In 1974 I sent a fan letter to the unknown author of a provocative article in an obscure journal. The article was “Spectrum of Consciousness,” and it appeared in Main Currents in Modern Thought, now long extinct. The author, of course, was Ken Wilber, not extinct at all.
Inexplicably from both of our perspectives and against all odds—He never responded to fan letters—Ken replied. That brief exchange began a relationship that he and I carry forward now 40 years and counting. That relationship led us to start ReVision, an interdisciplinary journal of knowledge and consciousness that sought to integrate art, science, and religion. And, like ReVision, extant still, Ken and I carry forward that integrative work.
For the first time in a long time he and I had the chance to discuss at some length (and, I hope, at some depth) some of our work. My own work has been on and around politics, specifically political theory and democratic theory, which I have taught for more than 25 years at Arizona State University. Anyone who looked at that work will see Ken’s footprints, fingerprints, and muscular intellect all over it. For me our collaboration has never waned, let alone ended.
Before ReVision I was fortunate to land at Harvard during what I think was a golden age of developmental work. I studied there with Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, and Robert Kegan; hobnobbed with James Fowler and Daniel Goleman; read Chris Argyris and Bill Tolbert; and had whispering in my ear, my external daimon, Ken. Then post-ReVision I landed once again in a golden age: studying political theory at Oxford with the likes of Isaiah Berlin, Ronald Dworkin, Steven Lukes, David Miller, G. A. Cohen, and Joseph Raz, with pop-in appearances by Michael Walzer, Charles Taylor, and John Rawls.
It was during my stay at Oxford that I wrote my first book, taking the gold that I had received from these diverse scholars and reverse- alchemizing that gold into something less valuable but indelibly mine: Beyond Individualism. That book combined developmental psychology and political theory and led to two other books and to more work to follow. One of those subsequent books, Wide as the World, is the jumping-off point for my dialogue with Ken that you can enjoy here. I hope that you do. Let me know, but I can’t promise that I won’t revert to Ken’s earlier, much earlier, position and not respond.