Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber was born on January 31, 1949 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1967, he enrolled as a pre-med student at Duke University. He became inspired, like many of his generation, by Eastern literature, particularly the Tao Te Ching. He left Duke and enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology and a Master’s degree in biochemistry.

In 1973, Wilber completed his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, in which he sought to integrate knowledge from disparate fields. After rejections by more than twenty publishers it was finally accepted in 1977 by Quest Books, and he spent a year giving lectures and workshops before going back to writing. He also helped to launch the journal ReVision in 1978.

In 1982, New Science Library published his anthology The Holographic Paradigm and other Paradoxes a collection of essays and interviews, including one by David Bohm. The essays, including one of his own, looked at how holography and theholographic paradigm relate to the fields of consciousness, mysticism and science.

In 1983, Wilber married Terry (Treya) Killam who was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. From the fall of 1984 until 1987, Wilber gave up most of his writing to care for her. Treya died in January 1989; their joint experience was recorded in the 1991 book Grace and Grit.

Subsequently, Wilber wrote Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES), (1995), the first volume of his Kosmos TrilogyA Brief History of Everything (1996) was the popularised summary of SES in interview format. The Eye of Spirit (1997) was a compilation of articles he had written for the journal ReVision on the relationship between science and religion. Throughout 1997, he had kept journals of his personal experiences, which were published in 1999 as One Taste, a term for unitary consciousness. Over the next two years his publisher, Shambhala Publications, released eight re-edited volumes of his Collected Works. In 1999, he finished Integral Psychology and wrote A Theory of Everything (2000). In A Theory of Everything Wilber attempts to bridge business, politics, science and spirituality and show how they integrate with theories of developmental psychology, such as Spiral Dynamics. His novel, Boomeritis (2002), attempts to expose what he perceives as the egotism of the Baby Boom Generation.

See below for some of Wilber’s noted quotes (Wisdom):

“In fact, at this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. There is the “edge of history.” There would be a real New Age.”

“Modern science is no longer denying spirit. And that, that is epochal.”

“An integral approach is based on one basic idea: no human mind can be 100% wrong. Or, we might say, nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time.”

“The single greatest world transformation would simply be the embrace of global reasonableness and pluralistic tolerance.”

Science is clearly one of the most profound methods that humans have yet devised for discovering truth, while religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning.”

“Global consciousness is not an objective belief that can be taught to anybody and everybody, but a subjective transformation in the interior structures that can hold belief in the first place, which itself is the product of a long line of inner consciousness development.”


Wilber on Mystisism

Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don’t they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I’m sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual’s consciousness does indeed touch infinity—a total embrace of the entire Kosmos—a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It’s at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane? — Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 42–3

Wilber on Science

I am not alone is seeing that chance and natural selection by themselves are not enough to account for the emergence that we see in evolution. Stuart Kaufman [sic] and many others have criticized mere change and natural selection as not adequate to account for this emergence (he sees the necessity of adding self-organization). Of course I understand that natural selection is not acting on mere randomness or chance—because natural selection saves previous selections, and this reduces dramatically the probability that higher, adequate forms will emerge. But even that is not enough, in my opinion, to account for the remarkable emergence of some of the extraordinarily complex forms that nature has produced. After all, from the big bang and dirt to the poems of William Shakespeare is quite a distance, and many philosophers of science agree that mere chance and selection are just not adequate to account for these remarkable emergences. The universe is slightly tilted toward self-organizing processes, and these processes—as Prigogine was the first to elaborate—escape present-level turmoil by jumping to higher levels of self-organization, and I see that “pressure” as operating throughout the physiosphere, the biosphere, and the noosphere. And that is what I metaphorically mean when I use the example of a wing (or elsewhere, the example of an eyeball) to indicate the remarkableness of increasing emergence. But I don’t mean that as a specific model or actual example of how biological emergence works! Natural selection carries forth previous individual mutations—but again that just isn’t enough to account for creative emergence (or what Whitehead called “the creative advance into novelty,” which, according to Whitehead, is the fundamental nature of this manifest universe). — Ken Wilber, Re: Some Criticisms of My Understanding of Evolution

Wikipedia contributors. “Ken Wilber.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Jun. 2012. Web. 13 Jun. 2012.

“Ken Wilber.” Wikiquote, . 28 Feb 2012, 15:36 UTC. 13 Jun 2012, 12:03 <>.


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