8 Developmental Stages of Thinking

The 8 Stages of the Development of Thinking


8 Developmental Stages of Thinking from Unitary to Continuum-Squared

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let reason go before every enterprise, and counsel before every action.” —Ecclesiasticus 38:33

“There are five sides to every story.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice


8 Levels of the Development of Thinking

1. Unitary Thinking

2. Dualistic Thinking

3. Dualism Resolved into a New Unity

4. Trialistic Thinking

5. Triality Resolved into a New Unity

6. 5TP (The Five Thinking Positions)

7. Continuum Thinking

8. Continuum-Squared Thinking


Information on the 8 Levels: Thinking Can Develop But Does Not Have To

1. Unitary Thinking (Should-Be OR Should-Not-Be)

  • Unitary or basic thinking is having one idea, perspective, position, or view about one subject or topic.
  • Unitary thinking incorporates and links similar ideas and experiences into its perspective.
  • Unitary thinking collects evidence in favor of its position while ignoring or discounting evidence against its position.
  • Unitary thinking provides security by providing one answer.
  • Unitary thinking provides an end to conflict, pressure, and stress by providing one answer.
  • Unitary thinking provides pride by providing one answer that is regarded as superior to all other answers.
  • Unitary thinking can be understood as a fundamental drive of human nature. For example, believing that all things are one satisfies all primitive demands for security and pride by providing a grandiose unitary idea that is regarded as unassailable.
  • Unitary leads to duality because every should-be has its should-not-be. Eventually, a unitary thinker will stumble upon the should-not-be for their should-be.
  • Examples of simple should-bes: get food, get water, get clothing, get shelter, get weapons.
  • Examples of simple should-not-bes: kill a threatening animal, get out of the river before you drown, escape a dangerous predator.

2. Dualistic Thinking (Should-Be Versus Should-Not-Be)

  • Dualism incorporates unitary thinking.
  • Dualism is thinking of two opposite or competing ideas about one subject or topic.
  • Dualism can be understood as having two competing unitary positions at the same time.
  • Dualism can be understood as having the awareness that Unitary thinking has two sides, even if one is hidden.
  • Dualism is characterized by anxiety, conflict, pressure, strain, stress, and struggle.
  • The basic dualism is “the should be” versus “the should not be.”

3. Dualism Resolved into a New Unity (Should-Be OR Should-Not-Be)

  • A dualism is resolved into one idea or one side of the duality.
  • For example, you choose to be pro-abortion or anti-abortion while denying the validity of the existence of the opposite position. This often leads to emotional violence in order to try to end the competing position.
  • Dualism can also be proactively used to produce a creative solution to its conflict. However, this typically leads to a new dualism, as was pointed out by Hegel.

4. Trialistic Thinking (Should Be, Neutral, Should Not Be)

  • Triality incorporates duality and adds a third section in-between them.
  • Triality adds neutrality, and this changes everything, as did the adding of the concept of zero to mathematics.
  • Triality is thinking that there are two basic opposite ideas with a range of ideas existing in-between them that straddle a neutral midpoint.
  • Triality is a useful starting point when you are seeking to form a strong composite, fusion, or synthesis.
  • Triality is the beginning of gaining the skill of perspective-taking (viewing all sides of an issue).
  • Triality offers the option to observe a dualistic battle by stepping into the neutral space (detached, disinterested, meditator, mindfulness, objective, observer, recorder, uninvolved, witness).

5. Triality Resolved into a New Unity (Should-Be OR Should-Not-Be)

  • A triality is resolved into one idea such that the other positions are either annihilated, subsumed, or condensed into one.
  • For example, you believe that there are many options regarding transportation but choose one method above all competing methods for the solution for your city. The options existed on various continuums such as cost, feasibility, environmental impact, citizen acceptance, and others.
  • The resolution of a triality into a unity can be productive or not depending on the circumstances and issues involved.

6. The Five Thinking Positions (5TP or 5-Sided View)

  • 5TP incorporates triality and includes two more variables in-between each endpoint and the middle of the triality.
  • 5TP is thinking that there are always five basic viewpoints on any subject or topic.
  • 5TP thinking is characterized by acceptance and open-mindedness.
  • 5TP is the act of perspective-taking and represents the progress of Western thinking.
  • 5TP thinking often prefers one or more positions over the others; however, this does not necessarily lead to a unitary position as typically happens with duality and triality. Why? Because a preference does not deny other options.

7. Continuum Thinking

  • Continuum thinking incorporates both triality and the 5TP.
  • Continuum thinking is the idea that all subjects or topics exist on a continuum of positions that is generally infinite, but that can be cut down to a manageable size by adding case examples or actualities.
  • Continuum thinking is characterized by peace and unconditional acceptance.
  • Continuum thinking is even less like to lead to unitary positions than is the 5TP.
  • Continuum thinking has a neutral midpoint and then extending points in opposite directions, for example, negative, neutral, positive.

8. Continuum-Squared Thinking

  • Continuum-squared thinking incorporates continuum thinking.
  • Continuum-squared thinking can be understood as the process of reasoning or analysis.
  • Continuum-squared thinking is the idea that all continuums have the potential for at least some of the variables (spaces, placeholders) on the continuum also to become their own continuum in relation to the parent continuum.
  • Continuum-squared thinking can be visualized by thinking of the design of a crossword puzzle and imagining each word in the puzzle representing one continuum related to the main continuum.
  • Note that not all the spaces or placeholders on the crossword puzzle are meant to be developed into a continuum.
  • While developing all the markers (spaces, placeholders, variables) into their own continuum is theoretically possible, it is impractical, unnecessary, and forced when applied to real-life situations.
  • Another visualization you might prefer for continuum-squared thinking is that of a developed and well-played game of Scrabble.
  • This is how chess masters think and plan while playing chess.
  • In time, visual maps will be produced of continuum-squared thinking to represent developed reasons, problem-solving, and other activities that will facilitate their application to other issues and problems.

The Evolution of Perspective

  • Yes, Continuum Thinking could be a fifth level of development; however, perspective-taking works well at the 5TP level for most people.

4 Stage Evolution of Perspective


The Five Thinking Positions (5TP)

  • There are fives sides to every issue, opinion, and story.

5 Thinking Positions Example Positions Table


Triality: Move Beyond Duality

  • Duality is a delusion because every duality has a middle ground or neutral side.

diagram of triality


Related Pages

  1. 5TP: List of Pages
  2. Constructivism: Pros & Cons
  3. Continuum Knowledge/Thinking
  4. Postmodern Foolishness
  5. Postmodernism & Constructivism Exposed
  6. Postmodernism & Ken Wilber’s Integral Model
  7. Quotations: Constructivism & Postmodernism
  8. Triality: Move Beyond Duality