A note from Frank Visser*, who has used a graphic I created to head a reposting of an article, THE ‘SPIRIT OF EVOLUTION’ RECONSIDERED Relating Ken Wilber’s view of spiritual evolution to the current evolution debates, had me thinking for a moment about Wilber and Integralism.
This coincided with a minor bit of cultural synch, when the following video ended up in my Facebook news feed.
There is a lot more glorious cynicism and Zen slapping from JP.
Also, because of the guileless way youtube throws click bait on video pages, JP’s funny parodies lead to sidebars chock full of the didactic presentations of new age guru Teal Swan. She might as well claim the role of being the female Ken Wilber.
The problem is: after a little JP, her stuff comes across as parody. I laughed out loud. This is ironic, and doubly so because the Daily Evolver newsletter is similarly, mostly, humorless.
AN ARCHIMEDES LEVER FOR GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION
WHAT IS TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Said simply: TransTech helps people evolve. Meant literally.
If successful, it can help the species evolve. It’s what Google should really be doing but doesn’t know to. It’s what one of the most important companies in the world will be doing a decade from now; which company that will be is up for grabs. It’s what I’m doing now because no matter which domain I was working in, and over the past 20 years I’ve worked in a bunch—venture capital, university research, healthcare, corporate leadership development, metatheory, conscious capitalism, climate change, spiritual development, publishing, family development, etc.—they are all far less effective and authentic than they could be otherwise, if they had TransTech working right in the center of their disciplines.
Said simply, if we could liberate the world’s scientific knowledge of human transformation—all its wisdom, research and practices—into a real-time format available everywhere and always, and that helps people build mindfulness, skills and habits, than we can influence every known problem on the planet. It’s true that it’s a crazy vision. But it’s also true that there are only a few levers long enough to effect global transformation. And those are worth a lifetime of failure if there’s a possibility that even one succeeds.
Back in 1994, in the momentous meeting that kicked off my relation ship with my mentor, Judith Buerkel, we both learned our fundamental, influential shared affinity, was the work of Gregory Bateson. But, she was heavily into Ken Wilber, and I, by then, was no longer a Wilberian.’ (Albeit, I had been following Wilber’s work since Up From Eden was published in 1981.) By contrast, I was a student of the Analytical Psychology founded by Carl Jung, whereas she was not, and, Judith wasn’t so to the extent that she would sometimes ask me not to make everything ‘a Jungian moment.’
I came to respect her wish, while her referencing Wilber a bit too much for my sensibility also came back to pinch her as she came to understand that I silently thought Wilber to be far from ‘the smartest man in the world,’ and the ‘Twentieth Century’s greatest philosopher.’ For me, both characterizations qualify as ludicrous misestimations of Wilber and the heft of his body of work.
Then, as the 20th century ended, the arc of Wilber’s vision bent away from his hoping to bring his Integral Philosophy into the academy, and curved toward developing his philosophy into a spiritual technology. This caused his philosophy to also severely bend away from contact with: various core scholarly disciplines, meta-sociologies, inter-disciplinarities and transdisciplinarities given by the contemporary developmental courses of the crucial disciplines of the social and psychological sciences, and, philosophy. Although I wasn’t in the academy, I had hoped Wilber’s Integral philosophy would, as it were, ‘pro-create’ with the related academic disciplines, and then bubble up my way.
(It also bent away from ever daring to come close to (my own ground) of outlying fields General Systems Theory, 2nd Order Cybernetics, 3rd Order Social Cybernetics, Systems-ordinated Constructivism, Biosemiotics, Enactivist Neurophenomenology, and, conventional Experiential Learning Theories. Oh well.)
My own view today is that WIlber, the Wilberians, and the Integral Communities most associated with Wilberian ‘normativity,’ have mostly managed to turn the post-conventional thrust of ‘Integralism’ back into a conventional brand of new age transpersonalism focused on practices aimed to support positive adult development. PAy your entry and coursework fees, and Integral practices apparently capably support advanced development of consciousness and of the personality.
But, is there also a kind of masculinist Saturnian Messianic flavor to the thrust of the Wilberian spiritual technology that accompanies all this cha-ching?
Said simply, if we could liberate the world’s scientific knowledge of human transformation—all its wisdom, research and practices—into a real-time format available everywhere and always, and that helps people build mindfulness, skills and habits, than we can influence every known problem on the planet.
This is to say that the philosophical position of Integralism, having divorced itself from any messy entanglement with mainstream fields of study and scholarship, and with multi-disciplinarity, came to focus its normative system on developmental applications. And, so, it misses completely–nowadays–any opportunity for it undergoing ‘Kuhnian’ or theoretical, revolutions due to the radical imposition upon it of other perspectives and theories. My own sense is that this provides for a defense against the Wilberian Integral developing into anything which might attenuate its stable potential to generate profitable product lines.
Hey, I’m cynical too! The unironic spiritualization of the Integral probably requires the Wilberian Integral ‘system’ to morph into just another shelf full of stuff to buy, check out, identify with, and, realize all the other steps which come to my cynical mind.
I have greatly reduced my contact point to the Wilberian community down to a single email newsletter The Daily Evolver. Every now and then it leads me to other short engagements. So, caveat emptor; although I can hope for JP to have his way with “Wilber World’ someday.
*Frank Visser, is a post-Wilberian Integral Thinker, intellctual biographer of Ken Wilber, and, builder of Integral World, an outpost for post-Wilberian thought.
Mr. Visser in November 2014 added REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD Years of Application and Assessment A New Online Chapter ofKen Wilber: Thought as Passion. This brings the intellectual biography begun in his book Thought As Passion, up to 2014. It is an excellent piece.
On the other hand, I personally have no time for discussions of scientism v. eros. From my perspective, it is fine to locate eros in biological mindedness and per force in high order consciousness; and then grant this meta-field of differentiating beingness its dynamic extension outward through the world, through the cosmos, maybe even through the multiplicity of universes. If you see what I am doing here you won’t need to be told I am forging a ‘sense’ from my ‘belief’ that my, yours, our, his, her, various projections from our interiority outward is enough qualification of the aspect of eros. Heck, it qualifies logos, too.
The bottom line is: differential economy, that is the ontologically real, (and existentially phenomenal,) cost of difference. My post-Integral musing is predicated on there being no free lunch! Yet, probably, I’m wrong all the way up through all the turtles!
note — I would suggest there are no worthwhile fields-of-study that are stable only because the discipline’s essential canon is largely the work of a single person and his or her social experience. The downfall of Wilberian Integral’s effective engagement with other disciplines has already come about due to this insularity and a kind of intellectual solipsism–for lack of a better term. Except, now I read Joe Perez, where he writes as part of his multipart response to Visser,
It is through construction and extension and expansion and embodiment that integralists are offering their boldest critiques of Integral Theory.
My contact point is exceedingly thin, then, in light of advancements about which I am unaware. Again, caveat emptor.