Rebel Wisdom: Integral Meets the Intellectual Dark Web

David Fuller Cognitive, Free, Perspectives, The Daily Evolver, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 6 Comments


irst of all, let me say that “intellectual dark web” is the worst name I can imagine for a movement that seeks to illuminate our cultural moment. But, okay, nobody asked me and it appears they’re doing quite well anyway: the intellectual dark web (IDW) has coalesced into a vibrant group of intellectuals, most prominently Jordan Peterson, who are sparking a new international counter-culture known mostly for goring the sacred cows of far left postmodernism (Green altitude).

Today’s guest, David Fuller, is at the center of the intellectual Dark Web (IDW) having founded Rebel Wisdom, a YouTube station that has attracted over 60,000 subscribers in less than two years. A veteran producer from BBC News, David made the first documentary on Jordan Peterson, “Truth in the Time of Chaos”, which helped launch Peterson into intellectual stardom.

David is also interested in integral theory, and last November he traveled to Denver to interview Ken Wilber for Rebel Wisdom, from which he has recently released the following two videos:

In these interviews Ken is brilliant in appreciating the evolutionary power of the IDW while inviting its audience to the larger, more inclusive integral vision, and the videos have made a powerful impact on the Rebel Wisdomsite. One of the top viewer comments sums up the potential that many fans of the IDW see in integral theory:

As much as I like Jordan Peterson (and I do very much!), I think Wilber’s Integral Theory is waaaaaay more sophisticated and compelling. It is not full of self-contradictions and cul de sacs. It is not tied to Christianity or the West. It does not demonize Post Modernity and toss it out.

I couldn’t agree more, and make a similar case in a two-part series I published on Jordan Peterson last spring, as well as a Rebel Wisdom video where David and his partner Alexander Beiner interviewed me:

Also be sure to check out Ken Wilber’s 6-part presentation about the IDW:

David Fuller is committed to the further evolution of the intellectual dark web and enthusiastic, as I am, about what integral theory can bring to that project. I hope you enjoy our conversation!

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David Fuller

About David Fuller

David Fuller is a multi-skilled journalist and filmmaker - having worked for the UK's top news programme Channel 4 News for ten years as reporter, producer and director. He was the first mainstream TV journalist to cover the renaissance of psychedelic science back in 2008, and has consistently focused on the revolutionary ideas and technologies on the fringes of the culture, and attempted to shift the cultural conversation. He is the founder of Rebel Wisdom, a platform to make highly complex ideas accessible to as many people as possible.

Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.

Notable Replies

  1. I found one thing pretty shocking in this interview–that Jordan Peterson is not aware of Ken Wilber’s work (“thinks he might have heard of him around 2000”), or of Integral Theory. HOW CAN THAT BE? How can someone, and this goes for others of the IDW as well, be espousing intellectual perspectives toward cultural change and be so–what?-- insulated? too busy? arrogant? too overly identified with their own views? as to be unaware of integralism?

    I want to remain “friendly towards reality” here, and mindful that Wilber believes Peterson and others of the IDW are “thinking integrally,” but IMHO, not integrally enough if they’re unaware of IT itself and the work of Wilber. There are what now, 30 books? And I don’t think their ignorance of IT can be blamed on integralism being complicated with ‘colors and the AQAL’ etc.; I may allow this argument for the average person, but not for people who call themselves or allow themselves to be called “intellectuals.”

    David Fuller said he was sending his interview with KW to JP, so that’s definitely a good thing, as is Rebel Wisdom’s intent to do a documentary on Wilber. The viewer comments on the Rebel Wisdom site re: the interview with KW are overwhelmingly sparkling with enthusiasm for Wilber and the Integral model, so the IDW getting on board should be a no-brainer.

  2. Sorry getting to this post so late; I have been wanting to comment on this but got swept up with other things. I want to explore the notion that if one is operating from a 2nd tier standpoint that they would somehow gravitate to the explicit works of Wilber/IT/SD.

    Here’s my question for you: some SD sources (correct me if I’m wrong here) say that about 1% of the worlds population is at 2nd tier/Yellow/Teal (I have also seen some sources that say 5%). 1% of the worlds population is 76 million people. Of those 76 million, what percentage of them do you think are aware of Wilber/IT? Let’s say only a quarter of them (the other 75% are either too insulated, busy, arrogant, or overly identifies with their views) are aware of IT – that is still almost 20 million people.

    So lets look at it this way: Lets say that what you said is true – that there is a strong correlation between being 2nd tier/Integral/Teal and knowing Wilber/IT. If you were administering developmental tests to see if these so called Integral thinkers are actually Integral, couldn’t you just ask them if they are aware of IT/Wilber and disqualify them as 2nd tier if they are not aware? These questions are primarily aimed at clarification; let me know if I’m not getting you. :slight_smile:

  3. Thanks for the clarification – I understand what you are saying, that you have higher expectations of these “intellectuals” in knowing whats out there, especially if they are indeed operating from a 2nd tier standpoint. I was going to use your point about Green’s not being aware of postmodernism as an example, so glad to see we are on the same page there.

    To shift gears slightly, the relationship between “theories, philosophies, markers, and roots of stages” and the actual stage itself is very interesting to me. For example, if we gave Peterson a Wilber book like SES and got him to read it – and he said it was total crap, would that “disqualify” him from being considered Integral? I’m thinking about how some branches of Green despise other branches, like some black social justice activists hating the environmental movement, or some environmentalists disliking poststructuralism. Could someone be operating from a 2nd tier standpoint and consciously reject Wilber/IT?

    My hunch is that I may be wiling to give more of these ostensibly Integral intellectuals a break for not knowing Wilber, because of the specificity of their field. For example, I consider Jeremy Rifkin a 2nd tier thinker, but because he is knee deep in the LR quadrant world of economics and systems, he may never come across Wilber, who seems to be more well known in spiritual/contemplative circles. So I wonder how one’s area of expertise could limit their chances of coming into contact with IT. But then again, Peterson’s world of psychology, cultural analysis, and inner development does seem to be quite consonant with IT…

  4. When the JbP phenomenon first took hold I (and likely many others) tweeted him about his awareness of Ken and IT. While he was obviously awash in controversy and laser focused on trans politics at the time he was easily forgiven for not taking heed or acknowledging the query. However, JBP also has a well established network working behind the scenes that digests and processes these inquiries and it is my intuition that he sees Ken’s brand of integral for what he sees as its faults (likely cultish spiritual woo-woo). I tried to mitigate my query with another more suited to his worldview (from my perspective) and asked him about Graves and SD specifically which also never got a recognition. I thought that he would very much appreciate Grave’s work as he and Beck were highly influenced and even collaborated with Piaget (if I remember correctly). This leads me to have the same impression as the OP, that JBP’s ignorance of IT is to be corrected and that it would greatly influence Dr. Peterson for the better once that oversight has been corrected.

  5. Well, in my opinion (and it is only an opinion), if he thinks it’s “total” crap, probably so, at least by me. If he found sections he considered “partial crap,” and put forth some convincing arguments to support his opinions–arguments that were framed in integral thinking, had respectable research to back them up, and were not based on his own blind spots and biases, etc.–then I may not disqualify him as an integral thinker, but I might still question whether he fully grasped and held an Integral View.

    I should probably state the obvious here, which you’re aware of, that I am grounded in Wilber’s IT, the AQAL model. I don’t know of anything else out there, or anyone else out there who has a more comprehensive, inclusive model that addresses interiors and exteriors, singulars and plurals, and their relationships; who so thoroughly addresses structure-stages of development, states of consciousness, lines of development, and types–and gathers this information into a coherent whole, and applies this knowledge to a multitude of fields. So Wilber’s integral approach is my mainstay, and I refer most things back to that.

    So it seems to me that just as people can have a cognitive level of development that is integral–that is, they can “think integrally,” but be overall more stably situated at a green level (their center of gravity there)–people can also think integrally without fully holding the entire View of Wilber’s Integral stage. The IDW, for instance, unaware of and not taking into account structure-stages of development, doesn’t, in my opinion, hold fully or entirely an integral View, even as they may be thinking integrally. Does this make sense to you?

    As to the first part of your statement, by nature of being 1st Tier (and I know you know this, but I’ll say it anyway), green thinks its views are the only true, correct, or “real” ones. This applies to the individuals within that stage as well as to the stage population in its entirety. So it isn’t surprising that green individuals who cohere around a particular issue, like black social justice, might think their views are more true and correct than say those of their fellow greens, the environmentalists. Plus, the green altitude focuses on diversity and differences, not unities-in-diversities or similarities, which further adds to the splintering within the green level.

    Regarding your question–to me, a requirement to be able to “consciously reject Wilber/IT” is that one has thoroughly and consciously studied Wilber/IT with an open mind and has an intimate familiarity with the material, AND, has consciously studied themselves, has a familiarity with and makes an honest appraisal of their own knowledge as well as lacks thereof, and is well-attuned to their particular biases or prejudicial thinking, and has thoroughly questioned their motives in rejecting the material. I’m sure I could add to this list of “requirements” if I thought about it more, but you get my gist.

    As some key words/phrases for 2nd Tier are inclusion, wholeness, unity/union, interconnectedness, taking as many perspectives as possible, finding patterns that connect, and I’m sure you could add to this list, I doubt that someone truly at 2nd Tier could reject all of it, in its entirety. Someone at Teal Integral might reject the spirituality/states of consciousness parts, but if they continue to grow, that will come along too.

    You know much more about Rifkin than I do, but I will say that I did find him in the video on the development of empathy to be thinking integrally. And who knows? Maybe in his social theorist capacity, he has come across Wilber’s work. But I understand what you’re saying about how one’s area of expertise might limit their chances of coming in contact with IT. You’re probably right; they might have to actively seek it out if they recognized a need for a large reality framework. But as Integral is applied to more and more disciplines and fields, this will probably change.

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