The Quadrants

According to Wilber's schema, all of 'reality', is made up of perspectives - ways of viewing the world.  These perspectives are represented by the quadrants - everything (every 'holon') has an interior, an exterior, and is both singular and plural (complete in itself, and a part of other holons).

The quadrants represent dimensions of phenomena, of 'holons', of reality.  If any dimension is omitted, something fundamental will be missing.  In fact, all knowledge is partial, but the quadrants disclose what has been overlooked.

Each quadrant addresses an aspect of reality.  Imagine a cross dividing a square into four.  In this schema, the vertical dimensions are the individual and the collective, the horizontal dimensions are the inside and the outside.

  • The Upper Left ('UL') quadrant represents the interior of the individual.  In humans (and in all holons, including atoms and universes), this is the self and consciousness.  All phenomena, including consciousness, go 'all the way down': cells, and even atoms, have a kind of prehension or awareness of each other.  (For now, as you explore this subject, accept that this is so.  Ultimately, this may be the only approach that makes sense to you.).
  • The UR quadrant represents the exterior of the individual - the objective (or observable) or physical aspects.  It includes matter such as molecules, the brain etc - and also includes the behaviour of the entity.
  • The LL represents the interior of the collective - cultural influences (including belief systems and worldviews, from vegetative through mythical and rational to 'centauric').
  • The LR represents the exterior of the collective - 'social' systems.  In human societies this includes buildings and infrastructure, economic systems and social collectives such as families, tribes, nation-states, etc.  On a cosmological scale, it embraces galaxies, planets, ecosystems and the like.

The Eight Zones

Each of the quadrants can be looked at from the inside or from the outside, giving eight zones, or eight perspectives (i.e. four quadrants x two methodologies).  The following examples are of course limited to what humans can engage in.  Note that many disciplines overlap several zones, so that clear-cut examples are not always easy to find.

In addition to being a perspective, each zone gives rise to an injunction which brings forth the data to be found in that perspective.  The perspectives and the injunctions arise together ('tetra-arise') to bring forth our reality in hori-zones (or, more simply, zones).  A zone is a view (a perspective), an injunction, and the resulting lifeworld.

  • Zone 1 - The Interior of the Individual, experienced from inside.  The subjective feeling of the interior.  Examples include meditation (such as Zen) and contemplation, and the discipline of phenomenology.  Esborn: 'religious traditions such as Mahamudra, Zen, and Christian mysticism become scientific insofar as they provide reliable practices for accessing various transpersonal aspects of reality'
  • Zone 2 - The Interior of the Individual, seen from Outside.  This is the appearance of interior.  Examples include structuralism, genealogy.  Esborn: such as developmental psychology and developmental structuralism
  • Zone 3 - The Interior of the Collective, experienced from inside.  The intersubjective feeling of the interior, the felt texture of experiences, thoughts, emotions, feelings etc.  In other words, shared understanding, shared feelings, mutual resonance.  Hermeneutics is an example of a discipline which focuses on this zone.
  • Zone 4 - The Interior of the Collective, seen from Outside.  Structuralism applied to cultural holons.  Examples include semiotics, archaeology, ethnomethodology, cultural studies.  Esborn: ethnomethodology and cultural anthropology.
  • Zone 5 - The study of the objective organism of an individual from within.  Examples are autopoiesis, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology.  Esborn: {sciences of} physics, chemistry, biology, and neurology
  • Zone 6 - The study of the objective organism of an individual from without.  Empiricism and behaviourism.  Examples: physiology, evolutionary biology
  • Zone 7 - The study of social systems from within.  Social autopoiesis.
  • Zone 8 - The study of social systems from without.  Classical systems theory and chaos/complexity theory (also Cosmology ... ???).  Esborn: {sciences of} ecology, geology, astronomy, systems theory, chaos, and the complexity sciences.  Also political science, economics, sociology, linguistics.