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Finally, after months of blog posts discussing human development, we arrive at the highest developmental level described by Susanne Cook-Greuter: the Ironist or Unitive perspective. Susanne really doesn’t like the name Ironist (which comes from another researcher), so I will refer to those from this stage as Unitives.

At this point it’s important to understand that the stages described by Dr. Cook-Greuter are not theoretical. They are, rather, derived from actual data from real people. This means that the descriptions of the developmental levels I’ve shared (the different perspectives a person can take as they seek to make sense of who they are and how they fit into the world) come from the analysis of data from real people, compiled over many decades.

In other words, Dr. Cook-Greuter describes a level or perspective only if sufficient data exists and she knows that some number of individuals exist who do see things from that perspective.

Almost certainly there are a few rare individuals who see things from perspectives even higher and broader than those described by Susanne Cook-Greuter and summarized in these posts. As time goes by, and more information comes to light, even higher developmental perspectives will no doubt be investigated and cataloged. Many theorists–Ken Wilber, for instance, and several others–have described possible ways of slicing the Unitive stage I’ll describe in this post into several different stages. As of yet, not enough hard data exists for these levels to be anything but theoretical.

You might say, then, that this is a story without an ending, because those living from the highest perspectives are always breaking new ground and exploring new ways to make sense of what it means to be a human being.

So, with that preamble, let’s look at the Unitive perspective, and see how it differs from that of the Magician.

Last time we looked at the developmental stage called the Strategist in Susanne Cook-Greuter’s developmental model. In this post I’m going to look at the developmental stage after the Strategist, the Magician. The Magician’s perspective is significantly different from that of the Strategist. The Strategist is the epitome of the well-organized, complex separate self, the master of his world. He is able to see and understand a complex universe from a perspective centered on, and in, the self. On the other hand, the Magician, though he has a separate self, begins to see through that self and begins to disidentify with it. His sense of self includes the separate self, but adds to it the infinite number of interconnections he shares with the rest of the universe–not as something he knows about, but rather as something he feels and experiences. As we go further, I’ll explain what I mean by that. The view of the Magician, however, is an entirely new way of seeing oneself and the universe.