📖A Brief History of Spiral Dynamics

Butters, Albion
  • Graves model:

    • “levels of human existence” (by Graves)

      1. Automatic (A-N): motivated by survival and physical imperatives;
      2. Tribalistic (B-O): seeking social stability, use of totems and taboos;
      3. Egocentric (C-P): individualism and the use of force to acquire objects of desire;
      4. Saintly (D-Q): recognition of the value of rules, marked by focus on religion;
      5. Materialistic (E-R): authoritarianism, dogma is trumped by pragmatism;
      6. Personalistic (F-S): concern with belonging, concern for others;
      7. Cognitive Existence (G-T): on threshold of true humanity;
      8. Experientialist Existence (H-U): beyond animal needs, drive to make life stable.
  • Two helix:

    • “life conditions” — A–H
    • “awakened capacities in the mind” — N–U
  • Maslow relationship

    Graves and Maslow’s relationship was not so simple, however. In true academic fashion, they strongly debated the merits of Graves’ system; Maslow reportedly argued for eight years before adopting it himself.

  • The system is open
  • Spirals return to the same place but eventually progressing
  • “levels of increasing complexity”
  • deny-the-self/express-the-self
  • Conflicts

    • Beck and Cowan parted in 1999. Cowan wanted to register a Spiral Dynamics trademark while Beck wanted it for academic use.
    • Cowan then joined Natasha Todorovic (formely a stock market trader, with a degree in business administration) to NVC Consulting.
    • Chris Cowan died in 2015
    • Beck worked with Ken in 2001 but they parted in 2002. Beck still sees a point in integrating spiral dynamics and AQAL.
    • Ken belittles both Cowan and Beck.

      ‘I personally love SD as an intro model (seriously), and we will definitely continue to use it…’. This is followed by an ad hominem attack on both Cowan and Beck: ‘And what do you make of the fact that the two guys who developed SD, nobody really wants to work with?—and in fact, they even refuse to work with each other, as if to put an exclamation mark on the point’

  • criticism:

    • criticism is that spiral dynamics still defines a hierarchy and people tend to climb to green and believe they are somehow above others. → Spiral Dynamics defines hierarchy
    • another criticism is that SD operates as a business, aggressively defends terminology and is marketed to business and political leaders as a manipulation tool. (Bauwens)
  • the best way to progress is within the current level, not trying to jump out of it


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