Eric Weinstein’s 4 Quadrant Model and the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect
Eric Weinstein has developed a 4-quadrant model that throws light on how integralists have so managed to over-estimate their level of moral development. It consists of two intersecting axes, one horizontal, an “x” axis, and one vertical, a “y” axis.
On the “x” axis one places some interest or cause, like gender equality, selflessness, consciousness, or some measure of development associated with any of the four axes of AQAL holons. (For example, the development of self-sense and cognition from prehension to vision-logic and beyond, in the upper left quadrant; the development of culture from physical to centauric in the lower left quadrant; the development of behavior from atoms to complex neocortex in the upper right quadrant; and the development of society from foraging to informational in the lower right quadrant.)
Right is positive and left is negative, meaning that the farther right something is placed, the “higher” or “better” the interest or cause is rated: greater gender equality, more selflessness and consciousness, or higher development. The farther left something is placed the “lower” or “worse” the interest or cause is rated.
On the “y” axis one places morality or virtue. Higher is positive while lower is negative, meaning that the higher something is placed, the “better,” more altruistic, moral, and generally virtuous the cause is considered. The farther south something is placed the “worse,” more selfish, immoral, and generally depraved the interest or cause is rated.
This creates four quadrants. It is probably wise to assume that you inhabit all four to a greater or lesser extent, depending on what life role you are in. Otherwise, you run the risk of disowning and becoming blind to characteristics about yourself that can trip you up and bring you down.
The upper right quadrant, which Weinstein refers to as “dupes,” is better termed, for our purposes here, as “True Believers.” Those who place themselves as strong believers in a cause which they hold to be morally beneficent are dogmatists who are sure they are right and that they are fighting for a noble cause. There is no room for dissent and reality is black and white. Consequently, these people think they are rational when in fact their position is based on beliefs, which may or may not be rational, in their cause and their own morality. However, we can be sure that their position is rooted in pre-rational morality and probably, but not necessarily, is an expression of prepersonal level of development. This is so because this perspective of True Believers is dogmatic and expresses splitting into dualistic and bipolar extremes that shut out dissent. It is difficult to claim rationality and shut out dissent at the same time, although it is not impossible. Note that you can have a highly developed cognitive line and self-system and still be operating out of prepersonal emotionalism. We have been seeing a lot of vivid examples of that lately. Almost all True Believers in this quadrant are sure they are rational, open-minded, just and fair, because they represent the “true,” “right,” and “good” position. This position, because it excludes the other three, is not inclusive and therefore runs into difficulties proving its claims to rationality. Ask yourself, “In what life situations and regarding what causes do I become a True Believer?”
The lower right quadrant, which Weinstein refers to as “Rent Seekers,” Integral Deep Listening (IDL) refers to as “Opportunists.” This is because they pursue their own self-interest for reasons of physical or economic security, power, or status. These people are often intelligent, and smart enough to mask their self-interest in proclamations of concern for others. They are chameleons and hypocrites, saying whatever needs to be said, breaking whatever rule or law is necessary to get what they want. The only restrictions they respect involve the bringing down of consequences that create greater damage to their self-interest than advantages. Opportunists are typically willing to sustain short-term damage to their self-interest, such as damage to their reputation or the payment of fines, if overall benefits outweigh the likely costs.
The essential characteristic of Opportunists is not simply that they are untrustworthy, but that they are deceitfully untrustworthy; they not only lie; their lies are convincing, because they themselves often believe them. Examples are that greed, war, exploitation, and abuse are good, because the cause or interest for which they fight is good: increased wealth, power, status, or control, not just for themselves, but for their tribe: their family, religion, political party, profession, or nation. Media and all forms of marketing fit into this category. Everyone is pushing a cause, and the question to ask is qui bono? “Who benefits?” Self-image or self-estimation causes these people to place themselves on the top half of the vertical, moral axis of goodness, as when Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, proclaims that he is doing “God’s work” when he is in fact feeding at the trough while enhancing his power and status. Ask yourself, “In what life situations am I most likely to become an unscrupulous opportunist?”
Those in the bottom left quadrant are neither moral nor do they believe in the interest or cause at hand. Weinstein calls them “troglodytes,” which is as good a name as any, because it is a caricature that is used by others to consign their enemies to this quadrant. For example, when Wilber refers to those at a mid-prepersonal level of development as “Nazis,” he is creating a caricature of mid-prepersonal consciousness as immoral and as acting against noble and righteous causes. No one puts themselves in this quadrant or labels themselves a troglodyte; its function is to serve as propaganda and self-justification through the vilification of others. If I can put you in the lower left troglodyte quadrant I don’t have to take you seriously. I can validate my claim that I am superior to you. By doing so I may get others to agree and join with me in scapegoating you and in validating my delusions of superiority. In this way, I can avoid dealing with my fears that I am not only wrong but vulnerable, and can cast out my fears that I might at any moment lose my position of phony, superficial power and control. My best guess is that when I am lost in some mindless addiction I am closest to inhabiting the Troglodyte quadrant. How about you?
The top left quadrant is by far the most interesting of the four. It is the domain of those who respect the value of a cause, considering it worthy of respect. While these people are advocates for some virtuous quality that underlies a particular interest or cause, they have doubts about how it is formulated. They view the situation as more complicated than the True Believers make it out to be. People who have a high estimation of the morality of an issue but doubt its formulation are skeptics and doubters. They not only hold an ambiguous position but declare such ambivalence to be the wisest approach.
These people are called “First Principle Thinkers,” or “Contrarians,” by Weinstein but IDL views them first and foremost as skeptics. They have an investigative, rational, and scientific frame of mind. They ask questions. They consider motives and intentions instead of accepting claims at face value. If unaware of the other three quadrants, their intentions and dynamics, these skeptics remain victims of their context while throwing dust in the gears of the True Believers and Opportunists. If aware of the other three quadrants, they have the capacity to steer all four positions toward a higher order of organization.
Skeptics drive True Believers and Opportunists mad. They are seen by the True Believers as apostates and betrayers of the faith, to be driven out and condemned. They are viewed by the Opportunists in the lower right quadrant as naïve obstructionists. They are naïve because they believe in a good that is greater than self-interest and are therefore weak and easily controlled by others; they are obstructionists because they do not lend their support to the continuous great game of the opportunists, the rigging of the system to favor them. Ask yourself, “When does my skepticism get me into trouble?” “When do I need to ask more questions instead of making assumptions or interpretations?”
With this overview, we are in a position to consider how Weinstein’s model applies to the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect. Weinstein illustrates his model with the example of the infamous Peterson-Newman debate. In it, Newman takes the position of a True Believer regarding equal pay for women and attempts to trap Peterson into either agreeing or being dismissed as a misogynistic Troglodyte in the lower left quadrant. Peterson insists on the underlying moral principle of equality, but insists equally that multiple factors determine the pay of women and that the cause of equality is not always best advanced by advocating for equal pay for women. This places Peterson in the upper left quadrant as a Skeptic, because he defends an underlying moral value, equality, which places him on the upper end of the y axis of morality, but expresses serious doubts about equal pay for women as a realistic approach to achieving it, placing him on the left, or negative end, of the x axis. Weinstein points out that the function of most media and propaganda is to present itself as representing a moral cause and thereby functions as a True Believer, forcing others to either accept its position or be defined as immoral troglodytes.
Because it leads elitists to believe they are more moral than they actually are, the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect explains why and how both Opportunists and True Believers rank themselves high on the vertical moral y axis, even when they do not, in actuality. Both Opportunists and True Believers mistake championing or identifying with a noble cause, such as a worldcentric, 2nd Tier multi-perspectivalist world view, with a high degree of morality or virtue. However, we have seen that those who hold such a world view are as capable of lying, stealing, cheating, and abuse as anyone else. Because they are more powerful, because they embrace a broader perspective, they are more culpable, accountable, and responsible for their immorality than those at lower levels who inhabit more narrow perspectives. Opportunists do not believe that they inhabit more narrow perspectives than True Believers. They believe they are smarter than both the True Believers and the Skeptics because they are Neo-Darwinists, following adaptive survival strategies that they calculate as providing the greatest chance of winning, or coming out ahead of others.
True Believers and Opportunists are both elitists, True Believers because they both fight for a righteous cause and view themselves as virtuous. Opportunists are elitists because they are confident they are smarter than the others and will come out ahead with more money, power, control, and status.
Integralists generally place themselves in the top left quadrant of skepticism because they have the ability to contemplate issues from a variety of perspectives. This is indeed true, and in relation to most other people, integralists do indeed fall in this category more than those who do not adopt a multi-perspectival world view. However, there are distinctions within the integral community, and some integralists are more True Believers than others, while others are more Opportunists. There are also attempts within the integral community to play “pin the tail on the donkey,” which means to get their peers to label integralists who disagree with them as troglodytes. If you go to the integral blogs on Facebook you will encounter these types. You will also encounter attempts within the integral community to play “unmask the poser,” which means to get one’s peers to label Skeptics as Opportunists. To understand the dynamics of these integral games we have to first define what integral True Believers, Opportunists, Troglodytes, and Skeptics look like.
An integral True Believer is someone who not only agrees with Wilber’s description of integral AQAL, but uses it to identify their own level of development. Beyond that, they vigorously defend that self-definition as late personal or 2nd Tier. There are soft and hard varieties of this game. The soft players simply accept AQAL definitions of their level of development for themselves and worship at the Church of Integral AQAL. The hard variety of Integral True Believer vilifies their opponents and casts them, as Troglodytes, into the outer darkness of the lower left quadrant. Instead of offering arguments, they name-call or summarily dismiss the arguments of others as “not serious,” or not worthy of their time and interest. If you hang out on integral blogs for very long you will run into this type rather quickly. We see this position in Wilber himself in his unwillingness to engage in the various challenges to his model raised by a variety of voices within the integral community, many of them represented on Frank Visser’s IntegralWorld.Net website. Both Wilber and Rob Smith represent the “soft” variety of Integral True Believer.
Integral True Believers can also be detected by their promotion of consciousness, intention, and interior quadrant realities over behavior, interactional, social, and exterior quadrant realities. Consciousness is causative and prior; the exterior and collective are downstream products of interior states and stage development. This position is generally denied, as when Wilber makes the case that consciousness is a property of all four quadrants, but in fact, it is indeed the priority for Integral True Believers, as demonstrated by an unwillingness to let go of the metaphysical language of consciousness: spirit, God, and soul. These proclaim a fundamental True Believer dogmatic investment in the idealism of Weinstein’s upper right quadrant and Wilber’s upper left quadrant of interior individual intention. This bias is invisible to integralist True Believers, who are convinced they are rational, skeptical, and objective, and point to their multi-perspectivalism to prove it. Again, in relationship to most people, they are indeed, and in that regard, their position is a vast improvement over non-world-centric world views. However, within the integral community itself, and within the broader community of spiritual elitists, they are True Believers, convinced of their moral rectitude in addition to the righteousness of their cause. Certainly, that is how they appear to the unwashed 95% of the global population.
There are, of course, many other categories of True Believer who are not integralists, for example, believers in feminism, like Cathy Newman. The “hard” variety of such non-integral True Believers will attempt to turn all integralists into Troglodytes by insisting they are misogynists or because they are not believers in this or that religious mythology or pet philosophical position. These people are not interested in having a serious discussion with integralists because they are certain they are Troglodytes.
Integral Opportunists are those who are more interested in advancing their world view than in morality. The incentive is rarely monetary or for power, but is essentially one of status. This position says, “I am a superior integralist because my world view is superior to yours.” Both True Believers and Opportunists take this position, but Opportunists are more driven by the desire to be recognized for the brilliance of their contributions to the integral debate. If you are active in the integral community, you know who these people are. If you are not, but are active in the broader realm of spiritual development, you will recognize this personality type. The “Evolutionaries” who signed the Robbie Mook petition in support of the candidacy of Hillary Clinton put themselves in this position by declaring a personal commitment to a cause they viewed as just and noble but which was not. Instead, largely unknown to them, they were simply making a status statement while demonstrating their lack of commitment to any objective measurement of morality. This statement is based on the well-known factual record that Clinton personally ordered illegal drone murders as Secretary of State, broke Federal regulations regarding privacy of records that would land you or me in jail, planned and carried out the illegal invasion and destruction of Libya and rejoiced at the brutal murder of its leader by US-funded and supported terrorists. Clinton also supported the arming and funding of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and planned the overthrow of the democratically elected government of the Ukraine. These are all well-documented, well-known facts, conveniently ignored by the glitterati of the spiritual and “self-help” “evolutionary” opinion leaders of our day and age. These people no doubt would place themselves in the upper left “skeptical” category, but in fact they are Opportunists, at least on this issue, of central importance to the fate of the US and the world.
Integral “Troglodytes” are integralists who are placed in the lower left quadrant of no morality or investment in a worthy cause. These are people who understand integral AQAL and adopt its world-centric multi-perspectivalism, but who disagree in ways that are both important and threatening to True Believers and Opportunists. They would certainly place me in the troglodytic category, an amusing indictment of their own blindness. If you go on various integral blogs, you will not find the branding of others as Troglodytes to be a rare occurrence. Those who do not agree with some integral article of faith are often dismissed by some True Believer or Opportunistic integralist as “not serious,” “ignorant,” or simply as an exemplar of ethnocentrism, tribalism, or, at best, the shadow of late personal “green.” Such labeling is an elitist dismissal that will suffice when the ability to provide a rational argument is unavailable. Labeling is itself a cognitive distortion which identifies its users as pre-rational at that time and in that instance, as they are using emotionally-based, irrational cognitive biases and logical fallacies to attack others in order to maintain their own smug sense of complacent security in the validity of their own world view.
Integral Skeptics are the most complicated of these four groups. They are pains in the asses of integral True Believers and Opportunists. Integral Skeptics doubt the broadly given narrative of integral AQAL in one or more core or key point. They are heretics, generally permitted or placated by integral True Believers and Opportunists, while they attempt to win the Skeptic over to their position, so as to validate their own world view. As soon as it becomes clear that a Skeptic will not be won over, he or she is dismissed as “not serious” at best, and as Troglodytes at worst.
A different type of Integral Skeptic, those who are skeptical just because of a reflexive distrust of everything and everybody, are indeed pains in the ass. While they serve a good function in that they force questioning, they are not a constructive force. They have little interest in this or that positive cause or issue of concern to the integral community, and therefore offer nothing useful. However, their intention is still not malicious and is more virtuous than not.
Such skeptics are to be distinguished from virtuous Skeptics, who score high on the moral y axis but who remain highly dubious considering the interest or cause at hand. They may agree with the intent of the cause, but believe it is simplistic or incapable of solving the problems it attempts to address. These people are generally very good and important for integral and for human development in general, but they are rarely differentiated by integral True Believers and Opportunists from obnoxious and unhelpful Skeptics. The result is that the baby generally gets thrown out with the bathwater, and both varieties of Skeptic are consigned to Troglodyte status. Of those that I know in the Integral community, I place Bruce Altman, Heather Fester, Frank Visser, Mark Edwards, Bonnitta Roy, Brian O’Doherty, and Eric Price in the healthy Skeptic category, with Eric definitely at the pain in the ass end of the healthy Skeptic continuum. The point is that there are a good number of talented, committed integralists who have not succumbed to the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect.
The reductionism and dismissal pursued by integral True Believers and Opportunists is a statement of elitism due to the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect. In the case of True Believers, the elitism is based on certainty regarding a world view, a just cause, and moral integrity: “If we can just get enough people to 2nd Tier, we will transform the world into an integral utopia.” The elitism of integral Opportunists is based on belief in a more clever survival strategy. These people are sure they understand integral, and they use integral, public boards, and integralists to pursue their own agenda, generally one of cultivating their own status. Both Opportunists and True Believers lose because they discount voices within integral they need in order to see through and transcend the limitations inherent in their self-imposed elitist status. Integral itself and human development as a whole also lose because integral discounts non-elitist positions in order to preserve the superiority of its own world view. These are products of the Kohlberg-Wilber Effect.
Other articles on ethics, morality, and the problems blocking progressives and spiritual elites from greater lucidity by Joseph Dillard can be found on IntegralWorld.Net.
 Integral Deep Listening is a psychospiritual technology for developing waking and dreaming lucidity developed by the author. See IntegralDeepListening.Com.
 The Kohlberg-Wilber Effect is the topic of another chapter of the book from which this essay is taken, Integral Ethics. It states that due to a confounding of moral judgment with moral behavior, integralists and spiritual elitists in general badly over-estimate the level of their moral development.
 Channel 4, UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54
 This link has been shut down, probably out of embarrassment and disgrace. The justification of these “evolutionaries” in Robbie Mook’s petition was basically that Hillary Clinton was more moral than Donald Trump. This is indicated when they say, “…we feel that Donald Trump has not appealed to our better nature…” The implication is that Donald Trump is either amoral or immoral while Hillary Clinton is moral. But then, what is required is an explanation of how immoral actions of Clinton, while holding public offices of Senator and Secretary of State, “appeal to our better nature.” Clearly, these are overlooked, apparently out of fear or abject terror at the possibility of a worse choice (Trump) getting elected.
Did these “evolutionaries” support Clinton? Absolutely. The petition reads, “In publicly voicing our clear support for her candidacy…” Any attempt to waffle, excuse, or backtrack on their support by these people is not supported by their signed statement. The obvious intent of this petition was to use the credibility of these individuals to convince wavering voters to vote for Hillary Clinton. Here is a list of the 100 integral, new age, cultural creative and “spiritual” luminaries that announced their endorsement of Clinton. It’s quite the list:
- Stephen Dinan, CEO, The Shift Network; author, Sacred America, Sacred World
- Devaa Haley Mitchell, co-founder, The Shift Network
- Marianne Williamson, author, Tears to Triumph
- Jack Canfield, author, The Success Principles
- Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., author, The Millionth Circle
- Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit
- Ram Dass, author, Be Here Now
- Chip Conley, hospitality entrepreneur, bestselling author of Peak
- Jean Houston, author, The Possible Human
- Robert Thurman, author, The Essential Tibetan Buddhism
- John Robbins, author, Diet for a New America
- Jack Kornfield, author, A Path with Heart
- Michael Singer, author, The Untethered Soul
- Shiva Rea, founder, Global School for Living Yoga
- Larry Dossey, MD, Author, One Mind
- Marci Shimoff, author, Happy for No Reason
- Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness is an Inside Job
- Gay Hendricks, author, The Big Leap
- Kathlyn Hendricks, co-author, Conscious Loving Ever After
- Craig Hamilton, CEO, Evolving Wisdom
- Claire Zammit, founder, Feminine Power
- Lissa Rankin, MD, author of Mind Over Medicine
- Tami Simon, CEO, Sounds True
- Dr. Stanislav Grof, author, Beyond the Brain
- Deborah Rozman, CEO, HeartMath Inc., author, Heart Intelligence
- Howard Martin, co-author, The HeartMath Solution
- Rinaldo Brutoco, CEO, The ShangriLa Group
- Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs, spiritual leader, poet, global peace activist
- Rabbi David Ingber, founder and spiritual director, Romemu
- Donna Eden, author,Energy Medicine
- David Feinstein, co-author, The Energies of Love
- Michael Dowd, author, Thank God for Evolution
- Anodea Judith, author, Wheels of Life
- Gangaji, author, Hidden Treasure
- J. Manuel Herrera, Silicon Valley elected official
- Bo Rinaldi, visionary talent agent and angel investor
- Terry Patten, co-author, Integral Life Practice
- Marcia Wieder, CEO, Dream University
- Corinne McLaughlin, co-author, Spiritual Politics
- Gordon Davidson, co-author, Spiritual Politics
- Steve McIntosh, author, The Presence of the Infinite
- Carter Phipps, author, Evolutionaries
- Ocean Robbins, CEO, The Food Revolution
- Dan Millman, author
- Cassandra Vieten, co-author, Living Deeply
- Azim Khamisa, author, peace activist
- Sadhvi Bhagawati, managing editor, Encyclopedia of Hinduism
- Olivia Hansen, president, Spiritual Life TV Channel
- Connie Buffalo, president, The Renaissance Project
- Sandra Ingerman, author, Soul Retrieval
- Patricia Albere, founder, Evolutionary Collective
- Derek Rydall, author, Emergence
- Jan Philips, author, The Art of Original Thinking
- Margaret Paul, author,Inner Bonding
- David Gershon, author, Social Change 2.0
- Derrick N. Ashong, Founder & CEO, Amp.it
- Dr. Nina Meyerhof, author, Pioneering Spiritual Activism
- Shelley Lefkoe, co-founder of the Lefkoe Institute
- DC Cordova, CEO, Excellerated Business Schools for Entrepreneurs
- Lisa Schrader, author, Kama Sutra 52
- Kurt Johnson, author, The Coming Interspiritual Age
- Daniel Stone, principal, Making Change Real
- Lion Goodman, CEO, Luminary Leadership Institute
- Steve Bhaerman, author, Spontaneous Evolution
- Elisabet Sahtouris, Gaia’s Dance
- Marc Allen, president and publisher, New World Library, author
- H.E. Rev. Patrick McCollum, global peacebuilder
- Dr. Sue Morter, founder, Morter Institute for BioEnergetics
- Carista Luminare, president, Luminary Leadership Institute
- Rev. angel Kyodo williams, author, Being Black
- Debra Poneman, founder, Yes to Succes Seminars
- Rev. Marcia L. Dyson, founder, Women’s Global Initiative
- Ken Page, author, Deeper Dating
- Dawson Church, author, The Genie in Your Genes
- Brian Burt, CEO, MaestroConference
- Avon Mattison, global peacebuiler
- Sera Beak, author, Red, Hot & Holy
- Dr. Effie Chow, Qigong Grandmaster
- Philip M. Hellmich, author, God and Conflict
- Scott Coady, founder, Institute for Embodied Wisdom
- Pete Bissonette, president, Learning Strategies
- Zen Cryar DeBrucke, author, Your Inner GPS
- David Nicol, author, Subtle Activism
- Saniel Bonder, Author, Healing the Spirit/Matter Split
- Dr. Rick Levy, president, The Levy Center for Mind-Body Medicine
- Bill Kauth, author, A Circle of Men
- Rob Evans, author, The Collaboration Codeseries
- Carolyn Buck Luce, author, Reimagining Healthcare
- Lisa Garr, author, Becoming Aware, Host of the Aware Show
- George Cappannelli, CEO, AgeNation
- Raz Ingrasci, Chairman, Hoffman Institute International
- Jim Garrison, CEO, Ubiquity University
- Cynthia James, author, I Choose Me
- Noah Levine, author, Dharma Punx
- Mirabai Starr, author, Caravan of No Despair
- Rob Fisher, author, Experiential Psychotherapy with Couples
- Manuela Mischke-Reeds, author, 8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness
- Dawa Tarchin Phillips, author, CEO, Empowerment Holdings
- Stuart Davis, artist
- Gayle Rose, CEO, EVS Corporation
 Priyadarshi, M., Hillary Clinton Email Probe Update: Clinton Approved Drone Attacks That Killed Hundreds Of Civilians Using Her Cellphone. Inquisitr.com. June 11, 2016.
 Dilanian, K. Clinton broke Federal Rules with Email server, audit finds. nbcnews.com. May 25, 2016.
 Paylich, K. No classified information? Hillary Clinton planned Libya no-fly zone through personal email. Townhall.com. June 18, 2015.
 Walia, A., Wikileaks exposes Hillary Clinton’s ties to ISIS supporters & the war on terror. Collective-evolutioncom. August 4, 2016.