The Integral Approach

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Mauro Mora, unsplash.com

The following is an excerpt from Salt Lake Civil Network

What is Integral?
Our work through the Salt Lake Civil Network is integrally informed.

Integral refers to a stage of human development and related capacities.

Integral capacities enable people to address issues effectively and efficiently with multi-systemic, complex adaptive capacities. They are able to re-integrate that which postmodernism has deconstructed, but in much more encompassing ways than modernism has in the past. People with integral capacities tend to re-institutes hierarchies of competence and values that have been torn asunder by postmodernism, again in dramatically superior ways to modernism. Integral orientation is toward wholeness and integration. Integral capacities include an ability for the first time for people to integrate the key perspectives of the “I” the “We” and the “It”, that is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspectives. One of the most important integral capacities which has never existed before is the ability to be able to connect with people from all backgrounds and stages of development and points of view and weave them together for much more comprehensive solutions to the world’s challenges.

It is critical to model and promote integral approaches and to be an attractor to growth of more people into integral capacities before postmodernism – even with all of its gifts – leads to instability and possibly even the undermining of the foundations of society. Research suggests that any new stage of human development will become dominant and begin to transform the world when 10-20% of adults reach that capacity. This is why the Civil Network is doing everything it can to model integrally informed approaches and is dedicated to networking globally with those who have similar concerns and capacities in order to make a positive difference. Research shows that human evolution has been moving quickly enough that an integral critical mass may be accomplished within the next few decades, especially as global and local initiatives are actively pursued and interconnected by as many people, groups, and communities as possible.

Human Development through Time: Modernism to Integral

The Enlightenment arose because a critical mass of people achieved a new and higher stage of human development than had existed before, which introduced formal operational thinking. This gave rise to modernism, which includes the gifts of modern science, together with the separate domains of ethics and art–the pursuit of the good, true, and beautiful.

In the second half of the twentieth century, a critical mass of people achieved a higher stage of human development referred to in developmental psychology as context awareness. This initial context aware capacity gave rise to what has been called postmodernism, and people with these early context aware capacities are often referred to as individualists or pluralists. A hallmark of what might be called negative postmodernism is to deconstruct assumptions, texts, value systems, etc. The result is deeper insights, but often fragmentation and sometimes even a shift toward nihilism. Early context aware development leads to seeing that everyone has a legitimate point to make from their unique perspective, but lacks the ability to discern which perspectives might be more mature than others.

The gift of postmodern pluralism is people become much more honoring of diversity and more inclusive, but because of a relative inability to discern greater or lesser quality or maturity, this pluralism often ends up in endless discussions without making adequate decisions, and further tends to equally disregard all values and principles. This can lead to instability and even nihilism.

Even with all of its spirit of inclusiveness, postmodernism tends to attack modern and traditional values and institutions. In other words, it often undercuts the very stages of human development and civilization which made post modernism possible in the first place, and which support and give stability and productivity to most societies in the world today. Many disciplines and institutions throughout the world are in the process of being transformed by postmodernism, with all the gifts and dangers that accompany it.

In the meantime, at the beginning of the 21st century, another new and higher stage of human development is arising, which is a more mature stage of context awareness that is clearly discernible from postmodernism. It has been called post-postmodernism, but the dominant term for it has become integral.

Currently there are only a few percent of adults in the developed world (and fewer elsewhere) who have the capacity to function fully with integral capacities. This does not yet comprise a critical mass of people who may transform thought and action in the world. Yet much of the cutting edge work being done in many disciplines in the world today is beginning to reflect integral methods and capacities.

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