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Ken Wilber

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Name  Ken Wilber
Role  Writer

Ken Wilber httpssuperhumanosnetwpcontentuploads20140
Born  January 31, 1949 (age 66) (1949-01-31) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Occupation  Author, integral theorist
Education  Duke University, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Influenced by  Rudolf Steiner, Erich Jantsch, Charles Taylor
Books  A brief history of everything, A Theory of Everything, Sex - Ecology - Spirituality, Integral Spirituality, The Integral Vision
Similar People  Alex Grey, Terry Patten, Rudolf Steiner, James Mark Baldwin, Erich Jantsch

Organizations founded  Integral Institute

Ken wilber talking on ayahuasca

Kenneth Earl "Ken" Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, a four-quadrant grid which suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience.


Ken Wilber Ken Wilber an overview

Ken wilber introduction to integral spirituality


Ken Wilber Who Is Ken Wilber And Why You Should Know Chris Grosso

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 at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but after a few years dropped out of university to devote all his time to studying his own curriculum and writing books.

Ken Wilber httpsmarkmansonnetwpcontentuploads201509

Wilber stated in 2011 that he has long suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, possibly caused by RNase Enzyme Deficiency Disease ("REDD").

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.

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.

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 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.

Integral theory

All Quadrants All Levels (AQAL), pronounced "ah-qwul", is the basic framework of integral theory. It models human knowledge and experience with a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of "interior-exterior" and "individual-collective". According to Wilber, it is a comprehensive approach to reality, a metatheory that attempts to explain how academic disciplines and every form of knowledge and experience fit together coherently.

AQAL is based on four fundamental concepts and a rest-category: four quadrants, several levels and lines of development, several states of consciousness, and "types", topics which do not fit into these four concepts. "Levels" are the stages of development, from pre-personal through personal to transpersonal. "Lines" of development are various domains which may progress unevenly through different stages . "States" are states of consciousness; according to Wilber persons may have a temporal experience of a higher developmental stage. "Types" is a rest-category, for phenomena which do not fit in the other four concepts. 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".

The model's apex is formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being", which is equated with a range of "ultimates" from a variety of eastern traditions. This formless awareness transcends the phenomenal world, which is ultimately only an appearance of some transcendental reality. According to Wilber, the AQAL categories — quadrants, lines, levels, states, and types – describe the relative truth of the two truths doctrine of Buddhism. According to Wilber, none of them are true in an absolute sense. Only formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being", exists absolutely.

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.

Theory of truth

Wilber believes that the mystical traditions of the world provide access to, and knowledge of, a transcendental reality which is perennial, being the same throughout all times and cultures. This proposition underlies the whole of his conceptual edifice, and is an unquestioned assumption. Wilber juxtaposites this generalisation to plain materialism, presenting this as the main paradigma of regular science.

In his later works, 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:

  • "Interior individual/1st person": the subjective world, the individual subjective sphere;
  • "Interior collective/2nd person": the intersubjective space, the cultural background;
  • "Exterior individual/3rd person": the objective state of affairs;
  • "Exterior collective/3rd person": the functional fit, "how entities fit together in a system".
  • Pre/trans fallacy

    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.

    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 competently performed the same experiment.
  • He has presented these as "three strands of valid knowledge" in Part III of his book The Marriage of Sense and Soul.

    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.

    Wilber has referred to Stuart Kauffman, Ilya Prigogine, Alfred North Whitehead, and others in order to articulate his vitalistic and teleological understanding of reality, which is deeply at odds with the modern evolutionary synthesis.

    Current work

    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.

    Since then, Wilber has drawn back from public life, due to a severe ilness.

    Wilber attracted a lot of controversy from 2011 to the present day by supporting Marc Gafni. Gafni was accused in the media of sexually assaulting a minor. Wilber has in fact publicly supported Gafni on his blog. A petition begun by a group of Rabbis has called for Wilber to publicly dissociate from Gafni.

    Wilber is on the advisory board of Mariana Bozesan's AQAL Capital GmbH, Munich-based company specialising in integral impact investing using a model based on Wilber's Integral Theory.

    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 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.

    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.


    Ken Wilber Wikipedia