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It was in 1996 that Ken Wilber, arguably America's leading contemporary philosopher, first made public his notion of All Quadrants/All Levels (AQ/AL). It was a heroic attempt to create a grand overarching theory of human experience, motivation and interaction, based on the intersection of two key dimensions: Tangible-Intangible (or Objective-Subjective) and Individual vs Collective. This created quadrants of :-


All 'lines' - eg: social, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, etc - and levels or stages of development in whatever domain can, in Wilber's paradigm - be run through at least one of the quadrants, The AQ/AL concept has been - and undoubtedly will continue to be! - profoundly influential in explaining many aspects of the 'Human Condition'. (For further information on the basic model, see Peter McNab's Article, 'Aligning Neurological Levels - a Reassesment' (1999).)


Don Beck's genius, when he and Wilber began collaborating in the late 1990s, was to create 4 Quadrants/8 Levels (4Q/8L) (2000, 2002) by running the vMEMES of Spiral Dynamics through the Upper Left, Lower Left and Lower Right Quadrants. The Bio(Upper Right)-Psycho(Upper Left)-Social(Lower Quadrants) scope of the Graves Model - on which Spiral Dynamics is built - makes it a natural fit.


The Upper Right Quadrant Beck saw as the individual's organic capacity to develop the vMEMES of the Upper Left Quadrant and act out (behaviour) their instructions. This is determined by internal neurobiological developments - which themselves can be influenced strongly by factors such as nutrition and environmental pollutants and contaminates. (Beck (2002) has put great emphasis on the need to ensure that what goes into our bodies will contribute towards healthy development of the brain.) This effectively creates a bridge between Neuroscience (investigations of the brain and central nervous system) and the thoughts, attitudes, values, beliefs and memories we call 'mind' which Psychology is concerned with. While it doesn't resolve the issue of Dualism, it at least gives us a workable paradigm for how the mind and body interact.


The individual has to operate within a structure - the Lower Right Quadrant - and to interact with the culture - Lower Left Quadrant - around him or her. The frame of 4Q/8L enables us to look at the Lower Right and Left Quadrants in a way that sees Functionalism (emphasis on the functions of social institutions) and Symbolic Interactionism (emphasis on cultural meanings) as providing complementary insights, rather than being competing schools of Sociology. (In this effect, Beck builds on the work of Jűrgen Habermas, 1962). As Symbolic Interactionism reaches over into the Upper Left to consider the effects of symbolism on individuals - pretty much what Memetics also does - then the somewhat artificial barriers between the behavioural sciences are rendered ineffective. (Which is largely how they were seen by Clare W Graves.)


Thus, 4Q/8L enables us to see why, for example, a paper-driven ISO 9000-type quality system (BLUE, Lower Right) will have little impact upon a largely manual, unskilled traditional workforce (PURPLE, Lower Left) who place no great value on literacy. (See The SME Spiral for an in-depth exploration of this issue.)


Equally we can see why a teenager operating in heavy RED (Upper Left) would have ongoing conflict with the BLUE rules of a school system (Lower Right) - quite possibly compounded by a GREEN culture (Lower Left) of tolerance of expression amongst the teachers.


No wonder 4Q/8L provides the overarching framework on which Integrated SocioPsychology is being built!