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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Don Salmon and Jan MaslowDon Salmon, a clinical psychologist and composer, received a grant from the Infinity Foundation to write a comprehensive study of yoga psychology based on the synthesis of the yoga tradition presented by 20th century Indian philosopher-sage Aurobindo Ghose. Jan Maslow, an educator and organizational consultant, has, with Dr. Salmon, given presentations, classes and workshops in the United States and India on this topic. Both have been studying yoga psychology for more than 25 years.

Reposted from our Integral World Forum

Up the
Evolutionary Stream
Without a Paddle

Response to Visser

Don Salmon

But what if you ask, which species has had the most impact on the planet, and therefore, on the evolutionary process as a whole?

I think your "Theories are Confessions: Reply to Salmon" article is a particularly thoughtful and well-written article. I actually agree with almost all of it. What I like most is your spot-on critique of Wilber—better than what was in my article, where I think I failed to clear just what it was of Wilber's evolutionary view that I sought to trim with Okham's razor.

I think you made this point very well in the section where you described Wilber as saying that if evolution is only chance then there must be something else driving evolution. Besides completely misrepresenting the meaning of "chance" in evolution, this not just bad science, but still worse, bad philosophy. What is most disturbing is that, if I remember correctly, Wilber's Quantum Questions, way back in 1982, was essentially in agreement with you Frank—that you can't assert that some particular set of scientific data **requires** a specific philosophic or religious conclusion. This, by the way, was the whole point of my "Ockham's Razor" series—I'm glad you replied to the article since now I've had a chance to make clear how this applies to Wilber's evolutionary misstatements.

By the way, just to put a plug in for the another thread I've started here in the forum—"Beyond the Physical"—the points you make about distinguishing science and religion, are similar to what Don DeGracia talks about in his book "Beyond the Physical"; particularly as he quotes the Dutch Theosophist, J. J .van der Leeuw. I've quoted a few excellent passages on the distinction between science and philosophy from van der Leeuw, which like your writing, makes my "Ockham's Razor" point better than I did.

About Gould and his distinction between "mean" and "mode", I don't think I could outdo Dawkins in his critique of Gould. I'm aware—I can't remember at the moment, didn't I mention this in my direction in evolution article?—that some species have become simpler, and many many have remained at the same level of complexity. But then, if only a small number have become more complex, how would one determine what basis to decide what is most important? Gould takes the "democratic" approach—the largest number wins.

But what if you ask, which species has had the most impact on the planet, and therefore, on the evolutionary process as a whole? Unless you're a global warming denier (and even Mitt Romney agreed that humans are playing a role in climate change, that is, until he began craving acceptance from the Tea Potty), I think one could at least make a reasonable argument that it is human beings. And what is responsible for the capacity of human beings to have such an impact? Might it possibly be the fact that their consciousness is more complex than that of any other species?

One last point—you say, "If science can't bring us into contact with reality, what else can?" The assumption—I don't' know if you're assuming this, but quite a few who read my Ockham's Razor series did—was that by critiquing science I was **necessarily** saying that religious or some "quasi mystical" supernatural entity was **therefore** superior. I didn't' mean to.

My intention—which I'm afraid I didn't' make clear—was to find common ground on the limitations of science. Period. If there is, I think, a sufficiently strong group of people interested in looking squarely at these limitations, then perhaps, over years (decades) there might be possible the development of science (not necessarily a religious or "spiritual" alternative) which could take into account qualities ('what it is like to be...") and may even develop an understanding of consciousness that is quite different from the currently accepted one. But I don't see this happening until there is a sufficient level of agreement on the current limitations. I don't' see the point of going too far beyond that, looking for new methods, new explanations, until the current framework is truly understood; and particularly, its limitations.

Thanks again for your thoughtful and thought-provoking response.

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