Toward Better Concepts of Peace


Milton Rinehart

May 2005

Our popular concept of peace has failed. It is concepts of peace such as "peace is not war" or "not conflict" that I accuse of failure. Not withstanding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, we continue our drift towards unparalleled catastrophe as many nations continue unprecedented arms races including nuclear ones. As those nuclear arms become more technologically sophisticated the margins of equipment and human error become dangerously small. Yet the prospect of annihilation has not made the world more peaceful. On the contrary, we seem to have as much armed conflict now as ever. This is due in part to a failing of our commonly used concepts of peace to direct our pursuit of peace. Reardon (1988), Hall (1984) and, Darnton (1973) suggest a relationship between peace definitions and peace action. Peace definitions or concepts are the basis on which we decide how to make peace. For example, if I define peace as not war, then I would attempt to make peace by attempting to eliminate war or at least mitigate its severity. On the other hand, if I defined peace as inner harmony, I would meditate as much as possible in order to make peace. The point is that concepts or definitions of peace are the basis for peacemaking. What one does to achieve peace depends on how one images, defines, or conceptualizes peace. If our present peace efforts are in danger of catastrophic failure then our concepts may need revision. Perhaps it is also our inability to make those concepts clear that has led to their failure. Indeed "peace" has proven difficult to define. Perhaps because it has rhetorical uses for political leaders who benefit from the ambiguity of the term (Cuzzort, 1989). Also there are socially constructed cultural differences in peace concepts. Usually citing Ishida's (1969) work, a variety of authors have discussed these differences. The need here is obvious. If we as a world of diverse yet increasingly interdependent people are to survive the drift towards unparalleled catastrophe that Einstein (1980) forewarned, we must maintain some type of peace. To do so we must reach some level of agreement on what that peace might be. Therefore, we must know our options and be careful to understand each other.

PURPOSE - This paper tries to clarify our concepts of peace and to expand the range of our peace thinking by identifying additional and possibly more adequate concepts. In this paper my main purposes are to 1) analyze some categorizations of peace concepts, 2) extract two paradigms of peace concepts from those categorizations and, 3) provide a theoretical basis for those paradigms. These paradigms are broad categories of peace concepts that are based in different peace orientations. Not all peace concepts will fit easily into one paradigm or the other. But most do.

ORGANIZATION - This paper is organized into three sections. In the first I will analyze selected categorizations of peace concepts as a short cut to sampling peace concepts in the literature, and I will extract the two paradigms from them. In the second, I will present Wilber's (1983, 1985, 1986) transpersonal sociology and locate the peace paradigms in it. In the final section I will attempt to show how we can move from the Popular paradigm to the Numinar one.[1]

Categorization of Peace Concepts

In this section I will summarize and analyze categorizations of peace concepts from the literature. These categorizations were selected through an extensive but not exhaustive, literature search. To be included a categorization had only to meet two simple criteria; 1) refer to concepts or definitions of peace and 2) contain at least two of them. All the categorizations that I found are summarized below.

Takeshi Ishida - Through an examination of the original meanings of peace in the world's main cultures (excluding Islam), Ishida examines the main emphasis of each word for peace in order to help reduce the semantic differences that can create problems between different cultures negotiating peace. Table 1 presents Ishida's approach. Western concepts of peace originate in 1) the Ancient Judaism concept of shalom, 2) the Greek concept of eirene, and 3) the Roman concept of pax. Here the most common elements are prosperity and order where order refers primarily to rule of law. The Easter concepts of peace emphasize order and tranquility of mind. Here order refers both to the political and cosmic order achieved through individual conformity.

Analysis -- Ishida's work has influenced several of the conceptual schemes below, most notably Rummel's. Ishida suggests an east - west dichotomy of peace concepts where the eastern concepts see peace achieved through individual conformity to customs, norms, etc. as an outcome of individual internal harmony. Western concepts see peace more as a property of social systems functioning to assure prosperity. This dichotomy has been further developed by Galtung (1981) who sees the difference between east and west as one of "social cosmology".

Anatol Rapaport - Starting from the view that war, especially nuclear war, is the greatest threat to the survival of humanity, Anatol Rapaport (no date) examines international cooperation aimed at "controlling" war. His conceptual scheme of peace images includes peace through strength, balance of power, collective security, peace through law, revolutionary pacifism, and personal pacifism. His conceptual scheme analyzes these images in relation to a) the problem that is seen as fundamentally important, b) the conceptualization of a solution, c) the identification of actors expected to cope with the problem, d) modalities of social control, or the mechanisms the actors are expected to use to implement the solution to the problem. Here Rapaport uses threat, trade, and integrative modalities (from K. Boulding, 1987). Where a threat system emphasizes sanctions such as reduction in trade; a trade system depends on promises of benefits in return for reciprocated benefits, such as the U.S. selling F-16's to Saudi Arabia in exchange for their moderating influence in that region of the world; and an integrative system where members share common goals and see each other as co-members, as seems to be the case between the U.S. under Reagan and Great Britain under Thatcher. The remaining aspects of Rapaport's conceptual scheme are e) induced attitudes or psychological states which harmonize with the particular peace image, such as fear and pugnacity in the peace through strength image, and f) the role of international cooperation envisaged in the particular image that will help bring about peace or preserve it.

Analysis - In this scheme the formulation of the problem is the fundamental determinant of the concept of peace. The solution follows logically from the problem as do the principle actors from the solution. Modalities of social control and roles of international cooperation follow from the construction of problem, solution and principle actors combined. Induced attitudes, in this scheme, appear as useful artifacts of the image or concept of peace itself. It is not clear what relationship induced attitudes has to the formulation of the fundamental problem. Does fear create a perception of threat or threat, fear? A possible solution to this is to look for relationships between world- views and peace concepts. By world-view I mean the cognitive, normative, and affective biases or tendencies to which we are largely socialized that greatly determine the meanings we ascribe to our experiences, or the ways in which we co-create our realities.[2] Rapaport implies this relationship but does not explicate it, and thus leaves the question of which is more fundamental - the problem or the emotion. A world-view approach attempts to avoid this question since world-view largely determines both, one's perception of a problem and one's emotional response to it (as I have defined world-view).

Interestingly Rapaport implies a range of peace concepts that are based on threat, induced fear and no international cooperation at one end (peace through strength), and based on integration, induced love and no international cooperation at the other end (personal pacifism). In Rapaport's scheme, the conception of peace as "peace through strength" perceives external threat, uses threat as a means of control, and maintains an attitude of fear. While the conception of peace as "personal pacifism" perceives the problem of human aggressiveness responded to by individuals through self-perfection and an attitude of love.

Rudolph Rummel - Beginning with the view that conflict is ubiquitous and a necessary part of social life (1981, p.16)[3], Rummel develops a definition of peace as a social contract from social field theory. Conflict, in Rummel's view does a number of important things; 1) it is the means for establishing and adjusting social order, 2) similarly, it establishes the balance of powers between what people want and what they can get[4], and 3) through the resolution of conflict agreements are reached. These agreements are implicit or explicit in the resolution of conflict and constitute social contract. Thus Rummel's definition of peace is closely related to those that define peace as conflict resolution or conflict management.

In arguing the merits of his definition of peace, Rummel discusses other concepts and compares them to his. Rummel organizes other concepts of peace that he has identified into two major categories: a) Cultural-Religious concepts which consists of those concepts identified by Ishida (1969), and b) Secular, Cross-Cultural Concepts. These secular concepts he further divides into Empirical, Abstract and Normative. Additionally, Rummel identifies seven underlying principles of these concepts of peace. These principles identify peace concepts as a state of either; a) no conflict, violence or war, b) order, c) mind, d) law, e) (coercive) power, f) divinity or, g) goodness. He attempts to group the concepts of peace under these seven principles.

Analysis - Rummel's work is fairly disorganized. Certain parts, such as his organizational and analytical schemes, which I have not summarized, are not clearly connected. He does use some of the conceptual dimensions (e.g., empirical, abstract, normative) as sub-categories of secular, cross-cultural concepts. But he does not use all of them. And he does not explain his usage. He focuses instead on what he sees as the underlying principles of all these peace concepts, apparently to demonstrate how his definition superiorly meets five out of seven of these principles (1981, pg. 65, table 3.3).

However, Rummel's work does have merit. Rummel illustrates the importance of social level in distinguishing concepts of peace. Some concepts see the starting point at international relations, some at interpersonal relations, and some are in between. Further, while there seems to be no empirical basis for it, Rummel has created the most complete list of peace concepts I have found. Additionally Rummel gives some legitimacy to some "principles" such as peace is a state of mind, divinity and goodness. In my view we need to intellectually explore those aspects of peace further if we are to develop concepts of peace that are successful in the sense that they provide a basis for successful peacemaking.

Gunnar Johnson - With the clear purpose of adding intellectual depth to the field of peace studies, Johnson (1976) presents three major concepts of peace, abstracts elements of these concepts into theoretical categories, then explores the scientific, ethical and political uses of these concepts. For the purposes of this paper I will discuss only his major concepts.

Apparently Johnson has identified major concepts of peace from his own readings, in this case in the field of peace studies. Johnson's three categories, are 1) peace as a world without war, 2) peace as world justice, and 3) peace as world order.

The peace is not war category, championed in recent times by Quincy Wright (1942) and Anatol Rapaport (1968), is concerned with disarmament, control of or elimination of war, understanding the root causes of war, and the control of or elimination of war-like violence (oppressive, bloody regimes like Idi Amin in Uganda or the Khemer Rouge of Cambodia). To these ends most of peace research has been dedicated, according to Johnson[5]. Johnson identifies three conceptual groups under this world without war view of peace. First are those concerned with eliminating causes of war. Second are those committed to finding non-violent ways of settling conflict. And third, those who wish to remove the instruments of war and mediate confrontations which might lead to war (p.17). Johnson is clearly including under the peace is not war category such concepts as 1) peace through no violence, 2) peace through conflict resolution, and 3) peace through disarmament.

The peace is world/social justice category, championed by Johan Galtung (1967), critiques the peace is not war category as reinforcing the status quo, preserving patterns of international dominations, and further legitimizing the justification of warlike behavior by governments by claiming the necessity of such behavior to achieve peace (ex. "War to end all wars"). Besides the charge that the peace is not war category maintains the status quo, the peace is social justice category, according to Johnson, contains two other important themes. First, the awareness of the presence of structural violence, or violence perpetrated by social systems. And second, the preference for research directed towards strategies of non-violent change (p.24). The peace as social justice school has shifted focus from the causes of war to the conditions of violence and peace. In doing so it has continued to define peace in terms of violence and has added conflict theory to peace theory.

The peace as world order category, championed by the Institute for World Order in New York, including Greenville Clark and Louis Sohn (1966), attempts to address the problem of human survival in the face of increasingly complex world problems such as nuclear war, and ecological disaster. The primary problem under this category, is the existence of autonomous, independent nation-states which, except for the influence of an emerging world economy, function largely in response to their own internal needs. Thereby, some countries use DDT while others don't, some countries kill whales while others don't, some countries have nuclear attack capability while others don't. The solution is the establishment of some world governing body, perhaps an enhanced United Nations to implement some sort of world law. Methodologically this school uses "relevant utopias" to explore the techniques and details of achieving such a goal. While Johnson credits this "world order school" with the realization that peace cannot be studied productively apart from global concerns, he criticizes them for being uncritical in their usage of the term peace (p.35).

Analysis - Johnson assumes without sufficient support that the appropriate level of analysis of peace is that of international relations. This is an assumption of the Popular peace paradigm and the international relations approach to peace making (Boulding and Vayrynen, 1980). By making this assumption he unnecessarily limits his scope to only a few concepts of peace, indeed those that predominate peace studies literature, according to him. It is ironic that while he intended to add some intellectual depth, he did so at the expense of intellectual breadth.

John Macquarrie - Macquarrie's (1973) conceptual scheme is a dichotomy. He contrasts a Christian concept of peace to a Hobbesian (1934) view. His Christian view of peace includes the healing of fractures[6], the distinction between peace as a process and peace as an end-state, and the importance of world view in shaping one's peace concept.

"Healing fractures" has to do with estrangement, alienation, bitter division and war. Fractures occur in many if not all aspects of human life including; a) war between and within nations, b) Industry, in the form of Hegel's alienation, c) marriage and family with problems of creating and sustaining intimate relationships, d) alienation from nature as a result of overpopulation and increased technology creating an environmental crisis, e) alienation from reality itself in the sense of loss of existential meaning, and f) finally fractures occur within the individual such as indecision, conflicting emotion, and mental illness. The Christian concept of peace is the healing of fractures. In the Hobbesian view, fractures are taken as an inescapable part of existence and must be dealt with, perhaps preserved, or peace is not possible.

Peace is viewed as a process of creating a more peaceful world, or of manifesting the latent true nature of humanity, where that peaceful world or latent nature are ideal states or goals. The actual attainment of the goal or the existence of the goal is taken as a matter of faith, or of transcendent experience. However the process of creation is seen as more immediately important. On the other hand the Hobbesian view sees peace as an end-state, the end of violence, war, and misery. How this end is achieved is not as important as the end itself.

In his Christian world view the world is not seen as truly fearsome and threatening and full of competition, as in the Hobbesian world view, but rather nurturing and promising and full of cooperation. This nurturing, promising, cooperativeness is the true nature of the world that it is our job to make real for all by healing fractures, according to Macquarrie. The problem of peace is one of fractures. The process of peace is one of healing fractures. This world view is the basis for the concept of peace as a process and the definition of peace as healing fractures. On the other hand, the Hobbesian world view leads to an end-state concept of peace as not violence or war. Macquarrie's Christian peace concept includes the Hobbesian but goes far beyond it to heal all fractures, not just those causing war and violence.

Analysis - Macquarrie's discussion of fractures is important for two reasons. First, wholeness[7] is a fundamental aspect of the Christian concept of peace and healing fractures promotes wholeness. Secondly, because fractures can be within the individual, the pursuit of peace implies inward as well as outward effort. Thus peace is both an internal and an external phenomena.

But more importantly Macquarrie illustrates the importance of world view in determining concepts of peace. A world view that does not have a basic orientation of fear leads to a concept of peace that is integrative. Integrative in the sense that creation of peaceful relations and creation of peaceful social structures are incorporated. Also integrative in the sense that the Hobbesian concept of peace is incorporated.

Gray Cox - Cox (1986) contrasts peace as static absence (an end-state), to peace as harmony in order to show the limitations of each and thereby the need for his definition, peace as action (a process). Peace as an end-state, he argues, is based on eristic[8] reasoning characterized by disputations. Rational argument, he points out, often incorporates metaphors of war. Knowledge is viewed as external and absolute. Individual claims must be either true or false based on how well they correspond with fixed reality. Logic is a tool to dissect argument, assess the truth of individual claims, and determine that fixed reality which exists outside of the interaction. Emotions get in the way of reason and effective argument. The approach is an instrumental one in Weber's (1968) concept of means-ends rationality. A rational act is one that uses the most efficient means to achieve a given end.

This leads, according to Cox, to a "culture of conflict" where truth can only be determined through argument and life requires a true understanding of reality to survive. Conflict is seen as essential to life and has been institutionalized to the extent that we find it hard to conceive of human activity in ways which do not make conflict an essential part of it (p.61). This culture of conflict conceptualizes peace as a "static absence". Peace is seen as the absence of war, violence, or conflict. Curiously, there is a contradiction; if conflict is essential to life, and if peace is the absence of conflict, then peace means death, according to Cox.

The peace as action concept is based on maieutic[9] reasoning. Here knowledge is seen as something constructed through the sharing of meanings. Emotions do not get in the way, rather they are additional sources of information to be shared in the development of truth. Truth and meaning are emergent and to some extent situational. Truth is not external to the interaction but emerges through it. Individual claims can be both true and false depending on the situation to which they are applied. Or they can be partly true and partly false depending on the specific aspects of the shared meanings. In other words truth is not absolute. Discussion, as opposed to disputation, often employs analogies to growth rather than metaphors of war.

Maieutic reasoning leads to a view of life that does not see conflict as essential. Life is seen as an occurrence of being not a state of conflict. Peace is viewed as a different phenomena from war.[10] Peace is the action or process of realizing the meaning of being.

Analysis - I find Cox's assertion that we live in a culture of conflict to be similar to Virilio and Lotringer's (1983) concept of pure war in that nearly everything in our culture maintains the existence and necessity of conflict.[11] "We live in a culture in which predominant conceptions of reason, feeling, meaning, value, truth, and the self characterize activity in terms of conflict, and this view is buttressed by conceptions of knowledge and action which are entrenched in the dominant institutions of our society" (Cox, 1986, p.61).

Also, Cox attempts to show the underlying assumptions that determine his two approaches to peace. These assumptions can be referred to as world views. So Cox argues, as does Macquarrie, that world views determine peace concepts. Cox also relates world view to the process/end-state differences among peace concepts. I think however that Cox's world views are more similar to Gergen's (1982) exogenic and endogenic world views. Those who favor an exogenic world view see knowledge as objectively grounded, which enables common agreement based on objectively correct and incorrect answers. Reality is seen as independent of the observer, and fact should be separated from value. Endogenic thinkers, on the other hand, see knowledge as primarily a product of the processing agent and therefore objectivity is questionable. Because multiple interpretations are possible, total agreement is suspicious. Reality is a construction of the observer and fact and value are inseparable (p.176-7).


All of the above conceptual schemes imply two basic ways of conceptualizing peace. Rapaport, Rummel and Johnson focus mostly on the popular ways, yet suggesting that there may be others. Macquarrie and Cox focus on the other ways of conceptualizing peace using the popular ways to contrast and illustrate them. So what generalizations can be made about these two paradigms of peace?

The Popular paradigm includes concepts of peace that are largely materialistic, international, and external. Materialistic in the sense that peace is associated with prosperity; war and violence reduce prosperity. International in that the appropriate starting point for peace is at the level of relations between nations. External in the sense that peace, if it is possible, must exist outside the individual or the relationship (individual to others/society); peace is more the product of social structures than of interactional patterns or subjective states. The problem of obtaining peace is seen as war or violence (physical and structural). In this paradigm peace concepts come out of world views that have a basic orientation of fear, and are exogenic. Human nature is seen as fundamentally conflictual, although humans can choose to behave non-conflictually. And separation[12] is maintained. Defenses are necessary in a world that appears to be rife with conflict. Separation is a means of defense.

The Numinar paradigm includes concepts of peace that are more idealistic, inter- and intra-personal, and both internal and external. Idealistic in that non-material goals and processes are valued in the achievement of peace; peace is not necessarily related to prosperity. Additionally, peace is idealistic in that like other aspects of social reality, it is constructed and maintained through social processes (Berger and Luckmann, 1966) and can be revised through those same processes. Inter- and intra-personal in that the best level at which to begin peacemaking is seen as developing internal peace with which one then interacts more peacefully with others. Internal in the sense that peace must first exist within the individual in relationship to others; peace is more the product of interactional patterns or subjective states than of social structures. Yet external concepts of peace are not excluded. Social structures must also be changed to institutionalize changes in interactional patterns or subjective states. In this paradigm, peace concepts come out of world views that have a basic orientation other than fear, and are endogenic. Elements of fear may still be present in those world views but fear is not the basic orientation. Consequently the world is not assumed to be a threatening, competitive, hostile place, and human nature is not seen as fundamentally conflictual. And peacemaking is aimed at reducing separation, the barriers and divisions needed to defend one's self against the fundamental conflict of the popular world view. This paradigm integrates but goes radically beyond the Popular paradigm.[13]

A few comments about these examples are necessary. First, there is some "gray area" between the paradigms. Some peace concepts are not clearly in one paradigm or the other but combine aspects of each. I have included "peace as conflict resolution" in the Popular paradigm but one could argue that it is not clearly so. Conflict resolution can be viewed as beginning at the interpersonal level rather than the international level. But I maintain that in its usual usage it implies resolving conflict for mutual economic gain or to minimize loss, and therefore is materialistic. This gray area is, I believe, the result of the as yet incomplete differentiation of the Numinar from the Popular. Second, Peck's concept of peace is that peace is approached as a group becomes and operates as a community where community is characterized by inclusivity, consensus, commitment, realism, being a safe place, being a group of all leaders, etc. This concept, like other truly Numinar ones, includes Popular concepts like not doing violence (either physical, structural or psychological) yet goes radically beyond them by integrating them (at a minimum). And third, some Numinar concepts of peace such as "peace is oneness" and "peace is harmony" are too vague to serve as a meaningful basis for peacemaking but clearly belong in this paradigm according to the criteria I have given.

The above discussion raises some questions. Cox (1986) and others point out that concepts of peace, such as not war or not violence, are useful in several ways. First there is general consensus that peace is at least not war (Boulding, 1978). And second, such concepts are empirically useful so long as one can operationally define "war", "violence" or "conflict". But is there an equally useful concept of peace in the Numinar paradigm that will not fail to guide successful peacemaking, and that does not logically imply peace = death? Additionally, what is the relationship between world views and the paradigms? What is the relationship between the paradigms themselves? What is the sociological basis for the Numinar paradigm? And finally, what larger theoretical structure embodies these peace concepts? I will attempt to answer these questions in reverse order.

Transpersonal Sociology

This theory[14] comes primarily from the work of Ken Wilber (1985, 1986, and especially 1983). Wilber's work was initially in other areas, so his ideas are still sociologically sketchy. His major sociological presentation (1983) does attempt to integrate his previous work.[15] In My summary of Wilber I will focus on his major concepts.

While Marx and Engles (1848) view all history as the history of class conflict Wilber sees history as the record of the development or evolution of human consciousness. It is the emergence or expansion of human consciousness that is the basic process of human social development in Wilber's view. Wilber describes several stages that we have already gone through up to the present "rational-egoic" stage and he predicts several stages to come.

At the collective level, each stage represents the level of consciousness at which most people are at. This average level of consciousness reproduces itself through exchange of the elements of that level analogous to the way the body reproduces itself through sex. The average level of consciousness and the elements available to it constitutes a basic mode of relational exchange which is different for each stage. (Each stage is able to access different elements that Wilber refers to as "mana" which will be described below.) This average level of consciousness is maintained through social processes and evolves dialectically through social reconstruction.[16] In our present rational-egoic stage, our structures of relational exchange, for example, are the scientific method and bureaucratic organization both based on means-ends rationality.

At the individual level, Wilber sees us as compounded basically of mind, body and spirit. The compound individual emerges through a social dialectic in which each aspect is reproduced, body through sex, mind through communication and, spirit through communion. For reproduction there must be relational exchange. Each aspect, therefore, is a process of relational exchange.

Each stage differentiates from the ground unconsciousness[17] and is related to the others hierarchically. Each stage can be described as encompassing greater "areas" of awareness, eventually including the ground unconsciousness thus completing the circle. In this hierarchical theory each higher level emerges from the lower but is not "caused" by it. Before it emerges, the higher is initially fused and confused with the lower. As it emerges, the higher first differentiates from then integrates the lower. The higher can, according to Wilber, repress the lower as mind can repress the body's drive to reproduce, but not vice versa. However, distortions in the lower can distort the higher. According to this theory, Marx showed how material distortions can distort all other stages, and Freud demonstrated how emotional distortions can distort all higher levels. What we need, Wilber says, is a sociological theory that examines; a) distortions in exchange within levels (horizontal exchange) and b) distortions between levels (vertical exchange). Wilber employs Habermas (1971) to begin to do this (as I will discuss in the next subsection entitled "Habermas' theory").

Major Concepts - Wilber distinguishes between deep structures and surface structures. Deep structures are the stages of consciousness referred to above. They are ahistorical. To use the game checkers as an analogy, deep structures are the rules of the game. It doesn't matter what moves you make or what you use for pieces, if you follow the rules then you are playing checkers and not chess. Surface structures are the variable components of those stages or deep structures. They are historically conditioned. In the game of checkers, they are the pieces and the sequence of moves in a particular game that can vary. You can use rocks or coins for pieces, and the sequence of moves will probably vary from game to game, but such modifications do not involve you in playing a different kind of game.(pp. 45-46)

Translation refers to the relation between the surface structures of a given level. Transcription refers to the relation between deep structures and surface structures within a given stage. I think world view is a transcriptive mechanism. Transformation refers to changing from one deep structure to another (from one level of consciousness to another). This change may be evolutionary, inexorable but slow, or revolutionary, fast but requires intentionality. If the stages are pictured as the various floors of a building, then translation is moving furniture around on one floor; transcription is the relation of the furniture to the floor; transformation is moving to a different floor (Wilber, 1983, p.45). The specific aspects of each deep structure, or the givens of each floor in our analogy, such as load bearing walls, plumbing, windows, and heating systems, limits not only the relationship of the furniture to the floor but also what furniture (surface structures) can be put on the floor.

The propelling force behind translation, transcription and transformation is the effort to obtain "mana" and to avoid "taboo". Mana is that which is exchanged at a given level. It is the food or truth of a level. It is analogous to the relationship between; a) meat and vegetables to the physical body, b) feeling, warmth and companionship to the emotional body, c) symbolic exchange and communication to the mind, and d) illumination and insight to the spirit. Since it is the medium of exchange, Wilber sees it as constituting a social glue that can be integrative or disintegrative. Each stage requires a type of mana specific to that stage, so higher stages have access to higher mana. Vertical growth is a process of a) finding the present stage's mana inadequate and b) learning to access and utilize the higher stage's mana.

Taboo, on the other hand, is the death anxiety of the separate self contemplating the end of its existence existential terror.[18] It is something to be avoided. The self, in cooperation with other selves, creates immortality symbols to repress taboo. Culture is an example of an immortality symbol (or perhaps many of them) constructed and reproduced to preserve an illusion of immortality and there by avoid existential terror. To reduce this to a psychological explanation is inaccurate. The self operates in relational exchange with other selves to avoid taboo.

Translation, transcription and transformation have several functions. Translation functions in horizontal growth to integrate and stabilize a level. It integrates by assimilating level specific mana, food, or truth. It stabilizes by avoiding taboo. Growth is also a process of the eventual inadequacy of translation to provide sufficient and appropriate mana to avoid taboo at a given level, thus causing the self to look elsewhere. Transcription's function is essentially like RNA which "reads" the cell's DNA (deep structure) and synthesizes protein (surface structure) accordingly. Transformation's function is to provide vertical growth by gaining access to higher mana. Vertical growth requires the self to cease exclusive identification with the present level. What makes transformation "kick in" is vertical emancipatory interest which I will describe below.

Habermas' Theory

To explain how transformation works, Wilber (1983) uses Habermas' (1971) three modes of knowledge/inquiry. The empirical analytic mode deals with objective processes. The historical hermeneutic mode deals with interpretive understanding of symbolic configurations. And the critical reflexive mode apprehends cognitive operations and subjects them to a measure of insight (Wilber, 1983, pp 111). Because knowledge is always moving (e.g. expanding through learning and contracting through forgetting) each mode is linked to a type of interest or why you want to know something. The empirical analytic employs technical cognitive interest to predict and control. The historical hermeneutic employs practical cognitive interest for understanding and sharing the mutualities of life, morality, purpose, goals, values, etc. The critical reflexive employs emancipatory interest to release distortions and constraints of labor, language, etc. that result from non-transparency.

However, Habermas is looking only at horizontal emancipation, according to Wilber. To explain vertical emancipation, Wilber examines the modes of cognition of the complex self. Recall that the complex self consists basically of body, mind, and spirit. The body possesses a pre-symbolic, sensory knowledge, perhaps instinct; the mind, symbolic knowledge; and the spirit deals with trans-symbolic knowledge or gnosis[19]. The mind can form symbols of all three (Wilber, 1983, p.112). Figure 1 is Wilber's illustration of these modes of cognition. Note that emancipatory interests are not shown.

Wilber sees these as arising from tension. Either tension within levels creating horizontal emancipatory interest. Or tension between levels creating vertical emancipatory inter est. In other words, as the level specific mana becomes inadequate and taboo harder to avoid, tension is created between the present level and the next higher level, which generates vertical emancipatory interest, which "kicks in" transformation.

Peace Paradigms and Transpersonal Sociology

I will attempt to illustrate the above presentation of transpersonal sociology by applying it to the peace paradigms. In my opinion peace concepts are surface structures transcribed by world views from deep structures. These deep structures provide the limits for world views and surface structures. The rational egoic self generates a world view partly on its own and partly from interaction with others. This world view thereby is shaped to some degree by socialization and other interactive forms but its basic features are given by the rational egoic stage. The rational egoic stage is the stage of maximum separation from the ground unconscious (Wilber, 1985, 1986). It creates a world view that perceives the world as full of separation and therefore, conflict.[20] Thus the world appears fearsome, competitive and dangerous. Interaction with other rational egoic selves reinforces this view. The "truth" of this level is that separation, conflict and competition exist. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy of a Darwinian and Hobbesian world. Peace then is viewed as a state in which conflict is somehow abated if only temporarily. Yet conflict, violence and war are perceived as inevitable, indeed necessary to life. The only permanent peace is death. Therefore, life and peace are incompatible, peace is impossible and peacemaking is illogical (Cox, 1986). In today's terms that means that the only way we will have peace is through nuclear annihilation probably through an inevitable war.[21] As we consider this, we are faced with the termination of all our immortality symbols and thereby the death of our separate self. We will be unable to live on through our children, our buildings and our publications. In short we are unable to avoid taboo or existential terror. There are two ways out. One is to repress this terror and turn back to our immortality symbols.[22] In the short run it may "work". The other way is to grow to the next level, vision logic. And this is, I believe, what Einstein (1980) tried to tell us; we must change our mode of thinking to avoid the unparalleled catastrophe of total annihilation.

In my opinion, the existence of nuclear weapons, and the threat of annihilation they pose, is causing the realization that the rational egoic mana is no longer adequate to avoid taboo. This I feel is why Numinar peace concepts are becoming differentiated and more useful. People are seeking higher mana, creating inter-level tension and generating transformative processes[23]. Vision logic world views are beginning to replace rational egoic fearful ones. These new world views in turn transcribe new surface structures such as peace concepts. This creates intra-level tension with old surface structures and other new ones so that translation operates to integrate the old. Thus the Numinar paradigm includes the Popular but goes radically beyond it; it has to in order to assimilate the new higher mana or truth. This new truth is in part, I believe, the realization that what we perceive as reality is constructed and can be reconstructed. In other words, the conflictual, competitive world where separation is maintained does not have to be so; we can stop reifying it. Ironically, as the average level of consciousness moves up to the vision logic stage reality is reconstructed, the culture of conflict (Cox, 1986) will evolve to a more integrative one based on different modes of relational exchange.

Peace as Reducing the Separation

Among the emerging Numinar peace concepts are "peace as community" (Peck, 1987), "peace as action" (Cox, 1986) and peace as reducing separation. Of these, I feel peace as reducing separation may be the most useful. Partly because it incorporates "community" and "action"; community is by definition less separated than non community and reducing implies action. But this peace concept is useful for other reasons as well.

First, peace as reducing separation may resolve the cross cultural semantic problems that Ishida (1969) points out. Ishida describes the Ancient Judaism concept of shalom as emphasizing the will of God, justice and prosperity; the Greek concept of eirene as emphasizing prosperity and order; the Roman concept of pax and the Chinese and Japanese concept of ho ping and heiwa respectively, order and mental tranquility; and the Indian concept of shanti as emphasizing tranquility of mind. Essentially these are different ways of achieving peace. Reducing separation may be a common intention among them. Clearly more research is needed here.

Secondly, peace as reducing separation includes what is left out of popular peace concepts (Galtung, 1981). Popular concepts that focus on the macro-international level ignore the micro, inter, and intra personal levels. While there is general agreement that peace is at least not violence, war, etc. there is also a feeling that this leaves too much unsaid.[24] Peace as reducing separation applies easily to all levels of analysis as Macquarrie (1973) pointed out. And it says more about everyday life than peace is not war or violence does.

Finally, I argue that peace as reducing separation may have empirical utility similar to that of peace is not war, violence or conflict. Once a theoretical structure of separation is developed, it should be possible to operationalize the concept.[25]


Our popular concepts of peace have failed as our peacemaking efforts, based upon them, have failed to assure peace and thus assure the avoidance of nuclear catastrophe. We need to understand how to promote movement to the next developmental step identified by Wilber. One way is to explore other concepts of peace such as peace is reducing separation, to see what we can learn from them. To do so we will need to develop a theory of separation beginning perhaps with Wilber's work. Another is to confront the inadequacy and illogic of our old ways of thinking about peace. There is clearly something wrong with concepts of peace that logically include "peace is death". Additionally, we need to better understand world view, how it is formed and how it operates in constructing our peace concepts. I have suggested some ways in which world view is formed and works, but this needs much deeper analysis than I have given. Finally, I see this movement to the next developmental step as happening now, but at an evolutionary rate. Perhaps we have enough time for this evolution, but if Kenneth Boulding is right (1983), we do not. If not, then we must intentionally promote this development by employing our reality construction and maintenance theories. As social scientists and peace researchers we carry much of this burden.


[1] Popular paradigm refers to the general approach to peace that is expressed in the popular concepts of peace. This paradigm has its intellectual roots in Western philosophy and political thought. It is truly a popular paradigm as evidenced not only in the wide usage of its concepts by the media and our political leaders but also by many of our major peace thinkers such as K. Boulding, Rapaport, and Galtung. The Numinar paradigm refers to the general approach to peace that is expressed in the "other" concepts of peace that I have already referred to. Its intellectual roots are in the teachings and writings of various numinous individuals throughout history. I will elaborate these paradigms later in the paper.

[2] Other authors have different definitions of world-view. David Statt defines world-view as "A way of understanding the world; a philosophy of life" (1982, p.130). Horace and Ava English define world-view as "Any comprehensive explanation of external reality and of Man's relation to it" (1958, p.592). M. Scott Peck defines world-view as "our understanding of what life is all about... our religion" (1978, p.185). Here Peck is using religion in a very broad sense. Some attempt has been made to measure world-view. Gilford Bisjak (1983) attempts to use philosophical orientations to measure world view.

[3] Also see Simmel (1955).

[4] Ted Gurr (1970) offers a good discussion of relative deprivation which is what Rummel is getting at, I think.

[5] Boulding and Vayrynen (1980) disagree. They see most of peace research focusing on the creation of peaceful social structures where "peaceful" seems to mean both social justice (Galtung, 1969) and controlled conflict.

[6] "Fractures" is Macquarrie's term, but I prefer "separations". However, while summarizing and analyzing Macquarrie's work, I will use "fractures". In the rest of the paper, I will use "separation". I see constructed reality as fundamentally maintaining separation. So "healing fractures" is nearly synonymous to "reducing separation".

[7] In this sense wholeness refers to leaving nothing out, inclusivity, the total picture, as well as integration.

[8] From the Greek eris meaning "strife".

[9] From the Greek maieusis meaning "midwifery".

[10] Geoffrey Darnton (1973) comes to the same conclusion, that peace and war are different phenomena, by arguing that they are based on different social systems.

[11] Within that "culture of conflict" conflict can be functional as Coser (1956) points out.

[12] See footnote 6.

[13] Some examples of peace concepts from each paradigm may help illustrate the differences. From the Popular paradigm: peace is not war, violence, conflict; peace is social justice; peace is conflict resolution. From the Numinar paradigm: peace is community (Peck, 1988); peace is action (Cox, 1986); peace is healing fractures (Macquarrie, 1973) and reducing separation; peace is oneness with God, others, the Universe; peace is harmony. A concept of peace that belongs in neither paradigm is peace is death. If peace refers to relations between people, and if death is used in its absolute sense (the end of both physical and spiritual existence) then death cannot logically be peace.

[14] I am using the word "theory " in the more general sense of a plausible set of principles used to explain something. I am not suggesting that Wilber's work is a true theory in the scientific sense. It cannot yet be expressed as a series of propositions and corollaries from which testable hypotheses can be derived.

[15] For a critique of Wilber's theory see Washburn (1988).

[16] Therefore, I argue that this theory is not psychologically reductionistic.

[17] The ground unconscious may be defined as the undifferentiated and potential state of consciousness contained in humanity (Wilber, 1986, pp 31).

[18] In discussing the need for symbolic universes, Berger and Luckmann state, "On the level of meaning, the institutional order represents a shield against terror. ...the symbolic universe shelters the individual from ultimate terror by bestowing ultimate legitimation upon the protection structures of institutional order. ...The primacy of the social objectivations of everyday life can retain its subjective plausibility only if it is constantly protected against terror" (1966, pp.101 2). This terror is the deep fear of absolute aloneness or annihilation of the self through the loss of the social structures that protect against absolute death. It is communicated and perhaps to some degree constructed socially. It is similar to Durkheim's anomie (1951; Parsons, 1949). Indeed Berger and Luckmann call it anomic terror.

[19] In this usage gnosis means unmediated understanding or understanding beyond the meanings of the symbols involved.

[20] We perceive what we create as objectively real by reifying it or forgetting that it is a construction (Berger and Luckmann, 1966) and therefore can be reconstructed.

[21] Kenneth Boulding (1983) also sees war as inevitable, within the current superpower relations, and uses the analogy of a 100 year flood to illustrate his claim.

[22] Lifton's (1967) psychic numbing is an example of this.

[23] These transformative processes are the subject of Ferguson's The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980). Building on Thomas Kuhn's (1970) work, Ferguson describes wide scale paradigm shifts in most sectors of our society, based on her own field research. These paradigm shifts occur through transformative processes. And it is these transformative processes that Wilber is describing.

[24] At this time I can only base this statement on discussions with my students. However, I am currently analyzing the results of a survey study to, in part, verify this.

[25] In my mediations, I see reducing separation as a) making it possible for people to reach agreement where it was not possible before, b) resolving the conflict, and c) enabling the people to communicate on a friendly basis where often they begin mediation as mutual antagonists (this is not always completely successful but usually partially so). I do not mean to suggest that reducing separation is the same as conflict resolution. It includes conflict resolution but is more than that. Reducing separation implies a degree of healing relationships, of bringing people closer together emotionally as well as cognitively. Conflict resolution does not.

Use the following to cite this article:
Rinehart, Milton. "Toward Better Concepts of Peace." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: May 2005 <>.