Eight Key Ideas

There are eight key ideas that make up the Unified Theory of Knowledge.

Posted Oct 09, 2020

The Unified Theory of Knowledge is a metapsychology for the 21st century that bridges philosophy and psychology to offer a new view of reality, science, and the human condition. It consists of eight key ideas that work together to form a tapestry of knowledge to help humans make sense of themselves and the world around them. It is grounded in a coherent scientific humanistic worldview and emphasizes the values of dignity, well-being, and integrity.

The first key idea is the Tree of Knowledge System (see here). It offers a new theory of reality and scientific knowledge that corresponds four planes of existence (i.e., Matter, Life, Mind, and Culture) to the behavior patterns of four kinds of entities (i.e., Objects, Organisms, Animals, and People), which are then mapped by four domains of scientific justification systems (i.e., Physical, Biological, Psychological, and Social).

The second key idea is Justification Systems Theory (see here). JUST is a theory of the evolution of language and the emergence of human self-consciousness and the Person-Culture plane of existence. It identifies humans as the justifying animal, and provides a new "updated tripartite of model" that maps the key domains of human consciousness and their dynamic interrelations.  

The third key idea is Behavioral Investment Theory (see here). BIT is a metatheoretical synthesis of the cognitive-behavioral neurosciences that offers a neurocognitive functional analysis of animal/mental behavior. Specifically, it posits that the brain/nervous system functions to model the animal-environment relationship to realize relevant paths of behavioral investment.

The fourth key idea is the Influence Matrix (see here). The Matrix is a theory of the human relationship system that integrates attachment theory and the interpersonal circumplex. It posits that humans are socially motivated to approach high levels and avoid low levels of relational value and social influence. The Matrix further posits that power, love, and freedom are three process dimensions of that guide the acquisition or loss of relational value and social influence.

As was detailed in this book, the first four ideas make the unified theory of psychology. They are theoretical frameworks that describe and explain reality, science, and human mental behavior. The next four ideas make up the “unified approach” to psychotherapy. They provide frames for understanding adaptation, development, well-being, and reflective processes and principles to foster more optimal living toward valued states of being.

The fifth key idea is Character Adaptation Systems Theory (see here). CAST offers a new “big five” model of human adaptation that bridges personality research and psychotherapy. Specifically, it divides processes of adaptation and adjustment into the following: 1) the habit system; 2) the experiential system; 3) the relational system; 4) the defensive system; and 5) the justification system. These systems of adaptation correspond to the primary emphasis of behavioral, emotion-focused, psychodynamic, and cognitive approaches to psychotherapy. CAST thus provides a framework for understanding adaptive and maladaptive patterns of living.

The sixth key idea is the Wheel of Development (see here). It builds from CAST to identify five key domains of character development. They are: 1) five major dispositional traits; 2) identity or self-concept; 3) values, morals, and virtues; 4) abilities, skills, and talents; and 5) challenges and pathologies.

The seventh key idea is the Nested Model of Well-being (see here). It cuts through the confusion about what exactly defines human well-being and shows that it is the alignment of four key domains: 1) subjective experience and evaluation; 2) biological and psychological health and functioning; 3) social and material contexts, stressors and resources; and 4) the values and ideology of the evaluator. It can be summarized as characterizing well-being as happiness with the worthiness to be happy.

The eighth key idea is CALM-MO (see here). It is an integrative approach to psychological mindfulness that consolidates the core principles and processes to effectively metabolize conflict and negative emotion. It emphasizes meta-cognitive observation and reflection the cultivates the attitudes of curiosity, acceptance, loving compassion, and motivation toward valued states of being in the short and long term.

Together these key ideas link philosophy, science, psychology, and psychotherapy into a more coherent picture of the human condition that offers a vision for moving toward wisdom in the 21st century.


Note: The UTOK Tree has been developed to help facilitate visual-interactive understanding. For educational videos on the UTOK Tree and the Garden, see here or here.  

Gregg Henriques
Source: Gregg Henriques