KEGAN'S SUBJECT-OBJECT THEORY My thinking has been highly influenced by the work of Harvard educator, Robert Kegan

. In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life (1994) presents a meta-theory of the organizing principles we bring to our thoughts, feelings, and relationships. It is a neo-Piagetian approach where he "took the idea of such principles as mental organization and extended its 'breadth' (beyond thinking to affective, interpersonal, and intrapersonal realms) and its length (beyond childhood to adulthood)" (p. 29). Subject-object theory examines the "unselfconscious development of successively more complex principles for organizing experience" (p. 29), whereby the subjective experience transmutes into ones objective experience. An individual evolves the ability to reflect on what previously simply "was." The evolution of subject to object generates a new subjective experience which then must be organized. In fact, transforming our epistemologies, liberating ourselves from that in which we were embedded, making what was subject into object so that we can "have it" rather than "be had" by it-this is the most powerful way I know to conceptualize the growth of the mind (p. 34). Kegan details five principles, or subject-object evolutions, which occur from infancy through adulthood. Each of the principles of mental organization has a logic to it, or "more properly speaking, an 'epistemologic.' The root or 'deep structure' of any principle of mental organization is the subject-object relationship" (p. 32). Principles are not only developmentally related, but each contains the previous. "Each successive principle 'goes meta' on the last; each is 'at a whole different order' of consciousness" (p. 34). Each epistemological evolution "is a qualitatively different order of consciousness, because the former order of consciousness is transformed from whole to part, from the very system of knowing to an element in a new system, from subject to object" (p. 28). "One does not simply replace the other, nor is the relation merely additive or cumulative, an accretion of skills. Rather, the relation is transformative, qualitative, and incorporative" (p. 33). The principles refer to the form in which organization occurs, not the content of what is organized. Increased complexity of organization does not mean increased worth or value. Kegan carefully distinguishes between intellectual ability and the epistemology of its organization. He uses an analogy to illustrate this, comparing the ability to drive a car with an automatic transmission and the ability to drive with standard stick-shift transmission. He goes on to discuss the function of changing gears; it exists simply as an external event for the automatic driver, whereas the standardshift drivers are able to take responsibility for, and reflect upon the function. Kegan situates the epistemological principles within historical moments, from traditional to postmodern, and suggests that most of us struggle to make the transition into functional modernism. In discussions of parenting, partnering, work, psychotherapy, and education, he describes epistemological transformation as the "hidden curriculum." I concur with his "belief that the unrecognized epistemological dimension of adult life is a promising source of clues to many new mysteries" (p. 129). Furthermore, subject-object theory and Kegan's thinking about it are remarkably consistent with Buddhist thought. For me, this has meant congruence across my work and Buddhism. By way of example, the following passages address Mind, non-self, attachment, and the notion of consciousness:

By now it should be clear that when I refer to "mind" or "mental" or "knowing" I am not referring to thinking processes alone. I am referring to the person's meaning-constructive or meaningorganizational capacities. I am referring to the selective, interpretive, executive, construing capacities that psychologists have historically associated with the "ego" or the "self" (p. 29). It is as faithful to the self-psychology of the West as to the "wisdom literature" of the East. The roshis and lamas speak to the growth of the mind in terms of our developing ability to relate to what we were formerly attached to. The experiencing that our subject-object principle enables is very close to what both East and West mean by "consciousness," and that is the way I intend the term throughout this book (p. 34).

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