Ken Wilber with Bernard Glassman (background)
January 31, 1949 |
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
|Occupation||Author, Integral theorist|
|Historical integral figures|
|Contemporary integral thinkers|
Kenneth Earl "Ken" Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American writer, philosopher and public speaker. He has written and lectured about mysticism, philosophy, ecology, and developmental psychology. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998 he founded the Integral Institute.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Theory
- 3 Reception
- 4 Other roles
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Wilber was born in 1949 in Oklahoma City. In 1967 he enrolled as a pre-med student at Duke University. He became inspired, like many of his generation, by Eastern literature, particularly the Tao Te Ching. He left Duke and enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, completing a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology and a master's degree in biochemistry.[unreliable source?]
In 1973 Wilber completed his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, in which he sought to integrate knowledge from disparate fields. After rejections by more than twenty publishers it was finally accepted in 1977 by Quest Books, and he spent a year giving lectures and workshops before going back to writing. He also helped to launch the journal ReVision in 1978.
In 1982 New Science Library published his anthology The Holographic Paradigm and other Paradoxes a collection of essays and interviews, including one by David Bohm. The essays, including one of his own, looked at how holography and the holographic paradigm relate to the fields of consciousness, mysticism and science.
In 1983 Wilber married Terry "Treya" Killam who was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. From 1984 until 1987, Wilber gave up most of his writing to care for her. Treya died in January 1989; their joint experience was recorded in the 1991 book Grace and Grit.
Subsequently, Wilber wrote Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES) (1995). The first volume of his Kosmos Trilogy. A Brief History of Everything (1996) was the popularised summary of SES in interview format. The Eye of Spirit (1997) was a compilation of articles he had written for the journal ReVision on the relationship between science and religion. Throughout 1997, he had kept journals of his personal experiences, which were published in 1999 as One Taste, a term for unitary consciousness. Over the next two years his publisher, Shambhala Publications, released eight re-edited volumes of his Collected Works. In 1999, he finished Integral Psychology and wrote A Theory of Everything (2000). In A Theory of Everything Wilber attempts to bridge business, politics, science and spirituality and show how they integrate with theories of developmental psychology, such as Spiral Dynamics. His novel, Boomeritis (2002), attempts to expose what he perceives as the egotism of the Baby Boom Generation.
In 1987 Wilber moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he worked on his Kosmos trilogy and oversaw the work of the Integral Institute. Wilber now lives in Denver, Colorado, and works with Marc Gafni at the Center for World Spirituality, which he co-founded. Wilber has stated that he has a debilitating illness called RNase Enzyme Deficiency Disease.
One of Wilber's key ideas is to study and categorize items in terms of their nature as a holon, a term deriving from the writings of Arthur Koestler. He observed that it seems every entity and concept shares a dual role: being both an autonomous, self-reliant unit (whole entity) unto itself, and also a part of one (or more) other wholes. Examples include the way in which a cell in an organism is both a whole as a cell and at the same time a part of another whole, the organism. Likewise a letter is a self-existing entity and simultaneously an integral part of a word, which then is part of a sentence, which is part of a paragraph, which is part of a page; and so on. Everything from quarks to matter to energy to ideas can be looked at in this way. The relation between individuals and society is not the same as between cells and organisms though, because individual holons can be members but not parts of social holons.
In his book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Wilber outlines approximately twenty fundamental properties, called "tenets", that characterize all holons and form the basis of Wilber's model of manifest reality. These come about by considering the properties holons must have. For example they must be able to maintain their "wholeness" and also their "part-ness;" a holon that cannot maintain its wholeness will cease to exist and will break up into its constituent parts. They form natural "holarchies" like Russian dolls, where a whole, is a part of another whole, in turn part of another whole, and so on – these are grounded in their nature by simply examining what entities are made of or their pre-requisites for existence, compared to hierarchies which may be societally determined. Holons cannot join to form a whole unless the other requisite holons also exist and circumstances needed for their combination allow.
As an inevitable corollary of their nature as a simultaneous part and whole, each holon inherently has an interior and an exterior perspective (the perception or equivalent of the holon and the perspective of other separate entities), and also may be considered in the sense of an individual or as a plurality or collective.
According to Wilber, this means that multiple viewpoints are inherent in the nature and existence of holons, as a natural consequence of holon-ness and each of the four approaches has a valid perspective to offer. The subjective emotional pain of a person who suffers a tragedy is one perspective and the social statistics about such tragedies are different perspectives on the same matter, the former being from the viewpoint of an individual and their subjective experience, the latter being a view of individuals in the plural and their objective assessment from outside. Putting these together, Wilber identifies four perspectives valid for any holon: the subjective (interior) and objective (exterior) views of a holon individually, and the same for a plurality of holons. Wilber states that it is important to consider all four perspectives as valid, as all are needed for real appreciation of a matter. To collapse them all together or dismiss one of these perspectives is often a serious mistake.
By way of example, one can crudely categorize the perspectives taken on people and their behavior in different schools of thought:
- Interior individual accounts (upper-left quadrant) include Freudian psychoanalysis, which interprets people's interior experiences and focuses on "I"
- Interior plural accounts (lower-left) include Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics which seeks to interpret the collective consciousness of a society, or plurality of people and focuses on "We"
- Exterior individual accounts (upper-right) include B. F. Skinner's behaviorism, which limits itself to the observation of the behavior of organisms and treats the internal experience, decision making or volition of the subject as a black box, and which with the fourth perspective emphasizes the subject as a specimen to examine, or "It".
- Exterior plural accounts (lower-right) include Marxist economic theory which focuses upon the behavior of a society (ie a plurality of people) as functional entities seen from outside.
All four pursuits – psychoanalysis, behaviorism, philosophical hermeneutics and Marxism – offer complementary, rather than contradictory, perspectives. It is possible for all to be correct and necessary for a complete account of human existence. Also, each by itself offers only a partial view of reality. On his view, Wilber has integrated these four areas of knowledge through an acknowledgement of the four fundamental dimensions of existence. Further, according to Wilber, these four perspectives can be applied, and are equally valid, at all levels of existence and for all holon entities. The quadrants map to other familiar perspectives: I/We/It, and empirical observation (what does it do?) vs. interpretation (what does it mean?).
As a further observation, Wilber contends that modernity evidences a specific pathological form of collapsed viewpoint due to a near-complete focus in recent centuries on the right sides, which characterize holons in terms primarily of their functional and measurable nature, as "its", or as specimens to be analyzed. Such perspectives value that which can be externally measured and tested in a laboratory, but tend to deny or marginalize the left sides (subjectivity, individual experience, feelings, values) as unproven or having no meaning. Wilber identifies this as a fundamental cause of society's malaise, and names the situation resulting from such perspectives, "flatland".
AQAL: "All Quadrants All Levels"
AQAL (pronounced aqual or ah-qwul) represents the core of Wilber's work. AQAL stands for "all quadrants all levels", but equally connotes "all lines", "all states" and "all types". These are the five irreducible categories of Wilber's model of manifest existence. In order for an account of the Kosmos to be complete, Wilber believes that it must include each of these five categories. For Wilber, only such an account can be accurately called "integral". In the essay, "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are in This Together", Wilber describes AQAL as "one suggested architecture of the Kosmos".
All of Wilber's AQAL categories—quadrants, lines, levels, states, and types—relate to relative truth in the two truths doctrine of Buddhism, to which he subscribes. According to Wilber, none of them are true in an absolute sense: only formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being", exists absolutely.
An account or theory is said to be AQAL, and thus integral (inclusive or comprehensive), if it accounts for or makes reference to all four quadrants and four major levels in Wilber's ontological scheme, described below. The AQAL system has been critiqued for not taking into account the lack of change in the biological structure of the brain at the human level (complex neocortex), this role being taken instead by human-made artifacts.
Lines, streams, or intelligences
According to Wilber, all holons have multiple lines of development, or intelligences—in fact, over two dozen have been observed. They include cognitive, ethical, aesthetic, spiritual, kinesthetic, affective, musical, spatial, logical-mathematical, karmic, etc. One can be highly developed cognitively (cerebrally smart) without being highly morally developed (as in the case of Nazi doctors). However, Wilber acknowledges, you cannot be highly morally developed without the pre-requisite cognitive development. So not all of the developmental lines are ontologically equivalent.
Levels or stages
The concept of levels follows closely on the concept of lines of development. The more highly developed you are in a particular line, the higher level you are at in that line. Wilber's conception of the level is clearly based on several theories of developmental psychology, including: Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, and Jane Loevinger's stages of ego development.
One such scheme describes the ethical developmental line, for example:
- Egocentric (similar to Carol Gilligan's "Selfish" stage)
- Ethnocentric or Sociocentric (Gilligan's "Care" stage)
- Worldcentric (Gilligan's "Universal Care" stage)
- Being-centric (Gilligan's "Integrated" stage)
Within each broad stage, there are sub-levels. Spiral Dynamics is one theory that elaborates on these sub-levels.
Another broad organization of the levels contains three categories:
- pre-personal (subconscious motivations)
- personal (conscious mental processes)
- transpersonal (integrative and mystical structures)
This organization reveals more of Wilber's synthesizing activity. Freudian drives, Jungian archetypes, and myth are pre-personal structures. Empirical and rational processes are at the personal level. Transpersonal entities include, for example, Aurobindo's Overmind, Emerson's Oversoul, Plato's Forms, Plotinus' nous, and the Hindu Atman, or world-soul.
The exceptional feature of Wilber's approach is that, under this methodology, all of these mental structures—subconscious, rational, mystical—are considered complementary and legitimate, rather than competing in a zero-sum conceptual space. And that is perhaps Wilber's greatest accomplishment—the opening up of a space wherein more ideas, theories, beliefs, and stories can be considered true, responsible, and acceptable.
Many criticize the strict hierarchical nature of Wilber's conception of the level in psychological and cultural development, which he compares to the hierarchical nature of matter itself. Sub-atomic particles are composed of quarks. Atoms are made of sub-atomic particles. Molecules are made of atoms. Cell organelles are made of molecules, etc. One must attain the lower levels before the higher levels because the higher levels are constituted by the lower level components. Thus, when represented graphically, the levels should appear as concentric circles, with higher levels transcending but also including lower ones. Wilber also attacks the equating of hierarchy with patriarchy using a similar line of argument.
States refer to those aspects of consciousness that are usually, without specific training, temporary, experiential, and often implicitly or unconsciously experienced. Wilber's later works develop close relations between states and levels, lines, or structures, but the relations between these two major aspects of consciousness are often misconstrued. Such confusion between developing states and developing stages of consciousness could lead to the idea that a first-year piano student could play for a moment like a seasoned virtuoso. A beginning piano student experiencing a serendipitous subtler consciousness state might play the same musical notes with a maturity of feeling of unusual or prodigious depth and dynamics. Even though the vocabulary (subtle, causal, nondual) of states and of higher structures is similar, higher consciousness states do not necessarily equate with higher psychological structures. Wilber's formulation is: "States are free but structures are earned." A person has to build or earn structure; it cannot be peak-experienced for free. What can be peak-experienced, however, are higher states of freedom from the state (-stage) a person is habituated to, so these deeper or higher states can be experienced at any level.
In his book Integral Spirituality, Wilber identifies a few varieties of states:
- The most important, with regard to the consciousness of most higher animals, are the three diurnal cycling natural states: waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
- Within waking and dreaming states there are phenomenal states which arise from interior sources such as bodily sensations, emotions, mental ideas, memories, or inspirations, or from exterior sources such as our sensorimotor inputs, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting.
- A third category of states, altered states, is divided into two groups:
- Exogenous or induced states: states which are intentionally generated from outside or exterior influences such as psychedelic and other drug-induced states; hypnosis and hypnotherapy; psycho-therapeutic techniques; gestalt therapy; psychodrama; voice dialogue techniques; biofeedback states; forms of guided imagery; and
- Endogenous or trained states: states which are intentionally generated from inside or from interior influences such as various performance enhancement techniques in sports therapy; meditative training which work on calming, relaxation, equanimity states; and mental imaging and visualization such as tonglen meditation.
Some techniques, such as Neuro-linguistic Programming, work with both endogenous and exogenous types. A fourth category of states is spontaneous or peak states which refer to unintentional or unexpected shifts of awareness from gross to subtle or causal states of consciousness.
Wilber has done research on connecting modern states research with the understanding of states in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Aligning with Vedanta theory, Wilber equates waking with gross consciousness, dreaming with subtle consciousness, and sleeping with causal or formless consciousness. In keeping with the Vedanta system he adds fourth and fifth "natural" states of Turiya and Turiyatita, respectively Witnessing consciousness and Nondual consciousness which technically are not states in that they are understood as being the state of all states.
These are valid distinctions that are not covered under Wilber’s other categorizations. Masculine/feminine, the nine Enneagram categories, and Jung's archetypes and typologies, among innumerable others, are all valid types in Wilber's schema. Wilber makes types part of his model in order to point out that these distinctions are different from the already mentioned distinctions: quadrants, lines, levels and states.
Theory of truth
Wilber argues that manifest reality is composed of four domains and that each domain, or "quadrant", has its own truth-standard, or test for validity, as follows:
(sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness)
(cultural fit, rightness,
|Standard: Functional fit
(systems theory web,
social systems mesh)
Interior individual/1st person:
If we look at the actual interior of an individual [entity], then we have an entirely different type of validity claim. The question here is not, is it raining outside? The question here is, When I tell you it is raining outside, am I telling you the truth or am I lying? You see, here it is not so much a question of whether the map matches the objective territory, but whether the mapmaker can be trusted.... you can always check and see if it's raining... Interior events are located in states of consciousness, not in objective states of affairs, and so you can't empirically nail them down with simple consensus location. I might lie to you. I might lie to myself. I might misrepresent and not know it."
Interior collective/2nd person:
The subjective world is situated in an intersubjective space, a cultural space... without this cultural background... I wouldn't have the tools to interpret my own thoughts to myself. So here the validity claim is not so much objective propositional truth, or subjective truthfulness, but intersubjective fit. This cultural background provides the common context against which my own interior thoughts and beliefs will have some sort of meaning, and so the validity criteria here involves the "cultural fit" [of a statement] within this background... What is so remarkable about common understanding is not that I can take a simple word like "dog" and point to a real dog and say "I mean that." What is so remarkable is that you know what I mean by that. [So it is] a matter of how we arrange collectively, our ethics, morals, laws, culture, group or collective identities, background contexts..."
Exterior individual/3rd person:
We check to see if the proposition corresponds with or fits the facts, if the map accurately reflects the real [exterior] territory... if we cannot disprove it we may assume it is accurate enough. But the essential idea is that... my statement somehow refers to an objective state of affairs, and it fairly accurately somehow corresponds with those objects or processes or affairs. [...] All of which is fair enough and important enough, and I in no way deny the general importance of empirical representation. It's just not the whole story..."
Exterior collective/3rd person:
The main validity claim is functional fit, how entities fit together in a system... So in systems theory you will find nothing about ethical standards, values, morals, mutual understanding, truthfulness, sincerity, depth, integrity, aesthetics... It describes the system in purely objective exterior terms, from without. It doesn't want to know how collective values are intersubjectively shared in mutual understanding. Rather, it looks at how their objective correlates functionally fit in the overall system."
All four of these are valid forms of knowledge, because they are grounded in the realities of the nature of every holon. And therefore all four of these truth claims can be confirmed or rejected by a community of the adequate [those competent in that knowledge]. They each have a different validity claim which carefully guides us, through checks and balances, on our knowledge quest. They are all falsifiable within their own domains, which means false claims can be dislodged by further evidence ...."
Wilber believes that many claims about non-rational states make a mistake he calls the pre/trans fallacy. According to Wilber, the non-rational stages of consciousness (what Wilber calls "pre-rational" and "trans-rational" stages) can be easily confused with one another. In Wilber's view, one can reduce trans-rational spiritual realization to pre-rational regression, or one can elevate pre-rational states to the trans-rational domain. For example, Wilber claims that Freud and Jung commit this fallacy. Freud considered mystical realization to be a regression to infantile oceanic states. Wilber alleges that Freud thus commits a fallacy of reduction. Wilber thinks that Jung commits the converse form of the same mistake by considering pre-rational myths to reflect divine realizations. Likewise, pre-rational states may be misidentified as post-rational states. Wilber characterizes himself as having fallen victim to the pre/trans fallacy in his early work.
Mysticism and the great chain of being
One of Wilber's main interests is in mapping what he calls the "neo-perennial philosophy", an integration of some of the views of mysticism typified by Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy with an account of cosmic evolution akin to that of the Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo. He rejects most of the tenets of Perennialism and the associated anti-evolutionary view of history as a regression from past ages or yugas. Instead, he embraces a more traditionally Western notion of the great chain of being. As in the work of Jean Gebser, this great chain (or "nest") is ever-present while relatively unfolding throughout this material manifestation, although to Wilber "... the 'Great Nest' is actually just a vast morphogenetic field of potentials ..." In agreement with Mahayana Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta, he believes that reality is ultimately a nondual union of emptiness and form, with form being innately subject to development over time.
Wilber emphasizes the value of mystical realization, in opposition to metaphysical naturalism:
Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don't they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I'm sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity—a total embrace of the entire Kosmos—a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It's at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?
— Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 42–3
Wilber on science
Wilber describes the current state of the "hard" sciences as limited to "narrow science", which only allows evidence from the lowest realm of consciousness, the sensorimotor (the five senses and their extensions). Wilber sees science in the broad sense as characterized by involving three steps:
- specifying an experiment,
- performing the experiment and observing the results, and
- checking the results with others who have compentently performed the same experiment.
What Wilber calls "broad science" would include evidence from logic, mathematics, and from the symbolic, hermeneutical, and other realms of consciousness. Ultimately and ideally, broad science would include the testimony of meditators and spiritual practitioners. Wilber's own conception of science includes both narrow science and broad science, e.g., using electroencephalogram machines and other technologies to test the experiences of meditators and other spiritual practitioners, creating what Wilber calls "integral science".
According to Wilber's theory, narrow science trumps narrow religion, but broad science trumps narrow science. That is, the natural sciences provide a more inclusive, accurate account of reality than any of the particular exoteric religious traditions. But an integral approach that uses intersubjectivity to evaluate both religious claims and scientific claims will give a more complete account of reality than narrow science.
I am not alone in seeing that chance and natural selection by themselves are not enough to account for the emergence that we see in evolution. Stuart Kaufman [sic] and many others have criticized mere change and natural selection as not adequate to account for this emergence (he sees the necessity of adding self-organization). Of course I understand that natural selection is not acting on mere randomness or chance—because natural selection saves previous selections, and this reduces dramatically the probability that higher, adequate forms will emerge. But even that is not enough, in my opinion, to account for the remarkable emergence of some of the extraordinarily complex forms that nature has produced. After all, from the big bang and dirt to the poems of William Shakespeare is quite a distance, and many philosophers of science agree that mere chance and selection are just not adequate to account for these remarkable emergences. The universe is slightly tilted toward self-organizing processes, and these processes—as Prigogine was the first to elaborate—escape present-level turmoil by jumping to higher levels of self-organization, and I see that "pressure" as operating throughout the physiosphere, the biosphere, and the noosphere. And that is what I metaphorically mean when I use the example of a wing (or elsewhere, the example of an eyeball) to indicate the remarkableness of increasing emergence. But I don't mean that as a specific model or actual example of how biological emergence works! Natural selection carries forth previous individual mutations—but again that just isn’t enough to account for creative emergence (or what Whitehead called “the creative advance into novelty,” which, according to Whitehead, is the fundamental nature of this manifest universe).
— Ken Wilber, "Re: Some Criticisms of My Understanding of Evolution"
In 2005, at the launch of the Integral Spiritual Center, a branch of the Integral Institute, Wilber presented a 118-page rough draft summary of his two forthcoming books. The essay is entitled "What is Integral Spirituality?", and contains several new ideas, including Integral post-metaphysics and the Wilber-Combs lattice. In 2006, he published "Integral Spirituality", in which he elaborated on these ideas, as well as others such as Integral Methodological Pluralism and the developmental conveyor belt of religion.
"Integral post-metaphysics" is the term Wilber has given to his attempts to reconstruct the world's spiritual-religious traditions in a way that accounts for the modern and post-modern criticisms of those traditions.
The Wilber-Combs Lattice is a conceptual model of consciousness developed by Wilber and Allan Combs. It is a grid with sequential states of consciousness on the x axis (from left to right) and with developmental structures, or levels, of consciousness on the y axis (from bottom to top). This lattice illustrates how each structure of consciousness interprets experiences of different states of consciousness, including mystical states, in different ways.
Influences on Wilber
Wilber's philosophy has been influenced by Madhyamaka Buddhism, particularly as articulated in the philosophy of Nagarjuna. Wilber has practiced various forms of Buddhist meditation, studying (however briefly) with a number of teachers, including Dainin Katagiri, Taizan Maezumi, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Alan Watts, Penor Rinpoche and Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Advaita Vedanta, Trika (Kashmir) Shaivism, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Ramana Maharshi, and Andrew Cohen can be mentioned as further influences. Wilber has on several occasions singled out Adi Da's work for the highest praise while expressing reservations about Adi Da as a teacher. In Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Wilber refers extensively to Plotinus' philosophy, which he sees as nondual. While Wilber has practised Buddhist meditation methods, he does not identify himself as a Buddhist.
According to Frank Visser, Wilber's conception of four quadrants, or dimensions of existence is very similar to E. F. Schumacher's conception of four fields of knowledge. Visser finds Wilber's conception of levels, as well as Wilber's critique of science as one-dimensional, to be very similar to that in Huston Smith's Forgotten Truth. Visser also writes that the esoteric aspects of Wilber's theory are based on the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo as well as other theorists including Adi Da.
Wilber has been categorized as New Age due to his emphasis on a transpersonal view and, more recently, as a philosopher. Publishers Weekly has called him "the Hegel of Eastern spirituality."
Wilber is credited with popularizing, if not inventing, the field of Integral Thought, broadening the appeal of a "perennial philosophy" to a much wider audience. Cultural figures as varied as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Deepak Chopra, and musician Billy Corgan have mentioned his influence. However, Wilber's approach has been criticized as excessively categorizing and objectifying, masculinist, commercializing spirituality, and denigrating of emotion. Numerous critics cite problems with Wilber's interpretations and inaccurate citations of his wide ranging sources, as well as stylistic issues with gratuitous repetition, excessive book length, and hyperbole.
Steve McIntosh praises Wilber's work but also argues that Wilber fails to distinguish 'philosophy' from his own Vedantic and Buddhist religion. Christopher Bache is complimentary of some aspects of Wilber's work, but calls Wilber's writing style glib and superior and suggests that Wilber tends to overlook the more complicated aspects of spiritual purification and past-life interpretation.
Jennifer Gidley compared Rudolf Steiner's educational approach with Wilber's Integral Operating System, noting the conceptual breadth of Wilber's narrative in transcending both scientism and epistemological isolationism. She also noted the limitations of Wilber’s project, such as his undervaluing of Gebser's text and the omission of Steiner.
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof has praised Wilber's knowledge and work in the highest terms; however, Grof has criticized the omission of the pre- and peri-natal domains from Wilber's spectrum of consciousness, and Wilber's neglect of the psychological importance of biological birth and death. Grof has described Wilber's writings as having an "often aggressive polemical style that includes strongly worded ad personam attacks and is not conducive to personal dialogue." Wilber's response is that the world religious traditions do not attest to the importance that Grof assigns to the perinatal.
In 2012 Wilber joined the Advisory Board of International Simultaneous Policy Organization which seeks to end the usual deadlock in tackling global issues through an international simultaneous policy.
Books by Wilber
- The Spectrum of Consciousness, 1977, anniv. ed. 1993: ISBN 0-8356-0695-3
- No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, 1979, reprint ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-743-6
- The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development, 1980, 2nd ed. ISBN 0-8356-0730-5
- Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, 1981, new ed. 1996: ISBN 0-8356-0731-3
- The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science (editor), 1982, ISBN 0-394-71237-4
- A Sociable God: A Brief Introduction to a Transcendental Sociology, 1983, new ed. 2005 subtitled Toward a New Understanding of Religion, ISBN 1-59030-224-9
- Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm, 1984, 3rd rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-741-X
- Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (editor), 1984, rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-768-1
- Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development (co-authors: Jack Engler, Daniel Brown), 1986, ISBN 0-394-74202-8
- Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths to Inner Transformation (co-authors: Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker), 1987, ISBN 0-913729-19-1
- Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life of Treya Killam Wilber, 1991, 2nd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-742-8
- Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, 1st ed. 1995, 2nd rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-744-4
- A Brief History of Everything, 1st ed. 1996, 2nd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-740-1
- The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, 1997, 3rd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-871-8
- The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader, 1998, ISBN 1-57062-379-1
- The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion, 1998, reprint ed. 1999: ISBN 0-7679-0343-9
- One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber, 1999, rev. ed. 2000: ISBN 1-57062-547-6
- Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, 2000, ISBN 1-57062-554-9
- A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, 2000, paperback ed.: ISBN 1-57062-855-6
- Speaking of Everything (2 hour audio interview on CD), 2001
- Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free, 2002, paperback ed. 2003: ISBN 1-59030-008-4
- Kosmic Consciousness (12½ hour audio interview on ten CDs), 2003, ISBN 1-59179-124-3
- With Cornel West, commentary on The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and appearance in Return To Source: Philosophy & The Matrix on The Roots Of The Matrix, both in The Ultimate Matrix Collection, 2004
- The Simple Feeling of Being: Visionary, Spiritual, and Poetic Writings, 2004, ISBN 1-59030-151-X (selected from earlier works)
- The Integral Operating System (a 69 page primer on AQAL with DVD and 2 audio CDs), 2005, ISBN 1-59179-347-5
- Executive producer of the Stuart Davis DVDs Between the Music: Volume 1 and Volume 2.
- Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, 2006, ISBN 1-59030-346-6
- The One Two Three of God (3 CDs – interview, 4th CD – guided meditation; companion to Integral Spirituality), 2006, ISBN 1-59179-531-1
- Integral Life Practice Starter Kit (5 DVDs, 2 CDs, 3 booklets), 2006, ISBN 0-9772275-0-2
- The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything, 2007, ISBN 1-59030-475-6
- Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, 2008, ISBN 1-59030-467-5
- The Pocket Ken Wilber, 2008, ISBN 1-59030-637-6
- The Integral Approach: A Short Introduction by Ken Wilber, eBook, 2013, ISBN 9780834829060
- The Fourth Turning: Imagining the Evolution of an Integral Buddhism, eBook, 2014, ISBN 9780834829572
Audiobooks by Wilber
- A Brief History of Everything. Shambhala Audio, 2008. ISBN 1-59030-550-8
- Kosmic Consciousness. Sounds True Incorporated, 2003. ISBN 9781591791249
Books about Wilber
- Donald Rothberg, Sean M Kelly, Ken Wilber and the future of transpersonal inquiry: a spectrum of views 1996
- Joseph Vrinte, The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul Motilal Banarsidass, 2002
- Allan Combs, The Radiance of Being: Understanding the grand integral vision: living the integral life Paragon House, 2002
- Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion State University of New York Press, 2003
- Brad Reynolds, Embracing Reality: the integral vision of Ken Wilber: a historical survey and chapter-by-chapter guide of Wilber's major works J.P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004
- Lew Howard, Introducing Ken Wilber: concepts for an evolving world Authorhouse, 2005
- Peter McNab, Towards an Integral Vision: using NLP and Ken Wilber's AQAL model to enhance communication Trafford, 2005
- Brad Reynolds, Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's integral vision in the new millennium Paragon House, 2006
- Geoffrey D Falk, Norman Einstein: the dis-integration of Ken Wilber Million Monkeys Press, 2009
- Jeff Meyerhoff, Bald Ambition: a critique of Ken Wilber's theory of everything Inside the Curtain Press, 2010
- Mark D. Forman, A guide to integral psychotherapy: complexity, integration, and spirituality in practice, SUNY Press 2010, p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4384-3023-2
- Integral Institute
- Tony Schwartz, What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, Bantam, 1996, ISBN 0-553-37492-3, p. 348
- Wilber, Ken (1993). "The Spectrum of Consciousness". ISBN 9780835606950.
- The Holographic Paradigm and other paradoxes, 1982, ISBN 0-87773-238-8
- "Scholars". Center for World Spirituality. 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Wilber, Ken (December 26, 2006). "Ken Wilber Writes About His Horrific, Near-Fatal Illness". New Heaven New Earth. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Wilber, Ken. "RNase Enzyme Deficiency Disease: Wilber's statement about his health". IntegralWorld.net. October 22, 2002. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- See A Miracle Called "We" in Integral Spirituality and http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptA/notes-1.cfm.
- Wilber, Ken; Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, 1995, p. 35–78
- Wilber's Integral Philosophy: A Summary and Critique. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, July 2008, 48(3), 364–388, doi:10.1177/0022167807309748
- Fiandt, K., Forman, J., Erickson Megel, M., et al. (2003). Integral nursing: an emerging framework for engaging the evolution of the profession. Nursing Outlook, 51(3), 130–137.
- "Integral Psychology." In: Weiner, Irving B. & Craighead, W. Edward (ed.), The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology, Vol. 2, 4. ed., Wiley 2010, pp. 830 ff. ISBN 978-0-470-17026-7
- "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are In This Together". Ken Wilber Online. Retrieved December 26, 2005.
- Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, Paragon House, St Paul Minnesota, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55778-867-2 pp.227f.
- Wilber, Ken (2000). integral Psychology. Boston: Shambhala. pp. 197–217. ISBN 1-57062-554-9.
- Marian de Souza (ed.), International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing, Springer 2009, p. 427. ISBN 978-1-4020-9017-2
- Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and post-modern world. Boston, MA: Shambhala
- Edwards, Mark (2008). “An Alternative View on States: Part One and Two. Retrieved in full 3/08 from http://www.integralworld.net/edwards14.html
- Maslow, A. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin; McFetridge, Grant (2004). Peak states of consciousness: Theory and applications, vol. 1, Break-through techniques for exceptional quality of life. Hornsby Island, BC: Institute for the Study of Peak States Press; Bruce, R. (1999). Astral dynamics: A new approach to out-of-body experiences. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads
- Wilber, Ken. (1997). Eye of the spirit: An integral vision for a world gone slightly mad. Boston, MA: Shambhala; Wilber, Ken. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Boston, MA: Shambhala; Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and post-modern world. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
- Tart, Charles (1983). States of consciousness, Author’s Guild reprint edition 2000. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com. Inc.; Wolman, B., Ullman, M., eds (1986). Handbook of states of consciousness. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company; Grob, Charles S., ed. (2002). Hallucinogens: A reader (contributions by A. Weil, A. Hofmann, R. Walsh, T. McKenna, H. Smith, R. Metzner, others). New York: Tarcher-Putnam.; Grof, Stan (2000). Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
- Deutsch, Elliot. (1969). Advaita Vedanta: A philosophical reconstruction. Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press; Sharma, Arvind (2004). Sleep As a State of Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
- Gupta, Bina (1998). The disinterested witness: A fragment of Advaita Vedanta phenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press.
- Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality, chapter 3. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
- Wilber, Ken (1996). A Brief History of Everything. Boston and London: Shambhala. pp. 209–218. ISBN 1-57062-187-X.
- Wilber, Ken (1998). The Eye of Spirit. Boston: Shambhala. pp. 12–18. ISBN 1-57062-345-7.
- Table and quotations from: Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 2nd edition, ISBN 1-57062-740-1 p. 96–109
- Introduction to the third volume of The Collected Works of Ken Wilber
- Wilber, Ken. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Shambhala Publications, 2000, pp 211 f. ISBN 978-1-57062-744-6
- "The introduction to Volume 1 of The Collected Works of Ken Wilber". Ken Wilber Online.
- "I have not identified myself with the perennial philosophy in over fifteen years ... Many of the enduring perennial philosophers—such as Nagarjuna—were already using postmetaphysical methods, which is why their insights are still quite valid. But the vast majority of perennial philosophers were caught in metaphysical, not critical, thought, which is why I reject their methods almost entirely, and accept their conclusions only to the extent they can be reconstructed"
- Donald Jay Rothberg; Sean M. Kelly; Sean Kelly (1 February 1998). Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations with Leading Transpersonal Thinkers. Quest Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-8356-0766-7.
- Lew Howard (17 May 2005). Introducing Ken Wilber. AuthorHouse. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-1-4634-8193-3.
- Ken Wilber (3 August 2011). The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. Random House Publishing Group. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-307-79956-2.
- "What is Integral Spirituality?" (PDF). Integral Spiritual Center. Archived from the original on November 25, 2005. Retrieved December 26, 2005. (1.3 MB PDF file)
- "The Kosmos According to Ken Wilber: A Dialogue with Robin Kornman". Shambhala Sun. September 1996. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
- # Kosmic Consciousness (12 hour audio interview on ten CDs), 2003, ISBN 1-59179-124-3
- Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, 194
- Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, 78
- Visser, 276
- Wouter J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture, SUNY, 1998, pp.70 ("Ken Wilber [...] defends a transpersonal worldview which qualifies as 'New Age'").
- Marian de Souza (ed.), International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions in education, Dordrecht: Springer 2006, p.93. ISBN 978-1-4020-4803-6.
- "THE SIMPLE FEELING OF BEING: Visionary, Spiritual and Poetic Writings"publishersweekly.com June 2004
- Planetary Problem Solver, Newsweek, January 4, 2010
- Thompson, Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness pp. 12–13
- Gelfer, J. Chapter 5 (Integral or muscular spirituality?) in Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy, 2009: ISBN 978-1-84553-419-6
- Gelfer, J. LOHAS and the Indigo Dollar: Growing the Spiritual Economy, New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry (4.1, 2010: 46–60)
- de Quincey, Christian (Winter 2000). "The Promise of Integralism: A Critical Appreciation of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology". Journal of Consciousness Studies. Vol. 7(11/12). Archived from the original on 2006-05-07. Retrieved 2006-06-15.
- Frank Visser, "A Spectrum of Wilber Critics", http://www.integralworld.net/visser11.html
- Notes to Chapter 6 of Dark Night Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind SUNY Press, 2000
- Gidley, J. Educational Imperatives of the Evolution of Consciousness: The Integral Visions of Rudolf Steiner and Ken Wilber, The International Journal of Children’s Spirituality. 12 (2): 170–135.]
- Gidley, J. The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views, Integral Review: A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal for New Thought, Research and Praxis, 2007, Issue 5, p. 4–226.]
...Ken has produced an extraordinary work of highly creative synthesis of data drawn from a vast variety of areas and disciplines...His knowledge of the literature is truly encyclopedic, his analytical mind systematic and incisive, and the clarity of his logic remarkable. The impressive scope, comprehensive nature, and intellectual rigor of Ken's work have helped to make it a widely acclaimed and highly influential theory of transpersonal psychology.
- Grof, Beyond the Brain, 131–137
- Grof, "A Brief History of Transpersonal Psychology"
- Visser, 269
- About Simpol-UK: uk.simpol.org – About Simpol-UK
- Endorsements: Simpol.org – Endorsements
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Jonathan Reams, Olen Gunnlaugson (ed.), Integral education: new directions for higher learning. SUNY Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4384-3348-6
- Lew Howard, Introducing Ken Wilber, May 2005, ISBN 1-4208-2986-6
- Raphael Meriden, Entfaltung des Bewusstseins: Ken Wilbers Vision der Evolution, 2002, ISBN 88-87198-05-5
- Brad Reynolds, Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber: A Historical Survey and Chapter-By-Chapter Review of Wilber's Major Works, 2004, ISBN 1-58542-317-3
- ----- Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium, 2006, ISBN 1-55778-846-4
- Donald Jay Rothberg and Sean Kelly, Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations With Leading Transpersonal Thinkers, 1998, ISBN 0-8356-0766-6
- Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought As Passion, SUNY Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7914-5816-4, (first published in Dutch as Ken Wilber: Denken als passie, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2001)
- Joseph Vrinte, Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An inquiry into the relevance of Sri Aurobindo's metaphysical yoga psychology in the context of Ken Wilber's integral psychology, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002, ISBN 81-208-1932-2
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ken Wilber|
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- Ken Wilber's official website
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- Interview with Ken Wilber, Salon.com
- Ken Wilber books - Shambhala Publications
- IntegralWorld - An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber, created by Frank Visser.