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Product Details

  • Paperback: 851 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 2 Revised edition (January 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570627444
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570627446
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 3.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the first in a projected set of three volumes charting recent thought in the title's interrelated areas, the title itself being a slight misnomer since sex and ecology are the foci of the forthcoming volumes. Here, however, Wilber elaborates at great length several contemporary systematic theories concerned with the biological, psychological, spiritual and metaphysical aspects of life and the various evolutionary stages of each. He then offers an overview of spiritual practices that can lead to an evolved "omega point" of consciousness. Wilber, a transpersonal psychologist and the author of No Boundary, among other works, has unfortunately tried too hard to cram everything possible into this massive undertaking. The result is that even the hundreds of pages of notes (sometimes useful, sometimes merely repetitive) become a mass of ideas and names. Wilber is a well-read, sophisticated and energetic thinker; yet his style veers from the discursively expansive to the overly condensed. Those seeking A Theory of Everything will be more than satisfied. For others, the book's sheer length and lack of organization may make this a very frustrating read.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is a sprawling synthesis of evolutionary and "systems" theory from the Presocratics to Piaget, permeated by the mysticism of Plotinus. Odd as it may seem for a book with more than 500 pages of text and 200 of notes, it suffers from a tendency to make unsubstantiated or inadequately referenced claims, especially in passing references to various feminisms and postmodernisms. But the reader can take this to be one aspect of the book's oral character: it reads like a composition dictated and transcribed. That is a strength as well as a weakness, since it imparts a lively and passionate tone to a text that could become simply tedious. The book's greatest strengths are its ambitious scope and its relentless attention to the materialist flattening of evolutionary and developmental theories in Western tradition. Wilber follows earlier devotees of Plotinus in insisting on a world composed not of parts and wholes but of wholes that are also parts and parts that are also wholes--wholes within wholes, remarkably similar to the "monads" of Anne Conway and Leibniz. Given a widespread hunger for spirituality and a widespread misunderstanding of materialist readings of development, even a flawed attempt to deepen developmental perspectives with developmental insights from mysticism is a step in the right direction. Steve Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ken Wilber is one of the most widely read and influential American philosophers of our time. His recent books include "A Brief History of Everything", "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" and "Grace and Grit".

Customer Reviews

Wilber is the most profound and important thinker in the world today.
M. Manson
And for any remotely serious student of Ken Wilber's work, you must read this book.
David K. Bell
Throughout the book, the central themes are "holons" and Wilber's four quadrants.
Craig L.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Nicq MacDonald on February 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ken Wilber's "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution", is my favorite book. And that isn't a title I award lightly.
SES is quite possibly the first attempt at putting together a syncretic, evolutionary worldview since Hegel's "Phenomenology". In an age when truth has been declared dead and multiple perspectives rule the roost, where philosophy lives in the shadow of Nietzsche's madman, Wilber, in this striking volume, challenges post-modernity. Unlike other challengers, arguing for a retreat to conservatism and cynical (or mythic-literal) traditionalism, Ken proposes a different idea- we need to integrate the strengths of Post-modernity (a recognition of the other, a bird's eye view of ideology, and a profound social and ecological awareness), Modernity (scientific rationality, empiricism, democracy), and Pre-modernity (religious wisdom and cultural bounty) into one complete, "integral" package.
Sounds like a tough mission for any thinker to take on. Of course, Wilber- living outside the academia, blending his scholastic persuits with Zen practice, and doing his best to live his own philosophy- is no ordinary thinker. In the 551 pages of text (not including extensive endnotes and bibliography), Wilber essentially lays out his "theory of everything". Based in the psychological work of Freud, Piaget, Kohlberg, Maslow, Jung, Gebser, and other thinkers, Wilber first constructs a socio-psychological map of civilization's evolution to date, and shows how it integrates with hard scientific data. Dividing the world into subject and object, Wilber shows how modern empiricism has attempted to colonize the subjective sphere by trying to render it irrelevant- a condition he refers to as "flatland".
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Prokopton on March 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
EDIT 2/6/2012:

In an effort to "longitudinally review", I have followed up and I like this book less now. I have docked a star. I've seen many things wrong with this model since myself, but what really blew the model open for me was the article Brian Hines wrote, "What Wilber gets wrong about Plotinus", which can be found by searching online. That confirmed a lot of my suspicions -- this is one more great author mangled by Wilber to fit a theory, and without this one there really *is* no theory in any cross-cultural sense. The nature of cross-cultural spirituality is way more complex and multivalent than anything in this book, and the real patterns are in my opinion completely missed in the triumphalist mapmaking. But even more, what lost this review that star was the total failure of Wilber to address the points raised by Hines -- or indeed by Meyerhoff. Wilber is completely uninterested in discussion. I don't like his model, and won't be looking further into it.

This is the second edit I've made to this review -- the first is to be found at the end.


My first Wilber and a most interesting experience. Much that was good but much also that I found problematic. This is really a 3˝ star review but on careful reflection I rounded unmathematically down.

This book is mostly a very widely-addressed, energetic and scholarly push to bring a practice-based spirituality back to mainstream philosophy and psychology, which is something many of us want to see, myself included. I just wish that it were more actually rather than intellectually inclusive, because the traditions I work in are very different to Wilber's. Still, if that were the only difficulty I'd have rounded up.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul Landraitis on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I believe SES is so valuable not only because Ken Wilber has taken the time to master the essential findings of a dozen different academic disciplines, but because he then combines this brilliant scholarship with the insight of a meditation master. In India these rare individuals are called "Pandits" - scholars who have fully opened the "eye of contemplation." Mystics usually do not even attempt to bring the ineffable truths they discover in transverbal states of consciousness into the world of conceptual discourse and sensory evidence. Scientists almost always assume that rationality is the highest faculty we have available to understand our world, and ignore the vast areas of human experience that cannot be easily weighed or measured.
Because Wilber is attempting the extraordinarily difficult feat of integrating these two paths, I think we should keep this "degree of difficulty" in mind as we evaluate his work. He may not always keep his toes perfectly pointed as he enters the water, but how many other theoreticians currently working could include anywhere NEAR this many moves (truths) in a single dive (system of thought?) SES (and Integral Theory as a whole) is far from perfect, and Wilber himself certainly is far from perfect (whatever "perfect" might mean)- but if you care about developing a more compassionate, courageous and effective approach to the daunting challenges facing humanity in the coming decades, you will not want to ignore the tremendous intellectual goldmine he offers in SES.
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