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The Further Evolution of Ken Wilber’s Integral Vision During the Dawn of the New Millennium By Brad Reynolds

Where’s Wilber At?

Where’s Wilber at? That is, what is the present philosophical position of Ken Wilber, the pundit who many claim to be the world’s most intriguing and foremost philosopher? This is not an easy question to answer, for the breadth of Wilber’s encyclopedic vision is enormous and covers over a quarter century of prolific publication and continual evolution. In other words, Wilber’s work too has evolved over the years. Indeed, its progressive unfoldment in complexity and depth allows us to recognize at least five consecutive and distinct phases or periods in his career to date (which we’ll discuss in depth below). Because of this, many people, reading from an array of sources, often find him hard to pin down, to really understand exactly “where he’s at.” But where he is at, stated quickly and summarily, is Phase-5 or Wilber-5 or Wilber/Phase-5 1– the post-metaphysical AQAL approach (reviewed in detail in Part II and III of this essay).
Therefore, by including in our understanding the important contributions and advancements of all four previous phases, we may better understand where the philosophy of Ken Wilber stands today and where it’s going during the opening years of the new millennium. From the perspective of an overview, Wilber/Phase-5 is a continuation of the AQAL (pronounced ah-quil) or the “all-quadrants, all-levels”– which is actually short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types” – approach to integral studies pioneered by Wilber since 1995. This began with the publication of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, his magnum opus that initiated the fully integral approach of Wilber/Phase-4.
However, Phase-5 is an even more radical direction in that it undermines traditional metaphysics, making it truly revolutionary, as well as integral, in nature. Although this Phase-5 “post-metaphysics” can appear complex and far outside the traditional “box” of spirituality, it is really very simple and straightforward, once you include the important contributions of the
postmodern mind. By honoring (and embracing) the significant truths of postmodernity (as well as modernity and premodernity), Wilber is offering a post-metaphysical underpinning to traditional spirituality and metaphysics. By doing so, the integral philosopher is presenting an entirely new and radical approach to philosophy based on the native perspectives of sentient
beings, on all levels, in all contexts (including interiors and exteriors). Consequently, this comprehensive understanding generates an integral methodological pluralism (IMP), or a way to analyze and pragmatically implement a fully integral approach, thus grounding the postmodern world’s first truly integral system in the real world.

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