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

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Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has spent the last ten years living in Shanghai and Beijing, China. 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


Towards a
of the Kosmos

Joe Corbett

The alternative to mythic Eros and dumb-luck is a post-metaphysical re-enchantment of the Kosmos.

In a fascinating discussion on “The post-metaphysical meaning of synchronicity” with Cory de Vos at Integral-life, Ken Wilber says the experience of synchronicity is actually an awareness of the tetra-unfolding of the AQAL in real time as the self drops away and the horizon or wholeness of a larger reality becomes apparent. This understanding of synchronicity needs to be distinguished from the common notion of a universe speaking directly to our personal destiny and meaning in life, for which, according to Ken, “there is medication” to treat such interpretations. Moreover, later in the conversation Ken Wilber says that Eros is what drives the never-ending upward spiral of evolution, and that the origin of species is an example of the total, all-at-once tetra-emergence of the domains of the AQAL in action.

Frank Visser has been one of the most vocal and persistent critics of Wilber's use of the term Eros and his interpretation of evolution. In critical response [on Facebook] to this conversation and to similar things Ken Wilber has said elsewhere, Visser says the emergence of such complex structures as the eye and of entire species can be accounted for by the gradual accumulation of mutations and selection over many generations. The transition and emergence of eyes and species is imperceptibly small and gradual, not all at once in a synchronistic miracle as Ken Wilber seems to claim. There is no instance of a “first” in species evolution. There are many intermediaries between species, and the steps between one and another are extremely small and gradual such that there is no need to resolve the chicken-and-egg paradox of how a new species suddenly and miraculously arises before there is a breeding pair to faithfully replicate and transmit the species. Hence there is no need to resort to the miraculous force of Spirit-Eros as the driving force behind evolution.

These are cogent arguments, and Visser is correct to make them. Still, not everyone in the community of scientific expertise is convinced that random chance mutations and environmental selection alone is enough to explain the origin of species and evolution, much less the origin of life. Fred Hoyle, for instance, said the “mathematical probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrap yard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747” ["Junkyard Tornado"]. In a review of the mathematics of the familiar monkey theorem applied to evolution, a Wiki entry ["Infinite Monkey Theorem"] states, “If there were as many monkeys as there are atoms in the observable universe typing extremely fast for trillions of times the life of the universe, the probability of the monkeys replicating even a single work of Shakespeare is unfathomably minute.” While perhaps slightly overstated, this captures the gist of a widely held sentiment among many well-informed philosophers and scientists. So are we stuck between the new age appeal to a mythical Eros in the universe, on one hand, and materialist explanations that would reduce life to dead, unfathomable luck on the other?

quantum entanglement

Unlike Ken Wilber, I see the quadrants as a manifestation of the four fundamental forces of nature.

Unlike Ken Wilber, I see the quadrants as a manifestation of the four fundamental forces of nature (body/gravity, mind/weak-force, culture/strong-force, and society/electro-magnetism), as well as the morphic-foundation of the genetic code, which is woven together by the four nucleotides of A-G-C-T. So where Ken Wilber sees our awareness of the tetra-emergent properties of the AQAL as the experience of synchronicity, which is happening all the time even without our awareness of it happening, and which he sees as being driven by the mechanism of Eros, I see the tetra-emergent properties of the AQAL (evolution) as itself a phenomena of quantum entanglement unfolding the implicit probabilities of the wave functions (potentialities of being) within and between the quadrants as the mechanism of such emergence. In other words, instead of a mythical Eros, I see the complexities of quantum entanglement in-forming the potentialities of being, in addition to the gradual accumulation of random mutation and environmental selection, as the mysterious source of the wonderful excess that is life-consciousness.









In this alternative view, David Bohm's implicate order (or Ervin Laszlo's Akashic-field) is the underlying unity of information flows that constantly go from the explicate to the implicate order and back again, acting as the plenum or energy-information-field upon which both the interiors and the exteriors of the AQAL are of the explicate order, and are in-formed by the holomovements of an underlying and hidden-dimensional substrate. The universe, the AQAL it might be said, is like a giant quantum computer, a kosmic hologram in constant holomovement with itself, continually evolving moment-to-moment as information flows from the implicate order of quantum unity and entanglement to the explicate order of physical and mental manifestation and limitation, and then back again in a feedback loop of constant, instantaneous, and perpetual movement of the whole Kosmos (also see, Gary Schwartz, The Living Energy Universe).

Unfortunately, Ken Wilber is very dismissive of people like Bohm, Roger Penrose, and the informed speculations of Laszlo, which I think demonstrates his own closed-system of thinking, unable to fathom or even consider the possibility of an interior depth to the Kosmos, which is in a sense prior to and deeper than the “depth” of the flatland interiors depicted by the AQAL. Whether the AQAL-Cube or some other model may approach a description of the human contours of the implicate order (the interior of the interiors-and-exteriors) is an interesting question. In any case, as for Rupert Sheldrake, his theory of morphic resonance kicks-in only after the entangled quantum probabilities have in-formed the emergence of new potentialities, which are then resonated into kosmic habits.

The generative structures of all forms of life and the universe in integral theory are the quadrants themselves, out of which the layers and levels of life emerge. These fundamentally quantum domains act as morphic or archetypal-fields whereby various forms are generated in dialectical tetra-emergence with other quadrants (and levels) in different combinations over time. The AQAL itself is a kind of complexity generating matrix, a quantum potentiality machine, a blueprint for a flying-saucer engine to take us on kosmic journeys of unimaginable possibility and wonder.

The alternative to mythic Eros and dumb-luck is a post-metaphysical re-enchantment of the Kosmos.

quantum entanglement

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