An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

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Response to Collins
and Goddard

Ken Wilber

Peter Collins has been sending me his many interesting essays, and the one posted here is very typical of his contributions. Many people who read his material say that they cannot understand it. Developmental psychologists tend to find that it is not very current on recent research. I myself find it a provocative piece. I, of course, do not believe that Collins's particular version of "integral" is totally convincing; it particularly seems to lack a subtle grasp of transpersonal realities. Nor does he seem to acknowledge any of the nuances of my own work. Still, I always enjoy reading his material and I hope that he finds a large audience for his thoughtful contributions.

Gerry Goddard has written two long essays on my work, that I am aware of. The first, "Airing Our Transpersonal Differences," was written in 1997, and is posted here. The second, "Ken Wilber's Four-Quadrant Model," was written in 1999. The first essay is, in my opinion, rather unsatisfactory. It represents a very particular point of view (that I would consider a bias), and it does not seem to grasp my model very clearly.

The second essay—"Ken Wilber's Four-Quadrant Model"—is much more interesting and is offered in a fine spirit of drawing out some of the implications of my work. Of course, I do not agree with all of Goddard's points, and there are still places where my view is not presented quite right. Nonetheless, Goddard finds a "fundamental agreement" with my model, and then works to fine-tune it and readjust it in a way that he believes is more adequate. As Goddard puts it, "In offering these criticisms of Wilber's model, I believe that I am, largely, only drawing out conceptions which are already implicit with his model and within his larger work. In doing so, I feel I am opening up Wilber's work… rather than attacking and rejecting it."

I very much appreciate the care Goddard has brought to the discussion in his second essay, even if I do not find all of his conclusions convincing. Also, some of his discussion is rendered obsolete with my more recent writings, especially Integral Psychology (due out in November from Shambhala). I hope at some point to be able to respond to his second piece, correcting the misrepresentations and giving my own alternative to his concerns. In the meantime, his second essay is an insightful contribution by someone who has given these important issues much careful thought. I also believe Goddard can be an important voice in reaching out to the more Jungianly oriented contingent of the transpersonal community, since his obviously sincere commitment to truth can help move through some of the resistances in this direction.

And now, for the time being, I must take a moratorium on responding to criticism, simply because my own work is calling. But I do appreciate the care and concern—and especially the many wonderful alternatives—that my past work has evoked.

© Ken Wilber, 26 June, 1999

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