Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Integral Inflation

The signs are not good.

First we had this posting on the kenwilber.com blog asking for a CEO, where everything seemed to be historical. The Institute. The fact that it got a CEO. A turquoise one at that. We know about "historical firsts" by now. II was one, IU was another. Every organisation needs a decent CEO, for sure, but why hype the whole thing?

Then there was this announcement that the long awaited book The Many Faces on Terrorism would be published as a trilogy, in Boomeritis format. If there ever was a slight chance that the professional world of foreign affairs would lend an ear to integral political ideas, that chance is now gone, since the ideas will be buried in endless in-crowd conversations between juvenile people who agree so much with one another that it is almost painful. This time, the tone of the writing is full of world saving fantasies. And inflated self-images. "Integral people are 10 times more effective!"

Well, not when it comes to running their own organisations. Now we have rumours of many staff people leaving the Integral Institute, or being sacked, including its CEO. ("Not only did the CEO resign, the COO was fired, the Marketing Director, Art Director, Customer Service Manager, ILP Kit Product Manager and Media Manager walked out with more considering it", as one blogger has it.) It's no easy task to lead an organisation this diverse, sketchy, promising and over-confident. The routinisation, even commercialising of charisma seems well under way. And perhaps writers should only write -- and listen to their opponents, invite a serious debate, offer their ideas to the forum of the world.

So instead of having real influence, let's just imagine we have real influence, in an imaginary Integral Center, fictionalised in a novel, we enjoy reading ourselves. Instead of being taken seriously by universities, let's create our own Integral University. Instead of taking an honest look at what science teaches about evolution, lets promote our own idea of evolution, and make fun of scientists. Call them "reductionists". Or "preachers". Dismiss. Let's pretend we know better what they think then they do themselves.

What the world needs are detailed, informed, grounded blueprints which can be picked up by policy makers. Or opinion leaders in the field of journalism. What it does not need is world saving campaigns from institutes that lack an accurate self-image. After all these years, I am still awaiting a solid analysis of "Iraq" from an integral political point of view, AQAL, SD or otherwise, that can be applied to the real world. Or even if only to understand what has gone wrong.

And as to science, I am currently reading Richard Dawkins' Climbing Mount Improbable, where he gives an absorbing account of the many (40!) ways the eye or the wing have evolved, so different from the "Spirit of Evolution" poetry that pervades Wilber's work. Demonstrating that confidently suggesting that "with a half-wing your are dinner" (as Wilber did in A Brief History of Everyting) is so much off the wall, that any hope to be taken seriously by science is idle. Just ask the pinguins...

13 Comments:

Anonymous rousku said...

I was afraid we're losing our grip but looks like we're back on the track! Let's not allow Ken to do what he wants to do with his life and career. He is here to fulfill our wishes. If he doesn't live up to our expectations we will stop liking him so much! Beware Ken!

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear sir,

Wilber's behavior
does not excuse heuristics criticising Wilberian statements in BHOE.

Unfortunately most criticism I have encountered on your site mr Visser does not go beyond such statements.

So far I have seen no critic addressing Wilber's more sophisticated presentations of his understanding of telos and evolution in such works as "Eye to Eye" (chapter 1).

Let us assume for just a moment Wilber wants to argue against agnosticism and skepticism. But how come he says "sustained skepticism" and "doubt" were the paths to any authentic understanding of that which matters most? (see Quantum Questions and Sociable God)

Either Wilber has changed his mind or indeed with his statements in BHOE he could have intended to say something else. Or was it simply because he wanted to please his new-agy readers? Or was it because he wanted to do some provocation? Or was ist... I dont know. But see, so do you, mr Visser.

With simply claiming Wilber believes the classical telos principle YOU mr Visser do not only break all laws of heuristics but you unfortunately do not go beyond what you criticise (superficiality).

And in fact it would be so easy to do better than Ken (in his earpy-series and other blog-entries):

1. One would first have to find the passages he discusses the telos principle
2. understand his arguments and study his sources.
3. try to understand the context of those arguments in Wilberian work as in the history of philosophy (the concept's origin)
4. give your estimation and avoid ad-hominem critique.

But instead the commentaries on Wilberian views of evolution I have seen on your site are to me nothing but... disappointing. Not even step one they take.

Not to mention any more generous heuristic principles are followed, such as you can find in every good introduction to hermeneutics; although those you follow anyway if you really want to understand smth - you dont really need reading books for about understandind to be able to understand. Just a little good-will would do.

be well...

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to think -after having lived in North-Carolina for a couple of years (viva Chapel Hill)-I have come to understand the pitfalls of both eurocentrism and American patriotism.

But let's face it: In Europe, Wilber is a quantite negligeable. I've been following up on the big Wilber for a number of years now, and I'm still waiting for his first appearance in any of the more mainstream media, whether it be tv, radio, magazines, or newspapers (unlike Gore prancing around with a Wilber copy under his arm, propagating the W wholesale into the American cultural space).

Have you all realized how fundamentally American Wilber is? With his (ex?-) model wife, six-pack abs, multi-million dollar spirituality, and above all, his desperate and fanatic drive for absolutism, a model that encompasses everything, a prevailing worldview, the always failing and always mechanical quest -to be put out there for everyone to see and validate- for one's inner self...

Oh boy!

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your site has become so disappointing and such a bore with your ranting Frank. It is completely lacking integrity and credibility these days. (Just note some of the postings above!) You yourself seem to have become an embittered fool. It is terribly sad. Sarah

8:29 AM  
Blogger Paul S. said...

Frank,
I think the question you need to ask is: what would YOU do if there was no I-I? What can YOU do to help create "detailed, informed, grounded blueprints which can be picked up by policy makers... [O]r opinion leaders in the field of journalism."?
Just a thought.
-Paul

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Tattipää said...

What is the problem here? Does Frank and his minions have a better solution for global salvation than Ken has? Or does Frank think this global transformation stuff is nuts altogether? Why not let Ken carry on with his project? If Ken wants some fame and fortune it can't be a reason for all this bashing. Or then you should be bashing half of the american population equally.. right? If Ken has an idea about saving the world it can't be reason for all this bashing. Or is it such a bad thing to have ideas about saving the world?

1:23 PM  
Blogger John said...

God save us from the saviors. All saviors should be asked; what are you saving us from? Are you saving the world for us or from us?

In the world of ideas, people can disagree. Ken Wilber gets to say what he wants about Plotinus or whoever. Now when anyone wants to talk about Ken Wilber, the rules change. All of the sudden there are all these rules about how it should be approached, what tone is appropriate, etc. We should, for example:

"1. One would first have to find the passages he discusses the telos principle
2. understand his arguments and study his sources.
3. try to understand the context of those arguments in Wilberian work as in the history of philosophy (the concept's origin)
4. give your estimation and avoid ad-hominem critique."

Who says?

The fact is that everyone can say what they like, how they like. That doesn’t just include Ken Wilber. Any savior that says otherwise is overstepping.

“Keep away old man, you don’t fool me. You and your history won’t rule me. You may have been a fighter but admit you’re failed. I’m not affected by your blackmail. You won’t blackmail me.” ~ Slipkid

11:02 AM  
Anonymous tattipää said...

I agree John. Everybody can say what they want to say including Ken. So what's the problem? Ken is just using his right to say what he wants to say. This seems to be a problem for a lot of people. Ken wants to say that his critics should follow the rules he has set himself. Just let him say that. Keep criticizing if that's your thing. But what's the problem really?

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree John. Everybody can say what they want to say; but not IF they want to be taken seriously by others, i.e. enter into discourse.

Whether mr Ken's theories come up to the level discourse I don't know. But what I believe I immediately see is that many criticisms on this page themselves do not.

And this because IF you want to come up to the level of discourse, you will have to follow some heuristic rules, i.e. rules of discourse - what Frank's statements about Ken's views on evolution and many posted on his page I believe do not.

My point above was that IF one wants "... to do better than Ken (in his earpy-series and other blog-entries):

1. One would first have to find the passages he discusses the telos principle
2. understand his arguments and study his sources.
3. try to understand the context of those arguments in Wilberian work as in the history of philosophy (the concept's origin)
4. give your estimation and avoid ad-hominem critique."

Those are four - in the science of understanding, i.e. hermeneutics - generally accepted rules of understanding. Breaking with one of them - this is my suggestion - is breaking with understanding. Breaking with understanding is breaking with discourse. Everybody is free to break with discourse. But he is not free to expect any fruits of discourse - i.e. being taken seriously by others - if he breaks with discourse.

Any other views?

be well...

5:42 AM  
Anonymous M Egan said...

Dear Frank, I remember a time when you wrote very such pro and supportive comments about Wilber. It looks like you fell out in some way and ever since "hell hath no fury like a ....."

I was once a fan of what you do! I have also taken Ken of the pedestal I once had him on but not gone as far as an inverse "poacher turned game keeper".

10:00 AM  
Anonymous tattipää said...

Yeah maybe it was a mistake by Ken to do the earpy thing but Frank and the rest of the so called "critics" didn't fare any better. Ken did say some ugly words but he hasn't dedicated entire web sites and blogs for bashing a single person. Think about it.

2:50 AM  
Blogger John said...

We have no obligation to follow any rules of discourse, unless we agree to them. Ken writes entire books dedicated to bashing large groups of people, like the post-modernists and the boomers. But it’s not really about bashing Ken here; it’s more about identifying where he went wrong so we can pick up and start making progress again. Those who see no problem with the things Frank points out can continue to tow the party line over at I-I. It’s a free country. Time will tell who’s right; I’m certain of that.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will never get anything out of that abstruse group about Iraq. For a year in IN I tried to get that group to start a protest to influence the I-I hierarchy to denounce publicly the Iraq, war. I failed to get one supporter of this.

They said we don’t do politics: Wilber wrote about this in 2003:
Flimsy excuses about green meme, and you have to denounce Saddam, as well, all this kind of nonsense out of these brainwashed people.

I would say, well the holocaust, the Nazis murdering the Jews was political, therefore we shouldn’t condemn that. This showing them that the answer: they dont deal in politics was ridiculous.

As for the essential AQAL SDi flimsy reason Wilber concocted in his essay on Iraq, all I remember thinking as a response to his reasoning on not denouncing the war was: well go right ahead and condemn Sadam as well as the invasion. Wilber puts up excuses for not doing things that are so flimsy, and easily refutable, as to be a joke, surpassingly coming out of someone as smart as he.

I am convinced Wilber is just a neo-con conservative. His institute has too many connections with powerful, wealthy, influential conservative neo-con groups and people

That denouncing the war wouldn’t sit well with. His excuses I recall after reading his statement on it were so flimsy as to convince me they were not even genuine.

5:38 AM  

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