Integral methodological pluralism - Highest level in hierarchy of evidence

By | Last Updated: 23 December 2022

The human quest for knowledge and understanding the world in which we live has been  present since times immemorial and this curiosity to understand nature and it's functioning and our place in the grand scheme of things has resulted in various forms of enquiry methods for gaining knowledge , the technical word for which is epistemology

From the dawn of modern age roughly 300 years ago various enquiry methods have just tended to focus on the exterior world of objects

completely denying the existence of interior dimensions or reducing those dimensions to their gross and material objective equivalents

Currently the academic and scientific community is dominated by empiricism - where knowledge is based on objective factual interpretation of data either through the 5 senses or their technological extensions ( telescopes, microscopes and so on )

The current evidence based studies are based on hierarchy of evidences where each level higher up in the heirarchy is more accurate and more inclusive

The current heirarchy of evidence is

1. Expert opinions

2 Case reports

3. Case Control studies

4. Cohort studies

5.non randomised open trials

6. Randomized controlled trials

7. Systematic reviews

8. Meta-analysis

All of these  evidence based methods have provided us with amazing , important and groundbreaking information

But still none of these methods are  all inclusive and some dimension of reality is left out in each of these methods

Integral Methodological pluralism is a method or more rightly a grand metatheory which takes into consideration all the perspectives and dimensions of reality while coming to conclusions

These important dimensions and perspectives are

1. Interior of individuals

2. Exterior of individuals

3. Interior of Collectives

4. Exterior of Collectives

All of these dimensions follow the same principles of gaining knowledge while using completely different methods of enquiry

The common principles of all these methods of enquiry are

1. Injunctions - Injunction is a set of practices or steps to be followed in order to arrive at a particular data

Eg 1. Individual interior -This dimension is focused on interior states ! Thoughts , emotions and feelings) 

Eg. A set of meditative practices to be followed in the order prescribed by an individual who has expertise in it

2. Individual exterior - This dimension is focused on the exterior world of things and objects and external behaviour of individual objects

Eg In order  to see the nucleus of a cell , set of practices to be followed might include preparing a slide , staining it and observing it under the microscope

3.Collective interior   Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation of the interior environment of a group of people

It involves assessing the people in a particular culture by questionairres and following up with them over a period of time

4. Collective exterior - This approach focuses on observing how the exterior individual world of objects fits into various systems eg ecosystem , financial system , technoeconomic systems

Social autopoesis  is a method used to evaluate and study various interconnecting systems

As can be seen all these different perspectives involve different methods of enquiry for reaching their particular observations and conclusions and none of the methodologies from one  perspectives will reveal any significant information about other perspectives

Eg A sage focused on individual interior enquiry methods will not know the structure of a cell

Or a Neuroscientist cannot comprehend the actual experience of enlightenment by a sage just by observing changes in the electrical activity in his brain

But the modern world is dominated by scientific materialism so it tries to reduce all the other dimensions of reality to fit it's own reality , a process i call perspectival infiltration as it is trying to infiltrate other perspectives

Same is happening with other perspectives , we see many saints and sages commenting and prescribing cures for various physical illnessess when actually  they are the domain of individual exterior perspective

This has resulted in a lot of confusion and suffering for us as a culture as methods and techniques from one perspective are used to explain other perspectives and phenomenon and we are failing miserably at it

Integral methodological pluralism tries to combine the partial truths from each and every perspective while coming to conclusions so that no aspect of reality is left out

Just to cite an example suppose we want to study the nature of mind and how an integral methodological pluralistic approach might be able to do this

1. Individual interior - meditating and introspecting , studying various religious and spiritual texts about the nature of the mind

Studying  psychology to study the interior processes involved in the development and maturation of mind

2. Individual exterior - Studying the physical brain and the various neurophysiologic , neuroanatomic and neurogenetic  processes such as neurotransmitter and synaptic functioning , blood flow changes in various parts of the brain resulting from particular internal experiences , EEG changes resulting from internal states of consciousness

3. Collective interior - This approach might involve how the individual thought process is actually to an extent a by product of the various cultural practices and indoctrinations of which they were brought up in

Studying the evolution of cultural growth and development of a particular individual can tremendously help in understanding their underlying motivations and thought processes

4. Collective exterior- This method involves correlating the various exterior neuroanatomical aspects with the predominant technoeconomic system operating in the society

Gerhard Lenski has proposed stages of technoeconomic growth and developmemt

1. Hunting - The hunting caveman groups were predominantly focused on survival as during that stage the reptilian brain system dominated the neural functioning which allowed them to focus only on food , sex and survival

2. Agrarian - With evolution the limbic system became the dominant system and so people became more focussed on building community , taking care of family and farming to meet their basic needs .

3. Industrial and informational - With evolution we are now at  the industrial and information and digital age today where the neocortex dominates the functioning of the entire organism which haa led  to various scientific discoveries and technological innovations

Integral Methodological Pluralism might seem a very intellectual , time consuming and impractical dry academic approach

But on a deeper level this approach is an appreciation for the great work  done by individuals of unparalleled intellect in their respective fields , some of whom have spent their entire lives on a particular theory or perspective