Consideration on the Upper-left Quadrant of Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrants Theory ——The Thoughts of David J. Chalmers, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ken Wilber
When someone acts, there seems to have been some kinds of his/her interior state which caused the action. For example, when someone eats a banana, it seems that his/her hunger, or wish of quickly finishing a meal, or an idea of banana’s having good nutrition, or some kinds of such things have caused or motivated that action. Such hunger, or wish, or idea seem to have been his/her interior state, which others can’t see, although others can see the action itself. I think most people would agree that their behaviors in general are causally connected to their interior state. In this essay, I would like to consider such an interior of a person and examine the thoughts of David J. Chalmers, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ken Wilber. Especially around the upper-left quadrant of Wilber’s four quadrants theory.
Two Kinds of Properties concerning Mental State
In this essay, I shall use “mind” in the sense of the interior of a person, which includes senses, desires, emotions, images, thoughts, and so on. I also call those interior states mental states, and it appears that those states have an ability to cause the exterior acts of a person. Following David J. Chalmers, I shall call this ability of causality psychological property.
By the way, any mental states seem to appear in some kinds of experiences, and there seem to be some kinds of feels which are known only by the agent who is the subject of that experience. For example, the feels of being angry or being hungry or solving University’s entrance exams of physics, etc., those are unique and distinguishable by the subject of the experiences. About such feels, David Chalmers says as follows;
……When we perceive, think, and act, there is a whir of causation and information processing, but this processing does not usually go on in the dark. There is also an internal aspect; there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent. This internal aspect is conscious experience. Conscious experiences range from vivid color sensations to experiences of the faintest background aromas; from hard-edged pains to the elusive experience of thoughts on the tip of one’s tongue; from mundane sounds and smells to the encompassing grandeur of musical experience; from the triviality of a nagging itch to the weight of a deep existential angst; from the specificity of the taste of peppermint to the generality of one’s experience of selfhood. All these have a distinct experienced quality. All are prominent parts of the inner life of the mind.
We can say that a being is conscious if there is something it is like to be that being, to use a phrase made famous by Thomas Nagel. Similarly, a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that mental state. To put it another way, we can say that a mental state is conscious if it has a qualitative feel－an associated quality of experience. These qualitative feels are also known as phenomenal qualities, or qualia for short. The problem of explaining these phenomenal qualities is just the problem of explaining consciousness. This is the really hard part of the mind-body problem. (David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, 1996 p.4)
I already said that Chalmers named this aspect of the mental state, which causes external acts and relates to information processing, psychological property, and in the lastly quoted sentences he named the internal quality of this mental state which one has with a feel of cognitive agent phenomenal quality. From now on, concerning those terminologies, I will follow him. After all, Chalmers claims that there are two kinds of concepts concerning mind as follows.
At the root of all this lie two quite distinct concepts of mind. The first is the phenomenal concept of mind. This is the concept of mind as conscious experience, and of a mental state as a consciously experienced mental state. This is the most perplexing aspect of mind and the aspect on which I will concentrate, but it does not exhaust the mental. The second is the psychological concept of mind. This is the concept of mind as the causal or explanatory basis for behavior. A state is mental in this sense if it plays the right sort of causal role in the production of behavior. According to the psychological concept, it matters little whether a mental state has a conscious quality or not. What matters is the role it plays in a cognitive economy. (The Conscious Mind, p.11)
I’d like to summarize what I’ve told this far. We assume that anyone has an internal aspect called mind, which is generally hidden from others, and we name this state of the mind mental state. It seems that mental state has two aspects or properties. One is the aspect of playing a causal role in the process of doing something. We call this aspect psychological aspect or psychological property. The other one is the aspect of an internal qualitative feel of experiences. This qualitative feel is always accompanied by the feel of being a cognitive agent. We call this aspect phenomenal aspect or phenomenal property.
Namely, mind has two aspects. One is a psychological aspect which can be indicated by the psychological concept and has publicity or objectivity as doing a role in the causal chain of behavior production. Another is a phenomenal aspect or conscious aspect which is truly hidden from others and is always accompanied with the feel of being a cognitive agent or subject of experience.
Do Others’ Phenomenal Properties Exist or Not?
It seems that phenomenal property and psychological property always emerge together, as Chalmers says in the following quotation.
It is a fact about the human mind that whenever a phenomenal property is instantiated, a corresponding psychological property is instantiated. Conscious experience does not occur in a vacuum. It is always tied to cognitive processing, and it is likely that in some sense it arises from that processing. Whenever one has a sensation, for example, there is some information processing going on: a corresponding perception, if you like. Similarly, whenever one has the conscious experience of happiness, the functional role associated with happiness is generally being played by some internal state. Perhaps it is logically possible one could have the experience without the causation, but it seems to be an empirical fact that they go together. (The Conscious Mind, p.22)
When the light goes into the eyes, some stimulus emerges at the retina, and a weak electric current would go along the nervous system, and the signals would arrive at brain’s synaptic systems and the brain’s response and reaction would newly make signals and send them back to the eyes and make his eyes close or open wide. In this story, a brain or its synaptic system is doing a causal role for behavior production. When a brain is being activated as stated above, at the same time mind as well is considered doing a causal role for behavior production. Mental state is at that time carrying some psychological property and some subjective phenomenal property. If we admit such co-occurrence of brain’s synaptic systems’ activation and psychological property and phenomenal property, it seems that there are some links between them. Chalmers intermediately concludes related to such links as follows.
……The hardest part of the mind-body problem is the question: how could a physical system give rise to conscious experience? We might factor the link between the physical and the psychological, and the link between the psychological and the phenomenal. As we saw above, we now have a pretty good idea of how a physical system can have psychological properties: the psychological mind-body problem has been dissolved. What remains is the question of why and how these psychological properties are accompanied by phenomenal properties: why all the stimulation and reaction associated with pain is accompanied by the experience of pain, for instance. (The Conscious Mind p.25)
Psychological property’s main feature is a causal role in behavior production. But it has been scientifically found that brain’s synaptic activation is doing such a role. Therefore, the psychological mind-body problem can be said to have been dissolved and it seems that psychological properties can be reduced to exterior physical systems’ state. So, what remains is the explanation of the link between psychological property (causal role in behavior production) and phenomenal property. And now whether the internality of mind exists or not seems to depend on the existence of phenomenal property.
It seems that everyone can inform the occurrence and existence of his/her internal phenomenal property indirectly to others by referring to psychological property which is co-occurring with phenomenal property, although no one except the experiencer himself/herself can directly know that phenomenal quality. Namely phenomenal properties can be known by others only in indirect reference. However, it seems that one of phenomenal properties’ necessary conditions is a direct feel by experiencer him/herself. So, after all, it also seems that we should not say convincingly about the existence of phenomenal property of others. For example, Chalmers analyses the situation of someone’s seeing green things as follows.
……Even with a term like “green sensation,” reference is effectively pinned down in extrinsic terms. When we learn the term “green sensation,” it is effectively by ostension―we learn to apply it to the sort of experience caused by grass, trees, and so on. Generally, insofar as we have communicable phenomenal categories at all, they are defined with respect either to their typical external associations or to an associated kind of psychological state. For instance, when one speaks of the phenomenal quality of happiness, the reference of the term “happiness” is implicitly fixed via some causal role―the state where one judges all to be good, jumps for joy, and so on. Perhaps this is one interpretation of Wittgenstein’s famous remark, “An inner process stands in need of outward criteria.”
This dependence of phenomenal concepts on causal criteria has led some (including Wittgenstein and Ryle, in some of their moods) to suggest that there is nothing to the meaning of our mental concepts beyond the associated causal criteria. (The Conscious Mind, pp.22-23)
If only indirectly can we refer to the phenomenal property of others’ interior, it seems to be meaningless after all to claim the existence of phenomenal property of others because peculiarity of the phenomenal property is its directness, as I already mentioned. Therefore, it also seems that we should speak only about the psychological aspect of mental state and we should not speak about the existence of internal aspect after all. Chalmers wrote about the concept of ‘zombie’ in his book. This zombie is a complete duplicate of a human kind except for the phenomenal property. Chalmers seems to think that there is the logical possibility of others’ being zombies because we can never know the phenomenal property of others.
However, Chalmers does not claim the actuality of others’ lacking phenomenal property. On the contrary, convinced of the presence of others’ phenomenal property, he says as follows.
Eliminativism about conscious experience is an unreasonable position only because of our own acquaintance with it. If it were not for this direct knowledge, consciousness could go the way of the vital spirit. To put it another way, there is an epistemic asymmetry in our knowledge of consciousness that is not present in our knowledge of other phenomena. Our knowledge that conscious experience exists derives primarily from our own case, with external evidence playing at best a secondary role. (The Conscious Mind p.102)
In this quotation about conscious experience, Chalmers says that there is “our own acquaintance with it,” not that there is “my own acquaintance with it”. This suggests that he took it for granted that others also have their own interior or consciousness because of his direct knowledge of his own interior or phenomenal properties. Therefore, although he admits the logical possibility of others’ being zombies, in fact, he has no question about the presence of others’ interior or consciousness or phenomenal property. For me, it seems very natural that he has no question about the existence of his own interior phenomenal property, but I wonder why he had no question about the existence of others’ phenomenal properties. I surely know that there is phenomenal property concerning me, but I can never be others, and others can never be me, so it seems that I can never know others’ interior like my own interior and I can never expect others to convince about the existence of my interior. It seems to me that phenomenal quality can be known only directly by the experiencer him/herself and that directness is the necessary element of phenomenal property therefore it also seems that knowledge of phenomenal quality is entirely different from the knowledge of any objective things. So, it seems very natural that I have doubt about the existence of others’ interior, contrary to Chalmers.
However, I also think that there is an understandable reason for Chalmers’ conviction about the existence of other’s interior if we compare it with the theoretical conviction in science. For example, we all agree that every physical thing is made of atoms, although we do not see them directly. That is because we accept the perspective of science that gives priority to reasonable explicability about causality in this actual world. In terms of the phenomenal property of mind, I can be convinced of its existence in my own mind and that the mental state which is accompanied by that phenomenal quality do a causal role in my behavior. Regarding others, by seeing their behavior in the external and objective world, I can deduce that the similar process like that of my own behavior would be also realized. Therefore, it also seems that there would be phenomenal property in others’ mind like in my mind. So, supposing that there are interior aspects of others like that of myself seems no more unnatural than supposing the existence of atoms or elementary particles in the scientific explanation about the composition of physical things.
On the other hand, it seems quite sure that I would never be able to have an experience of others unless I were them, so it still seems that we should not ignore the possibility of others’ being lacking phenomenal property.
So far, I have considered the interior of a person based on the thought of Chalmers and have presented an ambiguous conclusion that I’m not convinced of the existence of the phenomenal properties of others, namely the interior of others, but in a sense, it seems very plausible there are. However, reflecting on the thought of Wittgenstein, there seems to be the point at issue that speaking about the interior of others would be meaningless.
Interior as Subject
In his book, Wittgenstein speaks about the subject of experience as follows.
5.632 The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.
5.633 Where in the world is a metaphysical subject to be noted?
You say that this case is altogether like that of the eye and the field of sight. But you do not really see the eye.
And from nothing in the field of sight can it be concluded that it is seen from an eye.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Dunda Books Classic, 1922 p.58)
I interpret those sentences as follows. The subject is the cognitive agent who recognizes objects through seeing or listening or touching or indicating by symbols or referring to using words and concepts. Namely, the subject is the knower. And the subject doesn’t exist in the world constructed by the objects because the way of being the subject is entirely different from the way of being the objects. The objects can be known by the subject, but not the subject itself, because the subject doesn’t belong to the objective world. The world referred to in the sentences quoted from Tractatus is none other than the objective world. Surely, individuals have its exterior or objective aspects such as his/her body or behavior, but, on the one hand, simultaneously they have subjective aspects as the subject of experience. This subjective aspect is not able to be seen or listened to or referred to by using words or concepts and does not belong to the objective world.
By the way, Wittgenstein speaks about the knowledge of the interior aspect as follows in Philosophical Investigations.
That what someone else says to himself is hidden from me is part of the concept ‘saying inwardly’. Only “hidden” is the wrong word here; for if it is hidden from me, it ought to be apparent to him, he would have to know it. But he does not ‘know’ it; only, the doubt which exists for me does not exist for him. (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations second edition, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, Blackwell publishers, 1997 pp.220-221)
Please pay attention to the part “he would have to know it. But he does not ‘know’ it”. It is apparent from the phrase ‘saying inwardly’ that “it” in this part is an interior aspect. And Wittgenstein demands that he “would have to know” his interior, but that he “does not ‘know’ ” his interior. At first glance, these quoted sentences seem to include an apparent contradiction, but this seemingly apparent contradiction shall be dissolved by interpreting them as follows.
Others’ interior is hidden from me and my interior is hidden from others, but his/her own interior isn’t hidden from him/herself. And the way his/her interior is not hidden from him/herself is different from the way things which are remote from him/her is not hidden from him/her. Remote things can be hidden by putting something like a curtain between those things and him/her, but his/her own interior can never be hidden from him/herself by nature. For example, I can’t avoid or doubt knowing my own interior. So, if we interpret “he would have to know it” as “he knows his interior because it is something which is impossible to be hidden from himself”, and if we interpret “he does not ‘know’ it” as “he does not know his interior as something which is possible to be hidden from him”, then what Wittgenstein tells would no longer be a contradiction.
Namely, I think that Wittgenstein clamis the existence of two types of knowing. One is carried out when a person recognizes his own interior and he can’t avoid that recognition. The other is carried out when a person recognizes objective things which can be known by indicating physically or referring to by using symbols or words and those things can be hidden from that person. From this difference of two types of knowing, the interior that Wittgenstein referred to is not an object, and what is not an object is a subject, so that interior is a subject. This conclusion agrees with the Wittgenstein’s former conclusion “the subject does not belong to the world”. Of course, in this sentence, the world means the objective world.
I summarize my interpretation of what Wittgenstein says as follows. The objective world or objects can be known by every subject in the way being hidden is possible. The subject or the interior is known only by the subject itself in the way being hidden is impossible. This extremely private subject is the interior of the cognitive agent.
Create an Integral view by Uniting Wittgenstein’s Thought and Chalmers’ Thought
It seems to me that Wittgensteinian subject is a premise of phenomenal property. To make that clear, I would like to write the same sentences again, which I once quoted from Chalmers’ book in this essay, adding underline where I’d like readers to take notice of.
……①When we perceive, think, and act, there is a whir of causation and information processing, but this processing does not usually go on in the dark. There is also an internal aspect; there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent. This internal aspect is conscious experience. ②Conscious experiences range from vivid color sensations to experiences of the faintest background aromas; from hard-edged pains to the elusive experience of thoughts on the tip of one’s tongue; from mundane sounds and smells to the encompassing grandeur of musical experience; from the specificity of the taste of peppermint to the generality of one’s experience of selfhood. All these have a distinct experienced quality. All are prominent parts of the inner life of the mind.
We can say that ③a being is conscious if there is something it is like to be that being, to use a phrase made famous by Thomas Nagel. Similarly, a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that mental state. To put it another way, we can say that a mental state is conscious if it has a qualitative feel－an associated quality of experience. These qualitative feels are also known as phenomenal qualities, or qualia for short. The problem of explaining these phenomenal qualities is just the problem of explaining consciousness. This is the really hard part of the mind-body problem. (The Conscious Mind p.4)
In the underlined sentences①, immediately after the phrase “When we perceive, think, and act”, there is the phrase “information processing”. If information processing is the process of making knowledge, we might paraphrase the first phrase into “When we are in cognitive processing”. And a little after that phrase, there is the sentence “there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent”. If so, following the thought of Thomas Nagel―in the underlined sentence③ “a being is conscious if there is something it is like to be that being”―, cognitive agent is conscious. Chalmers says that something is qualitative feel, namely phenomenal quality or phenomenal property.
On the other hand, Wittgenstein says the subject or the interior of an individual is known only by the subject itself in the way being hidden is impossible. So, if Wittgensteinian subject is the same as a conscious aspect of the cognitive agent referred to by Chalmers, what Chalmers claims by “there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent” is equivalent to the claim by Wittgenstein that there is a subject which is known only by itself in the way being hidden is impossible. Because both claims are about the way of knowing the same thing, which is, the conscious aspect of a cognitive agent in Chalmers’ claim and the subject in Wittgenstein’s claim.
Then by integrating the thought of Chalmers and the thought of Wittgenstein, the subject or the cognitive agent or the interior of an individual can be known only by him/herself. For example, I can know only myself as subject. Concerning others, I can’t know their interior or their being subject because I as personal being can’t be others. Theoretically, I can never have any opinion about the existence of others’ interior aspects or phenomenal quality.
On the other hand, in the underlined sentences②, Chalmers gives many kinds of conscious experiences and says these have distinct phenomenal qualities. They are known in the differentiation from each other. And somewhere Chalmers also says that for each phenomenal property there is a correspondence to psychological property. So, we can know phenomenal properties by pointing out through the correspondence with psychological properties. In this way, it seems that we can know other’s phenomenal properties, but it is wrong. From the underlined sentences①, we see there is something which feels like being a cognitive agent, and thus the subject accompanies with any kinds of experiences. Because of this necessary element, any phenomenal properties can’t be known by others.
Namely, conscious experience acquires some knowledge of phenomenal quality which can be known by differentiation inside the person’s mind but always accompanied with the knowledge of Wittgensteinian subject. Therefore, although there would be many differences between each phenomenal property and correspondence between phenomenal qualities and psychological properties, they don’t belong to the public world of objects. Then it is meaningless to speak about the existence of other’s phenomenal properties after all. My phenomenal properties have meanings only to me. And I can’t declare the existence of phenomenal qualities in the others’ mind. Perhaps what Wittgenstein says as follows would apply to the relation between the subject, which is very private, and the objective world which the subject faces.
The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the “world is my world”.
The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit―not a part of the world. (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus p.58)
Conceptually, objectivity (exterior) and subjectivity (interior) are complementary to each other, and there can’t be one side only, like a head and a tail of a coin. Then, I have actual feeling of being a subject and can claim there is a subject as this I and objective world which is complementary to this I reasonably. And it is meaningless to suppose the same situation concerning others. This would be what Wittgenstein means by the phrase “world is my world”.
As like Chalmers, Wittgenstein also started his argument with the assumption that everyone has a subject and interior. And he nearly tended to think that assumption is a fact. However, by pursuing the difference between the way of knowing a subject and that of knowing an object, he didn’t fall into that temptation. He said as follows.
My attitude toward him is an attitude toward a soul. I am not of the opinion that he has a soul. (Philosophical Investigations second edition p.178)
Namely, Wittgenstein claims that he takes an attitude that others also have subjects like himself, but he denies the meaningfulness of that attitude by saying “I am not of the opinion”.
Being a subject or having phenomenal property is extremely private. Therefore, I can’t have the meaningful opinion to the claims of the same fact of others. When another person, for example, Wittgenstein says “I am surely subject” or “I surely have an interior”, for me it is only done functionally in a linguistic behavior, or in the psychological process, therefore there is no meaningful content concerning whether there is his hidden interior (toward me) or not. Maybe I could have some feeling about his feeling, for example in the case of empathy, but that feeling isn’t his feeling but just mine because I am not he. In this way, if being Wittgensteinian subject is the most essential for having conscious experience, it would also be meaningless to ask whether an artificial intelligence which behaves the same way as humans has conscious experience or not, because anyone can’t be any other being, whether it is a human or artificial intelligence. Regarding the interior, what I can speak meaningfully about is only my interior, only my phenomenal property, only this I who am experiencing right now right here.
What is Wilber’s View on the Individual’s Interior?
So far, referring to the commentaries by Chalmers and Wittgenstein, I have investigated a little about the so-called interior aspect, subjectivity, subject of experience. Next, I would like to check what kind of idea Wilber has about this subject or interior aspect of a person. Figure 1 is four quadrants model of Wilber’s cosmology (he calls his cosmology Kosmology, but in this essay, I don’t follow his terminology). He thinks cosmos has two pairs of complementary aspects. One is a pair of subjective(interior) and objective(exterior) aspects. The other is a pair of individual and collective aspects. And he multiplied those two pairs and made four aspects. Namely individual interior, individual exterior, collective interior, and collective exterior aspects. He thinks cosmos has these four aspects. He expresses those aspects as four quadrants made by coordinate axes. The upper-left quadrant indicates the individual interior aspect of cosmos. The upper-right quadrant indicates the individual exterior aspect of cosmos. The lower-right quadrant indicates the collective interior aspect of cosmos. The lower-left quadrant indicates the collective exterior aspect of cosmos.
Figure1. Four Quadrants
(I made this figure following Figure 5-1 in p.198 of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000)
The interior of every individual in the cosmos comes under the upper left quadrant. Especially the subjective aspect or the interior of an individual human. The terms in that quadrant of figure 1―prehension, irritability, sensation, perception, impulse, emotion, symbol, concept, concrete operation, formal operation, vision logic―are the developmental sequence of cognitive abilities of an individual human. Those are the concepts of psychological properties which can be investigated scientifically related to human activities and physical behaviors of an individual body, especially a brain. However, there is a correspondence between psychological properties and phenomenal properties. Therefore, the same words were used to indicate both psychological properties and phenomenal properties.
In Wilber’s four quadrant model, it is supposed that every person has that upper left quadrant, but if the phenomenal properties are based on Wittgensteinian subject, that supposition is questionable because Wittgensteinian subject is never other than this I who is having a conscious experience just now, just here. So assuming other’s subject is meaningless.
How Would the Four Quadrants Frame Change by Setting Phenomenal Aspects in the Upper-left Quadrant?
As discussed so far, based on Chalmers’ idea, the psychological aspect of mind is reducible to the brain’s functions. So, as the interior of human, we should set a phenomenal aspect of mind or phenomenal property. If so, what can I say? Integrating Chalmers’ thought and Wittgenstein’s thought, theoretically, the base of phenomenal aspect or phenomenal property is Wittgensteinian subject. This subject is impossible to be hidden from me who is experiencing consciously right now, but it can never be known by any other people, and I have nothing to speak about any others’ subject meaningfully. Therefore, we might have to say that upper-left quadrant is that of the most private subject, namely this I who is consciously experiencing right now. Surely there is a correspondence between phenomenal properties and psychological properties. Due to this mechanism, phenomenal properties also come to be indicated by the name of psychological properties. Every individual has psychological properties, but as far as there is Wittgensteinian subject at the base of phenomenal properties, the upper-left quadrant must be no other than the interior of this I who am consciously experiencing right now.
The upper-right quadrant is that of individual’s behaviors and physical body. According to what Chalmers says in Conscious Mind p.24, we have a pretty good idea of how a physical system can have psychological properties and the psychological mind-body problem has been dissolved. Namely, if we want, psychological properties can be reduced to and included in the objective domain.
The lower-right quadrant is that of the collective individuals who own both behaviors and bodies. All individuals’ behaviors and bodies are supposed to be in the collective quadrant, therefore it does not seem to become a problem to unite the upper-right quadrant of behaviors and bodies with the lower-right collective quadrant, that is, to make those quadrants be as one region. Maybe Wilber himself has had such an idea and sees four quadrants as three regions, which is called Big Three. In his cosmology, not only humans but also all kinds of individual beings such as atoms, molecules, cells, etc. are treated basically like an individual human. Therefore, the two right quadrants express the objective world.
The lower-left quadrant is the collective interior or intersubjective quadrant. However, it is meaningless to speak about other’s subjects’ existence because the subject in the upper-left quadrant must be that of phenomenal property and its base is Wittgensteinian subject. Therefore, it is also meaningless to think about the lower-left (intersubjective) quadrant.
On the consideration above, if the upper-left quadrant is based on Wittgensteinian subject, I would be able to speak about four quadrants as follows. The upper-left is quadrant of this I, very private and there is no relation with others’ interiors. The right region consisted of both upper right and lower right quadrants is a region of the exterior or objects. The lower left is the intersubjective quadrant, but it is meaningless to think about the interiors of others so it should be blank. After all, it seems to me that the model should be modified to be lacking the lower-left quadrant as shown in figure 2.
Figure2. Revised four quadrants model
Therefore figure 2 could be reduced to two-regions model like figure 3. The left aspect is this I who is consciously experiencing right now, right here. The right aspect is the objective world which confronts this I.
Figure3. Two regions model
This model (Figure 3) agrees with Wittgenstein’s thought “world is my world.” (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus p.58).
If there are no phenomenal properties including my own at all, this model would be reduced into one region as Figure 4. In that case, there are no subjects nor objects. Because the subject and the object are complementary, if there are no phenomenal properties (subjects), there are no objects, either. There is only the world.
Figure4. One region model
However, in this One region model, if we decide to stop reducing psychological property into brain’s synaptic system and newly define the part of psychological property as individual’s interior or subject, we can reconstruct a new four quadrants model. In that model, the upper left or mind has each one’s psychological aspect without phenomenal aspects.
Wilber’s thought on subject
In the view of Chalmers, a cognitive agent has its internal part named mind, and mind has both psychological aspect and phenomenal aspect. Wilber also thinks everybody’s mind has two aspects as like Chalmers says, I assume. Therefore, it seems no problem for Wilber to set the upper-left quadrant for every individual. But by integrating Chalmers thought and Wittgenstein’s thought, I have concluded that there is Wittgensteinian subject as the base of phenomenal aspect. Wittgensteinian subject is extremely private. Therefore, speaking about others’ interior is meaningless. By the way, Wilber says various things about subjectivity. So I want to compare one of Wilber’s thoughts about subjectivity with Wittgenstein’s thought about subjectivity in a little more detail.
Wittgenstein said about a cognitive subject that “The subject does not belong to the world”. I think one of Wilber’s thoughts about a subject include a thought similar to Wittgenstein’s. For example, Wilber says as follows in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.
In philosophy a general distinction is made between the empirical ego, which is the self insofar as it can be an object of awareness and introspection, and the Pure Ego or transcendental Ego (Kant, Fichte, Husserl), which is pure subjectivity (or the observing Self), which can never be seen as an object of any sort. In this regard, the pure Ego or pure Self is virtually identical with what the Hindus call Atman (or the pure Witness that itself is never witnessed―is never an object―but contains all objects in itself).
Furthermore, according to such philosophers as Fichte, this pure Ego is one with absolute Spirit, which is precisely the Hindu formula Atman = Brahman. (Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000, p.236)
It seems to me that, except that Wilber illogically leaped to identify pure ego with absolute Spirit or Atman = Brahman, pure Ego in these quoted sentences is the same as Wittgensteinian subject in the respect that the way of being is entirely different from that of objects and both do not belong to the (objective) world. To convince readers of pure subject, Wilber uses the method of enumerating all kinds of objects and denying those are subjects. He would not speak directly about a subject, because it is thought to be unlimited and its content is supposed to be unable for us to speak about unlike objects which have some forms.
Wilber’s Suggestion of the Existence of Subject by Negation
Objects seem to vary corresponding to various cognitive abilities. For example, visual objects correspond to a visual ability. So, there would be a correspondence between the classification of objects and that of cognitive abilities. Wilber uses this correspondence to suggest the existence of subject by the method of negation. In many cases, he uses a very rough classification of cognitive abilities, that is, the eye of flesh, the eye of mind, and the eye of spirit. Here I would like to discuss the existence of subject using this rough classification. Compared with the cognitive abilities shown in the upper-left quadrant of figure 1, the eye of flesh generally corresponds to the abilities from prehension to emotion, and the eye of mind corresponds to the abilities from symbol to vision logic, and the eye of spirit corresponds to the abilities in the higher levels than vision logic, the transpersonal abilities which are not written in figure 1. Wilber says as follows.
The premise of Eye to Eye is that there is a great spectrum of human consciousness; and this means that men and women have available to them a spectrum of different modes of knowing, each of which discloses a different type of world (a different worldspace, with different objects, different subjects, different modes of spacetime, different motivations, and so on).
Put in its simplest form, there is, at the very least, the eye of flesh, the eye of mind, and the eye of spirit (or the eye of contemplation). An exclusive or predominant reliance on one of these modes produces, for example, empiricism, rationalism, and mysticism.
The claim of Eye to Eye is that each of these modes of knowing has its own specific and quite valid set of referents: sensibilia, intelligibilia, and transcendelia. (The Eye of Spirit, Third Edition, Shambhala, 2001, p.76)
Sensibilia as the world of objects corresponding to the eye of flesh is a domain of space, time, and matter. Intelligibilia as the world of objects corresponding to the eye of mind is a domain of image, idea, concept, logic, mathematics, philosophy, and mind itself. Transcndelia as the world of objects corresponding to the eye of contemplation is a transpersonal domain of Buddha-nature, Spirit, etc. (I referred to Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition p.281). And Wilber says “there is sensory territory, mental territory, and spiritual territory―all being real and experiential object domains.” (Eye to Eye, Third Edition, Shambhala, 2001, p.63). Namely, Wilber considers not only physical or material world, but also things which appear in a person’s mind (interior) and things which are thought to appear at the transpersonal level to be objects, and he considers that the pure (cognitive) subject is not any of those objects. In that sense of subjectivity, the psychological aspect of mind or psychological properties are mental objects and surely objective. From Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, I would like to quote some passages in relation to the process of negation to search pure subject.
……The pure Witness (which Eckhart calls “ the essence of the Subject”) cannot be seen, for the simple reason that it is Seer (and the Seer itself is pure Emptiness, the pure opening or clearing in which all objects, experiences, things and events arise but which itself merely abides). Anything seen is just more objects, more finite things, more creatures, more images or concepts or visions, which is exactly what it is not. (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition p.312)
……the Self is not body, not mind, not thought; it is not feelings, not sensations, not perceptions; it is radically free of all objects, all subjects, all dualities; it cannot be seen, cannot be known, cannot be thought. (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition p.314)
……The Self is not this, not that, precisely because it is the pure Witness of this or that, and thus in all cases transcends any this and any that. The Self cannot even be said to be “One,” for that is just another quality, another object that is perceived or witnessed. The Self is not “Spirit”; rather, it is that which, right now, is witnessing that concept. The Self is not the “Witness”―that is just another word or concept, and the Self is that which is witnessing that concept. The Self is not Emptiness, the Self is not a pure Self―and so on. (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition p.314)
As stated in the quotation above, by denying subjectivity of all sorts of objects, Wilber tries to suggest pure subject, Self. In the end, he reaches what is witnessing, experiencing right now. I think that is almost the same as Wittgensteinian subject except Wilber’s claiming transpersonality. Wittgensteinian subject is persistently personal or individual and it is known only by itself in the way it is impossible to be hidden. In this essay, I have told some about Wittgensteinian subject and I concluded it couldn’t be any other than this I in this conscious experience. It can’t be meaningfully assumed that it exists in others. I think that Wilber should have examined this idea before jumping to tranpersonality, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened.
Why Wilber Missed the Logic of Wittgensteinian Subject
Why did Wilber miss Wittgensteinian subject? I would like to examine the details of that. For that purpose, in the first place I would like to quote what Wilber says, though it’s a little bit long. (To explain clearly, I divided them into three parts by inserting two empty lines between those parts. There are no such empty lines in the original article.)
Simply ask Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
I am aware of my feelings, so I am not my feelings―Who am I? I am aware of my thoughts, so I am not my thought―Who am I? Clouds float by in the sky, thought float by in the mind, feelings float by in the body―and I am none of those because I can Witness them all.
Moreover, I can doubt that clouds exist, I can doubt that feelings exist, I can doubt that objects of thought exist―but I cannot doubt that the Witness exists in this moment, because the Witness would still be there to witness the doubt.
I am not objects in nature, not feelings in the body, not thoughts in the mind, for I can Witness them all. I am that Witness―a vast, spacious, empty, clear, pure, transparent Openness that impartially notices all that arises, as a mirror spontaneously reflects all its objects. . . .
You can already feel some of this Great Liberation in that, as you rest in the ease of witnessing this moment, you already feel that you are free from the suffocating constriction of mere objects, mere feelings, mere thoughts―they all come and go, but you are the vast, free, empty, open Witness of them all, untouched by their torments and tortures.
This is actually the profound discovery of … the pure divine Self, the formless Witness, causal nothingness, the vast Emptiness in which the entire world arises, stays a bit, and passes. And you are That. You are not the body, not the ego, not nature, not thoughts, not this, not that―you are a vast Emptiness, Freedom, Release, and Liberation.
With this discovery…you are half way home. You have dis-identified from any and all finite objects; you rest as infinite Consciousness. You are free, open, empty, clear, radiant, released, liberated, exalted, drenched in a blissful emptiness that exists prior to space, prior to time, prior to tears and terror, prior to pain and mortality and suffering and death. You have found the great Unborn, the vast Abyss, the unqualifiable Ground of all that is, and all that was, and all that ever shall be.
But why is that only halfway home? Because as you rest in the infinite ease of consciousness, spontaneously aware of all that is arising, there will soon enough come the great catastrophe of final Freedom and Fullness: the Witness itself will disappear entirely, and instead of witnessing the sky, you are the sky; instead of touching the earth, you are the earth; instead of hearing the thunder, you are the thunder. You and the entire Kosmos become One Taste―you can drink the Pacific Ocean in a single gulp, hold Mt. Everest in the palm of your hand; supernovas swirl in your heart and the solar system replaces head…
You are One Taste, the empty mirror that is one with any and all objects that arise in its embrace, a mindlessly vast translucent expanse: infinite, eternal, radiant beyond release. And you…are……That…
So the primary Cartesian dualism―which is simply the dualism between…in here and out there, subject and object, the empty Witness and all things witnessed―is finally undone and overcome in nondual One Taste. Once you actually and fully contact the Witness, then―and only then―can it be transcended into radical Nonduality, and halfway home becomes fully home, here in the ever-present wonder of what is…
And so how do you know that you have finally and really overcome the Cartesian dualism? Very simple: if you have really overcome the Cartesian dualism, then you no longer feel that you are on this side of your face looking at the world out there. There is only the world, and you are all of that; you actually feel that you are one with everything that is arising moment to moment. You are not merely on this side of your face looking out there. “In here” and “out there” have become One Taste with a shuddering obviousness and certainty so profound it feels like a five-ton rock just dropped on your head. It is, shall we say, a feeling hard to miss.
At that point, which is actually your ever-present condition, there is no exclusive identity with this particular organism, no constriction that makes it seem that “you” are in the head looking at the rest of the world out there; there is no binding of attention to the personal bodymind: instead, consciousness is one with all that is arising―a vast, open, transparent, radiant, infinitely Free and infinitely Full expanse that embraces the entire Kosmos, so that every single subject and every single object are erotically united in the Great Embrace of One Taste. You disappear from merely being behind your eyes, and you become the All, you directly and actually feel that your basic identity is everything that is arising moment to moment (just as previously you felt that your identity was with this finite, partial, separate, mortal coil of flesh you call a body). Inside and outside have become One Taste. I tell you, it can happen just like that!
(Ken Wilber, The Simple Feeling of Being, Shambhala, 2004, pp.7-9)
Please look at the first part of the divided three parts of these quotes. It is the part where the subject―“I”―who is not an arbitrary subject but a subject having conscious experience right now, right here―investigate “I” by the way of negating the possibility of dealing any kind of object as subject. Using this methodology, Wilber reached this I who is not any kind of object but doubtlessly actually experiencing right now, right here. It seems to coincide with that ultimately private Wittgensteinian subject.
However, in the second part, there are the sentences, “You can already feel some of this Great Liberation in that, as you rest in the ease of witnessing this moment, you already feel that you are free from the suffocating constriction of mere objects, mere feelings, mere thoughts―they all come and go, but you are the vast, free, empty, open Witness of them all, untouched by their torments and tortures”. Here, it is suggested that the subject “in the ease of witnessing this moment” is realizing in “you” who are not I. Although Wilber has been asking about this “I” who is experiencing right now till just before those sentences, he suddenly replace “I” with arbitrary “you”, namely “you” as objects for “I”. That is a gap which made this argument invalid.
Where does this invalidity come from? Wilber missed the argument about the knowledge of subject, which should have been inserted before that gap. Contrary to Wilber, Wittgenstein argued that a subject is known by being that subject itself in the way it is impossible to be hidden. If there were such argument, it must have been recognized by Wilber to be meaningless to speak about the existence of others’ subject, and there would not have been a sudden leap from the investigation of “I” to the investigation of arbitrary I. But Wilber neglected such an argument. Therefore, he had forcibly proceeded his argument and ended up in something, which I would call a fallacy. After all, he missed the logic of Wittgensteinian subject, I think.
Please take a look at the last paragraph of the second part. Wilber says that although “You have dis-identified from any and all finite objects”, your investigation is yet halfway. As I just told, he had brought a fallacy, which is a leap from the investigation of “I” to the investigation of arbitrary individual’s self. Then, if we wish to put that argument back to the right order without a leap, we should hold the self who would be “dis-identified from any and all finite objects” as this “I”, who is in the nature of Wittgensteinian subject. Therefore, that your investigation is halfway should be interpreted that even reaching Wittgensteinian subject is yet only halfway in the process of reaching the ultimate Subject . Then, why halfway? The reason is written in the first paragraph of the third part. Here I put those sentences again replacing “you” into “I” who am experiencing consciously now, with those replaced parts in italic.
But why is that only halfway home? Because as I rest in the infinite ease of consciousness, spontaneously aware of all that is arising, there will soon enough come the great catastrophe of final Freedom and Fullness: the Witness itself will disappear entirely, and instead of witnessing the sky, I am the sky; instead of touching the earth, I am the earth; instead of hearing the thunder, I am the thunder. I and the entire Kosmos become One Taste―I can drink the Pacific Ocean in a single gulp, hold Mt. Everest in the palm of my hand; supernovas swirl in my heart and the solar system replaces head…
Namely, it is only halfway because in the next halfway the threshold of the primitive dualism between this “I” in this real conscious experience and the objects faced by this “I” will be crossed over. And as written after that, it will become nondual One Taste after all. It is the argument that can be made meaningfully only by those who had transpersonal experience of recognizing that this I includes all others, but it is meaningless at the personal level because it is automatically assumed that this actually consciously experiencing I am I of any other at the same time. Maybe such a discussion can be started only after some kind of transpersonal experiences, which might be acquired through the practices like Zen meditation (though it is still meaningless when it comes to a personal level). Carelessly enough, Wilber missed this discussion and advanced his theory, jumping to the conclusion in advance that others also have his/her interior, and has applied those phenomenal properties to the upper-left quadrant for everyone, I guess.
There is the Possibility that Wilber Speaks from the Transpersonal Point of View
I think that there is the possibility that Wilber speaks about what is meaningless from the personal point of view but is meaningful from the transpersonal point of view. He has experienced many transpersonal practices including Zen meditation. So, by reaching the transpersonal level of consciousness, he could have experienced others’ interior, and had convinced that every individual has their own interior, subjectivity, phenomenal property. If so, it is understandable that without hesitation he assumes others’ upper-left quadrant and intersubjective lower-left quadrant, although those quadrants would be meaningless for those who are at the personal level like rational philosophers.
Chalmers advanced his argument about consciousness without investigating the difference between the way of knowing a subject and the way of knowing an object. Therefore, he continued to think anyone can have the feel of being a cognitive agent in the cognitive process, and he could not reach the extreme privacy of individual’s interior. In this essay, I examined especially Chalmers thought written in the following sentences.
When we perceive, think, and act, there is a whir of causation and information processing, but this processing does not usually go on in the dark. There is also an internal aspect; there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent.
If Chalmers could have paid attention to the peculiarity of knowledge of a subject, it would have been indicated somewhere in his book that the subject of these sentences must have been not “we” but “this I” who am experiencing right now, right here. However, it did not happen. I think Chalmers could not grasp the logic of Wittgensteinian subject after all.
From the text of Wittgenstein’s book I quoted a sentence―“That what someone else says to himself is hidden from me is part of the concept ‘saying inwardly’”. From this sentence the argument about the interior of others begins. He also had supposed that others have his/her interior, but he came to understand that the knowledge of an interior or a subject can be acquired only by the subject itself by the way which is impossible to be hidden for him/herself. The way of knowing a subject is entirely different from the way of knowing an object. Therefore, he reached the conclusion of the interior’s extreme privacy that it is meaningful only for the interior of this I who am consciously experiencing right now right here to speak about itself, and it is meaningless to speak about others’ interior.
Wilber, for example in the sentences I quoted from the simple Feeling of Being, starts his consideration on pure subject by arguing that the subject who is consciously experiencing right now right here, namely this I, can never be any object. Therefore, it seems to me that he could have directly proceeded to the discussion on the extremely private subject. However, in the process of argument, he took his transpersonal experience as a given, and jumped to nondualization of the interior and the exterior while he neglected the argument of specificity of the knowledge of pure subject or Wittgensteinian subject. Consequently, the extreme privacy of pure subject was ignored.
The core component of my critique on Wilber’s four quadrants theory is that Wilber should have argued over Wittgensteinian subject properly. It seems to me that for a person at the personal level it is critical to know argument about Wittgensteinian subject, which is the limit of the personal level, and it would serve him or her to be aware of the limit of himself or herself as an individual. Such awareness would be a good preparation for them to proceed to the higher level―it might be transpersonal―without uncomfortable confusion. I think it was one of Wilber’s aims to lead them to the transpersonal level. Therefore, I feel so sorry that he has not properly examined about Wittgensteinian subject.
I think Andrew Smith did not accurately realize the extreme privacy of Wittegensteinian subject, but he realized the argument about psychological property and phenomenal property of mind by Chalmers. He seems to have avoided dealing individual’s interior because of the difficulty of theorizing phenomenal property. Maybe he decided to deal only with the psychological aspect about mind or its causal role in the individual’s behavior. Therefore, what he deals with is the right side quadrants in Wilber’s four quadrants theory. The right side two quadrants can be seen one region in Wilber’s big three theory. Therefore, it is reasonable that Smith named his own theory ‘the One Scale Model’. For further information about his thoughts, please refer to the following essays in integralworld.com.
・A one-scale model of holarchy and it’s implications for four strand theories of knowledge acquisition (Response to Edwards) , September 2000
・The spectrum of holons (Response to Kofman) , January 2001
・All four one and one for all : A (Somewhat Biased) Comparison of the Four Quadrant and One-Scale Models of Holarchy , February 2001
・Why it Matters : Further Monologues with Ken Wilber (December 2001)
On the other hand, Gerry Goddard admits the extreme privacy and said in his essay as follows.
Not only is it impossible but it is unintelligible to speak of apprehending the other’s mental experience directly except to objectify it (at least until transpersonal consciousness embraces the distinction from a higher unifying level). An entity can be revealed to another perceptually within time-space only as an object, not as a subject; that is, not in and through the act of experiential perception: hence, the logically necessary privacy of experience. (Gerry Goddard, ‘Holonic logic and the dialectics of consciousness: Unpacking Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant Model’, December 2000. This essay is placed in “IntegralWorld.net”)
David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, 1996
Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000
Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit, Third Edition, Shambhala, 2001
Ken Wilber, The Simple Feeling of Being, Shambhala, 2004.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Dunda Books Classic, p.58
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations second edition, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, Blackwell publishers, 1997
Here, I want to express my acknowledgement to Mr. Fuyuo Sato, the representative of A WAY HOME, for the two things.
About twenty years ago, he introduced me books of Ken Wilber. This introduction is the first thing I want to express acknowledgement for. Since then, Wilber’s thought has continued to affect me. And one of consequences of that affection is this essay.
To tell the truth, I am not good at using English, therefore I needed reliable help to make this essay. Mr. Sato offered me the help. This is the second thing I want to express acknowledgement for.
All the consideration explained in this essay is mine, therefore I have responsibility for all of this essay of course.
P.S. About five years ago, I wrote an essay in Japanese. “Consideration on the Upper-left Quadrant of Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrants Theory” was at first planed as the translation of that essay from Japanese to English. But after all, the translation has not done faithfully, and two essays have become to have rather different conclusions. I think that result is in a sense natural. Because each of both languages, Japanese and English, has different cultural context. Therefore I think it would be natural that the stream of argument goes different way. 2018. 6. 22 M.M.
copyright Mitsuru Masuda