I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking, and one of my favorite thinkers is Ken Wilber, transpersonal psychology, and noted as one of the 100 top thinkers of the 20th Century. Wilber does an amazing job analyzing and summarizing the stages of human consciousness, and that is my top concern right now. Treading lightly and completely aware of the risks I am taking—I have decided to undertake the task of summarizing the summarizer in however many pages it takes. Hang in there thinking fans!
States of Consciousness vs Stages of Consciousness
States of Mind and Consciousness
- We don’t need Wilber or anyone else to remind us that every day we go through many states of mind from sad, happy, worried, to peaceful and a lot more.
- Nor do we need a doctor to explain that we are in different states of consciousness when we are asleep and awake. Likewise, at other times, we may sense subtle or tremendous shifts in creativity or feelings of bliss. These are states of mind, states of consciousness.
Stages of Consciousness
- Wilber, and scores of others, identify several stages of internal development (mind development) that humans can go through in a lifetime—both individually and collectively as in groups.
- These stages of consciousness are permanent levels of achievement. In fact, once we reach a new stage of thinking, “It’s impossible to go [completely] backward,” says Wilber, because you’ve changed in some meaningful way.
Let’s Start with Four
Although Western thinkers suggest up to 12 possible stages of mind expansion, let’s start with the Wilber’s somewhat simplified model of four stages.
- Egocentric Stage: It’s all about ME, ME, ME. Absolutely everything relates to the self at this level. By the way, we all start out here,
- Ethnocentric: It’s all about Me, Mine and Ours at the ethnocentric level. About 60% of Americans stick to this level forever.
- Worldcentric: Hey, wait a minute. Is there room for all of us on this planet? Yes, but?
- Integral: Something new is being added, says Wilbur: “Everybody—including me—has important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished and included in a more gracious, spacious and compassionate embrace.” Even the stuff I hate?
Coming Soon: Level One: Egocentric
Just thought you should know. ®
SOURCES: “Clare Graves, Don Beck, Chris Cowan, “An Overview of Developmental Stages of Consciousness,” Compiled by Barrett C. Brown, 3/3/06. Wilber, K., Patten, T., Leonard, A., & Morelli, M. “The Integral May: States and Stages of Consciousness: Conscious Evolution,” consciousevolutionmemoir.com, 2/25/17. Ken Wilber, “Trump and a Post-Truth World,” integrallife.com, 3/3/17.
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