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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: Elephant metaphor for developmental levels of worldview

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Elephant metaphor for developmental levels of worldview

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Developmental levels of #worldview. #Integral stages #metaphor

Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters


Elephant metaphor for developmental levels of worldview

I was discussing the concept of “developmental levels of worldview” with a friend. She keep wanting to imagine that my description of a hierarchical, predictable sequence of developmental stages suggested increasing personal “smartness” or “betterness.” I was having trouble getting across the ideas that any worldview stage is perfectly fine so long as it serves the needs of a person’s or culture’s current circumstances (and does not oppress others.)

Eventually, I suggested that developmental levels were like a progressive experience of elephants:

[This does not accurately represent my belief system; it’s just an imaginary hierarchy of experience.]
  • What’s an elberphunt? (simply has no clue)
  • I have heard of elephants.
  • I have read a story about elephants. (unable to independently anticipate the experience of an elephant’s subsonic rumbles)
  • I have seen an elephant at the circus.
  • I have watched elephants at the zoo. (the most common limit to likely developmental stages)
  • I have lived with elephants in the wild. (few people would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I have memories of being an elephant.
  • I have always been an elephant. (few elephants would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I am the race memory of all elephants.
  • I Am that I Am. (God’s description of himself in Exodus)
Each stage is adequate for the needs of certain individuals in certain circumstances.

  • At each stage, some greater [effort or] involvement has been achieved to have had a larger understanding.
  • At each stage, it is difficult to explain the experience adequately to some who has not been there.
  • At each stage, it is difficult to imagine the richness of knowing involved in additional stages.

I’m not suggesting that all of these stages are actually plausible for an individual but, then again, how could you actually be certain of that unless you were I Am?