The Four Quadrants is a fundamental component of AQAL (all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types) – a core concept of Integral Theory from Ken Wilber.
The idea is best understood in relation to a specific event. An event can only be fully understood by accounting for how it arises in each of the four quadrants.
The Upper Left quadrant corresponds to the Interior of the Individual: one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations.
The Lower Left quadrant corresponds to the Interior of the Collective: our shared values, norms and beliefs – our culture.
The Upper Right quadrant corresponds to the Exterior of the Individual: one’s brain, body, neurons, nervous system; and one’s ‘personal space’.
The Lower Right quadrant corresponds to the Exterior of the Collective: the shared (non-individual) part of the physical world, such as our shared infrastructure, physical elements of our institutions etc.
This idea gets to the core of what is “real”. Is it the interiors that cannot be directly measured, but which are obviously “more real than anything” because they account for how we sense and make sense of the world? Or is it the exteriors – which are also obviously “more real than anything” because they are what we can see, touch hear, smell and directly measure? Integral Theory suggests that the interior and the exterior (as well as the individual and collective) are equally real. Privileging any one quadrant leads to partial understanding and poor outcomes.« Back to Glossary Index