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International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Abstract

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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