The ‘60s protests and the ‘90s conservatism are both best understood as responses to a malady with many symptoms. If we put aside the extreme differences of style and outlook, we see people struggling against an unseen enemy, blaming the nearest source of frustration and, whether motivated by love or anger, equally unable to bring about the outcomes they desire.We are all pressed downward by forces we cannot see. We are all stumbling in the dark. The silence of our thinkers reveals a crisis deeper than discontent ? a failure of human intelligence to understand and master the unknown malady that threatens us.
Charles Reich, 1995, Author of The Greening of America
INTEGRAL SCIENCE is best understood as a major breakthrough in humanity’s ability to understand and (potentially) master the “unknown malady” that Charles Reich describes. It reflects a confluence of three types of change. It is:
1. A New Stage of Science, a precise, completely empirical, post-reductionistic, post-materialist, post-mechanistic one made possible by the advent of computers and nonlinear mathematics. Where Modern science was founded on matter, reductionism, and simple, linear causality, Integral science centers itself on energy, integration, complex causality and “order in complexity.” By opening the door to the precise, quantitative study of complex systems such as economies, societies, the human body and the weather, these new tools open the door to a completely new understanding of our world and most things in it including humanity, civilization and evolution.
2. The Scientific Part of a Larger Cultural Transformation from Modern to Integral Societies and from a Mechanistic to a “Web” Worldview. Apparently, every once in a while, Western civilization finds it necessary to change its patterns of life in a relatively abrupt and comprehensive fashion. When it does, everything from family patterns and scientific frameworks to political systems and spiritual beliefs change in kind. In this way, Roman, Medieval, Modern and now Integral systems of civilization have each succeeded the other.
Why would modern society change its worldview and pattern of being in a relatively comprehensive fashion? The answer is that Modern, money-maximizing, humanity-minimizing beliefs have become a malady that infects every facet of our society from education and family to medicine and politics. Like an immune response, millions of people all over the world and in every endeavor are trying to find a way to heal the human world left in its wake. They have been doing so for decades already.
3. A Unified “Web” Worldview Emerging Throughout Science. Thanks to the afore-mentioned scientific tools, a similar “web” renaissance is sweeping through every field in science. Thanks to the popular press, many people already know about one or more facets of “web-based” science, such as Ecology, Quantum Mechanics, Gaia, Complexity/Chaos, or Systems Science. Many other facets of the web revolution have not reached lay ears, including Ecological Economics, Self-organization theory, and the web-based view of genetics, evolution and societal collapse. The term Integral Science refers to the union of these web changes emerging across disciplines, now fused into a logical, working whole. Apropos of a web worldview, it is this alliance that offers us hope, not any one facet as is so often claimed.
The resulting framework not only changes our view of humanity, civilization and the cosmos, its new story of evolution provides a clear explanation of why civilization’s change, why ours is failing and some of what lies ahead. We believe this explanation can provide the solid foundation the social movement needs to assemble a vibrant, sustainable new stage of civilization by showing how various partial solutions fit within an larger, evolving ecological whole.
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