Integral / Ken Wilber
Colors of Levels
Colors of Levels
(different authors use different colors)
Ken Wilber's (Integral) Levels of Development
low level to high level
Infrared (archaic—a proto 1st-person perspective): signifies a degree of development that is in many ways imbedded in nature, body, and the gross realm in general. Infrared Altitude exhibits an archaic worldview, physiological needs (food, water, shelter, etc.), a self-sense that is minimally differentiated from its environment, and is in nearly all ways oriented towards physical survival. Although present in infants, infrared is rarely seen in adults except in cases of famine, natural disasters, or other catastrophic events. Infrared is also used as a kind of catch-all term for all earlier evolutionary stages and drives.
Magenta (egocentric—able to take a 1st-person perspective): tends to be the home of egocentric drives, a magical worldview, and impulsiveness. It is expressed through magic/animism, kin-spirits, and such. Young children primarily operate with a magenta worldview. Magenta in any line of development is fundamental, or "square one" for any and all new tasks. Magenta emotions and cognition can be seen driving cultural phenomena such as Burning Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or superhero-themed comic books or movies.
Red (ego-to-ethnocentric—able to take a 1st- to 2nd-person perspective): is the marker of egocentric drives based on power, where "might makes right," where aggression rules, and where there is a limited capacity to take the role of an "other." Red impulses are classically seen in grade school and early high school, where bullying, teasing, and the like are the norm. Red motivations can be seen culturally in Ultimate Fighting contests, which have no fixed rules (fixed rules come into being at the next Altitude, amber), teenage rebellion and the movies that cater to it (The Fast and the Furious), gang dynamics (where the stronger rule the weaker), and the like.
Amber (ethnocentric—able to take a 2nd-person perspective): indicates a worldview that is mythic, and mythic worldviews are always held as absolute (often called absolutistic). Instead of "might makes right," amber ethics are more oriented to the group, but one that extends only to "my" group. Grade school and high school kids exhibit amber motivations to "fit in." Amber ethics help to control the impulsiveness and narcissism of red. Culturally, amber worldviews can be seen in fundamentalism (my God is right no matter what); extreme patriotism (my country is right no matter what); and ethnocentrism (my people are right no matter what).
Orange (worldcentric—able to take a 3rd-person perspective): the individual begins to move away from the amber conformity that reifies the views of one's religion, nation, or tribe. The orange worldview often begins to emerge in late high school, college, or adulthood. Culturally, the orange worldview realizes that "truth is not delivered; it is discovered," spurring the great advances of science and formal rationality. Orange ethics begin to embrace all people, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...." Ayn Rand's Objectivism, the US Bill of Rights, and many of the laws written to protect individual freedom all flow from an orange worldview.
Green (worldcentric—able to take a 4th-person perspective): marked by pluralism, or the ability to see that there are multiple ways of seeing reality. If orange sees universal truths ("All men are created equal"), green sees multiple universal truths—different ones for different cultures. Green ethics continue, and radically broaden, the movement to embrace all people. A green statement might read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, regardless of race, gender, class...." Green ethics have given birth to the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements, as well as environmentalism.
The green worldview's multiple perspectives give it room for greater compassion, idealism, and involvement, in its healthy form. Such qualities are seen by organizations such as the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Doctors Without Borders. In its unhealthy form green worldviews can lead to extreme relativism, where all beliefs are seen as relative and equally true, which can in turn lead to the nihilism, narcissism, irony, and meaninglessness exhibited by many of today's intellectuals, academics, trend-setters, and yet another "lost" generation in students.
Teal (worldcentric to kosmocentric—able to take a 4th/5th-person perspective): Teal Altitude marks the beginning of an integral worldview, where pluralism and relativism are transcended and included into a more systematic whole. The teal worldview honors the insights of the green worldview, but places it into a larger context that allows for healthy hierarchies, and healthy value distinctions.
Most importantly, a teal worldview begins to see the process of development itself, acknowledging that each one of the previous stages (magenta through green) has an important role to play in the human experience. Teal consciousness sees that each of the previous stages reveals an important truth, and pulls them all together and integrates them without trying to change them to “be more like me,” and without resorting to cultural relativism (“all are equal”).
Teal worldviews do more than just see all points of view (that’s a green worldview)—it can see and honor them, but also critically evaluate them.
Turquoise (kosmocentric—able to take a 5th-person perspective): Turquoise is a mature integral view, one that sees not only healthy hierarchy but also the various quadrants of humans knowledge, expression, and inquiry (at the minimum: I, we, and it).
While teal worldviews tend to be secular, turquoise is the first to begin to integrate Spirit as a living force in the world, manifested through any or all of the 3 Faces of God:
“I”—the “No self” or “witness” of Buddhism;
“we/thou”—the “great other” of Christianity, Judaism, Hindusm, Islam, etc.;
“it”—the “Web of Life” seen in Taoism, Pantheism, etc.
Indigo (continues and deepens kosmocentric—able to take 6th-person perspective and higher): Evolution and development continues growing, and we have no reason to believe it will stop with the stage that we are at now. We have indicated all of these higher possibilities with the next color in the rainbow after turquoise, which is indigo.
the eight-stage spiral of development
from “the Never-Ending Upward Quest,” interview with Don Beck, 2002
[Note: Integral/Wilber goes higher than SD]
Second Tier “Being” value MEMES
TURQUOISE Holistic MEME – starting 30 years ago
Basic theme: Experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit
YELLOW Integrative MEME – starting 50 years ago
Basic theme: Live fully and responsibly as what you are and learn to become
First Tier “Subsistence” value MEMES
GREEN Communitarian/Egalitarian MEME – starting 150 years ago
Basic theme: Seek peace within the inner self and explore, with others, the caring dimensions of community
ORANGE Achievist/Strategic MEME – starting 300 years ago
Basic theme: Act in your own self-interest by playing the game to win
BLUE Purposeful/Authoritarian MEME – starting 5,000 year ago
Basic theme: Life has meaning, direction, and purpose with predetermined outcomes
Red Impulsive/Egocentric MEME – starting 10,000 years ago
Basic theme: Be what you are and do what you want, regardless
Purple Magical/Animistic MEME – starting 50,000 years ago
Basic theme: Keep the spirits happy and the tribe’s nest warm and safe
Beige Instinctive/Survivalistic MEME – starting 100,000 years ago
Basic theme: Do what you must just to stay alive