Sunday, December 30, 2007

Don Beck - Observations on Third Tier, with all due respect

Don Beck finally addresses what I have long thought is the nonsense of any talk about "Third Tier." This phrase relies on the work of Clare Graves and the model of Spiral Dynamics, but completely loses any connection to the empirical basis of the Spiral model -- that worldviews develop in response to life conditions (external causes) and the cognitive dissonance created when current worldviews are not matched to the life conditions (internal causes).

The jump from First Tier to Second Tier in the Spiral is monumental, a clear demarcation in worldviews, but there is no such jump from Second Tier to the proposed Third Tier. Beck argues that the creation of Third Tier terminology is an ego project, but that may be a little harsh. The truth is simply that within the Spiral model, we have not seen the creation of life conditions that would warrant a Third Tier. That may come at some point in our evolution, but not now. We still have much work to do in the Second Tier, where life conditions are shifting enough to justify the emergence of a post-Turquoise stage, what was initially labeled as Coral (but this is still very vague).

My main objection to the idea of Third Tier is that it loses any foundation in empiricism, and that it is a rather unnecessary formulation. It seems like an arbitrary creation designed to promote an agenda of "enlightenment" in this lifetime (through integral work). But there is no need for a Third Tier, we simply need to practice in meditation to remove the veil of confusion.

Anyway, here is Beck - Observations on Third Tier, with all due respect (you must be a group member to read this online):

One of our objectives after the first of the year is to begin to flesh in an understanding of Yellow-Turquoise as a package. I attempted to craft the book Spiral Dynamics within the set points of these individualistic/collective systems. (I must tell you in all honesty that there is absolutely nothing within what some are calling "Third Tier" that will not fit within these two systems. I just think some people need to think they are at "the top" whatever that is. If one wants to work within the Gravesian- Spiral Dynamics framework and language, it is essential that one not simply add on ideas because they like them, or they come from India in reincarnation, or come down from the mountain top, but that they be connected to Life Conditions. I don't read where any of those use Third Tier language pay any attention to this necessary dynamic. To simply put those modes on top of the First and Second Tier concepts is, in my view, a major violation of intellectual integrity and authenticity and it appears to me they are attempting to leverage these notions to appeal in a marketing fashion to those interested in our work. They are perfectly free to advance any construction they wish but to splice what is a foreign "virus" onto the natural and unique Spiral Dynamics arrangement and sequence is very unfortunate and inappropriate. You should also know that the First and Second Tier language is under the copyright of the book Spiral Dynamics.)

Actually, this stems from a lack of understanding of the dynamics of the spiral; how, when, why different memetic codes have emerged, and how the master code, more or less in the spine of the spiral, regulates, facilitates, shapes the codes themselves. The 7th Code appeared BECAUSE, as the result of actions and responses in the 5th and 6th codes, and the 8th Code will deal with issues raised in the 7th code, both successes and failures. With all due respect, what I see are a "string of pearls, but without the string." And, since Yellow does not fit within the color spectrum that has been superimposed over our original use of colors (I was told by a person you all know well who is part of the Boulder-Denver scene that the decision was made since some grew tired of hearing the Spiral Dynamics colors splashed about in seminars and conversations. You will also note that the final "color" in that light spectrum is 'pure light." That means a final state, the omega point, the end state of reincarnation with the bliss of nothingness is finally reached. This
prospect from any Budhist monk is totally alien to the work of Professor Clare Graves and Spiral Dynamics and directly attempts to water down and interfere with the eloquence of the more than 55 years of academic research and field testing around the world.) This is one of the reason I refrain from comparing systems because each comes out of the heart and soul of a single mind, reflects the nature of the research technology, and the participants in the study, and I would much rather allow each to stand on its own merits. Nothing fits as the "same" with anything else.

And, while the Spiral Dynamics concept is based on the original Clare W. Graves work, the two are simply not the same. Spiral Dynamics, today, has so many added features and applications that Graves did not design, it is not accurate to equate the two. Spiral Dynamics represents the work of Don Beck and Chris Cowan.

And, with so much absolutism in the pronouncement I've been reading, one has a strong sense we are really seeing "Blue" behind it all. Finally, the version of AQ/AL which was called "the human face" is basically the 4Q/8L model jointly created and copyrighted by Ken Wilber and myself. Wilber actually "gave it" to me since it contained so much of my work. He must have forgotten that commitment. I'm speaking of the 4Q/8L graphic that is laced with Spiral Dynamics colors and words.

He did make several word and color changes but, without question, this is still the 4Q/8L version as everybody can see. I find it disconcerting to see it used in the newest book on Integral thinking, in Kosmos, and in What is Enlightenment? with no reference to my contributions.

Yet, everybody who has followed all of this knows where it came from. My graphic artist designed the color bands, now called holons, because the black-white versions in the book A Theory of Everything were so sterile and fragmented. Clearly, I brought 'color' into the Wilber world, as I did with Ichak Adizes.

We all have too much to do to have to deal with these matters but I have a responsibility to see to it that the work of Graves, and most certainly my own over 35 years, is accurately represented. I certainly respect and honor all of Ken's work and I expect equal professional courtesy and treatment. As all of you know who came to my SDi series over the years I would also give full credit to Ken's original work. I would always point out that while Graves was "uncovering" in basic research with real people the eight patterns he identified, Wilber was scanning through tons of written documents and published theories to find the patterns he believed were important. I made the point that while there were differences, the approaches had a lot in common, and still do. But all of that has now disappeared in I-I edicts and that started over 4 years ago. I've tracked in carefully in e-mails and recordings of presentations, especially in Germany. That is truly sad, and is not how to be truly "integral."


Hokai said...

Sure, "third tier" makes no sense in Spiral Dynamics proper, but it does make sense in the general conception of altitude and emergent structures in AQAL. Things about to emerge on a wide scale do make sense, anyway. Future scenarios that inform our present must make use of such longtime notions. There are several reasons for their existence: Aurobindo's levels, primarily, then the need to predict the open potentiality of further development which is not an absolute unknown anyway, but also present developments, "first light" of sorts, which are already moving beyond anything represented in the 8-level model, due to permanent state realizations. But allow me to use something from "Two Towers", perhaps an unlikely argument in this case:-) We're in Osgiliath, after Frodo was attacked by the Ringwraith and saved by Sam, after which he almost kills Sam -

"[Frodo comes to his senses and drops Sting.]
Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. (...) But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. (...) Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: [He helps Frodo up and says:] That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

[Frodo looks at Sam, a tear in his eye, and as the camera moves to Gollum, we see that even he is moved by Sam's words, for a confused sadness comes into his face.]

All best in the New Year, William!


william harryman said...

Hey Hokai,

Nice example from the "Two Towers."

I agree with you on the value of long-range formulations of emergent structures. However, I think AQAL assumes that emergent stages will reflect already existing states, and I'm not sure this is accurate.

My sense is that there will be substantial room in the already existing Second Tier model to accommodate as-yet unseen stages.

Furthermore, all of the lower stages, and into the current Second Tier stages, rely on the interplay of life conditions and internal capabilities. The Third Tier stages (as currently formulated) lose this foundation -- they are simply states Wilber presumes will become stages at some point.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that it will require a monumental leap in human capabilities to generate a Third Tier -- something on the order of mastering cross-species communication and perspective-taking, terrestrial or otherwise.

But who knows, I'm probably just an SDi loyalist defending my perceived turf. :)

Happy New Year to you, too!


Anonymous said...


thanks for posting this! very juicy! from a pragmatic sense, i agree with your statement:

"My main objection to the idea of Third Tier is that it loses any foundation in empiricism, and that it is a rather unnecessary formulation. "

as for Beck's objection that "there is absolutely nothing within what some are calling "Third Tier" that will not fit within these two[-tier] systems." i'll leave it between Beck and Wilber to flesh out their differences. i think that their main difference is that Wilber is an advanced meditator who has extensive experience with advanced states of consciousness and he uses his state experiences as "empirical" proof of third-tier stage(s). another is that Wilber is *mostly* an (UL) interior cartographer while Beck is immersed in doing the actual *leg work* of the Spiral Dynamics model in the "real" world. so in the "real" world of practical applications, Beck's SDi model is more solid while Wilber's tier/color additions are more speculative.

that said, another thing that interests me is the difference between Cowan's version of Spiral Dynamics and Beck's Spiral Dynamics integral. if Cowan doesn't acknowledge the 4Q/8L that Beck added to his version of SD, is it also possible that Beck is committing the same resistance in reference to Wilber?

and fer Chrissakes, the last thing i want to see is for integral/SD/SDi to get bogged down with puny personal differences and issues on intellectual rights. haven't they heard of open source and Creative Commons? gimme a break! ;)

my two cents.


william harryman said...

Hey ~C,

I totally agree with your assessment of the difference between Wilber and Beck. I wish that they still worked together because AQAL needs the real world foundation that SDi works with. It would be great to see AQAL tested in the trenches the way SDi has been and continues to be.

The Beck / Cowan split resulted in legal action a year or two ago. I have no idea how it worked itself out. It's too bad. Beck has moved toward integral theory, while Cowan has moved in other directions, including NLP. Each has their own approach, but in essence they both agree on the necessity of honoring the source of SD in Graves' work. Again, it's too bad they split -- I like both approaches.

I think that it's too late on the intellectual rights issue. All three are engaged in some kind of feud, real or imagined, with the others.

Open Source rules!


Anonymous said...

P.S. Albert Klamt @ Zaadz has a very insightful response to this topic. allow me to link this thread together ;) check it out!


Bobby-z Lambert said...

I say knuckle down and work on the real world applications of this fine set of theories. If it all stays in theory land alone then we are committing an injustice to humanity. Don't talk of love and all knowing and on and on if you can't help people in some way real to their given situation then you are a discrace to the collective. Let's do something with our knowledge people NOW!