Monday, October 29, 2018

Are you 'at' a level of development?

This is in response to Mark Forman's FB post telling you he can determine which level your ego is at. Since there is ongoing debate about this I thought I'd provide empirical research by some leading developmentalists who use stage models. Therefore you can't brush it off as a green meme antipathy to levels. Well you can, but not reasonably.

See Stein's study of graduate students in integral studies at JFKU. E.g., this from p. 8 is interesting: "Also examined was the relation between Integral Life Practice and Lectical Level. Level scores were neither correlated with with any meditative, body, or shadow practices, nor the number of Ken Wilber books read." The following indicates that knowing the model itself does not generate higher order understanding. "There are clear developmental differences in the ways in which individuals in this sample understand integral theory and practice" (15). One area of the study was significant: Those who stereotype individuals, or worse cultures, within a particular level or color is antithetical to higher cognitive complexity, and if fact inhibits it (18).

"It follows that individuals never operate at any single level of development. Instead, they operate within a developmental range – a series of levels that vary with task, domain, context, emotional state, and so forth. Given such dynamic variation, there can be no broad-based stages of development. It is thus not helpful to think of a person or a person’s abilities as being 'in a stage' of development. Development does not move through a series of fixed steps; development operates more like a constructive Web" (Mascolo, 6).

This work questions the notion that one integrated worldview (or center of gravity) governs all our thoughts and actions, let alone that these worldviews evolve in a stage-like fashion. Therefore at any point in time one's worldview might indeed be a mixture from the so-called worldview stages, with any given one, or combination, manifesting depending on the context.

Recall Wilber used the cognitive line in the relative realm, and the idea of consciousness per se in the absolute realm, as the basis for a center of altitudinal gravity. There is no empirical research to support either notion. Wilber uses the COG concept based on the cognitive line and the highly related self-sense line, in that it provides an organizing center from which to measure the other lines. Hence the 'relative' side of the COG. Wilber also uses the concept of consciounsess per se, thing absolute realm that provides the so-called spiritual or involutionary matrix from which the relative depends. And what developmental dynamic systems says is that both are chimeras.

Returning to Stein's study, he analyzed how JFKU grad students framed the AQAL model in that particular context at that particular time. Note the chart on p. 5 of the levels, then the chart on p. 10 on the range of interpretations of the AQAL model in stages 10 through 13 (aka formal, systematic, meta-systematic, paradigmatic; or orange, green, teal, turquoise). The notion of a 'center of gravity' for levels is, irony of all ironies, green relativism! And typical sophomoric interpretations of quadrants and levels are orange!

Note the descriptions of a post-metaphysical take on levels and quadrants in level 13. That sounds like a few of the contributors to this forum (and the FB version). At least at certain times and/or in certain contexts!

"At this level, reasoning about the quadrants involves a radical and quasi-transcendental multi-perspectivalism, which is made explicit in terms of a widely applicable post-metaphysical mode of meta-theoretical argumentation. In light of this background, attention is brought to the provisional nature of all methods and models, especially meta-theoretical ones. Integral Theory is broadly construed as a polycentric and evolving network of ideas catalyzed by certain highly normative principles and practices."

"At this level, reasoning about levels involves the adoption of a post-metaphysical stance toward the task of evaluating people. The provisional, bounded, and multi-perspectival nature of all models and methods is admitted and a set of meta-theoretical principles guides a recursive process of continually refining developmental models and methods in terms of both theory and practice. A broad and explicit philosophical discourse comes to supplement evaluate discussions concerning the notion of "growth to goodness," as the human potentials that characterize the highest levels and the future of civilization are seen as collective constructions for which we are responsible."

Also see Fischer’s chapter in the Handbook of Developmental Psychology wherein he says:

"There is no single level of competence in any domain" (494).

And this:

"Dynamically, adult cognitive development moves forward, backward, and in various other directions. It forms a dynamic web, and even each separate strand is dynamic (and fractal), not a linear ladder" (508).

"The wisdom and intelligence of an adult cannot be captured by one developmental level, one domain, one pathway or one direction" (512-13).

From the model of hierarchical complexity:

"In mapping the mathematical orders of order of hierarchical complexity and of stage transition on to real world data, there are a number of considerations. Because the model does not call for global measures (e.g., of a person’s 'center of gravity'), it is possible to look at change trial by trial, choice by choice, task action by task action. [...] The methodology is also flexible in contrast to instrument-dependent stage theories (e.g Loevinger, 1976). [...] By contrast, other stage theories have no such independent variable much less one that works as well as order of hierarchical complexity" (318).

Reams, J. (2014). "A brief overview of developmental theory." Integral Review, 10:1.

"What we can see upon first glance is that ego stage models tend towards describing a center of gravity, a structure of self-understanding and meaning making that is relatively stable with periodic transformations, and within which variability happens, but is harder to account for. Fischer’s dynamic skill theory, on the other hand, starts from two different sets of empirical findings. One is that variability is central to performance, understanding etc. and that this variability is both moment to moment within an individual and across individuals. Thus statistical norming or establishing a center of gravity is not in focus. The other is that the unit of analysis is the skill being performed and the hierarchical complexity of it, not an individual ego and its stage of development. Individuals are simply the means through which we can observe these structures" (126-27).

Some consequences of the 'center of gravity' approach, by Rob McNamara:

"For those of us interested in adult development, too often we tend to focus on stages. [...] Implicit inside these assumptions about development is that we can be located at a specific stage of development. [...] The antidote to this ‘vertical pursu-itis’ is to look instead at what we call developmental range. This is different from our 'center of gravity, an abstracted normative range in which you (or others) tend to show up developmentally, but which moves us away from the specificity of our aliveness in any given moment. Developmental range instead steers us towards specific contexts, particular behaviors and distinct skills. Instead of generalized abstractions, developmental range focuses on the immediacy of our developmental complexity in response to environmental and contextual surrounds from moment to moment. The concept of developmental range focuses us on the dynamic, relational quality of our skills and behaviors."

And related to his 'vertical pursu-itis,' recall Edwards on altitude sickness One of Edwards' key points is that we get misled when we take one lens as the central and defining lens for all the others. In the case of this thread that is the self with notions of altitude. But as Edwards points out, even the altitude lens is itself only one of many and does not rule the others.

Recall my showing how image schema extended into metaphor provide the empirical grounding for Edwards' different lenses. In this 4-minute clip Lakoff summarizes how philosophy is changed by cognitive science. Particular philosophies get attached to a root metaphor (or blend) that entails certain premises and conclude that it is reality in toto without going further to understand that other metaphors entail different premises with equally logical conclusions. The embodied thesis helps us understand how our body-minds work to correct many of philosophy's metaphysical assumptions while providing a postmetaphysical frame for an empirical, embodied and multifarious philosophy.

And Lakoff from this interview:

"The science and the social sciences all use causal theories, but the metaphors for causation can vary widely and thus so can the kinds of causal inferences you can draw. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. You just have to realize that causation is not just one thing. There are many kinds of modes of causation, each with different logical inferences, that physical, social, and cognitive scientists attribute to reality using different metaphors for causation. Again, it is important to know which metaphor for causation you are using. Science cannot be done without metaphors of all sorts, starting with a choice of metaphors for causation. Most interestingly, if you look at the history of philosophy, you will find a considerable number of "theories of causation." When we looked closely at the philosophical theories of causation over the centuries, they all turned out to be one or another of our commonplace metaphors for causation. What philosophers have done is to pick their favorite metaphor for causation and put it forth as an eternal truth."

Zak Stein: "The idea that a holistic assessment could tell us about the essence of a person is absurd and flagrantly ideological. Development assessments at their best can only paint pictures of the differential distribution of capabilities within persons. We can't assess people as a whole, we can only assess their performances along particular lines in particular contexts. And performances vary across contexts, which means that you may perform at one level in one context and at a very different level in another context" (11).

"Myth busting and metric making." Integral Leadership Review, 8:5, 2008 

Stein also did a 2015 ITC debate preamble wherein he said:

"Because of their comprehensiveness and explanatory power, Neo-Piagetian approaches transcend but include approaches that focus on ego-development. I also suggest that Neo-Piagetian approaches are less susceptible to misuse as quasi-religious meaning making tools for ranking the worth of individuals."

"We become dependent on an expert to tell us if we are a turquoise, autonomous, integrated, construct-aware, 2nd-tier, magician, alchemist, or spiral wizard. Are you among these chosen saviors, or are you merely a conventional, formal operating, conformist, expert, achiever, or individualist? Just note the normative loading of the names of the levels themselves. This is a blurring of the lines between psychology and religion—a pseudoscientific replacement of our languages of self-understanding and self-evaluation. The Neo-Piagetains are about dismantling this cult of psychological self-aggrandizement and they stand against the giving over to experts of the means by which one evaluates self worth."

And just for fun, Cook-Greuter on the unitive stage:

"People at the Unitive stage no longer give the impression of trying so hard to construct ever more all-encompassing theories or to escape the inevitable contradictions and infinite loops created in the rational, representational domain."

"The openness to ongoing experience combined with empathy for beings at all stages of development distinguishes the Unitive from the previous stage. Moreover, people at this stage are more at ease with a fluid, open-ended self-identity, that is, with “not -knowing” who they are, whereas those at all earlier ego stages show stage-specific anxieties when their present self-sense becomes threatened or unclear."

I.e., at this 'ego stage' one no longer identifies with the a definitive, structured ego. We are no longer self-centered; the self is no longer a center of gravity.

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