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Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World (Integral Books) Hardcover – March 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Integral Ecology is a forward-looking book that invites compassionate proactive activism when dealing with the messes we’ve made. Time isn’t on our side, but my optimism leads me to believe that if we embrace the authors’ messages and put them into action using humility, compassion, heart, and love, we still have a chance to pull ourselves out of the many deep holes we’re digging for ourselves, other animals, and ecosystems.”—Marc Bekoff, PhD, University of Colorado, author of Animals Matter and The Emotional Lives of Animals

“This is the finest book on ecology bar none. Highest recommendation!”—Ken Wilber, author of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and The Integral Vision

“This book offers a promising approach for making sense of the diverse perspectives on the environment, including the many ways of understanding the complexities and challenges of global environmental change. The integral ecology framework provides a valuable roadmap for responding to contemporary problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and land use change. Given the widespread and often heated debates about environmental issues, the publication of Integral Ecology is timely and appreciated.”—Karen O’Brien, PhD, University of Oslo, coauthor of Environmental Change and Globalization and member of the Nobel Peace Prize–winning team of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

“In Integral Ecology Esbjörn-Hargens and Zimmerman have produced a complex framework (rooted in a hierarchy of integrative levels proposed by philosopher Ken Wilber) for the multidisciplinary interrogation of ecological problems. This framework provides an intelligent basis for discovering what questions need to be posed in our de facto postmodern era, and how to formulate them most effectively.”—Stanley N. Salthe, PhD, Brooklyn College, author of Evolving Hierarchical Systems and Development and Evolution

Integral Ecology is a remarkable work, indeed a tour de force. Like all path-breaking books it will provoke lively discussion and inevitable debate. It may even shift the course of our understanding of ecology. This is a book that invites us to read, enjoy, reflect, and act. And the time is now.”—Mary Evelyn Tucker, PhD, Yale University, co-editor of the ten-volume World Religions and Ecology Encyclopedia and author of Worldly Wonder

“Deeper than deep ecology, integral ecology completes the century-long struggle to overcome the unfortunate legacy of Logical Positivism in the natural sciences and Behaviorism in the social sciences. Both blinkered and trammeled the human mind and spirit. At the the heart and soul of Integral Ecology is the frank recognition of interiority and subjectivity, as well as exteriority and objectivity, in the larger-than-human world. That's what Integral Ecology is all about. In addition to theoretical integral ecology, the authors, both gifted writers as well as thinkers, provide case studies applying integral ecology to real-world environmental conundrums.”—J. Baird Callicott, PhD, University of North Texas, co-editor of Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy and The Wilderness Debate Rages On

About the Author

Michael E. Zimmerman, PhD, is professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He spent more than thirty years at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he was chair of the Department of Philosophy and co-director of Environmental Studies. He is co-editor of the popular textbook Environmental Philosophy and the author of Contesting Earth’s Future. In addition, Michael has published nearly one hundred academic articles on philosophy and ecology. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.


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Product Details

  • Series: Integral Books
  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Integral Books; 1St Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590304667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590304662
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By M Alan on August 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Three and a Half Stars * * * 1/2

I had high hopes for this book. Both authors have impeccable credentials. Sean Esbjorn-Hargens has written some excellent articles introducing Wilber's multi-perspectival paradigm into mainstream academia. And Michael Zimmerman is an important environmental philosopher in his own right. Therefore, as someone who supports and contributes to the integral project, I was looking forward to reading this 800 page opus, which from the reviews seemed fascinating. I expected to find many perspectives here and many interdisciplinary thinkers and visionaries discussed, and their insights drawn upon. What I didn't expect to find, but perhaps should have expected, was such an unquestioning reliance on Wilberian theory alone. The two authors seem to have no presence of their own.

Even so, there are many good things about this work:

o For me the most valuable element in this book is the emphasise (as part of ist multi-perspectival methodology) on "interiors", that is, on the fact, always obvious to me but denied by mainstream science, that animals are not "objects" but have a rich inner life just as humans do. This then opens the way to many revolutionary insights involving inetrsubjectivity and cross-species communication. For its ground breaking contributions in this field alone, Integral Ecology is extremely important.

o And the multiperspectival approach to ecology is itself worth presentingm, and in this respect Integral Ecology constitutes the beginning of an important "paradigm shift" in science, moving away from an obsession with externals and objectivity only, to realization that objective reality and objective methodology is one of a number of perspectives.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am about halfway through this book and had never been exposed to Wilber's integral theory, but have long taken a multi-perspective approach to acquiring reliable knowledge, particularly in the way presented by Stephan Harding at Schumacher College.

This book would get 5 stars if it were titled, "Integral Ecology: Applying Ken Wilber's Theory to an Ecological Worldview." I have searched the book and cannot find a single critique of Wilber even though he is referred to as an authority on every page. I find the approach very useful and in many ways eye-opening. But the lack of multiple-perspectives when it comes to Wilber feels disingenuous. I know then Hargens has written elsewhere about the need for many approaches to integral ecology. But that makes the fact that the uniform emphasis on Wilber is unmentioned in the title feel even more disingenuous. Moreover, it makes the work academic unreliable and invalid unless Hargen and Zimmerman or someone else undertakes the effort to go through this book and add in a critical lens on Wilber.

This is great for a read on Wilderian ecology, but fell short as a full integration of an Integral Ecology into a wider audience and effort. I look forward to a work that includes a fuller history of integral approaches and applications, or at least one that devotes a section to naming and acknowledging that history before 800 pages dedicated to a single perspective on taking multiple perspectives.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Singh on April 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This was a very good book, and very readable if you have some familiarity with Ecology or with Wilber's theory; if you are lucky enough to be familiar with both this should be a walk in the park.
There is a great deal of material that the writers try to synthesize, so it is difficult to summarize the book adequately, but I'll try to give the bare bones version.
Ecological views consist of a WHO a WHAT and a HOW. The WHO is usually an individual or groups of individuals who are interested in the planet, the WHAT is the terrain they are interested in. The writers hold that perspectives are fundamental to all forms of knowledge, but like a good constructive postmodernist, they claim that a "good¨ perspective can lead to "real" knowledge. Thus a perspective a WHO takes (sometimes unreflectively) leads them to look at a specific dimension of the WHAT (a terrain) and ask HOW can I learn more about it? What are these terrains? Well theoretically they can me a huge amount but the writers focus on 4 major perspectives available to a WHO that have been explored historically. These are the I domain ("subjective realities of any being at all levels of its perception"), WE domain (inter-subjective realities of any being at all levels of its communion), IT ("objective realities at all levels of its organization"), ITS ("inter-objective realties of any being at all levels of its intersection").
Having just foreshadowed this point, all beings have depth and complexity. Depth can be mapped as levels of interior and cultural experience/meaning-communication respectively.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Elliott on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to do justice to this extraordinary book. Its scope is enormous, scholarship meticulous, degree of synthesis rare, and its spirit both inclusive and generous.

The book applies Ken Wilber's integral framework (the most inclusive and integrative conceptual framework currently available) to the field of ecology. It thereby manages to incorporate ideas and perspectives from more than 200 approaches to ecology. It does this by incorporating the contributions of each approach, while also identifying the partiality of each, and then going beyond them all to offer an inclusive, multidisciplinary (or actually transdisciplinary), multiperspectival synthesis. The result is an extremely impressive yet readable text that offers a superb, uniquely encompassing and synthetic overview of ecology.
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