On Evolution and Transintegral Theory

evolutionWe receive many questions about the relation between the integral theory advanced by Ken Wilber and the more comprehensive and inclusive system known as transintegral theory recently formulated by Tutte Wachtmeister and Ken Dillinger. (A presentation of their work can be found here.)

These are important questions, even urgent ones, as a number of devoted (some would say brown nosing) devotees of Wilber recently have launched increasingly vitriolic attacks on transintegral theory and Tutte Wachtmeister’s person.

These attacks seem particularly unfair and uncalled for as Wachtmeister and Dillinger openly acknowledge their intellectual debt to Ken Wilber (see vol. 2 of the Body Mind Market-trilogy, Beyond the End of History, p. 625, n. 498 and vol. 3, Integrating Body, Mind, and Market p. ii, n. 5).

Instead of repeating what was said there, let us state what should be obvious to anyone who has made a serious attempt at understanding the fundamentals of transintegral theory:


Homo Antecessor (artist’s rendition)


Homo Sapiens, 4th tier (Ken Dillinger)

Transintegral theory does indeed include and
transcend certain elements of integral theory, but the emphasis here should be on transcends.  One could perhaps compare the relationship between these two systems of thought with the relation between Homo antecessor and Homo sapiens.

One such element is the simple (some would say simple-minded) evolutionary color scheme found in Spiral Dynamics and integral theory, where different levels of thinking (or ”memes”) are assigned different colors, making it possible for everyone (except those chromatically challenged or brain dead) to pontificate on the most difficult subjects.

There are some superficial similarities between this scheme and the one used in transintegral theory (although, as someone said recently, the 4th tier, transintegral perspective makes the work of Wilber and his colleagues look like a coloring book for toddlers). 

Anyway, let’s not get lost in the sulphuric atmosphere of fruitless, trivial polemic in which so many AQAL theorists seem to thrive. The major difference between the two systems is the bio-political sophistication of the transintegral model. A short excerpt from Vol. 1 of the BMM-trilogy, The Spirit of Evolution demonstrates its most essential features: 


1. Brown is survival and basic instincts. This level is archaic and uses instinctual thinking to survive. It is dominated by tribalism. This level appears in the oldest human societies, elderly and Alzheimer’s patients. One can find traces of a proto-market here, but the limited production function barely attains the minimum level of potential output.

2. Purple is magic. It’s superstitious, animistic and tribal, and at the beginnings of social structure. This kind of consciousness is found in voodoo, magic, cult relationships, gangs, teams and “corporate tribes.” At this level we find sufficient pre-conditions to take-off.

3. Red represents power. The individual consciousness is beginning to emerge along with television and access to Internet pornography where the use of archetypal gods is commonplace. This level is exemplified by young children and immature adolescents, pioneers, soldiers of fortune and rock stars. This is the stage of take-off. At its most advanced levels, it can be difficult to distinguish from Green.

4. Green signals a shift from primitive herd mentality towards individuation and maturity. As mass-consumption takes on more sophisticated forms, we find increasingly dynamic forms of spirituality on both group- and individual levels.

7. Yellow is an integrative system of functionality and spontaneity. Wisdom and a level of compassion supersede previous mentalities and uses of power. Wachtmeister and Dillinger thinks this is the level that good governance can come from. Market dynamics are thoroughly global, and  there is a general sense of having reached the end of history.

8. White is the color for a “Universal holistic system” and has a multi-levular quality of interwoven consciousnesses and extremely adaptive, dynamic market strategies. The white meme holds potential for an entirely new kind of Confucian-based spirituality, thoroughly integrated with global market structures. Currently this kind of hyper-intensive market dynamics can only be found in China, although an increasing number of individudals all over the world start to approach White in attitudes and behavior.


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