We need a common ground from which to work and address the issues of personal Vertical Development that transcends contexts.

"Everything said is said by an observer." The qualification of all 'knowledge' with respect to a given observer is both the epistemological foundation and the explanatory focus of autopoietic theory.

"All knowing is doing, and all doing is knowing." The observer's 'cognition' is a process involving the entirety of her interactivity, not just abstract mentation. As such, cognition cannot be segregated from praxis.

All cognitive constructs may be valid but all are incomplete. Suitable but not sufficient to describe human cognition, simply because they use cognition to come to the description. Thought forms are one constructed “form” of thinking “about” thinking-action-response with the world. Their main flaw as a measurement tool is the complexity of reporting using language and third party interpretation of attributed meaning devoid of complex context. - Thus, circular.

How you know what you know about your cognition and your construction of 'self' in context is your Dynamic Intelligence. DI is measured using the Awareness Quotient to give a score between 5 and 10. This is your epistemic stance, according to Laske (2008). Laske's work can be considered developmental in that it is not a learning curve but a dialectical movement, and as such, would come under the new psychological banner of "Dynamic Intelligence". Stevens (2020) takes this one step further with Adult Metacognition for which Ontophronology is argued here to be the noun.

By breaking our construction of self down in to fifty component Cognitive Intentions (embedded in the moment), rather than using dialectical questions (which have a future-direction), and by essentially ignoring the standard psychodynamic approach to development, we get a deeper understanding of how an individual understands their own thinking construction and outward behaving in context. Their awareness of their awareness. We cannot rely on old language that has different connotations within other fields, hence the removal of words such as "metaprograms".  This thus requires a new language to go with the new paradigm that is based on Constructed Development Theory.

First, on the nature of thinking, perhaps it would be more appropriate to change the contextual nominalization from Ontology, to something more befitting the cognitive aspect of the Awareness Quotient profile. A word that denotes the nature of being when it comes to the understanding of how we think. A word that encapsulates the ability and capacity of individuals to not only understand how they construct their thinking, but also understand their thinking is limited by the same construction. In information technology, ontology is the working model of entities and interactions in some particular domain of knowledge or practices, such as electronic commerce or "the activity of planning." In artificial intelligence (AI), an ontology is, according to Tom Gruber, an AI specialist at Stanford University: "the specification of conceptualisations, used to help programs and humans share knowledge." In this usage, ontology is a set of concepts - such as things, events, and relations - that are specified in some way (such as specific natural language) in order to create an agreed-upon vocabulary for exchanging information. The very nature of being.

The Awareness Quotient is not focused on the structure of thought, as per Dr Laske’s Cognitive Developmental Framework (CDF). It is more a measure of the epistemic stance of the client in that it is a direct representation of how a person constructs themselves in context, and how this process of construction (Dynamic Intelligence) helps us to map their thinking in the bigger picture. What Dr Laske hasn’t made clear in his work is that thought forms are merely questions. They may prompt the forming of thinking but the “frames of reference” will be what the thinker brings to the party. It is these unconscious frames that automate and limit thinking and need to brought into objective awareness. Dynamic Intelligence is directly related to the individual Cognitive Intentions as it asks how aware you are of your construction of self based on the combination of fifty CI's. The final result is the Awareness that you're Response in the moment is an actual conscious Choice.

So the AQ is about how we pace a person's reality in order to validate their thinking, by using their own method of construction as they do this, consciously or unconsciously, to construct their world view (social construction), and construct themselves within (cognitive construction).

A word such as: “Ontophronology” – Onto (being) and Phroneo (to have understanding, to think).

In his book: "Thinking Deliberately", Dr Stevens lays out four points that define Cognitive Intentions. He adapted them for his research purposes to determine that they are not a "preference", but a Cognitive Intention. Your [unconscious] Intention towards your unique Thinking Style for a particular outcome. Here is the list:

  • Each Cognitive Intention must, at least potentially, be found in all people's thinking.
  • It must have a pattern which consistently repeats itself - such as a person's thinking always being about their perspective.
  • It must cover all possibilities.
  • It must be relevant to the chosen context.

Cognitive Intentions are the unconscious inclinations which people have developed in the course of their dealings with themselves and their environment. There is some research that suggests Cognitive Intention patterns are inherited from our parents, and this will be addressed in Stevens' book: "Thinking Deliberately". In CDT, we are not seen as victims of circumstance because we understand that we construct not only our thinking but also our environment. We are only limited in our vision of ourselves and our future by our own internal 'blind spots' - these limit the possible futures we can see for ourselves and hence restrict our ability to develop. These blind spots are also our Dynamic Intelligence!

A further description of a Cognitive Intention is:

  • Our unconscious cognitive heuristics by which we make sense of our experience.
  • The Thinking Styles by which we seek to navigate our lives.
  • The blueprints that prescribe both our performance and our perception.
  • Context specific, unconscious response heuristics wired into the brain - it is this that pushed me to consider them "constructs".
  • The building blocks from which we construct “personality.” Therefore personality isn't real.
  • The collective differences that create “culture.” - Social Constructionism in my research.
  • Link the two points above as CDT is the conduit between constructivism and constructionism

The Cognitive Intentions can be sub-categorised into Social-Emotional and Cognitive types depending on the output of the individual Intention. If one is predominantly Procedural, this is an indication of how one makes Sense of their actions, thus Cognitive. The opposite [sic] is Options, and would be considered an emotional response to a task. The same principle can be applied to the other 48 Cognitive Intentions in order to create a map of how we construct our thinking in three potential ways: meaning-making, sense-making and an over-all epistemic stance.

A basic notion is that from Laske’s CDF, there are certain behaviours (in context) that are available to people at the higher levels of complex thinking that are not available to the lower level thinkers. This also is true for Values and Cognitive Intentions. We are able to map these contextual behaviours using the combination of the Cognitive Intentions, as per the Awareness Quotient profile.

From a Dynamic Intelligence perspective, we are essentially short-cutting the CDF process, and eliminating the need for an interview, a subsequent transcription of the interview, and then an interpretation of the results using the taught method. This removes any interviewer bias, and allows the client to tell us how they construct their thinking and what they know about this construction to the extent that they know it about themselves, rather than have the profile expert tell them, as every other profile tool requires.

Collectively it's about "Who Am I?" as much as "How am I?" and that depends on where I place my attention. The Awareness Quotient™ demonstrates that the client is either:

  • Not Aware of their behaviour and only able to respond in a pre-programmed way (AQ5)
  • Aware of their behaviour but unable to make positive changes (AQ6)
  • Aware that they are aware of their Thinking Style but relatively stuck in their values (AQ7)
  • Aware of the awareness and relatively at choice from a construction perspective (AQ8)
  • Aware of their construction of self in the moment and able to choose their personality to fit the context (AQ9)

The higher the level of development, the wider the system defined by “my experienced and considered world” and the longer the timespan - Requisite Organisation (Jacques, 1994) . Our range is the number of levels at which we can choose to operate and evaluate. The AQ is demonstrating that one has to go through meaning making to get to sense making, and if you are balanced across your Cognitive Intentions in the profile, then you are balanced between your emotional and cognitive responses to stimuli. Thus, you have the potential to choose your Response. This would place you at Level 8+ of the Awareness Quotient™.

Simplistically, one might have choice over some Cognitive Intentions, but not others, so where one might be AQ6 for one set, and AQ8 for another, these aggregate to form an epistemic stance of AQ7. This is obviously more robust over 50 Cognitive Intentions than an example of two.

The patterns elicited from the Awareness Quotient™ can be seen as a map of the evolving epistemic self. You will not increase your Dynamic Intelligence unless you do something different, and Stevens' (2020) research shows that doing the opposite of your normal patterns elicited by the AQ is the necessary disruption to vertical growth.

For example: when Observer is low and Blame is high, one cannot separate out responsibility from Self and Other. So we ask the client to step back in order to make Sense, in order to see himself and the Other in order to make Sense of his self-image.

The changing of patterns can be complex or simple. The objective of pattern disruption is not to confound, but to help guide the client to the opposite Thinking Style in order to move the Subject Cognitive Intentions to Object, so eventually, the client has the Choice. 

Follow this process for Deconstruction of Self in Context:

  • Intention – Defining what we want to be / do / have
  • Attention – Using our Cognitive systems for best effect
  • Action – Quality controlling our thoughts / words & deeds
  • Choice – Increase the number of times we actively choose
  • Practise – Rehearse doing new things until they habituate
  • Measures – Chart progress using behavioural indicators
  • Reframing – Change meaning using linguistic re-frames
  • Self-Awareness - Increase our awareness of our “self”
  • Feedback – Get external information about performance

It could be argued that the better able we are to predict our world, the more control we have over it. Similarly, there are certain values that are aligned with the various levels of complex thinking. For example: at AQ5, “Honesty” is a value that allows one to assume a right and a wrong way of operating in the world (also called Procedural). Someone is held to higher standards as a result of this value. But only at the lower levels. Once you attain a higher level of complex thinking, “Honesty” becomes a nominalisation and is no more valid than “Truth”. It is subjective and impermanent.

From the above, one can see how the understanding of the construction of the development of one's thinking can be categorised and renamed in order to separate it from the existing nominalisation for Constructivism, Constructionism, Metacognition and so on. It is about how you know what you know about your thinking and your construction of self in the world. This is the new arena of Adult Metacognition and is called:


From a Philosophical Perspective...

The following section was inspired by conversations on LinkedIn where inquiring minds asked how CDT would fit into [insert philosophy here] and thus Dr Stevens was tempted to consider each from a CDT perspective. They are open to debate with or by anyone.

Libertarian Free Will

From a CDT perspective, the free will element only arises through choice. At the lower levels of the Thinking Quotient, there is no free will, only habituated thinking and behaving. At the higher levels, the awareness of one’s construction is the catalyst for will. This is a more nondeterministic perspective. However, this only applies in cognition, not in bodily movement. Non-causal libertarians typically believe that free actions are constituted by basic mental actions, such as decisions or choice. CDT says the same thing but only after one is made aware of the unconscious choice. Therefore we are responsible for our thinking and behaving only at the point of awareness, which then becomes non-causal. Will is only free at the point of awareness, is my perspective. (Ginet, 1990; McCann, 1998)


My personal viewpoint is that of a materialist monist. The mind is nothing without the physical brain. Not very New Age, but I have never heard a valid argument to counter this. Epiphenomenalism says mental events have no effects in the physical world, which is too abstract for CDT. I contest that an awareness of one’s unconscious (to conscious) Intention is to effect one’s physical world. This is the issue: a Cognitive Intention is a heuristic created and supported over time that leads to a particular way of thinking, which would physically be a well-trodden neural pathway in the brain. With Awareness, this habituation can be selected for or against, which again, is not epiphenomenal.


The compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism isn’t something I think of as an issue. Being an antitheist, I see the belief in any superstition as low level thinking, and to align superstition with morality is also low level. How compatibilism emerged as a thesis is dubious as determinism prevents humans from having the freedom to do what they choose to do, which would contradict my point above. Having done some work on morality, I would say that causal determinism precludes moral responsibility as Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response matter more in the moment. However, what you mean by ‘moral’ and what others mean by ‘moral’ renders the argument almost moot. Also remember that CDT talks of cognitive heuristics, not the gross action of choosing to vote between two political parties.

Ontological Realism

Ontological realism does not entail the “reality” of any of our constructions, putting a big stamp of approval on our accounts; neither does it justify a “derogation of the lay actor” (Porpora 2015). Rather, for critical realists, ontology must simply be understood as having a relative degree of autonomy from epistemology and interpretation.

Critical Realism

Critical realism is concerned with the nature of causation, agency, structure, and relations, and the implicit or explicit ontologies we are operating with. It asks what we mean by realism in the social world? Whether there are social kinds? Do capitalism, or classes, or the state, or empires exist as social entities? What constitutes a social entity? Are there consistent traits of fascism? Are there consistent traits of any social entity? These are not only questions which need to be the subject of empirical investigation, they are investigations undergirded by deeply philosophical ones. These meta-theoretical investigations have a bearing upon our accounts of the social world, but do not necessarily determine or legitimate any particular approach, or empirical investigation.

Epistemic Relativism

Ontological realism is committed to the relatively autonomous existence of social reality and our investigations into the nature of reality; however, our knowledge about that reality is always historically, socially, and culturally situated. Our knowledge is context-, concept-, and activity-dependent. Critical realists believe we cannot be naïve about this, and must embrace a form of epistemic relativism.


Retroduction is referred to in its capacity as ‘a distinctive form of inference ... which posits that events are explained through identifying and hypothesising causal powers and mechanisms that can produce them’ (Hu, 2018, pp. 118–139). ‘retroduction provides a common logic for both the clinical understanding of distress and the judicial understanding of criminality’.

Judgmental Rationality

Judgmental rationality, as opposed to judgmental relativism, simply suggests that being realists about ontology and relativists about epistemology, we must accordingly assert that there are criteria for judging which accounts about the world are better or worse.

Cautious Ethical Naturalism

The simple equation of “is” and “ought” (the naturalist fallacy) must be avoided; however, a commitment to realism seems to entail the possibility of a cautious normative dimension to our knowledge. Values have a “factual” element to them which is grounded in certain ontological accounts about the nature of social world, such as an account of persons or social relations. This means that, in principle, values are open to empirical investigation and critique.

Critical Naturalism

Critical naturalism seeks to resolve the dualisms prevalent in social science, namely, structure and agency, collectivism and individualism, reification and voluntarism, causes and reason, body and mind, facts and values. critical realism holds structure precedes human agency in so far as it provides the material causes of human action. We are always thrown into a socio-linguistic-epistemic context in which we must act. society is instead to be regarded as an ensemble of structures, practices, and relationships, which individuals both reproduce and transform, without which society would not exist.


...the reduction of causal mechanisms to their exercise, functioning to generate a regularity determinism in nature to facilitate a fetishistic quest for closure and closed systems.

Epistemic Fallacy

...the reduction of being to our knowledge of being, or, that statements of being are to be interpreted as statements about our knowledge. Notably, in 20th century philosophy, this finds expression in the linguistic fallacy which brackets off being to questions about language.


...causal laws operate as tendencies of things expressed as powers, potentials and liabilities which may exist without being actualised. They are said to be transfactual because they can be isolated and express themselves within a closed system structured by human intervention, when they may not act, or act differently within open systems.


There are visual experiences, auditory experiences, tactile experiences, gustatory experiences, and olfactory experiences. Hunger and thirst are experiences, as are vertigo and nausea. Pleasure and pain are experiences. Thoughts, emotions, memories, and anticipations are also experiences, as are hallucinations and dreams. If this is the case then 90% of those experiences are constructed…

Chalmers and Nagel

Nagel’s perspective on red cars (for example) is wrong. We all agree the car is red, and he states that we cannot know if your red is my red. However, red is a frequency, and your brain is constructed the same way as my brain, so your eyes (brain) see the exact same red (frequency of light) that I do. Our phenomenal experience of it is the same according to the physics. The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. How you construct your experience is the same overarching principle of how I construct mine. However, our constructions will be the difference, not the constructing. The constructing is measurable in CDT.


Working on this one...

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