Levels and Lines


Within each of the four quadrants there are levels of development. Within the interior, Left-Hand quadrants there are levels of depth and within the exterior, Right-Hand quadrants there are levels of complexity. The levels within each quadrant are best understood as probability waves that represent the dynamic nature of reality and the ways different realities show up under certain conditions.

Additionally, each quadrant’s levels are correlated with levels in the other quadrants. For example, a goal-driven executive (UL) who has high blood pressure (UR) will most likely be found in a scientific-rational culture or subculture (LL), which usually occurs in industrial corporate organizations (LR). In this example, all of these aspects of the situation are occurring at the same level of complexity and depth within their respective quadrant and are therefore correlated at level five in figure above. The inclusion of levels is important because they allow us to appreciate and better interface with the realities associated with each quadrant. Each quadrant serves as a map of different terrains of reality. The levels within each quadrant represent the topographical contour-lines of that terrain. This helps us to identify the unique features of that particular landscape, which enables us to travel through it more successfully and enjoy the amazing vistas along the way.


Lines of development are another way to describe the distinct capacities that develop through levels in each aspect of reality as represented by the quadrants. So if levels are contour-lines on a hiking map for reality, then lines of development represent the various trails you can take to transverse the vast wilderness of human potential. For example, in the individual-interior quadrant of experience, the lines that develop include, but are not limited to, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and moral capacities. These capacities are often thought of as the multiple intelligences that each person has. The idea being that each of us is more developed in some areas than others. Integral theory uses a psychograph (below) to depict an individual’s unique assortment of development in various individual lines.

Similarly, a sociograph is used to represent the various lines of development within a family, group, culture, or society (Below).

The kinds of lines found in cultures include things like kinesthetic capacities, interpersonal maturity (e.g., absence of slaves, women’s rights, civil liberties), artistic expression (e.g., forms of music, government funding for the arts), cognitive or technological capacities, physical longevity (e.g., healthcare systems, diet), and polyphasic maturity. Polyphasic refers to a culture’s general access to different states of consciousness. For example, many indigenous cultures embrace access to and cultivation of different kinds of states of awareness while rational Western societies tend to emphasize rational waking consciousness at the exclusion of other modes of experiencing reality.

Here are some of the lines present in the four quadrants:

- 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.7-11.


According to Ken Wilber's ontology, being evolves in a four-fold way. That is, each of the four quadrants co-evolves with the other three.

The four quadrants are: Self (subjective being); Culture (intersubjective being); world (objective being); and systems (interobjective being). Or I-WE-IT-ITS. Or Intentional, cultural, behavioral, social.

So individual and collective subjective and objective being co-evolves or tetra-evolves. No aspect of being is isolated and alone, all four aspects of being tetra-mesh, co-influences and co-evolving the other.

(Adapted From Integral Wiki)

Star Wars and the Tetra-Evolution of American Cinema

During my studies into the application of Integral Theory to cinematic media, I attempted to look at an evolutionary or unfolding display moment in Hollywood filmmaking history through the lens of the three Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP) principles of Nonexclusion, Unfoldment, and Enactment. The evolutionary moment in Hollywood filmmaking history I chose was the making of the first Star Wars (1977). A film that, according to most members of the various Hollywood knowledge communities, revolutionized the creative, technical, business, and critical evaluation aspects of the industry.

These areas of advancement represents the four general knowledge communities within the world of Hollywood movie making, each with their own, often conflicting, paradigms/practices/injunctions and constructs of what makes a “good” movie. There is the Cinematic Artists Community, which tends to view the goodness or success of the cinematic work by how much of the artist’s subjective vision (UL) is translated onto the screen. There is the Cinematic Technicians Community, which evaluates the degree of technical/material/objective (UR) quality of the cinematic work. There is the Cinematic Business Community, which appraises the success of the cinematic work by its market reach and profitability within the economic system (LR). Finally, there is the Cinematic Analytical Community (Critics, Historians, Theorists), which evaluates the quality of the cinematic work by the contextual effectiveness of its cinematic language (LL).

Conflicts often arise between these communities, and their seemingly contrary social practices/injunctions and the constructs generated by them. In the case of the first Star Wars (1977), the Cinematic Business Community (every studio) turned down the script at least once, even though many of the executives personally loved it (UL). The reasoning behind their choice was that their marketing models (LR) clearly showed that a science fiction film could not be profitable. What they failed to see was that George Lucas had crafted a cinematic vision that would ultimately transform the paradigms and constructs of all four knowledge communities (see below).

Finally, one of the executives at 20th Century Fox, Alan Ladd, Jr., was able to join Lucas in ENACTING a different world by seeing the other dimensions of Lucas’ work (taking a leap of NONEXCLUSION), and by heroically putting his job on the line for the script (George Lucas, personal communication, 1978). In the end, the film shattered box office records, transformed Hollywood’s marketing models; saved Fox from bankruptcy, and gave Ladd and Lucas their own companies (LR). It created a new genre (trans-genre) within the cinematic lexicon (LL) by including many different genres (Science Fiction, Westerns, War Movies, Mythical Adventures, etc.) into a cohesive blend that transcended all of them (UNFOLDMENT). Stars Wars also helped usher in the return of mythology to American cinema and American culture (LL) by blending mythological archetypes with modern and postmodern story and thematic elements. Lucas and his technical team also managed to advance cinematic technology (UR), making it easier to translate the creative visions of cinematic artists (UL). The effect of Star Wars’ genre hybridization, techno-creative advancements, and rebirthing of mythic cinema on the cinematic audience was something the traditional business and marketing models could not prehend (LR).

For additional reflections on the elements and conditions which made Star Wars such a unique and profound phenomenon, see my previous post and comments: My Cinematic Structuralism Emancipation at Integral Life.

*Previously published at Integral Life