THE LOEVINGER LEVELS FOR DUMMIES (LIKE
Before reading this, it would be wise to read the more detailed material
in the brief bibliography. The following remarks
are based on that material, but translated into an intuitive
understanding of the levels of cognitive complexity.
A few caveats:
1. Cognitive complexity is not the same thing as IQ. Whereas IQ is an
approximation based on an ideal-type model, the Loevinger scale evaluates
actual intellectual behavior and places it in a hierarchy of cognitive styles. The intellectual behavior in
each style is built on skills learned in the previous style in the hierarchy. The styles are thus interrelated, but represent differences in kind and not just degree.
2. Complexity is not the same thing as obfuscation, nor is simplicity synonymous with elegance. Complexity is the ability to deal with a wide variety of variables. Simplicity is the reciprocal inability.
Thus, E=MC(2) is an elegant statement of a complex understanding of the nature of physical reality.
3. The capability to operate at a high level of cognitive complexity does not mean that one who posses it will consistently operate at that level. Indeed, one of the functions of higher order complexity is the ability to discern those tasks for which the
higher orders are needed and those tasks for which the lower orders are more efficacious.
THE LEVELS OF COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY
(in ascending order)
1. SIMPLE DICHOTOMIES: up/down, left/right, good/bad
2. SIMPLE DICHOTOMIES WITH SOME DISCOMFORT: The discomfort arises from the antinomies the individual notes. Some phenomena do not fit with the dichotomous categories, yet the dichotomous categories remain the only model for comprehending the universe.
3. CONFORMITY: The antinomies can be dealt with through a chameleon-like adherence to the prevailing paradigms of a group. The present paradigm is always correct, but may be changed as fads dictate.
4. AMBIGUITY: Neither dichotomous categories nor socially accepted
paradigms are sufficient to explain the phenomenon under consideration. A
more flexible model emerges, but there is some discomfort with the
ambiguity. This often results in hasty generalizations.
5. ACCEPTANCE OF COMPLEXITY
6. EVOLUTIONARY COMPLEXITY: The model for understanding the universe is both expansive and contractive. It is expansive in the sense that it comprehends more and more of the complexity. It is contractive in the sense that it is able to generate usable