Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Narcissism of "Mr. Know-All"

Geoffrey Falk, a "strong negative" Wilber critic, who has turned Wilber-bashing into an art, but who is never short on facts, reflects further on Wilber's recent rants:

"From the Wikipedia entry for Narcissism:

"While in regression, the person displays childish, immature behaviors. He feels that he is omnipotent, and misjudges his power and that of his opposition. He underestimates challenges facing him and pretends to be "Mr. Know-All." His sensitivity to the needs and emotions of others and his ability to empathize with them deteriorate sharply. He becomes intolerably haughty and arrogant, with sadistic and paranoid tendencies. Above all, he then seeks unconditional admiration, even when others with more objective views perceive that he does not deserve it. He is preoccupied with fantastic, magical thinking and daydreams. In this mode he tends to exploit others, to envy them, and to be explosive.

"Egad, it matches Wilber point-by-point! From his recent childish blogging, to his misjudging of his cogent critics as "morons" compared to his own "brilliance," to his know-it-all nature, to his insensitive "forgiving" of others (and simultaneous failure to ask for forgiveness himself) when he's clearly the one in the wrong, to his haughtiness and arrogance, to his paranoid (i.e., disproportionate to reality) feelings of being loathed and condemned, to his obvious need for undeserved unconditional admiration ..., and through to his manipulation and exploitation of others to ensure his own "greatness."

Truly a sad, sad state of affairs.

Read more on Falk's blog (June 20 entry)


Blogger ZenOfNow said...

Sad state of affairs indeed. Over the past few days, after Wilber wrote his infamous rant to critics(which in my humble opinion was more "Red" than "Yellow"), I've been reflecting on what it all means in context to my motivation for having an interest in Integral thought. The appeal of seeing all points of view, especially with the trendy move toward "Globalism" is appealing. But what I keep coming back to - in thinking about II itself is Paul Tillich's discourse on courage in his book "Courage to Be". In it he writes that the lowest level of Courage is "To Be" as opposed to not Being; the second level is the Courage "To be a part" of a group. Integral thought dilutes our own thoughts and feelings and subjugates them to other & all perspectives. In turn, the "followers" live vicariously through Wilber's words and beliefs. What do you believe?

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an intriguing article entitled "Spiriutal Abuse'
dated June 15 on Mushin's blog

and some very thoughtful exchanges in the comments section.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would just try to stay out of the emotional mud pit as much as possible. You've got the high ground here and are the one who is being open and not closed. Falk may have some facts, but he's definitely jaded towards Wilber to an extreme degree. Jaded to the point where one could easily take quite a few of his blog entries and fit him into the narcissm definition he laid out. Too much of the shadow game there.


Agree with your insights. I'm willing to bet that a significant number of those blindly following Wilber on this who can't get or understand the other side (ironic for someone claiming high second tier integral cognition) have not delved into some of the detailed criticisms and take Wilber's word on what the critics are saying or how they are mispresenting his work.

Take for example the recent audio released talking about Wilber's criticisms of Meyerhoff.

Check this blog entry for a link to the audio.
Dashh - Wilber on Meyerhoff's Six Criticisms

He makes arguments, that on the surface, sound intellectually impressive, but don't always represent his critics position or emphasis correctly. Ironically, as the comment at the link above suggests, Wilber tries to competely distance himself from the "orientating generalizations" methodology that Meyerhoff critiques yet it appears that such distancing is, at least on the surface, dishonest as Wilber himself claims in his intro that is what he builds his arguments for SES on.

If you are the average Wilber fan not checking sources and such you are just going to take his word on it.

There may be some other explanation or misunderstanding here but this is the type of factual inconsistency that casts some serious doubt on Wilber's sincerity on the critics issue. Questioning character and playing the shadow game is never ending.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ZenofNow said:

"I would just try to stay out of the emotional mud pit as much as possible. You've got the high ground here and are the one who is being open and not closed. "

Yes. Its a sign that someone is on the losing side of a discussion when he or she constantly takes refuge in ad hominem arguments and name-calling.

Using psychological labeling is a form of ad hominem argumentation. It is problematic for a number of reasons and is best avoided--whether it is psychobabble ('boomeritis' 'mean green meme' 'first tier')or part of the terminology used by clinicians

('projection, narcissism etc)

1) We dont know the full story about someone's inner life. Psychologizing can go on forever with no resolution. But someone's courtesy, the behavior patterns of their social organization, how they use information--all this is observable.

1) Using psychological labels is an act of power. It should only be done if one is a licensed and trained mental health professional--and only if the person being labelled has requested our services.

And because labelling is an act of power it should only be done in private since these labels potentially can stigmatize a person.

2) If we use this kind of labelling and do not do it in relation with someone we love and care about, we risk objectifying that person. Some here are concerned that this kind of objectification is beginning to happen within certain sectors of the Integral scene.

Best thing is stick with whether someone has made proper use of facts and logic and has good manners: To be gracious in victory and remain courteous when on the losing side.

Another important matter that can be assessed is whether in an argument participants remain consistent and refrain from 'shifting the goal posts' if caught on the losing side of an argument.

Without using psychological labels, we can still evaluate the effect of being committed to an ideology--we can observe and then discuss whether this commitment brings out the best in people and organizations or whether it seems to lead to social behaviors that are increasingly secretive, discourteous etc.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You don't serve your position by quoting and agreeing with Falk. As noted by others, here and elsewhere, hate and shadow color his writing to the degree that it is hard to hear the facts in it. I assume that you did not mean to say that you were aligning with the hate and shadow?

So...ugliness abounds from all corners...what to do about it? Any ideas? What would break the momentum of this increasingly deep divide, the choosing of sides, the contraction (ours and theirs and those listening).

I wouldn't ask if I didn't think that you and your trusted advisors could see something and act upon it. Or do you see that this rift is hopelessly out of your control, that you have already done everything rational, reasonable, possible?

12:16 PM  
Blogger mikeginn said...


Yes, a sad state of affairs – but I am sad (and a bit angry) for a different reason than you.

You have wasted years of good work (by yourself and others) and the opportunity to be an independent and important voice in the integral movement.

You’ve accomplished this by encouraging and now focusing on “strong negative” critics that for their own reasons have a need to discredit Wilber and his work. Even casual observers see that these articles and posts are intended to attack, rather than add to the knowledge building efforts of the integral community.

Your saying that this kind of commentary is important is not consistent with the leading thinkers in the integral field, or a majority of participants in the integral community. It is clearly counter to the standard of desirable conduct described in Tom Murray’s paper on collaborative knowledge building, a standard which you affirmatively pointed to.

I am looking for academically inclined articles and a collaborative knowledge building community that I can be a part of. I am sad (and a bit angry) to report that I am not finding this at Integral World, and so will not return.

I do give you my best wishes Frank. My hope is that you are able to somehow find your way out of this mess, and that you see that it was in part your own making.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have enjoyed your site immensely in the past and your book also. I must say I find the recent events and postings surrounding the mud slinging towards Wilber & co. very disconcerting. I feel the criticism towards Wilber on your site has been personal and not constructive for the past year or so. It is very sad really. I no longer intend on returning.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:30 anonymous here. Despite recent comments I still think you have the high ground. People want to say its personal and its hard not to get personal. However, if people want to judge what is going on between you and Wilber by the standards they are using to judge you now you still are much more credible.

Wilber is slinging more mud than anyone else. Yet he gets a free pass with Wyatt Earpy because it was really meant to be this brilliant shadow trick or a marketing gimmick for II. Or so says Wilber.

So my advice is stick to the factual realms and concerns regarding the integral community. Once you get down in the personal stuff you are fighting an uphill battle. A lot of people believe in Wilber's writings in ways very similiar to say Christians with the Bible. Obviously lots of differences there, but criticism threatens many of these people's hero or at least a person who's theories they have used to construct their world and place in it.

9:33 AM  
Blogger David Jon Peckinpaugh said...

Hi Frank, et al,

It is obvious to me--and anyone else with two wits about them--that Ken Wilber has put himself in a position of 'authourity.' As such, he is a target in ways tha you nor I are, will be, or can be at this time. That is as it should be. If people assume that someone asserting their 'authourity' over and above others does not warrant criticism--and the occasional jab even (I mean shit people, look what our politicians get... the President of The United States has been made a mockery of on late-night TV for some 50 years or more--no matter how the President has been.).

So... so what if Ken is being 'attacked.' He wanted to play 'king of the mountain' and still seems to. I mean, shit you can bitch and piss and moan about the way the Game is going when you decided you wanted to play that friggin' game in the first place.

So quit your pissy-faced whining about people not understanding you Ken and get back to f*&in' work!!


P.S. IN other words, Ken is getting what comes with the territory. And if he can't handle the little criticism he has received through then he would never stand a chance in academia... where getting you ass filleted is par for the course.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Jon Peckinpaugh said:

P.S. In other words, Ken is getting what comes with the territory. And if he can't handle the little criticism he has received through then he would never stand a chance in academia... where getting you ass filleted is par for the course.

heheh, I couldn't agree more David! :-)

Wilber has a hyper-sensitive ego which means he can dish it out, but he can't take it. And this even though, unlike his own ad hominem rants, criticism of his work has always been on a very respectable, well researched, peer-review level (which is what Integral World is!). And if he is like this with IW, then how could he possibly, as David points out, survive in the world of ''real'' academia? *chuckle*

But of more concern, Wilber's recent actions show definite cultic tendencies, as I explain in a later part of my essay on IW.

So what we are seeing is the birth of a New Age cult or religion, based around Wilber the "compassionate bodhisattva".

As for people here having an issue with Geoff Falk. I admit that, due to my only wanting to see Wilber in the most positive way (and even when I strongly criticised his ideas, I always considered Wilber the man to be a highly honourable and decent person, imperfect like the rest of us, but basically a really good guy), I used to be critical of Geoff too. All this changed with Wilber's ad hominem attack on Frank for no other reason than that Frank hosts a site dedicated to real (not glowingly praisful and worshipful) internet peer review of Wilber's work. That's when I took another look at what Falk was saying, and realised that he had been on the ball all along. And I'm saying this as someone who was reading and studying Wilber more than 25 years ago, when his early books like ''Spectrum of Consciousness'' and ''Atman Project'' quite impressed me. At that time Wilber was as an important "New Paradigm" scholar and writer. But he has definitely become more cultic since then, and his writings have suffered as a result as well.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion on how to retain the high ground:

1) As much as possible, concentrate on assessing and testing the merits of Integral theory and demonstrate that this can be done by concentrating on Integral and, as much as possible ignoring KW.

The test of a good theory or system is whether it stands up to testing and is useful even after the person who created the theory has gone on to have other interests or has died or retired.

2) If II continues to sling mud in your direction, reply directly just as little as possible.

One might create a list of common, cliches responses (as in the famous 3 cards analysis)

(if you read the 6 comments there's additional discussion)

(and a newer list of cards is given here:)

Real scholars and scientists respond to critiques by engaging with the material--their responses cannot be reduced to a list of cliches.

So, just concentrate on investigating Integral and show the world what it looks like without any one personality dominating the scene--what Integral looks like without it being part of an ongoing soap opera.

That will be the most radical response of all.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


your intellectual integrity is beyond any doubt -- I shall continue to read your writings

to get a glimpse of the real wilber, visit his site for pictures of his model wife and six-pack abs

spirituality, my ass

5:51 AM  
Blogger goethean said...

> visit his site for pictures of
> his model wife and six-pack abs


11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six-pack abs continues:

A couple of years ago, my sister in law had cancer, because of which both my wife and myself read 'Grace and grit'.

The interesting thing is that I, maybe due to my 'manly' inclinations, got swept by the all-inclusive theories and proceeded with reading a number of his other books.

My girlfriend on the other hand, wise in 'womanly' fashion, never wanted anything to do with The Wilber again; she already knew enough - couldn't stand the combination of his cockiness and self-professed spirituality.

Face it folks, what does The Wilber know more about life than we do?

Frank, I'm on your side.

1:22 PM  
Blogger WannaBee said...

Wiber's ideas have no practical application whatsoever. This is the problem with II. The whole thing is a laughable absurdity. It's like trying to write a new constitution based solely on Lenny Bruce jokes. The transition from entertainer to social worker is seldom easy. It seems in this case that kw has set himself up for a steep decent into obscurity.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all Wilber's critics should be ashamed of themselves. He's devoted his life to the betterment of the world, and he has enriched it far more than any of his critics, more than virtually anyone you could name. He has helped millions of people. He is brilliant, a genius really, and he is very kind. His critics deserve a good tongue lashing.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay everyone, I can see how constructive criticism can cultivate new layers to our understanding - we must objectively critique that which we take on as reality - and this would of course include Mr. Wilber. But much of this has little or nothing to do with "building blocks" for a more Integral approach. Although "Mr six-pack abs with the model wife" (ohhhh EX-wife, HA! Got em' there!) was obviously a negligent comment - unworthy to be taken seriously at all, ( is the grosse body not part of the Integral approach??) The fact that such things would be brought up, adequately displays the depth of which SOME of these criticisms are coming. In objectifying the 'Integral Approach' as well as Ken, we must always objectify OURSELVES, i.e - WATCH YOUR SHADOW! Criticize your own criticism - just who and what are you criticizing? Who is doing this and to serve what purpose???? Just keep that in mind, may grace and beauty serve as a cushion between all your firing synapse.

Finally, although Ken is not the "Godfather" of the Integral approach, he has done more to bear it's fruition than anybody else. How many would even know of anything "Integral" if not for Ken Wilber's incredible contribution?? How many peoples lives have been dramatically changed - enriched - significantly deepened as a result of his work??

Go ahead and bite the hand that feeds you, GO ON give it a good nibble! It helps... but for GOD-SAKES, DON'T PISS ON IT!!

-May peace ferment as if it were never there

3:20 AM  

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