A Systemic History of the Middle Way

The Biology, Psychological Development, and Cultural Change behind Integrative Practice

To be published by Equinox, late 2023 or early 2024. The third volume of the new ‘Middle Way Philosophy’ series.

 

Systemic history is an approach to explaining the past, that tries to maximize our understanding of context. Unlike most history, it does not do this by just narrating a chain of causal relationships for a given group through time. Instead, it shows how simpler systems become more complex over time through the interaction of reinforcing and balancing feedback loops. Systemic history offers the best way of understanding the processes that shape the Middle Way, because the Middle Way involves improving responses to complexity, rather than falling back on shortcut simplifications (absolutizations).

 

This book examines the history of the Middle Way in four inter-related ways: as the biological development of organisms in relation to reinforcing or balancing feedback loops, as the psychological development of individual humans during a lifetime, as a succession of reinforcing and balancing feedback tendencies in human culture through history, and as a successive development of integrative practice. This shows how the Middle Way is a path distinctive to the human response to complexity, but nevertheless one rooted in the wider processes of all life. In the process it provides a detailed exploration of the relationship between the Middle Way and systems theory, biology, developmental psychology, and world history.