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A Notation for Integral Concepts
(Proposed by Joe Voros)

Simplified Version[10 Jun 2002]


the notation is not meant to "show it all" (at least, not yet). It is merely a modest attempt to make explicit the concepts of Lines, Levels and Quadrants (and possibly States) in a cross-level analysis. But, the subject-object pairings can be relaxed into simply descriptions of Subjects absent Objects and Objects absent Subjects (ie no longer cross-level, but simply descriptive of a subject or object in isolation). I would discourage the use of the notation in a context vacuum, and I would insist on a narrative to give it meaning! Really, the notation is just a way of saying in fewer symbols what we would need to use part-sentences for. But, to set contexts for the use of this symbolic notation, we already have a useful symbolic notation: written language! 


no round-brackets = subjective domain
(  ) = it is an object domain
[ ] = Level. For a subject: the Wave - For an object: the Realm
A/B = transitioning from level A to level B

[green] = "a subject having a mostly green centre-of-gravity bulk self-sense"
[green/YELLOW] = "a subject having a centre-of-gravity bulk self-sense which is transitioning out of green and into yellow" (this form is called Entering Yellow in Spiral language)


Moral [ ] = "the moral line of development in a subject, spoken of without reference to any waves of this line"
Glorpiness [ ] = "the line of 'Glorpiness' (ie in the Subject) without specifying Waves".
Self-Identity [  ] = "the line of self identity in general without specifying waves")
( [spirit] ) = "the (object) realm of spirit"


Choosing lines in quadrants other than UL is tricky. And don't worry that you haven't got a handle on which lines have been identified where -- I don't think anyone really has (but see later). The "Reframing ES" paper in the Files area of this list makes a few preliminary suggestions, but they do not stem from the consciousness approach (quite deliberately). That paper is aimed at futurists, hence it played up the notion of STEEP factors in the LR, which are familiar to futurists, and did not draw upon what we know from the integral model.

About three years ago (mid 1999, published late 1999) I wrote a short article for a business-futures type periodical, and I tried to show -- in really simplified terms, and for a predominantly [orange] (read this as "bulk orange") audience -- how Self-Identity[ ] (ie read this as "the line of self identity in general without specifying waves") is correlated with the dominant mode of techno-economic production in the LR([ ]). It was essentially a really dumbed-down version of Toffler's wave theory, but taken from the perspective of a dumbed-down version of Wilber's model, and therefore it looked at what was coming in terms of the basic structures of consciousness, rather than merely trying to track newly emerging trends. This was done to suggest what new mode of techno-economic production may be surfacing, and what business might need to get a clue about... "While it is now embarrassing to me just how dumbed-down it was, nevertheless, it draws on a key idea -- that all lines have correlates in each quadrant."

Now, this was never developed in any great depth in that article (wrong audience!). But Mark Edwards has written about this notion of what he calls "homologous structures" in a great deal of depth, so I highly recommend his paper on sociocultural evolution at the Visser web site. Of course, Greg Wilpert is also working on the idea of collective lines and what they might be. See his draft book in the Files rea of this list.

The question of just what are the lines is not settled in any way that I would consider ready for a general theory. Ken has frequently mentioned "some two dozen lines", but I have yet to find a definitive statement of what they are. Certainly, in some places he mentions some of them -- in Eye of Spirit, Transformations, SES, etc. But I haven't sat down with the Collected Works and gone through them searching for the definitive list. Has anyone? And, I suspect, they will be mostly the interior lines; this, after all, is the arena of much of the consciousness research he draws upon.

The major shortcoming of the notation therefore stems from the shortcoming of trying to isolate Lines in each Aspect (eg Quadrant).  In the end, I left Quadrants out of the description of the Subject -- a Subject is just Lines, Waves and States (maybe even Types, if I can find a way of making it work sensibly using just the symbols on a keyboard). I suspect that there are just major Lines; and when we try to artificially place them in a certain quadrant, we are "de-integralising" the integral view. Perhaps it is more fruitful to think of the Lines, with some having a strong affinity with a certain quadrant, but to recognise that there are correlates in all the other quadrants (however weak). This is a major point of interest for me.

Finally, the notation is just a way to be precise with brevity. Above, I used "[orange]" to mean "a bulk description of a Subject centred around Orange", or simply "bulk Orange"; and "Self-Identity[ ]" to mean the longer sentence quoted above. And that is really the utility of the notation. It forces mindfulness ... of what we are saying, and about how precise we are being, without using huge sentences. And that's all it's meant to do...

I suspect that there ain't no "line lore" except what we come up with ourselves.

My advice: use the syntax of the notation to just suggest what you mean, if you want to talk about something as a potential Line: eg "Glorpiness[ ]" could be read as "the line of 'Glorpiness' (ie in the Subject) without specifying Waves". Now, the fact that there is no such Line as the Glorpiness line is immaterial! The structure of the notation is such that you fill it in with whatever system is being used, with whatever Lines, Levels (Waves in the Subject, Realms in the Object), Aspects, etc, and the notation tells you how much is left in or left out.

An earlier, more complete version[29 May 2002]

The basic idea is founded loosely around "cross-level analysis" which Ken first used (I think) in A Sociable God (CW3) in a very broad way, and was most recently refined in TOE (p132). 

The essential ideas I am using, based on Ken's notion of cross-level analysis, are:

* distinguish between Subject doing the viewing and the Object being viewed; and on just Subject or Object when considered in isolation;

* distinguish Levels of the Great Nest: "Wave" of existence for the Subject, and "Realm" of existence for the Object. This distinction is made so as to clarify the related but distinct notions of epistemology (way of knowing) of the Subject, and the ontology (level of existence) of the Object. Our level of being conditions our way of knowing. I want to differentiate between the ontological level of existence of the Subject which affects epistemology (by using "Wave" to denote the level) from the ontological level of existence of the Object (by using "Realm" to denote the level).

* show different Lines of development;

* distinguish different Aspects of reality; what I mean by this is Quadrants, or The Big Three, or some other form of differentiation. I want to keep it more general than just Quadrants, hence "Aspects".

* allow for characterisation of different States of consciousness, especially Peak experiences; and

* make the notation useable in email-based discussions.

This last requirement leads to quite some limitations on what can be achieved! But, here goes...

The basic form is

Subject --> Object

"a subject looks at an object."

The form of the Subject looks like

Line[Wave, Wave, ... ], Line[Wave, Wave, ...], ... -->

which denotes the particular Waves of each Line of development of the Subject, and "..." shows that more can be added which have not been shown.

The form of the Object is

--> Aspect( Line[Realm, Realm, ...], Line[Realm, Realm, ...], ...), Aspect( Line[Realm, Realm, ...], Line[Realm, Realm, ...], ...), ...

where each Aspect of reality (eg quadrant) shows the Realms (ie levels) of each Line being considered. The different Aspects can be grouped with a more inclusive notation (eg LH, RH, Indiv, Coll); this form is just to show that each Aspect may have different Lines and Realms under consideration.

Thus, the full cross-level notation, so far, is something like (eek!)

L[W, W, ...], L[W, W, ...], ... --> A( L[R, R, ...], L[R, R, ...], ... ), A( L[R, R, ...], L[R, R, ...], ...), ...

which looks scary, I know, but that's just because it's general and not specifically using something familiar, yet.

This obviously can be simplified. If no Wave or Realm is specified, the square brackets [ ] are left empty, thus

Line[ ], Line[ ], .... 

for a Subject, and 

A( L[ ], L[ ], ...), etc 

for an Object. (The empty square-brackets are a notational reminder that an "All Levels" view is not being taken.)

If, instead, no Lines are specified, these take the form

[Wave, Wave, ...] --> 

or just

[Waves] --> 

for a Subject, where the square brackets around the Waves remind us that no Lines are being specified, but that they *could* be. (This is therefore a notational reminder that an "All Lines" view is not being taken.) This form is thus the generic "bulk" description of consciousness which does not distinguish separate lines of development (ie a phase-2 model). It is clear from the notational syntax that this simplification is happening, which the whole point of the notation.

For an Object, if no Lines are specified, then the strict usage would be

--> A( [Realms] )

If in addition Realms are not specified (ie no Levels or Lines in the Object), then it becomes

--> A( [ ] ).

If no Aspects or Lines are specified in the Object, only a Realm or Realms, this becomes just

--> ( [Realms] ).

The round brackets around around "[Realms]" remind us that there are different Aspects we are not explicitly considering. (This is a notational reminder that an "All Quadrant" view is not being taken.)

Therefore, a generic "bulk" description of a Subject localised at some Wave of consciousness looking at some Realm of reality as an Object (and not considering any of its Aspects) is rendered simply as

[Wave] --> ( [Realm] ), 

If no Lines or Waves for the Subject are specified, the notation takes the special form

S | --> Object

where the "S" denotes a generic un-named Subject. This form arises from another usage which denotes a particular *named* Subject having a certain view, where "S" takes the value of the name of the Subject, and the vertical bar is used to separate the name from the Lines/Waves notation. The vertical bar in the above form is a notational reminder that *all* views of the world are filtered, even if we don't say what they are! (You could consider it a simplification of the "[ ]" which arises from not specifying levels or lines.)

For example, you might be complaining by now that I am seeing the world through a strongly Orange filter (possibly you are accusing me of "being reductionistic" or possibly "too formalistic" by using such a quasi-mathematical notation). You would indicate this by writing the accusation thus:

JV | [orange] --> ( [ ] )

which shows the named Subject, "JV", peering out through a "bulk-orange" filter, "[orange]", with no Lines specified, at some unspecified Aspects, Realms and Lines in the world.

Now, this all looks rather scary, but that's just because I've tried to delineate the overall general syntax in the absence of any specific Lines, Levels, Aspects, etc, upon which to hang your understanding.

Therefore, now for some specifics. The Levels needs to be chosen (they become Waves in the Subject and Realms in the Object), as do the Lines. The Aspects will usually be the Four Quadrants (less frequently, the Big Three). Thus, Joe's view of the world when he was a rational-formop scientist looking at the two Right Hand quadrants without specifying Lines or Realms is rendered (using SD colours for the levels of Mind):

JV | [orange] --> RH( [ ] )

or, rational-scientific Joe looking at the Realm of physical matter is rendered

JV | [orange] --> ( [matter] ).

The generic view from Orange at the UL Aspect of the physical level of matter is therefore simply,

[orange] --> UL( [matter] )

If you wanted to be more specific, and say that it is just my Cognitive line of development which is at formop, you would write

JV | Cogn[formop] --> ( [ ] )

or equivalently (and using SD colours),

JV | Cogn[orange] --> 

(which leaves out any mention of what Objects I am looking at). And, if you thought I was actually cognitively operating from rational formop, had a pre-conventional Morality, and that I was looking at the Realm of Mind in the cultural Aspect of reality (ie Lower Left quadrant), you might write

JV | Cogn[formop], Morality[precon] --> LL( [mind] )

This could also be rendered with a single set of Levels, such as the SD colours, and we would realise that Cogn[orange] = formop, and that Morality[purple-red] = precon, etc. I am using the full form for clarity, always realising that with an agreed set of levels, much of this can be implied.

Of course, it is not necessary to explicitly name the Subject. The JV and vertical bar can be elided from the above renderings so as to be simply generic statements about particular worldviews, whence the worldview of the typical James Bond mad scientist is usually

Cogn[formop], Morality[precon] -->

or simply 

Cogn[formop], Moral[precon]

eliding the "-->" since we are just talking about the Subject rather than a Subject-Object cross-level analysis.

The Object of Greg's work on the exterior social manifestations of the collective lines of development, especially, techno-economy, might be rendered as

--> LR( Tech-Econ[ ] )

which does not specify any Subject, merely shows the Object of the view, without specifying any Realms. We could simplifiy this to be just

LR( Tech-Econ[ ] )

If we wanted to talk about, say, the Technology line of development, we might simply use Tech[ ] as its descriptor. If we wanted to specify how the Tech[ ] line manifests at a particular level or Realm, say, rational formop Orange, we might write this as Tech[orange], or Tech[rational] or Tech[formop], it's up to you. As long as the Levels are agreed upon collectively, we have some latitude over how to render them.

I have left out, so far, the situation when a Subject has a Peak experience of another Wave of existence. This is because I'm not quite sure how to render it. Is it the Subject seeing another Realm of reality, or is the Subject accessing a different Wave of their own potential? I suspect it is the latter, but that by doing this, another Realm becomes visible to them directly, rather than just mental-theoretically. If they are localised at say Orange (in a "bulk" sense), and they peak experience, say, the Subtle level, I might be tempted to write this as (note curly-braces)

{ [orange] } ^subtle --> ( [subtle] )

where the "^" indicates a peak State or experience, and the square-bracket form shows the usual "bulk" description of the level of adaptation of the Subject. This is very different from

[orange] --> ( [subtle] )

which is a rational view of the subtle realm; what Wilber would call (a subset of) "mandalic reason" (CW3). In fact, mandalic reason, as he defines it in A Sociable God is just

[mind] --> ( [spirit] )

that is, a mental-level view of the Realm of Spirit. This is different from a peak experience of

{ [mind] } ^spirit --> ( [spirit] ) 

Two uses of the word "spirit" is somewhat redundant, so, in fact, I might be tempted to make the peak experience notation simply something like

{ [orange] } ^ --> ( [subtle] )

or just

{ [orange] } ^subtle 

because it seems almost a given that the Subject must contact the subtle Wave of its own development in order to see the equivalent subtle Realm. I write it this way in order to leave room for different Lines in the Subject, such as

{ Cogn[psychic], Moral[vision-logic], ... } ^ --> ( [subtle] )


{ Cogn[psychic], Moral[vision-logic], ... } ^subtle

which leads to the idea of writing

{} ^ --> ( [subtle] )

or just

{} ^subtle

if I didn't want to specify what the average mode of the Subject is, just that the Subject is peak experiencing the Subtle wave/realm.

I've been developing this notation for a good year or more, and it only takes a little while to get proficient, provided you understand the *principles* behind the notation. That's why this email has focussed on the general syntax and form, rather than on the specific choices of levels, lines or aspects -- to get the principles of its use across, rather than millions of specific examples. This stuff is best learned by practice. Just choose some levels and lines and go!

This notation is not set in stone, and I welcome feedback about simplifications or clarifications. This is a developing work-in-progress, so please view it as such.

I know that some people don't work well with generalities, so I hope you have not been put off by my use of generic syntactical forms. I commend the notation's *principles* to you, and await the group's verdict. And remember, this is no more analytic-reductionist than using the notation "cat" to denote specific instances of felines.

So, in closing, does this seem too cumbersome; or does this approach of *explicitly* forcing clarity about just what is being talked about (ie about what is left in and what is left out) seem useful to people? 

Question {Janice]

I still haven't got a handle on what lines have been identified in each quadrant. OK for UL, I get cognitive and moral and can arm wave about a few more: affective, kinesthetic. And for LR, I think of STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental, political). But I really run dry at LR and UL beyond KW's original map. Is there a fount of line lore somewhere?

Text sposted on this site 29 Sep 2002