My personal view of integral life

“Whaddaya Want from Me?” – Developing from 2nd Order of Consciousness to 3rd

I found this particular subject and reading Kegan the most interesting part of this course so far. Kegan’s style of writing is so descriptive with great narrative and really easy to read. There is almost the same flow present as in Wilber’s writings. After reading the first two chapters of the book I was really “sucked in” to the lives of the teens and this also evoked some memories of my and my brother’s adolescence. I remember coming home late from a party being only 14 years old and knowing that I should have been home like two hours ago. Both of my parents were waiting me awake worrying where I was. And I think this particular event somehow ignited the re-ordering of my structure of consciousness at the time since I can’t recall any other event after that being late and not thinking about how my parents felt. Now, after this short introduction I will move to the topic of this week’s assignment and I’ll try to describe the differences between 2nd and 3rd orders of consciousness.

“Whaddaya Want from Me?” really explains quite exhaustively the second order of consciousness and also is a great sign of how Kegan is approaching this subject. 2nd order of consciousness is constructed of durable categories that contains elements or members, properties, intentions and preferences and abilities of it’s own. This is seen as short seeing really independent point of view not taking in account others point of views. So there is not yet mutual relationship between other’s points of views as there are at the 3rd order of consciousness. At the 2nd order of consciousness according to Kegan a person can construct own point of view and grant to others in their point of view but not take them simultaneously. They can set needs, goals and delay immediate ratification but cannot distinguish one’s needs from oneself. Most conflicts with children at adolescence arise from the erroneous suspicion that he or she can think reflectively outside the durably created idea. “The expectation that adolescents be able to identify inner motivations, hold onto emotional conflict internally, be psychologically self-reflective, and have a capacity for insight all implicate the cross-categorical capacity to experience the self in relation to a given set or category rather than as the set or category itself” (Kegan, In Over Our Heads, 1994; p. 27). That paragraphs puts it perfectly what is the significant difference between 2nd and 3rd order of consciousness. The transcendence from durable categories to cross-categorical meaning-making happens at adolescence between the ages of 12-20 or sometimes doesn’t happen at all which has lead to classing these individuals as “sociopaths” and the treatment or aid to re-order the stage from 2nd to 3rd is not really supporting this transition but is rather isolating these individuals to facilities like psychiatric institutions, prison or school homes which do not encourage the evolutionary motion of mental growth.

“People grow best where they continuously experience an ingenious blend of support and challenge; the rest is commentary” (Kegan, 1994; p. 42). As David described enthusiastically in his lecture this particular sentence really describes the whole process of growth and the meaning of the universe with a slightly extravagant way. In transitioning the 2nd order of consciousness to third that which was the subject becomes object and this is true to all other transitions as well. School plays an important part besides parenting on how to offer the most inspiring field of developing one’s consciousness in an inspirational way. There are different types of teaching each having important aspects on growth. But the question is whether there is an absolute most effective way of teaching, which would support also mental growth? First it comes to my mind that every teacher should read Kegan at their pedagogical studies to get in touch with the nature of principles and the processes of emotions, cognition, inter-personal dynamics and intra-personal dynamics. I think that just by memorizing facts and concrete concepts as I was thought in school most of the time more effective way would be: “…to exceed the limits of the categorical order of mind. The difference between an example and a definition is precisely the difference between a concrete fact, second order way of knowing, and abstract generalization, a third way of knowing.” (Kegan, 1994; p.53)

From here I come to a conclusion that getting in touch with developmental psychology and especially Kegan’s work parents and teachers could more effectively and inspirationally help the growth of an adolescent with care, inspiration and support.


Categorised in: Development, Integral, Psychology

2 Responses »

  1. Thank you Ollis, for sharing with such a generosity.
    Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, I’m enjoying all this knowledge.

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