Ken Wilber with Bernard Glassman (background)
January 31, 1949 |
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
|Occupation||Author, Integral theorist|
Kenneth Earl "Ken" Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American writer, philosopher, and public speaker. He has written and lectured about philosophy, sociology, ecology, developmental psychology, spirituality, and mysticism. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998 he founded the Integral Institute.
- Biography 1
- Integral Theory 2
Other ideas 3
- Mysticism and the great chain of being 3.1
- Theory of truth 3.2
- Pre/trans fallacy 3.3
- Wilber on science 3.4
- Current work 3.5
- Influences on Wilber 4
- Reception 5
- Books by Wilber 6.1
- Audiobooks by Wilber 6.2
- Books about Wilber 6.3
- See also 7
- Notes 8
- Quotes 9
- References 10
- Sources 11
- Further reading 12
- External links 13
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, but after a few years dropped out of university to devote all his time to studying his own curriculum and writing books.
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.
In 2012 Wilber joined the
- Ken Wilber, his Critics, and the Integral: Links
- IntegralWorld - An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber, created by Frank Visser.
- Criticism of the writings of Ken WilberIntegral World,
- The Rise and Fall of Ken WilberMark Manson,
- Ken Wilberthe Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter 38,
- Integral egos gone wild: Wilber and Cohen relish worship
- Ken Wilber's official website
- Ken Wilber's official Facebook page
- Interview with Ken Wilber, Salon.com
- Ken Wilber books - Shambhala Publications
- Ken Wilber
- 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
- 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
- The Holographic Paradigm and other paradoxes, 1982, ISBN 0-87773-238-8
- About Simpol-UK: uk.simpol.org – About Simpol-UK
- Endorsements: Simpol.org – Endorsements
- Wilber, Ken. "AQAL Glossary," "Introduction to Integral Theory and Practice: IOS Basic and the AQAL Map," Vol. 1, No. 3. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2010.
- "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
- "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"
- McMahan 2008, p. 269, note 9.
- McMahan 2010, p. 269, note 9.
- Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, p.42–3
- 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
- Ken Wilber, Re: Some Criticisms of My Understanding of Evolution
- (1.3 MB PDF file)
- # 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)
- Frank Visser, "A Spectrum of Wilber Critics", http://www.integralworld.net/visser11.html
- Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, Paragon House, St Paul Minnesota, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55778-867-2 pp.227f.
- 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.Stanislav Grof, "Ken Wilber's Spectrum Psychology"
- Grof, Beyond the Brain, 131–137
- Grof, "A Brief History of Transpersonal Psychology"
- Visser, 269
- Wilber: "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?"
- Wilber: "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 [
- This interpretation is at odds with structural stage theory, which posits an overall follow-up of stages, instead of variations over severall domains.
- This too is wildly at odds with structural stage theory, but in line with Wilber's philosophical idealism, which sees the phenomenal world as a concretisation, or immanation, of a "higher," transcendental reality, which can be "realized" in "religious experience."
- The Madhyamaka Two Truths Doctrine discerns two epistemological truths, namely conventional and ultimate. Conventional truth is the truth of phenomenal appearances and causal relations, our daily common-sense world. Ultimate truth is the recognotion that no-"thing" exists inherently; every"thing" is empty, sunyata of an unchanging "essence." It also means that there is no unchanging transcendental reality underlying phenomenal existence. "Formless awareness" belongs to another strand of Indian thinking, namely Advaita and Buddha-nature, which are ontological approaches, and do posit such a transcendental, unchanging reality, namely "awareness" or "consciousness." Wilber seems to be mixing, or confusing, these two different approaches freely, in his attempt to integrate "everything" into one conceptual scheme.
- The perennial position is "largely dismissed by scholars", but "has lost none of its popularity". Mainstream academia favut a constructivist approach, which is rejected by Wilber as a dangerous relativism. See also Perennialism versus constructionism.
- 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
Books about Wilber
- A Brief History of Everything. Shambhala Audio, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59030-550-8
- Kosmic Consciousness. Sounds True Incorporated, 2003. ISBN 9781591791249
Audiobooks 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
Books by Wilber
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.
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.
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.
 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. and denigrating of emotion. commercializing spirituality,,masculinist, objectifying However, Wilber's approach has been criticized as excessively categorizing and  Wilber is credited with broadening the appeal of a "perennial philosophy" to a much wider audience. Cultural figures as varied as
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'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.
Influences on Wilber
Since then, Wilber has drawn back from public life, due to a severe ilness.
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.
"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.
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.
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.[quote 2]
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.
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".
He has presented these as "three strands of valid knowledge" in Part III of his book The Marriage of Sense and Soul.
- specifying an experiment,
- performing the experiment and observing the results, and
- checking the results with others who have competently performed the same experiment.
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:
Wilber on science
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.
- "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".
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:
(sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness)
(cultural fit, rightness,
Standard: Functional fit
(systems theory web,
social systems mesh)
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.[note 4] Wilber juxtaposites this generalisation to plain materialism, presenting this as the main paradigma of regular science.[quote 1]
Theory of truth
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.
Mysticism and the great chain of being
The model is topped with 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.[note 3]
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 don't fit into these four concepts. "Levels" are the stages of development, from pre-personal through personal to transpersonal."Lines" are lines of development, the several domains of development, which may process uneven, with several stages of development in place at the various domains. [note 1] "States" are states of consciousness; according to Wilber persons may have a terminal experience of a higher developmental stage. [note 2] "Types" is a rest-category, for phenomena which don't 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".
Ken Wilber's AQAL, pronounced "ah-qwul", is the basic framework of Integral Theory. It suggests that all human knowledge and experience can be placed in a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of "interior-exterior" and "individual-collective". According to Wilber, it is one of the most comprehensive approaches to reality, a metatheory that attempts to explain how academic disciplines and every form of knowledge and experience fit together coherently.