The need for an integral theory is
great today, as our world and its peoples have become fragmented and
divided. This began with the Age of Enlightenment (about 300 years ago).
First let's look at the good news: Since the Enlightenment the
modern worldview has flourished, leading to new freedoms and
possibilities, and breakthroughs in diverse fields such as science, the
arts and statecraft. The power of the modern worldview is that, by
giving art, morals and science the freedom to pursue their own goals on
their own terms, we have allowed all three to evolve more fully, leading to an
increase in quality of life. That's the good news. But the bad news is
that this differentiation has spun out of control into dissociation, and
our central task today is to heal the wounds of a fragmented world.
Theory addresses this by providing a framework that is as inclusive as
possible. It does so by searching for the underlying principles that
seem to at work everywhere all the time and building on those principles
as its foundation.
to Integral Theory is a recognition of the importance of evolution, and
the power of a developmental approach in general to understanding the
world. This is perhaps its primary foundation.
Theory studies the process of evolution itself to glean the underlying
patterns that are at work. Many important thinkers have contributed to
this over the years. Plotinus wrote about the "Great Chain of Being,"
which Schelling later temporalized. Hegel's dialectical theory explains
how history progresses through cycles of thesis, antithesis and
synthesis. Today many in the integral community simplify that by
simply saying "transcend and include!" because this is exactly what healthy
evolution does. It keeps the best of what came before, while rejecting
only the parts that were overly partial or incorrect or otherwise
incompatible with new conditions or understandings.
theory provides another touchstone for integral theory because it
integrates the formal and the empirical by identifying the underlying
patterns in all systems, including social and cultural systems
ecosystems, markets, what-have-you. In integral theory, systems theory
is pressed in to the service of helping to define evolution in the
Related to systems theory, but perhaps even more fundamental, is the concept of "holons," which are entities that contain other holons as parts and that are themselves contained within larger holons.