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

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Michel Bauwens has compiled a voluminous bibliography on literature related to the four quadrants. Since the text is too large to display on a web page, i have added a few download links below for your convenience. Below is an introductory statement by Michel, outlining the scope of this project. In 1993 Bauwens was Recipient of the European Special Librarian of the Year award.


Integral Bibliography

Prelude to an Integral Bibliography in Progress

Michel Bauwens


This is really a work in progress. Sometime during 1999, when I was seriously considering taking a reading sabbatical, I asked myself: "what should a cultured person who wants to understand contemporary civilisation read?". Mostly excluding fiction and focusing on secondary rather than primary works, such a bibliography would have books on the major historical epochs and their accompanying philosophies and spiritualities, as well as works summarising the historical evolution of certain key concepts. I have loosely organised it around the four quadrants as defined by Ken Wilber (subject, object, intersubjective, interobjective, or: the self, the organism and its exteriorisation in technology, social systems, and culture), while also taking some liberties with this system, i.e. the evolution of technology, considered as an extension of the body, is in the 'individual object' quadrant. As a reminder, the Wilber system uses two axis: the invidual vs. the collective system; and the interior (invisible desires, motivation etc..) vs. the exterior (things measurable in time and space), which gives the four aspects of reality just described above.

I've called it a prelude as it is not a professional undertaking, but an ongoing noting of important works. I include a book it I see it recommended by any scholar, author or institute that I respect, and try to include some copied explanatory notes from these sources whenever I can. It contains books in the languages that I can read or speak myself: English, French, Dutch.

Of course, this is in many ways a collective effort, either because other people send me suggestions, or because I used collective insights from mailing lists (especially postconpol, which discusses the emergence of integral politics, and multitudes, a list of the magazine of the same name, dedicated to the 'struggles of the multitude', a concept promoted by Toni Negri).

These two lists just mentioned reflect two of most enduring theoretical influences on my own worldview, on the one hand integral theory or integralism, which attempts to give an overall account of the evolution of the world of matter, mind, and spirit, i.e. our human civilisation in a material world infused with our values and if you accept this, divine becoming, which I would also call systemic thinking as it focuses on the evolution of the world and cosmic system; and on the other hand the more recent event of reading Toni Negri's Empire, which I consider a contemporary avatar of anti-systemic and postcapitalist thinking which integrates the long tradition of opposition to the present system, including the many variants of post-marxism, but also the paragons of postmodernism such as Deleuze and Foucault, and the philosophical tradition of Spinoza; all of which I would call 'anti-system' thinking. If integral theory is mostly transcendent, then the thought of Negri claims to be fully immanent, there is nothing outside or beyond the current world of objects and subjects, but then, since for Negri their possibilities are indeed boundlesss, both meet in practical terms. For the moment, I have to hold on both of these worldviews together, as yet unable to integrate them fully. I suppose if I were capable to do so, then these would be the premises of a Integral Critical Theory.

This bibliography should develop into a Lifetime Reading List, though a lot of work should still go into it before it can serve as a practical guide for such an undertaking. But if you're indeed interested in a full spectrum of books covering, where we come from, where we are and where we are going, it can already serve as a useful guide as is. I would start with some of the 'integral books' listed in this introductory chapter below, in order to have an overall view of human, social and cosmic evolution; then, start in any of the quadrants that most interest you, and read at least one book in each chapter. The aim should be, in every quadrant covered, to have 1) a chronoligical overview, to see how the topic evolved over time, 2) a geographical-civilisational focus which covers the various perspectives associated with the typical world spaces as they existed historically; and 3) delve into particular topics more deeply in order to obtain comparative perspectives. The organisation of the bibliography is conceived to allow you to do this, and provides such trinitarian organisation wherever possible and available.

The idea is to go from the general to the particular and back again, so that you can form your own synthesis and integration, which is in any case, the work of a lifetime, ever unfinished, but a very essential part of the human journey.

Short Table of Contents

  1. Upper-Left Quadrant: The Subjective, The Evolution of the Self
    • 1.1 Introduction: the self / the individual
    • 1.2 aspects of the self
    • 1.3 organisation by mode of consciousness / historical epoch
    • 1.4 organisation by topic
    • 1.5 Subjective values: the quest for Truth, Beauty and the Good

  2. Upper-Right Quadrant: The Objective, The Body, and Technology
    • 2.1 The impact of technology and its criticism
    • 2.2 History of Technology: transforming matter
    • 2.3 History of technology: minds communicating
    • 2.4 Transhuman technologies
    • 2.5 Topics

  3. Bottom-Right Quadrant: The Inter-Objective Systems Governing matter, life, and society
    • 3.1 introduction: generalities on systems and their evolution
    • 3.2 The evolution of the world system (history of the world)
    • 3.3 The evolution of the political system
    • 3.4 The evolution of the state
    • 3.5 Political systems: topics
    • 3.6 Economic systems and their evolution (before capitalism)
    • 3.7 Capitalism and its evolution
    • 3.8 Beyond Capitalism?
    • 3.9 The Economic System: Topics

  4. Bottom-Left Quadrant: The Inter-Subjective, Shared Worldviews, Cultures, Philosophies and Religions
    • 4.1 the intersubjective foundations of society
    • 4.2 Types of intersubjective relationships
    • 4.3 Intercultural conflicts
    • 4.4 Human cultures per civilisational stage
    • 4.5 The evolution of philosophical culture: before the modern age
    • 4.6 philosophical culture and conceptions: the modern age and after
    • 4.7 The evolution of philosophical culture: the postmodern age
    • 4.8 philosophical cultures, by geography/civilisation
    • 4.9 philosophical topics and disciplines
    • 4.10 Religious and spiritual cultures: introduction
    • 4.11 Religion in the Western Meta-civilisation
    • 4.12 The Eastern Meta-Civilisation
    • 4.13 Other Spiritual traditions
    • 4.14 The development of an integral spiritual culture
    • 4.15 religious and spiritual cultures (by region)
    • 4.16 religious and spiritual topics
    • 4.17 The evolution of economic culture
    • 4.18 The evolution of political culture
    • 4.19 Political movements: left vs. right and beyond
    • 4.20 Political topics
    • 4.21 Key historical events and their interpretation
    • 4.21 Intersubjective cultural domains

Author/Compiler: Michel Bauwens, ;

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