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Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of…
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Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition (originale 1995; edizione 2001)

di Ken Wilber

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401450,129 (4.32)6
In this tour de force of scholarship and vision, Ken Wilber traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind and describes the common patterns that evolution takes in all three of these domains. From the emergence of mind, he traces the evolution of human consciousness through its major stages of growth and development. He particularly focuses on modernity and postmodernity: what they mean; how they impact gender issues, psychotherapy, ecological concerns, and various liberation movements; and how the modern and postmodern world conceive of Spirit. This second edition features forty pages of new material, new diagrams, and extensively revised notes.… (altro)
Utente:gracechurch
Titolo:Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition
Autori:Ken Wilber
Info:Shambhala (2001), Edition: 2 Revised, Paperback, 832 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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Etichette:life issues, philosophy

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Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution di Ken Wilber (1995)

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Mostra 4 di 4
Actually the only one wilber´s book that did not interested me ( )
  GeorgeBorges | Dec 30, 2008 |
All his books seem to repeat the same endless cataloguing and schematizing without really explaining anything ( )
1 vota mbattenberg | Jun 20, 2008 |
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality

Ken Wilber is sometimes touted as the next Hegel or Aquinas (not by himself, though some suspect him of thinking it). I'm rather of the opinion that this is going too far. However, though much of his work is synoptic, meaning it is largely a connecting of the dots between others' more foundational work, I believe there is a place for such efforts, and in Wilber's case the contribution is all the more significant because so few of these particular dots are ever connected to each other in this manner. To establish a plausible way of relating the wisdom traditions of the world, especially the inheritance of Yoga and Buddhist meditation, to skeptical secular thinking, is no small thing, for neither of these general perspectives can be affordably left out of any workable holistic worldview.

His main contribution, in this book, is to distinguish, in any phenomenon, a horizontal and a vertical "dimension." Four different aspects, which Wilber calls "quadrants" of reality, are delineated by intersecting two axes: one running from "inside" (roughly, what it's like to be a thing) to "outside" (roughly, what a thing does); and one from "individual" to "group". He shows how any discipline tends to focus primarily on one quadrant: the "hard sciences" for example tend to focus on single entities, from the outside; cultural anthropology tends to ask about groups from the inside; existentialism asks after individual experience; sociology after groups described from without). It is possible, Wilber shows, to correlate the results of different approaches on the assumption that they are seeing different aspects of the same thing. Each legitimate approach to reality is thus seen as robust and valuable, albeit more or less lopsided, or as Wilber says over and over: "True, but Partial;" but because they are "about the same thing," they can be harmonized if we step back far enough to see the whole picture. This approach, derived to some extent from Wilber's careful reading of Habermas, Gadamer, and Whitehead, proves to be quite powerful and to render many useful syntheses, for example between sociological approaches to human experience like the Marxist, with more introspective ones like phenomenology or existentialism, and scientific ones like sociobiology or neurology and cognitive science. Whereas these approaches may have occasional liaisons at academic symposia, Wilber's approach offers a far-reaching and fundamental rationale for theoretically grounding the dialogue more systematically.

In addition to these "horizontal" quadrants, Wilber makes a "vertical" distinction of developmental "levels," which, depending on the quandrant, could mean for instance "levels of organization," "of comprehensiveness," "of consciousness," and so on. (These are my glosses, not Wilber's technical terms). This aspect of Wilber is grounded in his reading of Aurobindo and Gebser. It is here that his groundbreaking and much-imitated (and much-contended) description of pre- and trans-rational states is founded. Wilber points out that what both "primitive," magical or mythical thinking, and mystical states of consciousness share, is a non-rational description of the world and mind; and hence they are often confused or conflated. But this non-rationality, says Wilber, is not the same in each case: the *trans*-rational mystics have passed through and incorporated rationality, whereas the *pre*-rational magician or shaman has not. This does not illegitimate the pre-rational or mean it is "not true;" it does mean, again, that it is *partial*. The pre/trans fallacy grounds much of Wilber's trenchant criticism of many of his contemporaries. (Wilber is a strong critic-from-within of the New Age movement (so-called) and is tough-minded while being subtle and generous.) More positively it offers the possibility of a modern, developmental understanding of higher states of consciousness in terms that are neither ultimately reductionist nor simply vague and "mystical;" which takes the descriptions offered by people who have such experiences seriously and which offers the possibility of an "empiricism" of consciousness "all the way up" as well as "all the way down."

While some may question the plausibility of this rather grand claim, my own main criticisms of Wilber are somewhat different. First, he does not really do emic justice to the "traditions of the Book," i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; for all his laudable inclusivity and attempts to grant that on some level "everyone is right," he cannot really "get inside" the positions of the Abrahamic faiths. He understands very well that empirical claims are made in any field, whether Shakespeare criticism, molecular biology, or subtle meditation, and that what counts as the right to an opinion in any of these depends on a grammar intrinsic to each. But when it comes to Christianity, for example, he betrays a deaf ear to the grammar in question. Suddenly he insists that Christian church fathers (note, we're not talking about run-of-the-pew "believers" in the Bible belt, but about the great Saints, Doctors of the Church, and masters of the Christian mystical tradition) have just got it wrong --with the exception of a few misunderstood voices -- about "the adept from Nazareth;" a claim that would be astounding if he made it about chess masters' opinions of the Ruy Lopez, or music critics' estimations of Beethoven's late quartets, or even of Zen masters' account of the Tathagata. The fact is that claims by or about the Buddha are wholly different in content from claims about Jesus as the messiah; and if one wants to understand Christianity (no matter what one "believes") one has to take those claims seriously *in the terms in which they are presented*. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for claims about the revelation of Torah or about the mission of Mohammhed.

My second point of difference with Wilber (which I believe does much to account for the first) is that I do not think his account of experience leaves room for genuine encounter. This is a serious blind spot, and there are some indications that it will be addressed partially in the long-promised sequels to S.E.S., some excerpts of which are already available online. However, in his published work so far, though he’s treated St Teresa and Meister Eckhardt-- pretty big names in the West-- Wilber betrays no real interest in the incredibly robust mystical tradition of the Orthodox East, nor in the profound depth of the Talmudic masters; even among the philosophers, he makes no mention at all (that I have seen) to such thinkers as Levinas, Logstrup, Rosenzweig, Ebner, Rosenstock-Hussey, or Marcel; and only the most glancing of references-- really not much more than name-dropping-- to Buber and even Kierkegaard. Though these thinkers differ significantly from one another, all of them consistently emphasized the dialogical and irreducibly basic experience of the I-Thou "meeting."

This is really quite a lapse. None of these philosophers' work is negligible-- Levinas alone is one of the two or three giants of the twentieth century. (Nor is it as if Wilber habitually shies away from addressing those who differ from him). I am aware that no one can read everything, but serious engagement with even one of these thinkers would significantly raise Wilber's credibility as a thinker who takes in the whole of the relevant literature, to say nothing of how it would nuance his own work. But in this case it seems clear why he would find this particular thinking simply undigestable: Wilber is fundamentally an "atmanist," if you will (the title of an early book was "The Atman Poject"): for his philosophy, as for Isaiah Berlin's hedgehog, there is fundamentally only One Big Thing -- even though we may say that it's "beyond one and many" -- and *all* differences, including that between one and many, same and different, I and Thou, are relative and ultimately illusory. Although on the everyday level of day-to-day embodied life, one ego bumps into another all the time, beneath this for Wilber as for all who insist upon "nondualism" there is only Spirit playing its old tricks, dancing behind its self-generated veil of maya, hide-and-seeking. I cannot help but feel that this metaphysic simply does not do justice to the actual *experience* of interpersonal encounter (nor indeed of any other encounter, including even that of self with itself), to say nothing of its ramifications in terms of ethics or ontology (which are for me secondary). In short, with apologies to Gertrude Stein, the problem with Wilber's account is that "there is no Thou there."

I hasten to add that Wilber's account admits of many subtle distinctions and is infamously difficult to summarize (or even, to judge from the number of times he says he has been misrepresented, to characterize); and that in other places he seems to have granted that reality is "relationships, all the way down"; a view which is certainly consistent with his account of the cosmos as a holon made of holons, i.e. of wholes that are themselves parts. This mitigates but does not abolish the problem, for in other places Wilber seems to remain very committed to the One Big Thing. Far more importantly, however, anyone who has read his profound and moving memoir of his and his wife Treya Killam Wilber's struggle with the cancer which eventually took her life will be powerfully struck by Wilber's obviously deep capacity for experiencing and living in personal encounter. When it comes to the reality of what Buber meant by I-Thou, it is clear that Wilber "gets it;" but when it comes to his theorizing, there is, it seems to this reviewer, a disconnect.

(Addendum, 2007: K.W. does go some way towards addressing these issues in his book "Integral Spirituality." Though the account there is --you guessed it-- partial, and mainly concerns the experience of the human encountering "God-in-the 2nd-person," as opposed to a concrete other human being, it is a significant supplement to Wilber's corpus of work and a welcome modification, or at least clarification, of his stance).

For these reasons Wilber's syntheses remain problematic and hit serious snags when it comes to describing or understanding the spiritual experience of those in Abrahamic spiritual traditions, or indeed even the ordinary day-to-day experience of meeting someone new, smiling at the grocery clerk, or waking up next to your lover.

For all that, however, Wilber's thought is a significant contribution to the effort towards a description of reality that would do justice to the old ideal of the unity of knowledge; and it helps lay conceptual groundwork making a dialogue possible between disparate disciplines. The irony is that in Wilber's approach "dialogue" itself is finally almost relativized out of existence. In order to find a balancing corrective to this liability, "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality" and the tradition it is part of should be itself read "in dialogue" with the great philosophical and spiritual exemplars of encounter, the theorists and practitioners of what might be called western Bakhti or devotion. This is a vast and varied literature: Emmanuel Levinas, Hajime Tanabe, Simone Weil, Nachman of Bratslav, the Ba'al Shem Tov, Friedrich Jacobi, Jean Guyon, Blaise Pascal, St. Gregory Palamas, Dante, Ibn Arabi, St. Bernard, al-Ghazali, St. Augustine, Akiva, Hillel; above all, though it seems too obvious to say: Plato. Though he's not Aquinas, Wilber's thought may yet prove to serve as a kind of Aristotelian stimulus for a new scholastic synthesis; if so, it will be transformed as was Aristotle's. Like every approach, Wilber's is True, but Partial. ( )
8 vota skholiast | Jul 3, 2006 |
Wilber calls his three-volume opus (and only this first volume has yet to be published) "the minimum amount of information that is required to make a judgment about spirituality in the modern and postmodern world." To my way of thinking, he has successfully erased the boundaries between science and spirit, leaping forward into a distant, but worthy, future. Brilliant. ( )
  bookcrazed | May 24, 2006 |
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What is it that has called you so suddenly out of
nothingness to enjoy for a brief while a spectacle which
remains quite indifferent to you? The conditions for
your existence are as old as the rocks. For thousands of
years men have striven and suffered and begotten and
women have brought forth in pain. A hundred years
ago, perhaps, another man – or woman – sat on this
spot; like you he gazed with awe and yearning in his
heart at the dying of the glaciers. Like you he was
begotten of man and born of woman. He felt pain and
brief joy as you do. Was he someone else? Was it not
you yourself? What is this Self of yours?

– ERWIN SCHRÖDINGER
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It is flat-out strange that something – that anything – is happening at all. There was nothing, then a Big Bang, then here we all are. This is extremely weird.
1 The Web of Life

IT'S A STRANGE WORLD. It seems that around fifteen
billion years ago there was, precisely, absolute
nothingness, and then within less than a nanosecond the material universe blew into existence.
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In this tour de force of scholarship and vision, Ken Wilber traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind and describes the common patterns that evolution takes in all three of these domains. From the emergence of mind, he traces the evolution of human consciousness through its major stages of growth and development. He particularly focuses on modernity and postmodernity: what they mean; how they impact gender issues, psychotherapy, ecological concerns, and various liberation movements; and how the modern and postmodern world conceive of Spirit. This second edition features forty pages of new material, new diagrams, and extensively revised notes.

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