TRANSLATE THIS ARTICLE
Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY FRANK VISSER
Part 1 |
Part 2 |
Part 3 |
Part 4 |
A Brief History
of Integral World
Part IV: Refining My Take on Wilber and Moving On
Looking back at these highly productive two years, I think I have finally heeded the call of many integralists to leave Ken Wilber and evolution alone and move on.
It is time again for another episode of A Brief History of Integral World. Earlier episodes appeared in 2007, 2013 and 2018. Since the number of essays published on Integral World has rapidly increased, it is now a good moment to take stock again, in early 2021 (it also marks my 200th essay for this website).
In the intervening years I have refined my take on Wilber by engaging in a friendly dialectic with Wilberians and by documenting my objections to this evolutionary "theory" in a paper for Integral Review (predictably, of course, with no response from Wilber). When the coronavirus pandemic set in, early 2020, I also started documenting the many conspiracy theories that started to float around on the Net, and I could never foresee it would lead to a series of 37 essays, an ebook THE CORONA CONSPIRACY and a deep exploration of Twitter, saying goodbye to Facebook as a platorm for exchanging ideas with integralists.
Since many essays contributed to Integral World by its most productive authors were submitted throughout this period, I won't categorize them by year as I did before, but by author—or actually "serial author". A total of 352 essays were submitted in this period.
Elliot Benjamin started a long series of essays/journal entries about Donald Trumps re-election campaign with "Defeating Trump in 2020", and a 5-part series on Trump's mismanagement on the coronavirus pandemic called "The Deadly Duo". In a 7-part series on "Integrative United States President Joe Biden" he chronicled the events and his hopes/fears around the impeachment, Trumps claims the elections are rigged, the storming of the Capitol and the eventual inauguration of Biden. This is Benjamin's personal narrative and not always shared by other Integral World authors—but that's how it should be.
Brad Reynolds submitted a 3-part critique of my (mis)understanding of Wilberian evolution, under the ominous header of "Real Integral vs. Fake Integral" (this reflects the Trumpian culture to frame issues as true vs. fake instead of legitimate difference of opinion), to which I responded with "Facing the Integral Inquisition". Yet, I welcomed these essays because they provide a healthy dialectic around what Wilber actually says, and in the absence of any direct involvement from Wilber (or core-integralists) this is presumably as good as it gets. Reynolds also wrote a 4-part series on the spiritual meaning of matter and light, and wrote about an integral approach to the pandemic, and a reflection on the One and the Many.
Joseph Dillard offered no less than 20 essays in 2019 and about the same in 2020, covering his favorite topic: how integralism has over-emphasized exceptionalism and inner development over and against issues of social justice and multi-perspectivalism. He sees hubris, group think, growth fixation and the frequent use of ambiguous terms such as "Spirit" as problematic for the integral movement. He also stirred up some controversy by writing favorably about Chinese culture and society, contrasting the usual negative stereotypes around this emerging world power. Obviously, this was not received well in all integral quarters, but that is to be expected for provocative writing.
With an average of one essay per month Joe Corbett elaborated his cosmic philosophy in which creativity and mind play a role in evolution. His "trans-Darwinism" tries to salvage Wilberian concepts like involution, subtle and causal, storehouse consciousness, space-time, bio- and cosmo-semiotics, synchronicity and emptiness in a very creative way. Though not really my cup of tea, since it seems to be tied to the flatland realm of quantum physics, I welcome these trains of thought for the sake of creative dialectic.
David Lane too showed a high productivity, with dozens of essays of his own, and even a couple of books: a 10-part book on Yogananda called "The Skeptical Yogi", the 21-part "The Evolutionary Scientists", the 17-part "The Study of Consciousness", the 12-part "The Doubting Mind" and the 15-part "The Agnostics". All written by his own students these provide introductory level material about famous and less well-known scientists in these fields. He also chimed in on the ongoing nature of evolution debate, since that was also the topic of his very first 1997 essay, and the start of his increasingly critical stance towards Wilber.
Voices from the Past
Andy Smith, an early contributor to Integral World (from the days of Mark Edwards and Ray Harris back in 2000), also started contributing pieces on the "minority views of the pandemic", covering topics such as the (in)effectiveness of lockdowns and facemasks, with other articles in the works, in his own informed and informal writing style. Another voice from "the old days" is Peter Collins, who contributed a 3-part series on "A New Scientific Vision" and has started a new series: "Revisiting Perspectives". Jóse Díez Faixat submitted Part 7 of his "Beyond Darwin" series, dealing with entropy and its opposite syntropy.
As for my own writings in this period, I continued to refine my take on Wilber and his mistaken notions of evolutionary science, but widened the scope to topics such as entropy and complexity as well. This culiminated into an interview for the Facebook group Integral Stage, about "one of the Most Un-debated Topics in the Integral World: Is there a universal, spiritual drive towards increasing complexity and consciousness? Is there any place for Eros in evolution?" But more importantly, Integral Review published a longread by me about "Ken Wilber's problematic relationship to science", which can be seen as my final statement on this matter. I also wrote a 3-part series on idealist philosopher Bernardo Kastrup, who once called materialism "baloney", which prompted me to call his brand of idealism "bonkers". Kastrup also dealt with evolutionary matters so I could seamlessly cover those topics as well.
I have also provided free PDFs of "The Corona Conspiracy" (chapters 1-19), "Why Ken Wilber is wrong about evolution" (two academic papers), and "Climbing the Stairway to Heaven", my 7-part review of The Religion of Tomorrow.
When conspiracy theorist David Icke bluntly claimed in a widely viewed (and censored) interview for London Real that the new coronavirus "COVID-19" simply did not exist, I felt triggered to check and contradict his fact-free statements. His scientific side-kick psychiatrist/naturopath Andrew Kaufman, on whom he relied heavily to gain scientific credibility, was my next "victim". This opened up a whole universe of conspiracy notions around SARS-CoV-19, which allowed me to write chapters about virus denialists Stefan Lanka, Thomas Cowan and others, and also get my head around this huge infodemic (or was it scamdemic, or plandemic, or... take your pick!). I got immersed in the wacky world of virus denialism.
It is amazing that after 25 years, this Integral World website is still thriving and proving it has a right to be there, as a platform to reflect critically on integral concepts and beyond. Thanks guys! It also marks the 25 years that have passed since David Lane published in 1997 his scathing and witty critique of Wilber's mistaken and amateuristic views of evolution. It is still spot on and exposes Wilber as the uninformed philosopher he is, who tries to get away with it "by exaggeration, by false statements, and by rhetoric license." No substantial and reasoned response has ever come from him, defining and sealing his lack of credibility as a modern philosopher, specifically related to modern evolutionary science.
Looking back at these highly productive two years, I think I have heeded the call of many integralists to finally leave Ken Wilber and evolution alone and move on, and turn to other topics to develop my own thinking. The coronavirus turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for writing THE CORONA CONSPIRACY unleashed creativity in me I had not known for years. Switching to Twitter to promote these CORONA CONSPIRACY articles allowed me to contact real scientists and journalists—a breath of fresh air after having spent too many years on Facebook in various integral and counter-integral member groups, which more often than not were caught in their own echo chambers.