Modernity, as defined and debated by anthropologists, centers around the change of human behavior from a time in which nonmodern humans were forced to migrate and scavenge to survive versus modern humans who began to bury their dead, used tools, and incorporated symbolism into their daily lives (Henshilwood, 2003). Wilber’s (2000, p.60) conceptualization of pre-modernity and modernity differs in the sense that modernism has resulted in the development of morals, a sense of science, and the application of the arts into daily life. Additionally, Wilber noted that there are ‘dignities’ and ‘disasters’ associated with the evolution into modernity versus premodern times. Some dignities include the increase of technological advances to find scientific truths and artistic freedoms where as some disasters include the fragmentation and alienation of the incorporation of the systems of the body, mind, matter, soul, and spirit (the Great Nest of Being) as a result of scientific systemizations (Wilber, 2000, p. 61). This still evident in our medical systems in which holistic medicine, psychology, and biomedical treatments are all kept separate and are not integrated well (Scherger, 2005).
Wilber (2000, p. 63) noted this disintegration of the Great Nest of Being, which he refers to as scientific reductionism, and he responded by developing the Four Quadrents to not only discuss individual consciousness but to also demonstrate how individual consciousness is a part of a larger collective. The four quadrants are as follows:
I: Intentional: Upper Left Interior-Individual: This quadrant includes traits such as emotions, concepts, symbolism, and impulse.
IT: Behavioral: Upper Right Exterior-Individual: This quadrant includes traits such as brain systems, molecular systems, and atoms.
WE: Cultural: Lower Left Interior-Collective: This quadrant includes traits such as magic, vegetative states, and physical activity.
ITS: Social: Lower Right Exterior-Collective: This quadrant includes traits such as galaxies, family dynamics, and social systems.
I see the awareness of these four quadrants as figuring into individual body/mind/spirit development in the sense that each of them represents some aspect of modern human behavior while incorporating pre-modern driven functions or behaviors such as the reptilian brain stem, vision-logic, foraging, and physical worldviews (Wilber, 2000, p. 68). The incorporation of all the quadrants has the potential of developing modernity in a positive perspective as these quadrants can be applied in a variety of ways with variety of psychological models. Westhearfer (2004) suggested that the four quadrants could allow psychologists to study human behavior in all four contexts (intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social) based upon the situation and the needs of the client. Additionally, a person can utilize all four quadrants in an effort to further their own development in a very broad manner rather than just focusing on intellectual pursuits while ignoring family development or cultural growth (or vice versa).
Henshilwood, C. S. (2003). The origin of modern human behavior. Anthropology, 44(5), 627-651.
Scherger, J. E. (2005). The biopsychosocial model is shrink wrapped, on the shelf, ready to be used, but waiting for a new process of care. Systems & Health, 23(4), 444-447.
Westhearfer, C. (2004). Wilber’s ‘broad science’: A cure for Postmodernism? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 25(2), 106-112.
Wilber, K. (2000) Integral psychology: consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambala Publications, Inc., Boston.