Worldviews as doorways or entrance-points
Exploring worldviews is a great way to support people to grow and mature, as it helps people take perspective on their perspective. Rather than being fully identified with and embedded in our worldview, we learn to look at it, exploring our frames of understanding and meaning making with some curiosity and spaciousness. Or as professor in developmental psychology Robert Kegan (1982) calls it, ‘we ‘make object what was subject.’
Exploring worldviews broadens one’s perspective, as it confronts one with the fact that there are fundamentally different views out there. It’s like how traveling to a foreign country and being confronted with another culture can make us more aware of our own cultural habits. This can help one appreciate to be part of a bigger and more complex world, and have the experience of being assisted by the perspectives of others, instead of ‘locked up’ in one’s own.
Exploring worldviews also supports people to become aware of the beliefs they’re operating from, question engrained assumptions, and author key ideas for themselves. This can empower people in their agency, giving them the sense they can create their own context and reactions, rather than just having them.
Exploring worldviews also enables people to see that any single perspective is limited, and that including multiple perspectives can open up new possibilities and creativity. This may help people respond better to complex problems. The capacity to take different perspectives is often seen as central hallmark of psychological growth. When we explore our own and others’ worldviews, we practice this capacity, and thus foster growth.
Including different ways of knowing & methods of learning
Objective + subjective + intersubjective = Transformative?
The modern sciences of learning tell us that learning is much more effective when we engage different modes of experience and knowing, and include relational and experiential learning next to more cognitive or theoretical forms of learning (Stein, 2019). Put plainly, we need to use head, heart, and hands.
Our programs combine at least three different ways of knowing: objective, subjective, and intersubjective. We often start with introducing powerful content, knowledge and ideas (objective), then offer possibilities to explore the value of this content for one’s own life and context (subjective), to then dynamically engage with, and dialogue about it with others (intersubjective). We use a range of different transformative practices and exercises to support this, from journaling and inquiry to ‘stream of consciousness duets’ and mindfulness.
Including different domains of reality
We also aim for a comprehensive approach that includes the major domains of reality. From as early on as Aristotle, there has been a philosophical attempt to classify objects and forms of knowledge in terms of basic categories. Think of the Beautiful, the Good, and the True. Or Art, Morals, and Science. Self, Culture, and Nature. Subjective, Intersubjective, and Objective. I, We, and It. First Person, Second Person, and Third Person.
Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant Model builds forth on this effort and represents an elegant way to organize these general categories, by distinguishing between the interiors and exteriors of individuals and collectives (see the figure below). The realities disclosed in each of these Quadrants are inextricably intertwined and co-evolving.
Since all events can be looked at in terms of all four Quadrants, leaving out any of them will result in a partial perspective that lacks essential insight. We therefore use this model as a way to ensure a comprehensive approach; it’s like a basic mechanism for quality control. For example, when exploring worldviews we include a focus on self and awareness, on others and culture, on systems and nature, as well as on bodies and behaviors.