Zones and Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP)


In addition to the five elements of integral theory, which comprise the basic foundation of the AQAL model, there is an another more advanced aspect that is important to mention. This aspect is less of a new element and more of a complexification of the first one (the quadrants). Each of the perspectives associated with the four quadrants can be studied through two major methodological families, namely from either the inside (i.e., a first-person perspective) or the outside (i.e., a third-person perspective). This results in eight distinct zones of human inquiry and research. These eight zones comprise what integral theory calls integral methodological pluralism (IMP), which includes such approaches as phenomenology (an exploration of first-person subjective realities), ethnomethodology (an exploration of second-person intersubjective realities), and empiricism (an exploration of third-person empirical realities). The above figure includes all eight zones and their respective labels.

Integral methodological pluralism operates according to three principles: inclusion (consult multiple perspectives and methods impartially), enfoldment (prioritize the importance of findings generated from these perspectives), and enactment (recognize that phenomenon are disclosed to subjects through their activity of knowing it). As a result of these commitments, integral theory emphasizes the dynamic quality of realities as being enacted through a subject using a particular method to study an object. That object can be a first-, second-, or third-person reality. For example, we can study first-person psychological realities as an object of investigation just as easily as we can study third-person biological realities.

- Sean Esbj√∂rn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.16-17.

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