Ken Wilber: A Brief History of Everything

2007-11-21

Just finished this book, wow - I've learned so many things; this book is truly a must read for everyone, no matter your area of interest or focus.

What comes after post-post modern?
What is the 'new' human perspective on life, the universe and everything?
Ken's got some vital part to play in those answers...

Some of the things I learned:

- Various ideas I had were verbalized by Ken in very clear terms, which has helped me to find greater clarity in my own ideas; while simultaneously helping me to see the limits of some of my current/older ideas.
- Patterns of evolution [of species and ideas] in terms of integration & transcendence [instead of just transcendence]
- Seeing reality as a mixture of 4 main domains of truth [instead of just "true" and "relative"]: objective, subjective, collective and systemic.
- Seeing system thinking as only a component within this 4 domains [instead of as the "new" truth beyond reductionism aka objective causality]
- Drawing parallels between psychological levels of development and human evolution of culture/thought
- Being able to see at once the absolute value of all things as well as relative value between all things [instead of one mode of thought denying the validity of the other]
- Seeing the parallel between psychologyical development and the development from egopesonal to transpersonal
- Seeing the link between psychological and spiritual development as simply two parts of the same chain
- Learning much about the previous history of philosophical development and its manifestation in cultural / anthropological manifestation
- Seeing limits I did not existed in the retrograde eco-centric philosophies present in many ecological movements
- Seeing that the thought -> creation approach to life [echoed in 'the secret', or 'seth speaks'] is only part of spiritual/evolutionary development because personal development is only one fourth of the picture: spirit manifests as self, collective and objective, so true spiritual evolution also includes [not excludes] the acknowledgment of other, of system, and objective realities of absolute and relative value.
- Seeing that meditation, spiritual paths, are also incomplete unless combined with left brain subjects and collective subjects [balance the right and left brain, collective & individual, the external & internal etc.]
- Seeing the dichotomy and link between rights and responsibilities in terms of holarcharchy [a term which Ken uses to describe a hieacrhy of holons, holons are both parts and wholes; both selves and parts, holons: according to Ken, make up everything in the universe].

My criticism of his book is:

- Sometimes too emotionally evolved which results in some meandering.
- Some ideas are repeated a bit too often, especially 4/5ths of the book on, fortunetly one can speed read over paragraphs that repeat and then pick things up further on - the last pages provide brilliant ideas in short and solid concepts just when one thought that he was done with new ideas and rambling.
- He can be a bit negative about current/previous modes of thinking; which leads to the emotional stances, which on the one hand challenges us to take action; but it also implies not seeing the value of evolutionary progression [even if incorrect] because, as Ken Wilber also states, no level of understanding final: each level has new understanding, but also new problems.
- Not enough pages are devoted to solutions, and the description of the 'problems' are wordy and repetative at times.
- Some information is implied but not given, like what are the other 15 properties of holons he refers to? [he wants us to read his other book where they are listed]
- Some points he makes could do with more referencing to data/sources he implies but does not state.

but regardless of these criticisms, the sheer quantity of new keys and perspectives from this book are so profound and numerous, I would be a fool to give it anything but 5 stars and best book of the year award - hands down.