supervening or reacting to a more basic bio-technological base—human consciousness and self-understanding are driving the global crisis at all levels. So it is conscious evolution from here on out: we are able to know and do too much to pretend otherwise; we must consciously orchestrate the future of the planet and the biosphere. Our generation is in an unprecedented position to take responsibility for participating in profoundly generative and destructive evolutionary crises. The question is: can we understand our crises in cosmic context, as opportunities for the emergence of the unprecedented, and as invitations into a higher form of life? To do so we must come to see that the evolution of the universe and biological life is not a fact, it is a story. Evolution is a story about us, who we are, and what we are going through now. The universe itself is a best understood as a story, not as a mere fact. The universe is a love story. Like all true love stories (and unlike harlequin romances or romantic comedies) it has been as story of profound crisis, cataclysm, tragedy, hope, emergence, and creativity."

- Zachary Stein and Marc Gafni [20]

Integration as the abandonment of fear

"When I began a few years ago to produce media about the relationship between evolutionary biology and revolutionary politics, it was clear I had found the right frame. The simplest way to phrase it is that I had found people who were clearly motivated by empathy and a broad awareness of the world, but who also possessed a certain tough-mindedness, a willingness to engage with forms of evidence and lines of reasoning that did not immediately offer a clear path to psychological comfort. As a corollary, they seemed to be people who lacked some of the tendencies I've found most destructive to political efforts, and virtually impossible to filter out, in organizing processes. Crucially, as the frequent correspondences I receive have made clear, the people I've engaged with my work also lack any kind of cohesive background or self-selection into any particular existing cultural or political niche. Some are scientists, physical or social, while others prioritize intuitive perceptual abilities; some have lifelong immersion in a practical skill like farming, others are creatures of the internet; some have a developmental context that could plausibly be described as feral, others are self-described wine moms. This is equally important to me as their lack of certain destructive tendencies, for as we will see, I believe a fracturing of humanity in complex societies into echelons, in which only a tiny proportion of our evolutionary potentials are expressed, is fundamental to the circumstances of power we confront. If this book has exactly one truly overarching theme, it is integration, the trait that is most characteristic of the abandonment of fear."

- Arnold Schroder [21]

Key Resources

Understanding integral research methodologies, by Jennifer Gidley:

Stages of consciousness development according to Integral Theorists:

On specific civilizational moments:

On the evolution of consciousness modes:

Key Articles

For a general introduction, see Brendan Graham Dempsey's overview of Adult Developmental Theory by Brendan Graham Dempsey: Brendan Graham Dempsey on How the Epic of Evolution Continues in the Psycho-Cultural Domain

These are probably the most important articles that describes the civilizational impasse we have reached at the moment, and how we can get out of this conundrum:

  • THE SOLUTION ? : Thought-Shapers. By Robert Hanna and Otto Paans. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 17, no. 1, 2021. [23] . For a more extensive treatment, see: Theory of Thought-Shapers

About integral/integrative thinking and traditions:

  • A vital read: The rise of Neo-Integrative Worldviews. Towards a rational spirituality for the coming planetary civilization? By Roland Benedikter and Markus Molz. [24]

[25]: the article identifies five sources: Hermetism; Neoplatonism; Renaissancism; the nexus of German classicism, romanticism and idealism; and reconstructive postmodernism


Ongoing discussions:

"A reconciliation of oral myth with literate reason will be the hallmark of a new epistemic settlement. The ordered path of technological evolution toward higher states of “inclusive consciousness” and “mythic integration,” along the lines of what McLuhan had envisioned, would be open once again".

Indidivual integral thinkers:

See also:

  • New Grounds for a Re-Union Between Science and Spirituality. By ERVIN LASZLO. World Futures The Journal of General Evolution 62 (1-2 / January-March 2006):3-5]: "Science is recovering its basic mission of making sense of the world. As a search for meaning it is similar to spirituality. The difference between science and spirituality is not in the end they seek, but in the way they seek it. Science uses rational thinking in analyzing and interpreting what experience and experiment discloses, whereas spirituality combines experience with the immediacy of an intuition that speaks to a reality that underlies the world conveyed by the senses."

Key Books

  • Sacred Science. John Heron. The more you ascend, the more you need descent i.e. embodiment. MB: Perhaps the most balanced path I have seen so far.
  • Wilber, Ken. 1) Up from Eden: A transpersonal view of evolution. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1981 ; 2) A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality. Shambhala Publications, 2000.

* 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.

* Integral Philosophy: The Common Logical Roots of Anthropology, Politics, Language, and Spirituality. by Johannes Heinrichs. Ibidem Press, 2018 [29]

"Johannes Heinrichs ranks among the world’s greatest systematic thinkers and this book shows why. Employing the best of European and Eastern philosophical traditions, the book provides the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical framework for human self-organization. At its core is the model of value-based, effective democracy. I have not found a better remedy for overcoming the moral and political predicament of our time." (Klaus Bosselmann)


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

Key People

Robert Hanna (and Otto Paans, et al.)

Robert Hanna and Otto Paans have developed a Theory of Thought-Shapers, which distinguishes Constrictive vs. Generative Thought-Shapers. It is rooted in the Cosmobiological Tradition, which is rooted in emergentist conception of mind as rooted in life, called Organicism (or sometimes New Wave Organicism. For more, see their Manifesto on the Organicist Conception of the World.

Peter Pogany

... integrates insights into thermodynamics with the evolution of consciousness as described by Jean Gebser, see: Fifth Order Form of Consciousness and Its Application to Economic Worldviews

  • Essays:
  1. Thermodynamic Isolation and the New World Order ; World History as a Thermodynamic Process
  2. Stages of Evolving Global Self-Organization ; Evolution of the Global System

Key Podcasts

Key Webcasts

Key Themes

Adult Developmental Theory

On the Practice of Archdisciplinarity

Find out about the work of the Archdisciplinary Research Center‎‎

Archdisciplinarity is an extension of the scope of inquiry that pays attention to the linkages between meta-theories.

Archmodernism is seen as a stage of social evolution.

For an introduction, see the video presentation: Cory David Barker on Archdisciplinarity

Civilizational Analysis

In this P2P Foundation wiki, I (Michel Bauwens) have undertaken a project of Civilizational Analysis, i.e. a project to read and study what macrohistorians have learned about the overall evolution of humanity, life, and the cosmos.

Here is our resource base:

My categorization distinguishes:

  1. a 'culturalist' thread, focusing on the provocation by Oswald Spengler and the responses to it, who all acknowledge a key role for culture
  2. a materialist thread, i.e. neo-marxist and world-systems analysis, who focus on the political economy
  3. a spiritualist thread, i.e. authors who believe the ideas of the sacred and the relation to the divine are strong determinants (Aurobindo, de Chardin)
  4. an integrative thread, authors who try to hold these polarities together

Missing in my list so far, is the emerging academic discipline of Big History, which combines cosmic, biological and human history.

Specialized sections with documentation:

So far, I have been able to distinguish these types of cycles in the reviewed literature:

  1. The Kondratieff Waves, also called Long Waves, which take about 50-60 years and represent an ascending/descending cycle. Polanyi call it a lib/lab cycle: in the ascending part of the cycle, a new combination of technology, energy and managerial philosophy takes hold, which is initially good for labor and leads to welfare type reforms; after the mid-life crisis, there is a supply and profit crisis, and after a political counter-revolution, economic liberalism is strengthened (the lib phase), until market distortions lead to popular revolt and a new cycle.
  1. The Hegemonic cycle, 150 years or more, which defines an era dominated by a global hegemon, and its associated old order (dutch, portugal-spain, Britain I and II, US hegemony, possible hegemony of China
  1. The 16-generation cycle of deeper civilizational model change (very visible in Europe, 500 fall of Roman Empire, 1,000 'First European Revolution', 1500: Reformation, 2,000 = current crisis. Duration 450-500 years.
  1. Generations of civilizations, see Toynbee, and the post-civilizational hypothesis of Keith Chandler

Important: the spiral nature of evolution: upward sweeps and Central Civilization thesis\

  1. My own ‘pattern’: The Pulsation of the Commons
  2. My own theoretical preference: Multilevel Selection Theory


Timothy Wilken introduces the major works of the tradition of Synergic Science:

"The phrase synergic science serves as a metaphoric container for all those works of “trans-modern” science that were created using a new whole-istic inclusive approach.

Beginning in 1919, a new approach to science emerged. This new “trans-modern” approach to science was based in part on the realization that the ‘whole’ cannot be deeply understood except as an intact functioning ‘whole.’ This new whole-istic inclusive approach to science transcends and includes the older reductionistic science.

This means the new approach really is inclusive. It includes both the ‘physical’ and the ‘metaphysical’—both the ‘objective’ and the ‘subjective’. When you transcend and include, you avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Important discoveries by scientists using the whole-istic inclusive approach of “trans-modern” synergic science include:

  • Paul Kammerer’s Theory of Serialty (1919),
  • Alfred Korzybski’s Theory of Time-binding (1921) and his General Semantics (1933),
  • Edward Haskell’s Unified Science (1945),
  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory (1962),
  • Arthur Koestler’s Theory of Holons and Holography (1967),
  • George Land’s Theory of Transformation (1973),
  • Buckminster Fuller’s Synergetics (1975),
  • N. Arthur Coulter’s Human Synergetics (1976),
  • Arthur Young’s Theory of Process (1976), and
  • James G. Miller’s General Theory of Living Systems (1978)."





.. Modernism Post-Modernism Trans-Modernism
Form language Linear (abstraction,repetition) Fragmented/emegent (scripts, parametricism) Differentiation, pattern
Social agenda Altruism (naive) Cynicism, irony Capacity-building
Schema Top-down Intuitive Bottom-up/inductive pattern/combination
Artistic regine Industrial romantic sculptural Integrative (art/life)
Technology Elementary industrial Post-industrial/Fordist Biological/biophilic
Best practice methodology Ex-cathedra theory Deconstruction methods Evidence-based design
Guiding concepts Rationalism Irony Biophilia/biomimicry
Economics Socialist (top-down) Capitalist (ironic) Jacobsian (feedback systems, Mechanism design theory)
Philosophy Platonic [1] Post-structuralism Symmetric structuralist [2]
  1. See Salingaros and Mehaffy, "Geometrical Structuralism"
  2. There is a structure we can manage, because it is comprehensible. But there are limits - and powers - of language that we must understand so as to take full advantage. Language is a structure in nature, like any other (and more pervasive than we thought). This is its power, to address our challenges and enrich our experiences. See e.g.

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