A number of authors and systems of thought have proposed the concept of a series of developmental levels that represent basic value systems or levels of consciousness and culture.
|#||Name||Characterization||Spiral Dynamics Color||Integral Color|
|1||Archaic / Instinctual||Focused solely on immediate survival needs; minimal sense of self. Nothing that we would recognize as human society or culture.||Beige||Infrared|
|2||Magical / Animistic||Beginning to differentiate self from world, and elements of world from one another, and to intuit causal relationships, but no accurate understanding of these relationships; impulsive, possessing faith in magic and superheros; tribal kinship bonds, ethnic tribes, ancestral stories, superstitious beliefs.||Purple||Magenta|
|3||Tribal / Power Gods||Feudal empires, gangs: people organize themselves based on power hierarchies, with the most powerful individuals leading the weaker.||Red||Red|
|4||Traditional / Mythic Order||People organize themselves around mythic, fundamentalist principles of truth, with groups requiring close conformity to their particular principles, but with no reliable way to make value judgments comparing one group’s “truth” to another’s.||Blue||Amber|
|5||Modern / Rational||Society advances based on use of the scientific method; quantitative methods are introduced that allow people to make objective decisions about what is true and what is false.||Orange||Orange|
|6||Postmodern / Pluralistic||Acknowledges that there are multiple, valid ways of perceiving reality, and tries to accept all people and life forms by placing value on diversity; may be seen as a means of accommodating multiple tribes, gangs and mythic orders within a single, overarching social order.||Green||Green|
|7||Integral / Systemic||Sees the importance of the earlier levels, and of the developmental model as a whole; while still acknowledging the value of diversity, also recognizes the validity of healthy value hierarchies.||Yellow||Teal|
|8||Integral / Holistic||Sort of like the prior level but with a more holistic sense of the kosmos.||Turquoise||Turquoise|
|9||Post-Integral||This is sort of a place-holder for higher levels, based on the belief that continued human evolution will continue to produce higher levels of consciousness.||Coral||Indigo|
These developmental levels can be seen in the fields of psychology, sociology, economics and organizational development, among others.
I have found the basic concepts of these levels to be tremendously useful in terms of understanding any field of human interaction, including politics and organizational functioning, and so I present my own summaries of them here, described in the ways that I have found most useful.
Note that Spiral Dynamics originally associated the colors with the levels. Ken Wilber initially used the same colors but, at some point, decided that some divergence of color schemes was necessary. Colors are generally used to avoid the implication that “higher” levels are “better” than “lower” levels. While I respect this intention, I have also added numbers, simply for ease of reference.
It must be understood that boundaries between these levels may not be crisply defined, or may be defined in different ways, from different perspectives. It must also be understood that individuals and societies should not be thought of as occupying only one level: in general, they function at multiple levels. Higher levels also should not be thought of as superior to lower levels; on the other hand, the order of the levels is generally meant to convey the normal (or perhaps only) sequence of development, so one generally has to go through a lower level before reaching a higher level.
Note also that what I am referring to as levels 1 - 6 are sometimes referred to as “first tier”, while higher levels are “second tier” or “third tier”. It seems to me that gradations of levels beyond 6 are sometimes based more on wishful thinking than on actual observation of human social behavior, so I am not entirely convinced that distinctions between levels above first tier are meaningful: of course, proponents of these higher levels would probably insist that my position is based on me being “stuck” at a lower level. I will leave it to the reader to make these sorts of judgments.
October 22, 2009
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