The Four Perspectives – Integral Theory
“I have an important rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including myself — has some important piece of truth and all this pieces have to be honored, cured and included in a broader and compassionate embrace”.
– Ken Wilber
Seen in the light of the integral vision, the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may be represented as a square-based pyramid; each of its levels has four faces (mind, body, relations, environment), to consider as four perspectives about the primary needs of each phase of life.
In this way it’s possible to escape to a too rigid vision of human needs, enriching our comprehension of further facets and nuances.
Helping us to recognize the four essential dimensions of being persons with their own needs, desires and talents is a precious instrument for our growth.
What are the four quadrants?
As we have seen before, the Integral Pyramid presents four faces or quadrants corresponding to the primary points of view from which we may observe and act in the world. Each phase of our developing process, physical, psychological and relational, follows these four primary lines of development.
These dimensions must be adequately considered and nourished for them to grow, develop and consolidate; this applies to each level of the Integral Pyramid, which will help us nourish and balance the four primary areas of our being and acting in the world.
This quadrant represents the subjective, inner dimension of the individual. It includes the inner aspect of consciousness, mental processes, emotions, intentions and personal experiences.
All we perceive internally and individually can’t be measured but only experienced: this is the dimension of awareness and motivation.
It is the ability to access emotions, to explore thoughts, to navigate the inner world, to be aware of what has value and is meaningful to us.
Exploring this quadrant allows one to understand the subjective dimension of human experience and appreciate the richness of the inner life.
This quadrant represents the objective, external dimension of the individual. The dimension of the body, made by physical elements: atoms, cells, organs, brain, synapses and brain waves, a dimension we may observe and reach out manifesting our actions and external being.
It includes phenomena observable from the outside, such as behavior, the physical body, biological systems, but also nature in a broather sense. In other terms this is the dimension in which all that can be touched, weighed and measured comes into play .
Exploring this quadrant enables us to understand the objective dimension of human experience and appreciate the complexity of external reality.
This quadrant represents the subjective and inner dimensions of the collective. It includes values, cultures, social norms, interpersonal relationships, and the psychological and inner aspects of the community and society as a whole.
This is the dimension where shared values and a sense of community are produced and maintained.
The internal and collective of relations is constituted by all those exchanges taking place among persons and among living being in general: relatives, friends, partners, lovers, colleagues and animals.
By understanding relationships we evaluate whether we feel a sense of belonging or non-belonging, connection or separation, cooperation or conflict.
Exploring this quadrant allows one to understand the subjective dimension of collective dynamics and to appreciate the diversity of social and cultural experiences.
This quadrant represents the objective and external dimensions of the collective. It includes organizational structures, political systems, institutions, economics, as well as the external aspects of society and culture as a whole.
The external and collective dimension of environment is constituted by the natural and physical places as well as social spaces: room, house, neighborhood, city and workplace up the extended dimension that goes from our planet to the whole cosmos.
Fully understanding and being aware of the actual weight for our choices may allow us to have a broader vision of an heritage that is not ours in particular but common to all of us.
Exploring this quadrant allows one to understand the objective dimension of collective dynamics and appreciate the complexity of social and cultural interactions.
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