Ken Wilber’s AQAL model offers a way to synthesize the partial truths of many theories
across various fields of knowledge such as evolutionary biology and sociology, developmental
psychology, and perennial and contemporary philosophy to name only a few. Despite its
reconciling power and influence, the model has been validly criticized for its static nature
and its overemphasis on the ascendant, versus descendant, path of development. This
paper points out areas of Wilber’s writing that suggest a way to overcome these criticisms.
Doing so allows for the refinement of AQAL’s Twenty Tenets for an extension of its formal,
dynamic features. This is accomplished first by relating Wilber’s original dynamic drives to
the quadrants and levels enabling the quadrants and levels to then predict additional drives
not specified by Wilber. The full set of drives then suggests clarifications of assumptions and
applications of the model regarding transcendence and inclusion in order for the refined
model to be internally consistent. The result helps correct for AQAL’s ascending bias, a bias
which overemphasizes a linear path from lower to higher stages of development. Instead,
more possibilities emerge such as those in which ascending development is overly dependent
on a higher capacity with inclusion of only basic, lower core capacities. This is in contrast
to more fully realizing the potential for development of individuals or societies in the more
fundamental, lower levels, through deeper inclusion within higher capacities. Also, given
the other horizontal drives that are predicted by the model, further possibilities are explored
for differing directions of, and emphasis in, development.
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Bowman, K. J. (2009). Bowman, K. J. (2009). Holarchical development: Discovering and applying missing drives from Ken Wilber’s twenty tenets. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 28(1), 1–24.. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 28 (1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/ijts-transpersonalstudies/vol28/iss1/3