Reviewed by Nova Spivak
(Member of an electronic forum, with Mitchell Kapor, Tara and Dan Goleman, Surya Das, Lewis Richmond…)
This is the book I wish I could have written, and Wilber accomplishes it with true virtuosity. It is a tour de force--it successfully integrates the deep structural patterns and developments in all the major disciplines and fields of experience. I'm not kidding--he really seems to have done it! It's an incredible achievement, both of scholarship (this guy appears to have read, retained, and quoted just about every major work I can think of!), and of original, world-transforming thought. I think it is destined to become one of the most important books of our century and will probably become a classic in a number of fields.
Essentially, what Wilber has done is to present an integrated theory of evolution that applies equally well in all areas of science, experience, and abstract theory. He enumerates a number of deep structural themes and interrelationships in the evolution of the physical world, life, the brain, the mind, belief systems, cultures, and societal systems. Wilber ties it all together with a new systematization of evolution and holons, which he backs up with extensive analysis, evidence, and detailed example. Whether you are a scientist, a mystic, historian, artist, therapist, or politician, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality will provide you with a powerful paradigm shift that may change the way you think for the rest of your life.
Wilber's presentation is elegant, scholarly, informed, and critical. This is not a new age moosh by any means--it is, in my opinion, a possible revolution in cognitive science, systems theory, social theory, spirituality, political theory, literary theory, physics, biology, psychology, among others! I have a feeling that Wilber's work will set the stage for the rest of my thinking from now on, and that it will have a similar effect for other readers too.
Although this edition is sometimes far more verbose and in-depth than is necessary for a general understanding, I think for anyone seriously interest in systems theory and the underlying nature of evolution and the universe, this is the edition to read. Wilber relates his ideas to those of the key thinkers in the fields he touches on, with impressive detail. In the process of unwrapping his own mind-blowing paradigm shifts, Wilber takes the reader along a lucid survey of the great themes in human thought, evolution, society, and spirituality.
It's a heavy read--over 700 pages, and a nice $40.00 out of your savings, but WORTH it! Get it this summer and immerse yourself in it. Don't let the level of intellectualism deter you; although the book takes great pains to relate to the critical and scholarly contexts it touches on, the central ideas are fairly simple (although exceedingly subtle) and general enough to be of relevance to anyone who has a serious interest in the nature of the universe.
I am filled with excitement at the shimmering strength and vitality of Wilber's ideas. What else can I say? This may be the beginning of the "breakthrough" I've been looking for…