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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joseph DillardDr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: and his YouTube channel.


Steven Pinker, Integral,
And the Culture Wars

Joseph Dillard

Pinker presents considerable evidence that these monumental advances largely occurred despite religion and spirituality.

Integral seems to be strangely silent about Steven Pinker’s monumental and ground-breaking works, The Better Angels of Our Nature,[1] in which he shows how the march of reason, science, humanism, and sympathy have systematically reduced violence world-wide, and Enlightenment Now, which documents major improvements in just about every standard of human well-being.[2] Why has his work been either ignored or met with disdain by the liberal left? Why has this scholarly yet highly readable work apparently made little impression on Integral? Is it because Pinker’s analysis, although heavily fact-based, is easily dismissed as mid-personal rationality combined with late personal humanism and therefore not transpersonal? Is it resentment that he has appropriated the term “enlightenment,” following the modernist tradition, for secular purposes?

Is it because Pinker’s impressive documentation explains massive improvements in human progress by almost every measurement, without recourse to fundamental integral concepts of spirit, spirituality, God, soul, “eros,” or divine teleology? Is it because integral fails to see the relevance of Pinker’s thesis to the project of moving 10% of humanity to “2nd Tier” so that a major transformation in human consciousness occurs? Is it because Pinker explains consciousness in terms that integralists are likely to view as reductionistic? Is it because Pinker “just doesn’t get it” because he has not had mystical experiences that Wilber has had and therefore is operating at a lower, more restricted level of consciousness? Perhaps none of the above considerations apply, or more likely, there are multiple reasons. But my suspicion is that integral swims in a prevailing culture that is largely tone deaf to an extremely astute analysis that presents a complementary but challenging “theory of everything.” This ignoring is one tactic in an ongoing cultural war in which we are all immersed, whether we like it or not.

Pinker’s theory & evidence

Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker shows how the transition from hunter-gatherer to early agricultural civilizations, which he calls “the Pacification Process," brought a five-fold reduction in the rates of violent death. From that level of violence, there followed, from the late middle ages to the 20th century, an additional ten to fifty-fold decline in homicide a period which Pinker calls “the Civilizing Process.” The “Humanitarian Revolution” of the Age of Reason and European Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries “saw the first organized movements to abolish slavery, dueling, judicial torture, superstitious killing, sadistic punishment, and cruelty to animals, together with the first stirrings of systematic pacifism.” Pinker calls the fourth major transition “The Long Peace,” the period after the 2nd World War, when the great powers stopped waging war on each other. The most recent period Pinker calls “the New Peace,” since the end of the Cold War in 1989. Since that time, organized conflicts of all kinds - civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, and terrorist attacks - have declined throughout the world. This has been accompanied by “the Rights Revolution,” “a growing revulsion against aggression on smaller scales, including violence against ethnic minorities, women, children, homosexuals, and animals. These spin-offs from the concept of human rights—civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, gay rights, and animal rights—were asserted in a cascade of movements from the late 1950s to the present day.”

Pinker is not blind to either the presence of factors, both intrapsychic and social, that generate violence or to the possibility that they may erupt at any time, given the absence of the ameliorating factors he articulates; empathy, self-control, the moral sense, and reason. These destructive factors include predation, dominance, revenge, sadism, and ideology. Ideology is particularly important today, because we are surrounded by many well-meaning people on the left and right who unwittingly use prepersonally grounded ideologies to justify exceptionalist frameworks that generate inequalities and violence. Ideology, as a source of violence, is the major fuel of the culture wars which are being played out by the media, on college campuses and in fights for government largesse. In Enlightenment Now, Pinker lays out 15 measures of human wellbeing that show that despite relapses and horrific exceptions which continue to this day, on the average, over the sweep of centuries, life has been progressively getting better for most people. These improvements include increases in life expectancy (from about 30 to over 70), health (the abolition of plagues and many diseases), sustenance (access to food and shelter), wealth (increasing GNP), inequality (reductions in discrimination), the environment (global accords, reductions in rates of emissions), peace (reductions in violence), safety (governmental regulation of products), terrorism (a hugely overblown risk), democracy (the global embrace of consensual governance), equal rights (widespread governmental protections), knowledge (increases in literacy and meritocracy), quality of life (increases in appliances, reduction in hours of housework), happiness (reductions in loneliness and suicide), and reductions in existential threats (fewer nuclear weapons).

As someone who finds much value in the cognitive multi-perspectivalism of AQAL integralism, I wish I were operating at the low, more restricted level of consciousness at which Steven Pinker functions. Tenured Harvard professor of cognitive linguistics, Pinker lets data speak for itself. He borrows Benjamin Franklin’s strategy of first honoring opposing arguments before proceeding to thoroughly dismantle them. By citing numerous sources and research studies, Pinker builds up a largely unassailable foundation for his argument: the most parsimonious explanation for the advancement of humanity is good government, reason, science, commerce, feminization,[3] humanism, cosmopolitanism, and increasing circles of sympathy, instead of consciousness, spirituality, love, positive thinking, intuition, God, fate, dharma, or karma.

Criticisms of Pinker

It is common to dismiss Pinker as an atheist (which he is) and a materialist committing the cardinal sins of reductionism and scientism. The problem is, when you read Pinker, he doesn’t come across as a bloviating dogmatist whatsoever. On the contrary, as stated above, he presents the case against his positions, demonstrating that he thoroughly understands them, and then proceeds to respectfully but thoroughly demolish those arguments.

John Gray, writing in the Guardian, describes Pinker’s thesis that violence has diminished as “the new orthodoxy,” as if the ascent of non-violence and the global embrace of humanistic values were a commonly accepted reality.[3a] It isn’t. Our times are astounding, extraordinarily beneficial, exceptions to the pervasive violence and misery that have been the fate of most humans everywhere throughout history. Little of that is recognized or commonly accepted by mainstream culture. What we have gained is taken for granted; the astounding nature and degree of these gains is anything but orthodoxy. Gray states, “There is no reason for believing that humans are becoming any more altruistic or more peaceful.” It is difficult to understand how anyone who has read Pinker could reach this evidence-free conclusion. Gray views Pinker’s argument as a regression to “enlightenment values,” a view that I suspect some integralists may take as well. But integral views personal reason and late personal egalitarianism and pluralism as preconditions for any development above and beyond. When we take reason and hard-won improvements in human rights for granted and even view their acknowledgement as a form of regression, we end up thinking we have transcended such “incidentals,” when in fact we may not have absorbed their lessons or mastered the skill sets they represent. The ancient Greeks called this hubris, a concept that has stood the test of time. The consequence is that we find cultural warriors on all sides justifying prepersonal defenses of ideology and violence as something postmodern or post-metaphysical in a gambit Wilber has called the pre-trans fallacy. Pinker believes that if we are to transcend these cultural wars we need to honor and uphold the classical liberal humanistic values that have transformed culture, society, and human rights. I agree.

Grey also points out that enlightenment thinkers were themselves supporters of bigotry, discrimination, and slavery and sometimes, like Marx, advocates of violence in the name of humanistic progress. Pinker argues that we only possess the capability of reason, not that we are necessarily reasonable. Does the fact that Jefferson owned slaves and had children by one of them negate the fact that he was a humanist and a brilliant expositor of governing principles that have worked to ensure human rights for people all over the world? This is an ad hominem fallacy in which the truth or falsity of an idea is ignored in favor of trashing the character of its promoter. Once logical fallacies are understood and recognized, they are seen for what they are: childish, prepersonal, emotionally-based tactics for avoiding responsibility and accountability.

Similarly, John Arquila, writing for Foreign Policy, bashes Pinker by missing the point.[4] He counts the number of foreign wars (an increase) rather than the number of people who are actually casualties of them (a great decrease) in a limited snapshot of time (since 1946) instead of over centuries in order to “prove” that Pinker is wrong, that violence has not decreased. While war has indeed changed since 1945, from major engagements between equally armed belligerent states to multiple internecine conflicts often fought by proxies, increased numbers of conflicts does not necessarily imply an increased number of deaths. In fact, the numbers of people actually killed in such conflicts has steadily diminished. Much the same can be said of Arquila’s presentation of the horrendous numbers of deaths in the major wars of the last two centuries, such as the civil war in China and the multiple African wars. Pinker addresses these events, nor does he ignore how many people a nuclear war might kill. He does believe that the likelihood of major wars and existential threats becomes increasingly unlikely as reasons to avoid interstate conflicts and nuclear exchanges become stronger and the conditions that make them possible become increasingly unlikely.

Neither does Pinker avoid modern violence, because he doesn’t need to. Overall, around the world, violence is on the decrease, but because bad news makes the headlines and anyone with a mobile phone can film and publish it, we receive the erroneous impression that the opposite is true. Pinker does not claim, as the accusation goes, that violence is a vice of “backward” people; he shows that liberals are as likely as conservatives to suffer from ignorance and delusions that generate violence. This is because liberals, progressives, “cultural creatives,” and integralists can be and generally are ideologues, just as are their conservative brethren.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Pinker demonstrates that violence goes down as people become less ignorant, more dependent on each other, and more accountable to governmental structures. This not only makes immanent sense; it is clear that these are clear historical trends. More people are literate and being educated than ever before in history; commerce and the internet connects us globally in multiple ways that are mutually beneficial, and government not only controls and punishes violence, but tolerates fewer forms of abuse. Arquila and other critics make various straw man arguments, misrepresenting Pinker’s positions and then triumphantly refuting them. For example, Arquila says that Pinker argues that because violence has become less common that it will always be less. This is a misrepresentation. Pinker says that violence has become much less common and less likely over time. He does not believe that it will ever be eliminated, nor does he rule out the possibility of horrific future wars or nuclear holocausts.

It is easy to cherry pick data to point to exceptions to the trend toward non-violence and increasing measures of well-being, as his critics do, but Pinker looks at overall, centuries-long trends, not to isolated historical instances. Pinker points out that even well-meaning humanistic scientists like Carl Sagan can be convinced that fear is required to control human impulses.[5] The argument is that if people hear that things are getting better and come to believe it, they will let down their defenses and become vulnerable to manipulation, abuse, and attack. Could we be any more deluged with alarmist propaganda than we presently are? Since when are fear and ignorance winning strategies? While ignoring the 5% of genuine threats that can kill you is foolish, the alternative slowly drains the life out of you through ceaseless unfounded anxiety, worry, and obsessing. Over-reacting to imagined, hyped threats wastes billions on national security boondoggles and results in being frisked at airports in a tragic-comedy produced, directed, and starring zombified make-workers. All this in the awareness that risks of terrorism are lower than being killed by a wasp or bee sting, a donkey, the water in your bathtub, or flammable neglige. Pinker is not afraid to trust people, human nature, and to evaluate the reality of our fears based on statistical likelihood instead of primal emotional reactivity or the pronouncements of a governmental or spiritual Big Brother.

For Pinker, enlightenment values are not opponents of either religion or spirituality. In Enlightenment Now he writes, “…healthy societies need religion as a bulwark against selfishness and meaningless consumerism. Religious institutions supply that need by promoting charity, community, social responsibility, rites of passage and guidance on existential questions that can never be provided by science.” Regarding spirituality, Pinker writes, “…most people…find meaning and wisdom in an overarching sense of spirituality, grace, and divine order.”[6] If (spirituality) consists in gratitude for one’s existence, awe at the beauty and immensity of the universe, and humility before the frontiers of human understanding, then spirituality is indeed an experience that makes life worth living.”[7]

Reasons why Pinker’s research is ignored or attacked

One reason why Pinker’s work is ignored is that humans possess a cognitive bias that assumes the normalcy of the status quo, forgetting, or more likely, never understanding, how incredibly unusual and even unique our safety, security, lack of violence, freedom, and sources of personal happiness in fact are, in the context of human history. This is a form of cultural grandiose ignorance which is reminiscent of children taking for granted that they are cared for and loved. But children were not always cared for or loved, and until recently, historically speaking, life was very cheap and abuse and violence were accepted parts of life. We have no idea how lucky we are and so we lack anything close to an appropriate degree of gratitude or the degree of awareness required to muster a fierce defense of these hard-won gains. Consequently, human nature tends to respond to Pinker with a yawn and “so what?” But cognitive biases are logical fallacies. It has been said that a fool repeats his mistakes, a smart person does not, and a wise person learns from the mistakes of others. A careful and realistic reading of human history is essential if we are to be wise, instead of foolish or simply intelligent.

Pinker’s scholarship threatens both sides of our ongoing cultural wars by demonstrating that the feel-good purposes and methods proposed by religionists, integralists, and New Agers do not account for the amazing advancements in human prosperity and happiness. On the contrary, Pinker presents considerable evidence that these monumental advances largely occurred despite religion and spirituality. In addition, Pinker’s research directly contradicts the chronic pessimism and apocalyptic doom mongerism of both mainstream and alternative news media, generating sneering dismissals of his work as Panglossian optimism. Even more fundamentally, Pinker views ideology itself as an opponent of human progress. We live at a time when almost everyone walks around with an ideological charge strong enough to electrocute unsuspecting stray cats. Pinker’s other attacks and arguments are distant and relatively non-threatening, but when he attacks ideology he attacks not only conservatives and liberals but religionists, New Agers, and gulp, integralists. If you do not believe integral is an ideology, you have some explaining to do.

Objections of Integral to Pinker

Integralists and related spiritually-oriented westerners believe in consciousness, purpose, and spirituality, among other things, and can read Pinker as trashing all three. To these objections, we need to ask some simple questions. Do we really think that Pinker is denying consciousness? As a cognitive psychologist it is obvious that he recognizes the existence of consciousness. The debate is not about the reality of consciousness but about which understanding of consciousness best fits the available facts. Pinker’s explanation of consciousness does not, in my opinion, satisfactorily explain anomalous consciousness, and Wilber’s and other spiritual and religious explanations of consciousness, based on the historical record, do not do a very good job of eliminating violence. When it comes down to choosing between these two forms of partiality, one not accounting for psychism and the other not eliminating child deaths, the decision is an easy one for me. Having had plenty of mystical and psychic experiences of my own, it is a trade-off in which I am comfortable giving Pinker the benefit of the doubt. The reduction of violence and the improvement of human well being are both intrinsically sacred and “spiritual.”

Regarding spirituality and purpose, Pinker is a fierce advocate of the sanctity of life. What could be more sacred? What could be more spiritual than life itself? Regarding spirituality as subscription to a particular religion, most integralists are currently highly eclectic, picking and choosing what works from first this, then that religious/spiritual tradition. Most integralists either hold no concept of deity or one so vague, broad, and ambiguous that it has no relationship whatsoever to what deity has meant to the majority of humans throughout history. In that sense, like Pinker, we are all atheists now.

However, there is a more subtle objection by integralists and the spiritual community. We don’t want our claim to intuitive knowing to be taken away from us. We want to “just know” that there is transcendent purpose, life after death, reincarnation, and what is best for us. We want to “just know” that our near death experience is evidential because, well, it was so real. I died, God told me that Jesus died for my sins, and that there is a heaven and hell, so it must be true. I had this mystical experience of formless, non-dual oneness that convinced me that everything is in divine order, that everything happens for a reason, and sunyata pervades every act of violence and suffering. So it must be true.

You can test the pre-rational, deep-seated need to hold onto prepersonal beliefs for yourself by daring to question someone’s intuition, mystical, or near-death experience. Chances are they will take your questions as a personal insult, as if you are questioning them. This is the role of intuition: to provide an unassailable redoubt for whatever beliefs we want to hold irrespective of their rationality. Like a child wanting candy, we want to believe what we want to believe, and we refuse to be held accountable to rational, objective, and collective standards of judgment. That is all well and good, until we get to issues that are not personal and are indeed collective, such as women’s rights, genital mutilation, respect for international law, and the punishment of victimless crimes. In such cases, appeals to intuition need to be confronted. Responses that “you just don’t get it” (presumably because you have not yet evolved to the level where you will understand the necessity for violence or war, such as justified by the Bhagavad Gita) need to be confronted as the logical fallacies and exceptionalistic claims that they are. The assumption is that Pinker does not understand AQAL when the problem is more likely that integralists haven’t read Pinker and have not taken his arguments seriously.

Why Integral cannot afford to ignore Pinker

We live in an age of regression to prepersonal and pre-enlightenment norms that manifest in pre-rational cultural wars which we use reason to justify. This is evident in our acceptance of corrupt and criminal candidates like Hillary Clinton because they are “better” than narcissistic liars, abusers, and thieves like Donald Trump. There is nothing enlightened, spiritual, or 2nd Tier about supporting such candidates or political systems that generate choices between Pepsi and Pepsi Lite, and then call it democracy. Nor can integral afford to ignore issues of justice if it wants to claim relevance in our rapidly transforming contemporary world. The solutions Wilber offers up in Trump and a Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction are weak tea: we just have to work at moving ourselves and others to 2nd Tier so that when we reach 10%, a marvelous transformation of consciousness will happen and we will enter the Age of Asparagus or Anoxia or something. We have to show more compassion to our poor, ignorant, ethnocentric brethren.

What spiritual ideologies and mythologies do not recognize, acknowledge, or defend, is the fact that the vast reductions in violence and improvements in human welfare have occurred independently of integral, religions, and spirituality in general. This is not to diminish the importance of expansions of human consciousness, but only to point out that these only occur and are maintained in socio-cultural contexts that support and protect those openings. If you are dead, like Buddhist monks in India subsequent to the Hephthalite invasion of northwest India in the 5th century, it is probably more difficult to work at expanding your consciousness or bringing enlightenment to humanity. The expansion of non-violence and the conditions that support human abundance and happiness are spiritual and sacred pursuits that are themselves expansions of consciousness of the first order.

How Integral can use Pinker to advance its own agenda

While it is disingenuous to claim one is ideology free, and it is certainly permissible to point out that Pinker’s beliefs in humanism, reason, self-control, morality, and sympathy are ideological, it does not follow that all ideologies are equal or that some ideologies are not less pernicious than others. We are our ideology, and that is a form of entrapment, drama, and self-imposed misery, because we are circumscribed by the particular limitations of whatever world view we hold, as a form of perspectival cognitive distortion. Recognizing our ideological blinders gives us new-found freedom to take them off, examine and objectify them, and choose others, so that one particular world view, even a multi-perspectival one, no longer defines us. Such a move is essential if we care to step out of the culture wars in which we are enmeshed. While I have great respect for the cognitive multi-perspectival framework of AQAL and continue to find it useful in many ways, I increasingly view integral through lenses of functionality and pragmatism rather than those of consciousness, spirituality, soul, divinity, or teleology. Despite what Wilber argues in his masterful The Religion of Tomorrow, ideologies, particularly those which are least subject to objective methods of validation, including religion, spirituality, and beliefs such as progress as divine teleology, do not have much of a future. As Pinker demonstrates, most ideologies act as barriers to the spread of non-violence, whether that is their intention or not. They generally function as distractions from the fundamental values, structures, and modes of thinking that have and will continue to enlighten humanity: good government, gentle commerce, self-control, sympathy, reason, and science.

Although Pinker does not make this point, pragmatism is a much more workable and reasonable ideology than most other products you will find on the shelves at our current cultural Home Depot. First formulated by James, Dewey, and Peirce, pragmatism determines what is true by its functionality, what works. Does a thought, feeling, or behavior increase or decrease our adaptability, the quality of our relationships, our balance, or our peace of mind? One practical example of pragmatism as an ideology is the spread of consultation of “best practices” outlined by international councils of mayors and professionals in engineering, medicine, law, insurance, manufacturing, and countless other fields. Such an approach sees beyond the horizon of ideologies such as nationalism, sectarianism, religion, political preferences, and yes, spirituality itself, to focus on those things that have consensual agreement as reducing violence and increasing the quality of life, and therefore qualify as both sacred and spiritual.

My own criticisms of Pinker

Steven Pinker, The Better Nature of Our Angels

Pinker’s main theses are that violence has historically declined, and secondly, that human well-being has immensely increased with the advent and spread of the enlightenment values of reason, science, humanism, and sympathy. As children of American cultural brainwashing, Pinker and I both grew up believing that Western democracies are not only the bearers but the best examples of democracy. By now it is widely understood that the chasm separating the universal humanistic ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, on the one hand, and the track record of US imperialism and oligarchy on the other, is so vast that America can hardly claim to be a democracy. Pinker and I differ on this. He views Europe and probably the US as well, as democratic bulwarks against Russian and Chinese authoritarianism and autocracy.[8] This is democracy based on internal quadrant worldviews: “Do as I say, not as I do,” not on exterior collective objective judgments of morality, empathy, and altruism. In contrast to the rest of his arguments, Pinker presents no data to support these conclusions, which therefore are merely assumptions. Ironically, what we are being dragged into recognizing - hold your breath for this one - is that in some ways both Russian nationalism and even Chinese autocratic communism are more humanistic, if not more democratic, than the United States. While those statements seem absurd on their face, consider the following:

Job approval of Chinese and Russian leadership, in the high 80’s and 83% respectively, is far higher than that of the US (38%).[9] How central is citizen approval of government leadership to democracy? A better question is, “All other things being equal, which would you rather live under, a government with a low citizen approval rating, or one with a high one?” Rates of incarceration, a measurement of the protection of individual freedom, a fundamental value for democracies, would seem to be another worthy measure of whether or not you live in a democracy. The nation with the highest percentage of its population in prison is the United States. The rate in China is 118 for 100,000 people in China, 450, in Russia, and 693 in the United States. By this measure, which of these countries can claim to be the most humanistic?[10]

Trust in the media is a measure that is associated with freedom of the press, a core value enshrined in the US Constitution and many constitutions across the world. The final determinant of freedom of the press is the quality of the information that people have access to, and this is most clearly assessed by citizen trust in the accuracy of what they hear and read. Therefore, one determinant of democracy should be public trust in the media. Why then do 71% of Chinese trust their media while only 42% of Americans do? Another Marist poll in July 2017 found that only 30% of Americans trust the media.[11] Are all those Chinese naive, brainwashed, and simply not exposed from the horrible truth about their government? Really? China has some of the highest standards of literacy (96.4) in the world. Do you really believe that the Chinese are either ignorant, stupid, or so cut off from the outside world that they have lost touch with reality?

How about trustworthiness? Do you want to live under a government you trust? Do you assume that democracies are the most trustworthy of all forms of government? I always did. Do you assume that because the Western democracies and particularly the United States are the children of Western humanistic enlightenment, that their governments are judged most trustworthy and therefore most democratic? It seems to me that Pinker continues to make this assumption. Then how is it that the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 84% of Chinese, 44% of Russians, and only 33% of American trust their government? Of 28 ranked nations, the Chinese “non-democratic” autocracy and communist government was ranked number 1 in trust by its citizens and Russia is number 14 while the US is number 21. What are those billions of Chinese smoking? Obviously the Edelman Trust Barometer is untrustworthy. Or perhaps not. Perhaps the Chinese government is more trustworthy than the US government. If that is the case, what does that say about democracy as a measurement of good governance? Note that autocratic, communist China beat out all the Western democracies in level of citizen trust. Could China be the world’s most democratic nation?

I don’t believe that it is, but I do believe that it just might be the most humanistic nation, in terms of carrying forward the values of 18th century liberal enlightenment, with Russia not so far behind. How could this be? There are several reasons. First, most of the factors mentioned by Pinker that reduce violence and increase human well-being have been at work in China and Russia just as they have been actively transforming the rest of the world. Secondly, Marx was a child of the Western enlightenment. One does not have to endorse either socialism or communism (I don’t) in order to recognize that Marx was a strong advocate for universal education, women’s rights, egalitarianism, pluralism, and the expansion of personal freedoms. While Russia is no longer the USSR, that system bequeathed many important humanistic values and institutions to both Russia and China that are largely ignored or overlooked by westerners, including, it seems, Pinker himself.

A recent Monmouth University poll of 804 American adults found that an astounding 71% of Americans believe the US is a dictatorship and only 21% believe that it is not.[12] Therefore, it appears that many people agree with me and not so much with Pinker that, while enormous reductions in violence and increases in personal happiness and prosperity are obvious in the United States, the relationship between enlightenment humanism and democracy has broken down in the US, and other, “non-democratic” forms of government are indeed catching up or surpassing the United States as bearers of the torch of the liberal enlightenment. It appears that quality of government is not so closely tied into the type or structure of government as we thought. There are underlying humanistic principles that appear to be much more important to citizens than the form of government itself under which they live. Perhaps it is time that we shifted our focus from political systems and transpersonal spirituality, both of which are ideologies, to those things that have been proven to work: reason, science, mutually beneficial commerce and interaction, and the underlying humanistic moral principle of mutual respect. The future of human development and evolution is determined by the quality of who we are today. That quality has been shown by both history and Pinker to be largely determined by the degree to which we embody the values of the liberal enlightenment that he enumerates, and has relatively little to do with our level of consciousness, ideology, or spiritual practice.

The enlightenment values defended by Steven Pinker can be, should be, and are strong supporters and allies of integral. I urge you to carefully read both of these important books and use them to supplement your own particular “theory of everything.”


[1] Pinker, Steven (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Viking.

[2] Pinker, Steven (2018). Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. New York: Viking.

[3] “Societies that empower women are less violent in every way.” Pinker, Steven, Times of India Jan 22, 1012

[3a] John Gray, "John Gray: Steven Pinker is wrong about violence and war", The Guardian, March 13, 2015.

[4] Aquila, J., 13 fallacies of Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”, Energy Skeptic, Nov 29, 2015.

[5] Pinker, Steven (2018) Enlightenment Now New York: Viking p. 310.

[6] Pinker, Steven, Enlightenment Now, pp. 431.

[7] Pinker, Steven, Enlightenment Now, pp. 433-4.

[8] Pinker, Steven (2018) Enlightenment Now New York: Viking pp. 201, 203, 205, 335.

[9] Zuesse, E. Gallup: Trump Has Record-Low Approval Ratings, Washingtons Blog Oct 3, 2017

[10] Zuesse, E. Russia’s vs, America’s records on democracy and on whistleblowers safety. The Duran, May 15, 2018.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Murray, P. National: Public troubled by ‘Deep State’, March 19, 2018.

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