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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Jeff Meyerhoff, M.A., L.S.W. is the author of "Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything" and other essays on integral theory. He majored in economics and sociology and has studied philosophy, psychology, politics and spirituality. He's been employed as a social worker for the last 18 years. His weekly radio show, "The Ruminator," is archived at www.wmfo.org. His blog is www.philosophyautobiography.blogspot.com and his email is email@example.com.This is a reply to Jan Brouwer's review of Bald Ambition posted on this website.
REPLY TO JAN BROUWER
I was pleased to see Jan Brouwer devote so much space to a critique of my book-length manuscript Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything, but dismayed to see how much of my manuscript he ignores. Wilber says he uses the consensus or “already-agreed-upon” knowledge of academia to validate his system. Brouwer doesn't deal with my contention (which makes up the greater part of the book) that the knowledge Wilber says is the “already-agreed-upon knowledge” of academia is not already-agreed-upon. In separate chapters I present a wealth of evidence regarding social evolution, western history, mysticism, individual psychology and even integral philosophy to show that Wilber's orienting generalizations of the natural, social and spiritual sciences are not orienting generalizations and that there is vigorous debate about his bedrock contentions. For example, Brouwer summarizes Wilber's conception of the holarchy, holons and the four quadrants, but doesn't deal with my 45 page chapter which summarizes the detailed critiques of his views by Mark Edwards, Andrew P. Smith, Gerry Goddard and I. These criticisms show fundamental contradictions at the very heart of the holarchical model. If Wilber's model is truly a transcendence and inclusion of rational consciousness it would have to be rationally consistent.
Most of my arguments that Brouwer does discuss are reduced to simplifications, similar to the way Wilber treats his opponents' arguments. Brouwer asserts that I am such a relativist that I believe that “we really know absolutely nothing at all.” In contrast, I acknowledge that there is “already-agreed-upon” knowledge in specific academic debates. What I say in my book is that this “already-agreed-upon” knowledge is already-agreed-upon not because it is undebatable, but because the people engaged in that specific debate, at the time they are debating, don't happen to be debating that knowledge. It doesn't mean it can't be debated. I use the example of developmental psychology. Neo-Piagetians have a lot of background knowledge they agree upon as they debate other issues. But their agreed upon knowledge is up for debate by cultural psychologists or developmental psychologists discussing the philosophy of development. The book Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development, edited by Leonard Cirillo and Seymour Wapner, has prominent names in developmental psychology and philosophy debating the status of developmental models themselves. I also acknowledge that many facts in the natural sciences are not debated, like the existence of biological evolution. Although, the status of a fact and what a fact actually is is a matter of quite lively contention in the field of philosophy. So scholars always use agreed upon knowledge as a basis for their debates (they probably couldn't debate without it), but that doesn't mean that that knowledge is undebateable, it just means that either they don't happen to be debating that knowledge right now or that it is not their job to debate it. Even if my argument is wrong, at a minimum it needs to be understood correctly.
Next, Brouwer has me contending that because Wilber does not “take all perspectives into account” he is not being inclusive as he claims. He then defends Wilber by saying he must make choices between perspectives (something the postmodern relativist is not willing to do). Here again my point is missed and Brouwer, like Wilber, fights a straw man. The confusion here is caused by the word “perspective.” A perspective can be as unique as an individual's perspective or as broad as the perspective of an age. Of course Wilber cannot be expected to incorporate all individual perspectives into his system, but he does contend that there is something valuable in all major intellectual and spiritual perspectives, such as phenomenology, quantum mechanics or Marxian economics, and that the partial truths within these perspectives can be culled and integrated into his largest perspective that includes all partial truths. The crucial questions are how will Wilber separate the partial truths from the falsities and, after he has his purported truths, how will he assemble them into a coherent system? Wilber makes it sound as if the assembled partial truths suggest, all by themselves, a picture of how they all fit together so that his system originates in the facts. What I show is that his partial truths are debatable and debated and that they cannot be assembled into a coherent system without value judgments of how everything should fit together. It's the value judgments that come first and determine which “truths” will be selected and how it all will be fit together.
An example of this disguised use of value judgments in the guise of facts of nature is Brouwer's discussion of Wilber's example of the acorn that naturally grows to be an oak. Wilber uses it as an example of a fact of nature that demonstrates a natural developmental process and a goal inherent in nature: the acorn naturally unfolds to become an oak in a developmental pattern. Brouwer uses Aristotle to confirm this way of depicting nature in which natural objects like acorns both “want” to grow into trees and want to be the “best” tree possible. In our culture we generally don't attribute human desires to non-conscious things; we call it anthropomorphizing. It's an unusual projecting of one trait of beings with minds – the trait of wanting - onto vegetation. If acorns don't get to be trees do we think of them as disappointed? Do they feel pain? Why would they have the quality of wanting, but not these other aspects of conscious beings? This is one problem with Wilber giving subjectivity to entities that we have no any evidence of their having. In my book I argue that it is also natural for acorns not to become oaks and necessary that the majority doesn't grow at all so that the rare few can live.
I contend that Wilber disrespects essential differences in perspectives, but Brouwer asserts that Wilber understands that there are differences of opinion, but that these are just surface differences which are ultimately reconcilable through Wilber's larger perspective. Yet it is the validity of Wilber's larger perspective which is at issue and this validity is dependent upon the orienting generalizations of academia and the consistency of his system, both of which I show are problematic. Brouwer contends that “climbing up from matter to Spirit we will find more unity in [the] kosmos” and “differences, which at a rational level seem logically to contradict one another, can be integrated and united at a transrational level.” But if these differences contradict each other at a rational level then the requirements of rationality have not been transcended and included. They've been violated. What is the nature of this integration and unity at a transrational level if it is contradictory at a rational level? What we generally find with Wilber is an uneasy juxtaposition of ideas rather than a true integration. This belief in transrational integration also neglects the insights of major mystical traditions which contend the opposite. Taoism, Nagarjuna's Madhyamika Buddhism and Zen are core mystical traditions that see all the things and thoughts of the conventional world as inevitably confused and contradictory because of the conventional world's dualistic nature. So there are mystical traditions which would think Wilber's all-encompassing system a folly; attempting to make the inherently contradictory nature of the relative world cohere.
The question of what criterion of valid knowledge Wilber uses is a vexed one and Brouwer makes two contradictory statements regarding Wilber's criterion while apparently being unaware of the contradiction. On the one hand, he says Wilber's task is “to convince the western academic establishment.” In order to do this “The Western scientific method forced him [Wilber] to make notes and references to all his consulted literature. Every argument or proposition he would make had to be backed up by evidence coming from other sources.” But on the other hand, a very different criterion of knowledge is also described which requires that we have a particular transrational experience. Brouwer writes that:
The difficulty with Wilber's system is that most of its basic propositions (the perennial philosophy, the existence of (higher) structures, states, modes and developmental lines in consciousness, the spiritual evolution of the kosmos, the four quadrants, the notion of spiritual depth etc.) only seem to have validity if we have experienced (or at least are open to the notion of) the existence of higher transrational levels of consciousness.
Here the emphasis on believing Wilber's “basic propositions” is not on convincing the western scientist on his or her own terms, but on the special experience of, or an openness to, the notion of higher transrational states; something which the western scientific community is notoriously not open to. That lack of openness was the very reason for the necessity of the first method of validation. And if the first method of validation – scholarly substantiation – is so important, why doesn't Brouwer mention the enormous amount of research and documentation in my book which tracks down and evaluates Wilber's citations and recovers relevant scholarly literature that contradicts his case which he chooses not to mention? Wouldn't a sense of scholarly responsibility require that this at least be mentioned?
Wilber contends that the natural, social and spiritual sciences share the three strands (or parts) of any valid knowledge claim: injunction or the method by which knowledge is to be gained, apperception or what the person receives by executing the injunction and community consensus or the evaluation and legitimation of the apperception by the relevant community. I question the usefulness of this approach by asking who decides who's right if two different communities – philosophers and mystics in this case - who investigate the same thing – reality – disagree. Brouwer finds the question easy to answer: “the community that has the highest expertise… mystics themselves.” But mystics don't necessarily have the “highest expertise” in the investigation of reality. Certain mystics do have the highest expertise in the particular mystical tradition that they are deemed the authorities in, but that's all. Other mystics in the same or other mystical traditions could contradict what certain authorities say, or philosophers might develop arguments that throw doubt upon the mystics' access to reality. Since mystics and philosophers use different criteria to evaluate who has captured reality it is difficult to compare their results.
Yet, as Brouwer notes, even mystics disagree. Ramesh Balsekar, following in the Advaita non-dual tradition of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi (of whom Wilber rightly has great respect), has an unWilberian, undevelopmental and deterministic understanding of change in the world and of the spiritual path. Wilber is one of those mystics who doubt the supremacy of other mystics' insights by arranging differing mystical experiences into a hierarchy of developmental advance. This hierarchy of developmental advance he defends by saying it has been shown to be the common deep structure of all major mystical traditions. Yet this position is the minority view in the field of comparative mysticism which, regardless of the extent of one's mystical insight, is the way in which such a statement about diverse mystical traditions must be validated.
An additional problem for Wilber is the question of what happens if your apperception – or personally experienced insight - doesn't match the experts in your field, yet you feel that you're right and they're wrong? You can either find a group that does confirm your perception, start your own group, or modify your understanding of your perception to fit within the community's understanding. Sometimes the second step in the process of validation – apperception - trumps the third step - community consensus. It was by this process that Jesus, Martin Luther and Buddha founded new mystical and religious traditions. They needed to defy community consensus to create new knowledge.
VALUES AND DEVELOPMENT
If it isn't the agreed upon facts that determine the character of Wilber's system than what does determine its character? Here I emphasize the value-laden character of any developmental story. Demonstrating the value-laden quality of any view of the world is another way to show that Wilber's view is constructed according to what he values instead of being a vision that exists because he has culled the truths or facts and discovered how they all fit together. Consequently, he uses certain minority views in academia, like social evolution, not because it is an orienting generalization, but because it fits with his belief that there is a progressive evolution occurring at all levels of existence. Wilber doesn't neutrally survey the sciences and aperspectivally assemble its truths; he looks for what he believes to be the case and selects the research that supports it.
Brouwer (correctly) has me making the point that Wilber needs values as well as facts to tell his story of the Kosmos, but implies (incorrectly) that I don't think Wilber has access to values. So Brouwer reminds me that the left hand quadrant has the values which can put the facts of the right hand side into a coherent story. But this misses the crucial question: how does Wilber arrange all those values of the left hand quadrants' individual and social interiors? By what value-system are the values arranged in a hierarchy of development? If the question of correct values is very contentious, resulting in there being no already-agreed-upon values, then what values will Wilber choose? He says that “we are now in a position to realign facts and values in a gentler embrace”. It's a nice image but I don't see how it would work. What actually occurs is that the values are decided upon and then the model is constructed.
Brouwer thinks (I'm not sure why) that I'm “uneasy about such a thing as interior psychological development” and instead believe that all psychological development occurs due to exterior, right hand quadrant factors like biology and the environment. Yet I'm not uneasy about interior psychological development. I think it's fine to develop useful models of the development of peoples' interior worlds and attribute develop to the individuals' agency. What I am uneasy about is the confusion in Wilber and Brouwer between an ideal of psychological development, the actuality of psychological development and the non-existence of psychological development. What Wilber does, using cherry-picked developmental psychologists, is to present one ideal of psychological development as the universal way in which psychological development proceeds or should proceed. Imagine that developmental psychologists find that most people in the US have a limited emotional range. Should this be incorporated in a model of normal emotional development? If not, then where does a model of emotional development that describes a full range of emotion come from? It's an ideal. It may be a fine ideal for some to believe is possible and use as a guide for caring for children and in therapy, but it is not based on the facts of how people do develop. I quote Howard Gardner et al saying, in an article that Wilber relies upon, that the model they've just outlined is “an idealization, and most particularly so in its final strokes.” The prominent developmental psychologist Bernard Kaplan states that “Development does not lurk directly in the population(s) studied but resides fundamentally in the perspective used”.
It's fine for Wilber to have values (we all do), but he should make their influence on his model clear and he should not present the models as sciences' determination of normal development. Brouwer does appear to acknowledge this fact when he states that “Wilber's developmental scheme of consciousness unfolding is an idealization of a person's interior growth” and that “there is always discrepancy between the metaphysical ideal of development and its actual occurrence.” If Wilber's scheme is an “idealization” and will “always” be discrepant with the “actual occurrence” then from where does the idealization come? Wilber asserts that the idealized scheme comes from the scientific research done in developmental psychology which is of the actual occurrences of individuals' developmental processes. Shouldn't the developmental scheme match the actual occurrences and not be an idealization if it is claimed to be a scientific fact?
I ask why we think the witnessing or mindful consciousness of vision-logic is better than the view from rational consciousness? Why don't we think it's just different? Brouwer answers with an example. In successful psychotherapy the patient is able to take a larger view of his or her thoughts and behaviors and see them from a higher and more encompassing view. This lifts the patient out of the problematic patterns that are causing suffering. So here is a small example of a superior result gained from taking a higher/wider view. But who is judging whether a better view was gained? From the patient's and therapist's perspective the patient now sees things differently and more beneficially. But why take their views as the determiner of whether the patient is better. The patient's father knows that psychotherapy is woefully unscientific and that life is about getting ahead in a dog-eat-dog world. The child's decision to quit investment banking to become a social worker is a “chump's choice” that will leave him financially strapped. He's been made weak and indecisive by his new emphasis on “feelings” and “sharing” and is ruining his life. We therapy-going, spiritually aware, intellectually inquisitive, Wilber readers know that the father is limited to Neanderthal-level consciousness. But the father doesn't see it that way. He knows he's in touch with the hard realities of science, nature and capitalism where Social Darwinism, Evolutionary Psychology and a materialist ontology is the superior view for making it in this world and thriving. If only his wimp son would read Ayn Rand! So whose view is superior or higher? I can argue for Brouwer's patient, I can assemble facts and strenuously assert that perspective, but ultimately I know that I believe in that view because it is what I have chosen and what makes sense to me, not because I can demonstrate its superiority to the father using reason and rhetoric.
Brouwer gives another example in which a person broadens and deepens themselves by being open to the ideas of other nationalities and concludes that:
When hatred and fear are so much reduced, when life is so much enriched by love and understanding, will such a person deny that this newly acquired consciousness is superior to his old consciousness, or will he just simply say that 'it is different'?
And the answer is he will say it is superior. But don't we always think that our current, hard-won, new understanding is better and not just different? The point is not to convince ourselves, it is to convince the unconvinced. Wilber is trying to do that and is claiming that his view has the backing of the Kosmos by being the best available description of the Kosmos. I'm saying it is an interesting, imaginative description, but that it has serious flaws which would have to be remedied before our rational consciousness would be satisfied.
Brouwer then counters my claim that the witnessing of the flow of reason in one's mind isn't a viewing of reason itself but a viewing of one's own reasoning, by saying that a “philosopher” such as me would have a hard time knowing the experience of the witnessing of reason because I have not had the experience. Yet I've practiced Insight (vipassana) meditation for several years and done several 10 day retreats and have established enough mindfulness to view the unfolding series of thoughts in my own mind. And while it's true I can gain some ideas about what reason is like from viewing this one reasoner, it's still the reasoning that arises in the mind-body of me. The unique features of my reasoning still have to be separated from the common properties of reason. A rational enterprise.
In my chapter on vision-logic I make other, stronger arguments against the superiority of vision-logic as a form of consciousness. One is the lack of a new criterion of knowledge which sets vision-logic ahead of its historical predecessors, egoic-rationality and mythic thinking. What helped to distinguish these new historical worldviews was that they had different ways of justifying knowledge. The mythic view used textual authority and metaphorical analogy, while egoic-rationality uses empirical evidence and rational consistency to validate its knowledge claims. But what is the new criterion of knowledge that vision-logic uses? It can't be Wilber's three strands of knowledge because that is a pragmatic approach to validity well-known to modernity. I think it has to be that vision-logic makes a move from the rationality to the experiential. But what this new form of validation is would have to be described more fully before we anointed it the next historical epoch's worldview.
MYSTICISM AND REALITY
Brouwer tries to argue for the reality of the mystics' knowledge of the Absolute by taking seriously the overwhelming certainty that is commonly reported by those who have had a realization. I too take seriously those powerful mystical experiences which are more convincing then the common sense reality of daily life. In contrast to Brouwer though, I think mystics should try to move away from the epistemological-talk of knowing the Absolute, “seeing things as they are” or being One with The Truth. These claims, while expressive of mystics' experiences and attractive to those disposed to them, draw us away from what I think is the more important part of mysticism: changing one's being so that one acts better in the world. What difference does it make if Mother Teresa believes in a dogmatic Catholicism if, day in and day out, she's helping the neediest? Who cares what Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh realized or didn't realize when his ashram descends into an Orwellian, neo-fascist nightmare? Why does the Dalai Lama say that “my religion is kindness” and not “my religion is The Absolute Truth”? Because he knows what's important. We should see mystical practice as a profound immersion into the mystery and depths of existence which will alter one's life in a variety of ways. Mystics should emphasize that they will change you fundamentally to be better people, not that they will show you Reality.
Brouwer tries to justify mystics' belief that they embody things as they are through a compelling description of the mystic's experience. There are two problems here. One is that the validity of the experience comes down to his statement that “At these rare moment[s] of insight one has the feeling one is prophezising or revealing, instead of expressing a personal opinion or arguing. One has the conviction and the experience of Absolute Truth.” A conviction and experience which describes Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh and Hindu Saint Ramana Maharshi. The criterion of personal conviction does not serve as a way to separate the self-deluded from the enlightened.
Another problem with his description of the mystic's insight is that I think it's wrong. He refers to the Supreme Insight with words like “Absolute Truth”, “Absolute Consciousness”, “Objectivity”, and “Ultimate Ground”. I think these are misleading and un-Wilberian ways of describing the ineffable. They are decidedly not non-dual since they valorize one pole of a dualistic opposition instead of continually reminding one that the Ineffable or the Tao or the essenceless essence is neither Absolute nor relative, neither the Truth nor falseness, neither Consciousness nor materiality, is not anything at all and not not anything at all.
Wilber tries to oppose constructivism in the study of mysticism. Constructivists' assume that all knowledge is mediated knowledge. This means that all we know is affected by mediations such as the historical period in which we live, the intellectual or mystical traditions in which we follow, the concepts that are currently accepted, our psychological biographies and more. There is no way to demonstrate that we have an unmediated knowledge, or a knowledge which is a transparent knowing of things as they are in themselves. In my book I say that Wilber's attempt to counter this claim - while still incorporating its partial truth - is confused. Brouwer thinks my confusion is a problem with me and not Wilber, so Brouwer tries to clear it up. And surprisingly, he does describe some interesting distinctions, but I don't think they trump constructivism.
Brouwer says there are three (or four) parts of experience. Three mediated and one unmediated, although the unmediated part may just be the other three parts after it divides itself. There is: the subject who experiences, the object of experience, the act of experiencing (which isn't clear to me) and the pure, contentless experience. The first three, he says, arise out of the fourth. The pure experience has no content, but is experience knowing itself in an unmediated fashion. The religion professor Robert Forman has had this experience which he calls the pure consciousness experience and argues strenuously against Katz that because it is contentless it is not linguistically and culturally mediated and can be shown to arise in diverse mystical contexts, demonstrating its transcultural and so unmediated existence. Because there are none of the elements of mediation – notably language – in the contentless experience it can't be a mediated experience. Yet then it follows, as Brouwer says, “we cannot refer to Pure Consciousness in adequate verbal descriptions”; which means that descriptions of the experience must be put into mediated form, subject to the vagaries of interpretation. This leaves constructivists a way to argue that we cannot know if this experience is unmediated, since it exists beyond language. Personally, I think it probably is true, or true enough, that Meister Eckhart, Shankara, Robert Forman and others have had the “same” experience of pure consciousness, but that is different from Brouwer's contention that this experience “is the sat-chit-ananda of things” or a metaphysical truth about the nature of reality.
PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF BELIEF
After presenting a lot of evidence of major academic disagreements about the very knowledge Wilber says is “already-agreed-upon” I ask a logical question: If Wilber's system is not derived from the consensus knowledge of the academic authorities, then from where does it derive? Stated another way: if it's not the facts or the way the world is that cause Wilber to create the system that he does, then what does cause him to create this particular system? I then use a psychoanalytic analysis to explain the character of Wilber's theory. Brouwer thinks that my doing this means that I'm claiming Wilber is “mentally disturbed” or “from the asylum”, but I think it is something that can be done with any thinker given enough information about them. The philosopher Ben-Ami Sharfenstein wrote interesting psychological analyses of the ideas of great philosophers in his book The Philosophers (1980). We can always ask why a particular individual has the intellectual concerns that they do and can, if we choose, do a psychological analysis. I could analyze myself, or Brouwer, or anyone, it doesn't mean we're crazy. It just means that there are psychological causes for why we take the positions we do.
In the chapter prior to my psychological analysis of Wilber's beliefs entitled “A Different Path” (which Brouwer may not have seen), I argue that since all large-scale belief systems can be countered by other, opposing, large-scale belief-systems, and no one can prove to a certainty that theirs' is the one true view, we can always, to greater and lesser convincingness, do a psychological analysis of why people construct the belief systems they do. While we give reasons for why we believe what we do, when any of us get down to the foundations of our beliefs we all either give our non-rational assumptions or give circular reasons. So there is no ultimate rational justification for any of our beliefs. The question then arises: why did we happen to choose our beliefs over other beliefs? One explanation, which I make an argument for being useful to explore, is that our belief system serves particular psychic needs. I demonstrate this using Wilber's beliefs and his biography. While unorthodox, I don't see this as an expression of “vileness”, yet Brouwer whips himself into a lather over this chapter.
Brouwer starts with a hysterical depiction of “postmodern 'aperspectival madness'”. It contains the worst aspects of Wilber's caricature of “postmodern extremism". Brouwer thinks that I have accepted this “madness” and it is why I am motivated to do my “malicious” psychological analysis of Wilber. Brouwer's description of my “madness” is all absolutes: “no objectivity possible”, “all descriptions of reality are in the end nothing”, “impossible…to state anything objectively”, “Nothing can be said of reality”, “This is the totally absurd line of postmodern thinking”. I'm not sure why we get this outburst of absolutizing, but I figure it has to do with a perceived besmirching of Brouwer's hero, Ken Wilber. He idealizes Wilber as seen in his hagiographic rendering of Wilber's biography in the early part of his review. To maintain such an idealization negative traits must not be seen; a kind of black and white thinking results. The glorified image is fragile in the face of mundane reality, yet the motivation to maintain it is fierce. When any perceived attack upon that image threatens, the attack's force is exaggerated and the attacker has projected onto them the negative side of the positive energy used to prop up the glorified image. Hence, the extreme absolutizing rhetoric purported to describe my 'aperspectival madness'. It's similar to the Christian fundamentalist's denunciation of sin and Satan. But, there I go, succumbing to my “madness” and psychologizing again.
My actual position on objectivity and reality is nuanced. And although we're being told, in the current American presidential election, that nuance is a bad trait in presidential candidates, it's still the case that nuance is a good trait in thinkers. My psychological analysis of Wilber's beliefs is not a reduction. Wilber's ideas can still be debated on their intrinsic merit. It is documented to the degree it can be, given the moderate amount of biographical evidence. It's plausible, but it is not conclusive, because this kind of psychology of belief has speculative aspects like the related approaches of psychobiography and psychohistory. It does not signal the decline of western civilization (although such a decline may not be a bad thing).
 Gardner, H., Phelps, E., & Wolf, D. (1990). The roots of adult creativity in children's symbolic products. In C. N. Alexander, & E. J. Langer (Eds.), Higher stages of human development: Perspectives on adult growth (pp. 79-96). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, p. 92.
 Kaplan, B. (1983). A trio of trials. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Developmental psychology: Historical and philosophical perspectives (pp. 185-228). Hillsdale, N.J: L. Erlbaum, p. 196.
 Although see Hitchens, Christopher (1995). The Missionary position: Mother Teresa in theory and practice. London: Verso, for criticisms of Mother Theresa's behavior.
 See also the work of the well-regarded analytic philosopher John Oulton Wisdom (1953). The Unconscious origin of Berkeley's philosophy. London: The Hogarth Press, The Institute of Psycho-Analysis. Nietzsche (1886) wrote “Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir.” Beyond good and evil, trans. Walter Kaufmann (1966). New York: Vintage. Professor Peter Suber has assembled an extensive bibliography of the genre at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/meta/autobio.htm
 Graham Priest (1995) argues in Beyond the Limits of Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, that any large-scale rational belief system will, at its limits, encounter one or more of four logical contradictions and that these contradictions are not errors of reason, but truths of reason at its limits.
 “there is no document of civilization that is not also a document of barbarism”, Benjamin, Walter (1969). Illuminations. New York: Schocken Books, p. 256.