Spending more time in the last couple of weeks with the so-called Wilber critics. Although critics really isn’t the right word because many hold a great deal in common with Ken. Just wanted to put down some observations on different thinkers.

I’m gonig to do a bit of categorization, which by nature is a limiting enterprise–no substitute for in-depth exploration of one’s own. Also it’s not a universal list. Also these are observations; this is not a defense of AQAL or whatever. Just exploring the interaction between the theories for now–and trying to stay away from the egoic-personality stuff on all sides. In subsequent posts, I’ll go back highlighting one/two in particular.

The two best sources for most (not all) of the thinkers covered: integralworld and openintegral. Otherwise, source is linked.

In no particular order…

1. Metaphysicians: Frank Visser and Alan Kazlev.

When Frank stays away from pathetic posts about how Ken shouldn’t use the word “simply” and sticks with the real thrust/passion of his writings, it invovles a neo-Perennialism. His main criticisms then are to do with Wilber-5, the so-called postmetaphysical writings. Or what Ken, within those writings, calls this naturalistic turn.

Alan Kazlev. Neo-Aurobindian. Kazlev disagrees with Ken’s description of Sri Aurobindo. It generally revolves around a similar issue with Frank–the labeling of Aurobdino as meta-physical and Wilber-5 as post-metaphysical.

2. Deconstructionists: Jeff Meyerhoff (and Geoffrey Falk?)

Meyerhoff uses traditional Continental (mostly French) postmodern deconstructive philosophical-literary tools, esp. diferance, in an attempt to dismantle Wilber’s meta-narrative of integration.

Falk is author of two very critical works–Stripping the Gurus and Norman Einstein. Falk relies heavily on anti-cult writings and evidence, e.g. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, to argue that Wilber is the Guru Head of Cultish I-I.

Both these authors also accuse Wilber of bad scholarship.

3. We-Space, Intersubjectivity: Mark Edwards, Edward Berge.

Mark has written extensively on the need for more appreciation of the We-space, the social and communal nature of integral existence. Check the integralnaked archives for his discussion/debate with Ken. Also has argued against a Flatland interpretation of the right-hand exterior quadrants.

Edward feels that Ken has not actually gone far enough in his post-metaphysical turn. He wants to see p-m applied to states of consciousness and like Mark feels Ken relies too heavily on development psychology, thereby practically privileging individualist (over more socia-communal) interpretations. Implicit in that criticism is that the individualist bent comes from his American, midwestern background–and hence the occassional charge that Ken is a Republican, right-winger.

But these two are in much more agreement overall with Wilber than any named above.

4. Holonic Theory: Andrew Smith. Smith is pretty much a category unto himself. Very hard to summarize his work–I’m still spending a lot of time with it. Smith advocates what he calls a one-scale model of hierarchy (i.e. a non-quadratic holonism). Also disagreements over the definitions of nonduality and the relationship between individual/collective dimensions.

5. Humanities/Canon. Matthew Dallman. Readers of this blog will know of my on-going dialogue with Matthew concerning definition of integral, the value (or lack) of structuralist analysis in the Humanities, definitions, scope, and methodology of integral, etc.

So just to keep in mind, this is my int. of their works and often my interpretation of their interpretation of another person’s (Wilber’s) interpretation-argument. And some of my responses may be considered traditional defenses from the AQAL vantage point, others not.

Published in: on October 30, 2006 at 10:04 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. There’s another angle of critique, which is an ideological one. It may or may not be the best way into a critique of integral theory, but it’s the one I have. Check out the forthcoming Integral Review for my article “Of Syntheses and Surprises,” which basically argues that Aurobindian and post-Aurobindian integralism finds its roots in the political contingencies of British imperialism… with some interesting consequences.

    Daniel Gustav Anderson

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