Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at


A Response to
"Clash of the Archetypes"

Joe Corbett

The answer is that there is only the continual waking up to what is, without an edge or boundary or ending.

David and Andrea Lane's Clash of the Archetypes between Thantos (death) and Eros (life) is instructive not only on the level of individual experience and psychology, but on the collective level of the central conflict of our (and of all) times: that between self and society on the one hand, or Thantos, and the body (or nature) and culture on the other hand, or Eros. Let me explain.

Self-interest in the pursuit of money and power (the diagonal axis between the upper left and lower right quadrants) to the exclusion of other concerns is clearly self-destructive by systematically undermining and destroying communities of stability and moral meaning on the one hand, and a sustainable natural environment and bodily labor on the other hand (the diagonal axis between the lower left and the upper right quadrants).

In other words, the modern orange civilization of material success and achievement (self-interest in the pursuit of profits and power) has today become imbalanced and un-whole, hegemonically overwhelming the capacity of human communities, nature, and labor to protect and nurture their stake in the healthy functioning of the entire human matrix of truth, beauty, goodness, and justice.

Melding personal ego-interests with collective institutional forms of representation (the upper left and lower right quadrants), the death instinct, or Thantos, in short, has overcome the life instinct, or Eros, the melding of bodily instinct with collective forms of desire (the upper right and lower left quadrants), and this has now become the central clash (or imbalance, which triggers the historical dialectics) of and within modern civilization today.

Lane's point towards the end of the piece is that neither Thantos nor Eros triumph in the end because they are both part of a larger whole that we must accept and transcend, with neither death nor immortality as the ultimate victor. And this is instructive for those who wish to ask what comes after the tragedy of modernity in its endless pursuit of more regardless of the consequences, for the answer is that there is only the continual waking up to what is, without an edge or boundary or ending signaling that this, the universe as we know and experience it, is in its final form.

May those who occupy and resist the temptations and accumulations of the ego-material worlds in collusion have the strength and fortitude to out-live the death throes of a civilization on the edge.

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