Ken Wilber’s Quadrant as a Template for Relating to the World.

Jan Krikke
3 min readDec 10, 2022

The diagram of the Four Quadrants is one of the pillars of the Integral Theory of the American philosopher Ken Wilber. The quadrant is a way of conceptualising the different dimensions of the human experience and the different domains of knowledge. A comprehensive view of reality needs to take all four quadrants into account.

Seen from a birds-eye perspective, it could be argued that the “I” is higher developed in the West, and that the “We” is higher developed in (Confucian) East Asia. But they are mutually dependent. The “I” can’t live in a vacuum and the “We” needs an element of “I” for society to make progress, collectively and individually.

The quadrant is useful to apply to other domains. Below of five examples that capture multifacetted concepts in a single quadrant.

Quadrant of Chinese civilization

A quadrant of Chinese culture would include the four foundational aspects of Chinese civilization. The I Ching “informed” both Confucianism and Taoism. Confucius “appropriated” the Eight Trigrams to create his social construct, the Taoists focussed on Tao (the Universe) rather than society.

Quadrant of Indian worldview

Ancient Indian sages identified four generic psychological profiles that accommodate all human activity. All humans have traits of two or more Varna, but one type typically dominates in each individual. Humanity goes through cycles during which the four Varna types take turns in moving humanity forward. The story is comparable to the Second Coming in the three monotheistic religions.

Quadrant of Modernism

Metamodernism stands on the shoulds of both Integralism and Post-Modernism. The latter was characterized by deconstruction, relativism, irony, pastiche, nihilism. Metamodernism is characterized by sincerity, hope, romanticism, affect, and the search for universal truths while acknowledging the lessons learned from postmodernism (“transcend and include”).

Quadrant of Artificial Intelligence

Four remarkable men were instrumental in the technology that would lead to Artificial Intelligence in the 1950s. AI systems are best understood as Cybernetic systems with a self-learning version, i.e. they can be designed to learn from mistakes and take corrective action. Examples are the autopilot and the navigation system in autonomous vehicles.

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Jan Krikke

Author of Creating a Planetary Culture: European Science, Chinese art, and Indian Transcendence