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integral meta-studies

Metathinking. The Art and Practice of Transformational Thinking

Bruno and I are most grateful to Elke Fein and IFIS for this opportunity to share details of our book “Metathinking” in IFIS' Online Colloquium n° 38.  We were hoping that we would get a warm reception and interest from the Integral community and we were not disappointed. It was wonderful for us to have such a numerous and receptive audience.

The problematic relationship between integrative science and integrative spirituality

Meta-studies are integrative endeavours.  But when does the search for integration and integral become a colonising endeavour?  Where are the boundaries that distinguish a holistic integration from and a totalising meta-narrative?  

Metatheorising and Climate Change

There have been a number of papers presented recently dealing with the topic of climate change and metatheorising. Papers by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman and the recent 2009 special issue of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice come from the AQAL informed streams and there are others from more general metatheoreitcal perspectives (see for example literature quoted in the call for papers by Wittneben, B, Okereke, C, Banerjee, B & Levy, D (2009)). This is a natural topic for meta-level studies to deal with.

Metatheorising development - The student-teacher relationship

Let's take the student-teacher relationship for example

One of the starting points for an integral and integrative approach to meta-studies is the recognition that many different lenses exist for studying a topic. Those lenses can be applied at every level in the sense making holarchy - in understanding and intervening at the empirical level, in understanding and intervening at the middle-range level and at understanding and intervening on the meta-level.

When does size matter?

A metatheory is a theory about other theories. Those other theories and their constituent elements are the "data" on which metatheorising is based. So, in building metatheory we need to draw a boundary around the kinds of data (other theories) we are interested in exploring. This boundary defines the domain of the metatheory. It doesn't matter how big or small that domain is, as long as we draw it and clearly describe it. Without any boundary around the range of relevance of the metatheory it cannot be tested and it cannot be validly argued that it accurately represents its data.

Altitude Lens Sickness

One assumption for developing an integral metastudies approach to big picture research is that there are multiple lenses that have been used to develop those overarching schemas. All of these lenses need to be included in a comprehensive view of complex social realities. One of the most enduring of these lenses is the altitude lens. This lens looks at temporal complexity through the discourse of stage-based development.

Meta-level research, crossing boundaries and appreciating differences

Boundary crossing is one of the essential characteristic of performing meta-level research - boundary crossing within disciplines, between disciplines and across disciplines and of, course, within, between and across other non-disciplinary related boundaries as well. When we play with conventional boundaries with a little awareness we get to see a broader picture. Meta-studies is largely about how we move across different conceptual, methodological and cultural (meaning-making) boundaries and what we do with the results of that movement.

Boundaries and no boundaries

Defining boundaries are essential for the development of any person or any field of human endeavour. There is no exterior place and no interior state that does not have boundaries. As a parent, I know the crucial importance of setting and observing boundaries in bringing up my children. I also know that the first thing to do in setting a boundary is not to lay it out straight away, but to work out what to do when, not if, those boundaries are crossed.

The big picture and the little picture

As well as having an eye and an ear for the minute, the mundane, the morsel of gossip and (sometimes unfortunately) the modicum of truth, we humans also have an instinct for developing big pictures, big stories and big ideas. There are many different types of big pictures and they can arise from any area of personal and cultural activity.