Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Brief Critique of Ken Wilber's Integralism

Here's a letter I wrote to Frank Visser, who is both a believer and a critic of Integralism:

Hi Frank,

I saw your video, and I wanted to describe what I see as three fundamental problems with Integralism.

1) Ken said that he began by gathering all the fields of knowledge and seeing how they related to each other. So he seems to believe that all the fields are somewhat valuable and contain some truth. If so, he appears to have begun with a "green" assumption ("green" in Integral Theory is partly the idea that all viewpoints have value - see HERE). Thus, I believe his whole endeavour is contaminated with green. His criticism of green doesn't negate that. His approach is to transcend and include, but that is also green. After all, what value would inclusion have if it somehow turned out that all the world's knowledge is false? That leads to the second point.

2) If we consider the possibility that we are in a literal Matrix, we would then be inclined to approach the world's knowledge from the opposite end. That is, instead of including all the world's knowledge, we would begin by rejecting or negating all the world's knowledge. In fact, I believe we are in a literal matrix. That matrix is based on the idea that we are inadequate and therefore need material, spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical improvement, which creates all the institutions of society (i.e. a literal matrix). This causes us to forget the innate happiness of being and to become dependent on the matrix for happiness, which can never work. This leads to the third point.

3) Instead of searching for the truth, we could begin by focusing on our motivations. After all, why did Ken care about the world's various forms and categories of knowledge? Did he ever question his motivations? And why do we care about Integralism? If our motivation is wrong - and it is wrong because it is either supplied by the matrix or is a reaction to a part of the matrix and therefore limited - then all our findings might be contaminated by our wrong motivation. And this is exactly what has happened, in my opinion.

Of course, Ken would categorise my negation approach as transcendent spirituality and therefore incomplete. That idea comes from the matrix - it is the assumption that we are inadequate and need various forms of development to complete us. However, I can clearly see the cause of such things as the Andrew Cohen disaster, whereas Ken fully encouraged Cohen with the Rude Boy promotion. Also, believe it or not, I have clear answers to problems such as the environment and the Middle East. So it might be possible that I’m onto something. Ken and his followers would need to give what I say a sympathetic hearing, but they are too busy - there’s an infinite amount of knowledge to absorb and to create, so who has time for considering anything else, especially if it can be categorised away so easily?

Note: I agree that Integralism has merit, but only as an optional extra or as a method for improving details of the world, not as a complete system of how to live. Also, what I have written here are just headline summaries. I could go into far more detail regarding each issue, but it amounts to taking on the whole matrix, which is arduous since all the words have been created by the matrix, and a swarm of “commonsense” criticisms of my approach are easily supplied by the matrix. Furthermore, experience has taught me that it is a waste of time for multiple reasons. I am only writing to you to suggest a completely different approach to that of Integralism, especially since you said that you like Integralism.


Martin Gifford. 

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