Dan Danforth’s comments have got me thinking about Ken Wilber’s “all level, all quadrant” view of human consciousness and behaviour. And although I don’t agree with Ken Wilbur on everything, and would assert that his “four quadrants” doesn’t mesh with Plato’s “the good, the beautiful and the true” nearly as cleanly as he suggests, nevertheless I find Wilber’s thoughts on this stimulating.
So, while some of this is in my head I thought I’d write it down, even though some of this may come across as gobbledegook if you’ve never encountered Wilbur’s “all level, all quadrant” view before. To help you orientate, though, here’s two diagrams of the four quadrants: the individual-subjective, individual-objective, collective-subjective, and collective-objective.
Different Theorists and the Four Quadrants
Characteristics of the Four Quadrants
Wilbur claims the top left correlates to beauty (aesthetics), the bottom left to goodness (ethics), the top right to truth (epistemology), the bottom right to … well, I’m not quite sure. I see problems with this, particularly with beauty, because beauty is not always in the eye of the (individual-subjective) beholder. Instead, I would say the good, the beautiful and the true cut across the four quadrants in some very interesting ways.
For example, recognizing beauty can be a matter of:
… that is, self determined (individual-subjective)
… that is, socially determined (collective-subjective)
… that is, physically determined (individual-objective)
… that is, systemically determined (collective-objective)
Thus, contra Wilber, beauty cannot be boxed into the individual-subjective quadrant so easily. Nevertheless, Wilbur is surely right in suggesting all four ways of viewing the world their own validity. Integrating his own thinking and mine, I would say, beauty cannot be fully understood without taking all four quadrants seriously.
I would say the same for goodness and truth as well. If I said, “It’s cold today” your perception of the “truth” of this would very much depend on your cultural conditioning in contrast to my own. If any of you are Canadians, you should doubt the truth of my statement very much, at least by your standards. If however I said, “It’s 20C today”, well, you could check the truth of that just by Googling the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia. There are different kinds of truth.
Where am I going with this. Well, just that it becomes very interesting when you come to conversations about the “goodness” of Christianity or the “truth” of the resurrection or the “beauty” of a Protestant church.