Thursday, May 30, 2013

Robert Kegan - The Further Reaches of Adult Development: Thoughts on the ‘Self-Transforming’ Mind

Professor Robert Kegan (Harvard) stopped The RSA recently to speak about The Further Reaches of Adult Development: Thoughts on the ‘Self-Transforming’ Mind. Kegan is a developmental psychologist and the William and Miriam Meehan Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also is the Educational Chair for the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the Co-director for the Change Leadership Group. He is a licensed psychologist and practicing therapist, lectures widely to professional and lay audiences, and consults in the area of professional development.

Kegan is the author of several books, including The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development (1982), In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life (1994), How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation (2002), and Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good) (2009).

In the chart below (adapted from In Over Our Heads), the S stands for Subject (the perceiving self) while the O stands for the Object (the self perceived). The object self is always developmentally lower thn the subject self.
Order of consciousnessCognitive developmentInterpersonal developmentIntrapersonal development
  • S: PERCEPTIONS;fantasy
  • O: movement
  • O: nothing
  • O: sensation
  • S: CONCRETE;actuality; data, cause-and-effect
  • O: perceptions
  • S: POINT OF VIEW; role-concept; simple reciprocity (tit-for-tat)
  • O: social perceptions
  • S: ENDURING DISPOSITIONS; needs, preferences, self-concept
  • O: impulses
(3) Traditionalism
  • S: ABSTRACTIONS;ideality; inference, generalization, hypothesis, proposition, ideals, values
  • O: concrete
  • S: MUTUALITY / INTERPERSONALISM; role consciousness, mutual reciprocity
  • O: point of view
  • S: INNER STATES; subjectivity, self-consciousness
  • O: enduring dispositions, preferences, needs
(4) Modernism
  • S: ABSTRACT SYSTEMS; ideology; formulation, authorization, relations between abstractions
  • O: abstractions
  • S: INSTITUTION; relationship-regulating forms, multiple-role consciousness
  • O: mutuality / interpersonalism
  • S: SELF-AUTHORSHIP; self-regulation, self-formation, identity, autonomy, individuation
  • O: inner states, subjectivity, self-consciousness
(5) Post-modernism
  • S: DIALECTICAL; trans-ideological / post-ideological; testing formulation, paradox, contradiction, oppositeness
  • O: abstract system, ideology
  • S: INTER-INSTITUTIONAL; relationship between forms; interpenetration of self and other
  • O: institution, relationship-regulating forms
  • S: SELF-TRANSFORMATION; interpenetration of selves, inter-individuation
  • O: self-authorship, self-regulation, self-formation
With that little bit of background, here is the talk from The RSA.

The Further Reaches of Adult Development: Thoughts on the ‘Self-Transforming’ Mind

23rd May 2013 

Listen to the audio 

(full recording including audience Q&A)
Please right-click link and choose "Save Link As..." to download audio file onto your computer.

There will an edited high-res video version of the talk available in a couple of weeks time, and if you subscribe to our channel on YouTube - you'll get automatically notified whenever there's a new video.

RSA Keynote

Robert Kegan has spent a lifetime studying the development of adult meaning-making or consciousness. His theory of an evolving succession of increasingly encompassing “mindsets” has influenced theory and practice in multiple disciplines on every continent. In a special talk at the RSA, he will address what he has learned about the highest stage in his model, the “self-transforming mind.”

Is it really possible to grow beyond the self-possession and psychological independence of the “self-authoring mind,” so often seen as the zenith of adult development? Is this the province only of a select few human exemplars, or might such capacities be more widely present? What difference does such capacity actually make? And how much does the world need it?

Speaker: Robert Kegan, Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Chair: Jonathan Rowson, director, RSA Social Brain Centre

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