Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Random Thoughts on Spiral Dynamics

[This is from WIE?, you can click to see the full image, click again to enlarge.]

I've been thinking about Spiral Dynamics Integral of late, probably because I have started reading Wilber's Integral Spirituality and he is skewing the model again to look non-integral.

I think that one of the things missing from the original book was an acknowledgment of types. Many people reduce the stages of SDi to types of people -- Blue people, or Yellow people. What I mean is personality types.

Chris Cowan and Natasha Todorovic have actually addressed the enneagram in relation to Spiral Dynamics. They make it a point to be clear that the enneagram talks about types of people (personality types) while SD looks at how people evolve in a dynamic way in response to life conditions.

The enneagram, I'm sure, is a nice model that works for some people in helping make sense of their lives. However, SD has built into it a system of types that is represented in the color coding. This is how Cowan presents it:
Among the problems caused by each level, we find the individual/collectivity dialectic. One system favors the expression of the Self and the next system sacrifices the Self to the needs of the community. Too much individualism creates problems that human beings try to solve by fitting into a group. After some time, that creates frustration and difficulties and the pendulum switches back to an individualistic level.
This works well at the cultural level, but individuals are less easy to pin down. Rather than self and group, we might better distinguish between agency (self-preservation) and communion (self-adaptation). The warm colors in the spiral (red, organge, yellow, coral) are agency-based stages. The cool colors in the spiral (purple, blue, green, turquoise) are communion-based colors. (Beige is too bogged-down in survival needs
to exhibit either agency or communion.)

[Speculation: at second-tier agency might become thantos (self-dissolution) and communion might become eros (self-transcendence). I could be totally wrong on this -- haven't thought it through.]

Don Beck mentioned in the SDi training I did that some people move through the spiral in mostly the warm or cool colors, barely touching down in their opposites. For example, I might be primarily a warm color person, focused in agency, and as I move up the spiral I might only touch down in the cool colors long enough to create the necessary dissonance to propel me into the next warm color.

From this foundation, we could easily see how the nine types of the enneagram would each move through the spiral in a different way. The Jungian typology (Myers-Briggs) would also produce varied styles of progression through the spiral.

Adding in types would make SDi even more integral.


One last point: Wilber makes a point of saying that no amount of study of SDi will produce satori. Damn, who woulda thunk it? Well, no amount of studying AQAL or IMP will produce satori either. Dumb argument.

Wilber's new IMP model claims to allow for an inside and an outside view of a holon for each of the quadrants. He says SDi does not:
Meditative understanding involves preeminently a methodology of looking at the "I" from the inside (using phenomenology); Spiral Dynamics involves studying it from the outside (using structuralism). (page 38)
True, but partial. In the same way that meditation allows for a look at holons from the inside in AQAL and IMP, it can do the same in SDi. There is no reason I cannot sit down using the Big Mind process and look at "being green" from the inside. Wilber's argument is false.

Once you drop SD into the quadrants, all the methologies of IMP can be applied to SDi.

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