Category Archives: integral

Wit, Spiritual Technologies, Turning Away from thin brands


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.



Robb Smith – July 29th, 2015

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.

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Post-conventional predicates


A hallmark of sincere and authentic and audacious post-conventionality could be: daring.

This would go along with understanding that the call beyond conventions promotes radical, storming kinds of engagements with one’s own self, with the world, and with other people.

But, the “could be” is my hedging as against the conventions of the theorization of the post-conventional. Affirmative Post-Conventional themes are, in the main, elementally meta-cognitive predicates, and these themes also reflect a kind of instrumental positivism. Some lip service is paid to the varieties of deconstruction, although, there is no deconstructive literature to be found in the field’s small, (and revealingly tidy,) body of work.

The post-conventional move into epiphanic knowledge–which is somewhat covered under the fuzzy rubric given by Ken Wilber’s causal level, the so-called path of sages–is also the move into post Post-Conventional being. The other move is not found in Post-Conventional theory , (or Wilberian theory.) There are no lively treatments of anything functionally equivalent to ecstatic intuition, or equivalent to its applications.

Ecstatic Intuition is: spontaneous development due to spontaneous insight. Its most well-known application is given by the conception of synchronicity in the Analytic Psychology. squareONE’s applications similarly provide concrete enactive engagements with procedures which elevate novel data into the learner’s field for the purpose, instrumentally viewed, of spontaneous decodification and “instant self-discovery”

What I termed twenty years ago, ecstatic organization, shadows and inflects the problem of daring. Another feature of this problem (of daring,) is recovered by extracting the direct polarity: competency <—> ecstatic intuition from the array.

My sense is that the scientism implicit in the meta-cognitive bracket helps secure the means, and the developmental applications, which all aim to build practical post-conventional capabilities.  Whereas, what I term the meta-enactive bracket, (or what might be viewed as the interface, dissolves scientism, is spontaneous and oft spontaneously messy,  and is altogether forcefully disposed toward post developmental, or non developmental, modes of being and being-in-response. Ecstatic organization and ecstatic intuition is impractical, (and may even be anti-fragile per Nassim.)

If you, reader, are able to sense this bracket’s dynamic quotients of: the irrational, of eros, of soulmaking, of Bateson’s conception of mindedness, and, sense also its more direct route away from the neocortex and intentionality, you’ll also recognize I really meant it when I first spoke of daring.

Lastly, the scope of unlearning, of learning to unlearn, is discoverable in the daring foray to be made through the Coincidentia Oppositorum, into the Oppositorum. This means going in the direction away from what you know, how you know it, and, as dear Desse put it many years ago, also means going in the direction away from how you know it is that you know.

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Posted in adult learning, education, experiential learning, Gregory Bateson, integral, my research, psychology, self-knowledge | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Having It All – Meshwork’s Ultimate Cha-Ching

Ken Wilber's cash register

Received a marketing piece from Ken Wilber:

Supermind is the epitome of freedom and responsibility. You, and in the deepest sense you alone, become responsible for the entire planet and all of its beings. Immanuel Kant beautifully defined a “cosmopolitan” as one who feels that, “when anyone anywhere suffers, I suffer” — a profound world-centric awareness. And the ultimate cosmopolitanism is when one feels that, when anyone or anything anywhere suffers, I suffer, because I am them.

Supermind is that type of all-inclusive, all-pervading, all-embracing responsibility. And it starts with being able to hold the entire Kosmos in your awareness without shutting out so much as a single item. Absolutely everything entering your field of awareness, with no exceptions whatsoever, is fully and totally embraced, saturated with love, radiating from the infinity of your own heart-space, streaming from the radical fullness of your very own being, and reaching out to each and every thing and event, in each and every direction in the known ends of the Kosmos itself. There is simply nothing anywhere, at any time, on the outside of this awareness. It is “one without a second.” And having no outside, it has no inside either, but simply is.

To contract at all in the face of this undivided wholeness awareness, this total painting of all that is existing in this timeless all-inclusive present, is to set in motion the self-contraction, the separate self-sense that latches onto the relative, finite, conventional small self — a necessary functional entity for this manifest world created by the True Self itself, along with the rest of creation — but latches onto that small self, or “I”, as if it were itself the True Self, or “I-I”, thus setting in motion the entire train of events known as ignorance, illusion, Maya, deception, the fallen world, the world of the lie. This is transmitted in each and every lower structure present, and the radically enlightened nature of Supermind becomes lost and obscured in wave after wave of avoidance.

And that avoidance rests on this, what we might call “primordial avoidance” — the very first subtle looking away. If we go back to the single, indivisible, total painting notion, there is some element, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that for whatever reason I don’t want to look at, to be aware of, to notice, to allow into my awareness — that single, primary turning away, looking away, moving away. That primordial avoidance sets in motion the events that are, at this level, the dominant cause of the world of Maya, illusion, ignorance, deception. And every level, top to bottom, is infected with this delusion.

—Ken Wilber, Supermind and the Primordial Avoidance


I–for the life of me–cannot determine whether Ken Wilber’s desire to steward into existence the final-by-definition religion represents the apotheosis of the New Age or of Neo-Liberalism. His terrible writing style doesn’t help me figure it out.

(Alternately, I am unwilling to ante up and get my hands ‘integral dirty’; although I did so, for years.)

Consider this description of the highest level of Spiral Dynamics development:

Turquoise: A “grand unification” is possible in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; see multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics; the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power. -Mark Michael Lewis

Do we know anyone who has gotten to the following optimal kosmic perch?

“And it starts with being able to hold the entire Kosmos in your awareness without shutting out so much as a single item. Absolutely everything entering your field of awareness, with no exceptions whatsoever, is fully and totally embraced, saturated with love, radiating from the infinity of your own heart-space, streaming from the radical fullness of your very own being”

This also strikes me as being a ripe example of the PRE/TRANS fallacy. Plus: there’s a total erasure of irony!

from Craig Thompson's Space Dumplins (used without permission)

from Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins (used without permission)

Is Ken Wilber thinking about his assets and retirement? Certainly, if you wish to develop to become a part of this different kind of elite one percent, it will cost you.


(I added the pitch for the free app because I couldn’t help but think of a TV infomercial.)

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Sam Harris Solves the Problem of Islamic Faith

Shortly after viewing the intensely puerile tag team tussle betwixt Affleck/Kristof/Steele and Maher/Harris (on Real Time With Bill Maher, October 3rd,) I knew it would take a little while, but that I would soon get an email sent from the ramparts of the Integral Empire pointing out that the Real Time combatants just don’t get religion like the Wilberians in actuality do get it.

Sure enough, on the 18th, Dustin DiPerna weighed in on The Daily Evolver (email newsletter) with Bridging the Chasm: Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, and a Needed Dose of Integral Theory. In turn, although the link back is not available in the newsletter, Mr. DiPerna contributed a longer article to Integral World, the safehouse for heterodox views of the integral. Finally, at The Daily Evolver itself is Jeff Salzman’s article/podcast Dog and God.

Predictably, came the appeal to the integral framework’s notion of levels in the flux of person and religious system.

DiPerna: Islam, like all of our world’s great religious traditions, is enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved. To be sure, Islam has a particular shape and flavor that has consistency throughout all interpretations. Folks like Harris tend to emphasize the consistent dimensions of faith, often intentionally highlighting the aspects that many consider the most challenging to stomach, as a methodology to provoke or even dismiss entire traditions as “bad ideas”. But just as each tradition has a flavor and shape itself, it is equally true that every human being has a lens and worldview that brings forth particular elements of the tradition according to the world that he or she can see. There is not one version of Islam that is either “Good” or “Bad” but there are at least five versions of Islam, all dependent upon specific levels of interpretation. Each of these levels is not arbitrary. The levels are consistent across traditions and can be correlated with very specific stages of psychological development.

Whether we use the work of Harvard researcher James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or the early models of developmental progression found in the works of Jean Gebser, we see a very similar metric that can be used to explore five basic levels of development. These levels can be referred to using the shorthand terms: magic (Stage 1), mythic (Stage 2), rational (Stage 3), pluralistic (Stage 4), and integral (Stage 5). Each level has particular characteristics and hallmarks of how it shows up in the world. Furthermore, each level has both moderate and extremist orientations.

If an interpretation is dependent, and decisively dependent upon the lens and worldview discoverable at the scale of the individual–and this is implied by religion enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved–then there are as many versions of a religion at such a scale as there are actors.

This follows from DiPerna’s organic analysis that uses the blunt conceptions, via Jean Gebser, of integral analysis. A reader such as myself then can anticipate the arrival of the prescriptions.

DiPerna. Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development. In doing so, this stage of religious orientation seeks to build bridges connecting various levels of interpretation. Understanding that everyone starts the developmental process at stage 1, this level sees the importance of building conveyor belts of potential growth and development in each tradition. Rather than merely sitting in a circle in dialogue (as the Pluralistic level might do) the integral stage combines discernment and compassion acknowledging that some views are broader, more compassionate and more inclusive than others.

In his podcast, Dog and God, Integral insider Jeff Salzman will get to this same Stage 5. (His discussion of religion in the context of stage of development begins at 11m into the podcast. download )

A reader such as myself, (having followed along with the Integral framework since 1979,) can anticipate the arrival of the prescription.

DiPerna. Rather, what is needed is the critical comprehension that individuals, with different levels of development, are enacting Islam (and all other religious traditions) according to their own worldviews and levels of development. And even more importantly, we must come to the understanding that there are paths that can be highlighted that can help individuals move along that developmental spectrum from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral versions of each tradition. As development unfolds, interpretations of faith move from being more restrictive, ego-centric and ethno-centric in view to orientations that more compassionate, open, and world-centric.

Sam Harris, transcript of the clip: 

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim, who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up, and let them reform Islam.

Harris’s view is obviously crude and unreal, and, for someone who spins dimes into bullion on the anti-mythic religion trail, his prescription is shockingly and shamelessly a product of his being deeply ignorant about what religions generally are about, and how religions come to change–let alone, be reformed.

Salzman’s cop from DiPerna is less crude but is no better:

Integral teacher and scholar Dustin DiPerna, also inspired by the Maher/Harris/Affleck flap, wrote a terrific essay for Integral Life on how development trumps religion.

Were Salzman, DiPerna, and Harris deep critics of their own biases, I’d have some hope for the development of better prescriptions with regard to the problem of religiosity and its variable contexts. Although, I don’t know of anybody in the post-conventional community who is so devoted to such radical solutions that he or she is willing to evangelize for free, directly to the target audience. As far as I can tell, Harris mostly preaches his degenerate prescriptions for religion to people who already have ejected themselves from religion’s clutches, or, have little experience with religion.

It would be quite remarkable for it to someday be demonstrated to be the true case that religions actually are driven to evolve in the direction promoted by the Integral idealization, an idealization itself rooted in the nowadays diffuse and defused transpersonal and noetic counter-culture of the late sixtes and early seventies. Wilber’s own philosophy soon enough came to be reactionary, constitute a logo-therapeutics, realize a messianic brand and industry, and engage a magnificently one-sided, touchy but no feely, developmental track today termed the Super Human Operating System. Could this be the inkling of the first world post-religion?

This is to suggest that those higher Integral stages are themselves geared to enlighten, but, at the same time, in the shadow of those later, higher stages, are currents strong enough to evoke the clearly promethean demiurge that supposes the point of a human life is superior development, and, this is given so as to, among many effects, trump religion, blind the religious as it were by the light of higher consciousness, bend the lower stage aspirational wills by contact with consciousness liberated from its worldly objects.

This leads to the chicken/egg problem that can bias investigation of religion. This problem is in extremis in the Integral milieu. The problem clearly comes to the surface when, for example, Harris offers a potential for reform of Islam to be caused in the crucible of ambivalence. I take this lightly to be a person speaking about changing something he is innocent of. Do we understand what the amiable endpoint of Islam will be, from being able to conjure a Fifth Stage?

I consider the Integral view on religion to be largely incapable as a hermeneutical tool. Still, it would be a remarkable coincidence if it turns out Ken Wilber has in fact discovered the optimal stages of human development, and these, as DiPerna states, have come to trump religion!

Harris? Salzman? DiPerna? Wilber? Does such a person carry close to them a criticism of their own prescription? After all, at least with all the starry-eyed advocates for centauric development, it can be presumed he or she has developed powerful tools with which to deconstruct and parse via the AQAL, and further analyze, and, process via the ironic turn, the beneficial and costly ramifications of their own prescription, and such prescriptions would be born from their own experience, biases, expertise, and ignorance.

The complexity of human and social phenomena was long ago subsumed by the abject claim, given here by DiPerna, “Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development.”  Certainly, as a social cyberneticist and Batesonian, the analytic operating methodologies for systematically evaluating spectrums of growth and development as expressed in Wilber’s own body of work is amusingly and ironically reductive, naively one-sided, rarely counter-factually argued in a very spotty literature, and, is shamelessly innocent of the apparently dull details of, to name two gigantic fields of study, psychology and religion.  So, you say “entire” and I hear: gigantic.

There was a time around the turn of the century when Ken Wilber’s vision for the Integral Theory was that it needed adherents to go into the academy and become better schooled and eventually some exchange and synergy and informed evolution on both ‘sides’ might result. But, then stuff happened, and Wilber didn’t ever lead this charge. Instead, he built with help, the Integral Technologies, technologies just recently termed the Super Human OS.

Install this OS and trump really old stuff?


Meanwhile, neo-traditionalist, ‘not-of-the-world,’ radical Takfiri Salafism, can’t be understood to center Islam, but, those particular jihadi offshooters are on an intensely devotional mission to convert the unbeliever everywhere, or be martyred making the attempt.

I doubt a unitarian-like revolt from the fringes could make a difference, Mr. Harris.

My own prescription only has to do with what anybody might decide to do in taking initial steps for the purpose of understanding any complex human matter, such as religion, or a religion.

First, how do you identify what your tool set will be?

What are the given problems and opportunities given by where you start your investigation from?

What are the nature of your biases ?

What frameworks and tools for knowledge/sense-making are congenial or seem to carry a prospect for intrinsic motivation?

What do you need to know firstly?

Where will you start, and why start there?

How will you gather up resources and mentors?

What will be the qualitative measure of your inevitable partial understanding?

What will you not understand if you are unwilling to “do” or experience the religion?

Second, speaking very broadly, there are fields for investigation of religion, and religions. For the anthropologist, religions are largely in the local context of historical and present-day development and concrete practice at the small scale where individual, family, community practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions are able to be studied. How is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

For sociologist, religions are largely in the larger scale context given by how institutions and relationships between social groups come to bear upon both local practice and the organization of local practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions into the larger social scales, and, organizational practices and routines, of a society or well-defined group. How is this all to be understood as a driver and sustainer of institutions and their practices?

For modern historians, the development of a religion asserts how a religion came to center or otherwise instantiate crucial social impacts and changes at the scale of community or tribe or group or nation or region or continent or planet, and, at all of those scales altogether.

Psychologically or social-psychologically, the nature of religion refers to its aiding cognitive cum psychological organization of individual and intrapsychic and intersubjective and group: identity, meaningfulness, symbolic systems, inheritable interpretation of history, ethics, birth/life/death, family, theories of mind (or consciousness,) development, aspiration, and relations to the profound objects and possibilities larger than one’s own single mortal self. In a psycho-anthropology, how is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

There are also many other fields and disciplines, like philosophy of religion, plus, all the various fields possess lots of disciplinary subsets.

My gloss here is intended to sketch lots of choices, showcase complexity. Also, this gloss supposes all sorts of tacit relations and subject matters between the disciplinary fields. Obviously, I recognize my own investigations are at the level of what is called the ‘folk,’ and so I also recognize whatever I do happen to know is more lightly disciplined and more subject to error than that of most masterful experts.

As far as I know, most of the thrust of Integral investigators is inexpert too. There is to my knowledge not a single deeply informed integral treatment on the subject of religion, (or on any other subject for that matter!)

I sense the deep irony unintentionally embedded in the various Integral prescriptions.

It is clear to me that even if the post-religion implicit in the higher stages of Integral development drives the good will of those who urge upon Islam reform for the sake of Islam evolving to become trumped by the Integral (!), the various Integral self-proclaimed scholars do not yet seem to me to be at all conversant with religion as a social scientific object of study, let alone conversant with Islam proper.

As for Bill Maher, I enjoy his New Rules, but he is, in the main, an asshat and charlatan.

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Rabbit Holes

Enactivist Grid - a form for a heuristic inquiry

Enactivist Grid – a form for a heuristic inquiry

I’ve been reviewing current so-called Integral literature over the last few weeks, but it was Ken who had much earlier got me going back toward that development dynamic when I toppled over ‘into it’ in the intellectual sense from our discussing Giegerich’s critique of classical Analytical Psychology.

I’m not an Integralist.  Understanding in a meta-systems sense that the best and the lesser are sometimes necessarily retained, and, transcend-and-include turns out to be an arbitrary imposition if it then, at times, results in the baby following promptly the bathwater, highlights the fundamental points of distinction between my messy/rigorous viewing site and the seemingly reductive AQAL territories.

I note as much when I peruse the neatly reductive diagrams that have been recently multiplying; and most strike me initially to be graphical, intellectual kitsch. But then I get out my scraper.



I’d be very interested in scratching beneath the surface of the presumably poetical ” ‘live eros,’ springing forth from chaos.”

What a human system apparently is (to a degree mediated by a, or several, or all domains,) is what he or she entails, and what he or she can possibly entertain, and, so, what I and you feel, and, that which I and you may create from the, my/your, our, current entailment, and, also, how future potentials are foresight worthy. In a nutshell, this is a (my own,) provisional perspective that, at least and as far as I do foresee, is able to encompass just about any ol’ additional perspective which could be tossed toward it, at it, into it, or, even land neatly and dynamically as a tangent, and with enough energy in such a circuit to cause further differentiation and a foundation for adaptation or sudden evolution.

Development is often non-linear.

Horizon is the root of horizontal.

We, you and I, are able to discuss the future. (Maybe this is among the most singular human features.)

The Map never gets close, and that it gets closer is an illusion provided by what I term the sunk perspective. In noting this, at the same time, all sorts of adventurous turns may tumble out of the dynamical interplay caused by being gripped and enthused by the current sunk perspective! Such perspectives then become relativized–and this is may be much different than being transcended and included.

Someday my squaring of radical empiricism and human (or social,) cybernetics will fall down the hole too.

If you should speak and try a hundred ways to express it,
‘Tis useless; the mystery becomes no clearer. …
A horse of wood is useless on dry land,
It is the special conveyance of voyagers by sea.
Silence is this horse of wood,
Silence is the guide and support of men at sea.
This Silence which causes you annoyance
Is uttering cries of love audible to the spiritual. (Rumi)


One conception of the psyche that one can get from studying Jung’s work, above all the work of early Jung, is that the psyche has a clear- cut orderly structure that can be presented in the geometric forms of concentric circles (the ego as the center, surrounded first by the realm of consciousness, then of the personal unconscious and finally of the collective unconscious) or of a cone (with different layers, the deepest of which would be that of the collective unconscious whereas the tip would represent the ego) as well as in the imaginal form of personified figures (ego, persona, shadow, anima/animus, self). To this conception, Jung’s psychological typology with its compass-like representation of the four orientation functions fits very neatly. The crux of this conception is that it starts out from the human person. The human being is here the container or vessel of the soul and accordingly also the horizon of psychology A psychology based on this fantasy clearly operates with the division between man and world, subject and object, inner and outer, psychology and physics and feels competent for only half of this divided whole.

Psychology’s belonging to one side manifests for example in the concept of “extraversion” and in the “object-level” method of dream interpretation. Psychology is here what goes on inside the human person, which is why I speak of the anthropological fallacy. This fallacy is of course by no means a specialty of (the early) C. G. Jung. It is, and has been, the generally accepted, conventional idea about psychology ever since there has been a scientific discipline by this name, an idea that seemed so natural, so self-evident that it was not felt to be in need of any argumentative justification.

In depth psychology the anthropological fallacy had the practical consequence that the individual was urged to turn inwards and, in the case of Jungian analysis, to develop his or her self and to strive for his or her wholeness. Not only the “individuation process,” but Jung’s adamant emphasis on the individual as “the measure of all things” (CW 10, par.523) and “the makeweight that tips the scales” (par. 586) affirmed and highlighted this concentration on the person. It is true, Jung repeatedly insisted that “individuation” and his psychological stance in general does not exclude, but include, the world. But such a semantic statement does not undo the underlying structure or syntax of this thinking, namely that it irrevocably starts out from a human being who has the world (“external reality”) outside and vis-a?-vis himself. Even synchronicity as the meaningful coincidence of an inner and an outer event still has the anthropological conception of psychology as its background and precisely by trying to overcome the opposition of psychology and physics in the direction of the idea of unus mundus once more confirms the anthropological stance.

A serious consequence of this methodological standpoint is that the soul is logically relegated to second rank, as much as it may be prioritized, semantically and emotionally. The human being is here the substrate or actual substance and the psyche is merely one of the attributes of this substrate.

But the human being as the substrate personality is not itself the topic of psychology. It lies outside psychology’s field of vision. Psychology’s topic is the soul, is psychic life (which, however, often manifests in people). The moment psychic life is defined as being the life of the substrate personality, psychology has the task of exploring something (namely, psychic life), whose actual substantial reality (namely, the human being) is pre-supposed as lying outside (“pre-”) its own precincts of competence and responsibility…. The soul, not the person, is what I have to focus on.

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Planet of the Snake-Oil Loving Apes


David Lane takes Ken Wilber to task, Frisky Dirt, Why Ken Wilber’s New Creationism
is Pseudo-Science
, for reprising his odd views on evolution. Those views can be encapsulated in quotes from The Guru and the Pandit. Eros, Buddha, and the Spectrum of Love, from the new issue of Andrew Cohen’s magazine EnlightenmentNext.

It’s evidence of a force that is pushing against randomness in the universe.

The fact that such a thing can happen is a miracle. It’s just unbelievable.

All of this, without exception, is driven by love.

Lane’s takedown of Wilber’s ‘esotericistic’ intelligent design is okay, but let’s face it, all the varieties of intelligent design and creationism present low hanging fruit. The abstract for the article is telling:

Love is a hot topic in the world of progressive spirituality, but you haven’t heard anyone discuss it like the Guru and the Pandit. Distinguishing between love’s personal, cultural, and cosmic dimensions, they explore how this primordial force gives rise to every new emergence in the evolutionary process.

Wilber has spelled out what he means by speaking of love’s primordial force. This can be put differently without error, and on offer then is the context, a context many times more interesting than Wilber’s new age creationism.

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in “Ken Wilber.”

Or, ending up in the Centauric Integral, another term for “Ken Wilber.”

This developmental outcome is very ironic if you’re aware of Wilber’s antipathy toward baby boomer solipsism.

As a thinker and quasi-philosopher, Wilber’s development peaked fifteen years ago. At the time he had sketched out an interesting, even compelling, albeit rudimentary, transdisciplinary methodology. It required proponents to get down to the brass tacks of formulating a sharp critical culture.

In 2001, he told Jordan Gruber,

> In the meantime, though, the grants that people could write to I-I for, none of that’s happening?

KW: No, what’s happening right now is that one of the main things we wanted to do with the original one hundred million dollars was to get it to as many people as possible doing work in this field, the general field of integral studies and integral endeavors. That’s one of the reasons that I started Integral Institute, to act as a funding source for people doing this kind of work because the marketplace doesn’t reward truly integral studies as all. It rewards New Age approaches to it, it rewards the experiential workshop approach, as it were, it rewards the green meme and the purple meme and everything in between, but it does not reward truly integral studies.

So, the only way we’re going to get real work done in this field is, frankly, if we have funding agencies that will do it. And once the real work is done, and the research is done, and we start producing really solid texts, and presentations, and articles, and research, then we can create a market off of that. That’s going to be probably three years from now.

So, what we’ve done at Integral Institute … the biggest change in our orientation happened not because of the market, but quite independent of that, a change we would have made whether the market went up or down. And that is, we went from being a kind of community of some four hundred founding members to focusing more on producing what we call “integral product,” actual books, texts, academic material in each of the ten branches. So we’re working on books in, for example, What is Integral Politics? What is Integral Business? Integral Medicine? Integral Law? Because what we found was that there were no really strong statements about an integral approach to any of these fields. Which is one of the reasons academia can ignore it completely.

KW: It can ignore it completely, and the other things we found is that most people with very very good intentions would simply take what they’re doing and call it integral when it really wasn’t. They were leaving out certain aspects of the human condition that ought not to be left out. We could demonstrate that to them, and they would say, “OK, I guess what I’m doing is not integral.”

So before we can build community, or create a market, or have a web presence, or have conferences, we have to produce specific texts in each of these ten branches, put together by one of our core teams of recognized scholars and researchers, saying “This is our best shot as an opening statement about what integral business is, integral politics, integral education, integral medicine, integral law, integral psychology, integral spirituality, and so on.”

Actually, what happened was this was inverted. Wilber created a community, a web presence, conferences, and, crucially, a market. Wilber’s Integral has been regressing ever since. Only The Integral Leadership Review, (itself mostly off the Wilberian reservation,) regularly publishes something like scholarship. Elsewhere there isn’t a body of Integral scholarship in those other nine branches, where the scholarship works to, as the Wilberian principle goes, keep the good and throw out the bad. So, without having enabled a keen critical culture to negotiate disciplinary fields using a robust and sophisticated Integral criteria, the Integral methodology was sunk.

Wilber’s creationism is interesting because its context is not Integral biology, but rather its context (and purpose) is the yoking of Wilber’s product lines to the biggest, most fantastic, view of that which can be the reward for buying Wilber’s spiritual technologies. This value-added idea is simple:

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in your ability to realize your cosmic integral love-vitalized high consciousness nature.

One has to buy a ticket, or otherwise pony up.

As for biology and science, Wilber has time and time again, in interviews with Larry Dossy, and other new age thought leaders, proposed that what is bad about science, methodological materialism, needs to be reformed and revolutionized, and, he’s implied, transformed into something altogether more ‘integral-mystical.’ (Magical!) Needless to say there aren’t any cogent Integral philosophers of science. Nor is there–as far as I know–any scholarly Integral biology, Integral physics, Integral anthropology, etc.. Also, the varieties of integral-like interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship found in some fields is not under review by Integral scholars.

No, there is only the facile spiritualizing of the Wilberian spiritual technology put up for sale. ‘Adeptitude’ has taken over; sadly. The strange, anti-intellectual case is that as much as this high-minded technology harps on getting right with The Shadow, science itself is smack dab in the middle of Wilber’s own shadow. I suspect love is stuck there too because the self-agrandizing, primordial move is too easy, compared, say, to the necessarily unsparing, perspective of Rilke.

To reconfigure Carl Jung’s famous insight,

…where power marketing predominates, love is lacking.

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Why not open source the integral movement?

Visit Integral Life, the main outpost for the Ken Wilberian revolution, and see how new age it’s become. (Integral Life is the leader of the deep lifestyle movement, helping people live more free and whole lives using integral philosophy, the first genuine world philosophy for the 21st century. from the site) Having tracked Wilber for 30+ years, I find the uncritical panoply of new ageism to signify Wilberian integralism to have come full circle and returned to its transpersonal, counter-culture, origins.

Wilber and his marketers have been building this brand and its product line for some time. The more developed the brand has become, the more his framework has atrophied. Its almost as if the Wilberian integralists can’t do two things at once. So, I suppose the decision was made. And then the cash registers were installed, and so it has gone.

What it looks like is this: kitschy self-realization resources and pay-to-play products dominating critical culture to the point one can’t find the critical culture anywhere. (How is this not egocentric?)

For example, wrap your discriminating intellect and eros around this:

2012, the Aquarian Age, and the Nature of Evolution (November 19th, 2009 by Darrell Moneyhon)

Regarding Ken’s very valid point addressed in his upcoming book, that indiscriminate democracy could be disastrous, given 70% of the population is at amber or lower, I think I have a solution – a broad strategy that could avert that catastrophe. I call it 3 S, for Sustainable Social Selection. It hinges on the idea that optimal human collective adaptation is based on effective utilization of human resources – no longer on selection via organisms dying off, the old “survival of the fittest” thing.

3 S adapts by finding the right person for the right “assignment”, or “engagement”. “Survival of the fittest is replaced with “survival of the fitting-est” – not meaning that whole groups of individuals (or even organizations or ideologies) will adapt or die from not fitting in with the requirements of the times (although such a selection may occur), but meaning that collectives which are able to get the right persons in the right job will adapt best. The ability to harness the various natural aptitudes and personality orientations, or roughly speaking, “gifts”, is what helps social groups survive and prosper. When the right gifts are placed in the right niches, a kind of workable egalitarianism is formed.

Why? Because gifts will sort out the best thinkers for thinking tasks, the best dreamers/intuiters for creative tasks and early stage innovation, the best relaters for healing and facilitation of social well-being, and the best do-ers for getting projects done in an efficient and effective manner. Those “gift” catagories are mainly types, but line competencies could also be used. Gift-in-niche assignments could be made based on performance (or observed proficiency) on certain lines of development, based on some form of multiple intelligence assessment, etc.. “Gifts” in general could include, then, a blend of type and line “intelligence” – a type-by-line “fit” factor.

Because all major types and all kinds (lines) of intelligences would be utilized, productively engaged, and cherished, no gift would be considered higher than other gifts. No gifts would be given better living standards than other gifts. To favor certain gift-sets would violate the very core of the Sustainable Social Selection strategy. All gifts, all people, would be needed in such a strategy. Every one would, therefore be “equal”.

But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things. “Each according to her gift” is a 3 S motto. The foot of the collective body does not have the same (equal) access to forks as do the fingers. Nor do the fingers have equal access to shoes. Those would be poor “fits” in a survival-by-the-fitting-est scheme. The understanding and practice of intrinsic power would replace the lust for extensic power. A finger would not want access to shoes (except to help tie shoe laces!), nor would feet want to hold forks. Those “powers” would be extrinsic to the nature of the respective gifts.

Because of the respect given to all the gifts, and because of equal provisions, there would be no press for every person to have equal say in social problem-solving or social planning projects. There would be no advantage or incentive for a do-er to pretend to be a social mapper, etc. If the standard of living is equal, then do-ers would have no incentive to do what they don’t do best! They would naturally prefer practical projects over big-picture pattern analysis, etc.

While I read this, I was thinking to myself, ‘Here’s an old Greek idea!’ Then I get to the point where ‘no gift would be considered higher than other gifts’ is contradicted by this: ‘But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things.’ This is garden-variety incoherence. Later, in an addendum, the writer suggests:

The key is get a modified democratic system which gives weighted voting privileges according to gifts, according to the person’s line strengths and/or type. This way, the “fingers” of the collective “body” aren’t voting about shoes. And the”feet” aren’t voting about eating utensiles. A thinker would have, say, one and a half vote, for big picture social policy votes. A relater would have, say, one and a half votes on specific issues related to health care.

The author contributes, by way of contextualizing this suggestion, some thoughts about an assessment regime which would sort out the overt typology of his scheme. Then at the end of his comment he sort of peels away to his core moralism.

But there is no guarantee that the behavior is following an optimal course which is in line with a person’s potential. Accordingly, both individual and collective behavior must be looked at in a dynamic, unfolding, genetic, sort of way, if we are to “behave” ourselves, and to live up to our potential.

Is the author really suggesting that by using typological assessments based in ‘moralized’ categories having to do with capturing in some definitive way a strict monological estimation of individual potential, there could then be a evolutionary progressive integral politics anchored to these behaviorally dispositive moralistic, performative, and structural identities?

The problem of the poverty of critical culture in Wilberian integralism comes to the front in Wilber’s musings.

Here is the idea that the integral world view will be, (or could be,) imposed as a matter of the natural superiority of the second tier moral consciousness. But I have a question, if the integral system hasn’t engendered a critical culture, in what way could I be convinced that second tier moral prescription isn’t, in actuality, massively egocentric, or otherwise darkened?


Don Beck on the 2nd Tier:

3. Do I accept that individuals, organizations, and societies must acquire these All Quadrant capacities in a step-by-step or developmental process?

6. Have I, personally, learned “when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em, and when to walk away?” Can I resist the need to control or engineer people?

9. Can I think systemically by addressing complex issues from a multi-case [multi-cause?] perspective rather than isolate a single culprit.

(2nd Tier, to me, is rigorously self-critical. Obviously this means I’m a charlatan or innovator or heretic.)

So, rather than develop a critical culture able to contest and refine and configure a future integral politics, what has come about is a product line wed to an inchoate “system,” itself born in top down elitism, and wildly over-generalized and simplistic estimations about political behavior. And, these products are tasked with pulling people into this uncritical socio-political sphere; all the while the cash registers ring.

This calls into question the Wilberian Project, almost in-total. One repetitive bit is a pisser in all this: when the second tier maestro, goes about reminding that he or she ‘is not judging,’ or refers to transcend-and-include as a work-around. This may fool people. But, I’m hearing an indelicate mash-up of Plato, Hegel and Mao!

Should one take the blinders off, now, many decades into the Wilberian Project, it is fairly obvious what pseudo-second tier seeks to showcase: an ability to do some educative banking, where you get to buy some old ‘vertical’ thought forms and climb up a little closer. (The idea that a spiritual elite possess the most able political consciousness is especially appealing when one can buy their way in, master the vocabulary, and learn how not to get passionately angry about anything.)

I state this obvious implication of enterprising integral politics with a sense of delighted irony. After all, there isn’t any substantive integral political philosophy–how could there be given what’s being recycled, heck, time shifted! here. And, it is deliciously ironic that Mr. Moneyhon has made an attempt to figure out the ‘assessment’ requirement, since, after all, there isn’t also a substantive integral psychology, let alone an applied integral psychology, upon which to build his mash-up of typology and assessment of aspirational potentials. Of course, with good reason, Centauric political leadership is yoked to integral spirituality, but this sure looks different when there comes the top-down proposal to assess somebody else’s spiritual stage using the potted categories given by integral spirituality.

(Might as well mention, there’s no methodology for doing these assessments; nor is there even a basis for a methodology. It’s a different kind of pipe dream.)

With respect to this latter field, it’s important to point out Wilberian integralism has wed its centralized entrepreneurial focus with (mostly) digital evangelism for its technology of enlightenment. Well, there’s nothing integral about the Wilberian style of commerce.

Full circle we go: how to account for the re-introduction of new age hucksters and thought leaders into the integral mix? What you get with this is a lot of free floating folk metaphysics and magical doctrines, and, above all, you get the utopian ethos built upon a future “Self-developmental” payoff. Cha Ching.

There’s little harm that can come from any of this. When Wilber shifted direction–years ago–and worked to create a marketable new age self-help technology, it became clear the ‘early alpha’ integral analytic framework would either be advanced by others, or, not.


Daniel Gustav Anderson has contributed an excellent piece at Integral World, Integral Theory After Wilber. His blog is thought provoking and a favorite.

From his excellent essay, one I take as a beginning:

Integral theory should be critical. By this I mean it should be dialectical; it should be scientific and examined as such, rather than transmitted as a belief-structure or a cult object. Universal and essentializing claims should be eschewed in favor of properly warranted, demonstrated, and delineated ones. If one is inclined to speculate and explore ideas with a freer hand as I myself often do, or when one sees that evidence is lacking for an idea that may reward further investigation, such speculations and ideas should be marked for what they are: explorations, thought experiments, provisional claims, possibilities for future inquiry, or (to borrow from David Lane) an instance of unknowingness. In short, integral theory should be critically self-aware of how it makes knowledge, and how that knowledge functions politically and socially. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School has much to offer in this regard, as does the pedagogy of Paulo Freire.

(There’s a lot of integral thinking and writing by persons who knew nothing, may have predated, the Wilberian ‘integral.’ I’ve come to respect greatly the variety of superb descriptive and analytic work which wanders in disciplined ways through various subjective and objective perspectives. On the web, Integral World, provides a portal for post-Wilberian thought–although quality varies a great deal. IW authors )

The spell that binds us today consists not least in the fact that it ceaselessly urges people to take action that they believe will break the spell; and that it prevents the reflection on themselves and the circumstances that might really break it. (Theodore Adorno)

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Dooz Age, Unstoppable

Another flare from Integral Life.

The Integral movement is based upon principles of compassion, clarity, and inclusiveness. A willingness to step beyond our personal and cultural points of view while remaining true to our own unique perspective; to sanctify the common ground between different sciences and different spiritual traditions while fully honoring and celebrating the differences between them; to hold all the contradictions and paradoxes of knowledge gently in one hand while cutting through the confusion and fragmentation with the other—these are precisely the sorts of qualities that define the Integral movement as a whole.

The Integral movement is already beginning to sweep across the world. Though it is no longer just a revolution of the mind (ours is a revolution of the “body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature”) and though it is still in its very early stages of emergence, its influence is rapidly beginning to gain traction, right now at this very second. The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

The Integral Revolution: the result of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable subject.

When do you think the Integral movement will reach its “tipping point”?

Forced choice poll. I selected: Centuries, if at all.

This kind of marketing pitch doesn’t move me at all. I’m not much of a joiner, and, feverish and grand appeals never inspire me. But, that’s just due to my own disposition. On the other hand, appeals which thread incoherent stuff together fascinate me!

The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

is a doozy. No, it’s a double doozy. Talk about a personal and cultural point of view… But, what stopped the flow? Why is it flowing again?

As it turns out, over the past weeks I’ve been reflecting upon the cultural history that was the context for Ken Wilber’s first appearance as a thinker, writer, and cultural critic. This refers to the late seventies and eighties. If I ponder just the thin slice of my closest cohort, and briefly unpack where this small sample was, say, in 1982, ten years after graduating from high school, my conclusion would be: revolution over, making a life—toggled on.

In this personal respect, I really have no idea what current of growth and development in days of yore this pitch is referring to. It would make more sense if names were named. “The very same currents of growth and development” implies precision (via the word ‘same,’) about precedents. Which same currents?

(Let me leap to an idea: in other schools of self-realization, might one discover that their properly applied experiential applications strip away sentimentality–completely?)

By the time the Reagan era rolled into the village, cocaine-fueled hedonic nihilism was the cosmopolitan rage, and the self-realization movement struggled to restore itself after lots of revolutionary bad psychedelic mojo had gone down. Oddly enough, politically, the southern strategy had yet to morph into the southern baptist strategy, yet, a religious call-to-arms emerged at the time to—the dour religionists hoped—beat back the coming ‘new age.’ Think of this as the reaction to Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) and John Naisbett’s Megatrends (1982), both books were more lucrative and widely distributed annunciations of revolutionary hope and transformation than anything published in the sixties.

But, I get why, as a marketing position, it’s better to channel nostalgia back to the sixties, rather than back to the more contradictory eighties. Still, the actually “same” currents are to be found circa 1980, not circa 1968.

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Urban Integralism

(moved from -pages-)

excerpted from Integral Urbanism by Nan Ellin. Originally posted on February 6, 2009.

(from the Introduction)

In Western society, generally, we are witnessing a gradual reorientation
toward valuing slowness, simplicity, sincerity, spirituality, and sustainability in
an attempt to restore connections that have been severed over the last century
between body and soul, people and nature, and among people. For architects
and planners, this has been apparent in the shift from the machine as model
(Modernism), to cities of the past as model (Postmodernism), to seeking models
simultaneously in ecology and new information technologies (e.g., thresholds,
ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks, the World Wide Web, the
Internet). Along with these new metaphors, there has been a fascination with
the border, edge, and in-between, as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to the earlier models that bespoke aspirations for control and
perfection, these current models suggest the importance of connectedness and
dynamism as well as the principle of complementarity. On the ecological
threshold, where two ecosystems meet, for instance, there is competition and
conflict but also synergy and harmony. There is fear but also adventure and
excitement. It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain,
winners or losers. All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

As ecological success is measured
by the capacity of our planet to support all life forms,
urban design success should be measured
by its capacity to support humanity.
Learning from best practices,
an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path
toward a more sustainable human habitat.

In contrast to escapist, cynical, or purely mercenary tendencies,
Integral Urbanism aims to heal wounds
inflicted upon the landscape
by the modern and postmodern eras
as manifest in:
Visually unappealing places
Impoverishment of public space and heightened perception of fear
Diminished sense of place and sense of community &
Environmental degradation.

To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism demonstrates five qualities:


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Practice of a Lifetime, Or, Useful tool?

Allow me to briefly sing the praises of the Integral model. Not in its pseudo-formalization given by Mr. Wilber ( but in its idiosyncratic and the decidedly ‘informalization,’ given by me.

First, it is necessary to locate my move here via admission about my prejudices. De-capitalize the ‘I.’ The integral model, and Spiral Dynamics as well, is, in this guise, an informal sociology tending to employ folk psychologizing for the purpose of supporting intuitive navigation of the entangled systems from the scale of personal reflection all the way to the scale of group relations. This latter scale is limited to identifiable groups further described by their centering array of interests. Hmmm, this could include groups whose centering interest is decentering; but I digress in noting this.

From this position, certain qualities of my idiosyncratic re-deployment of the integral model are resolved. This model is: informal, not formal; subjective, not objective; reflexive-intersubjective, neither scientific or scientistic. No metaphysical or post-metaphysical warrants are implied in any of this. This wild version of the integral/SD model is aimed to merely be a pragmatic tool for the self-organization of an intuitive and phenomenological inquiry–conducted by daring investigators. The hallmark of the result of this application is–necessarily–extreme provisionality.

My hypothesis is the model is a good candidate for generating autopoietic data enabled to support transformational learning. This will not in any way require the learner to know the model very well. Thank you Pandit KW.


A book co-authored by Ken Wilber sits before me. Integral Life Practice. I guess I couldn’t help myself (in taking it out of the library,) but also I won’t be dealing with it. So: caveat emptor. This I will say: Wilber’s integral philosophy sometime ago fed a movement with adherents, and this book showcases the industrialization of the integral self-development technology aimed to extract smolians from true believers.

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I’m reading a new book Integral Urbanism by Nan Ellin. I’ve copied out the text laid over graphics here because it crystalizes something of my own perspective. Also, although her conception of ‘integral’ owes something to Ken Wilber, in the main her writing obtains a very fine phenomenological reckoning with a quasi-transdisciplinary cast of mind. (My comments follow the clipping.)

As ecological success is measured
by the capacity of our planet to support all life forms,
urban design success should be measured
by its capacity to support humanity.
Learning from best practices,
an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path
toward a more sustainable human habitat.

In contrast to escapist, cynical, or purely mercenary tendencies,
Integral Urbanism aims to heal wounds
inflicted upon the landscape
by the modern and postmodern eras
as manifest in:
Visually unappealing places
Impoverishment of public space and heightened perception of fear
Diminished sense of place and sense of community &
Environmental degradation.

To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism demonstrates five qualities:
Hybridity and Connectivity bring activities and people together, rather than
isolate objects and separate functions. These qualities also treat people and nature
as symbiotic—as well as buildings and landscape—rather than oppositional.
Porosity preserves the integrity of that which is brought together while allowing
mutual access through permeable membranes, rather than the modernist
attempt to dismantle boundaries or postmodernist fortification.
Authenticity involves actively engaging and drawing inspiration from actual social
and physical conditions with an ethic of care, respect, and honesty. Like all healthy
organisms, the authenti-City is always growing and evolving according to new
needs that arise thanks to a self-adjust ing feedback loop that measures and monitors
success and failure.
And Vulnerability calls upon us to relinquish control, listen deeply, value process
as well as product , and re-integrate space with time.
In contrast to the master-planned functionally-zoned city
which separates, isolates, alienates, and retreats,
Integral Urbanism emphasizes
connection, communication, and celebration.

As we are a part of nature,
so are our habitats including our cities.
Over the last century, however,
urban development has treated the city as a machine
for efficiently sheltering and protecting
and for moving people, money, and goods.

The city-as-machine approach has privileged building upon
a tabula rasa, or clean slate.
This is manifest in leaving older cities behind
to build further out on pristine or agricultural land.
It is also manifest in razing large swaths of older cities to build anew.
Another by-product of the quest for efficiency is zoning.
Introduced one century ago as indust rial product ion and the car
were transforming the urban experience,
zoning segregated funct ions
that had been integrated
from t ime immemorial.
As people are mutually interdependent, however,
so are our activities as expressed in city form.
Cities and communities only thrive (are only sustainable)
when these interdependencies are allowed to lourish.
We are now belatedly recognizing the problems
wrought by the clean-slate tendency and land-use zoning.
However well-intended, these efforts to “renew” our cities
and render them more efficient have gone too far,
ult imately draining the life from them and cont ribut ing
to threaten our sense of community, security,
and physical and emotional health.
Rather than neglect, abandon, or erase our urban heritage, Integral Urbanism
preserves buildings, neighborhoods, and natural landscapes that we value;
rehabilitates, reclaims, restores, or renovates what is underperforming;
and adds what we do not have yet but would like,
as informed by effective community involvement.

Whether applied to exist ing urban fabrics or new development ,
I ntegral Urbanism activates places
by creating thresholds—places of intensity—
where a range of people and activities may converge.
Providing places to congregate along with synergies and eficiencies,
I ntegral Urbanism offers settings—while also liberat ing t ime and energy—
for collaborat ively envisioning and implement ing desired change.
The result is:
more conservation & less waste,
more quality public space & less distrust and fear,
more quality time & less “ screen time” and commuting time,
more proaction & less reaction.
Whereas the modern paradigm discouraged convergences
through its emphasis on separation and control,
this new paradigm encourages them.
Convergences in space and time
of people, activities, businesses, and so forth
generate new hybrids.
These hybrids allow new convergences and the process continues.
This is, in fact, the definition of development.

From the machine as model (modernism) ,
to cities of the past as model (postmodernism) ,
Integral Urbanism finds models simultaneously in
ecology and new information technologies such as
thresholds, ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks,
the World Wide Web, and the Internet .
I t also reveals a fascination with the border, edge, and in-between,
as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to earlier models, these suggest
the importance of connectedness and dynamism
as well as the principle of complementarity.
On the ecological threshold where two ecosystems meet, for instance,
there is competition and conlict along with synergy and harmony.
There is fear along with adventure and excitement .
It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain, winners or losers.
All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

Integral Urbanism veers away from master planning which,
in its focus on cont rolling everything,
ironically tends to generate fragmented cities without soul or character.
Instead, Integral Urbanism proposes more punctual intervent ions
that have a tentacular or domino effect,
catalyzing other interventions in an ongoing dynamic process.
If master planning were a form of surgery on an anaesthetized city,
Integral Urbanism might be a form of acupuncture on a fully alert and engaged city.
By opening up blockages along “urban meridians,”
just as acupuncture and other forms of bioenergetic healing
open blockages along the energy meridians of our bodies,
this approach can liberate the life force of a city and its vibrant communities.
While integrat ing the functions that the modern city separated,
Integral Urbanism also seeks to integrate:
ln conventional notions of urban, suburban, and rural to
produce a new model for the contemporary city
ln design with nature
ln local character with global forces
ln the design professions and
ln people of different ethnicities, incomes, ages, and abilit ies.
Integral Urbanism is about :
Networks not boundaries
Relationships and connections not isolated objects
Interdependence not independence or dependence
Natural and social communit ies not just individuals
Transparency or translucency not opacity
Permeability not walls
Flux or low not stasis
Connections with nature and relinquishing control,
not continuous.
While integrating the functions that the modern city separated,
Integral Urbanism also seeks to integrate:
ln conventional notions of urban, suburban, and rural to
produce a new model for the contemporary city
ln design with nature
ln local character with global forces
ln the design professions and
ln people of different ethnicit ies, incomes, ages, and abilit ies.
Integral Urbanism is about :
Networks not boundaries
Relationships and connections not isolated objects
Interdependence not independence or dependence
Natural and social communities not just individuals
Transparency or translucency not opacity
Permeability not walls
Flux or low not stasis
Connections with nature and relinquishing control,
not controlling nature
Catalysts, armatures, frameworks, punctuat ion marks,
notional products, master plans, or utopias.

The urban and environmental challenges of the last century
have prompted a reconsiderat ion of values, goals, and means of achieving them,
particularly over the last decade.
In contrast to the fast-paced more-is-more mentality,
the appeals of simplicity, slowness, spirituality, sincerity, and sustainability
are clearly on the rise.

Side by side with the still prevalent reactive tendencies of
form to follow fiction, finesse, finance, and fear,
myriad proactive initiatives from a wide range of contributors
to shaping the environment are shifting the paradigm toward integrat ion.

Although there remain numerous
obstacles along this path, we are
nonetheless passing through a rare
historic moment when what is good
for urban growth and development
is aligning with polit ical, economic,
and social trends.
We have been coming full circle or,
more accurately, full spiral.
Learning from the inherent wisdom
of nature and cities of the past ,
we are infusing it with contemporary

Rather than choosing to cont inue or abandon the modern project ,
our hyper-rational reliance upon information technologies along with
a simultaneous revalorization of process, relat ionships, and complementarity
is conspiring to eradicate the either/ or proposit ion.
We are doing both simultaneously,
each providing feedback for and adjusting the other accordingly,
holding potential for achieving integration at another level.

The modern era divided the world and our thinking about it into fragments
and our landscape followed. We are suffering the results.
Integrating disciplines and professions,
Integral Urbanism seeks to mend seams and darn holes
in the urban and social fabrics.
Resolutely refusing to idealize the past or escape the present ,
Integral Urbanism envisions and realizes
a new integration for an enriched future.
Crises and stress incite growth and change in all life forms.
The kind of change that occurs may support or detract from
the health and well-being of the system depending
upon its level of resilience and intelligence.
Applying the five qualities of Integral Urbanism
can offer the soul food necessary
for our cities and communities
to blossom and truly thrive.
Not merely

(from the Introduction)

In Western society, generally, we are witnessing a gradual reorientation
toward valuing slowness, simplicity, sincerity, spirituality, and sustainability in
an attempt to restore connections that have been severed over the last century
between body and soul, people and nature, and among people. For architects
and planners, this has been apparent in the shift from the machine as model
(Modernism), to cities of the past as model (Postmodernism), to seeking models
simultaneously in ecology and new information technologies (e.g., thresholds,
ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks, the World Wide Web, the
Internet). Along with these new metaphors, there has been a fascination with
the border, edge, and in-between, as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to the earlier models that bespoke aspirations for control and
perfection, these current models suggest the importance of connectedness and
dynamism as well as the principle of complementarity. On the ecological
threshold, where two ecosystems meet, for instance, there is competition and
conflict but also synergy and harmony. There is fear but also adventure and
excitement. It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain,
winners or losers. All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

For me, the smart community possesses the cognitive and poetic and expressive and creative capacities, thus the chops, to both contest the normal paths of low developmental resistance and instigate visions of future community that require the community to be smart. Another way of putting this is: the people in the community are more cognitively advanced than the ‘conventional’ people who want to develop the community. I add to this the potential for the people in a community to also be more advanced artists, entrepreneurs, care-givers, and ethicists. However, the challenge is, as I see it, that the smart community is necessarily reflective, much less egocentric, and, (as Melanie Klein would have it,) depressive; depressive meaning open and constructively related to reality-as-it-presents-itself.

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The Integral Spiritual Center lands a come-on in my email box every week. Yesterday’s gave me a whack on the side of the head.

Modern science has given us a compelling picture of the evolution of our universe, from its first moments: quantum fluctuations—i.e. the “Big Bang”—led to a massive inflation, followed by “the dark ages,” then the formation of the first stars, at about t+400 million years. But science has been largely unable to explain what happened before—indeed, what brought about—the Big Bang. Scientific explanations have tended to end up sounding somewhat like traditional Eastern cosmology: the Earth stands upon the back of an elephant, which stands upon the back of a turtle, and from there, it’s turtles all the way down…. The world’s great spiritual traditions have long sought answers to this question, and have theorized a process reciprocal to the one that science has investigated so thoroughly: prior to evolution, there was involution.

Truth be told, I’m not aware of any spiritual tradition that has pondered what happened before the Big Bang. (This is the case if one discounts secular science enough to make of it not a spiritual tradition.) But the main thing is: the traditions didn’t know of the Big Bang.

Not so curiously, creation myths tend to be very relational and story-like! These stories have a beginning but don’t usually pose a beginning prior to their starting point. But the Big Bang doesn’t begin with the Big Bang. It’s a just-so story in the sense of ‘as far as we know’ and ‘to the degree that we know.’

The turtles all the way down trope certainly aligns with one of Ken Wilber’s oldest (surviving!) propositions, The Great Chain of Being. I’m not sure which scientific explanation was to the ISC’s blurb writer, “sounding somewhat like traditional Eastern cosmology.” (And this was stated after the same writer wrote: “science has been largely unable to explain what happened before.”)

The blurb seems to change the subject and goes on after raising Involution:

Essentially, says Ken, we begin every moment in a state of nondual Suchness. But if we have yet to stabilize that state into a state-stage, that state will be pre-conscious to us, and we will undergo the first contraction, into the causal realm of the Witness and all that is witnessed. If we have yet to stabilize that state, we will contract into the subtle realm of the soul. And if we have yet to stabilize that state, we will contract into the gross realm of the ego and our conventional self. So with every moment, we “fall down the stairs,” cascading down from suchness until the point of our state realization. Here, we recognize ourselves, in a dynamic similar to what the Tibetan Book of the Dead teaches about the Bardo and our experience after death. And this world (and with it, all “lower” worlds) arises in our experience.

Reminds me of Ibn al-Arabi, ra, and an encapsulation I wrote in 1991.

Henri Corbin commenting on the fact of ascension
(as described by Ibn’ Arabi, r.a.)

Look upon our own existance. Is it continuous ?

Or is it incessantly renewing on every breath ?

Does not being cease then come into being
with every breath, and upon His sigh of compassion?

Hexities, themselves pure possibles do not demand concrete existence.
recurrent creation manifests infinitely, essentially, divinely.

Divine being descends, is epiphanized in our individuality
such being thus ascends to return to the source.

Every being ascends with the instant
to see this is to see the multiple existing in the one.

And so the man who knows that is his “soul”,
such a man knows his Lord.

Richard Grossinger, from his superb new book, The Bardo of Waking Life:

The 9.5 years that it will take a spacecraft to bust out of Earth’s gravity well and be slingshot by gas giants to Pluto, out at the edge of the Kuiper Belt, must be measured against an event barely the size of a ball-bearing out of which the entire universe detonated once into a state so protracted and sticky it continues to fulminate and distend.

Involution? This reminds me of quaint and romantic notions from the hydraulic 19th century. Of course we’ve moved through the hyper-hydraulic 20th century. And past the cusp of the 21st century it seems contemporaneously quaint to suppose involution tended to reveal (Wilber’s) suchness is another turtle. We’re all enslaved for hundred thousand story-making years to this mechanical conceit.

“Before,” then, is only a mechanical necessity. What happens before you and your dear one decide to go out and dance? What is caused to morph?


Our basis is completely mysterious. . .

Completely. It’s not that involution makes clear the origin, it’s that “pure possibles do not demand concrete existence” may require any origin to be essentially not knowable and, perhaps, origin exists beyond mere mechanics, beyond mechanical concretization of (even) original possibility.

Granted, Wilber is moved to try to explain everything. What a romantic!


What we call music in our everyday language is only a miniature, which our intelligence has grasped from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind everything, and which is the source and origin of nature. It is because of this that the wise of all ages have considered music to be a sacred art. For in music the seer can see the picture of the whole universe; and the wise can interpret the secret and the nature of the working of the whole universe in the realm of music. Inayat Khan


We are only possibility, and God is no one but the background agaisnt which possibility rests.

For me, ‘completely’ and ‘only’ tear involution and sunder suchness. Mystery cannot be the ground of mechanics and also itself mechanical. Before involution and evolution? Only God knows.

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The following could serve as the subject of an assignment: What’s wrong at the level of assumptions found in the following argument?

I’ve provided some helpful italicizing.

At the second gathering of the teachers of Integral Spiritual Center, Patrick Sweeney famously asked Ken Wilber, “what can we do to stay out of Appendix III of Integral Spirituality?” In “The Myth of the Given,” Ken surveys some major modern approaches to spirituality, and demonstrates via AQAL their partiality—and how that partiality might be remedied.

It’s sobering to consider that so many of today’s most eminent teachers are partial! But as Ken points out, Appendix III (and the Integral approach in general) is meant not so much to point out that partiality as to highlight expertise in a highly specialized area. AQAL is an incredible tool for both situating various approaches and for understanding how they are related to each other. To the extent that the conclusions of these approaches fall within their area of expertise, they are most assuredly true. But to the extent that their conclusions overstep their area of expertise, a broader context such as AQAL can be enormously helpful.

The potency of AQAL to situate various approaches derives from its own formulation. Take, for example, the field of psychology. Ken points out that there are six major schools of psychology, each advanced by brilliant researchers who pioneered a particular approach to the field. Ken’s approach was to ask “what must be the characteristics of the human mind, such that the major conclusions of each of these schools could hold true?” His goal, rather than to work within one of the major schools to further its particular conclusions, was to reverse-engineer the human psyche—indeed, the entire Kosmos—altogether. source: ISC Editor’s Weekly Blog

Sometime in the near future I will highlight a very fine paper that does employ AQAL to accurately situate various perspectives in the field of organizational behavior. It is one of the few such integral overviews–rooted to a discipline–that is expert enough in a ‘meta-disciplinary’ sense to provide a lot of value.


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After borrowing Ken Wilber’s latest book,Integral Spirituality from the library, I was moved to purchase it because I had dipped into it and read the following on page 176:

The myth of the given or monological consciousness is essentially another name for phenomenology and mere empiricism in any of a hundred guises–whether regular empiricism, radical empiricism, interior empiricism, transpersonal empiricism, empirical phenomenology, transcendental phenomenology, radical phenomenology, and so forth. As important as they might be, what they all have in common is the myth of the given, which includes:

the belief that reality is simply given to me, [etc.].

My jaw dropped. If all those empiricisms and phenomenologies are equivalent, (ummm, ‘guised,’?) are they really a matter of the subject’s belief? Belief hangs over Wilber’s argument like a piano suspended from a crane over a tent. One supposes the tent is full of academic phenomenologists and empiricists!

Belief is an odd psychologizing turn. Why does Wilber choose belief to be the critical verb? Do we believe in givenness of reality? Leave aside the strange and flattening conflation of, for example, James and Husserl around the construct ‘monological’ consciousness, and consider why Wilber is unwilling to state that for these cases reality itself is given to the subjective consciousness regardless of intentionality of any kind. This includes belief.

Some of the many problems of his theory are here in this excerpt.

This is aside from the controversies which have to do with the institutionalisation of the Integral and Wilber’s own stature as king of his own hermetic kingdom. There’s a connection however. Wilber wants very much to privilege his own consciousness and build a system from it. (This is why Integral Theory hasn’t found rigorous  analytic and scritical venue outside of its originator’s own opus and his groups.) Wilber doesn’t seem to grok the givenness of his reality is no less a worthy subject for his own criticism, criticism waged against all those old school philosophical phenomenologists. Wilber’s theory has yet to obtain a privileged “meta-frame” for simple technical reasons.

Wilber, is not a convincing conceptual, propositional, and operational thinker. He manages to conflate, for example, the empiricism of James with the phenomenology of, for example, Merleau-Ponty. In his flattening move, he implies they are equivalent because they are oriented around around the belief that reality is given. Then, disregarding the longstanding alternative view, (one view among many,) that reality is a suchness, and, completely turning this on its head, he reduces all the ways various phenomenological viewpoints are, in fact, different from one another to a singular, (weakly) psychologized posit with intentional belief at the center of his implicit criticism. (Is belief necessary to a radical empiricism?) In the prototypical Wilberian turn, he develops his argument as if his idiosyncratic interpretation is per force authoritative, correct, and, even, in a purportedly better ‘Wilberian’ future, normative.

Belief can’t be the catch-all for phenomenological reflexivity unless one implements a monological meta-perspective with a definitive (ie. well defined) version of belief at its core! There exist alternatives different than this possibility, and different than another whipping boy of Wilber’s, pluralistic relativism. Even so, this monological view would be not much more than a notion of Wilber’s. There are lots of alternatives, among them are: mysterium, incompleteness, various monisms and realisms, and idealisms. etc. We might admit too ways in which these and other facets of experience are entangled, and are entangled at different orders, and within dynamic arrays of psychological contingencies. We might, too, entertain belief as a problematic of subjectivity, psychologize it as a problematic of reflexivity, or even play with novel views, one such being that belief is a measure of suspicion of that which isn’t seemingly (to the subject) true.

By virtue of my own prejudices, I suspect a truly integral psychology would invert Wilber’s concerns. Rather than psychologize philosophical dispositions, it would philosophize psychological dispositions. This would require Wilber to investigate cognitive psychology and also research folk psychology because commonsense theories of mind, (alternately: everyday practical phenomenology,) are not constructed out of experience and knowledge of august philosophers!

Then there are the folk theories of mind in their infinite subjective varieties. Those count for a great deal since the flux of subjective perspectives is incredibly diverse. (Keep in mind most people don’t construct their perspectives because they’ve evaluated the options given by the ‘history of ideas’. Wilber’s foundational quasi-constructivist supposition strikes me as a strawman with respect to the extant plurality of actual instantiated intentionalities, including those classifiable under the rubric, ‘belief.’ Those possibilities aren’t required to lend themselves to reduction. Wilber’s never groked this although it remains a commonsense objection to his weird integral flatland where the disparate get mixed to grey like finger paints do when subject to overactive artistry!

Is Wilber arguing against belief in givenness (in his own terms,) because he’d like his Integral perspective to supplant the flattened ‘phenomenological’ he decries? Taken specifically, there’s no reason a phenomenology can’t also take as a given experience while making no appeal to intentionality. (It would be paradoxical like Strawson is paradoxical.)

Anyway, he has yet to develop any warrants for this turn he makes. I’m left to ponder why his own subjectivism has become so limited and incapable of self-criticism. Taken generally the phenomenological is hardly monological. As a catch-all, and taken as a term for the richness of subjectivity, it seems strikingly to be the antithesis of monological. Yet, clearly to argue against this, Wilber requires it to be reified. Thus, once again, Wilber’s orienting of generalities concretizes a map about only his own interpretation. Moreover, this map, evidently, is of a territory surrounded by a big protective wall!

This is all unfortunate. If I may suggest: a meta-sociology of knowledge, perspectivism, and consciousness is a worthwhile project. But, in buffering out dialectical, cooperative research with authoritative, likeminded thinkers across the spectrum of interdisciplinarity, Wilber has implemented a hierarchical defense against just about any and all contestation of his work. That this defense rotates around a fallacious appeal to his own authority, and has, over the past decade or so, caused Wilber to rationalize his superiority in the most self-serving, loony terms, has polluted the otherwise worthwhile integral project.

In fact he’s polluted the Integral with his own consciousness cum personality. (Integral Spirituality is full of snippy asides and reflexive dodges.) This is ironic. Nowadays one notes the project includes an admission fee if the polloi want to get close to the pandit; has popped up a consulting cottage industry, and suckered insiders to obtain, well, mere belief. When the lack of warrants and intersubjective contests are pointed out, Wilber lashes out, effecting a refuge of scoundrels: that his critics misunderstand him because they haven’t read his work. Loony.

I have no idea why he can’t step outside himself and his hermetic prejudices enough to see how odd this all is. At the end of this day, Wilber can’t carry much integral water simply because he’s not very integral himself. (Pro-certainty; anti-critical inquiry.) He’s, strangely enough, a warped kind of traditionalist, kind of a post post-modern (Fritjof) Schuon for our times, at the head of a spiritual food chain he’s constructed for himself, with all roads leading to nis own mind. He wrote it and he understands it best. (Incidentally, once you unbolt all the jargon and junk away, and cut wilber a bunch of slack for his being at least a king of category errors, the whole edifice of the Integral isn’t difficult or hard to understand.

His appeal to (his conjured) injunctive verification and its fallacious appeal to authority and non-falsifiability; overlays the mere assertion that “he knows because he knows,” and underpins the necessary master mentality asserted to defend against criticism, says more about Wilber than it can possibly say about how a renegade intelligence might forge an important new outlook–meta-perspective–on the entanglement of subjective and objective and hybrid perspectives.

Or: he knows because his consciousness is so vaunted and valorized. Not only does he read his own clippings but he certifies many of his own reviewers! This harkens back to a psychology about self-inflation. Pathos comes to mind too.

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