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Universal and Individual Consciousness

Author's Introduction

(totally trivial and irrelevant)

I first drew up this classification as part of my original attempt at a description of various parameters of being, back in 1998 and 1999. I have always been interested in the relatrion between the various parameters and variabkles of manifest or relative existence. Here my inspiration was esoteric philosophy and cosmology in general.

Later, in 2004 and 2005, having aquainted myself with the newer work of Ken Wilber, and impressed by similarities between our respective approaches (although I would swiftly become external link dissillusioned by the exoteric and even incipent cultic aspects of his philosophy and movement) I made another, more intellectual and systemmatic attempt. This was part of my attempt at constructing an ""integral paradigm"

In 2007 and 2008 I became disilluioned by the excessively dry and intellectual quality of this "Integral philosophy", and in late 2009 developed a more sophisticated Integral Worldview (and also adopted a more favourable attitude to the Wilberian movement, having gotten the criticism thing out of my system)

The problem was, I didn't know what to do with these particular pages. I shuffled them from the "integral paradigm" directory to the "consciousness" directory (this was probably in January 2009), where they stayed for a while. But the subject isn't so much consciousness as the subjective and objective scale of being. Indeed, by late 2009 I realised the whole "consciousness" section was in big need of revision. I briefly moved these pages to my new metaphysics directory, but they didn't feel right there either. So in the end I decided to move them to the Hierarchy and Holarchy directory, where I suppose they should've gone in the first place. So here they are, and here we are!

From Atomistic Being to Universe and vice-versa

Consciousness and Objective Reality on any level can be described in terms of any number of parameters. One of these, the Universal-Individual, or Universal-Atomistic Parameter is the easiest to understand, because it is the only hierarchy that Western secular consensus reality accepts. Atoms are made of subatomic particles, molocules of atoms, biological cells of molocules, and so on, upto the entire cosmos as a whole. Each higher level embraces and includes and serves as the environment or ecology of the lower, and each lower level is a subunit or subsystem or component of the one above it. At the physical level, this whole concept was nicely formalised at a biological and systems science level by Wikipedia link Arthur Koestler, in his book Wikipedia link Janus, a Summing Up. Each entity at each hierarchical level, each "holon" as Koestler termed them, is both a whole of the parts or entities of the level below, and a part of the whole above. On a more general level, this can also refer to consciousness in and as the physical, which would follow the same hierarchy, although without the same strict levels of organisation. These becomes one of the dimensions or parameters of Being, the parameter of expanse or scale, or Universal-Atomistic. The following then is a suggested list of major scales of being, tracing the series from the "negative" to the "positive" and finally the Absolute pole.

Each of these holarchic levels might be said to be the sphere of analysis or understanding of one or another field of study or experience. So, just looking at things purely on the outer physical level, the Universal might be said to correspond to the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, the Cosmic to astrophysics and astronomy, the Environmental to ecology, planetology, sociology, etc, the Individual to biology, psychology, and so on. Once again, these are only very crude generalisations, and should not be compiled into lists of rigid tables. Moroever, on the Subtle Physical level, there are subjects like Astrology, which are discredited by both mainstream science and fundamentalist Christianity, but which are empirically valid (on the Collective and Cosmic scales), sometimes astonishingly so (as someone who follows a scientific methodology I have been forced to accept the validity of astrology, despite my original scepticism).

This represents the Universal-Individual Axis on the Gross and Subtle Physical level. On the imaginal level it would be not science but esotericism and occultism that teaches these levels and hypostases. Ultimately, each end of the holarchy represents a particular polarity or aspect of the Absolute, and both the Universal and the "Paramanu" are united in the Transcendent, as shown below in the "quantitative scale":

Holarchy - quantative dimensions of consciousness

Holarchy - quantative dimensions of consciousness

These divisions seem - and are - pretty arbitary. Where does Environment/Collective end and Cosmic begin? And since an Individual may be a Part of a larger totality, isn't the distinction between these two superfluous? Wouldn't it be better to say atom - molocule - cell - tissue - organism - ecosystem - etc?

My reply is that what is important is not the details here, but the dynamic. A "cosmic" entity would function (manifest, be conscious, whatever...) in a completely different way to an individual entity. It would have a "distributed" rather than a "localised" existence. And even if and though a part of a larger whole, an individual entity would be an autonomous unit. So a person is an individual entity, a society is a distributed or collective entity. Or an ant is an individual entity, while the hive is a distributed or collective consciousness. The parts of an individual, on the other hand, are not autonomous. If you take a cell from your body, it won't survive on its own. Whereas a bacterium or a protozoan is an individual entity. Furthermore to have a spectrum like cell-organism, or individual-society, is anthropocentric, because what about worlds and regions of interstellar space. And obviously what is being discussed here is not simply (and usually not even) size, but complexity, organisation, and inclusiveness. Size in the sense of physical dimensions of length, width, and breadth, are qualities of the dense physical subplane.

Wilber and my interpretations regarding holons

Here I would like to contrast Ken Wilber's theory with my own. I am not saying one is wrong and one is right; rather we have two complementary perspectives.

Here is Wilber's diagram.

Wilber's quadrant levels
Ken Wilber's quadrants.

In Wilber's 4 quadrant Integral philosophy, which is influenced by postmodernism and developmental psychology, the Individual dimension of consciousness corresponds to the top half of the diagram, the subjective or inner being on the left, and the objective or outer on the right.

However, Wilber considers that it is necessary to consider both individual and collective. You can't just take the individual consciousness on its own. All consciousness has four aspects, which cannot be separated (this is his "AQAL" theory)

However, not all holons are necessarily the same as far as consciousness and function goes. This is shown in the following diagram.

Here is my diagram.

Relation between quantative dimensions of consciousness

Holarchy - Relation between quantative dimensions of consciousness

Lower scale holons are "parts", higher scale holons "networks" or "group mind". Each one still has and is defined by its own consciousness, but the consciousness is "devic" and not individuated the way that the individual consciousness is. The latter represents a distinct consciousness, that can be considered in isolation from the collective/tramspersonal; etc, and also the atomistic/etc. It is not necessary to force the holons into a strict evolutionary sequence the way Wilber does, because there are infinite evolutionary choices, and the evolutionary tree is infinitely complex and ramified. In my diagram, lower scale holons (corresponding to the more primitive (nearer the center) levels of Wilber's upper two (individual) quadrants) are the "parts" or subindividual units (down to the atomistic), whereas larger scale holons (corresponding to the Wilber's lower two (collective - cultural and social) quadrants) are "networks" or "group minds", which have a "devic" consciousness that is not individuated the way that individual human consciousness is. On the subtle levels however, there may be individuated collective consciousness; that is, a single "god" (collective and Cosmic scale) can manifest in many individual forms. It may be that these are what Steiner's spiritual hierarchies are.

But in spite of this, there is no limitation. Ultimately, everything is a manifesttaion or aspect of the one Supreme reality. Therefore, all dimesnions of consciousness are accessible, and so one's individual consciousness can focus on and identify with any level in the quantitative scale of being

The "Holarchy" Axis

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Original content by M.Alan Kazlev. Four quadrant (AQAL) diagram by external link Ken Wilber and Shambhala publications
part of this uploaded (as Dimension of the Being page) 20 December 1999 (as part of "Realities" thesis), page relocated from original Integral Paradigm / Metaphysics page 4 September 2005 (as part of A New Integral Paradigm thesis), relocated (to Consciousness directory) 13 January 2009, relocated (to Metaphysics directory) 6 November 2009, relocated again and last modified 9 November 2009