• The Farther Reaches of Human Development

    Comparing Late Stage Development with the Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration through Communicative Action

A Program for the Weeks to Come

The Transition into Fourthness – the Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth

In the weeks to come I will post stage descriptions of the latest layer within the Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration, the so called Fourthness or Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth. So far this territory has hardly been described beyond merely phenomenologically derived first person accounts by Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber, Adi Da Samraj, or Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Just three other structuralist models so far, seem to have given insight  into the first of the four stages ahead within this layer: First Clare Graves‘ Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory, though he himself accounts that he „never had enough people to do any systematic studies of them“ (Graves 2005, p.397); second Susanne Cook-Greuter`s (2010) conception of Postautonomous Ego Development; third Terri O`Fallon`s (2010) STAGES Model.

In the course of this article we will look at:

  1. Different methods to compare different models of adult development to generate a generalized comparison based on transparent assumptions;
  2. A critical analysis of later stage assessments through Terri O`Fallon’s STAGES Model as well as Susanne Cook-Greuter`s conception of Ego Development in comparison to the criteria of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration;
  3. Hints how to assess development within Fourthness and an illustration how different objects and concepts from the worlds of body, life, mind, and spirit can be expressed there;
  4. Perspectives on the confusion of states with stages and the benefits of relying on an assessment based on the thematic-rhematic field (number of subject, predicate, object modifications within a sentence) of communication.

The following table shows a comparison of some models that can serve as a generalization for orientation within the next articles to be published here. These articles are going to describe in an archeological fashion all four: the 4.1 Consensus-Aware, the 4.2 Autological, the 4.3 Cosmotheantric, and the 4.4 Co-Gnostic personalities and worldviews. For a comprehensive overview of my model please consider to read my article about Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration through Communicative Action however, it is not necessary but might be helpful for a deeper understanding of both: the following musing about stage correlation and the stage descriptions ahead.

Difficulties of Comparing Stages within

The Transition into Fourthness – the Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth

The table shows an approximate stage correlation. The difficulties of such a correlation are apparent and there are many ways to come up with parralel views of differend models. Moral stage seven for example “is a purely hypothetical discussion based on no existing data”, so Lawrence Kohlberg (1996, p.118). However, we can construct a moral stage six by assessing both Immanuel Kant`s and John Rawls` thoughts on morality, who served as role models for Kohlberg`s conception. Then, by looking at Habermas‘ (1991) writings on Discourse Ethics through the lens of our model as well, we can put Cosmic Morals on top of the additive span of Kohlberg`s conception of stage six as conscience principles and the succeeding improvements of this conception made by Habermas.

Sri Aurobindo`s stages however, though they align in our model completely as they do within Ken Wilber`s (2017) The Religion of Tomorrow can be correlated by the many details the Indian sage offers. But, too, since he for example notes in one of his letters, that one can get inner silence at „the level of Higher Mind which is the next above the human intelligence“ (Aurobindo 2012, p.150). And he himself „got these things in 1908“ (ibid. p.150), a period of his life where his writings express the transition into the second half of our 3.4 Discoursive Stage.

Similarly, the depiction of Clare Graves‘ (2005) Levels of Existence, that however, is differing from Wilber`s (2017), is a result of the seeming fact that Graves himself, when he developed the final version of the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory, lived from our 4.1 Consensus-Aware Stage. Therefore, we consider it to be likely that it is incorporated in his work as will be shown within the description of exactly this 4.1 Stage.

Too, Terri O`Fallon`s (2010) Evolution of the Human Soul is most probably a work nurtured by the capacities of this stage. Thus, her stages where drawn into the lattice equally spaced. However, there is some evidence depicted within Angerer`s (2020) Luhmann`s Life Work and Tier Patterns that her model includes several biases that lead to a distortion of the original stage trajectory.

To get an assessment at one of these later 4.1 Consensus-Aware to 4.4 Co-Gnostic stages through the measures of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration a sentence must be compartmentalized out of at least one subject and four predicate-object modifications. One can see this exemplarily in this passage from Sri Aurobindo`s (2003, p.510) writings on the Isha Upanishad:

„[First Component All cause and result are merely the evocation of a latent and potential shape or condition of things] [Second Component out of the previous condition or status in which it was latent,] [Third Component by some particular movement of a Conscious Force which is progressively passing from status to status] [Fourth Component and thus manifesting in form all that it holds in itself in being]“.

However, this is not only a seeming fact for sentences taken from a thoroughly written text, but true for spontaneously written sentence completions as well. Exemplarily, one person at the 4.1 Stage wrote in completing the stem “when people step out of line at work“ that „they are aware of their creative force and live this force full of playful joy, creative pleasure and mindful responsibility for a whole, which wants to be brought into new form by them and which created them as means and ways for this purpose in the first place”. And this writing can be dissected as follows:

“[First Component They are aware of their creative force] [Second Component and live this force full of playful joy, creative pleasure and mindful responsibility for a whole,] [Third Component which wants to be brought into new form by them] [Fourth Component and which created them as means and ways for this purpose in the first place]”.

In contrast, the only publicly available scoring example for O`Fallon`s (2020, p.12) 6.0 Universal stage that we where able to find is a completion of the stem „women are lucky because…“ and does not include four components. Rather the response – „as the canvas they contribute to the Universes‘ particular paintings in the Sacred’s art gallery by continuously receiving the brush of many colors, and thus are formed by the timeless, never ending layers of humanity’s pigment” –  is formed out of three meaningful subject, predicate, object modifications:

“[First Component As the canvas they contribute to the Universes‘ particular paintings in the Sacred’s art gallery] [Second Component by continuously receiving the brush of many colors,] [Third Component and thus are formed by the timeless, never ending layers of humanity’s pigment]”.

Henceforth, this completion would still fall into the Layer of Thirdness, that of Mind and Meaningful Ideas and not within Fourthness, the Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth. Similarly, a sentence completion exemplarily stated for the 6.0 Universal stage`s perspective on climate change, from a presentation given by Abigail Lynam and Lucia Olivia Hennelly (2020) includes only three components:

“We could make the world a better place if… [First Component each human fractal of the world found the courage and vulnerability to recognize] [Second Component that they are part of something greater][Third Component — a dynamic, living whole … a world expressing her love for herself]”.

While the earlier sentence completion from O`Fallon (2020) would most probably land within the 3.4 Discoursive Stage, the later might only be scored at the late 3.3 Integrative Stage –  the Autonomous level of Ego Development or the 4.5 Strategist stage.

In contrast, the only examplary sentence completion provided to the public by O`Fallon (2020, p.12) for the 5.5 Transpersonal stage would land within  Fourthness according to criteria of hierarchical complexity and integration and thus at a later stage than both 6.0 Universal examples:

“When I get mad… [First Component knowing that uncontrolled unleashing of the power I now access can create undesired damage,] [Second Component I recognize the feeling tone in my awareness] [Third Component and I take myself on, stepping toward what brought on the anger,] [Fourth Component as I know that the emotion points at the growing developmental edge, I have asked the universe to stretch]”.

This might in fact be indicative of a state-stage fallacy that might spring from the overemphasis on the similarity between the state and stage trajectory or interpenetrating the two dimensions of waking up and growing up – this hypotheses will get more transparent under the next heading. Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ken Wilber, and Beena Sharma (2013, p.3) point to this when they insist that collapsing states and stages “into one, equating them, demonstrates a serious misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Integral Theory”. However, the Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration through Communicative Action, too, includes a similarity between certain states and the stage trajectory.

Despite her critique of the STAGES Model, the same holds true for a correlation of Susanne Cook-Greuter`s (2010) work with Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration. Many of the multiple sentence completions available for comparison, from our point of view, do not necessarily point towards a coherent scheme of the Unitive stage. This means that neither are all Unitive sentence completions necessarily later than Construct-Aware nor are they based on a clear underlying grammar which would be representative of a distinct level of hierarchical complexity. Some of them like the examples given above rather fall either within our 3.3 Integrative or our 3.4 Discoursive Stage. Like this example from her dissertation thesis as a completion on the sentence stem „a man feels good, when…“ as a first Quarter 3.4 Discoursive response:

“[First Component He acts in a responsible, caring manner towards the world and himself,] [Second Component accepting good and bad around him,] [Third Component loving and giving to others freely as to himself]” (Cook-Greuter 2010, p.80).

However, like O`Fallon, at least part of her Unitive conception seems to be a projection of our 4.1 Consensus-Aware Stage. Of course, we don`t have the complete assessments of the persons who authored those single stems. Hence, they might really spring from protocols later than those single completions.

Object and Concept Independence of Assessment within

The Transition into Fourthness – the Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth

Terri O`Fallons STAGES Assessment seemingly relies strongly on concrete, subtle, and meta-aware indivdual or collective objects and whether or not they are passively or actively oriented. She and her colleagues (2020, p.3) write for example that the stage trajectory is marked by „one’s ability to understand (conceive of) objects of different levels of complexity, abstraction, and/or nuance“ and thus „for instance, a sentence about Subtle Individual objects, Passively oriented, is scored 3.0, while text focusing primarily on a Concrete Collective object, Actively oriented, is scored 2.5“ (ibid. p.3). Similarly, Susanne Cook-Greuter (2010, p.72) hopes to offer concise categories „to capture the substance of a group of responses“ on the sentence completion test. Thus for a Unitive score one has to show certain objects that are seen as arbitrations for a different stage of hierarchical complexity and integration that generates coherent meaning. These objects for example are „high tolerance, acceptance of self and world ‚as is‘, openness to life, change, process, rhytms, self influx“ (ibid. p.79).

The Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration is no content or object-based measure of development. It is first and foremost a measure of the hierarchical complexity and integration that shows up through what we call the thematic-rhematic field of a text, the number of subject, predicate, object modifications irrespective of the used objects or concepts – however, the discernment of a field only works by using a symbolic-syntactic field that is based on words, hence objects and content or categories. Therefore, all authors and texts used as examples for the stage descriptions in the articles to come are assessed at the respective stage through this method, but despite a certainty about the underlying grammar there is much less certainty that objects expressed at an altitude are unique aspects of theses stages and solely characteristic for one stage. They likewise could be either reverberations of earlier stages in new clothing or the contents of later stages reappropriated by someone at an earlier stage.

To elucidate that thought we look at four writings from people most likely coming from the late 4.1 Consensus-Aware Stage and the early 4.2 Autological Stage and compare them. One thus can easily see how a focus on either objects, concepts or states can lead to a significant difference in judging the utterances. Even to the degree that one might think of different developmental stages expressed.

Terri O`Fallon`s (2012, p.102) writing for example points towards objects through a language that makes the mind seem like an extension of the body and its sensual being – an experience – when she writes

“[First Component the expansion [of consciousness] moves beyond individual experience to collective experiences, to contextual experience to experiences of the Kosmos as whole, ] [Second Component only step out of that to find ] [Third Component that the container that holds this vastness] [Fourth Component is nothing but a world of Mind that makes distinction]”.

Contrasting this, Ervin Laszlo`s (2002) use of language in The Systems View of the World, rather includes objects that are concrete, they arise within life and are essences and processes of the universe. On can see this when he writes that

“[First Component the human being is a module] [Second Component in the multilevel structure that arose on earth as a result of nature`s penchant] [Third Component for building up in one place] [Fourth Component what it takes down in another]” (Laszlo 2002, p. 60).

At approximately the same altitude Sri Aurobindo (2006, p.368) in The Syntheses of Yoga writes about the results of liberation from the confined ego. Hereby he is using a language that is most expressive of mind and the meaning it creates while looking down on the concrete world and man as illusions. He says that

“[First Component we tend to regard this eternity which we increasingly are or in which we live as the sole reality] [Second Component and begin to look down from it upon the world and man as a remote illusion and unreality,] [Third Component because that is a status quite opposite to our new foundation in which we no longer place our roots of consciousness,] [Fourth Component from which we have been lifted up and transfigured and with which we seem to have no longer any binding link]”.

Finally, Adi Da Samraj (2009, p.867), when talking about his avataric divine self-revelation teaching in The Aletheon, is referring to pure transcendence and hence language cues that indicate experiences of self-identity with awareness itself:

“[First Component To realize real acausal god – the self-nature, self-condition, and self-state of reality itself,] [Second Component you must go beyond all the self-contraction-patterning of psychophysical egoity,] [Third Component through ego-transcending devotion to me,] [Fourth Component demonstrated by right life or self-discipline applied to the otherwise patterned egoic body-mind complex]”.

This last phrase from Adi Da shows a similar wording as the sentence completion from Lynam and Hennelly (2020) where the world is expressing “her love for herself” – which most probably is an experience of expressing her self-state or self-nature. In general these aspects of pure Fourthness or approaching absolute spirit itself as its self-revelation can be present at an earlier stage. However, expressed as a state within a triadic grammar not within a sentence that includes four themes, one for each layer already lived through and mastered by the subject. Too, none of the sentences might include  objects that are necessary to fall into one of Susanne Cook-Greuter`s (2010) Unitive categories but Adi Da or Aurobindo might well fit into the Construct-Aware category of using „a wide range of thought with self as referent including [the objects] of complex relationships and deep insights into own and other`s multilayerd psychological functioning“ (Cook-Greuter 2010, p.74).

The examples further support what Cook-Greuter, Wilber, and Scharma (2017, p.2) brought forth against an earlier version of the STAGES Model, namely that „individuals at any stage may privilege any of the quadrants as a base from which to observe reality“. At least one can see that in integral terms Ervin Laszlo rather prioritizes a lower right systemsview while Adi Da preferes to look from the interior individual stance and to adress a „you“ whereas Sri Aurobindo adresses a „we“, when he speaks about our shared roots of consciousness, which might rather indicate a lower left intersubjective focus for perception.

Of course, single sentences are not representative of a person’s overall scope of object and concept relations, but they can demonstrate tendencies and show how objects from all four layers of body, life, mind, and spirit can be referenced at any stage and serve as the source of one’s identity and as the foundation for one’s reflective focus. The later the stage the larger the roaming space within one`s enacted bio-psycho-social and spiritual stage and state spectrum. The number of places where we can life from consciously and with verbal self-expression, the possible homes that help us to design our identity as self-chosen mysteries and reveal it through a preferred quality of our spirit, soul, essence, and being, stepwise increases. Sri Aurobindo (2005 p.294) in Supermind, Mind and the Overmind Maya points toward this form of autonomy and self-actualization, which can be completely acknowledged at the 4.3 Cosmotheantric Stage for the first time, when he inter alia writes that “in the Overmind each of these three conditions [– of body, life, and mind – ] could be a separate action or basis of action and have its own principle of development and consequences and yet each keep the power to combine with the others in a more composite harmony”. Cosmotheantric exactly means this ability of the self-incarnated cosmos within ourselves, to bring together and interweave our three earlier layers of consciousness and the play of contradictions, which we have carved out of the nothing whatsoever, the great mystery, the invisibility of the prior unity without any differences and distinctions, and the “Overmind thus gives to the One Existence-Consciousness-Bliss the character of a teeming of infinite possibilities which can be developed into a multitude of worlds or thrown together into one world in which the endlessly variable outcome of their play is the determinant of the creation, of its process, its course and its consequence” (ibid. p.295).

However, each previous stage from the 3.3 Integrative on, that is, that of the autonomous man, tends to compare based on prioritized proceedings and interpretations of what unity of oppositions is more valuable than another. Accordingly, ideology arises that stretches along the spectrum of consciousness all the way up to the 4.2 Autological Stage, where it attempts to chisel the All-Unity in the infinity and eternity of the cosmic rainstorm into a single idea of „God Consciousness“ within the earlier trinity of body, life, and mind, as the one and only true consciousness. A totalization, which causes a fragmentation and disintegrating of consciousness in-itself by the misguided for-itself-ness as self-delusion-autology of a tiny drop as the truth of each and anyone. This is a resemblance of the 3.2 Conscientious` tendency , which is that of the orange achiever altitude, to use 2.3 Rule-Oriented reasoning, hence concrete-operations both for consensus and comparison (e.g. governance through rules or concrete incentives like money, intelligence as derived from concrete visible behavior, organisations controlled through concrete operating numbers like process time and return on invest).

Regardless, this delusion is also equally sprung from pure nothingness which is crystallizing itself through the layers of body, life, mind, and spirit into floating, everchanging structures that give rise to the individual and collective potential of what a stage might be, at a certain place within time and space, as well as within our interhuman transcendental apperception. They exist as condensations of pure ananda within this source of nothing whatsoever, without regard to any hierarchy between the objects of these layers whatsoever, but as the pure transitivity of this nothing whatsoever appearing as the increasing conscious being and bliss of pathways and constructions within and out of itself – yet unseen self-wondrous disseminations and diffusing traces that make up the all on the other side of nothingness that is only known as full reality by the divine knowlegde itself.

Therefore a field of pointing that includes those objects as well as a lexical-conceptual field are only secondary to an assessment with the Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration, and serve to judge the appropriateness and fullness of a personality`s self-disclosure in respect to the zeitgeist of a current discourse at a certain altitude.


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