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A new edition of the best-selling work from one of the most forward-thinking and important philosophers of our time. Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos--from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber's great ideas has been expanding minds A new edition of the best-selling work from one of the most forward-thinking and important philosophers of our time. Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos--from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber's great ideas has been expanding minds now for two decades, providing a kind of unified field theory of the universe and, along the way, treating a host of issues related to that universe, from gender roles, to multiculturalism, to environmentalism, and even the meaning of the Internet. This special anniversary edition contains as an afterword a dialogue between the author and Lana Wachowski, the award-winning writer-director of the Matrix film trilogy, in which we're offered an intimate glimpse into the evolution of Ken's thinking and where he stands today. A Brief History of Everything may well be the best introduction to the thought of this man who has been called the -Einstein of Consciousness- (John White).


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A new edition of the best-selling work from one of the most forward-thinking and important philosophers of our time. Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos--from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber's great ideas has been expanding minds A new edition of the best-selling work from one of the most forward-thinking and important philosophers of our time. Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos--from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber's great ideas has been expanding minds now for two decades, providing a kind of unified field theory of the universe and, along the way, treating a host of issues related to that universe, from gender roles, to multiculturalism, to environmentalism, and even the meaning of the Internet. This special anniversary edition contains as an afterword a dialogue between the author and Lana Wachowski, the award-winning writer-director of the Matrix film trilogy, in which we're offered an intimate glimpse into the evolution of Ken's thinking and where he stands today. A Brief History of Everything may well be the best introduction to the thought of this man who has been called the -Einstein of Consciousness- (John White).

30 review for A Brief History of Everything

  1. 5 out of 5

    SpatialH

    Here's how Ken Wilbur would write "Three Blind Mice" Three decrepit rodents Three decrepit rodents Observe how they motivate Observe how they motivate They motivate after the agricultural spouse Who severed their rears with the culinary shears Have you ever witnessed such a deplorable condition As Three decrepit rodents. point being... way too complicated a way to express the simplest concepts. He's just making himself feel smart or something. V weird.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Todd Hansink

    (This review was an entry on my blog.) I was first exposed to Ken Wilber when I found his book, A Brief History of Everything, on my Dads bookshelf. (I am always attracted to bookshelves.) My Dad didnt have much to say about the book except that I could take it. He told me that it was a selection of the Mira Costa College book group that met monthly to discuss their selections and vote upon others. The book sat on my shelf for a couple years while I attempted to start reading it four or five (This review was an entry on my blog.) I was first exposed to Ken Wilber when I found his book, A Brief History of Everything, on my Dad’s bookshelf. (I am always attracted to bookshelves.) My Dad didn’t have much to say about the book except that I could take it. He told me that it was a selection of the Mira Costa College book group that met monthly to discuss their selections and vote upon others. The book sat on my shelf for a couple years while I attempted to start reading it four or five times. Finally I worked up enough momentum in the book that I started to make progress and then suddenly I was hooked. I studied it very carefully and started to really enjoy it. By the time I finished this book I knew I had to know more about this guy. Ken Wilber is another one of those rare human beings that have had a significant impact in shaping the way I think. Although he seems new agey at first, seems narcissistic at times, and sometimes dresses funny, I still enjoy all his quirky oddness without feeling the need to emulate him in every way or become taken in by his “fan club-cum-cult.” He appears a bit eccentric but, hey, the guy is truly one of life’s originals and he is full of substantive ideas. I highly recommend one of his books: A Brief History of Everything, and his audio set: Kosmic Consciousness which covers the same material in an interview format. The combination of book and CDs is most effective as each medium has its inherent strengths and weaknesses; together they best introduce Wilber’s worldview. Beyond these two recommended works of Ken Wilber I make no further recommendations though there are still many wonderful intellectual nuggets to find. I have purchased most of Wilber’s books but that is more a reflection of my way of sizing him up. I do the same thing with musical artists as well. I like to know the full catalogue even when I only like part of it. I like to understand the artist as well as his message. One reason why I have formed an intellectual bond with Ken Wilber is because he was the one that I was reading when I had a few more of those “aha” moments. Wilber taught me a few new things that I really found enlightening. Granted, I could have had such moments while reading somebody else because most ideas are not exclusively original to any one human being, but the fact is I was taught by Wilber. He was the one who communicated many ideas in such a way that I was able to receive them, and they came at I time in life when I was mature enough to pay attention. The first topic that impacted my thinking was emergence--everything is simultaneously a “whole” as well as a “part” of something bigger (holons). Subatomic particles are wholes, but also parts of Atoms. Atoms are discrete wholes yet they are parts of molecules. Molecules are wholes that form parts of proteins which become parts of tissues, then organs, then organisms, then the biosphere, then the noosphere (see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). The “aha” was the realization that I am part of something bigger than myself. I was finally ready to trade up to this broader perspective by giving up my more egocentric worldview and it was not a frightening thought but, surprisingly, it was very comfortable. I kept repeating in my mind, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This seemed very logical. I started to think of other people as extensions of myself, or, even, myself. This may sound loony but I honestly started to sense a keener kinship to the world than I ever had before. I was very impressed that Wilber seemed to have genuine affection and acceptance of people and institutions at all levels of development instead of a vitriolic disdain for other points of view that I had been somehow conditioned to expect from intellectual types. This attitude came from Hinduism through Wilber to me. And after a while I found that I was experiencing a real change in myself, I quite naturally developed a greater ability to detach myself from emotional issues and try to understand them more objectively while all the time believing that in the long run the “truth will out.” Perhaps the most important idea that I got from Wilber is that I do not have to repudiate things that I transcend; I can transcend AND include. Ken Wilber is another kindred soul because I see part of myself in him. He is a tireless quester of truth and is not afraid to read all of the world’s best books without waiting for them to be assigned. And although he is ahead of me and different in many ways, we are both questers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    I just accidently dropped this book in the toilet so it may be a while before I get around to picking it up again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nadeem

    This book is hard to review, really the rating is the mean between a 5 and a 1. Wilber is basically a self-taught philosopher who tries to articulate a theory of everything. By working outside the limits of academia, he doesn't have to specialize as much as other intellectuals. In this sense, his broad focus is refreshing and intriguing. Writing about consciousness, I appreciated the case he made for being able to look both at an individual's interior experience as well as looking at an This book is hard to review, really the rating is the mean between a 5 and a 1. Wilber is basically a self-taught philosopher who tries to articulate a theory of everything. By working outside the limits of academia, he doesn't have to specialize as much as other intellectuals. In this sense, his broad focus is refreshing and intriguing. Writing about consciousness, I appreciated the case he made for being able to look both at an individual's interior experience as well as looking at an individual from an objective, more empirical perspective. However, what is lost by working outside academia, is the fact that the work hasn't been peer-reviewed. It wasn't written to scholarly standards (he says this 600 page book is basically the cliff-notes from a larger book), nor critiqued by a veteran in the field. So, there are times when it doesn't appear he has mastery over subject matter that he writes about in an authoritative tone. Bottom line, it's an interesting book and worth a read, but only with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm not kidding - this may be the best book I've ever read. It is the first book (of many, I hope) of Wilber's that I've read. It was recommended by someone I respect implicitly, and it did not disappoint. I wasn't predisposed to love it, mind you - his stance on Jung, his focus on Western Philosophers, his nearly constant criticism of ecophilosophers and ecofeminists to name a few things were all things that I don't particularly agree with, but I think his criticisms are valid and have place. I'm not kidding - this may be the best book I've ever read. It is the first book (of many, I hope) of Wilber's that I've read. It was recommended by someone I respect implicitly, and it did not disappoint. I wasn't predisposed to love it, mind you - his stance on Jung, his focus on Western Philosophers, his nearly constant criticism of ecophilosophers and ecofeminists to name a few things were all things that I don't particularly agree with, but I think his criticisms are valid and have place. This book fit all my interests and all the things that I find importnat together in a way that I'd been looking for, but had been previously unable to do. One word to describe it is this: essential. It is, in my opinion, THE essential book for understanding so many of the problems and crises that are facing us as humans and for understanding, quite literally, life, the universe and everything. I recommend it to all of my transcendentalist friends. Thank you, sir. You have won a student.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    The book begins with the premise that gender differences arose because women who participated in vigorous activities had a high rate of miscarriage. This is either: misogynous, naive, or stupid. There needs to be a category for books "that I can't stand to finish."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Drake

    Crap. An astonishingly deluded or mendacious philosopher attempting to integrate science and mysticism into one coherent world view, with the rather predictable result of abject failure.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Dude is a genius (of the narcissistic variety - aren't they usually?). This book is sometimes hard to read, especially when he tries to reference everything under the sun. For those of us who don't know everything, the references become too much - looking every person and theory referenced would be like dissertation research. However, this relatively early (in Wilber's bio, that is) attempt at an umbrella theory of various aspects of life (psychology, spirituality, scientific discovery, etc.) is Dude is a genius (of the narcissistic variety - aren't they usually?). This book is sometimes hard to read, especially when he tries to reference everything under the sun. For those of us who don't know everything, the references become too much - looking every person and theory referenced would be like dissertation research. However, this relatively early (in Wilber's bio, that is) attempt at an umbrella theory of various aspects of life (psychology, spirituality, scientific discovery, etc.) is actually quite compelling. Narcissism notwithstanding, Wilber has clearly done his research and offers a challenging and unique read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Forrest

    A synopsis of his much more lengthy writing about why science, religion (and spirituality), sociology and psychology are not at odds with each other. If I could make everyone on earth read one book, this would be it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    It was weird. This month I read Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and it referenced Arthur Koestler's writings on evolution, so I decided it was high time to read Darkness at Noon, then I find out that Koestler is the one who coined the term Holon, so I dug out Wilber. I read a little Wilber in college, but never finished the book. So, I read it today and liked it in parts. My main complaint with Wilber is he tries to square the corners of the Kosmos too neatly. I find him simultaneously empty and It was weird. This month I read Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and it referenced Arthur Koestler's writings on evolution, so I decided it was high time to read Darkness at Noon, then I find out that Koestler is the one who coined the term Holon, so I dug out Wilber. I read a little Wilber in college, but never finished the book. So, I read it today and liked it in parts. My main complaint with Wilber is he tries to square the corners of the Kosmos too neatly. I find him simultaneously empty and shiny; trite and compelling. Do I regret reading this book? No, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to re-orient my worldview or integrate much of Wilber into my own spirituality.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Wells

    How does a Seeker of knowledge download 2,000 plus years of human history in a few days of reading? Easy. Read or listen to Ken Wilber's brilliant synopsis neatly packaged into an elegant model of everything. The "Integral Model" will change the way you view your own life challenges and the world's enormous geopolitical problems forever. I highly recommend this book and think every politician and college student in America should have this book in their collection.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    This book put all the conflicting theories of philosophy, psychology, and religion that I had studied and contemplated for fifteen or twenty years into a single usable context.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Solveig C.B.

    In addressing cosmic, biological, human and divine evolution, Ken Wilber impressively populates 500 pages worth of synthesis of Western and Non-Western spiritual tradition creating a thinking framework for everything in life. Wilber comprehensively dissects and re-assembles the parts and wholes of the ontology, epistemology and methodology for what he has coined asintegral theory. It feels like an impossible task to synthesize this reading into a meaningful review and make A Brief History of In addressing cosmic, biological, human and divine evolution, Ken Wilber impressively populates 500 pages worth of synthesis of Western and Non-Western spiritual tradition creating a thinking framework for everything in life. Wilber comprehensively dissects and re-assembles the parts and wholes of the ontology, epistemology and methodology for what he has coined as“integral theory”. It feels like an impossible task to synthesize this reading into a meaningful review and make “A Brief History of Everything” even briefer. Wilber’s work addresses the evolution of consciousness from its basic building blocks to the complexity of concepts such as worldviews. Topics covered include gender, self, society, eco issues, liberation movements, psychological development and pathologies and a wide array of approaches to spirituality and evolution are all covered through the perspective of his theories. An extract from his discourse on worldviews provides an example of how topics are discussed within his framework: “Different worldviews create different worlds, enact different worlds, they aren’t just the same world seen differently [....] As the higher stages of consciousness emerge and develop, they themselves include the basic components of the earlier worldview, then add their own new and more differentiated perceptions. They transcend and include. Because they are more inclusive they are more adequate. So it’s not that the earlier worldview was totally wrong and the new worldview is totally right. The earlier one was adequate, the new one is more adequate. If it’s not more adequate, then it won’t be selected by evolution [....] The solution of an old problem is the creation of a new one - they come into being together, although the new problems usually surface only as the worldview approaches its demise [...] And we are at the point where the mental, industrial world view are running into grave problems inherent in its own organization. We have run up against our own limitations” At times the text can be lengthy and repetitive, though it becomes progressively more clear through the work that the re-iteration of ideas and examples assist the reader’s hermeneutic process of developing understanding between parts and wholes. Wilber is sensitive to what is required from the reader to be able to keep up with high-concept content; he tries to make it as accessible as possible. Both the repetition of concepts and “question-and-answer” (Socratic dialogue) format of the text facilitate the readers consciousness of the content as it gradually evolves from detailed concepts to a big picture perspective. Personally, I found parts of the text still had a strong sense of New Age tone to it, but the satisfaction I found in building a framework of contextual meaning from this read by far outweighed the intonation issues I felt. I also would add that I admire how Wilber’s research of Western and Eastern philosophies is an excellent precedent for a hermeneutic research approach. He has created a theoretical “Bricolage” to use Levi-Strauss’ metaphor, which I have found very useful to use as a backdrop for my own research and theoretical development. Big Idea At the core of Wilber’s work and the ontological base for the integral theory is the four quadrant composition of interrelating domains of manifested reality. The four quadrants represent the interior and exterior of the individual and the collective. Within each of these quadrants are levels of development and transcendence. Taking into account “all quadrants” and “all levels” is key in integral theory as a way to continue developing and transcending. His examples illustrate how integral thinking can be applied to bridge gaps and allow pattern recognition in life. Useful learning outcomes and applications for designers The work by Wilber is especially relevant from a design education perspective as it provides a way of figuring out “how can we learn what we need?” This is a question that not only applies to what we do as designers, but also addresses questions of how we define our own discipline in the 21st Century . Design deals with humans on the interior and exterior of both the individual and collective. It requires a deep and wide understanding of contextual framework in order to develop products, systems and human interfaces that take into account matter (cosmos), life (biosphere) and mind (noosphere). The book can help bridge gaps, show interconnections and relate the scientific to the inner world. As a discipline, design germinated in an industrial era worldview and has suffered directly as this era is revealing its limitations and inadequacies. The design discipline is in a phase of development and transcendence and Wilber’s work can inform, motivate and facilitate the struggles of this required evolution of our practice. What people are saying "In the ambitiously titled A Brief History of Everything, Wilber continues his search for the primary patterns that manifest in all realms of existence. Like Hegel in the West and Aurobindo in the East, Wilber is a thinker in the grand systematic tradition, an intellectual adventurer concerned with nothing less than the whole course of evolution, life's ultimate trajectory—in a word, everything. . . . Combining spiritual sensitivity with enormous intellectual understanding and a style of elegance and clarity, A Brief History of Everything is a clarion call for seeing the world as a whole, much at odds with the depressing reductionism of trendy Foucault-derivative academic philosophy."—San Francisco Chronicle Recommended reading extensions that compliment this book Book: “Blessed Unrest” by Paul Hawken - “Emerson’s Savants” Documentary: “The World Peace Game and other fourth grade achievements”/ John Hunter Book: “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle Documentary: “Manufactured Landscapes” by Edward Burtinsky Rudolph Steiner’s lectures Short Story: “How I spent my summer vacation: History, Story and the Kant of Authenticity” by Thomas King

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ted Child

    More then anything else about this book, I appreciate what Wilber is attempting to do with his integration of Eastern and Western philosophies. I am doubtful of little and disagree with even less in this book. Most of my criticism of this book are stylistic. Foremost, is Wilbers tone tends towards the pedantic, didactic, and patronising, which can be grating. Once I got past this I found this book more interesting and useful, specifically the second half (the first half deals more with More then anything else about this book, I appreciate what Wilber is attempting to do with his integration of Eastern and Western philosophies. I am doubtful of little and disagree with even less in this book. Most of my criticism of this book are stylistic. Foremost, is Wilber’s tone tends towards the pedantic, didactic, and patronising, which can be grating. Once I got past this I found this book more interesting and useful, specifically the second half (the first half deals more with developmental psychology and psychology I find quickly boring). Wilber, like many philosophers, also tends to over-simplify and get repetitive. I fear he over-simplified his criticism of neo-Goddess movements to fit his paradigm. Graves, a major modern proponent of the Goddess, at least, never ignored the human sacrifices of horticultural/Goddess worshipping societies (Graves felt it was a small price to pay to sacrifice the King once every ten years to avoid all the other meaningless deaths that come from patriarchal society). However, Wilber’s other criticism of regressive primitive movements I do agree with. I think Wilber also made the same mistake as Jung of overestimating psychological well-being and development in solving the worlds problems. Psychological development will not stop a fascistic politico-economic elite from continuing to destroy our planet in their own interests. Wilber’s ability to integrate various schools of thought and synthesize them usefully is his strength.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Ken Wilber is an incredible intellectual and author. He is a great source for those of us who enjoy exploring the crossroads between philosophy, science, and spirituality.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yulia

    How do you write sensibly about a book that makes no sense and, in fact, tries to make you question everything you've always thought was true?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This is the most important book I've read this year. A part of me wishes I'd picked it up as suggested years ago - I have a friend who first introduced me to the term integral theory back in the 90s. But then I wouldn't have had the experience I just did - which is to see nearly everything I've studied in the past decade summarized here and placed in an overall framework. The thing is, Wilber is only sending us both out and in to everything we've always had available. Yes, all is a manifestation This is the most important book I've read this year. A part of me wishes I'd picked it up as suggested years ago - I have a friend who first introduced me to the term integral theory back in the 90s. But then I wouldn't have had the experience I just did - which is to see nearly everything I've studied in the past decade summarized here and placed in an overall framework. The thing is, Wilber is only sending us both out and in to everything we've always had available. Yes, all is a manifestation of God or Spirit or Emptiness (words are only language for deeper meaning) but that doesn't mean we can opt out of living. All the more reason we must engage in the world of form to realize the ultimate in all things. We don't escape into spirituality or work or anything that neglects a part of reality. We embrace it all. And that's not an easy route. That's facing reality at its most fundamental in all parts of your life. The areas you're (and WE as humanity) are trying to avoid the most are exactly the ones you/we need to deal with and engage. But there's obviously great hope too, his vision of the universe is of ultimate goodness (much as Islam or any great wisdom tradition teaches - love is the driving force of manifestation or creation) - that through this engagement we come to the ultimate transformation, wisdom and happiness. He's not saying anything here that the mystics or the esoteric strain of any great tradition haven't already taught, nor does he contradict them. He follows that mystical strain to its logical conclusion by showing just how the pattern of unfolding or unveiling (that Ibn Al-Arabi for example has articulated so well) is consistent in everything up to and through the present day. It doesn't matter the area we choose, the laws or rules of unfolding, immanence and transcendence are the same. And his spirituality is practiced, realized, verifiable internally if we're willing to try it. His four quadrants cover the ground of our lived experience as a human being - both internal and external and it simply opens up a further lifetime of study and most importantly practice that only partakes in the best of all knowledge. That's the value I see in this - he's only encouraging you to embrace everything you've already been applying to your life - in any field and then add to it from the parts you're neglecting - that includes both the parts that bring joy and the darkest regions that we need to heal and transform. Integral. Holistic. Truly all embracing. That's the only way to transcend and transform. Because all is a manifestation of Spirit and all comes from ultimate wisdom.

  18. 4 out of 5

    William Strasse

    Where to start with this one? It takes some time but it is worth it. I believe there was some sort of portal that quietly opened up in the collective unconscious in the 90s and books like this were written. Some of us were ready for a kind of pragmatic spirituality and I believe more of us are every day, if on a much more unconscious level. This book is as cerebral as it is mystical...that last word is a bit of a dirty one for most of us, myself included, but if we are totally honest with Where to start with this one? It takes some time but it is worth it. I believe there was some sort of portal that quietly opened up in the collective unconscious in the 90s and books like this were written. Some of us were ready for a kind of pragmatic spirituality and I believe more of us are every day, if on a much more unconscious level. This book is as cerebral as it is mystical...that last word is a bit of a dirty one for most of us, myself included, but if we are totally honest with ourselves, much of what we dismiss as "mystical nonsense" is absolutely valid and absolutely connected with what we accept as "reality". This book is largely about the failure of the modern and post-modern paradigms and the need for a trans-rational or post-rational model. We've rationalized ourselves into a corner, peoples...when all else fails, you must look at the truth.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    Well, the title is correct. In this book, Wilber seems to give a history of everything! From the beginning on through to today, he builds a story of the universe. But its not a history as much as a philosophy/spirituality book. Overall, I found it a mix of good and bad. The best was Wilbers quadrant that truly does explain so much. On the upper left you have the interior individual, the usual spiritual stuff. Upper right is the exterior things like biology. Lower left are all the cultural forces Well, the title is correct. In this book, Wilber seems to give a history of everything! From the beginning on through to today, he builds a story of the universe. But it’s not a “history” as much as a philosophy/spirituality book. Overall, I found it a mix of good and bad. The best was Wilber’s quadrant that truly does explain so much. On the upper left you have the interior individual, the usual “spiritual” stuff. Upper right is the exterior things like biology. Lower left are all the cultural forces that shape you. Finally, lower right is the exterior systems. Wilber excels in showing how you need all four. When you only have the exterior, as in much modern mindsets, you reduce everything to mere physical. Wilber’s critique of the idea that science is everything is worth the price of the book. But if you only have the interior, then you discount the physical world and live only in your head. There’s other good in here. But I found Wilber’s creation of words and concepts tedious. Maybe it’s my Christian faith, but his invented words just seemed empty. Give me a deeper religion, whether Christianity or anything. It seems in trying to create a theory of everything, he waters down what people actually do. There’s not really practice here. Would a practicing Muslim or Buddhist or Christian see much here? I guess that’s not a fault, Wilber’s offering a theory of ”everything”. To do that means generalizing. Such generalizing ends up being a bit esoteric and academic, which isn’t a fault in itself. It’s just...if we’re talking about spirituality, when do we discuss what real people actually do and believe? Wilber does offer a sort of stages of faith, with nine steps, echoing Fowler and Erickson. I found much of what he said here helpful too. I guess I can’t put my finger on it...this book never really hit me deeply. It was interesting but not inspiring. To be fair, maybe he wasn’t going for inspiring. I also hate the dialogue format! Why am I reading so many books in dialogue format!!! If you’re into religion and philosophy and psychology and spirituality, this book is worth your time. There’s stuff her to chew on. But after a while it’s tedious.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Harrison King

    A fundamental book. This is one of the clearest books Ive ever read that gets to the heart of reality and consciousness. A fundamental book. This is one of the clearest books I’ve ever read that gets to the heart of reality and consciousness.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    This book was a really thought-provoking time. The first half is really just something elseit's hard for me to imagine anyone disputing Wilber's take on the history of the world / cosmos / humanity up to the point we're at now. His thoughts on all that are super insightful and it really does crystallize how interdependent everythingbeliefs, structures, individuals, collectivesis. Once it gets into the more speculative side of things, it started to go a little woo woo on me. I wouldn't call this This book was a really thought-provoking time. The first half is really just something else—it's hard for me to imagine anyone disputing Wilber's take on the history of the world / cosmos / humanity up to the point we're at now. His thoughts on all that are super insightful and it really does crystallize how interdependent everything—beliefs, structures, individuals, collectives—is. Once it gets into the more speculative side of things, it started to go a little woo woo on me. I wouldn't call this a New Age book by any stretch, but it started looking like he was taking for givens things that, bare minimum, we should be skeptical about because all we have to prove them are anecdotal evidence and the guidance of spiritual traditions. Still, I did genuinely enjoy the whole thing. It's a head trip I'd recommend to anyone.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shishkebab Koegler

    Wilber's premise that reality is made of of holons (systems that are in themselves wholes, while simultaneously acting as a part of another system) is coherent and his four quadrant approach (Upperl Left: Interior - Individual(intentional), Bottom Left: Interior - Collective (Cultural -worldspace), Upper Right, Exterior - Individual (behavioural), Lower Right: Exterior - Collective (Social - system) ) to understanding the nature of holons as they emerge and evolve is compelling. He argues, Wilber's premise that reality is made of of holons (systems that are in themselves wholes, while simultaneously acting as a part of another system) is coherent and his four quadrant approach (Upperl Left: Interior - Individual(intentional), Bottom Left: Interior - Collective (Cultural -worldspace), Upper Right, Exterior - Individual (behavioural), Lower Right: Exterior - Collective (Social - system) ) to understanding the nature of holons as they emerge and evolve is compelling. He argues, convincingly, that most philosophies and disciplines get caught in one of these quadrants and fail to integrate them, preventing them from arriving at a holistic perspective. There is a lot worth heeding in these chapters, particularly for those interested the merging of western psychology with eastern mysticism, and in terms of informational /theoretical content I give this book five stars. The way it is written (an incredibly irritating question and answer format) detracts from the content, however, and in the latter half Wilber rambles and repeats himself and seems to enjoy the sound of his own voice far far far too much. A shame, really, because the content is solid.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Phew. No way to give this book a fair shake by virtue of a summary. Wilber throws a hell of a lot at you, and I'd be lying if I tried to pretend a lot of it hasn't altered significant portions of my mental landscape. There are drawbacks, the most significant being that Wilber's tone can tend toward the flippant and patronizing, particularly when discussing feminism and multiculturalism--subjects that, as a white male, he is perhaps obliged to be a bit more careful about in order to draw in the Phew. No way to give this book a fair shake by virtue of a summary. Wilber throws a hell of a lot at you, and I'd be lying if I tried to pretend a lot of it hasn't altered significant portions of my mental landscape. There are drawbacks, the most significant being that Wilber's tone can tend toward the flippant and patronizing, particularly when discussing feminism and multiculturalism--subjects that, as a white male, he is perhaps obliged to be a bit more careful about in order to draw in the greatest possible readership. Concision is, regrettably, also not Wilber's greatest virtue. However, anyone who allows those drawbacks to invalidate the great strides Wilber has otherwise made is cheating only himself. Among other things, this guy may have convinced me of the value of investigating spiritual consciousness, which, for those who know me, is quite the task. Recommended, but you'll need to make a bit of a commitment to get through it. I'll be interested to check out his other works...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Romann Weber

    A mélange of genuinely interesting ideas and utter nonsense, Wilber's "Brief History" should at least do you the favor of telling you whether it's worth diving into the magnum opus it ostensibly summarizes, namely "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution." Wilber is famous (or infamous) for his wide-ranging, syncretic treatment of "integral philosophy," and his frequent name dropping of all the work he's reviewed will either impress you, intimidate you, or make you wonder how A mélange of genuinely interesting ideas and utter nonsense, Wilber's "Brief History" should at least do you the favor of telling you whether it's worth diving into the magnum opus it ostensibly summarizes, namely "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution." Wilber is famous (or infamous) for his wide-ranging, syncretic treatment of "integral philosophy," and his frequent name dropping of all the work he's reviewed will either impress you, intimidate you, or make you wonder how carefully he could have possibly read it. For a book that summarizes a thesis with "evolution" in the title, Wilber's work shows a disturbing and fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary theory while also implying that he is accurately representing current thought in the field. On evolution, Wilber simply does not know what he is talking about, which makes wading through the rest of this often pedantic (but occasionally entertaining) book much more work than it was worth to me, since I simply didn't trust his scholarship.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Wilber at his pompous and condescending worst. The title and cover say it all. This book is pretty much and advertisement for all his other books. Some of which ARE worth reading, just not this one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Val Delane

    I have never highlighted so much of a book as this one. It might well be the most important thing I have ever read! though it didn't seem that way at first; I found the maieutic format so contrived and annoying I almost didn't make it to section 2. And like almost every non-fiction book I initially wished it was boiled down to an essay. But, gradually, I realized what first struck me as repetition was more like an intentional "tap tap tap" from slightly different angles while adding new context, I have never highlighted so much of a book as this one. It might well be the most important thing I have ever read! though it didn't seem that way at first; I found the maieutic format so contrived and annoying I almost didn't make it to section 2. And like almost every non-fiction book I initially wished it was boiled down to an essay. But, gradually, I realized what first struck me as repetition was more like an intentional "tap tap tap" from slightly different angles while adding new context, which I really did need for the patterns to completely click into place. It turns out this 544 page treatise is the condensed version of larger works. I'm not going to try summarizing Integral Theory, but I will state: it is a sturdy and elegant model framework in which to recognize individual and social development and behavior, then scrutinize them with compassion. It ties together my own observations about people and systems that I knew were related, yet frustratingly unaligned to a universal model. Don't skip the afterword/interview with Lana Wachowski; actually, read it first to verify that Ken Wilber is human, then read it again at the end. Then read the whole book again. That's what I'm going to do.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lee Frankl

    This book is essentially unreadable, although there may be some good ideas buried in the author's convoluted language, pretentious style (he is interviewing himself!), and preening self-regard. The stuff about 'holons' and the 'Kosmos', etc. is just so silly. There are ancient mystical traditions that can be studied on their own terms. Read the source materials and identify the universal aspects within each tradition on your own. This is too great a task to outsource. If you never accomplish the This book is essentially unreadable, although there may be some good ideas buried in the author's convoluted language, pretentious style (he is interviewing himself!), and preening self-regard. The stuff about 'holons' and the 'Kosmos', etc. is just so silly. There are ancient mystical traditions that can be studied on their own terms. Read the source materials and identify the universal aspects within each tradition on your own. This is too great a task to outsource. If you never accomplish the total synthesis--the elusive realization of an over-arching principle--well, neither has this author. Nor have I. Also, as other reviewers have mentioned, the gendered anthropological analyses seem half-baked--like the author is opining on a subject in which he is not well-studied. Also, mansplain much? Oy. If you bought this book seeking a synthesis of science and mysticism, do yourself a favor and pick up 'God & The Big Bang' by Daniel Matt. If you have some familiarity with eastern and western metaphysics, then Matt's simple style and his holistic approach will bring it home for you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Krishna Bahirwani

    Last year, I began a self-initiated radical transformation process after my life had begun to become a stagnant mess. I made the decision to live my life with more clarity, intention, wisdom and decisiveness. Ken Wilber's work has contributed significantly to that process. Ken Wilber has created a map of the external and internal dimensions of life as we know it. Through this book, he introduces the map to us and makes us aware of its basic features. He shows us how we can use this map and why Last year, I began a self-initiated radical transformation process after my life had begun to become a stagnant mess. I made the decision to live my life with more clarity, intention, wisdom and decisiveness. Ken Wilber's work has contributed significantly to that process. Ken Wilber has created a map of the external and internal dimensions of life as we know it. Through this book, he introduces the map to us and makes us aware of its basic features. He shows us how we can use this map and why it is super relevant today. Even though the book was published in 1996, in my understanding it has only gained in relevance since then. I also believe that it will continue to be relevant for decades to come. Using the map and understanding the historical context of its development have proven to be of exceptional value to me and I can say with some conviction that this book can help anyone looking to understand themselves and the world around them a tad bit better.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. from the library Table of Contents Foreword xi Tony Schwartz Preface to the Second Edition xv A Note to the Reader xix Introduction 1 (12) Part One: Spirit-in-Action 13 (110) The Pattern That Connects 15 (13) The Kosmos 16 (1) Twenty Tenets: The Patterns That Connect 17 (2) Agency and Communion 19 (1) Transcendence and Dissolution 19 (2) Four Drives of All Holons 21 (1) Creative Emergence 21 (3) Holarchy 24 (2) The Way of All Embrace 26 (2) The Secret Impulse 28 (12) Higher and Lower 28 (2) Depth from the library Table of Contents Foreword xi Tony Schwartz Preface to the Second Edition xv A Note to the Reader xix Introduction 1 (12) Part One: Spirit-in-Action 13 (110) The Pattern That Connects 15 (13) The Kosmos 16 (1) Twenty Tenets: The Patterns That Connect 17 (2) Agency and Communion 19 (1) Transcendence and Dissolution 19 (2) Four Drives of All Holons 21 (1) Creative Emergence 21 (3) Holarchy 24 (2) The Way of All Embrace 26 (2) The Secret Impulse 28 (12) Higher and Lower 28 (2) Depth and Span 30 (3) Kosmic Consciousness 33 (3) The Spectrum of Consciousness 36 (4) All Too Human 40 (12) Foraging 41 (2) Horticultural 43 (2) Agrarian 45 (3) Industrial 48 (4) The Great Postmodern Revolution 52 (11) The Postmodern Watershed 52 (4) Two Paths in Postmodernity 56 (2) On the Edge of Tomorrow 58 (2) Transcendence and Repression 60 (3) The Four Corners of the Kosmos 63 (13) The Four Quadrants 64 (4) Intentional and Behavioral 68 (2) Cultural and Social 70 (2) An Example 72 (2) The Shape of Things to Come 74 (2) The Two Hands of God 76 (20) Mind and Brain 77 (2) The Left- and Right-Hand Paths 79 (1) The Monological Gaze: The Key to the Right-Hand Paths 79 (2) Interpretation: The Key to the Left-Hand Paths 81 (2) What Does That Dream Mean? 83 (3) Social Science versus Cultural Understanding 86 (1) Hermeneutics 87 (2) All Interpretation Is Context-Bound 89 (1) Nonhuman Interpretation 90 (1) Spiritual Interpretation 91 (5) Attuned to the Kosmos 96 (14) Propositional Truth 97 (1) Truthfulness 98 (4) Justness 102 (2) Functional Fit 104 (4) Conclusion: The Four Faces of Spirit 108 (2) The Good, the True, and the Beautiful 110 (13) The Big Three 110 (3) The Good News: Differentiation of the Big Three 113 (2) The Bad News: Dissociation of the Big Three 115 (4) The Task of Postmodernity: Integration of the Big Three 119 (1) The Spiritual Big Three 120 (3) Part Two: The Further Reaches of Spirit-in-Action 123 (96) The Evolution of Consciousness 125 (18) Higher Stages of Development 126 (2) Ladder, Climber, View 128 (1) Basic Levels: The Ladder 129 (1) The Self: The Climber 130 (1) A Fulcrum 131 (1) New Worlds Emerge: Changing Views 132 (3) Pathology 135 (2) States and Stages 137 (1) Flatland Religion 138 (2) Freud and Buddha 140 (3) On the Way to Global: Part 1 143 (21) The Primary Matrix 144 (1) Birth Trauma 145 (1) The False Self 146 (1) Fulcrum-1: The Hatching of the Physical Self 147 (1) Fulcrum-2: The Birth of the Emotional Self 148 (5) Fulcrum-3: The Birth of the Conceptual Self 153 (1) Every Neurosis Is an Ecological Crisis 154 (2) Early Worldviews: Archaic, Magic, Mythic 156 (2) Fulcrum-4: The Birth of the Role Self 158 (1) Paradigm Shifts 159 (1) Satanic Abuse and UFOs 160 (4) On the Way to Global: Part 2 164 (15) Evolution versus Egocentrism 164 (1) Fulcrum-4 (Continued): Life's Social Scripts 165 (4) Fulcrum-5: The Worldcentric or Mature Ego 169 (2) Diversity and Multiculturalism 171 (2) Fulcrum-6: The Bodymind Integration of the Centaur 173 (2) Aperspectival Madness 175 (1) On the Brink of the Transpersonal 176 (3) Realms of the Superconscious: Part 1 179 (19) Where the Mind Leaves Off 179 (2) The Transpersonal Stages 181 (2) Fulcrum-7: The Psychic 183 (3) Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism 186 (2) The Enneagram and the Basic Skeleton 188 (3) Fulcrum-8: The Subtle 191 (2) Jung and the Archetypes 193 (5) Realms of the Superconscious: Part 2 198 (21) Fulcrum-9: The Causal 199 (6) The Nondual 205 (5) The Immediacy of Pure Presence 210 (3) Enlightenment 213 (6) Part Three: Beyond Flatland 219 (94) Ascending and Descending 221 (15) A Brief Summary 221 (3) The Great Holarchy 224 (3) This-Worldly versus Otherworldly 227 (4) Wisdom and Compassion 231 (1) God and Goddess 232 (1) Two Different Gods 233 (2) The Descended Grid 235 (1) The Collapse of the Kosmos 236 (19) The Dignity of Modernity 237 (3) The Disaster of Modernity 240 (1) Instrumental Rationality: A World of Its 241 (3) The Fundamental Enlightenment Paradigm 244 (1) No Spirit, No Mind, Only Nature 245 (5) The Voice of the Industrial Grid 250 (5) The Ego and the Eco 255 (18) Ego versus Eco 255 (1) The Flatland Twins 256 (2) The Ego's Truth 258 (1) The Ego's Problem 259 (1) The Ego and Repression 260 (1) The Re-enchantment of the World 261 (1) Back to Nature 262 (1) The Eco and Regression 263 (2) Paradise Lost 265 (4) The Way Back Machine 269 (1) The Great Battle of Modernity: Fichte versus Spinoza 270 (3) The Dominance of the Descenders 273 (13) Evolution: The Great Holarchy Unfolds in Time 274 (2) Evolution: Spirit-in-Action 276 (2) Glimmers of the Nondual 278 (1) Always Already 279 (1) The Fading of the Vision 280 (2) The Dominance of the Descenders 282 (1) The Internet 283 (2) The Religion of Gaia 285 (1) An Integral Vision 286 (27) The Writing on the Wall 286 (2) The Superman Self 288 (3) The Great-Web Gaia Self 291 (2) Beyond the Postmodern Mind 293 (3) World Transformation and the Culture Gap 296 (4) Environmental Ethics: Holonic Ecology 300 (6) The Basic Moral Intuition 306 (1) An Integral Vision 307 (6) Appendix: The Twenty Tenets 313

  30. 5 out of 5

    M

    I almost quit reading after the first 25 pages. Although this has nothing to do with the core of the book, the author includes a ridiculous segment claiming that we haven't had a patriarchy that has dominated women for thousands of years. He basically claims that women have been okay with exclusion from government because the men were plowing the field. What? No. Just no. And then there's the part where he implies that wings and eyeballs somehow just evolved as a single creative burst of I almost quit reading after the first 25 pages. Although this has nothing to do with the core of the book, the author includes a ridiculous segment claiming that we haven't had a patriarchy that has dominated women for thousands of years. He basically claims that women have been okay with exclusion from government because the men were plowing the field. What? No. Just no. And then there's the part where he implies that wings and eyeballs somehow just evolved as a single creative burst of evolution. Um, no, that's not how it works. However, the main part of the book includes some interesting thought experiments, starting with the evolution of consciousness. We know that things have evolved with greater complexiy, and that includes the depth of consciousness, so it seems fair to say that greater degrees of complexity in consciousness are awaiting us. He points out how even among human culture, our collective consciousness has changed a lot, from interpreting the world as a mythic place, to an increasing state of global awareness. His point about the huge culture gap caused by these different states rings incredibly true, as is evident by political views in the US and the current election cycle. Finally, the author's call for a more holistic worldview that includes consciousness along with observable science seems sensible. I personally am not into the New Age-y parts about Spirit and Kosmos with a K (so cheesy). I also didn't really like the Q&A style of the book, nor the author's pretentiousness. But overall, if you're interested in a modern day philosophy combined with spirituality, this book might appeal.

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