“Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 13

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.


Bateson’s “Stage theory… Is colonial BS” critique hits target


— pt. 13A baker’s dozen

Imagination and successful stories

Let’s begin our mini-series conclusion with this forty second video clip from Yuval Noah Harari:



It may well be that the power of our imagination is what distinguishes us as humans. Our ability to create a narrative in which we subsequently invest great faith and existential confidence is a key defining characteristic of humans and how we create culture through image and language.

“Money, in fact, is the most successful story ever invented and told by humans because it is the only story everybody believes.” —Harari

Money is information

Given the place it holds in human systems, money forms what is arguably the most universal human feedback loop (i.e., self-ordering process) that we have for ordering our collective systems. Essentially, money orders our material and organizational systems acting as an imaginary, yet concretizing, feedback loop between desire and availability.

Material and information both live on a spectrum of desirability and availability: supply and demand in dynamic tension—i.e., a “market” structure.

Money is (very loosely) analogous to a key feedback loop in a dynamic field of systemic processes (i.e., Gravesian values).



Information creates reality?

Some argue that reality is made of information… that, in fact, not physical atoms or particles, rather, information forms the most basic building block of Reality. Theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler characterized the idea as “It from bit” — “it” referring to all the stuff of the universe, and “bit” meaning information. Wheeler essentially integrates idealism and materialism, albeit with ‘bit‘ prior to ‘it.’ Without going quite that far, we can hopefully grant and affirm that information animates and orders dynamic processes and systems. 



Stages vs loops

I raised the issue of money to serve as an analogous illustration for my reasoning regarding loops vs stages.

Stages‘ are basically feedback loops, too.

My contention is that while ‘stages‘ are a form of feedback loop, they are clunky and unwieldy—like a check or money order compared to cash.

A ‘stage‘ is a feedback loop with a step-based control gate — to administer sequencing and factoring-in of antecedents, prerequisites, etc.

We know we’ve been conditioned to the idea of ‘higher’ being ‘superior.’ So, beyond a tap on our conditioning, my question for Graves SD and *Integral* remains:

What do we gain in using the notion of ‘stages‘?

This ‘higher-than’ (step-based) control gate is not the only way to describe and administer the dynamic relations and processes in a system. Other suppler and subtler, less-constrained feedback loop configurations are called for and are, indeed, quite possible here. 

My suggestion: non-stadial feedback loops are far-better suited to administering system process dynamics than are ‘stages.’ I’ve now made that change in my approach. 


The path leading me here

Since 2018 when I began re-engaging with the Graves/Spiral Dynamics and Integral conversations, I’ve been flummoxed by *Integralists* advocating for DJT/MAGA. I definitely hadn’t anticipated that!

Especially since July of 2020, I’ve been concerned about *Integralists* using *Integral* thinking as a fig-leaf to cover White supremacist ideology. I’d been looking into that and writing against it periodically — to a largely chilly reception, as, apparently, some people don’t like being challenged regarding racism or even the mention of systemic racism; cf. “White fragility….”.

So, I began looking back a hundred years to the time when White supremacist ideology was the core of “American identity,” overtly and very proudly so. I’d been exploring Franz Boas and his stand against “scientific racism”—i.e., stadial theory and eugenics. I was beginning to think about the intersection of stadial theory, Graves/SD, and Ken Wilber [kw]/*Integral*. 

Then, in August of this year, Nora Bateson dropped a provocation bomb:



Her TheFacebook post on it got 1,200+ comments. So, yeah.

This was an unexpected, but very welcome, catalyst for me personally and intersected with my project of protesting *Integral*’s fig-leaf problem.  

—The “fig-leaf” is a perspectival relativism argument that (darkly, deceptively) offers those who deny the existence of systemic racism cover to believe they’re “right.” The claim is in error.

I’m not sure what happened, because, from sometime back there, I remember kw correctly disparaging such “French parlor tricks.” Now, apparently, the coherence of *Integral* depends on them. I suspect the ‘errant claim’ is an unintended consequence and the product of a dogmatic expression of “all perspectives are partially true,” a core doctrine of *Integral*.



I now consider stages gratuitous to Graves’ insights. Stages mostly add potential for unnecessary problems. Non-stadial values basins — or something of the sort — can form dynamic feedback loop systems sans any need for a superior/inferior-relations trap like ‘stages.’ 
Integral* definitely reflects a serious problem. Thankfully, *Integral* is not my problem. 
(*fig-leaf phenomenon)


Next week: “Irony: *Integral* ghetto.” Come and see. 

[this post ~840 words (~3 min. read)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said until I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Coming soon…

Conversation with:



2 thoughts on ““Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 13

  1. This part of your blog “……… I’ve been concerned about *Integralists* using *Integral* thinking as a fig-leaf to cover White supremacist ideology. I’d been looking into that and writing against it periodically — to a largely chilly reception, as, apparently, some people don’t like being challenged regarding racism or even the mention of systemic racism; cf. “White fragility….”.” is the most poignant for me. That is because this now 13 part discussion helped me backfill a lot of missing pieces in my understanding of racism.

    White Fragility was especially helpful for me and also watching the first three episodes of the Colin Kapernick series and seeing a dramatic representation of systemic racism in play against him. In spite of him having white parents and growing up color-blind in a way, the treatment he received, both overt and covert expressions of racism, when in white society was an ugly mirror to look into. It was heartbreaking to see a young child coming to grips with the fact he was being treated differently strictly because of his skin color. And, then coming to grips with the fact his own parents were not cognizant of the racism they carried and what their son was suffering from others is hard to watch. Without reading White Fragility I don’t think I would have understood what was being conveyed even half as much.

    Back to the part I quoted above and so-called Integralists and the ideas being expressed regarding racism in various Integral focused blogs, websites and social media, the ones expressing WSI behind the cover of integral terms and expressions mostly seem ignorant to me. They falsely believe they have already transcended the idea of racism and now refuse to backtrack like I did. It is difficult and one is forced to “eat crow” to use an old adage. For me though, it was extremely helpful in understanding the bigger picture which is what integralists are supposed to be doing – right?

    Haha! It is all ironic on many levels and I just have to laugh at myself now for the unconscious racism carried about for many decades. Now when I read these denials by integralists where they sound like Margaret Mead in her Baldwin conversation so many decades ago, I realize how far this discussion has to go in the general populace. Even now, I only know there is much I don’t know about racism and will never fully understand from the emotional perspective of a person of color.

    This self-knowledge has given me a certain level of discernment enabling me to see the blank spots in people’s thinking about racism. The US has a long way to go when states are passing laws at an ever increasing pace to stop the teaching of even the idea of systemic racism. The various convoluted justifications for WSI like using cultural values seems endless and very convincing to those unwilling or unable to look a little deeper.

    I really don’t know what to do at this point so I am praying for a miracle to manifest across the general citizenry of the US. God help us!

    Liked by 1 person

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