The Midgard Outreach Education Participation
Cognitive line of development.
For context a quick reminder that the cognitive line of development proceeds in all humans, cross-culturally, from sensory motor, to phantasmal-emotional, to representational mind, to concrete operational, to formal operational (or mature Reason) to Vision Logic and then on to the more transpersonal cognitions (psychic, subtle, causal and nondual). This happens in any individual lifetime, albeit a more spiral dynamic affair than a linier hierarchy. The general progression serves us well enough for this dialogue. It is also the general progression detected by most developmental anthropologists as the successive development of cognitive ability seen in each major epoch of historical development for humanity as a whole. There are many degrees of important distinction within each major level here. For a more detailed account of them please see the end notes and definitions.
Thoreau describes cognitive development in the average man, using his dialogues with the Canadian woodchopper that frequented the pine forest near him for a few seasons. After one conversation he noted: “…hearing Plato’s definition of a man, a biped without feathers, – and that one exhibited a cock plucked and called it Plato’s man, he [the Canadian] thought it was an important difference that the knees bent the wrong way.”
He concludes after illustrating many attempts to engage the man in intellectual or spiritual dialogue: “Yet never, by any manoeuvring , could I get him to take the spiritual view of things; the highest that he appeared to conceive of was a simple expediency, such as you might expect an animal to appreciate; and this, practically, is true of all men.”
This man was functional, responsible, gainfully employed, literate in two languages, carried and almanac and another practical work from which he regularity read.
What Thoreau here describes is the Concrete Operation level of cognition which dominated his generation as it does ours. It is a stage of development that legitimises coming to rest at its own stage with notions that thinking about thinking is dangerous – or that it is the special domain of the genius philosopher, the priest, the saint or the sage.
Not thinking about thinking is extolled as a virtue at this level. Industriousness and expediency are the virtue of the Concrete Operational levels. It does allow for some education though, but just enough to allow participation in the industrial, political, or religious activities of the era with efficiency. There is no consciousness introduced through the educational institutions of this phase.
It is the level that is so compatible with the dominant economic and political drivers: that we will find ourselves fulfilled through more; more of the same. It is a level of development that can be exploited by the machinations of those who do develop to higher cognitions but trail in the moral line of development or deliberately exclude it from their efforts. The sophistication of the economic and political system seems above analysis to the Concrete Operators, and it is considered humility to leave it to the more gifted in these matters.
“But the intellectual [thinking about thinking or Formal Operational] and what is called spiritual [contemplative] man in him were slumbering as an infant. He had been instructed only in that innocent and ineffectual way in which the Catholic priests teach the aborigines, by which the pupil is never educated to the degree of consciousness, but only to the degree of trust and reverence, [Concrete Operational] and a child is not made a man, but kept a child.” [Brackets mine]
Thoreau is alluding poetically to some important points here. One, that cognition is influenced through formal and informal education. Two that certain cultures do not emphasise cognitive development passed Concrete Operational, as the challenges of environmental, economic and geo-political factors do not necessitate it for legitimisation. He also implies the dominator hierarchies ( in this case the church and the imperialists), being aware of such an opportunity, and employing it in their education systems, are thus grooming a servant class and holding them there, immoral by almost all standards. Not immoral, however, cross- culturally, seen from the level of Magic, Magic- Mythic, Mythic membership, to Mythic Rational stages of development in worldview and the egocentrism and ethnocentrism that dominates them. All civilisations, without exception, across all continents, and all cultures had slavery at this stage of development. It is a stage of cognitive, worldview and moral development common to every epoch prior to the Modern, Rational one, which all allowed slavery and exploitation of weaker or ‘lower’ classes and cultural expressions in one form or another. Only with Rational worldcentric compassion was an end brought to slavery.
So the release form slavery comes with the cognitive development and the accompanying moral reflection available with Formal Operational thinking.
Freedom from our enslavement to consumption and finding ourselves fulfilled through more, similarly, has its liberation at higher stages of cognition and the correlated moral development and worldviews that slumber as potentials just above most of us.
Our ecological crisis is a crisis of arrested development. Education, transcendent education, not education in our employability and efficiency in the very system of politics and business that threatens us, is the solution we are avoiding. We are avoiding it through cultural taboos, false humility, religious shallowness, and the illusions of liberation through casting a democratic vote. We are denied it in public schools and the ‘best’ universities that now pride themselves on career specific courses, sponsored, of course, by the machinery of the dominator hierarchies. ‘Career specific’ by another name is ‘narrow’ and without context – Functional courses, with functional fit as their aim, that will make you efficient and unquestioning of the greater context of your life. This context only comes into view through a study of the great thinkers, mystics and explorers of human potential through the ages. All positioned as unnecessary encumbrances to a good education today (a concrete foundation) that will really serve your development and progress through the great modern hierarchy of moneyed men and power politics.
It is a hierarchy of more of the same. That is why we see no matter who runs the political scene for a term or two, more of the same. And Concrete Operational is not big on questions about the status quo. It does not reflect on things as they might be. It thinks about how to make what is more efficient. That is why there is so much emphasis even in the ‘green’ movement on efficiency. Not systemic change – just a more efficient version of what is. This ‘Concrete’ can understand and get behind
So our education now is focussed on being even more efficient that before. What could be wrong with that? Plenty! More of the same produced more efficiently, faster, cheaper… more consumption with the electric car and the cheap disposable car, so everyone can have one… Every one can’t have one! Our roads don’t need more cars, more fumes, more waste, more accidents, more oil, more components, more rubber, and more plastic. We don’t need more, more efficiently. We don’t need more delivered with cleaner energy. We need a system that delivers less. Everyone on earth today can’t even have a beer – because there is not enough hops and barley to make it. We need a system that delivers more through less. More height and less span. More depth and less span. More thinking and less mindless doing.
We need more depth in each person not more consumption by everyone.
Blue Genes – the DNA of Our Transformation to Peace and Sustainability
How do we encourage Mature Reason or Post-Formal thought? What lies ahead of Formal Operational thought and Why is it important in education?
Integral Theory – The theory that multiple perspectives, integrated into a holistic panorama, is a requirement for a truly integral view of any subject or object under consideration. A theory that all perspectives have value but are partial and require more perspectives to make them whole or more complete and useful.
In my experience there is no better way to elevate perspective and synergistic reasoning ability than to introduce a student to the eight perspectives required for an integral view. (Please see Diagram) This combined with the depth and height of all the potentials of consciousness provides a framework for a learner to contextualise any subject under consideration, and in fact their own thinking processes.
The addition of perspectives and the elevation of perspective are the mechanisms for growth in cognitive ability and the transcendence of limiting Worldview’s.
Opportunities abound for those who, can not only formally reflect on their thinking or the thinking of others, but can ‘see’ with a pattern eye all the connections, relationships and possibilities between disparate ideas, in a synergistic way, to arrive at better conclusions and solutions in any field of study or any occupation. We need to be preparing future leaders with this ability, not some mystical visionary ability for the gifted few, but a process that equips young people with Vision Logic.
Most if not all of the challenges in contemporary education, social life, politics, economics and career possibilities are solved or met at the level of development with Vision Logic or Post-Post- Formal though.
The elevation of thinking ability is key.
With Paige’s work on developmental stages in cognitive development we know well that, cross culturally, we all go through many stages of rational development in a hierarchical fashion. We know from so many researchers that there are pre-rational stages of development in every child and every culture and that there are many levels of reasoning ability, once the rational level is initially attained (on average at about 11 years old), easily measurable and clearly discernible in child and adult development. Namely: pre-operational, operational, concrete operational, formal operational (Vision Logic being the fullest expression or highest expression of the formal operational level) So that Formal Operational cognition represents the ability to think about thinking, to envision multiple outcomes with scenario planning. The holding of multiple perspectives and reasoning ability on all potentials and possibilities at its most mature level. This level of cognitive development exists as a potential for all humankind but is not reached by many.
The words development and evolution both imply transcendence of one stage and the adaption to the next. Allude to development beyond reason (not the rejection of reason – the transcendence and inclusion of reason) and cries of heresy are heard through the corridors of conservative academia. There is not just one kind of reason or one level of development called Reason which once attained means the game is over and it’s all flat-lining from thereon. Research over thousands of years under the most scientifically controlled and rigorously reviewed conditions across almost all major cultures shows that the limits placed on cognitive development by modern and post-modern paradigms are premature and immature.
Kant’s famous trilogy: a Critique of Pure Reason, a Critique of Morals and a Critique of Art; spoke of the same three types of truth ( or perspectives on truth) which Plato separated into, correlatively, the True, the Good and the Beautiful – Habermas’s objective truth, intersubjective truth and subjective truth. Integrating these truths into a coherent vision of any referent requires at least the level of cognitive development referred to in the beginning of this paper: the ‘Vision Logic’ level as we shall hereafter refer to it – also known as the Late Formal Operational level of cognitive development, to use Paige’s term, or Mature Reason. Vision logic is a high form of perspicacity, a penetrating discernment – a clarity of vision or intellect which provides a deep understanding and insight on an almost intuitive level. Disparate ideas are synergised into a whole or realisation simultaneously. This is beyond formal operational thinking – it is the seeing of wholes and the relationships between holon’s; an intuitive acuteness of perception, discernment or understanding of how things relate or can relate to one another as a whole.
“Such panoramic or vision-logic (the technical term I use to describe the cognitive operations of this level) apprehends a mass network of ideas, how they influence each other, what their relationships are. It is thus the beginning of truly higher- order synthesising capacity, of making connections, relating truths, coordinating ideas, integrating concepts.” [Wilber, a sociable god, 2005]
When the self-centre of gravity identifies with Vision Logic one lives from that level. It is highly integrated self – A self that actually inhabits the global perspective – not merely talking about it.
Aurobindo refers to the highest expression of Vision-Logic as the “higher mind”. The higher mind can: “freely express itself in single ideas, but its most characteristic movement is a mass ideation, a system or totality of truth-seeking at a single view. The relations of idea with idea, of truth with truth, self-seen in the integral whole.”
For the most part these three ‘truths’ or perspectives, identified by Plato, Kant, Habermas and many others, which Ken Wilber uses in his all quadrant approach in integral theory: IT, WE and I domains; which he further divides, for analysis and integration into the four quadrants: I ( subjective domain) We (inter-subjective domain) It (objective domain) and It’s ( interobjective domain)
In our era the objective ‘It’ domain and the inter- objective ‘Its’ domain are given a weighting that imbalances our collective perspective and makes us selective form Plato and his peers, and yes he has a few, in terms of how they serve this objective, material view and the more subtle reductionist or inter-objective view seen in Systems Theory.
The confidence and excitement for additional learning that a young person experiences when being introduced to the full spectrum of possibilities for personal growth in the various cognitions available to them is a wonderful thing to witness.
A basic introduction to these possibilities begins the process and experience of transcendence from the first session. It can be introduced with any subject as the entry point. We regularity use Public Speaking classes, Biology, Linguistic theory, Literature, History, Math, etc. as an entry point for this theory which contextualises any subject.
I would like to share the possibilities for your child, or you the young adult, through a process called the Integral Positioning System (IPS). This is a combination of group classes and workshops, assignments, therapeutic processes and private consultation.
This development process is designed for youth between the ages of 14 and 25. Its intention is to develop the whole being, the full expression of humanity and all its potentials in a young person. It specifically delivers a sense of identity, through self-knowledge. Also the confidence to express that identity into the world, socially, creatively and economically. The ability and confidence to present oneself and ideas in a variety of situations like school speaking assignments anddebate, job interviews, university interviews and presentations, social situations and many others. It builds a real foundation for such confidence in knowing and defining who you are, what you stand for, what you value, what you want and and what you are capable of. Whether your intentions are to express yourself socially, economically, creatively, career wise, politically, or to any other end, this process will assist you with your goals.
The true foundations of a confident, sincere, capable and contributory human being, moving toward human adulthood, are not found in the acquiring of knowledge alone. Many school/educational systems promise so much more, but are geared and measured through the transfer of knowledge and some encouragement toward formal operational thinking, critical thinking or reflective thought processes.
The integral approach exposes the youth to the entire spectrum of consciousness and all levels and modes of thinking available to mankind. It engages the student in a process of reflective, contextualised and truly integrated self development. First the entire spectrum is made available followed by a framework for integrating all the possible perspectives that are ‘true’ in themselves, or important, but partial. Eight methodologies or formal academic perspectives are shown in relation to one another, as a comprehensive model or framework to observe, in an inclusive, integrated way, any subject or object under consideration. The students ability to reflect, analyse and relate to information, people and situations is enhanced eight fold at least. This is a movement toward Vision Logic – a high order of formal operational thinking ability, synergistic ability or mature reason.
It is not just an enhancement of logical thought process. It is a stimulation of all the cognitions that make up the full spectrum of conscious life that is the unique expression of a person.
This process, measurably enhances intelligence, emotional intelligence, synthesising ability, pattern recognition, and the ability to confidently express the same, in a variety of modalities, for the student.
It is the foundation for true leadership, entrepreneurship and functional fit in an evolving and increasingly complex global and local society.
This is a finishing school for young people. This is the process that will make relevant and usable all the hard earned knowledge and skills provided by main stream education. This is a programme that will equip your child with the identity and self-knowledge to make informed and motivated decisions about tertiary education. This is what will set your child apart for the career opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market. This is the process that will equip any young person for entrepreneurial participation on the local and global markets. This is the programme that will define true leadership ability. This is a framework on which an authentic, creative, full, successful and contributory life will be based.
Bjorn Heyerdahl – Cradle of Humankind
Such is Our Predicament.
One thing that strikes any student of history is that we always seem to be starting over again… if you read Socrates dialogues or Heraclitus reasons for walking off into the mountains or Henry David Thoreau hurrying through the main street of Concord; it all seems the same story and the same time. When I read these men I always feel they were confronting the exact same issues we are. The same cities the same streets the same businessmen and the same politicians. But we rehash the same issues again and again. Here we are decades from the first earth summit and with a document like the Earth Charter clearly expressing the will and foundations of global citizens and we are asking the same questions for which we have had the answers all along.
Why is there no synthesis of the best of all the lessons that can be clearly seen in the panoramas available to even the casual student of the last 13.77 billion years of recorded history, and the contemplatives who study more broadly, deeply and much further back than that?
We have men of low intelligence and lower moral standing running economic power houses and holding political office because no one of real intelligence wants to spend their precious time here on earth organising life for the retarded masses and exploiting their naivety for short term power and the illusion of security or control.
As Socrates said, if a society wants to be ruled by someone who will act in their interests and truly do the best for the community served, then they will have to press into office someone of the intellectual ability, morality, integrative insight, and leadership ability who would otherwise never get involved in such a self-defeating and self-sacrificial office. A true servant of the people looks nothing like the pompous little upstarts, queuing up and jostling for the ‘honour and glory’ of public office and its material trappings – Currying favour from the most unscrupulous gangsters and harlots for the money to bribe their way through the halls of fame and to sell them to the hypnotised housewives and desperate factory workers hoping for a break in what they loosely term life.
The irony is, and always will be, that until the general global population reaches levels of cognitive, emotional and moral development to see the folly of the current system, they will not look for anyone who will actually act in their interests – they will continue to pick one of the players who will feed their pathologies and profit off their labour while promising to keep protecting ‘the dream’. And what a dream it is – an illusion, a promise perpetually unfulfilled. A promise to pay as baseless as the financial instruments that threaten to collapse the whole financial system today.
Everything in a finite system that has infinite growth as its goal is based on such a promise to pay – with no intention of honouring it. The cliché of the politician promising and then immediately, that he is in office, reneging on that promise, is completely accepted as reality by the voters… and so it is. The voters are undeterred by this reality and return again and again to the voting polls all the same. Even mathematics is based, in the finite empirical realm, on such promises to pay – IOU’s that will never be redeemed. Our economy is based that way and always will be as long as the illusion of infinite consumption and infinite growth are its drivers. Both illusions by definition in a given biosphere.
So if we approach a stage where some, even many, can see the lack of sustainability in the system, we approach the fearful awakening from the dream. Who will be the ones to awaken the masses, grim faced, serving Mammon, with work ethic, determination, reward, pensions, employee of the month, and that exciting holiday on the beach all ahead of them? These Mythic – rational workers all ‘living the dream’… who wants to tell them? Who wants to rouse them to the great lie they live while the lie keeps them docile? Who wants to see their anger unleashed upon awakening?
This is in part why the general awakening of mankind takes so long. Each epoch holding on to its view as long as it can to avoid the chaos of transition and the retribution against the ‘leaders’ – loved one day with flags waving as they go buy – and shot in the head the next, for not delivering on the dream, for not cashing the IOU’s.
No one ever will cash those IOU’s because they are the financial instruments and political instruments of the age of democracy of infants and infinite growth economies – a very obvious and necessary lie for the Mythic-Rational phase of development.
Although, phase specific and even necessary, if this illusion persists too long then it is not a matter of who will be the whistle blowers, it is a systemic collapse that will rouse the masses from this drowsy dreamlike state. Then the chaos will lead downward in a tribal regression as the last resources are fought over by the disillusioned that could not move through and upward; but now retreat away from the level of development that bewitched them and hurt them so.
Such is our predicament. How do we rouse the masses without further regression? How is the transformation that is now an imperative, also a transcendent step up and through not back and away from the ‘progress’ we have made as a species?
The UN seems after decades of asking this question, at a loss. And who can blame them. They are financially dependent on the member nations, one and all ethnocentric national states. All of them run by the politicians and the business men here described – who have not changed much since the two games were started. The games are flawed in themselves… So changing the rules and protocols for the games does nothing but give the naïve participants a moment of false hope and optimism for a meeting or a conference… but the games go on.
The game has as its intention a winner. It has progress, more of, bigger, growth and so on, inherent in its nature and it is played on the fields of planet earth. It cannot deliver, and so it sends IOU’s in the name of its children to redeem its debt. This has been the way of the world since the time of the dawn of civilisation and further back to the first lusting eye cast on the fruit of our planet and the belief that satisfaction will be found in more.
For now, the mathematics of sets upon sets, that can only be confirmed as true from without and thus never complete in themselves, is the way of the world and all of its sciences. The IOU’s do serve, however, to legitimise a stage of awakening and give us some privileged time to examine the entire display of the Kosmos, both inner and outer expressions, as a whole. It at least alleviates (for some) our labour for our daily bread. So in this temporary period, where we borrow on our children’s inheritance, and hire a fool or a nave to handle the plough for a while, we catch our breath and we educate ourselves with pause, reflection and maybe contemplation. In this way we might come to see, with an inward eye of self-reflection and an outward eye of discernment, that we must reengage with life on its essential terms and find ourselves as more than the sum of our possessions. We must find ourselves by being more. We must find ourselves in expanded definitions and identities not in expanded waistlines and dilutions of grandeur in the surface of things.
Now, we can look at all this as an ‘elite’ group, who knows more of the context of the real life and tut-tut about the ignorant masses, as if they were another group, but this is not our truth. They are one group and they are us at various stages of awakening. When the sleep is rubbed from the eyes of even the most earnest seekers among us we may all find a vista that leaves us smiling at our agonies here. Until then how do we collectively massage the sleeping parts of our collective body to life and action? Or do we simply get on with our own business of staying alive as long as we can with as little conflict and as much contemplation as we can muster?
Can we build the universities of life, which introduce the levels and panoramas that we so badly need? Can we, with existing budgets, better spend and integrate our efforts and resources to the end some of us can see and all of us can feel?
Yes we can. We can introduce transformative (transcendent education and injunctions to our current curriculums).
It has been my intention, and my occupation, to show the practical possibilities for not only legitimising our basic needs in our towns and communities more intelligently and sustainably. It has been my long held intention to show how, with the same financial spend on services and infrastructure, education and communication, we can also transform any of our towns, community projects, cities or rural communities into living universities that encourage and facilitate transformation and transcendence. The same municipal budgets that fragment our living, our community and our education can be used to synthesise them into a cohesive culture and functional society of value change and exchange. The loftiest and the lowliest (or most basic) intentions of our integrative leadership can be manifest now and here in the world as we find it and the world that we want can manifest from within them.
Special projects are not required to be separated out of community life. They can be integrated in through clever design. Design of integrated systems of learning, earning, doing, and functioning can serve all that we now focus on, more efficiently, and serve our collective transcendence and evolution to peace and sustainability.
It is thus that the co-evolution of our individual consciousness, our shared worldview and our inter-objective social institutions can be facilitated. It is thus that we break the loggerheads and the procrastination, the waiting for consciousness to grow first and then manifest. The design system exists, the perspectives are available, the research is done, the models are tested, the technologies are employed, the entire display is made available for those who would pay attention, the questions all answered. Only one question remains: who will act with integrity?
Excerpt – Blue Genes – By Bjorn Heyerdahl