Four Quadrants

02006-08-02 | Philosophy | 6 comments – blog
First let’s look at the four quadrants, which are simply the interior and exterior of the individual and collective, all of which are present in any occasion. Concerning the debate on rights versus responsibility: an emphasis on the sovereignty of the individual (rights) yields positions such as libertarianism; an emphasis on the sovereignty of the collective (responsibility) yields positions such as socialism. Concerning the debate on the cause of human suffering: an emphasis on interior factors yields a more republican position (if a person is suffering it is because they lack work ethic, family values, etc); an emphasis on exterior factors yields a more democratic position (if a person is suffering it is because they lack opportunities, have been downtrodden by an oppressive system, etc).

In any individual holon (meaning “whole/part”) there are four drives. Within a level—horizontal translation—a holon has drives towards autonomy (rights) and communion (responsibility), and between levels—vertical transformation—a holon has Eros (to reach beyond) and Agape (to embrace and preserve). We’ve already seen how autonomy and communion can function in the political arena, and now we see how the progressive (move things forward!) and conservative (preserve the status quo!) wings within a given party can be explained by Eros and Agape.

And what is it that various political groups seek to either progress towards or diligently conserve? Often it is a particular wave or level of development, and these unfold from archaic, to magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral (and beyond). Different wings of a political party—conservative, to moderate, to progressive—are, in fact, often representing different waves of development.

Colin’s brilliant view of politics in terms of an integral approach – clear and without any of the hysteria usually attached to political thought.


  1. Steve

    For more info on eros and agape I recommend Deus Caritas Est.

  2. Anonymous

    Brilliant !

  3. Boris

    That reminds me that Pope Benedict XVI.’s first enzyclica features the difference between Eros and Agape…….

  4. Steve

    That’s Deus Caritas Est.

  5. Carol

    And just as I don’t know which color quandrant I am In I stagger back and forth and around, I’m quite sure none of the political parties, whether they call themselves conservative or progressive, can be pinpointed. One has to realize that they are composed of individuals who all say they want the world to be better, but it’s just that…they are individuals and are filled with fears and egos and ambitions and are easily swept the wrong way. And as a whole one political party isn’t any better or worse than the other.


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