Ken Wilber


Who is Ken Wilber?

According to Jack Crittenden Ph.D., author of Beyond Individualism,the twenty-first century literally has three choices: Aristotle, Nietzsche, or Ken Wilber.”  If you haven’t already heard of him, Ken Wilber is one of the most important philosophers in the world today.  He is the most widely translated academic writer in America, with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages.  Ken Wilber currently lives in Denver, Colorado, and is still active as a philosopher, author, and teacher, with all of his major publications still in print. 

 

Tony Schwartz, the president, founder, and CEO of The Energy Project, and the author of What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, has referred to Wilber as “the most comprehensive philosophical thinker of our times.” 

 

Roger Walsh M.D., Ph.D., the well known professor of Psychiatry, Philosophy, and Anthropology at UCI’s College of Medicine, believes “Ken Wilber is one of the greatest philosophers of this century and arguably the greatest theoretical psychologist of all time.

 

And in commenting on the scope and impact of Ken Wilber’s philosophy Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus Development and the co-founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation, mentions that “After reading Wilber, it is impossible to imagine looking at the world the same way again”.

 

What makes Ken Wilber especially relevant in today’s world is that he is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.  As Wilber himself puts it: “I'd like to think of it as one of the first believable world philosophies...” Incorporating cultural studies, anthropology, systems theory, developmental psychology, biology, and spirituality, it has been applied in fields as diverse as ecology, sustainability, psychotherapy, psychiatry, education, business, medicine, politics, sports, and art.

 

 
 
"If ordinary people don't perceive that our grand ideas are working in their lives then they can't develop the higher level of consciousness, to use a term that American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote a whole book about. He said, you know, the problem is the world needs to be more integrated, but it requires a consciousness that's way up here, and an ability to see beyond the differences among us."
-President Bill Clinton
 
 
 

Wilber explains the need for an Integral Approach in the following way: In our current post-modern world, we possess an abundance of methodologies and practices belonging to a multitude of fields and knowledge traditions. What is utterly lacking however, is a coherent organization, and coordination, of all these various practices, as well as their respective data-sets. What is needed is an approach that moves beyond this indiscriminate eclectic-pluralism, to an “Integral Methodological Pluralism”driving toward a genuine “theory of everything” that helps to enrich and deepen every field through an understanding of exactly how and where each one fits in relation to all the others. Through the Integral approach, we reveal the previously unseen possibilities for a better, more compassionate, and more sustainable future for all of us.

 

In short, the Integral Approach is the coherent organization, coordination, and  harmonization of all of the relevant practices, methodologies, and experiences, available to human beings.  Ken Wilber states “You can’t [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy”

 

Ken Wilber is also the founder of the Integral Institute which is the first organization fully dedicated to advancement and application of the Integral Approach in relation to contemporary global issues. It was formed in collaboration with over 200 scholars and experts, specializing in education, politics, business, medicine, psychology, spirituality, as well as, law and criminal justice. The Integral Institute is currently partnered with Fielding Graduate University.

 

In 2007 Wilber co-founded Integral Life, a social media-hub dedicated to sharing the integral vision with the world wide community, as well as documenting and catalyzing the progress of the integral movement. 

 

Books and Resources:

Virtually all of Wilber’s published works are available through Amazon.com and Shambhala Publications. Shambhala provides an Integral Theory Primer intended as series of recommendations for those who are new to Wilber’s work (http://www.shambhala.com/expert-picks/picks-integral.html). 

 

A variety of video and audio content featuring dialogues, interviews, and discussions of Integral Theory is available through the individual websites of Integral Life, Sounds True, and Core Integral.

 

Most recently, Ken Wilber and the Integral Life team, in collaboration with Shambhala Publications, have been putting together a compendium of some of the most important dialogues and interviews, featuring the exploration and application of Integral Theory. This compendium will soon be published in the form of a book based on the Integral Naked dialogues.

 

Integral Life is also producing an exhaustive video biography that seeks to celebrate Ken Wilber’s legacy as a philosopher, practitioner, and visionary, while also exploring the impact his work continues to have upon global culture.

 

With regards to his body of writing, Wilber states, “I have, for convenience, divided my overall work into four general phases” with the fourth phase being the first truly or “comprehensively integral.”  Some of the most exemplary books from this period are Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and The Eye of Spirit.  In addition, A Brief History of Everything and A Theory of Everything are both excellent condensed presentations to Wilber’s fourth, or “truly integrative”, phase. Both The Eye of Spirit, and A Theory of Everything include examples of pragmatic and field-specific applications of the Integral Approach.

 

By far the most accessible and recent introductory summary of Wilber’s Integral Approach is presented in The Integral Vision.  And Kosmic Consciousness by Sounds True is the most commonly referenced audio introduction to the Integral Approach, covering all of its essentials.    

 

Some critics have tentatively added a fifth and latest phase, referred to as the “Post-Metaphysical turn” in Wilber’s work, even though the origins of this turn are evident in Wilber’s earlier writings. The most notable book exemplifying Wilber’s Post-Metaphysics and the implementation of his Integral Methodological Pluralism is Integral Spirituality.

 

Detailed writings from this fifth phase can also be found in Wilber’s unpublished works; Excerpts A through G, available for free on kenwilber.com and wilber.shambhala.com. The excerpts, which house some of Wilber’s most important and recent thought, belong to what he refers to as Volume II of his Kosmos Trilogy, the first of which is his magnum opus Sex Ecology Spirituality. Furthermore, a complete archive of all end notes, sidebars, excerpts, and works in progress can also be found on these aforementioned websites.

 

Noteworthy works from earlier phases of Wilber’s writings include, A Sociable God, The Atman Project, Up From Eden, Eye to Eye, and Transformations of Consciousness. Wilber himself notes that the essential components of these works are all taken up in his later phases and that his works “form a fairly coherent sequence, each building on and incorporating its predecessor(s).

 

It ultimately does not matter where one begins, so long as one can resonate with the drive and impetus underlying Wilber’s integral vision. The body of his work can be summarized as, progressively more complex and more inclusive elucidations of how all the important knowledge traditions, practices, and experiences available to human beings fit together, into a fully comprehensive understanding of the world, that does not leave out any of the essentials. In his works, Wilber repeatedly demonstrates how different truth-claims, different verification methods, and different experiences are all actually reconcilable, mutually enriching, and already all present in a world spacious enough to house them all. 

    

Ken's Body of Work:

Integral Life Practice
Amazon

The Integral Vision
Amazon

Integral Spirituality
Amazon | iBooks

The Simple Feeling of Being
Amazon | iBooks

Boomeritis
Amazon | iBooks

Integral Psychology
Amazon | iBooks

A Theory of Everything
Amazon | iBooks

One Taste
Amazon | iBooks

The Essential Ken Wilber
Amazon | iBooks

The Marriage of Sense and Soul
Amazon | iBooks

The Eye of Spirit
Amazon | iBooks

A Brief History of Everything
Amazon | iBooks

Sex, Ecology, Spirituality
Amazon | iBooks

Grace and Grit
Amazon

Quantum Questions
Amazon | iBooks

Eye to Eye
Amazon | iBooks

Up From Eden
Amazon

No Boundary
Amazon | iBooks

The Spectrum of Consciousness
Amazon

The Atman Project
Amazon

 


Contributions

Wed, 05/25/2011
Audio

Listen as Roger and Ken discuss the eight most important things you can do to transform your daily lifestyle, all of which will make a tremendous and immediate difference in your life, your relationships, and your ongoing sense of well-being.

Tue, 05/24/2011
Article
Integral Post

People typically feel trapped by life, trapped by the universe, because they imagine that they are actually in the universe, and therefore the universe can squish them like a bug.  This is not true.  You are not in the universe; the universe is in you....

Wed, 05/18/2011
Audio

Considering the many scandals and ethical compromises that we've seen in various spiritual communities over the past several years, these days it seems harder than ever to find a spiritual teacher you can fully trust. In this week's dialogue, Mariana Caplan talks to Ken Wilber about her book The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher, which takes a close look at the role of the spiritual teacher in today's world, how our expectations of teachers have evolved over the centuries, and how we as students can avoid the pitfalls, pathologies, and personality disorders that often litter our paths to enlightenment.

Wed, 04/20/2011
Audio

Nathaniel Branden, Rand's former lover and the inspiration for her famous John Galt character, was at ground zero during the rise of the Objectivist movement. In this exclusive six-hour dialogue, Atlas Evolved: The Life and Loves of Nathaniel Branden, Nathaniel offers an intimate insider's view of the origins, major contributions, and inevitable limitations of Rand's philosophy and the intellectual movement it sparked. Masterfully hosted by Ken Wilber, this talk offers invaluable insight into Ayn Rand's legacy, the human potential movement, romantic love, self-esteem, self-transcendence, and the art of conscious living.

Wed, 04/13/2011
Audio

The problem of climate change is so big, so complex, and so politicized, it is almost impossible to know what to think about it, let alone what to do. Michael Zimmerman, co-author of Integral Ecology, helps cut through the partiality and propaganda that are so rampant on both sides of the argument, offering a more sober perspective on the current status of the climate change debate as he and Ken discuss his recent essay Including and Differentiating Among Perspectives: An Integral Approach to Climate Change.

Wed, 04/06/2011
Audio

In this extraordinary dialogue, Sally helps us to approach meditation from a position of abundance—as an expression of abundance—rather than from a position of lack, need, or obligation. If you are a long-time meditator, this dialogue will offer some key perspectives to help deepen and strengthen your practice. If you happen to be new to meditation, or have perhaps experienced a lapse in your daily practice, this dialogue will give you the jump-start you need to take the next crucial steps toward recognizing the radical freedom and eternal spaciousness that rests at the heart of everything you have ever known.

Wed, 03/23/2011
Audio
The Loft Series

Ken reads from his book One Taste, beginning with his groundbreaking article, A Spirituality That Transforms, which discusses the two most important functions of religion: translation and transformation. He ends with a firsthand account of a raucous weekend adventure with Marci, his ex-wife, in Miami's South Beach. The common thread, as you'll hear, is a tantric blending of depth and surface, authenticity and legitimacy, the sacred and the profane—where both are honored and both embraced in service of recognizing the Divine in all its manifestations....

Mon, 03/21/2011
Article
Integral Post

"In a series of books (e.g., A Sociable God, Up from Eden, and The Eye of Spirit), I have tried to show that religion itself has always performed two very important, but very different, functions. One, it acts as a way of creating meaning for the separate self. But two, religion has also served—in a usually very, very small minority—the function of radical transformation and liberation....

Fri, 03/18/2011
Article
Integral Post

Ken Wilber offers his own thoughts and prayers in the wake of the terrible Fukushima incident in Japan....

Wed, 02/23/2011
Audio

Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber talk about the theory and practice of Integral Tantra—the simple recognition of the erotic union of emptiness and form, and that Spirit and matter are ultimately not-two....