Integral economics

Q. What is meant by integral economics?

A. Integral theory is a theory initiated by Ken Wilber, which looks at how the many maps of the human experience integrate into one theory. Integral economics is a way of approaching economics that looks at it through the AQAL , All Quadrants All Levels lens. Meaning there are developmental stages or levels that a society can move through. At each level the society has a way of doing economics, of redistributing resources to where it is needed. And meaning that we look at all four quadrants of economics – the interior individual, the interior collective, the exterior individual, and the exterior collective.

Q. What type of economic systems are there?

A. Some of the more well-known ones are capitalism, communism, and gift economies. There are many variations and hybrids of these basic systems.

Q. What is a stage?

A. Wilber originally looked at stages in terms of individual development. And noted that an individual can be at various levels of development. The place where they are most often at, their center of gravity so to speak, is the stage they are at. In terms of social systems, they too are theorized to exist at various stages.

Q. Is there a connection between individual stages and social stages?

A. In Spiral Dynamics which was a theory invented by Don Beck, it is postulated that when the individuals in a society reach a certain stage of consciousness there is a corresponding social system stage that arises. So there is a correspondence. In Ken Wilber’s integral theory, different lines of development in an individual do not all have to be at the same level so e.g. an individual can be at different moral, emotional, cognitive levels. In the four quadrant model the suggestion is that there is correspondence between the individual and collective.

Q. Is there a relationship between stages and complex systems theory?

A. In complex system there are states of equilibrium, where the system will return to when perturbed. A stage might be described as those places of equilibrium in a complex social system.

Q. How does this apply to economics?

A. Certain economic systems may be unstable at certain stages of development. If you place a collective of people and gave them a set of economic rules they had to follow and they were not able to follow them, then that system is a nonequilibrium state for that collective. If they were able to live with those rules then that is an equilibrium state for the system.

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