Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Towards a Coherent Unity of Perspectives on Peace: Burton, Lederach and the Philosophy of Ken Wilber

Henry Lebovic

Abstract: This master’s degree dissertation uses the philosophical schema of Ken Wilber, known as the integral model, and the Spiral Dynamics® approach based on psychologist Clare Graves’ work and promoted by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, to explore the work of peace scholar-practitioners, John Burton and John Paul Lederach. It asks: Can the Integral model and Spiral Dynamics be utilised in analyses to explore the causes and sources of conflict, and the limitations of peace theory and practice? If so, can these schemas be used prescriptively to help design more effective approaches to peacebuilding? Such an analytical schema reveals that Burton’s human needs theory makes claims to holism that ultimately fell short, primarily because of the reduction of culture to behaviour. In addition, his reliance on cognitive approaches and the aspect of assumed neutrality were found to be problematic. In contrast, Lederach’s concern with subjective causes and solutions of conflict was closer to the “integral holism” Wilber advocates. Lederach’s values, which were made more explicit than Burton’s, were also found to be congruent with the second-tier value approach of Spiral Dynamics. Furthermore, research within the peace studies literature, as demonstrated here, lends support to the experimental analyses conducted in this dissertation. Finally, the small body of “integrally-aware” peace scholarship, which is also reviewed, illustrates how integral theory might emerge as an important tool for analysing and shaping future peacebuilding initiatives.

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