Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amod Lele - Wilber’s post/modern turn

Over at Love of All Wisdom, Amod Lele offers a philosopher's take on Ken Wilber's shift from modernism to post/modernism in the transition from Wilber-4 to Wilber-5. Lele uses "the term “post/modern”, to emphasize the important respects in which the two are the same." He offers a different perspective than most integral folk who accept without question that Wilber is post-postmodern, as he himself would seem to claim - and they might also claim that Lele is not grasping Wilber's move beyond postmodern.

He plans a couple of follow-up articles: "I have at least two problems with this approach: one empirical and sociological, one deeper and more philosophical. I will explore both in the weeks to come." I will be curious to see where he goes.

Wilber’s post/modern turn

by on May.06, 2012

I’ve recently been writing an article on Ken Wilber’s thought, and have come to realize just how much his ideas have changed over the past ten years. His readers, and increasingly he himself, have come to characterize this as a change from a fourth phase of his thought (“Wilber-4″) to a fifth phase (“Wilber-5″). The changes can be hard to spot because the new view is detailed in only one book (Integral Spirituality); the rest of it is found online, in excerpts from a long forthcoming volume.

What is most striking in the change from Wilber-4 to Wilber-5 is its post/modernism. Wilber has moved much closer to a postmodern view in which there are only perspectives, which bring worlds into existence rather than discovering them; he has also become more modernist, giving much more prominence to an idea of cultural evolution where the modern age supersedes those that came before. But as David Harvey has noted, the continuities between modernism and postmodernism can be more significant than their self-proclaimed differences. (In this discussion I will repeatedly use the term “post/modern”, to emphasize the important respects in which the two are the same.) In this case, premodern traditions play an ever smaller role. Wilber’s earlier thought, in looking at the traditions of the premodern world, had tended to incorporate only mystical experience, but mystical experience still got the trump card – it was able to tell us what ultimate reality is. In Wilber-5, mystical experience needs to be kept in its place, without any sovereignty over other kinds of knowledge. Where Wilber’s earlier thought was all about the relationship between Ascent and Descent, Ascent now takes a smaller role as only one or two perspectives out of many, the rest being Descending and post/modern.

Read the whole article.

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