The Integral Map: Lines of Development

Have you ever noticed
how unevenly developed virtually all of us are?
– Ken Wilber

In addition to our built-in capacity to individually move sequentially through different stages of consciousness (see post “The Integral Map: States and Stages of Consciousness”), we also are capable of moving through a complex array of what Ken Wilber calls “lines” of development. You already may be familiar with some of these lines.

For example, Howard Gardner in his theory of multiple intelligences suggests that we all have the capacity to advance along different lines of intelligence such as musical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, mathematical, and linguistic. In other words, some of us may develop into classical pianists while others develop into exceptional athletes, or are quick to learn new languages, or proficient at solving math problems.

Daniel Goleman’s research on emotional intelligence also fits here. So does Abraham Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs. I write about these theories in other posts on this site (click on the names to go to those posts, or do a search by last name).

Wilber’s Integral Map incorporates these theories, and is extremely helpful in providing an overall framework necessary for understanding the full and wondrous complexity involved in being human. In addition, the more we use Wilber’s Integral Map to understand ourselves, the more we can understand, appreciate, have compassion toward, and even take delight in others – and that, to me, offers a great deal of hope for our future as a planetary people.

integral psychograph

Click to enlarge

Wilber offers another graphic tool to help us map our own development along any lines, called the Integral Psychograph. The psychograph illustrates the relationship between the stages of consciousness (e.g., egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric) and the various lines of development through each of these stages. A simple illustration adapted from Wilber’s work is show here (Wilber, Patten, Leonard & Miller, 2008, pp 81-82.)

I have said before that the introduction to Wilber’s Integral Theory was extremely freeing for me because it helped me to understand myself, and my world, inside and out. It also helped me see that I no longer had to question why there was dissonance between my own way of thinking and worldview and that of others. An Integral perspective allowed me to understand the reason for the dissonance and to accept it as reality.

The Integral Psychograph helps us see and therefore accept that we ourselves, and persons we deal with on a daily basis, have different lines of development. One person may be highly developed intellectually yet poorly developed psychosexually or interpersonally. More importantly, that is all the result of the environment and nurturing we received.

It is too bad we do not live in a perfect world in which we all get what we would need to develop every line to our full potential – at least not yet. However, it does seem to me we can be far more compassionate toward one another as we come to understand others’ developmental journey.

A line on the spiritual questions

On this site, I attempt to answer a number of spiritual questions from the perspective of the emerging evolutionary story of our Universe. A helpful way of thinking about the differences among people is to realize that they may answer life’s questions differently. Wilber and his colleagues offer some examples of such questions (2008, p. 86). As you read the questions listed below, imagine how you might have answered them at a different age in your life; or how someone who is a different age than you are or from a different culture than you might answer them:

  • What am I aware of? (cognition)
  • What do I need? (needs)
  • Who am I? (self-identity)
  • What is important to me? (values)
  • How do I feel about this? (emotional intelligence)
  • What is the right thing to do? (morals)
  • How should we interact? (interpersonal)
  • How should I physically do this? (kinesthetic)
  • What is of ultimate concern to me? (spirituality)

I have focused in this brief introductory post on the lines of development connected with individuals, or the Upper Left Quadrant of Wilber’s Integral Map. There are lines of development in the other three quadrants of the map as well, but they differ in content. I address examples of some of those lines in additional posts related to Integral Theory.

Wilber, K. (2007). The integral vision: A very short introduction to the revolutionary integral approach to life, god, the universe, and everything. Boston: Shambala.

Wilber, K., Patten, T., Leonard, A., & Morelli, M. (2008). Integral Life Practice. Boston: Integral Books.

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