A few blogs back I was inspired to critique and explore my major, sociology. I wrote a few questions that I thought were necessary, but forgotten in the classroom. I have one more:
Can our understanding deepen?
That is, can we understand ourselves, collectively and individually, at deeper and more inclusive levels?
The term is often called holistic. It’s how one thing builds up on another, increasing depth, complexity and development in response to environment and change. There’s a little bit of physical proof, sitting inside your skull right now. It’s your reptilian brain stem. The very, very early state of the brain which handles our bare instincts. Wonderful thing. Causes problems sometimes, but necessary nonetheless. And it was necessary before we could develop the mammalian brain. It’s not that the mammalian brain was predetermined, or pre-destined by some archaic, dogmatic faith or oppressive scientific law. Nope! It was, for the most part, spontaneous, intelligent reaction to adversity. So many variables go into evolution that I won’t even try to explain them all, or even pretend I know half of them. What I’m getting at here, though, is that evolution exists. It naturally builds on previous states to emerge a new trait. The previous aspect is right there, doing what it always has. The reptilian brain is not “unequal” from the mammalian, for the two could not exist without each other.
So holistic things are inter-dependent as well. We have a world that is a wonderfully complex, hidden dynamic. Like an organism, there are parts, whole-parts making up other whole-parts. Is it any wonder, then, or even truly arguable, that our consciousness, our own mind does not reflect this harmonic universe? Is it any wonder that new stages of awareness, built on previous ones, can pop up in response to our own development and potential growth?
When a child is not raised in contact with other human beings, parts of his or her brain are actualy undeveloped. Because of this, you can make an argument that any such “evolved consciousness,” is entirely dependent on your upbringing. That’s only partially true. Yes, we are social beings. We need interaction to develop. But that interaction, that level of understanding that is imparted onto the next generation, has shifted and grown observably. You can witness the emergence of worldcentric thinking, pluralism and humanities as more dominant thought processes, as technology, globalization and worldviews emerge and interact.
So, what is more simplistic here? Can evolution, seen so colorfully enriched in our modern perspective, really be labeled “linear?” Or is it perhaps the view that, even in the deep end, we must wear swimmies that is truly the simple one? If people are diving in, there’s no need to stop them. Just accept them as you accept the multiplicity of perspectives. Embrace depth with inclusiveness. That is the meaning of integral.