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understand ken wilber's integral theory

A guide by Shashank Singh (Lawrence, KS)

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To really dig into ken Wilberís theory it is necessary to read some of his source materials, but the best place to begin is his own work: essential books: A Brief History of Everything, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition, Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. Though already dated, itís nice to get a different presentation then the written word: Kosmic Consciousness. The rest of his books are all worth reading as well.

The major influences on his theory can be divided into four categories: developmental psychology, therapeutic psychology, other "integral" philosophers, spiritual/meditative approaches. There are obviously many other influences but not everything can be included.

Developmental psychology: Ego Development: Conceptions and Theories (Jossey-Bass Behavioral Science Series), Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change, In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, The Essential Piaget: An Interpretive Reference and Guide, Thought and Things: Volume 1 (read all three volumes), Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning

Therapeutic psychology, this aspect was much more relevant in the early Wilber, but has decreased in importance over the years as his work expanded. I still think its important background.
psychoanalytic :The Freud Reader, Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Towards Self-Realization, Ego Psychology II.
Existential/gestalt/other: Love & Will, Man's Search for Meaning, Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality,On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy, The Portable Jung (Portable Library)


"integral" philosophers from the mainstream. Probably the most readable philosopher Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, A Secular Age.

Habermas can be very difficult so I include this very readable introduction Habermas: A Very Short Introduction, The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought).

Some older precursors: Phenomenology of Spirit, The Enneads: Abridged Edition (Classics S), Plato: Complete Works

Some recent spiritual philosophers: The Life Divine The Ever-Present Origin, Part One: Foundations of the Aperspectival World and Part Two: Manifestations of the Aperspectival World, The Phenomenon of Man, The Essential Rudolf Steiner

Others that influenced Wilber but aren't necessarily integral, Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28), The Foucault Reader.


Spiritual: This section could be huge simply because he includes many different traditions, but I think these traditions influenced his work the most:

Vedanta: Talks with Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness, I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice

Tibetan Buddhism: Indestructible Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism (World of Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. 1), Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet (World of Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. 2), The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, Volume 3: Cutting Through Spiritual Mate (read the whole collection if you like this one)

Zen: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shambhala Library)

Independent teachers: Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti, Knee of Listening: The Early-Life Ordeal and Radical Spiritual Realization of the Divine ........

Though he has some criticisms for this school, it is still very important: Perennial Philosophy/spirituality: The Essential Frithjof Schuon (Library of Perennial Philosophy), Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World's Religions, The Supreme Identity.

Transpersonal psychology (same as above): Inner Journey Home: The Soul's Realization of the Unity of Reality, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Embodied Spirituality in a Sacred World (Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology)

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1.  A Brief History of Everything  by Ken Wilber
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47.  The Supreme Identity  by Alan Watts
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50.  Embodied Spirituality in a Sacred World (Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology)  by Michael Washburn
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Author

Shashank Singh (Lawrence, KS)
Qualifications: reader of integral thought
Last updated: 8/31/11
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