Metaphors of Ken Wilber

Following up on my explorations into metaphor work I thought I would share some of my insights around metaphor within (AQAL) integral philosophy itself.

More on metaphor here. The quick version is that language (and therefore communicate) is suffuse with metaphor.  Some theorists would say we think in metaphor.  Metaphors are not often (even typically) self-identified/self-conscious metaphors. If for example I say I need to stay glued to whatever I’m doing that is metaphor.  I could say I need to stay connected to whatever I’m doing at the moment.  Connected also is metaphoric but has a different quality than glued.  Similar but different.  It’s much easier for example to dis-connect than it is to un-glue.  Glue suggests a deeper bond (a metaphor from chemistry/building) than connection.

In this way of thinking metaphors create their own worlds.  They do not point outside of themselves to something else–like an allegory where everything stands for something else and once you figure out the other thing the allegorical term drops away.  The metaphor never drops away.  It only deepens (another metaphor) or unfurls (yet another one) revealing yet more inner space (third metaphor about metaphors).  The key is to keep walking in (metaphor) the metaphor space, keep going deeper and deeper within it.  It begins in a sense to answer its own question.  You should have picked up by now that question & answer in that last sentence is another metaphor world.  I could have said it solves its own dilemma (dilemma is very different experientially than question).

In therapeudic contexts the idea is the metaphor space is somewhat separate (object of the subject) and therefore becomes a safe place to explore traumas and pain.  The difficulties around a trauma are faced in the metaphor space not in the core of one’s subject (in which case the person might simply be re-traumatized).

In philosophic contexts–the context for my purposes here–I use metaphor work to get under (metaphor) and into the world opened up by the philosophy itself.  This then similar to the therapeudic work creates a metaphor space in which (metaphorically) one can walk and feel around.  Accessing this space allows for greater comprehension I’ve found of the material–it accesses a different intelligence or so.

What before is often considered difficult, heady, and abstract (the philosophy itself) is now an invitation into a contemplation of being.  I have begun both of my Integral Christianity classes exploring 2 metaphors that Ken Wilber uses to describe his own work and a third that Mark Edwards added that I think is a valuable addition (not used by Ken himself).

The two metaphors self-consciously deployed by Ken Wilber himself to describe his own work are map and story.  Wilber identifies himself as a mapmaker and storyteller.  The additional metaphor is lens.  I’ll take a separate post on each one starting with map.

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Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Integral Learning Cycle and the Map In a previous post I said I would go to into the metaphors within Wilber’s work combining my long-standing interest in his philosophical work with my new interest in metaphor […]


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