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This paper points to some limitations of the narrow version of integral futures (IF) as represented in the recent special issue of Futures (2008, vol. 40, issue 2). I also propose several ways that the IF brand could be refreshed through a broader and deeper approach to integral futures by way of a scholarly engagement with other kindred discourses. The main focus of this paper is to open out beyond the “myth-of-the-given” in relation to the notion of integral and in this way broaden and deepen possibilities for integral futures.
An Other View of Integral Futures:
De/reconstructing the IF Brand
Jennifer M Gidley*
Global Cities Research Institute, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Email address:
This paper points to some limitations of the narrow version of integral futures (IF) as
represented in the recent special issue of Futures (2008, Vol 40, Issue 2). I also propose several
ways that the IF brand could be refreshed through a broader and deeper approach to integral
futures by way of a scholarly engagement with other kindred discourses. The main focus of this
paper is to open out beyond the “myth of the given” in relation to the notion of integral and in
this way broaden and deepen possibilities for integral futures.
1. Introduction
Open unity and complex plurality are not antagonistic [1, p. 5 of 11].
It would be difficult to find two academic fields with broader potential scope than
futures studies and integral studies. Consequently, when I first encountered the
integration of these two approaches via the composite term integral futures in 2003 I was
excited at the vast potential of such a manoeuvre. As a researcher who has been working
and publishing in the field of futures studies from an integrative perspective for over a
decade I was inspired by the notion of integral futures and began to integrate it into my
own writing. Having continued my research within what I see as the very broad terrain of
integral futures, I note with some disappointment that the recent special issue of the
journal Futures, edited by Richard Slaughter takes a decidedly narrow and shallow
approach to integral futures. This is an unfortunate turn, given Slaughter’s prior
contribution to broadening and pluralising the knowledge base of futures studies [2] [3]
[4]. The tendency in the special issue to privilege and promote a particular brand of
integral futures, i. e. via Wilber’s integral model—while not exploring other integral
approaches—is more akin in my view to a business/marketing approach than a scholarly
engagement. This may reflect an alignment with the “corporate turn” in Wilber’s
approach to promoting his own model over the last couple of years. However, such a one-
sided approach does not nurture the breadth and depth of potential of integral futures
(broadly defined)—nor indeed, even its current embodiment.
By contrast with my own integral futures research discussed below, the special
issue presents a selective sample of articles that primarily represent a particular
(Wilberian) brand of integral futures—which Slaughter refers to as IF [5, p. 120].
Slaughter claims these authors represent the “current ‘leading-edge’” [6, p. 105] and are
presumably also part of what he calls the “new generation of integrally informed futures
practitioners [that] has been emerging” (p. 104). If one did not know better, one could be
persuaded to believe that the particular—partial and uncontextualised—version of
Gidley, J 2009, 'An other view of integral futures: de/reconstructing the IF brand', Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning and
Futures Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 125-133.
integral futures presented in this special issue was the new, and indeed only, “integral
futures canon.”
However, the broad notion of integral futures has a long and deep history, a
planetary geography and a complex genealogy. Having researched and published in the
field from a broadly based integral futures perspective I have a keen interest in how this
approach is being theorised [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]
[20] [21] [22].
As a faculty1 member of the former Australian Foresight Institute (AFI) at
Swinburne University during the period when the notion of integral futures was being
developed there, I was one of the first futures researchers2 to publish on the notion of
integral futures [25] [23], along with Slaughter [26]. In a comprehensive, global literature
review of “futures in education” commissioned by Slaughter and written in 2003, I
referred to integral futures as an emerging framework and undertook a Wilberian integral
analysis of the “futures in education” discourse [25]. From this perspective I would like
to provide a brief potted history of the development of integral futures in Australia as I
have observed it, since this was not provided in the special issue.
It appears that the first written use of the term integral futures was in 2003, when
Slaughter and Joseph Voros, both faculty of the former AFI wrote unpublished3 papers on
integral futures to present at the World Futures Society Conference (WFS) [27] [28].
Prior to this, the first to combine the term integral with futures studies methodologies
appears to have been Voros who began to write about the potential integration of
Wilber’s integral theories with environmental scanning [29].4 In response to some
critique at the WFS Conference of the overly Wilberian bias of the papers by Slaughter
and Voros, I was invited in September 2003 to speak with the faculty of AFI (including
Slaughter, Voros and Peter Hayward) about my doctoral research involving a broader-
based integral futures approach. I discussed my research drawing on Rudolf Steiner, Jean
Gebser and Sri Aurobindo as well as Wilber, including disseminating to them a final draft
of a paper which was later published [16]. Given this history of exposure to a broader
potential framing of integral futures, it is particularly remiss that the special issue—
published five years after this event—is so limited in the scope of its interpretation of
integral futures.
In this paper, I first point to some limitations of the narrow version of integral
futures (IF) as represented in the special issue [6]. I then propose several ways that the IF
brand could be refreshed through a broader and deeper approach to integral futures
through engagement with other kindred discourses. The main focus of this paper is to
broaden and deepen understandings of the notion of integral as a pathway to broaden and
deepen the notion of integral futures.
1 I was responsible for co-designing, researching, developing and teaching the online component of the first
year of the Masters in Strategic Foresight (Graduate Certificate Online) from 2003-2006.
2 My second article referred to here [23] was co-authored by my friend and colleague Gary Hampson
whose recent research also seeks to broaden integral theory beyond the limitations of a Wilberian branding
[24]. See also Hampson in this issue.
3 Slaughter’s paper was published as a chapter in a book the following year [26].
4 Although Slaughter had previously written about the implications of Wilber’s theories for futures studies,
including environmental scanning [30] [31], he drew primarily on Wilber’s seminal text Sex, Ecology and
Spirituality [32]. Wilber himself did not begin to use the term integral until two years later [33].
2. Mistaking the Part for the Whole: Deconstructing the IF Brand
Much could be said by way of critique of the version of integral futures that is
represented in the special issue of Futures on the theme of “Integral Futures
Methodologies”. However, I will limit this critique to what I consider to be the most
significant faults in such a branded approach, in order to spend more time/space on
pointing to ways to open the notion of integral futures to a fuller, richer potentiality.
There is a lack of substantial engagement by most of the authors in the special issue
with the complex genealogy and multiple contemporary uses of the term integral. For
example, Slaughter heads one of his subsections “What is meant by “integral”? [5, p.
121]. He then proceeds to summarise some of the features of Wilber’s integral theory
without any suggestion that this is merely one view of “integral.” He thus perpetuates the
“myth-of-the-given” of the Wilberian integral brand. Although Hayward [34] refers to
Gebser and Habermas as genealogical pointers towards Wilber’s integral—which
purportedly transcends and includes them—he also notes that “Three of the greatest
integral theorists of the twentieth century would be Jean Gebser, Siri (sic) Aribindo (sic)
and Rudolph (sic) Steiner” (p. 109). Yet Hayward does not engage with the integral
writings of Sri Aurobindo or Rudolf Steiner, nor does he refer to the substantial research
in the integral futures domain that explores the relationships between the integral
theoretic narratives of Steiner, Gebser and Wilber [16-18]. Throughout the special issue,
when the term integral is used it is consistently conflated with the Wilberian Integral
Operating System (IOS) or AQAL, with little acknowledgement of the other
contemporary uses of the term integral and minimal engagement with the broader
integral literature [16] [35] [36] [24] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47]
[48] [49] [50] [18] [51] [52] [53].
Even more disturbing is that most of the articles in the special issue reflect a
conceptually parochial approach to scholarship, even in relation to integral futures itself,
referring largely to a small pool of authors who all interpret integral futures through a
similar Wilberian integral lens [54] [27] [28]. None of the authors has indicated any
serious engagement with other academic research in the integral futures area [16] [25]
[23], notably research that includes and transcends a Wilberian perspective through an
integration of integral views [16] [17] [18] and/or an ecology of integral theories [24].
There is a formalist reductionism inherent in the contraction of the broad notion of
integral futures to the acronym “IF” [5], colonising the vast potential of “integral futures”
by a managerialist mindset. The use of managerialist metaphors is a form of sciolism,
giving an appearance of scientific scholarship, much like the neo-fundamentalist audit
culture dominating educational research [55] [56] [57]. Such a technicist approach is
evident in Slaughter’s [5] pseudo-empiricist quantitative application of Wilber’s four
quadrants to his own mythic idea of Inayatullah’s CLA. Furthermore, purporting to be
post-conventional, Slaughter’s technicist application of Wilber’s four quadrants as a tool
to evaluate Inayatullah’s causal layered analysis is rather a conventional scientistic
manoeuvre based on monologic thinking rather than the post-conventional dialogic
possibility of engaging in a postformal process such as hermeneutics or intersubjective
dialogue. Rather than an enriching of causal layered analysis through an integrative
dialogue of methodologies, the result is a slaughtering of the multifaceted potential of
causal layered analysis as a rich postconventional-integrative methodology [58] [59].
3. Reconstructing Integral Futures as Macrohistorical and Planetary
3.1 A Deep Time Genealogy of Integral
Integrality must by its nature be complex, many-sided and intricate; only some
main lines can be laid down in writing, for an excess of detail would confuse the
picture. (Aurobindo, 1997, para. 152, p. 359)
It is notable that although many contemporaries who use the term integral use it
in reference to Wilber, he has not divulged where his use of the term arose. The
genealogy of the term integral is somewhat contested among contemporary integral
theorists and researchers. In the middle of last century cultural philosopher Jean Gebser
[60] used the term integral to refer to a new, emergent, structure of consciousness.
However, unknown to Gebser when he published his first edition of The Ever-Present
Origin [60, p. xxix], Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo had begun in 1914 to use the
terms integral knowledge and integral consciousness, in a series of writings later
published as The Life Divine [61]. Sri Aurobindo refers to integral knowledge as “a Truth
that is self-revealed to a spiritual endeavour” [61, p. 661]. This is also aligned to Gebser’s
use of integral: “Integral reality is the world’s transparency, a perceiving of the world as
truth: a mutual perceiving and imparting of truth of the world and of man and all that
transluces both” [60, p. 7]. What has not yet been recognised in the integral literature, to
my knowledge, is that even before Sri Aurobindo began writing about integral
knowledge, Steiner was already using the term integral in a similar way. Steiner’s earliest
use of integral to my knowledge is the following comment he made on integral evolution
in a lecture in Paris on the 26th May 1906.
The grandeur of Darwinian thought is not disputed, but it does not explain the
integral evolution of man… So it is with all purely physical explanations, which
do not recognise the spiritual essence of man's being. [62, para. 5] [Italics added]
Steiner also used the term integral in a way that foreshadowed Gebser’s use.
Gebser [60] claimed that the integral structure of consciousness involves concretion of
previous structure of consciousness, whereby “the various structures of consciousness
that constitute him must have become transparent and conscious to him” (p. 99). Gebser
also used the term integral simultaneity (p. 143) to express this. This echoes Steiner’s
characterisation of “the stages on the way to higher powers of cognition … [where one
eventually reaches] a fundamental mood of soul determined by the simultaneous and
integral experience of the foregoing stages” [63, § 10, para. 5]. [Italics added] Recent
research has also been undertaken by Hampson in relation to even earlier, pre-twentieth
century notions of integral, specifically integral education in Russia and France [64].
The term integral has been popularised over the last decade by Wilber and to a
lesser extent by Ervin László with their respective integral theories of everything5 [42]
5 The integral approaches I consider here, including my own, need to be contextualised as post-positivist, in
contrast to the early 20th century strivings of the Vienna Circle to create a unified science through logical
[33] [65]. Much of the contemporary evolution of consciousness discourse that uses the
term integral to point to an emergent, holistic/integrative and spiritually-aware
consciousness—draws on the writings of Gebser and/or Sri Aurobindo, either directly, or
indirectly through reference to Wilber’s integral theory [47] [66] [46] [67] [49] [68] [33]
[69] [70] [71] [72]. However a careful scholarly analysis of the basic elements of
Wilber’s AQAL theory disclose that his theory consists primarily in piecing together into
one framework a number of theoretic components from earlier theorists—some of which
he appropriately attributes, while others he does not. Wilber’s highly prized four
quadrants model is a barely disguised and unattributed replication of Schumacher’s four
fields of knowledge6 [73] [18]; his holon theory is an insufficiently attributed adaptation
of Koestler’s holon theory (see Hampson in this issue); his levels are a complex and
sometimes inconsistent hybrid of Gebser’s cultural history and postformal psychology
research [74, p. 50-51]; and his integral hermeneutics [75] is remarkably similar, though
again without attribution, to Ricoeur’s earlier complex reconciliation of the
Gadamer/Habermas debates in hermeneutics theory [76].
My research enacts an integration of integrals7 involving a deepening of integral
theory by honouring the significant yet undervalued theoretic components of
participation/enactment and aesthetics/artistry via Steiner and Gebser as a complement to
Wilber’s conceptual emphasis. I also introduce the notion of reverence as an
underappreciated feature of postformal-integral consciousness, which Steiner regarded as
fundamental to the healthy emergence of the new consciousness [77]. The significance of
reverence is also noted in some education literature [78] [79] [80] [81]. When brought
into hermeneutic dialogue with each other, Steiner’s integral spiritual science,8 Gebser’s
integral-aperspectival cultural phenomenology, and Wilber’s integral-AQAL theoretical
framework, demonstrate significant convergences in addition to their unique
particularities. My particular interests in using the term integral are to foreground the
concepts of inclusivity, holism, pluralism and reverence.
3.2 A Planetary View of Integral
Understanding requires holism… If the holism is to be taken into account then the
values of all the world’s cultures in all their diversity are salient initial conditions
to which sensitivity is essential, and this holds just as true for the moral and
ethical ideas of the west itself—they have all played their part in making the
6 Wilber’s four quadrants bear a remarkable similarity to the Four Fields of Knowledge put forward by
Ernst Friedrich Schumacher in his 1977 Guide for the Perplexed, summarized as 1. I – inner; 2. The world
(you) – inner; 3. I – outer; 4. The world (you) – outer. (Schumacher, 1977, p. 62) Although Wilber refers to
this book in his reference list at the end of SES, and in two endnotes, he does not cite Schumacher in
relation to his four quadrants. (Wilber, 2000d) Some clarification from Wilber on this issue would be
valuable, since this is the cornerstone of his AQAL theory.
7 My privileging of the term integral over holistic, or integrative, is not intended to contribute to any “turf
wars.” I seek to honour both the scholarship and spiritual depth given to the term integral last century by
Gebser and Sri Aurobindo. By using the phrase “integration of integrals” I distinguish my stance from any
one particular integral theory. My use of integrality also conceptually includes the notion of holistic, as
used by holistic theorists who honour a developmental and evolutionary perspective.
8 In his discussion of the potential interdisciplinary relationship between anthropology and
anthroposophy—also called spiritual science—Steiner refers to his spiritual science as a “systematic noetic
investigation” [82] .
richness of the world… We have to accept a new equivalence between
perspectives… Through chaos and beyond, we have to emerge into a dynamic
new era of interrelationship. Zia Sardar [83]
A critique that could be made of some forms of integral theory is that they carry
an Anglo-American bias that is tantamount to another hegemonising grand narrative. I
became aware throughout my own research process that most of the contemporary
literature on integral theory is being written in the USA and most of the integral futures
writing draws primarily on Anglo-American integral theory. This bias needs to be
addressed and a first step is to explore what other similar integrative narratives might
exist in other cultural discourses. I have included two other significant integrative
discourses in my research, both of which are not limited to Anglo-American authors.
These include discourses that use the term planetary and discourses that use terms such
as transdisciplinary, transnational and transcultural [84] [85]. Furthermore, there is a
significant history of integral education theory in Europe, particularly 19th century France
and Russia that has been largely overlooked in contemporary Anglo discourse [64]. The
notion of integral foresight, drawing on the French prospective, is also utilised by
Fabienne Goux-Baudiment.9
The use of the term planetary has been increasing within evolution of
consciousness discourses. The semiotic pluralism of its contemporary usage provides a
counterbalance to the more politico-economic term, globalisation. Many researchers who
use the term planetary have been inspired by Teilhard de Chardin’s notion of the
planetization of mankind [86]. The phrase planetary consciousness is emerging as an
alternative to the terms postformal or integral to characterise emergent consciousness,
particularly in the light of our current planetary crisis. In addition to its popular use by
environmental activists it is used in academic contexts by a range of philosophers,
scientists, educators and sociologists [69] [39] [87] [37] [84] [38]. This critical use of
planetary has been emphasised in the philosophical writings of Edgar Morin who refers
to the present times as the Planetary Era, which he claims began around five hundred
years ago [84,88-90]. Several other contemporary writers have also been influenced by
Morin’s concept of planetary [91] [92] [93] [94] [37] [95]. My use of planetary is multi-
layered, foregrounding critical environmental (biosphere), transcultural (anthropo-socio-
sphere), philosophical (noosphere) and spiritual interests (pneumatosphere). These
complex concepts are discussed in more detail elsewhere [18] [19].
If we take a planetary perspective to the historical development of knowledge in
universities we need to take into account Indian, Chinese, Arab/Islamic and Israeli
streams of higher education—all of which arguably preceded the European academies
and universities. This early history of universities has been developed more fully by
Hampson [64].
Perhaps a relevant example given the current misunderstandings between the
dominant American worldview and Islamic perspectives is the court of Haroun al
Raschid in the late 8th century CE in Baghdad. Steiner described the cultural leader,
Haroun al Raschid as:
9 See website
The figure-head of a civilisation that had achieved great splendour… at the centre
of a wide circle of activity in the sciences and the arts… Profound philosophic
thought is applied to what had been founded by Mohammed with a kind of
religious furor; we see this becoming the object of intense study and being put to
splendid application by the scholars, poets, scientists and physicians living at this
Court in Baghdad. [96, § 10, para. 6-9]
This description characterises a type of integral culture that has not yet been
repeated in Europe or the Anglophone world.
If we look beyond Europe and the Anglophone world in relation to contemporary
integral approaches, we can find many examples. These include the Multiversidad in
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico based on Morin’s complex planetary philosophy. This
university is hosting an international congress in October 2008 on complex thought and
education, with Morin, Nicolescu and Maturana as keynote speakers. There is the
“international UNIPAZ network inspired by Pierre Weil in Brazil deploying their holistic
peace education programme in various places” [74]. There is also an interesting integral
education project in China, initiated by Professor Fan Yihong, who previously studied in
collaboration with David Scott’s Community for Integrative Learning and Action (CILA)
in Amherst, Massachusetts [97] [98]. These are just some of the integral projects that
appear when one broadens the notion of integral beyond the limitations of the IF brand.
In summary, if one conceptualises integral futures with an eye to macrohistorical
as well as planetary perspectives one can find significant examples of integral
worldviews in a range of previous times and diverse contemporary places. It is on this
delicate and dialogic integral theoretic ground that my broadly based version of integral
futures stands.
3.3 An Integration of Integral Views
The dialectical challenge felt by many is to evolve a cultural vision possessed of a
certain intrinsic profundity or universality that, while not imposing any a priori
limits on the possible range of legitimate interpretations, would yet somehow
bring an authentic and fruitful coherence out of the present fragmentation, and
also provide a sustaining fertile ground for the generation of unanticipated new
perspectives and possibilities in the future. [99, p. 409]
These words of integral philosopher Richard Tarnas point to the challenge I have
felt and tried to meet in my work. I recently undertook the ambitious task to develop an
integration of integral views.” A critique of this venture could surely be that this is an
egotistic, competitive attempt to enter the rivalrous fray between Wilber, László and the
Aurobindians.10 However, I believe a close reading of my text will reveal that my primary
intention is to try to introduce a more dialogic rather than rivalrous tone. My interests in
entering into what I consider to be a significant millennial conversation were to listen
carefully with critical reverence to what had already been said, to hear the silences and to
10 Although there are other integral theorists that could be considered these three streams are the dominant
threads operating within what could loosely be called integral theory today, particularly in the USA.
see what may have been overlooked. My intention is not to introduce another competing
integral monologue (another theory of everything) but to begin a conversation that may
facilitate a healing within the integral fragments, so that the task at hand—to understand,
cohere and translate the breadth of the expanding noosphere—can more freely continue.
Before providing a brief overview of how I have cohered these approaches, I make two
prefatory points. Firstly, my interest in not so much in the literal use of the word integral
but in the meaning that it attempts to express. Secondly, a major contribution of my
research is to introduce into the integral conversation the significant contribution to
integral theory of Steiner—perhaps the most marginalised 20th century integral theorist,
given his application of integral thinking to so many fields (e. g., medicine, education,
agriculture, architecture and the arts, to name a few).
I propose a simple frame through which to view the complementary nature of
several significant integral theorists.11 For the purposes of this schematic summary I have
chosen to focus on five integral theorists: Gebser, László, Sri Aurobindo, Steiner and
Wilber; and two transdisciplinary theorists: Morin and Nicolescu.12 I propose to view the
contributions from several metaphoric perspectives, introducing five—mostly new—
terms to integral theory: macro-integral, meso-integral, micro-integral, participatory-
integral, and transversal-integral.13 Based on this new framing I intend to demonstrate
how the various integral approaches need not be seen to be in competition with each
other but rather as complementary aspects of a broader articulation of noospheric breadth
that is seeking living expression. Without implying that any of these terms represent
closed, fixed categories or that any of the integral approaches could be contained
completely within any of these concepts, I suggest the following provisional mosaic of
integral theory as it stands today.
By macro-integral I am referring to the extent to which the integral theorist
includes all major fields of knowledge. I suggest that at this level of conceptual
integration, Wilber’s AQAL framework makes a highly significant contribution and this
is where his strength lies. The breadth of Steiner’s theoretic contribution to the
understanding and integration of knowledge is at least as vast as Wilber’s, however it has
been largely ignored by both the academy and integral theorists, perhaps to their
detriment. Gebser also made an impressive, but largely under-appreciated theoretic
contribution to articulating the emergence of integral consciousness in numerous
disciplines and fields in the early 20th century. In summary, I see Steiner, Gebser and
Wilber as the most significant macro-integral theorists of the 20th century with Wilber
perhaps being the most accessible.
By meso-integral I am referring to the extent to which the integral theorist
contributes significantly to theory building within particular fields or theories. I propose
that László’s [42] contribution is highly significant at this level. Having followed a rather
more formal, European, academic-scientific approach to theory building, László has
11 I am using the terms theorists and theory in this section broadly to cover philosophy, epistemology and
12 The atypical nature of this list can be accounted for in two ways: My reasons for including
transdisciplinary theorists will become evident and other integral theorists who could be considered are
generally aligned to one or more of these major theorists. P.R.Sarkar could also be considered but his vast
theory is beyond the scope of my research to integrate in this paper.
13 I recognise that some of these terms have technical meanings in mathematics, engineering and computer
sciences, however, I am using them metaphorically in this context.
taken a general systems approach to integral theory. Although it can be critiqued from a
Wilberian view as being partial, it appears more successful than most integral approaches
at being taking seriously from an academic perspective. Although Wilber and Steiner
have both made numerous theoretic contributions to various disciplines, their
contributions remain marginalised within mainstream approaches. Sri Aurobindo’s
integral approach could also be regarded as a significant contribution at this level—albeit
also a marginalised one—given that his philosophy provides a foundation for much of the
later integral theory development [47].
By micro-integral I am referring to the extent to which the integral theorist makes
detailed contributions to specific disciplines or fields through the application of their
theory. I propose that at this level of detailed application of integral theory to a wide
range of disciplines and professional fields, Steiner’s extraordinary contribution can no
longer continue to be ignored by integral theorists. Although it is beyond the scope of this
paper to consider all the fields of application of his theory, I have made extensive
reference elsewhere to the integral nature of his theory and particularly of its pedagogical
application [17] [19] [100]. By comparison, Gebser’s, Wilber’s and László’s theories are
largely conceptual, although Gebser enacts his integrality in the style of his writing and
Wilber is making moves towards the application of his theory in various fields. The
emphasis on applied theory in Sarkar’s approach can also be noted in this regard.
The notion of participatory-integral is based on the integral transformative
education theory of Ferrer, Romero and Albareda [48] [101]. Their participatory
approach14 is inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s integration of the three yogas of knowledge,
love and action, which is in turn aligned to Steiner’s thinking/head, feeling/heart and
willing/hands. Ferrer et al. emphasise the importance of the participation of the whole
human being (body, vital, heart, mind and consciousness) and claim that most integral
education theories are either too cognicentric or too eclectic. They provide an alternative
framing, based on Wexler’s notion of horizontal integration, as “the way we integrate
knowledge” and vertical integration, as “the way we integrate multiple ways of
knowing” [101, p. 309]. Based on this framing Ferrer et al. place most integral, holistic
and even transdisciplinary approaches within horizontal integration. My interpretation is
that this framing is too simplistic: firstly, because there are other unacknowledged ways
that the terms vertical and horizontal are used in integral theory and other theories; and
secondly, much depends on how the approach to integrating knowledge is applied.
I also propose a new concept via the term transversal-integral that refers to
integral approaches that include and cut across these vertical and horizontal
levels/dimensions. While it could be argued that all the integral theorists mentioned cut
across these different dimensions to a greater or lesser degree—particularly Steiner and
Wilber—I acknowledge two other significant integral thinkers who enact transversal15
reasoning and relationships through their transdisciplinarity. Morin and Nicolescu do not
tend to use the term integral, nor are they cited as integral theorists in much of the
14 The term participatory in relation to integral theory is also used in a different way to refer to self-
reflective enactment [24]. See also [18, pp. 13, 110, 124].
15 Professor of science and theology, J. Wenzel Van Huyssteen draws attention to the role of transversality
in postfoundational approaches to interdisciplinarity:Transversality in this sense justifies and urges an
acknowledgment of multiple patterns of interpretation as one moves across the borders and boundaries of
different disciplines” [102].
integral literature.16 I suggest the latter is an unfortunate oversight based on semantic and
cultural misunderstanding, rather than philosophical understanding. From my planetary
scanning of the research it is apparent that the term integral is much more widely used in
North America today than in Europe though this was not the case in the 19th century [64].
By contrast the term transdisciplinary17 appears to be used in Europe, particularly by
Nicolescu and Morin, with similar integral intent. A special feature of both Nicolescu’s
and Morin’s transdisciplinary philosophies is their attention to transversal relationships.18
See also the special issue on transciplinarity (Futures, Vol. 36, Issue 4).
In summary, my position is that integral theory creation to date has been seriously
hampered by internal rivalry, factionalism and, ironically, lack of integration of kindred
theories. My interest here is in offering a means for perceiving the interrelationships
among significant integrative approaches that have been operating in relative isolation
from each other. This points towards the possibility of new liaisons between approaches
that are: inclusive of the vastness of noospheric breadth (macro-integral); that provide
rigorous theoretic means for cohering it (meso-integral); that attend to the concrete
details required for applying the theories (micro-integral); that encourage the
participation of all aspects of the human being throughout this process (participatory-
integral); and that are able to traverse and converse across these multiple dimensions
4. Postformal-integral-planetary Openings: Integral Education Futures
Thinking begins when conflicting perceptions arise. Plato’s Republic, VII, 523
(cited in [103, p. 8]
As a way of countering the tendency among contemporary integral theoretic
narratives towards a particular brand of integral—such as Wilber, Gebser, Sri Aurobindo,
László or any other—my style of integral futures research involves deliberately, actively
and frequently pointing to theoretic openings rather than premature theoretic closure. By
consistently attending to the kindred theories that rub up against our cherished theories
and methodologies, we keep them soft and alive, rather than hard, rigid and mechanistic.
I call this delicate theorising19 [19]. There are two major strategies that I have used to
enact this process of delicate theorising with regard to integral futures. The first strategy
is developed in my broad philosophical research and involves conceptually linking the
16 However, integral theorists from the Califormia Institute of Integral Studies, Alfonso Montuori and Sean
Kelly, have been translating Morin’s writing over the last decade and clearly appreciate its significance for
integral theory.
17 A lack of clarity on these matters within integral theory may result from a conflation by some American
integral theorists of transdisciplinarity with the concept interdisciplinarity, which is more widely used in
the US. From my reading of these terms, Nicolescu’s transdisciplinarity is closer in meaning to integral
than it is to interdisciplinarity.
18 The Charter of Transdisciplinarity developed in 1994 by Nicolescu, Morin and others acknowledges the
horizontal integration of the exact sciences, humanities, social sciences, art, literature, poetry and
spirituality (p. 149); the vertical integration of intuition, imagination, sensibility, and the body in
transmission of knowledge (p. 150; and also the significance of broader, transversal integration through a
“transcultural, transreligious, transpolitical and transnational attitude” [85].
19 After Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s delicate empiricism [104] [105].
term integral with two other concepts, postformal and planetary—both of which are also
potentially very broad and deep [18,19]. The second strategy is developed more fully in
my educational research and involves creating ongoing dialogue—rather than debate20
with kindred theoretic approaches [74,100]. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to
discuss these strategies in detail, I will include here some brief pointers to these
approaches. They have been discussed in detail elsewhere [18] [19] [100].
In constructing my term postformal-integral-planetary I use Edgar Morin’s
complexity-based linguistic method of hyphenating three or more concepts together to
demonstrate their interrelated meanings [88] [89]. My decision to conjoin these concepts
could be critiqued from several perspectives.
From a Wilberian perspective there may be no perceived need to conjoin the
terms postformal and planetary to integral in the belief that Wilber’s integral theoretic
framework already incorporates both postformal reasoning and planetary perspectives
[75] [106]. This perspective could be represented as in Figure 1b. However, it could also
be argued from the perspective of some adult developmental psychologists that the
concept of postformal also contains both integral and planetary perspectives, for example
through Michael Commons’ hierarchical complexity model [107] [108]. This perspective
could be represented as in Figure 1a below. Finally, those theorists of the new
consciousness who focus on the critical, planetary perspectives may consider that their
narratives incorporate postformal reasoning and integral theory, for example Edgar
Morin’s notion of the planetary era [88] [84]. This theoretic perspective may be
represented as in Figure 1c below.
20 From a developmental perspective the notion of debate is an expression of formal logic—the logic of the
excluded middle. The notion of dialogue, on the other hand, is an expression of postformal logics, such as
dialectics and paradoxical thinking—which enact the logic of the included middle. For more on the
significance of the logic of the included middle in transdisciplinarity and planetary consciousness, see
Nicolescu (2002).
Figure 1a: A Postformal
Perspective on Integral
and Planetary Discourses
Figure 1: Possible
Postformal Perspective on
Integral and Planetary
Figure 1b: An Integral
Perspective on Planetary
and Postformal Discourses
Figure 1c: A Planetary
Perspective on Postformal
and Integral Discourses
These three major strands of research each have a stronger emphasis in a
particular area. The planetary consciousness literature tends to emphasise the urgency of
our planetary crisis; the integral literature—particularly Wilberian integral—tends to
emphasise the epistemological crisis and how this can be transformed by integral
consciousness; the postformal psychology literature tends to focus on empirical and
analytic articulation of higher stages of reasoning. My philosophical interest is in thinking
these threads together as facets of the one emerging consciousness movement and, in
particular, to pull through the educational imperatives of this emergence.
When I apply my integral futures approach—in concert with postformal and
planetary perspectives—to educational futures, I find that there is a plethora of
postformal pedagogies that tilt towards more integral, planetary futures. I have identified
over a dozen emerging pedagogical approaches that in some way, either directly or
indirectly, facilitate the evolution of postformal-integral-planetary consciousness. I have
begun the process of hermeneutic dialogue among them, but of course much more
research needs to be done. These include: aesthetic and artistic education; complexity in
education; critical and postcolonial pedagogies; environmental/ecological education;
futures education; holistic education; imagination and creativity in education; integral
education; neohumanist education; partnership education; planetary/global education;
postformality in education; postmodern and poststructuralist pedagogies; spirituality in
education; transformative education; wisdom in education.
In summary, the call for integral futures when applied to education is for both
integral education theory and integral futures theory to contextualise themselves
academically in the long history of integral philosophies, east and west, and to
contextualise themselves geographically within transnational, transcultural, planetary
discourses that go beyond the Anglo-American integral discourse. In my view, an
authentic approach to integral futures of education would embrace the rich diversity of
emergent pedagogical approaches that are out there, globally, in these urgent planetary
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... The special issue stirred up quite a bit of controversy among futurists and Futures published a second special issue in March 2010 on epistemological pluralism in futures studies that gave voice to the key critics, led by Sohail Inayatullah. iv My own piece received some strong criticism from many of the authors (Barber, 2010;Bussey, 2010;Gidley, 2010;Inayatullah, 2010a;2010b;Ramos, 2010;Russo, 2010). The criticism is diverse and multi-faceted but one of the strongest sentiments was that we had done CLA, and the broader field of integrative or holistic futures work, a disservice by trying to force it to fit within an AQAL framework. ...
... He goes on to cite alternatives to Wilber's theory of everything, including Lakoff and Johnson's (1981) work in cognitive linguistics, Latour's actor-network theory (Latour, 2005), Maturana and Varela's work in biological development and cognition (Maturana & Varela, 1998), Gunderson and Holling's panarchy (Gunderson & Holling, 2002), Torbert's action inquiry (Torbert, 2002), Jim Ife's work on community development (Ife & Tesoriero, 2006) and Arnold Mindell's deep democracy (Mindell, 1992 In her article in the special issue, Gidley (2010) highlights the integrative work of Jean Gebser (1985), Ervin Laszlo v (2007), Sri Aurobindo (1985) and Rudolf Steiner. I would add the work of P.R. Sarkar (1987) and Mark Edwards' recent work on integral metatheory (Edwards, 2009). ...
... I would add the work of P.R. Sarkar (1987) and Mark Edwards' recent work on integral metatheory (Edwards, 2009). Further, Gidley (2010) draws attention to the transdisciplinary work of Edgar Morin (Morin & Kern, 1999) and Basarab Nicolescu (2002). Transdisciplinary research is integrative without necessarily seeking to be holistic. ...
Full-text available
This article is a personal reflection on what integral practitioners can learn from a dialogue that played out in the pages of the journal Futures. In March 2008, Futures published a special issue on Integral Futures methodologies, in which the authors used the AQAL model to explore futures thinking and methods. I contributed an article that used the AQAL model to analyze and propose an extension of a futures method called Causal Layered Analysis. The response to the special issue from some futurists was critical, and Futures published a second special issue in March 2010 giving voice to these critiques. After reflection, some of the criticism of the original special issue (and particularly of my article) seems justified. The experience has caused me to question the way that I (and others) have applied the AQAL model. I am sharing my reflections in the hope that there are valuable lessons for other integral practitioners, particularly those who are relatively new to the AQAL model. My perspective is that of a practitioner seeking to use integrative approaches to grapple with sustainability problems. I argue for an ecology of integrative approaches in which the AQAL model is one viable approach, existing in dialogue with other integrative approaches.
... recognised that, as Gidley (2010) argues, it is by no means the only integral approach. It is beyond the scope of this paper to debate the validity of the range of integral approaches that Gidley explores; instead, the approach deemed most 'fit-for-purpose' is used here. ...
Full-text available
A new Futures Conversations Framework (FCF) is proposed in this paper, one that draws on Integral Futures to integrate four types of conversations about futures – Self, Culture, Change and Futures – that each hold assumptions about how futures are understood and articulated in the present. The FCF is a design frame that seeks to ensure that any useful conversation about possible futures takes place in a space that surfaces and challenges these assumptions with the aim of expanding organisational discourses about futures and how those futures are used in the present. This paper is conceptual in nature and focuses on organisational futures and explores the nature and emphasis of each conversation before suggesting how an integrated framework can be used in practice to inform the design of foresight and futures processes to ensure as many assumptions about futures as is possible are identified in the present.
... Jennifer Gidley szintén támaszkodna más, integrált elméletet kidolgozó és képviselő gondolkodók nézetrendszerére (Gidley 2010). Kiemelten foglalkozik Auriobindo, Gebster, Steiner, Laszlo, Wilber elméleteivel és arra a következtetésre jut, hogy ezek mindegyikéből lehet és kell meríteni, vagy különböző gondolataikat új egységbe rendezni azért, hogy az emberekben kialakulhasson a planetáris tudat. ...
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A tanulmány áttekinti az integrált jövőkutatás fogalmának kialakulását és értelmezési kérdéseit. Részletesen taglalja az integrált világfelfogásokon, különösen a Wilber-i négy kvadráns felfogáson alapuló, valamint a tudományos paradigmákat alkalmazó integrált jövőkutatási felfogásokat. Mindezeket teszi azért, hogy rámutasson arra, hogy az előttünk álló problémák és megoldandó feladatok nem nélkülözhetik a jövővel való foglalkozásnak ezt az irányzatát sem. A tudástársadalomban felértékelődött emberi tudás és minőség formálása és hasznosítása, valamint az informatizáció belépése az előrejelzés/előretekintés készítésébe azt mutatja, hogy az integrált jövőkutatás fejlesztése és használata már érzékelhető a gyakorlatban is.
... Future wisdom research may be a kind of 'delicate theorizing', which is described by Gidley (2010) in her outlining of a post-formal-integral-planetary scholarship as 'consistently attending to the kindred theories that rub up against our cherished theories and methodologies', such that 'we keep them soft and alive rather than hard, rigid and mechanistic' as well as 'creating ongoing dialogue -rather than debate -with kindred theoretic approaches ' (2010: 130). In essence, delicate theorizing is a reminder to attend to and recognize the Other by weaving a tenuous web of wisdom scholarship, making (tentative) connections among empirical research in the social and natural sciences, as well as connecting them to lived experiences individually and collectively. ...
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Reviews 'In a world of change and escalating risk, this book on practical wisdom offers new vision and hope. It is based in the best of human nature, and draws on the forefront of innovative management scholarship, teaching, and practice today.' Ruth Richards, Saybrook University and Harvard Medical School, USA and editor of Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature 'Practical Wisdom is slowly becoming one of the more important issues in contemporary management thinking and this excellent new book is an ideal introduction to the topic. Covering all of the many facets and dimensions of this type of wisdom, it has the merits of being very clearly written and exceptionally well researched. I cannot imagine anyone not intrigued by the subject after reading it and then trying to do something to increase their own practice of wisdom. Highly recommended.'Larry Prusak, Visiting Professor, Columbia University, USA
Verantwortung in Unternehmen zu übernehmen bedeutet, jeden Tag Unsicherheiten zu akzeptieren und damit umzugehen. Aus diesem Grund bemühen sich Wissenschaft und Praxis um Theorien, Methodologien und Methoden, um dieses Bedürfnis zu unterstützen. Das mittlerweile sehr ausdifferenzierte Feld der Futures Studies ist geprägt von epistemologischen Grundannahmen, die in die theoretischen Positionen hineinragen. Bezüglich der theoretischen Positionen und den methodologischen Rahmen ist danach zu fragen, worauf diese ausgerichtet sind. Geht es nur um Darstellungen oder um bestimmte Vorstellungen, die erreicht werden sollen? Auch die Wahl der Methode, hier konkret die Szenario-Technik, wird davon beeinflusst. Der Rahmen ist damit klar, aber die konkrete Ausgestaltung muss geklärt werden. Das Ziel dieses Beitrags ist es, diese Differenzierung herauszuarbeiten und am Ende mittels zwei Methoden zu erläutern.
This chapter focuses on the psychological, particularly cognitive, dimension of the evolution of consciousness. After introducing the concept of psychological development, I discuss some of the challenges in researching the evolution of consciousness from the psychological standpoint and point to the need for a transdisciplinary approach. I present an overview of child and adolescent cognitive development pointing to the limitations of Piaget’s model, and then introduce some evidence of widespread changes in thinking occurring across the knowledge sector over the last hundred years: megatrends of the mind. The purpose of the chapter is to create conceptual bridges between psychological development and the futures of education.
This article explores the breadth of the futures studies field by creating a dialogue with some prominent approaches to climate change. The first half of the article takes an evolutionary perspective on the development of the futures studies field. I show how developments in the field parallel the broader epistemological shift from the centrality of positivism to a plurality of postpositivist approaches particularly in the social sciences. Second, I explore the current scientific research on climate change including issues related to mitigation, adaptation, and coevolution. Finally, I apply my futures typology that includes five paradigmatic approaches to undertake a dialogue between futures studies and climate change.
This article is a commentary on the Integral Futures controversy that arose between authors in two special editions of Futures (Vol. 40, No. 2, and Vol. 42, No. 2). The vitriolic rhetoric of the debate suggests the need for a new form of scholarship, which I call "postformal-integral-planetary scholarship." Such scholarship would require creative altruism, nuanced theorizing, and recognition that we share something of uncommon value with our colleagues-a deep desire and willingness to work toward a more equitable, just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Postformal-integral-planetary scholarship has the potential to move our discourse beyond the personal ego and into a field where we can jointly address global crises.
This article is an integral response to "Epistemological Pluralism in Futures Studies," featured as a special issue of Futures (Vol. 42, No. 2). Since that issue itself was a critical response to "Integral Futures," a 2008 special edition of Futures (Vol. 40, No. 2), this article reflects on the "debate" and responds with inquiries concerning the truth claims of postmodern and poststructuralist epistemological pluralism and its criticism of Integral Theory. I begin with a review of the articles featured in the 2008 issue and then examine the validity of some of the 2010 critiques of Integral Futures, focusing in particular on the accuracy of the criticism of Ken Wilber and his contribution to Integral Theory. I also examine the claims of "epistemological pluralism" to consider whether it is an appropriate framework for futures inquiry and practice. The article concludes with an historical overview of Integral Theory.
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In this book (my master thesis) I use the Integral Theory of Wilber as a heuristic to critically reflect three contemporary theories of sustainable development with regard to different perspectices considered and underlying worldviews. Integral Theory proofed to be a suitable heuristic of holistic understanding. Results show that theories frequently neglect personal/psychological and social/ cultural dimensions of sustainable development.
In my recent work I argued that the religion and science dialogue is most successful when done locally and contextually. However, I also argued against theology's epistemic isolation in a pluralist, postmodern world, and for a postfoundationalist notion of human rationality that reveals the interdisciplinary, public nature of all theological reflection. I now want to explore the possibility that, when we look at what the prehistory of the human mind reveals about the biological roots of all human rationality, some forms of contemporary evolutionary epistemology may actually hold the key to understanding the kind of cognitive fluidity that enables true interdisciplinary reflection. Philosophically the religion and science dialogue benefits from this move when a postfoundationalist notion of rationality redescribes the dynamic interaction of our various disciplinary dialogues with one another as a form of transversal reasoning. Transversality in this sense justifies and urges an acknowledgment of multiple patterns of interpretation as one moves across the borders and boundaries of different disciplines.
One hundred six species of Bryozoa collected from the northern Adriatic in the vicinity of Rovinj, Croatia, are distributed among the orders Ctenostomata (8 species), Cheilostomata (79 species), and Cyclostomata (19 species). Ctenostomes are underrepresented in the collections relative to the two orders with calcified colonies. Five of the cheilostome species are new: Hagiosynodos hadros n. sp., Schizomavella subsolana n. sp., Cellepora adriatica n. sp., Celleporina siphuncula n. sp., and Rhynchozoon revelatus n. sp. (previously referred to as Rhynchozoon sp. II Hayward). Seven species named by Heller (1867) are stabilized by selection of lectotypes (Beania hirtissima, Adeonella pallasii, Hagiosynodos kirchenpaueri, Exidmonea triforis, Crisia recurva) and neotypes (Mollia circumcincta, Schizomavella cornuta) from Heller's collection in the University of Innsbruck Institute of Zoology. Lectotypes are designated for the Adriatic species Hippoporina lineolifera (Hincks, 1886) and for Schizomavella mamillata (Hincks, 1880). Beania cylindrica (Hincks, 1886) and Schizoporella asymetrica (Calvet, 1927) are recognized as species rather than as subspecific units. The species-rich cheilostome genus Schizoporella Hincks, 1877, which contains some of the most widely known fouling bryozoans, is designated a nomen protectum. The species name Smittina cheilostoma (Manzoni, 1869) is preserved as established usage.