AQAL 2210: A Tentative Cartology of the Future

Books discussed in this Section

~  Alexander, Christopher (2001) The Phenomenon of Life (The Nature of Order Bk 1-4 )CES Publishing, Berkeley, Ca.

~ Basseches, Michael Dialectical Thinking and Adult Development.Ablex Publishing Corp. Norwood, New Jersey.

~  Brown, Jason (2002) The Self Embodying Mind. Barrytown,/Station Hill

    (1991)Cognitive Microgenesis. Springer-Verlag, New York

~ Cook-Greuter, Suzanne Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace. Retrived from

~ Gebser, Jean (1985) The Ever Present Origin. OhioUniversity Press, Athens

~ Gendlin, Eugene (1997) A Process Model. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

 (1991) Thinking Beyond Patterns: Body, Language, and Situations. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

What First Person and Third Person Processes Really Are Retrieved from

~ Goswami, Amit (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Penguin Putnam, New York.

~ Laszlo, Ervin (2004) Science and the Akashic Field. Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT.

~ Roy, Bonnitta (2006) A Process Model of Integral Theory. Integral-Review,

~ Thackhoe, Sonam (2007) The Two Truths Debate. Wisdom Publications,  Boston.

~ Thompson, Evan. (2007) Mind in Life. Belknap Press, Cambridge, MA.

~ Trungpa, Chogyam (2004) The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala, Boston.

~ Wilber, Ken (2007) Integral Spirituality. Shambhala, Boston.

                            (2000) The Collected Works of Ken Wilber. Shambhala, Boston.

AQAL 2210: A Tentative Cartology* of the Future

Or How do we Get from AQAL to A-perspectival?

Note: Cartology: cartography of discourse & meaning

derived from ‘carte’- map ;’ logos’- discourse




As early as 1949 Jean Gebser (1985) predicted that Integral consciousness would have the capacity to render all the previous structures of cognition transparent. Today we have the AQAL map which identifies and contextualizes the eight indigenous or native perspectives of cognition. What is the possibility that there are emergent perspectives beyond the eight indigenous perspectives included in the AQAL framework?  What would these potentially “super integrative” perspectives look like? Can we anticipate future potentials by identifying those who seem to be operating at or near the edges of these integrative perspectives today? In addition, Gebser predicted that Integral consciousness would have the capacity to make new kinds of statements, by engaging new types of thinking that would go beyond perspectival thinking into the realm of the A-perspectival.  According to Gebser, the hallmarks of this new consciousness would include, in addition to transparency and integrity,  dynamics of the whole, space and time freedom, and spirituality.  So the question is “How do We Get from AQAL to A-perspectival- from the ability to contextualize perspectives across the boundaries that delimitate them, to a realm of unbounded wholeness? Writing in No Boundary, Ken Wilber (2000) tells us:

The ultimate metaphysical secret, if we dare state it so simply, is that there are no boundaries in the universe. Boundaries are illusions, products not of reality but of the way we map and edit reality. And while it is fine to map out the territory, it is fatal to confuse the two. (vol. 1 p. 462)


Integral theory is tricky. In many respects, it is a liberation theory – whether it addresses personal, spiritual or social concerns. At its best, integral theory enables us to dis-embedd from limited perspectival frameworks, and open up into more integrated views. However, at its worst, integral theory is absorbed as a metaphysical reality, as a fixed and static limitation on how we perceive, what we can perceive, and how reality arises. When Wilber writes that AQAL is a map of the prison, the integral community should immediately understand there is no prison except for the map. A-perspectivity is the unconditioned situation of living/being without the map. If we can learn to operate from that unconditioned place, then we can create new maps through which new worlds might arise with greater degrees of freedom and open-up our choice field. If we operate from that unconditioned place we will avoid the mistakes of misplaced concreteness that weld ideas into the bars and barriers of our self-imposed prisons. If we operate from that unconditioned place we will have transmuted the prisons of our selves into the playgrounds of spirit.  We will, in other words, enter into the ever-present process of enacting our future.




This article is a series of thought-explorations on the nature of the perspectival world and the possibility of shifting toward a-perspectivity. Our starting point is the world of AQAL – the realm of perspectives. Our journey is through three kinds of “shifts” from each of their perspectival constraints toward a more a-perspectival view. In this paper, I will use the term view to represent relative degrees of freedom away from perspectivity and toward the a-perspectival. View, in this sense, is not a static dimensional object, it is a dynamic relationship toward greater degrees of freedom from perspectivity, which is to say, toward a-perspectivity.


Section I:  On View

How we get from AQAL to A-perspectival …

AQAL is a meta-theoretical map of “all quadrants, lines, levels, streams” developed by Ken Wilber (2000, 2007). A person operating within this framework has the ability to take first, second and third person perspectives. A person might also develop the ability to see perspectives, to be aware of the shifts occurring in her thinking or field of perception. At another stage, a person can develop the ability to honor and integrate the multi-perspectival elements of any object of inquiry, or domain of understanding. This approach Wilber (2000, 2007) terms “methodological pluralism” and describes eight native perspectives or indigenous methodological zones. AQAL is in this sense multi-perspectival, and so our question might be re-framed to “how do we get from multi-perspectival to a-perspectival?” What are some key elements to this shift? If multi-perspectival means the ability to see perspectives and balance alternative perspectives, the first foundations of a-perspectival awareness calls into question the very notion of perspectives and the boundaries that delimitate them. There is simultaneously a post-metaphysical awareness that “reality as it presents itself” is perspectival, and also a growing skepticism about the metaphysical status of the perspectives themselves. The foundation of the a-perspectival is to be post-metaphysical even about the perspectives themselves, to be what is termed “construct aware” as Suzanne Cook-Greuter describes in Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace[1] as 1) realizing that all objects are human-made constructs, including abstract concepts such as space and time and 2) realizing the absurdity or limits of human map making. Shifting towards an a-perspectival view entertains the notion that AQAL is a metaphor, a cognitive narrative, or map composed of a matrix of imaginary boundaries operating within constructs like space and time. Being construct aware then, also precludes dividing up “reality” into two distinct domains “the perspectival” and “the a-perspectival” by similarly drawing a static boundary notion between them. Instead, we can shift toward a process view, as described by Suzanne Cook-Greuter, a view where [we begin] to “understand the underlying process of how meaning is constructed through the invention-construction of ever-more complex theories which are based on the segmentation and reification of the underlying flux of phenomena.”[2] To avoid reifying the notions of perspectival and a-perspectival into opposite domains, I propose using the notion of view to suggest this underlying process. Moreover, view is considered as a generative process — the process which generates the perspectives — while remaining inimical with the “underlying flux of phenomena”. This process view is similar to Gebser’s (1985) notion of the diaphanon  [as] “something is or becomes visible or perceptible through something else… on the one hand the central or ‘deepest’ core, the intensity ‘in’ us that is time-free and corresponds with the pre-spatial, pre-temporal presence of origin. … It is that which shines through and is unfettered by the forms of appearance. “ (p. 157 n.1)


View therefore, is a heuristic notion of a unified generative process which is itself diaphanous, unbounded, whole, time-free, space-free, subject-less, object-less, and a-causal, but which might be said to be the field of potentials from which the perspectival world arises. In an interview with Jeff Salzman for Boulder Integral and posted at Integral Life[3]  Suzanne Cook-Greuter gives a vibrant example of the coming-to-awareness of this kind of process view In the interview, she recounts this experience in two stages. First there is her narrative of the gnawing awareness of the limitations of the perspectival world:

“Whatever I’ve relied on so far, is suddenly suspicious.”

“There’s really nothing I can hold on to.”

“So now what?”

Secondly, there is the growing awareness at the edges of the perspectival world, touching on, intuiting the open, procesural nature of view, in transcendent moments:

“Ah… there is something else… “

“… something totally else…”

“ a new paradigm.

“Before it was differentiation, integration … more and more complex, higher and higher levels of perspectives…”

“… and now it is something totally different.”

View, is not to be construed as a reified construct. Metaphor seems better to suit its expression. View can be intuited through a phenomenological felt-sense, a process through which the implicitly-held view is, metaphorically, like the subtle push of wind at your back; what is there below, behind, beneath everything else. Metaphorically, view is the simultaneous ground of your being and the horizon of your own becoming—it is like the a-perspectival “square” you are always standing on, which you cannot see because you cannot get to a perspective from which it can be seen. Phenomenological experiences of this process view share key characteristics. Consider, for example, the way Ken Wilber’s writings articulated the implicitly held view of an entire demographic community. His core audience accepted his writings as something they already implicitly knew, but did not have an adequate expression or framework to carry this implicit view forward. Although his work is highly innovative, to his core audience, Ken Wilber seems to be articulating what is always already the case. He gives us the tools to enact our own view. This experiencing of the “always already” – that some knowledge or truth comes to us in time but is experience as having been always already the case, I term the “ontological dimensioning of reality, and is a hallmark of the unique temporal aspect of view. Another key feature, illustrated so perfectly in Suzanne Cook-Greuter’s video- interview, is this felt-sense that one is already operating from a view with greater degrees of freedom than all one’s perspectival forms available. In her interview, Cook-Greuter’s transcendent insight is “Ah, there is something else.. something totally different;” yet she is not able to supply the perspectival details. This is a very important aspect of this process notion of view—an awareness that even the most suitable forms— when they finally, do come—are only approximations of the “unformed implicit” which is somehow more precise and acts as a kind of “authenticator.”[4] Why does this encounter with view matter? I believe that if we can learn to “feel into” this view and live from this open, unconditioned space by holding the perspectival world “lightly”, then we can access an infinite field of creativity, and open up our choice field and begin to enact entirely new kinds of realities.  Until then, we are limited by our perspectival constraints and the world that proceeds forth through them. This world has much to celebrate, but at this point in our history, we also have a mandate to learn to do better, for ourselves, each other, and our environment.




Section II: A Tentative Map of the Future


In June 2010 Mark Edwards, Markus Moltz, Jonathan Reams Helmut Reich and Alec Shaerer organized an extraordinary event in Luxembourg. Titled, Research Across Boundaries, this international symposium sought to identify methods that advanced inter-disciplinary studies into research across epistemic boundaries. The facilitators not only asked new questions, they forged new kinds of questions and in the process reformulated knowledge-building in the following way:

Regarding advances in boundary-crossing research many new questions are emerging, among them the following: How “real” are the boundaries delimitating research fields and approaches? How consensual or controversial are boundary-crossing attempts in academic and policy discourse? … Which new research avenues are boundary-crossing approaches?

[From a methodological perspective further questions] relate to method and creativity, contexts and generalization, subjectivity and objectivity, reductionism and emergent complexity, and of course, theory and practice.[5]

In this paper, I hypothesize three kinds of emergent, border-crossings correlating to new types of methodologies, new ways of cognitive reasoning, and new kinds of phenomenological experiences—respectively, emergent methodologies, onto-logics and post-metaphysical views. Each of these carry elements of what Gebser called Integral-A-persrpectival, which include

  • New types of language (what Gebser termed systasis)
  • New types of syntheses beyond dialectical thinking (what Gebser termed synairesis)
  • Thinking in terms of generative process (Gebserian emphasis on dynamics)
  • Processes that generate spatial and temporal frameworks (characteristically, what Gebser named the Diaphanon)
  • Onto-genetic processes that contextualize time.
  • The ontological entanglement of polarities.
  • De-objectification of phenomena.
  • The a-local subject simultaneously nowhere and everywhere.
  • Resolution of opposites into unified field dynamics (Gebser’s priority of the whole.”
  • Re-conceptualization of dualistic pairs into generative orders.
  • New ontology of wholes and parts.
  • New gestalt of figure and ground.


Emergent Methodologies

One class of emergent perspectives are new methodologies that seek to navigate the inside-outside division primarily within the quadrant domains. These divisions are illustrated in the following table of the eight primary AQAL methodologies:

 Domains  Perspective Inside




UL Subjective phenomenology




LL Intersubjective hermeneutics




UR Objective autopoeisis




LR Interobjective social co-construction


systems theory



What is it that delimitates the inside and outside in each of these cases? If for example, I think of the inside UL method, phenomenology, and then I switch to the outside UL method, structuralism – what is the nature of this switching from inside to outside? Similarly, what is the nature of the thinking that switches from hermeneutics to ethnomethodology? from autopoeisis to empiricism? from social co-construction theory to systems theory? In each case the inside tends to describe a dynamic, living process, while the outside tends to describes structural features. However, there is little or no correspondence between the two descriptions. Four new future “super-integrative methodologies” that break through the inside-outside divide might be enacted through the capacity to envision non-reductively, and to “see” the dynamic process and its structural properties as a whole, to “see” that the structural properties are latent or implicit in the living process;  or alternately, to conceptualize 2nd-person structural properties from the inside experiential activity,  and construct a new language wherein the explicit structural properties correspond to the living processes because they carry forward from them.


On a very basic level, this is how Gendlin’s  (1991, 1997) Process Philosophy construes all language to operate – making explicit what is already precise, but latent or implicit in the living process, through a never-ending continuum of carrying meaning forward. The practice he calls “focusing” is designed to create more precision (correspondence) between the inner “felt meaning” which is a living experience, and the explicit events which are forms, patterns, and instances of languaging. This is also similar to what Evan Thompson (2007) is attempting in expanding Varela’s previous notion of “naturalism neurophenomenology” with Kohler’s principle of isomorphism.

Yet, according to Varela … the naturalism neurophenomenology offers is not a reductionist one. Because dynamic systems theory is concerned with geometrical and topological forms of activity, it possess an ideality that makes it neutral with respect to the distinction between the physical and the phenomenal, but also applicable to both. … Dynamical descriptions can be mapped onto biological systems and shown to be realized in their properties …, and dynamical descriptions can be mapped onto what Husserl calls eidetic features, the invariable phenomenal forms or structures of experience. …

In this respect, [naturalism] neurophenomenology is reminiscent of Wolfgang Kohler’s principle of isomorphism. … Koheler writes: “The principle of isomorphism demands that in a given case the organization of experience and the underlying physiological facts have the same structure. (pg 357)

Thompson acknowledges that we are merely at the beginning of a complete breakthrough, with much work ahead:

… we find ourselves needing to use certain concepts, most notably that of the lived body, that are essentially mixed or heterogenous, in the sense that they cannot be factored into the dichotomous categories of the physical and the phenomenal, or the objective and the subjective. (pg 359)

Both Gendlin and Thompson point to the “lived body” as the phenomenal ground of experience. This suggests that they position themselves in the UR domain, (where the physical body presents) even as they are integrating across the inside-outside boundaries within the UL and UR domains respectively. Greater insight is required to envision a truly “triple-braided” (to use Varela’s term) methodology where the latent and the implicit are de-coupled from the structural components identified as “the body” and grounded in process dynamics.[6] What characterizes these hypothesized super-integrative methodologies, would be their ability to frame entire domains of inquiry (such as ecology, economics, evolutionary developmental biology, cognitive science) in terms of unified processes that demonstrate isomorphism—or the property wherein all the structural elements are generated by the process field. Alternately, such a methodology would prescribe a  framework wherein structures are homologous to discrete transformational phases or generative orders of the underlying process. This attention to dynamic isomorphism, or structural homology characterizes what I envision as  “Process Eidetics”, Zone 9 in the following table.

  Emergent Integration Inside




9 Process-Eidetics ? phenomenology




10 Mixed Discourse ? hermeneutics




11 Enactive Naturalism ? Autopoeisis




12 Isomorphic Fields ? social co-construction


systems theory



Process Eidetics is a methodology that would have the capacity to language the phenomenal and structural features of a domain simultaneously. Thompson (2007) writes from the edge of this new hori-zone, as for instance, when he depicts an autopoietic individual from both its inside and outside aspects: “Interiority comprises both the self production of an inside, that is an autopoietic individual, and the internal and normative relation holding between this individual and its environment. (p.79) Thompson also sheds light on a kind of temporal frame integration  across inside-outside categories, as carrying forward from “Varela’s strategy [to] find a common structural level of description that captures the dynamics of both the impressional-retentional-protentional flow of time consciousness and the large-scale neural processes.”(p. 329)  Essentially, all four hypothetical hori-zones labeled 9-12 in the previous table, represent methodologies that are able to integrate the inside-outside perspectives in each of the quadrant domains. This enterprise can quickly become intellectually very ambitious, as when Thompson (2007) goes further to introduce the notion of generative phenomenology—which would entail an integration not only within the UL or UR domains, but also somehow achieves to thread the elements of the intersubjective LL into one coherent dynamic process:

“Generative phenomenology concerns the historical, social, and cultural becoming of human experience. If static phenomenology is restricted in scope with respect to genetic phenomenology, then genetic phenomenology is restricted in scope with respect to generative phenomenology: the subject matter of generative phenomenology is the historical and intersubjective becoming of human experience, whereas genetic phenomenology focuses on individual development without explicit analysis of its generational and historical embeddedness.” P. 33


 If the examples above are indicative of future successful super-integration, then each new methodology would be able to describe (language) conceptual structures that are homologous with experiential, phenomenological or dynamic systems processes. These homologies may be derived from process phases, temporal or phenomenal iterations, generative orders, or, dynamic isomorphism, or through some as yet to be conceived correspondence. [7]



Onto-logics can be generally considered as a kind of reasoning that works with polarities in a different direction than dialectical reasoning. Dialectical reasoning creates new (syn)theses from opposite pairings. Ontological reasoning works in “reverse” – through creative envisioning or insight, ontological reasoning “discovers” prior wholes from which the opposed pairs have been teased out. Consider for example, Gendlin’s (1991) notion of “pre-separated multiplicity” which dives directly into this kind of inquiry:

This is a more complex pattern than “one” or “many.” Our concept also includes (is defined by) the implicit way these may function. And since there is a move from pre-reflective to reflective, our concept must include that move as well. Our concept includes how a can come, the effect of separating, and how each can again bring its own . (pg. 91)


The concepts let us thing the many that are never separated, even when we separate those we can. The concept opens a field of further distinctions. We will make some of these distinctions, but we can think the concept as a whole field of further distinctions. In advance, without making them. We think them as the pre-separated multiplicity. (pg 92)


According to Gendlin, the implicit is a field of pre-separated multiplicities. The one is carried forward into the many, in the very same process as the internal (implicit) is forwarded to the external (explicit). This is nearly identical to the process philosophy of Jason Brown whose microgenesis of  cognition describes cognition as an orchestration of waves (and their attenuation) from core to surface through whole-part (i.e. one-to-many) transitions, effectively describing a single process dynamics for the mutually embedded emergence of both subject and object in a process field. (See Roy 2006).  In this general sense, onto-logical reasoning establishes a prior whole by collapsing the interior-exterior domains, or by collapsing the singular-plural domains into a prior whole, hypothesized as four additional hori-zones:


  Onto- Logic Singular




13 UNITIVE ?! Process Eidetics ?


Mixed Discourse ?


16 HOLISTIC ?! Enactive Naturalism ?


Isomorphic Fields ?



  Onto-logic Interior




14 CENTAURIC ?! Process Eidetics ?


Enactive Naturalism ?


15 KOSMIC ?! Mixed Discourse ?


Isopmorphic Fields ?



Currently at best, we can identify some of these general tendencies toward onto-logics and their respective hori-zones:

  • Zone 13: A UNITIVE onto-logics sees the singular-plural polarity arising from a dynamic prior whole through an interior process, such as an epistemic process. In this case the prior whole tends to be conceived as a kind of consciousness, as is the case with with Amit Goswami’s Self Aware Universe.
  • Zone 16: A HOLISTIC onto-logics sees the singular-plural polarity arising from a prior whole through an exterior force, such as evolutionary process. In this case the prior whole tends to be conceived as a living organism, like GAIA or Errvin Lazslo’s Akashic Field.
  • Zone 14: A CENTAURIC onto-logics sees the interior-exterior polarity as arising from a prior whole with a singular nature, as formulated, for example, by the Tibetan philosopher, Tsongkapa[8]; whereas
  • Zone 15: A KOSMIC onto-logics see the interior-exterior polarity arising from a prior whole with a multiple nature—the counter argument made by the Tibetan philosopher Gorampa.[9]


Generally speaking in this way, Wilber’s writings can be seen to have moved from UNITIVE to KOSMIC; as his earlier metaphysical notions were essentially rooted in a more Eastern spiritual concept of subject-permanence, absolute Consciousness (Plotinus’ “One-without- a- second”); while his more recent metaphysical notions of a tetra-emergent holarchy is treated as an originary whole with a multiple nature. A future 2210 cartology of horizons would include this and other insights into the entangled nature of interiors and exteriors, wholes and parts, and allow for entirely new ways of envisioning realities. Still, at the edge of our own future, we find ourselves grasping for an adequate ontology of interior/exterior and one/many relations, and their phenomenal expressions as subject/ object and whole/part.


Emergence theory, for example, runs straight into the difficulty of re-conceptualizing whole-part relations non-reductively, since where emergence describes events wherein new wholes emerge from prior multiple parts, philosophers of science wrestle with the nagging problem of supervenience. For instance, Thompson’s (2007) appeal to the notion of nondecomposable systems (“a nondecomposable system is one in which the connectivity and interrelatedness of the components give rise to global processes that subsume the components so that they are no longer clearly separable” pg. 420) – a classic example of onto-logical reformulation – has logical difficulty with whole-part constructs (“In such a system, the distinction between preexisting parts and supervening whole becomes problematic. Not only does the whole emerge from the components, but also the components emerge from the whole.” (pg. 420)


Thompson’s argument (2007) is also  immersed in the subject of relational holism and the question of ontological versus epistemological emergence, is a good example of the tension between the UNITIVE and HOLISTIC zones

The concept of relational holism was introduced largely in connection with nonseparability or entanglement in quantum mechanics, in which the state of the system is not constituted by the states of its parts and only the whole system can be said to be in a definite state. … On the basis of nonseparability, a umber of philosophers have argued that the quantum mechanical systems are holistic or mereologically emergent. Silberstein and McGeever have proposed that nonseparability is a paradigm of “ontological emergence.” By this they mean (i) that is is a kind of emergence that belongs to a system or whole in itself, as opposed to being an artifact of our theories and models; and (ii) that it violates the metaphysical doctrine of (atomistic) mereological supervenience, which states that every property of the whole is exhaustively determined by the intrinsic properties of its most fundamental parts. Silberstein and McGeerver’s question with regard to complex dyamic systems is whether they, too, exhibit ontological emergence or only epistemological emergence. (pg 428)


In A Process of View of Integral Theory (Roy, 2006) I describe in process terms, how the ontological might be clearly distinguished from the epistemological. I argue that the epistemological is a dynamic field of structural enfoldments that can best be described in terms of generative orders. This gives rise to the notion of onto-genetic process, as a way to reformulate some of the inquiry around these questions. For instance, the Process Model suggests that in a conventional cognition, articulation (of the affect level) is onto-genetically prior to protraction (of the world); but this is not the same as suggesting that  something like an affective stratum is ontologically prior to “the world.” In addition, the Process Model describes a phenomenological experience called “ontological dimensioning of reality” in which a subject has a ”clear and precise” idea/feeling that one state(reality) is ontological prior to another (state)reality although they are received(perceived) as the reverse in linear time. This points out the entangled temporal dimension of the ontological and may shed light on complex studies taken up by researchers such as Thompson. The Process Model also offers a paradigm that can successfully reformulate whole-part relations through thinking in terms of generative orders, in the form of (for example) the seed > tree > seed, a progression in which wholes give rise to parts which give rise to wholes, and in which parts and whole are both ontologically anterior and posterior to each other; and in which interiority and exteriority are ontologically entangled. More than any more extreme effort to parse the questions into a more extremely complex arrangement, the Process Model argues that this shift into thinking in terms of process dynamics and generative orders is required to carry forward and language the difficult conversions from old perspectival constraints to new horizons with greater degrees of freedom. This view can be found in pre-Buddhist Bon thinking (see Roy 2006) but also is emerging in exceptional voices in Western texts. (See, for example, Christopher Alexander’s (2001 2003a, 2003b, 2004) four-volume work “The Nature of Order.”


In various texts I glean the emergence of process-oriented, onto-logical thinking that has the capacity to cross the interior-exterior and whole-part boundaries of the primary AQAL domains for example, in the following excerpts:

In his online article What First Person and Third Person Processes Really Are[10] Gendlin writes:

  • First person process is not a perspective.
  • First person process involves something I call “implicit understanding.”
  • First person process has been widely misunderstood as being inside an externally-observed body. External and internal are not actually divided.
  • What is implicitly understood is much more than we could separate out one by one… the next event can change the implicit many. So the one-many relation is really a one-many-one relation.
  • The many are not thought separately. They change implicitly without ever having been formed.
  • Implicit functioning goes beyond the ancient pair ‘the same and the different.’


Onto-logical thinking can push beyond the conventional boundary notions of “body” and “consciousness”,

Since we understand and think with the body, the meaning of the word ‘body’ is changing. No longer does ‘body’ mean just the chemicals that are left when we die. The body is not only what is defined in physiology. Now ‘the body’ means the living body that functions implicitly and with IU… and IU is an implicit consciousness. [11]

 tackle the conventional dichotomous relationship of figure and ground,

The IU is often called the ‘background’ so named from the visual experience of ‘ a figure and the background around it.’ The IU contains a great many ‘figures.’ The IU is very precise and governs what is next. Now the word ‘background’ changes to mean something precise and central.[12]

 and problematize the whole-part relations of a holarchy:

Dynamic co-emergence means that a whole not only arises from its parts, but the parts also arise from the whole. Part and whole co-emerge and mutually specify each other. P. 38

Through these kinds of reading and writings, I have begun to envision the key features of a mature version of onto-logical reasoning. In his book, Dialectical Thinking and Adult Development, Michael Basseches (1984) distinguishes late-stage dialectical reasoning from earlier dialectics as shown in the table below, to which I have added a column corresponding to onto-logical thinking.



Late-Stage Dialectical


Logical Categories (thesis, antithesis, synthesis)

Forms of Existence (perspectives, holons)

Onto-logical categories (anterior, posterior)

Composite Structures (constructivist)

Constitutive Structures (emergent)

Onto-genetic Relations (orders, phases, transformations)

Synthetic (algorithmic)

Integrative (relative, relational)

Generative (process dynamics)

Transcendent Whole

Prior Whole (ground)

Mutually Generative (whole and parts)

Transcendent Knowledge

Collective Knowledge

Implicit Knowing



Creative Imaginaries

Perspectival (universal, absolute)

Multi-perspectival (hierarchical)

A-perspectival (open, diaphanous)



Through differentiation and integration, dialectical reasoning has produced  more and more complex, higher and higher levels of perspectives. Although I hypothesize that late-stage dialectics can achieve the kinds of super-integration required to build new methodological hori-zones, I suspect that in the future we will come to realize these as unnecessarily complex, in the same way today we see that Ptolemy’s epicycles were unnecessarily complexified by his geo-centric view. I believe at the core of the next true paradigmatic shift, is a new onto-logical view (which is to say, a post-metaphysically held process ontology); and this shift toward onto-logical reasoning might be a paradigmatic leap that will situate ourselves in a new view where we will be able to create understanding that is less complex but more coherent, meaning that is less discursive but more sharable, and world-enacting narratives that are less totalizing but mutually enriching across domains.


From the above table we can quickly sketch out the different types of narratives composed by dialectical, late-dialectical and onto-logical thinking. A dialectical narrative would be organized as a Hegelian transcend-and-include theory, wherein composite structures would be hierarchically arranged in a constructivist manner, (i.e., where if the lower levels are destroyed, all the higher levels are also destroyed), and the lower levels would be synthetically included so that the higher structures subtend the lower structures algorithmically, which results in concepts of  transcendent wholes and notions of ultimate transcendent knowledge, and absolute (universal) truths.


A narrative told from late-stage dialectics starts by positing foundational forms of existence and their relations rather than from a “pure” theoretical abstraction based on logical categories. These forms themselves are construed as the primordial ground, from which new forms emerge. The primary forces are iterations that result in complexifications of relationships as the forms self-organize into a hierarchy of levels. All forms on the same level are co-emergent and share co-dependent and relative, multi-perspectival worldspaces, the whole of which can only be known collectively. Higher levels are related to lower levels through ever-more increasingly complex meta-theoretical types of organization.


Onto-logics contrasts sharply with either of these two narratives by starting with an open, fully transparent understanding of mind as the creative faculty through which new world-realities arise. Onto-logics starts neither with a set of super-ordinate transcendent logics, nor from the positing of pre-given structures. Rather, onto-logical thinking begins in full awareness of the task of thinking in terms of creative imaginaries whose potentials it is to call forth, carry forward, or newly enact a re-envisioned reality. This onto-logical process approach in which a narrative is in a sense born outside of time, requires that we assign an anterior and a posterior pole (an arrow of time) internal to the narrative which carries forward through process dynamics where generative processes prescribe both the arrow of time, and all other relevant constructs, as well as describe process dynamics that are generative of all the relevant structures. As a result, the structural forms are related both back to the processural continuum, and as such, can be traced back to origin, as well as to the transformational dynamics that give rise to the generative orders from which the structures arise. The ground of the onto-logical narrative therefore, is not “in the world” but arises implicitly from a “knower” whose inherent situatedness in the world (in the Heidegerrian sense of Dasien’s world-dwelling) authenticates her as a valid percept-or (one who receives percepts).




Post-metaphysical Views

The journey into our future is not merely an intellectual one. Though my emphasis so far has been theoretical, if I had to answer where my intellectual ideas and theories come from, I would have to say that they are first and foremost embedded in the experience of view – aperceptions of open awareness, the ontological dimensioning of experience, and in phenomenological experiences where certain aspects of the perspectival world drop away. Throughout history traditions have interpreted these categories of experiences to the realm of “spirituality” where in more recent times, modern people have relegated them to psychiatric syndromes or neurological anomalies. For me, enacting our integral future, means that these categories of experiences, associated with what Wilber calls “state changes” will be re-integrated into post-metaphysical notions of view. We will, I believe begin to see various types of trans-personal or other kinds of state-change experiences as the dropping or falling away of, or the disembedding from certain perspectival constraints. Transpersonal awareness, for example, is awareness where the person-hood domain, the perspectival constraints that delimitates “the person” fall away, allowing a new reality to arise in awareness. View in this sense, is an indicator of degrees of freedom from perspectival constraints. It may also indicate a shift from the standard structural architecture of conventional states.[13] As these “spiritual” experiences are reinterpreted and integrated into the perspectival arena, they will themselves become named as unique kosmic addresses in our perspectival world.[14]  In our hypothetical cartology of the future, four types of post-metaphysical views emerge into the perspectival realm and make their way onto our map of hori-zones:

  VIEW Self/Other




17 NonDual UNITIVE




  VIEW Self/Other




18 Kosmocentric UNITIVE




  VIEW Figure/Ground




19 Co-depednent Arising HOLISTIC




  VIEW Figure/Ground




20 Spontaneous Arising HOLISTIC





Our hypothetical AQAL 2210 classifies horizon 17, “the NonDual” as the view from which Self/Other and Body/Mind dichotomies resolve through a shift in view; horizon 18 “the Kosmocentric” as the view from which the Self/Other and Society/Nature dichotomies through a shift in view; horizon 19 “Co-dependent Arising” describes the view from which the dichotomous relationships between Figure/Ground and Mind/Body are resolved; and horizon 20 “Spontaneous Arising” describes the view from which the dichotomous relationships between Figure/Ground and Society/Nature are resolved. The accounts of individuals having spiritual/ metaphysical experiences that reveal these views is growing exponentially. We hardly have a language to share what these experiences are, much less to successfully describe their meaning(s). But they happen to people everywhere, and more frequently as time goes on.  At the core of each of these expressions, I believe, is the vague intuition of the realm of the aperspectival, which is always like a calling at our backs, as we ever-present ourselves with new perspectival elements up front. Each of these views depends upon greater degrees of freedom from certain boundedness. Each entails spaciousness, and time freedom. The NonDual implies an a-local subject and its non-separateness with all of reality. In the words of Ken Wilber (2000)

We have also called this non-dual awareness “Absolute Objectivity” as a kind of sign-post, for when you completely go “behind” the pseudo-subject, what you now call your “self”, you will find only objects, which is the clearest demonstration that the real Self, the Absolute Subjectivity, is one with the universe it knows. (vol 1 pg 306)


 Kosmocentric implies a non-discriminating awareness—such as Trungpa(2004) describes as an astronaut free-floating in space.

The metaphor is being in outer space. If you are an astronaut, for instance, and you decide to step out of the ship, you find that you are neither pulled nor pushed in midair. If you are high enough for planets, you are not falling down and you are not falling up. You are just swimming, floating in space. … You are just floating in space somewhere. You are not coming, you can’t say that; you are not going, you can’t say that. You are just somewhere there—you can’t even say that! (vol 6, pg 470)

Co-dependent Arising implies the temporal freedom of simultaneity, and Spontaneous Arising implies equanimity of existence and non-existence.[15]


Are these, afterall, the fundamental degrees of freedom at the horizon of our view as we slip into our aperspectival future(s)? from which of course, we would already be slipping free… .


[1] Retrieved from

[2] Retrieved from  pg31

[4] Gendlin (1991)speaks of the implicit as being more precise than the language that carries forward. When Anne Klein and Tenzin Wangyal (2006) both describe the Bon-Dzogchen non-conceptual notion of authenticity as open awareness which is not a consciousness,  as well as the process of authentication, I believe they are expressing a sophisticated, deeply-held understanding of view.

[6] In the following section we will see that Gendlin eventually does see the need to re-conceptualizes the notion of “the body” through his process philosophy approach – a move toward onto-logical thinking.

[7] For a sense of these new hori-zones, I would highlight Jason Brown Theory of Cognitive Microgenesis (zone 9); Enrique Dussel’s work ont Transmodernity (zone 10): Evan Thompson’s Naturalilzed Phenomenology (zone 11) and a some significant further development of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory (zone 12).

[8] Thackhoe, The Two Truths Debate

[9] ibid

[11] Gendlin, What First Person and Third Person Processes Really Are, Retrieved from

[12] Ibid.

[13] See, for example, the notion of structural enfoldment in the cognitive occasion in Roy (2007)

[14] In his earlier work, Wilber considered the higher perspectives associated with state-changes as part of the cognitive line. This became controversial as his critics argued that people from earlier cultures had access to higher states, without having evolved higher cognitive capacities. Thereafter the states were assigned a loose correlation across the stages in what came to be known as the Wilber-Coombs lattice.  If we interpret state-changes as the dropping away of existing perspectival c constraints as this paper suggests, then this would explain how people at any cognitive level can experience state changes. On the other hand, this paper also suggests that the temporary freedom from perspectival constraints experienced in state changes provide the potential for entirely new types of perspectival structures (or new types of structural arrangements in a process field) to become stabilized to the extent that they become identified as higher levels in the cognitive stage line. This would be consistent, then with thinking of higher level perspectives, associated with state-change insight, to be third-tier cognitive levels. This interpretation would also explain how meditation might accelerate cognitive stage development.

[15] Although there is an extraordinary amount of Buddhist scholastic literature around these notions, it may be impossible to entirely grasp their inherent views outside of an injunctive or soteriological practice, or without having a state-changing experience where the relevant perspectival constraints drop away allowing one direct phenomenological experience of the view.  Holding both notions of co-dependent arising and spontaneous arising together, is another challenge entirely. Which one is given emphasis has created inter-scholastic debate among Eastern traditions for centuries.


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