Consciousness

My father died when I was two and a half years old. One of my earliest memories is also the only one I have of him. On Friday evening he would bring home flowers for my mother, and chocolate for my sister, brothers and me. In the memory I have, I received a block a of white chocolate but when I opened it, the bar had been broken and I was distraught. Two year olds are like that. My father picked me up and took me and the broken chocolate bar into the kitchen, he found a simple old plastic cup and put the broken bits of chocolate into the cup and said "there, now that's better", and you know what, it was. My chocolate bar was better than what the others had because my dad had put it in a cup. Forty years on, and I still have that cup.

I remember being a bit older, around 5 or 6 and every summer would come around and three days into the holiday break we were beset by boredom. The boredom problem was strong and it coincided with that time where nearly every question started with "why". I was also keen to explore and create, and along with the neighbourhood kids, we made billycarts that were suited to the quiet street where we lived. The billycarts were basically a plank of wood with an axil for wheels at the back and another at the front. The front axil was connected by a pivot made from a big bolt. We'd scrounge wheels from wherever we could find them, and no lawnmower or pram was safe. My brother then had the ingenious idea of removing the front set of wheels attaching the back section of the cart to the rear of another billycart by using the same big bolt, effectively making a trailer that a second person could sit on. By why stop there, just keep adding billycart sections until there would be a long train of screaming kids snaking down the now not so quiet street where we lived.

When I went to high school I got a taste of a much bigger world, one that included other races and religions. It was a bit of a shock and it influenced my study of history. All those wars that seemed to be fought over nothing but a difference in opinion. I remember very clearly going through a stage where I thought that it would be a much better world if everyone just thought like me and believed the same things I did.

My first week at university was marked with a strong feeling that was like coming home. No longer was I teased for being good in class, I was welcomed by others who had probably suffered similar relentless bullying at school. It was an explosion of learning and discovery as I went about my first degree in Biology, uncovering science and exploring the awe within evolution and genetics. In later years I wrote for the student magazine, and one article in particular stood out because it was written from a place in me that had only just recently been uncovered. I wrote about the population problem and what simple logarithmic maths has to say on our future. As a biologist I understood that trying for infinite growth in a finite medium never ends well, and with this realisation also came an overwhelming helplessness of witnessing our collision course with extinction.

Lets do an experiment, write down a few key points about your own development as I have just done. At the end of this chapter read the list again and see if these personal historical sections of your early life can be placed within the framework outlined below.

This section deals with consciousness as it is understood within the family of human cultures. Often when biologists or philosophers talk about consciousness they are, for the most part, referencing what other animals perceive and experience when compared to what humans perceive and experience. This is a valid definition of consciousness, but for this work rather than the human / non-human divide, the focus is on the within human differences. What makes an individual different over the course of their development, and what makes one person different from another?

The word "consciousness" is being used, but perhaps a different word is needed. However, "culture", "society" or "intelligence" do not do justice to the ideas being expressed. It would be possible to use the phrase "collection of memes", and to an extent this is close, but "consciousness" or even more accurately "developmental consciousness" is the best definition on offer.

If I said to you that the ability to do maths is something that we can learn over time, you would probably be ok with this concept. A two year old is not capable of doing complex calculus but that's not really an issue because they could learn it over time. As a two year old, we'd start with addition and subtraction and work from there. As a theoretical position on mathematics, it isn't a problem to state that people will differ in ability.

And lets also say that the ability to do maths is somehow encoded in the brain. That is, there exists a neurological substrate that encodes our ability to do mathematics. Neurons wired up in a certain way that allow for mathematical ability. Just as they are wired up for being a concert violinist or a pilot or a mechanic. Still no problem, it kinda makes sense.

Neurological development of mathematics is nothing to be upset over, but now lets say that a persons consciousness is also something encoded in the brain. Like mathematics, what if consciousness has neurological basis and it is something that develops as we grow up. Are you starting to feel uncomfortable?

What if we said that consciousness has discreet stages of development in humans and that not all human cultures are at the same level of consciousness. Sure these stages overlap but for the most part they are individually discernable. Are you more disturbed now?

A westerner who can't do complex calculus is no less of a person, they just don't do calculus. Similarly if someone from a developing country can't do calculus, it's not really seen as a big problem. But now say the same thing about consciousness and suddenly a switch is flipped that brings down a whole lot of issues around racism and prejudice. Same basic neurological concept, just applied to this thing called developmental consciousness and it seems to be a problem.

The problem isn't consciousness being different, the problem is more likely connected to a perception that different consciousness are somehow either "better" or "worse". When discussing mathematics it is fairly easy to suspend a value judgement. When discussing developmental consciousness we immediately invoke an anthropomorphic orientation of the animal/human differentiation of consciousness (i.e. the other definition). All humans must be the same, because humans must be better than apes, and apes are better than other mammals, and mammals are better than fish or birds. There is a tendency to view "better" as "more advanced" when really we are building this gradient of worth based on how closely other animals resemble humans. To then infer that within humans there is a gradient is to be seen as leading to all the nasties that come with Fascism and eugenics. And so instead it is more politically correct to just equate all humans as being equal.

But still, we are not equal when it comes to maths, and maths has a neurological underpinning. What then about this thing labelled as 'within human (developmental) consciousness?'

Just be aware of this emotional reaction you might have, for most it seems wrong to talk about discrete stages of consciousness. This kind of discussion sets up a frame of reference that is loaded with judgement. An explicit warning is presented which suggests that there are not "better" stages of consciousness, merely "different". You do not condemn a two year old for having the consciousness of a two-year old, and you do not condemn a citizen of ancient Egypt for having the consciousness of an ancient Egyptian. They are just different, not better or worse.

Also be aware that like the "self" explained earlier, we examine our own consciousness and that of other people through the very thing we are examining - our consciousness. One of the functions of an organising mind is to place valence judgements onto things, and an incongruence can exist between the emotionally based value judgement and the conceptually based intent to avoid judging other people as either good or bad. I assign judgements all the time, and if I have failed to properly edit this work and you see a judgement, know that it is this self-referencing problem that has done me in, and for that I'll ask for your forgiveness. Transcending the ego is difficult work and forgiving the ego is part of that work.

In this section there is a summary of the work by the psychologist Clare Graves from 1972. Clare Graves conceptualised that developmental consciousness consisted of "emergent, cyclical, levels of existence". Graves was by no means the first person to talk about consciousness, for millennia it has been the grist for the philosophical mill, and in psychology there have been several other angles through which consciousness and the 'self' have been observed.

A brief look at Developmental Theories

Freud {} talked about stages of ego development which was orientated around psychosexual development, where the child would transit through various stages as part of the trajectory laid down by the libidinal drive. These stages consist of the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital and he postulated that anxiety at any of these stages would result in a neurosis as an adult. A neurosis would have a distinct flavour based on the developmental stage that was interrupted. Not withstanding the many derivatives of arguments both for and against, the debate over Freud's libidinal drive theory is perpetual, and which, perhaps like much of his work and the other theories below, suggests that it is less actual science and more opening for multiple subjective interpretations.

The early Behaviourist such as Watson and Skinner postulated a simple formulation of an individuals action being in response to the environment in which they exist, such that they are constantly reacting to the world. In this formulation, all of action, thinking and feeling are just behaviours to be observed, as this school of thought attempts to do away with the abstract hypothetical constructs of the mind. For the behaviourists, every action is ultimately reducible to a cause and effect (linear) relationship between the subject and the environmental stimulus. However it seems to unravel somewhat when you introduce language as a medium for abstract concepts, which is part of the position taken by Noam Chomsky {}, such that language is something that an animal being studied in a lab is not capable of, and this complex language seems to define the human condition as separate from that of animals. Chomsky calls into the question the theoretical basis of a strict behaviourist approach, and as previously discussed, with advances in communication technology the simple reactionary world of behaviourism becomes a vastly more complex set of interactions when the explicit exchange of information is introduced.

Piaget developed a theory of cognitive development that mainly dealt with the unfolding of intelligence. He began from a biological perspective and suggested that the world a person experiences is seemingly chaotic. In what appears to be a dynamic process of unfolding adaptation, the person will build schemas of understanding, assimilating new information and accommodating any existing schemas when new data is presented. The four stages he describes are the sensorimotor, the preoperational, the concrete operational and the formal operational stage. A central criticism of this theory is that the stages are more approximations, because within a given individual there will be gaps and inconsistencies in the developmental trajectory. Another criticism is that there seem to be large variations between different domains of intelligence (eg: maths vs. language).

As well as the psychosexual, behavioural and intelligence theories, other models of development have been formulated. Lawrence Kohlberg formulated a theory of six stages of moral development, being 'obedience and punishment', 'self-interest', 'interpersonal accord and conformity', 'authority and social order obedience', a 'social contract driven' moral stage, and finally a morality based on 'universal ethical principles'. These six stages are broken down into three levels (pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional) with the two stages in each, where at each level one stage has an external locus and the other an internal locus of organisation, So the individual transits from the first stage of 'obedience and punishment' they will internalise these function as part of a 'self interest' stage which has an intrinsic or internal locus of organisation. But then the external world will become more influential (external locus) and they transit to interpersonal accord and conformity. Again there are many factors of culture and gender which create a problem for the simple linear architecture of Kohlberg's theory, a problem that haunts the psychological field in general because you can never really abstract a generalised linear model from what is highly individualistic and contextual data, but to his credit, Kohlberg does end up at a stage of moral development which presupposes everything occurs in a context, and the moral reasoning engine is most advanced when it can take this context into account.

Abraham Malsow's constructed another theory in psychology that describes discrete levels of requirement, and is often cited in popular contexts. The "Hierarchy of Needs", at its base, has the Physiological Needs (air, water, food etc) and until these needs are met the next stage of Safety Needs are not able to be sought or obtained. By meeting one level you create access to the next which continues with Love and Belonging followed by Esteem, Self Actualisation and finally Self Transcendence. Maslow proposed this theory in 1943 and 1954. The work being expounded below seems to draw heavily on this influence, and even though it is not explicitly stated it does seem that the work by Graves was attempting to understand a similar 'hierarchy of consciousness' (I use the term carefully) that is separated by discrete existentialist challenges to the self.

So all these theories are useful, and they all have problems. That they all have problems is in itself a problem. There is no one answer (and probably never will be) even though supporters for each will argue vehemently for their position. However step back and look at them from a slightly different perspective. One thing to notice is that they are all conceptualisations which look at single aspects of development. Psychosexual, behavioural, cognitive, moral, requirement. Another point is the presumption that the stages of development occur on a basic linear trajectory that is often linked vaguely with chronological development, where at a specific age you will see the emergence of a specific stage of development. Some of the theories will show overlapping areas like Piaget's cognitive model, and others show an oscillation like Kohlberg's model on moral development which swings between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. But they are still essentially describing a linear process where one stage precedes another.

Linearity can also be understood in a more mathematical sense where one thing precedes another. Linearity underpins the psychological tradition (and most of science in general), because it is the lens through which most study occurs. Psychology and the social sciences are generally viewed with a similar construct based on a statistical method called correlation. But there is a critical difference between linear causality and correlation. Causality can only be properly inferred from the experimental set-up, the "gold-standard" of empirical research. In the experimental set-up, the environment is manipulated such that the focus of the research is first isolated for extraneous variables and then studied in terms of how it correlates with other factors. Examination of a correlation however uses similar statistical tools and what has been developed as a statistical approach has also come to dominate the progress of understanding the human psyche.

These methods used in research may have also influenced how the data is explained. Based on the generalised linear model, what is just a statistical method, there develops a presumption of an orderly, predictable universe underneath the observations being measured. This is a Galileoian view of a 'clockwork universe'. Sure there is the occasional lip service to the wildly chaotic and dynamic process of interaction and development, but at it's core, all the measurement, all the empirical work is fundamentally accepting of factor A being associated to some extent with factor B, and if you isolate them to a satisfactory degree, and if you're really lucky, then you can throw them into an experimental design so that one factor can be turned off or on, in order to suggest that one factor 'causes' the other, or more accurately where one factor explains a percentage of variance in another.

This is called a reductionist approach and whilst helping to explain the components, it may also degrade the holistic position, and it completely falls apart when confronted with chaos. A linear statistical way of thinking in research has a basic flaw which is the general tendency to the problem of 'reductio ad absurdum', where contradictions, in fact the same contradictions, keep propping up.

In psychology, the Nature vs. Nurture debate is one such contradiction, as is determinism vs. non-determinism, or intrinsic drive vs. object relations. It's only with one degree of abstraction that they become something that can be explained, where for instance, the nature/nurture debate is being regarded as an interaction of the two, where one factor may moderate or confound another. However the generalised linear model is not very good at explaining two or more interacting variables and interpreting them in a way that humans can grasp. Sure, anyone with a doctorate in statistics is fine, but everyone else has no chance to understand the very complex data that is simplified into words like 'significant'.

Oversimplification that reduces science to linear cause and effect is a problem because the research may not actually be looking at a linear system at all. The reductionist approach that comes from generalised linear modelling is basically like putting a square peg in a round hole. It is never going to be able to explain a chaotic world, because there will always be too many factors to consider.

The more you move away from the empirical and towards theoretical, the less dominant is this statistical way of viewing the world. A greater predisposition to philosophical investigation lends itself to theories which more readily use language of contextual understanding. Nothing can be truly separated from context, something that Kohlberg alludes to, and for this reason the other forms of scientific enquiry, observation through case study and the anecdote, will always hold a place in investigating the human psyche. Sure they should not be used in isolation, but the rich vein of information on offer is valuable because it helps paint the holistic theory of the person, and there are some theorists worth mentioning in this light.

Erik Erikson was a post Freudian ego psychologist who dealt predominately with social development and how at each of the eight stages he mentions, there is a basic conflict between apparent polar opposites. For example, at the first such conflict there is trust vs. mistrust. The successful resolution of this stage requires the individual to be able to hold the validity of both sides and from this emerges 'hope'. Reading Erikson, I am reminded that overcoming the dualist nature of reality is reminiscent of the meditation based practice of 'mindfulness' and staying in the liminal space of contemplation.

Mindfulness also parallels the idea that an eastern philosophical tradition where the koan or paradox brings about enlightenment (consciousness growth). One such example of a koan would be the statement at the beginning of this work which states that "change is the only constant". It is the rumination on this thought that fuels the enlightenment process. It could even be possible that it may cause a hypnagogic state of brain wave pattern, at ~ 4-5 hertz between delta and theta patterns {}, the one you have when the puzzle is solved and you get the 'ah-hah' moment of understanding. The koan, mindfulness and the resolution between opposites is way to tickle this hypnagogic state that seems so elusive {}.

Lev Vygotsky and Losev Zinchenko also in this vein of socially based development of personality, suggest higher "psychical" or mental facilities develop as a function of "cultural mediators" (word, sign, symbol, and myth), and where the individual must inhabit the environment transformed by their predecessors. There is a resonance here with Freud's notion of vicissitudes as the moulding agent for a persons drives, a notion that led to Melanie Klein and Object Relations theory, and which in turn is also connected with the philosophical underpinnings of phenomenology. Phenomenological Existentialism holds that it is through the constant interaction with the phenomenological world 'out there' that the self is moulded and shaped 'in here'. At a theoretical level at least, what is being explained is a constant interaction between the individual and their environment, something that can only be broadly understood from the linear method. For phenomenology, the nature/nurture issue is no problem at all, it is simply transcended by looking at the whole of the system.

Heinz Kohut was another from the Freudian tradition who developed a broader understanding of how the self was formed, particularly by coming to another way of understanding the narcissistic personality structure. Ostensively an outshoot of Klein's object relations theory his ideas also hint at stages of empathic development which if interrupted can lead to disruptive relationship processes at a later age.

From Kohut's conceptualisation and incorporating an array of other philosophical traditions like existentialism and phenomenology, writers such at Stolorow, Attwood, Orange and Brandchaft developed the intersubjective model of human interaction which suggests that humans only really develop in relationship. The once separated mind and body are now understood as intrinsically connected, and in a logical extension of this, the Intersubjective Field is a theory which holds that a mind and body in one person is intrinsically connected (via language, communication and the empathic resonance of subconscious communication) to the mindbody of another person. Intersubjectivity suggests that it is through congruent relationship that a person will come to understand the world in which they live.

Erikson, Vygostsky, Zinchenko, Kohut and the Intersubjectivists can be classified more broadly as "biopsychosocial" models of human development, which leads us to work of Clare Graves and his "Emergent, Cyclical, Levels of Existence". Also in this biopsychosocial tradition, Grave's theory of consciousness can be connected to McLuhan's theory on communication, and they both point to a larger political stage that has evolved over time.

Clare Graves

Before attempting to summarise the Gravesian theory of consciousness, there is another warning. At a very simple level of understanding it would appear the levels of consciousness he proposed are another linear system of development, but this is to entirely miss the point of what the theory is attempting to explain. We have become so used to understanding the world through the lens of cause and effect that we naturally tend to see everything in a linear sense, where everything is a set of correlations between factors. Instead, Gravesian theory is trying to explain how the environment and the self interact over time, such that at any level of consciousness there will be things that are 'not quite right' in how the person understands the world. Similar in many ways to Eriksson's work, these incongruencies, often dilemmas which are contextual and environmental, will cause the self to become at first highly efficient at it's current level, before the need to transit becomes too great and a shift in consciousness occurs. As the pressure of incongruence builds, what Graves refers to as the "existentialist dilemma", there needs to be a fundamental change in how the world is viewed in order to better accommodate the experiences of a person.

This "existential dilemma", as we later examine, may have a neurological underpinning in the different ways that the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex are wired up (Cozolino, 2006). All this is spelt out in more detail in the later half of this work, but it stems from the possible translation of schemas between two parts of the brain. The amygdala is more resistant to change whilst the pre-frontal cortex is more neuroplastic (Cozolino, 2006). What may be occurring at this transition between stages of consciousness is that the less malleable emotional organisation of experience in the limbic brain has become incongruent with the more neuroplastic conceptual experience in the prefrontal cortex, which because of the addition of new contextual information is leading the change. Or conversely, where the emotional (amygdalic) organisation of experience has changed due to experience, such that the conceptual schemas (pre-frontal cortex) no longer 'feel' right.

For example, the first stage of consciousness described by Graves is basically equivalent to that of a human as an animal, albeit a very clever animal that can communicate synchronously with other clever animals. Labelled as the "A" stage of neuropsychological adaptation, it was seen to have an existential problem of living labelled as "N", thus the entire stage is referred to as "A|N". So as an example the A|N stage defines the current neurological makeup (A) as well as the emergent existential crisis (N) which is probably due to the incongruence between the organisation of experience in the amygdala when contrasted with that in the pre-frontal cortex. The next stage is also given a letter in the 'linear' sequence where the neurological makeup is "B" and the existential problem faced is "O", thus B|O is the nomenclature of this stage, with the next stage being then C|P and so on.

It's not a very effective nomenclature and lacks a sort of marketing appeal that probably would have made it more appealing. Later work {}(Beck & Cohen) at communicating effectively this theory led to the different levels being labelled with a single colour, and this seems to detract from the "double helix" nature of theory consisting of 1.) the current neurological make we have, and 2.) the existential problems we face as a result of this makeup. When describing the theory, it's always a tough decision to include the colours or not, because they can be a distraction, however in this work they are included once merely for clarity.

A|N - Autistic

In the A|N stage (labelled with the colour beige) the dominant need is purely physiological and the state is referred to as an "Autistic" state (although again this creates confusion with the pathology of autism and the definitions needs to be clearly stated). This level of consciousness is about the very basic fundamental needs of living, in terms of human development, it is mostly concerned with a baby that eats, sleeps, defecates and needs to be comfortable. As an adult pathology, this state may be the best way to describe someone that is homeless or living rough on the streets. As a transient state that could be experienced by anyone, the best analogy would be the members of an audience in a horror movie, or far more realistically, it also may come to dominate in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster when the entire social fabric is ripped away. At a macro level this stage of consciousness is really about survival in a fearful world, and would have been equivalent to the pre-historical homo-sapiens.

As an aside, you will notice in the above definition that there are references to the individual and their stage of development, but also the various contexts in which this may be experienced, and also to broader aspect of civilisation in general. This is one of the reasons Graves work resonates so well, because it can be extrapolated into different realms. However it is also something to be wary of, because we may be talking about an individual in one sentence and them referring to a cultural phenomena or general level of civilisation in the next. One of the biggest criticisms of Graves work and it's followers is that there is nothing that fundamentally connects the level of consciousness in the individual to the level of consciousness in the group. Later in this work, it is this very basic connection that is being reconciled, where the system in the individual is connected to the system in the group because they are both part of the same chaotic (dynamical) system, and are seen as fractally related (or self similar). But for now here is the core of the Gravesian theory of consciousness.

At the A|N stage of consciousness there is no real planning, there is no awareness of others needs and no real differentiation between inner and outer worlds, such that the focus is on the control we can exercise on the outer world. However the existential problem that occurs to the A|N individual is that the supply of needs is not always going to occur. Sometimes (as a baby), cry as you might, the comfort and support does not come as it should. This creates a fundamental separation between the self 'inside' and the world 'out there'. And the resources 'out there' are not infinite and not immediately accessible.

This separation between 'inside me' and 'outside me' is the basic process of self formation. And a key argument in this work is that whilst self formation can occur to an individual, it can also occur to a group. An individual learns what is 'me' and 'not me' just as the group can reflect on what is 'us' and what is 'them'. It is no wonder that racism is often expressed in terms of basic resources, with complaints such as "they took our jobs". Where the A|N individual is trying to meet physiological needs, the A|N group is has a counterpoint of basic societal needs for work, the inclusion of the similar "us", and exclusion of the dissimilar "them".

B|O - Animistic

Think of all the superstitious behaviour you know. Don't break a mirror as it brings seven years bad luck, don't walk under a ladder or have a black cat cross your path or a similar sequence of bad luck will befall you. Throw salt over your shoulder for good luck, knock on wood to prevent a worse case scenario just mentioned from coming true. They all deal with this notion of a world out there that will react in a certain way if we don't act appropriately. It's inferred as a causal relationship between action and consequence and it's across all cultures these superstitious behaviours reflect the issue of security in the world.

The individual who faces an existential problem caused by the separation of 'self' and 'other' will eventually need to overcome the crisis of how to stay safe and have basic needs met. The B|O stage (purple) emerges in order to better cope with this separate world out there that I must act within in order to survive. At it's most fundamental conceptualisation the B|O stage is Animistic where life is seen in all things both animate (living) or inanimate (non-living) and that there is perhaps a possible movement between the two. The world is not yet a place we can predict, but it is one we believe we can control if only we behave in the appropriate way. At it's most fundamental representation for the infant baby, crying will bring aid.

As an individual develops they will link together aspects of their own behaviour with events from the environment that surrounds them. They essentially build the basis of a linear understanding of cause and effect, however it is an implicit or "unconscious" understanding. When formal conceptual process attempt to make sense of this implicit organisation of experience, it would be easily understood as superstition or magical thinking. It's really about behaving in a way that will bring about security and safety, and pretty much all superstitious behaviour is concerned with warding off events that are "bad"

At a macro level this stage of civilisation corresponds to the magical, superstitious, ritualistic society. It is easy to extrapolate how a society can be embedded at this level, where even the most bizarre behaviours can be understood. For example a connection (correlation) can be seen in how the soil brings life and fertility in crops, and also how the menstrual bleeding of a woman is similarly connected with life and fertility, it therefore follows that the two must be connected, so in order to have a better crop we need blood. Animal blood is ok, but human blood would be better, female blood is even better because they have an obvious association with fertility, in fact and the blood of virgin woman even better still. So it is through this sort of reasoning that we end up with virgin sacrifice in order to appease the gods and make the crops grow.

This type of thinking is Animistic but it also attempts to resolve the existential problem of there not being any food in hard times. Yes, to look on this chain of reasoning from the stage of consciousness that you (the reader) are currently in, this 'logic' seems absurd, and this is one of the key points around consciousness theory, one level will supersede the previous levels, however the caveat is that the previous levels need to be traversed first.

As individuals we have all gone through this Animistic stage of consciousness. It occurs very early in development and it is associated with the Transitional Objects suggested by Winnicott {}, where we better learn to appreciate the separateness of self and other. Winnicott proposed that a young child will often latch onto an inanimate objects and imbue them with pseudo-animate properties. The favourite spoon, bowl or cup, without which feeding becomes a nightmare for parents. The doll or the rug or the whatever that seems to be dragged around everywhere, and if lost can cause serious problems, let alone the dilemma of how to clean it. These Transitional Objects serve an important function because as the child-parent bond is slowly severed more and more through the realisation that self and other are separate, the transitional object can take on the properties of the comfort-giving agent that is the primary caregiver. Eventually the child will (usually) successfully internalise the ability to comfort themselves and the need for the transition object is reduced.

It is at the B|O Animistic stage where the use of memes begins. Memes, or cultural units of inheritance {}(Dawkins) refer to ideas and resultant behaviours that are carried down through time by the culture, where they undergo a form of evolution such that the better adapted memes will survive. The B|O Animistic stage is also where the focus turns from the control of the outer world to the focus on the internal world. What superstitions the individual follows will be seen as determining their ability to control the world.

The idea of virgin sacrifice above is also an example of how each stage of consciousness can get 'stuck' and fail to develop any further, creating a plethora of extra problems. These problems build on themselves through memetic (cultural) evolution and may end up becoming very serious for the groups survival. Consider as another example the large stone moai statues of Easter Island which are famously ascribed to the demise of that culture {}. In this story of extinction, the creation of the stone totems, probably tied to family status, took on such grandiose importance that all else seemed unimportant, even the trees that were cut down to move them around. The ecology of the islands was ransacked and resulting effect was extinction. People can get so wrapped up in their traditions that they just can not see a better way to live. As part of the overall model of consciousness, each stage will have a 'gotcha' that can become particularly nasty, for the B|O Animistic stage this is taking traditions and superstitious behaviour to extremes.

Looking at the stages thus far, there is the beginning of a pattern where each stage appears to move between 'outer' and 'inner' worlds, and between 'individual' and 'collective' action. Where the A|N stage was about coercing the outer world, the B|O stage is about building the inner realm in order to better cope psychologically. And where the A|N stage was individualistic in behaviour, the B|O stage was really a major leap forward in cultural development because it facilitated the development of the group. Group action really starts with the B|O stage of consciousness as Animistic thinking also had the effect of building a cohesive (memetic) framework that a group or society of individuals could then adhere to.

The B|O animist would obey the tribal ways, they would give up a portion of their individuality to the collective and they would just work, eat, grow old and... basically become really bored. The existential crisis faced by the individual in the tribe is one of boredom. The resting down and making sense of the world afforded by the B|O stage of consciousness leads inevitably to the arousal of curiosity about the world. "This can't be all there is" or "I wonder what's just over that mountain". The existential crisis leads to the creation of a new stage of consciousness, which when positively framed is the 'The Explorer', and which if given a slightly negative valence becomes 'The Egocentric'.

C|P - Egocentric / Explorer

The C|P stage of consciousness (red) is where the organism again becomes self aware. They are more than just the group and they no longer want to give up their autonomy.

Every parent will know the C|P stage of consciousness because it is sometimes called the 'terrible twos', that period in childhood where the child learns to say "NO!". It's actually not that terrible, because looking at it from a higher perspective, this is where the true self of the child is forming as they begin to assert themselves in the world. The problem lies with the adult parent taking it personally and thinking that their two year old is out to get them.

This stage represents the boundless energy of young children to get into trouble. It's only because they are out there exploring the world. Running away from their biological chaperone to explore the shopping mall by themselves, causing no end of grief to the distraught parent.

As an adult pathology this C|P stage would be manifest in the rebel (without a cause). There is a selfish and egocentric personality at it's heart, and when really 'stuck' this adult pathologically would appear as a psychopath because there has been no transition to the next stage where empathy develops.

At a macro level of civilization, this C|P society has it's best exemplar in the Vikings or the Mongols, and the rape/pillage/plunder this invokes. When completely out of control, it's about taking whatever you want ...gold, cows, sheep, and bugger the consequences (and sometimes the cows and sheep).

An inconsistency exists with the explorer/egocentric stage which helps to explain how consciousness forms. With the Vikings, if you treat a "group" of Vikings as a C|P level individual, they behave in a selfish-rape-and-pillage sort of way. However they probably still have a sense of cohesion as a group, where they adhere to a set of within group rules and norms. At the C|P stage of consciousness the group is not removed entirely, but rather it is augmented somewhat by the later stage. This additive nature of consciousness is part of the overall picture, where one level necessarily builds on previous levels in order to get to the next one up. This concept repeated in the previously mentioned theories of development by Freud, Maslow, Piaget etc. Each successive level is built on the foundations formed by the previous level.

With the in-group perception and out-group perception we have different memes (stages of consciousness) that come to the fore, and this symbiotic relationship between self and group ultimately comes down the area of perception in the phenomenological world. What constitutes "us" will be governed by one set of rules and what constitutes "them" by a different set. The key then is working on this boundary between us and them. Travelling in a foreign land for instance can expand this area of perception.

An Arabic saying helps to explain this, and is paraphrased, "Me against my brother, but me and my brother against the family, but me and my family against the village, but me and my village against the neighbouring town..." etc. So that, like babushka dolls embedded in one another, the individual "I" is just a different layer of the group "us". Consciousness is related almost directly to the area of perception we have, specifically the degree to which the individual feels they belong to a group. One of the easiest ways to grow in consciousness is to expand what you perceive.

A baby's world consists of a cot in a room, and when the world expands to include the house, then the street, then the suburb, then the city then the country, then the world, so too the neurological demands on the individual increase. As the individual experiences greater and greater areas of phenomenological experience there will be a demand on their consciousness to expand.

So many problems in the world come from having different levels of phenomenological reality. The world will seem different to someone struggling to survive after an earthquake. Or "on the street" in a large urban setting, "It's a jungle out there and it's about survival of the fittest." Or it's about looking after your immediate family because that's what's important. Or it's about upholding the tribal ways because that's what's important and outsiders can't be trusted. Or it's about being a good citizen with a sense of nationalism. A sentiment echoed in every speech delivered by U.S. politician which through memetic mandate must end with "...and God bless the United States of America". Or it's about living on a world that is 42,000 kilometres in circumference and NOT growing any bigger, so we should all try to get along...

When one phenomenological view of the world comes into conflict with another, or when the level of technology associated with one view becomes accessible in another (guns, drugs, slavery) then you have a cascading set of problems. What is crucial to understanding these problems, is seeing that all groups and individuals will be at a different stage of awareness about their world. Families, tribes, cities, countries, nations will resonate to different levels of what constitutes "us" and "them".

Returning to the model, the existential crisis (P) faced by the C|P egocentric is that the forever exploiting and taking of whatever you want can leave others with less. The existential crisis is born out of seeing the fear and suffering in another, and experience from which empathy is formed. When a child sees the fear or hurt experienced by others as a result of their behaviour they have an "internal" feeling that is not very nice. The formation of empathy is discussed in more detail later, but in summary, empathy forms from the neurological structures understood as "mirror neurons" and it seems to support the notion that humans have a conceptual view of the world which can sometimes be in conflict with an emotional understanding about the world. It does not feel "good" to an observer when they see someone else in pain. If the hoards of Genghis Khan had felt empathy with people beyond their group, then they would hot have been a barbarian hoard. They would realise that other groups have individuals that feel and hurt as well, but imagining Genghis Khan getting in touch with his emotions is only the stuff of cartoons.

There are three personality structures that can signify the failure to adequately build the appropriate systems of empathy. Sometimes referred to as the "dark triad" of narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy, this is a very abridged version of their aetiology, but it is useful to see how the C|P stage gives way to the next stage of consciousness.

The narcissist will essentially be fragmented by their empathic feelings, usually as a result of receiving a non-congruent or non-appropriate echo (mirroring) from their caregiver. This will lead them to be constantly defending their own fragile self with overt grandiose expression or by keeping it hidden from others through covert self-deprecation.

The machiavellian, due to a serious breakdown in trust, will keep any hot empathic responses effectively walled up, separated in a somatic sense, whilst being able to fully develop a cold conceptual understanding of others behaviour. The machiavellian will not properly develop the hot-embodied empathic resonance, but will instead develop a cold-conceptual model of empathy, which among other things makes them extremely adept at manipulation. The machiavellian is sometimes labelled as a 'non-violent', 'successful', or 'corporate' psychopath because they do not need to resort to violence and are also able to undertake long term planning. This cold-conceptual empathy allows a machiavellian to implement long term strategic plans where the true psychopath is prone to react immediately and without remorse (and often with violence).

The true psychopath is also called anti social personality, and lacks the basic mechanism by which fear and sadness are perceived {Blair, 2002}. The true psychopath is unable to plan in any meaningful way, and this is probably due to the breakdown in the development of consciousness because they never really reach the later stages of consciousness, or if they do, then they will be somewhat maladaptive. For the psychopath the news is grim because they may never fully realise the full benefits of later developed consciousness, even though they will be amongst the first to survive should civilisation crumble. In a way, the psychopath represents a more primitive form of human that would have thrived when groups were a lot smaller.

There is a connection between the three pathologies of Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy because they all correspond with the disruption of empathy formation. There is also a lot of overlap as well, making clear delineation for any individual a bit tricky. Of the three, narcissism reflects a broken or interrupted system that can be continued in the therapeutic process through the appropriate mirroring and somatic resonance that forms a part of depth psychology {}(Lee & Martin). Machiavellianism is harder to treat {} and psychopathy nearly impossible {}, where you only really know that treatment is working when they report being depressed {}.

When the egotistical C|P level gets stuck, you have a whole range of messy problems that derive largely from the perceived level of group function (who is "us" and who is "them"). At the individual level, the psychopath best exemplifies the problem. and at the group level, some of the most extremes examples of this level being "stuck" occurred with organised crime, where one level of group sense takes from an antecedent larger level of group function (mafia families, triads, cartels, biker gangs, street gangs etc). The 'warlord' is just another term for the feudal lord in a contemporary view of the world, and he is often someone acting in a selfish and despotic way. The transition a warlord has to make to become a "lord" is where they take on the responsibility to protect people who are not able to protect themselves. The formation of empathy is co-constructed with the internalisation of respect in the individual, and honour, chivalry and nobility in the group leader, behaviour that is borne out of the successfully resolution of the C|P existential crisis.

When someone with an egocentric C|P level consciousness sees the pain in another, they quite literally build the new neurological mechanisms associated with empathy in order to cope. Feeling another's pain, leads to the an existential crisis, and a need develops which is to work out how to cope with all the suffering they see around them.

D|Q - Absolutionist.

In the emergent D|Q stage empathy has formed properly and rather than hurt others, the focus is on helping and protecting them. But for this to happen, there also needs to be an explanation for the suffering that exists. Blaming events external to the group is one method of explanation, war, enslavement etc, but there also needs to be a making sense of the "haves" and the "have nots". Here we see the development of religion proper, and specifically the monotheistic dogmas which can easily cope with the inequalities of life by saying that it is "God's plan to have it this way."

Like every stage in the development of consciousness, the D|Q Absolutionist has distinct advantages over its fore-runners. The D|Q stage like the B|O stage, helps to build group cohesion. In an immediate within group sense, it fosters peace and understanding. From this stage of consciousness other beneficial memes develop, such as honour and the chivalric code, and it forms the basis of the feudal system of government where the "haves" are obligated to look after the "have nots". In it's extreme form feudalism could appear as little more than a master and slave relationship, but once again this is a view understood by a later stage of consciousness. Certainly when the D|Q stage gets stuck you are most likely end up with slavery. The other way it gets stuck is by seeing the world in absolutes and as well as applying ministry to physical needs, the D|Q Absolutionist must also apply ministry to spiritual needs.

Of course this "protection" and "ministry" meme is what should happen "ideally" however as is more often the case the system will often reduce to a corruption of the system. Just like the B|O level may end up with virgin sacrifice; or the C|P level could result in Mongol hoards destroying all before them; at the D|Q stage the benevolent overlord is not guaranteed, and you may only get order under the crushing weight of a dictator. Someone who interprets the will of the people for their own aggrandisement and in order to further their own selfish ends.

The D|Q stage is referred to as an Absolutionist existential state where everything is clear cut, good or bad, and that is just how it is. It thrives on the idea of punishing the bad and rewarding the good, and it serves again to re-cohere a larger group of individuals. With the D|Q stage of consciousness, the tribe can increase in size to be a nation state. This state becomes exceedingly good at building group cohesion as a result of an ethnically based level of group perception. From this meme we get racism proper, as the within group is seen as ethnically similar whilst all other races form part of the group without.

For an individual, this stage is usually at it's peak when a person ponders that "the world would be a whole lot better if everyone thought as I did", and which usually degenerates to "It's my way or the highway" stage of consciousness. It works for the immediate ethnocentric group (the "us"), because it's possible to construct a very high level of agreement in a population when everyone is basically drinking from the same cool aid.

At this stage we also start to see how the transition occurred between levels, and a particularly good contemporary example of the transition between C|P and D|Q is that of the prison. The convicted individual will be sent to prison because the were egocentrically operating outside the law (C|P) but when in prison, the greatest irony is that they are then subject to a deadly serious set of rules that are basically incongruent with the rest of society {} yet which never really advance to the next state of consciousness. Prisoners have a curious set of behaviours in prison where the dominant individual will be able to look you in the eye, but the non-dominant individual will not {}.

This system of domination in prison will actively prevent the development of empathy, because empathy can only form through the face to face recognition in others. It remains to be seen what the direction of causality is, but if prisoners use eye contact to form a dominance hierarchy, then the required group memes of empathy never develop properly. The "top dogs" are those who are probably most walled off from their emotions (Machiavellians) or completely devoid of them (Psychopaths). In general a prison is full of empathically incapable persons who because they do not understand the signalling ability of fear and sadness are less likely to display fear and/or sadness. The group then develops in a downward spiral where empathy is seen as weakness.

In another example where C|P transits to D|Q but not as you would expect, consider the biker gang or the street gang. The individuals will self label as socially rebellious, that is they rebel against the mainstream or larger organisational group construct (the state). However when they put on their jacket or their colours, they become absolute conformists to the social structure in which they operate (smaller organisational group construct). From one perspective the rebel is seen as a C|P egotist but they can also be viewed as D|Q absolute conformists. The take home point is in understanding that this distinction really refers to the area of perception that the individual has. A person may be an absolute conformist within a subgroup whilst rebelling in the larger group, the real issue of concern is this boundary of perception between nested group levels.

But the strict adherence to a higher authority creates a host of problems associated with logic. The D|Q level of absolute determinism is challenged by the enquiring mind that is not satisfied with the "truth" as laid out in dogma. This is because new information gets added, the pre-frontal cortex is subtly changed as the context of the experience is changed. For example, the society an individual belongs to may have an interpretation of a dogma that is at odds with another societies interpretation of the very same dogma. Competing memes end up in outright war, as equally unequivocal sides purport to know the absolute truth and they will kill anyone who disagrees. Where the B|O animist stage can lead to things like virgin sacrifice, and the C|P egotistic stage results in barbarian hordes, the D|Q becomes a problem when it becomes fundamentalist. Add to this other memes from D|Q like 'an eye for an eye' then an ongoing cycle of violence is created between groups, and the "us & them" problem is fully realised.

Some of the very big problems in the world come from competing Absolutionist positions. Often atheists will go directly to the argument which states that religion causes war. However it is more accurate to say that it is competing Absolutionist positions which is at fault. Actually the cause of large scale conflict often has more to do with resources (land, money, access to minerals, food resources etc) and the selfishly motivated machiavellian dictator (C|P dysfunction) who manages to manipulate the large group to enter into conflict with another group and they use the Absolutionist (D|Q) position expressed in their particular dogma in order to do it. Wars are fought by young men who believe in a cause, but these young men are mobilised by old men who have something to gain or loose.

Like it's precedent stages, the D|Q Absolutionist stage of consciousness can go horribly wrong, the result being open war. And it can get locked into this stage very easily because one side will not acknowledge the position of another. In fact the very idea of alternate positions is the fundamental existential problem that is faced by the D|Q stage.

Art, as it typically does, will usually show the way forward. Whenever war happens there is usually some extremely poignant artwork that deals with this problem of competing ideologies. When you can see the hurt on the faces of the people that your side is attacking, where the pain and suffering of "us" is exactly the same as the pain and suffering of "them".

One story often retold explains how during the First World War soldiers from both sides would come out of their trenches an meet in no-mans land to celebrate Christmas or play football. There is an entire library of antiwar songs that attempt to encapsulate this dilemma. "War! What is it good for! Absolutely nothing!" or "Imagine there's no heaven..." or "I hope the Russians love their children too" and the list goes on. This existential problem and the anguish it describes is profoundly encapsulated by Shakespeare's Mercutio who holds the feuding families of Romeo and Juliet with utter disdain, "I am hurt. A plague o' both your houses!".

What needs to happen, and often what is not happening, is that both sides of the conflict need to "chill out a bit". This is stated a bit flippantly, but it really is what needs to happen. During the conflagration, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated in it's extreme and the "fight / flight" activation becomes dominant. In this state it is literally impossible to fully engage the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, because it is constantly being overrun by the amygdala (emotions) as it attempts to survive. By "chilling out", that is by relaxing, the pre-frontal cortex can again be brought into the decision making process.

In order to advance the contemplation process, what needs to happen is a quietening of the aggression that dominates. Calmness, stillness and peace however can only occur when the individual is made to feel safe. What needs to happen is fundamentally biblical in nature because, to stop the conflagration you need to make your enemy feel safe so they can overcome their predominance of amygdala activation. Essentially you need to "love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you" {}. Pretty tall order when they are bombing your village, killing your children or flying planes into your buildings.

But it is through the calmness that the enquiring mind is emergent. The re-activation of the pre-frontal cortex will allow the pain and fear on the enemies faces to be seen. Often, quite spontaneously, it is the creative pursuits that can come to drive through the Absolutionist positions and build a bridge to understanding.

It's a difficult decision, wether or not to include a form of artwork in a treatise, but I do it here knowing the purpose is to quiet the mind. The following poem by the Australian poet Kenneth Slessor was the last poem he ever wrote. He wrote it in it's final version and without revision. To him, it was perfect and nothing could follow it.

Beach Burial

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tide wood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin -

'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.

Kenneth Slessor

It's the quiet mind that can develop the empathy for a larger group. But all the noise of the Absolutionist mind and the pounding out of their dogma prevent us from seeing that we actually don't need to fight ...that we are all part of McLuhan's 'global village'.

"Our side believes fervently that we are right, and their side believes fervently that they are right." This is the core of the existentialist dilemma that needs to be faced at the D|Q level of consciousness. How can both sides be right?

Like the B|O animistic boundary with the C|P egocentric, again the need erupts to explore other possibilities. To discover conceptually and to enquire and explore academically. At the end of the C|P stage of consciousness the prime mover of consciousness is simple curiosity. To end wars and conflict there has to be a curiosity to discover, and through this an understanding and compassion to see the subjectivity of the other side. But it starts in the quiet realm, sort of off to the side, that comes with curiosity. Where the thought "hmmm, I wonder ...". It is no wonder that religions also teach prayer and meditation. Like chocolate, it really does help.

E|R - multiplistic / achievist

What emerges is the E|R multiplistic-achievist (scientific/strategic) existential state (orange) where the enquiring individual is able to stand back and logically reason out what is going on in the world. This stage of consciousness gives birth to the hypothetico-deductive method we see in science, the blind lady justice with the impartiality of the jury process, and it fosters the rise of democratic processes. The E|R stage is about rational decision making where there are many ways to perceive something, and allows for the application of Ockham's Razor, saying that the hypothesis with fewer assumptions (unknowns) is most likely correct. At this stage of consciousness it is about shedding light on the unknowns, and it is enhanced through the formation of advance schooling and universities. The E|R stage of consciousness also gives rise to mechanistic thinking and also to large and complex bureaucratic management processes.

The E|R stage is a powerful engine of change, bringing with it the industrial revolution and the dawn of modern science. It has profoundly reshaped the world.

The E|R stage returns the focus of action from the benefit of the group to the benefit of the individual, albeit extremely curtailed by the group. Again the previous stages are not lost, but rather superseded and augmented somewhat. The dominant moralistic framework would be to do what ever is in your best interest so long as it does not bring the reprisals of others. This exploration and discovery is an individualistic enterprise but rather than the physical exploration of the early C|P egocentric, this is really about the conceptual exploration of science, literature, the arts and philosophy. It is also at the core of the engine that drives the modern capitalist system of exchange, and through this, consumerism.

This stage is collinear with the philosophical leaning of Objectivism promoted most strongly by Ayn Rand the author of Atlas Shrugged, a utopian pseudo science fiction novel which has come to dominate the political realm of the contemporary right wing politician in the U.S., a noted supporter of which is Alan Greenspan amongst others. It is worth quoting a central character in the book, John Galt who says "The political system we will build is contained in a single moral premise: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force." The vision exposed by this book, and it would seem by a lot of contemporary right wing commentators, is that the world is messed up because a social state exists (D|Q Absolutionist), and a pure laissez faire system should replace it. Whilst a bit simplistic, the central argument of Rand is one of rational self-interest. Note the return in this stage to a self centred or individualistic phenomenological organisation of experience.

However the E|R vision starts to enter a bit of a grey area, and all philosophical arguments against objectivism aside (and they are complex and many), the E|R vision does not specifically exclude cheating, it merely stipulates that you should not get caught.

Some people referred to as having a machiavellian structure love this world view. This is because throughout time, an arms race has existed between lying and the detection of lying {}(Eckman). When a typical person lies, the body will have a somatic arousal to the act of lying, this is the primary data that a electro-encephalograph and other lie detectors work from. But before the lie detector, humans would evaluate the truth of what someone is saying by the somatic expression in the person. Facial cues specifically, and bodily cues in general, tell us what is really happening in the other person. Even when trying to hide the lie or in the omission of data, there are "micro expressions" {Eckman} which give the game away. That is unless the person is a machiavellian, who unlike 'normals' can pursue the vision of a rational self interest to the detriment of others, and easily get away with.

But like the previous stages, there is an inevitable problem with E|R academic stage of Consciousness. Say for example a person who never really fully developed empathic understanding of others is able to live and work in an E|R world. They will cope relatively well if they are able to stay under the radar of other peoples wrath. The E|R phenomenological world can lead to the extreme excesses we see in the capitalist system. But it is not enough to return to a D|Q absolutistic world view even though communist has tried to do this, something more advanced has to take its place.

The classic hypothetical situation that emulates this existentialist problem is called "the tragedy of the commons" and was defined by Garret Hardin (1968) in an article of the same name. The problem is expressed in terms of a common land where cows could be allowed to graze. If thirty farmers each with one cow were to use this commons, and where the land was big enough to accommodate 30 cows without degrading the plot over time, then the "commons" approach will work. However, without an understanding of sustainability, any single farmer may decide that they want to put more than one cow on the plot. The farmer is still acting within Ayn Rand's frame, acting without violence in the pursuit a self interest. Mathematically what happens is that when individuals act in a seemingly logical but self-interested way, the commons will end up with too many cows and the plot will be degraded over time, such that everyone eventually suffers.

A crucial understanding in the tragedy of the commons is acknowledging the role of sustainability, i.e.: where the physical world has limits.

Consider a microbe in a test tube that is able to double it's population every minute, replacing the food medium as it does so. Given the mathematics of compound accumulation, after one hour this hypothetical test-tube will be full. But at 59 minutes, everything looks hunky-dory, because hey, there is still 50% of the medium left, so what's your problem? So a rational self-interest is ok, so long as a persons perception or phenomenological experience of the world begins with the premise that the world is infinite. And like in other areas, the objectivist view of the world will eventually destroy itself.

Again we come across a set of paradoxes that confound a stage of consciousness, for Randian self interest, the paradox is that an objective view of reality, based on a persons perception, is not possible. As an example, consider the philosophical implications of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a perceived ringing in the ears and can also referred to as a monothematic delusion in psychology. The paradox arises with the question "Now is the ringing in my ears there or not? I am perceiving it but does that mean it is there?"

Objective reality is superseded by subjectivity, where it's the individual subjective perceptions that becomes more relevant. The objectivists wanted to build a philosophy based on mathematically constructed sentences, however a problem is that mathematics also has things like the square root of minus 1 and the möbius strip. The problem with this sort of reductionist way of thinking is that it is destroyed by any paradox.

Unable to face the paradox, the objectivist view of the world, will extend the boundaries of their level of consciousness to the point of breaking. And once more there is the making of a "dark side" to a stage of consciousness. The malevolent side to E|R consciousness is rampant individualistic consumerism. When E|R gets stuck, it gets stuck in a horrible way, and what you end up with a degradation of the environment and a depletion of the systems that underpin the E|R technology. This is a 'slow boiling frog' problem because each successive step will seem relatively harmless, that is until the whole of the ecology just collapses, as happened for example, to the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks of the north east coast of America {}, and which is also happening now with the pollution caused by economic juggernaut that is China.

At present China argues quite rightly that they should be able to expand their industry, and with this their CO2 consumption, because the west has been doing excessive consumption for years, and from a subjective view, this sounds reasonable. On the other hand the relatively small economy of Australia is arguing that they should not act on climate change because anything they do will be inconsequential given the vast CO2 output of China, even though Australia is the largest emitter of CO2 per capita. Each opinion is attempting to resolve a group subjectivity ("we shouldn't have to do anything about CO2") with another larger objectivity which talks about catastrophic climate change.

In the E|R neurological stage of consciousness we have the tools which solve a lot of the problems of living. But eventually the solutions themselves can come to seem hollow and meaningless. Another existential crisis emerges which challenges the notion that if having one plasma TV makes me feel better, then having ten would be ten times as good, i.e.: more is not necessarily better. Also being challenged is the idea that some people will have invested and struck it rich whilst others are being passed over. There is again a return to the ideas of empathy, however this time it has more to do with universal human rights.

F|S - Relativistic.

To cope with the ideas of sustainability, universal human rights and equality that will help build and cohere a group instead of leading it to ruin by resource reduction, the F|S relativistic stage of consciousness emerges. Very aptly given the "green" colour, this stage looks towards understanding the holistic nature of the world in which we live, with the multiple possible subjectivities that are possible therein. The lecture theatre of science is replaced with the round circle of chairs for sharing experiences. The group that is ceded to, can be at any level of family, village, nation or globe and the goal of decision making is to achieve a consensus. The actions, with a similar tone to those in the D|Q stage, will be expressed as "not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for you country."

At the previous E|R Multiplistic-achievist, academic stage of consciousness, nothing is ever really proven, you just go about building the logic that surrounds any particular idea, subject this idea to scientific enquiry and build a best case hypothesis for what may be occurring. There is always a built in caveat that you don't really know what is occurring and later data may change everything. However this also presupposes that an absolute 'truth' exists, it's just that we can't ever really know the veridically of what that truth is, and only a best guest is possible.

At the F|S stage of relativistic thinking, the answer lies in the deconstruction of the absolute position. What emerges is the relative position where one side believes what they believe because of their relative position. Like Kohlberg's sixth stage of moral reasoning, the F|S relativistic stage of consciousness brings in context to the debate and must include an understanding of the multiple possible interpretations of reality. But not only in the subjective/objective language of post-modern philosophical thought, this stage of consciousness is also connected to relativity in general. Science is not done away with, rather it is augmented to include the new data, and the language changes to become the "observer" and the "observed" the "subjective" and "objective".

At the F|S stage of relativistic thinking, the dominant perception of 'the group' changes from an ethnocentric view of the world to a global view of the world. A typical sentiment would be "we are all humans living in a space capsule called planet earth, and we need to work out how to live harmoniously within finite boundaries". Where the capitalist/consumer fails to see any boundaries, the green eco-living environmentalist will point out that you can't have an infinitely growing thing (economy) within a finite thing (Earth).

Excluding Francis of Assisi or Hildergard of Bingen {}(and others), arguably, the first "Green" was Rev Thomas Malthus (1798 - An Essay on the Principle of Population) who proposed that eventually we would run out farm land. Successive generations of capitalist (E|R) have pointed out that with advancements in agriculture, Malthus was wrong, but the contra argument is that his "when" was wrong whilst his basic proposition is fundamentally correct. If we need population to be increasing in order for economic activity to be increasing, then we will eventually run out of room. We can build down, we can build up, but eventually we will simply run out of room.

At the present rate of population growth, and excluding the land mass of Antarctica and Greenland, there will be 1 person per quarter acre block in 2050, and 1 person per square metre in 150 years. In 1000 years the weight of the people on the earth will outweigh the earth and in 10,000 years if each child were place on their parents shoulders we will expanding outward from earth at the speed of light. Clearly these calculations point to the ludicrous, and so something has to give, which is exactly the point. What will give? Oil, farmland, water, gravity... economic growth! The only hope really, in staying with the E|R academic / capitalist system is to believe that something like 'anti-gravity' is developed in time, and the objectivist (Randian) view of the world is that anti-gravity must surely come into existence so long as we keep acting with non-violent self interest. However the eco-aware F|S green will say that "anti-gravity" is just gambling on future technology and we do not need to place that bet anyway.

The most likely outcome will be extinction because this sort of thing happens all the time in biological systems when a species outgrows and significantly alters its underlying environmental constraints. So the application of Ockham's razor (an E|R construct) would suggest the best possible way forward is to use the precautionary principle (another E|R construct) and try to do something to arrest rampant consumerism (a problem when E|R gets stuck). Notice again how the later stage of F|S population peril will augment on earlier stages of E|R logic. No one level of consciousness exists in isolation, they all require having first been through previous levels.

Instead the existentialist crisis of an unsustainably growing population can be met with an approach that attempts to balance the inputs and outputs of the economic system such that there is a balance which leads to sustainability.

While the D|Q boundary with E|R is being waged as a war between Islam and the West, there is another boundary between E|R and F|S which is the crisis around climate. The F|S view, which is rooted in the E|R tradition of scientific enquiry is seeing that something different is happening and the rate of climate change is far too rapid to be safe. Once again the higher level of Consciousness will augment previous levels, such that any environmental argument (F|S) is underpinned by scientific enquiry (E|R).

The core difference between climate change sceptics and the climate change research is actually one of a phenomenological world view. Ask a laissez-faire capitalist what the circumference of the world is. Then follow up with a question like "is it getting any bigger?". It won't be long before they realise where you are going with this line of questioning and they will start to get defensive. They will get uncomfortable, and more specifically they have an emotional response to a conceptual piece of information. Ask them if anti-gravity exists and their response comes back within the decibel range somewhere between outright denial and righteous indignation. It's a fun experiment, I'd urge you to do it.

But some luminaries have had this conversion on the road to Damascus and moved from E|R to F|S. Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Carpets is a hero's journey on the path to environmental sustainability. Anderson, whilst attending a convention, was asked to give a lecture on his company's environmental strategy, so he secluded himself in a hotel room and worked through the night, only to realise that his company was an environmental vandal. He saw the light and had a fundamental conversion. Over the next few months he worked out a strategy, was initially stymied by his managers, ridiculed by his competitors and eventually hailed as a true visionary when his company's market share world wide had doubled.

Anderson had made a non too radical shift in consciousness, however often this transition for the very successful E|R capitalist will manifests as philanthropy (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Bulmer, Richard Branson, Dick Smith (Australia).... the list is too long to even start.). All having a fundamental shift when they realise that the world has problems that need to be addressed.

Like the B|O Animistic and D|Q Absolutionist, the F|S Relativist is a return to understanding physical laws out there that must be taken into consideration when undertaking individual action. More specifically it is the understanding of physical laws in a larger out there. That is, the phenomenological view of the world has increased. It is also a return to the group and to belonging to the herd once again, with the catch cry that "we all have to live together in peace and harmony" etc.

Saying something like this last expression "...like, to live in a just and sustainable world - man" may seem flippant, and surely tree-hugging, and true enough the oft times deprecated "smelly hippies" cop a lot of insult, but the F|S level of consciousness, like every other level, has a malevolent side to it as well, often referred to as the "mean green meme" by Grave's successors.

When F|S goes bad and is stuck, the individual may return to a form of fundamentalism. Vegetarians will rally against people who eat meat just as Vegan's will angst over 'those dairy eating murderers'. In F|S fundamentalism the cry goes out that we all must love our neighbour... or else! ...or else what? You will say "or else" again, stamp your foot and whinge some more.

F|S fundamentalism and the 'mean-green-meme' is so intrinsically orientated around notions of equality that they struggle with the very idea that different levels of consciousness can exist. As previously mentioned in the warning at the start of this section, people stuck in F|S may have a simplistic understanding of developmental psychology. The idea of people being at different levels immediately brings with it connotations of some sort of judgement about inequality, which inevitably will lead to racism if we are not careful. As per the Godwinnian trap, all to readily the conversation will turn to Nietzsche and Fascism. This is the immediate objection that F|S individuals will have with the Gravesian theory of consciousness, because in the F|S way of viewing the world each individual is valued as true equals, and imposing a hierarchy on this would mean that some are "better" than others.

But there are two observations to be made from this. The first is that all along there has been the stipulation that each stage builds on top of the previous necessary stages, and that this should not imply that one is better than the next. What is important is that no stage can exist in perpetuity because there are fundamental existential problems that need to be addressed.

The second observation is that this value judgement about higher levels being 'better' is an existential problem that the F|S individual is faced with. But it gets really tricky because there is a tendency to then talk about race in terms of levels of consciousness, again with the automatic assumption that one level is better. Thus, there is a tendency to sound racist even though nothing racial is being implied... because ultimately it is consciousness of a group that are being discussed not the specific racial makeup of the group itself.

The 'mean green meme' is about the advancement of political correctness. Here there is a return to a position that everyone must behave according to the rules we have achieved consensus upon, and it resonates with Absolutionist position of D|Q. It is of course a nonsense, because if someone were to deviate from the politically correct meme in question, then ipso-facto the consensus was never really reached in the first place. The problem here is that the F|S level of consciousness has confused the subjective and the objective interpretations of their world. The basic predisposition of the F|S Multiplistic world view is to see everyone as equal and it "feels" wrong to see this any other way.

An F|S individual "feels" that it is wrong to suggest different levels of consciousness, but this is a feeling, and 'feelings' are a subjective organisation of experience. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the other extreme of racism suggests all races are different and they should be treated as such. This is also a subjective "feeling" based on a specific organisation of experience or consciousness. The point is that the extremes of racism and radical political correctness are both subjective organizations of experience.

Picture a scene where an socially progressive activist is confronted by a racist zealot. The socially progressive activist, stuck in the mean green meme will state that it's important we all get along and allow other peoples to exist in their multicultural richness. They would disagree of course and the racist simply says, "My subjective position is only going to be enhanced if I kill you." That is the racist simply does not hold to a view of the world that allows for differences, and he truly does not care if other races are affected by his hatred of them or not. Now how far would the green/liberal go in allowing this alternate view to be fully expressed? Would the environmentalist allow the zealot to express himself fully, where in an act of allowing, and indeed encouraging multiple subjectivities to exist, that he would have to lay down and die in order that the zealot be allowed full expression of his culture...?

Of course any such extreme example is ridiculous, however the logic is still valid and comes back to this non-violent self interest of E|R consciousness. Of course the hippy would not allow it, even if it means being incongruent with this notion that you should not step on other peoples subjectivity.

Christopher Hitchens {} argues against the rise of "excuse making" amongst the left and points out that we can take this subjectivity thing too far by allowing dictators such as Saddam Hussein to continue with their despotic murderous acts.

This is where the "mean green meme" can destroy itself. It will defend the right for Islam to exist, so long as it's the peace / loving kind of Islam that is politically acceptable. However the extreme fundamentalist kind of Islam will just keep pushing in a direction that might not be in the F|S greens best interest.

I was having dinner with some friends one evening when someone asked me about the psychotherapy training I was undertaking. As part of this explanation I intoned this view of the world where a particular methodology suggests that the client needs to be supported in their subjective view of the world. One of my friends exclaimed with considerable agitation that he was sick of this notion about "subjective" interpretations of reality, he then said "Look here's why" and he proceeded to walk across the room to where I was sitting, and slap me across the top of the head. Saying nothing he returned to his seat. I was a bit shocked and asked him, why did you hit me on the head. He exclaimed with "I didn't hit you on the head. That wasn't MY subjective view of what happened".

My friend was right of course, because subjectivity can only really work if people don't lie. He had learnt this particular lesson from his father, a lecturer who would do the same thing to his students in class. In a world that is adept with manipulation, cunning and deceit, the subjective view is flawed because people can lie.

What my friend failed to see was that the context being discussed was around the therapeutic process. In therapy it is important to see the subjective organisation of experience in the client, because this carries the emotional context of what they are going through. Validation of this emotional experience is what the process is all about. But this emphasis on subjective is only really valid in a therapeutic context, it tends to be unworkable elsewhere, and really what the socially progressive liberal greens are doing is trying to work within a therapeutic context. And so on the world stage of political discourse, someone stuck in the F|S meme will want everyone to sit in a circle, pull out the crystals, incense and totems whilst trying to get everyone singing kum-by-yah. They are doing this because ultimately they face a very serious existential challenge that has to be worked through.

Often the gateway that takes us beyond the F|S stage of consciousness is through this very form of therapy. Previously disavowed affective states are re-integrated as the individual works through all those blocks that were thrown up in their past. To work through all this emotional stuff, the individual needs to develop the capacity to witness their own self. Again we return to this paradox that the self is the only thing which understand itself, a koan that can never be resolved and yet is somehow integrated by the emergent stage of consciousness that comes with the next stage of consciousness, the G|T Witness consciousness.

For the F|S individual, the existential problem to overcome is that they have to consider how they can live in the world without destroying it, whilst still having a fullfilling life. This requires them to accept the previous levels of consciousness that may not have been fully integrated. The fundamentalist green may ruminate that it is better that they do not have children as this will only cause the further degradation of the planet, yet still be conflicted because the may actually want to have children. An the extreme of this is the idea that it may be better for the planet as a whole if they just stop breathing entirely.

Obviously this is an existential crisis about the nature of being itself, and it leads to problems of hopelessness, drug addiction, depression, self harming, suicide etc, the most recent incarnation of which is the "emo" (emotional) kid, a Gen Y expression of the Gen X "Goth", which again is similar to the hippy "drop out" (baby boomers), which could even be said to go as far back as the Bohemian movement.

At it's core, all these problems with the self of an F|S individual is a problem of feeling helpless. Survival requires the opposite of being helpless, and often the only possible way out for the body that experiences such dire states of hopelessness is to shut down the entire system. The master switch on the body that turns off all feeling is the last resort of the desperately fragmented and is commonly understood as depression.

Added to this is the existential despair that comes with seeing everything as pointless anyway. "What's the point, we're all going to die anyway" Nothing has meaning and if even it did, it would not matter. Nothing matters.

The F|S level can bring about massive shifts in creative energy, however it is limited, like all other levels of consciousness, by the confusion between objective and subjective organisation of experience. When holistic problem solving (F|S) is coupled with the training in reason and logic that precedes it (E|R) then a true seismic shift in consciousness occurs.

At this point Graves suggests that the individual moves from the first six "survival" levels of existence into the first of the "being" levels. The best way to understand this transition is that the individual learns to accept all that has gone before, where all behaviour and ways of seeing the world are useful when viewed in context. The key here is "context" and being able to witness your own self in the changing world, only to realise that this thing called the "self" is also changing.

At a being level, its the integration of all previous egoic stages that is required. To make this happen the ego needs purpose.

Witness and Egoic Integration, thence to Chaos

The first six levels of consciousness, termed the "egoic levels", are followed by the "being levels" which begin with understanding the world in context, such that when appropriate it is ok to be any one of the previous levels of consciousness. Playing a game of tennis you may want the egotistical C|P of just going out there to win. When formulating a plan of action to overcome an significant obstacle at work then it may be better to be F|S and work out the best solution for all. In the break room at work, the best modality for interacting with colleagues is the B|O approach of communal sharing and interaction, of gossip around the 'village well'. When investing in the stock market you need E|R and when building a network of roads for a country you probably want to plan for the community D|Q but implement it in a way that is logically efficient and cost effective E|R, but does not impact to badly on the physical environment (F|S).

This integration of egoic function is what transcends the person to the being levels, at which we reach another harmonic, where the first "being" level, the G|T (yellow) is a person who works out how to survive in the world whilst living with purpose. Graves also nominally calls it the A'|N' level because of its similarity with A|N around survival, only this time it's not so much physiological survival as psychological survival. The sea-change or tree-change phenomena depicts this move, but so does becoming self employed or taking on a profession that you are truly passionate about.

To move beyond the six stages of egoic consciousness the key word is 'surrender'. Surrender to the way things are, the path your life has taken, the fact that not everything can be remedied. As the Alcoholic Anonymous 'serenity prayer' suggests, surrender is about knowing the difference between what you can and can not do. Again there is a contradiction here, a paradox or koan, where the surrendering is also about allowing helplessness to be ok. However this surrendering is also an ACTION and in this regard it is not actually helplessness.

With existential despair, I had my own awakening whilst in personal therapy some years ago. I suffer from severe depression, or as I like to saying, "extreme making sense of things" which is basically the same thing. Anyway, with depression comes an existential despair when at the F|S level of consciousness. Nothing matters. It doesn't matter what I do, because that would not matter. Then it occurred to me that if nothing matters, then the very fact that nothing matters should not matter. And Poof! It just vanished in puff of logic. Again the Koan or paradox was the transcendent article of raising consciousness. Of course it still takes a while for the effect to become somatically integrated. Koan alone are not enough.

Helplessness is transient, like all states, but when it is not integrated properly, when the self system fragments to the point where helplessness cannot be integrated properly, then trauma results. What we are seeing now is an unprecedented level of trauma in F|S individuals, because at this stage, when chronically maladaptive, they are less able to integrate the self successfully. If any of this is resonating with your current state then I'd suggest that healing can only happen in relationship, and a therapeutic environment can help, but what you ultimately need to do is find your purpose.

Developing a witness consciousness is about stepping outside the ego in order to observe it, and it is with this witness consciousness that we learn the true nature of choice. There is a whole lot more that can be said about the further stages of consciousness, but for this discussion we leave this tail end open. We'll return to it in a later section when talking about what individuals and societies can do in order to advance the spiral of consciousness, and basically it goes a lot further than just recycling bottles and writing a letter to your local member of parliament.

With witness consciousness, healing happens. Finding your purpose is about listening very carefully to your self because only you will know what your purpose is. It reminds me of the butterfly that flaps it's wings to cause a tornado, the objective is to find that butterfly. This is a deliberate analogy because the stage after witness is where we start to see the patterns again. I am being presumptuous here, but I believe that in the next level H|U (B'|O') there is an harmonic with the B|O stage of consciousness where we see the patterns of life all around us, only this time these patterns are not the linear systems of cause and effect, they are 'non-linear dynamical systems' to use the correct term, or more popularly referred to as 'chaos theory'.

So we are nearly halfway there. What comes next is an extrapolation of the information so far presented where a connection between the history of communication and their correlate shift in consciousness is constructed. Then we follow with two new ideas, the first being a matrix that helps to explain how groups make decisions which ultimately suggests an integrated approach and finally back to how the self is formed and how this is fractally related to the group. On this last topic we delve into the H|U level of consciousness and view the overlapping and interacting positive and negative feedback loops which create a 'chaotic' system.

NEXT - Comm. & Consc.