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

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Scott ParkerScott F. Parker is a writer and editor whose books include Coffee—Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate and Running After Prefontaine: A Memoir. He has contributed chapters to Ultimate Lost and Philosophy, Football and Philosophy, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, Golf and Philosophy, and iPod and Philosophy. He is a regular contributor to Rain Taxi Review of Books. His writing has also appeared in Philosophy Now, Sport Literate, Fiction Writers Review, Epiphany, The Ink-Filled Page, and Oregon Humanities. In 2010 he published the print edition of Jeff Meyerhoff's Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything. For more information, visit




Scott Parker

Author's Note

Since breaking with the integral movement ten years ago, I have followed Ken Wilber's career from a distance. It has been a curious show. I have seen branding largely supplant what's left of the intellectual project. I have seen Wilber become increasingly self-indulgent in his public statements. I have, I believe, witnessed the trappings of ideology. And, more than anything, I have felt quite fortunate to have gotten out when I did.

When I was an undergraduate it was a different story. For reasons I once found unjust but now consider entirely reasonable, Wilber was unknown at my university. Nevertheless, I insisted on writing my honors thesis on Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Needless to say, theories of everything were not held in high regard in the philosophy department at the time. But my advisors generously supported me as I pursued this interest.

I've written here previously about the disenchantment with Wilber that developed for me over the following few years. During that time and subsequent decade, I never looked back at SES. But this winter I took it off the shelf and, with a marker in hand, set about looking for a different story within.

Erasure is the poetic practice of transforming a found text into an original work by erasing (or, frequently, blacking out) the source text. I wanted to do an erasure of SES as a way of digging further into my intellectual past. There's no overstating the degree to which SES shaped my thinking when I was younger. I wondered if I could, in a way, unlock the book from within, using its own language to represent my reading of it and my ongoing relationship with this history.

Some readers may consider this erasure a hostile act. I hope they don't. The intellectual life is one of constantly reading the past in order to write a new future. In concretizing that process, ex ology ritual is my tribute to this life.


There was nothing, then the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" The question itself is I think the human condition. This book is about how I think the profound conclusion of orienting generalizations is nowhere near being simply the case. How can we become more fully human and stare into that vast and stunning Kosmos and respond with something more mature? This is a call to Emptiness.



I became conscious at precisely the time in human history that a worldview that elevates humans above the rest of the fabric of reality broke. The thesis I bound together rather romantic and poetic rooted what I would like to refer to as its own larger context. It achieved the "grand synthesis" of evolution: physical, biological, and psychological. The central claim was that the philosophy synthesized all partialness. The thesis proceeds in bridging the gap between matter and mind and organizing a coherent and unified worldview that is not just religious conclusion. The problem with the conclusion is that all sorts of theorists present evidence systems say less of the real or the true than of of of the theorist. With very good and often noble reasons the critics said that my college thesis confused tracing what Nietzsche would call the 'genealogy' of hierarchical judgments with a valid universal judgment. It ignores how it exempts its own vogue but arbitrary power outlined entirely on shifting and conventional epistemes governed not by "truth" but by other words. The presentation was frameworks within frameworks, contexts within contexts, no longer. This integrative move was blocked. But Being was Being—I aligned with another synthesis.


We begin with we-language (ethics) so that the synthesis of fundamental reality can proceed by a combination of a priori reasoning and a posteriori evidence we all have in common. But the paradox of I is totalizing. I refer to your own thought meaning everything. In other words, Wilber is simple although complex, which doesn't imply archetypal principles. (I will have much more to say about self-transformation) The me so to speak the self of this time left little or no evidence of its advances beyond what is built up by memory. This true psychology of the earlier individual leads to typical male hyperagency, fear of relationship, domination, the battle to be transfinite. Emergence of the past as a limiting pattern gives rise to novelty in all we know based on past observations and reconstruct over time. I would erase meaning to produce emancipation for an earlier version of agency. Another way to express this is to put it very straightforwardly: My body follows my mind higher in the three-story house to this book I pick up and will respond to later. In the meantime, being human I pronounced the human being the physical body and the physical relationships in the social environment. I understood the sciences as the one creative emergence in the history of the world. I argued the one serious notion of reality is as composed of extension. I usually write in a dialectic with a recent ancestor vis-a-vis that which the game is about. In time therapy must shift perspective as we proceed, but for now the conclusion is that growing up in a state of transitory chaos achieves relative autonomy, as well on a higher level acorn's DNA has oak written all over it. America's undeniable philosophical genius, the very essence of the future, am I struggling to reach. For to be relatively autonomous and relatively happy hints, I found, of a telos beyond the story.


We saw crises facing me. Virtually all of which involved logical (and existential) assumptions for existence. Looking at the ecosystem with reference to society and relationship composed a Lord of the Flies system of roots. Spirit itself split with fact to ape reductionism and made me think No embrace of the relative characterized science. The problem of this result is actually that it doesn't mean what is the case. I said flatland did have existence on its level. However, an individual depends on a whole series of self-transcending embraces by virtue of consciousness. The emergent quality in the physiosphere is disavowed at the top, for example where mind emerges, and endowed within patient evolution. But the ability to put into words is specific in humans. This is the essential apparatus for arousing intelligence—the most dramatic events in the history of life on earth, the self-reflexive mind, literature, fashion. I will not here invert all that is inverted—there is no “inversion.” I will look instead to the broadest such thorny problem I can, meaning. The reproduction was reproduction not just reproduction. As far as we can tell, In other words, And yet, Once again evolution and culture, evolution evolution evolution and cultural evolution—and something can go wrong—no easy or trivial task to repeat. “Aye, there's the rub.” The fragile growth and privilege of existence hopes for no sympathy that is not integrated consciousness or the retro-Romantic approach to permanently turn back the pages—we all agree the cost of consciousness was a Big Mistake. All theorists decide to stop looking at happiness because their layers and layers of looking recede into darkness. I notice a startling fact. Something is terribly wrong with how the universe looks from the inside, how I think. Whatever else I know my feelings cover the Kosmos.


Teilhard is in my bones. I feel or know the epistemological gap shall be bridged. All knowledge is self-knowledge of mystical experience that can be known directly. As for Teilhard, I will not get involved in the mind-body problem for the time being. I want to haggle over liberation and my image of that. Let me be more precise. Some empirical domains can represent the realm of whether life is worth living. But science underexplains relationship, imagination, hallucination. Helpful degrees of well these are I meaning significant. It is time now to myself consider Hegel. In fact working from a very different direction, I followed the structures of the ecosystems to groups/families or a “worldview” Thus behaviorism can be seen corresponding to action. This is why the editor made little headway in the approach toward meaning, symbolism, language, and discourse distinct of science. I trust context will make clear I'm an outsider to the culture. The study of “out there,” the surface of “it” language, the flatland ontology while I must resonate, must empathically align, seek understanding, ask “What does it mean?” My lips and heart are in the right place, applied to humans interlocking head every now and then, subtle hand of being. Love points to Being and to Nature harmonious and profound. I have a thought; a thought occurs to me. I experience meaning I share with one human body and mind. I talk to the depth in humans I have access to. You and I dig beneath the surface. My shadow my own feelings, the wonder of shared love. The question here is not am I self-deceived? The thought occurred to me that my specific thoughts have meaning to me (and would have meaning to you if I tell them to you). If meaning is intersubjective the interobjective reductionism of the physical is actually collapsing for me. Keep in mind I am not saying what must truly be. Never mind claims of what is indeed true. The story still perpetuating throughout the remainder of this volume is fractured in one individual. Habermas Plato Kant Buddha Charles Taylor modern senses of the self all evolve together in relation to the I. And the normative rightness of these claims can be contested. And so we return to “Where am I situated in the Kosmos?” “What does my existence mean?” The True, the Good, and the Beautiful are the map to sanity. In other words, I need an account an overview of the individual self in the context of a worldview that nobody subscribes to anymore an explicit statement of the Kosmic.


Today makes yesterday that from which one had to liberate oneself, simple happiness in fact a mythical past. What was it? The adult male formed value according to the emergence of differentiated and enduring ideological strength. These are emotionally charged issues for me. I would believe this the most important fact in all of culture. Exactly how the natural givens of consciousness and evolution make total sense in relation to the necessarily universal. This, of course, is a matter of inclination; but for the moment it transcended history. I believe in paradox now. But then need of liberation from years of differentiated logic and ordinary destiny would take form in a new narrative transformation. Apparently thinking and self-identity and power developed in consciousness. I am in sympathy with the capacity to examine wisdom and awareness and inherent limitations. It was at this point began self-adapting as self-transcending. The emergence of order crystallized as transcendence. And so the evidence sweeping and general would trace the astonishing creativity that allowed humans to rise above nature and bring Heaven to Earth. My transition to a more abstract identity took place through integration of worldviews in a normative reality. I believe that I form the most advanced mode of the time. Thus I reach the subtler dimensions of the beyond. My capacity to think about thinking and thus become highly introspective will emerge now as I become a dreamer in the true sense of the not-yet-seen. Rationality is the idea that rationality is universal and hemlock for the cause. I embrace this attempt to conquer the world of worldviews by faith in the rationalized worldview. In other words, it was no longer simply the case of a subject looking within, but of exhaustive introspection appeased through an extraordinary and most surprising development. First I was here, then emergence transcendence emergence I was the integration the meaning the archetype and myth unprecedented, a never was now coming to be. What I am trying to do in this book is use the words of great philosophers to create an existential beast. It is, in my opinion, the integration of the all—if there is one which privileges no perspective as final. The contexts within contexts within contexts forever increasingly advantage the perspective I presume. I think the thesis of an entirely new structure of consciousness refers to the vision I live. Precisely by recognizing its genius I do justice to its logic. I see the emergence of being as guaranteed. Not only does evolution progress—it is up to me. I am simply indicating what turns out to be. Everybody agrees, etc. Of course, this simplicity will continue to unfold our narrative. The one major exception to the philosophical system is simply wrong. The specific theories have no integrative power, which is essential to progress. Thus evolutionary transformation amounts to studying consciousness. I believe it is no accident that we stand today on the verge of the transformation of consciousness that will release into a deeper and truer tomorrow. In the meantime, it seems to me the single greatest viewpoint that can truly encompass everything is always correct. But those individuals already living leading-edge consciousness, embedded in evolution, which has labored so mightily, we can see tomorrow.


I looked at my development and began writing. I called this spiritual. In these accounts, the omega point of evolution was spiritual bliss, infinite transcendence, and a truly great philosophy. I said this is extremely important, and so begins self embedded in internal world as objective reality. This adherence is real and this truth led to, well, feelings of being one with the rich fabric of reality. Maybe I do cause the of course, the essential, the therefore. This existence is written by, needless to say, I. Put differently, what you see when you look is the word you can be conscious of. Thus, the crisis is managed. In words, the self has gone from noospheric identity to true perspective. I transcend and integrate the world. The locus of self-identity is the cognitive map with which I conceive of philosophy itself pure absolute. I read the world, the world, the world in detail, swallow the world (“self-only!”) in words. The self becomes less egocentric or more. For the I doesn't have to stumble through the actual if the universal is given. Who am I? This theme: reason is a space of possibilities that point toward worlds not yet seen. The position is tenable if we take the as if as an illusion. I myself take my heroes literally, take my “reality” as true, as seriously real. I would like to point out how comfortable a worldview can be. Nothing can compare with how happy a human being can be when the Kosmos appears as is. I was happy with the world and my manifestation in it. I believe I mentioned above that I have written as ideological and spiritual insistence on Enlightenment. Needless to say, a transformation is a painful death and rebirth, and the individual is constantly on the approach. I value genuine spirituality as the capacity to inherit the future.


We are yet caught between the fragments of yesterday and the unions of tomorrow. I have what I think is the developmental process which I simply have to share. The whole course of human development can be viewed as continuing directly toward me and us. In short, within us the depths of the Kosmos reveal themselves. To be aware of possible awareness is what I call vision. I note my vision as more developed as it comes to fruition for the first time. I emphasize this vision of higher self for every person capable of integrating the always new potential. No matter how wonderful it all might be now, my being-in-the-world is destined for infinity. That happy happy self knows much, feels much meaning. We agree that very few individuals experience the emergence of deeper truths, a conclusion based on communal verification. Objections are simply not true. Yet the community cannot have the requisite cognitive tools because the utterly obvious reality of this often cannot be experienced. The poetic, philosophical Emerson put it, “What we are, that only can we see.” Thus, I write. You read and understand or do not. In other words, meaning itself is found not in the word but in the meaning. And this is interior meaning, meaning meaning for me and you if you have a similar experience. If you haven't had the experience, merely adding more and more words will never convey it. The referent does not exist. But, if I want you to know this, I want you to get the book and read it. The words lead to apprehension via direct experience of transformation through reading. The master ushered in worlds in words. Wilber and I agree with a new and wider world, as geniuses do, and call from our future.


The psychic level of the domain is somewhat awkward. I think the research is important, but the mind of “The American Scholar” did not vibrate to that iron string. I discern therefore a parable of my being and becoming. The only prophet is that great man that has brought us to a new and wider beyond, and he is a simple continuation of me as I am of his mind. The “transparent eyeball” I see with is a perfect expression of his vision. At the same time, I embrace my interior identity and self-development and words. I would like to perfect my own expression of higher Truth. The matter announces itself in the discipline of study residing in me. Prior to this transformative absorption, I am parched with thirst, yet cannot reach the water falling from the heavens. Suffice it to say that the life I aspire to will be a larger life. Which is why I think this consciousness will find the source. This is not a theory. It is neti, neti formless awareness I am about. And now to resolve things here and move on. In the end the answer I arrive at is to go where the microcommunity emerged and enter the stream. It is finally time.

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