What's your biggest disagreement with Integral theory?

Have you not followed the whole winding-down vs winding up discussion on Integral World? Wilber has clearly misunderstood the cosmic energy economy.

The critic you refer to (Don Salmon) believes that everything happens in the mind of God (must be Shiva in his case), hardly a workable hypothesis. Thats why he has to reject materialism…

But he misses the point: we are not arguing for ultimate explanations, but for explanations at the meso-level. Its like saying: how can you believe in electronics if you don’t know what an electron really is!

Wow, Frank, I am both honored and intimidated that you have posed these questions to me, and truly I mean that. I am only vaguely, vaguely, vaguely familiar with your work, but I do sense from your first post in this topic that you have some blazing fire in the head and some blazing fire in the belly, and me, I’ve only got this tiny, thumb-sized flame in the heart, and some empty space elsewhere (and I don’t mean I’m an airhead, thank you.).

By the way, are you familiar with Ian Barbour and his work? I think he framed it under the caption “Religious Naturalism.” He had a degree in Divinity and a Ph.D. in physics, I remember his winning the 1999 Templeton Prize for his work in helping religion and science connect, dialogue. Perhaps one of his most notable phrases was something to the effect of “science may tell us what is possible, but religion can tell us what is desirable.” I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of his work, but that phrase has always been meaningful to me, and maybe we’ll come back to that.

I am certain I am no intellectual match for you, particularly when it comes to science subjects like Thermodynamics. (Let’s see, that’s the physics that deals with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work; with four laws describing how these quantities behave under various circumstances and forbid certain phenomena, such as perpetual motion–right? Full disclosure: while I did know a tiny little something about thermodynamics, having tried, unsuccessfully of course, silly me, to apply the laws a couple of decades ago to experiences with subtle body kundalini shakti–so much heat! so much energy!–I did look it up before responding to this post.)

Do you have a sense of play? Because I can’t see myself getting through all these responses without a bit of it. To hold these subjects with a little bit of non-seriousness reminds me, at least, that both science and spirituality are interpretations of reality; they are not reality itself. Same goes for the Integral framework. This is where epistemic humility comes in–knowing that we don’t know. And when we know that we don’t know, might as well grin and bear it…

You say that Spirit-in-action makes IT theological. I tend to go to the source of words, and theology, deriving from the Greek ‘theos’ meaning God, and ‘logos’ meaning words, essentially means “god words” or more relevant, I think, “words about God.” So while Wilber et. al. who speak of Spirit-in-action are in a general sense speaking theologically, so is anyone who speaks of not-Spirit-in-action. In the most general sense, anytime we speak about Spirit, even to negate Spirit, we are being theological.

Which reminds me of a quote by one of the evolutionaries antecedent to Integral evolutionaries, Sri Aurobindo. “Faith is what we live on until there’s knowledge.” (In The Life Divine, I believe.) Everyone lives on some degree of faith, faith that the sun will rise in the morning, set in the evening, etc. and even atheists, who I believe have a place in the Integral conversation, have a faith in the absence of Spirit.

But Spirit-in-action applied to IT does make IT comprehensive/whole for me. I’ve always felt the AQAL model is both substantive and roomy enough for anyone to maneuver in; if one doesn’t relate to or like the spiritual components and references, one can leave them alone, extract them, and still have a functional, useful reality framework.

But without the spiritual components of Wilber’s theory/model, it simply would not be complete enough for many of us. If I can’t locate my direct experiential knowledge (knowledge, not faith) within a reality framework, then it’s simply not comprehensive or whole enough or large enough for me. And yes, those colors…perspectives: they speak to real things for many of us. And the “seer-ism,” that you say is the opposite of scientism; I’m not sure I totally agree with that, given that there are studies relating meditative states to physiological changes in the body, and studies showing how shamanic states of consciousness affect brain waves, for instance. So there is a little objective “science” documenting at least the effects of certain subjective, interior spiritual states, experiences.

As to “Spirit focuses on our Earth…why Earth in this vast universe…a special creation after all?” No, not a special creation; that honor, I think, would have to go to the first rock out, the speed-demon Mercury who every time it appears to go retrograde, four times each year my astrologer friend tells me, messes up communications and electronics, and we all know how important communication and electronics are to evolution…(a little woo-woo, a little play; couldn’t resist).

One of the stripped-down words I’ve used in the past for Spirit (and I’ve used and still use a lot of different words, depending on the stage perspective I’m taking), is Intent. Try that on for size: Intent-in-Action. Because it does seem that there is intentionality behind evolution, behind manifest creation. And indeed, it’s mysterious; can’t get around that, and who would want to?

So perhaps the moon is as it is due to Intent; perhaps the moon is intended as nothing more than a little light in the night here on the earth, or as a facilitator of romance on earth, or to help the oceans do their tide-thing, or farmers time the planting of seeds, or give astronauts something to do with their time…I don’t know. But why would you say Eros is ineffective on the moon? Because there aren’t complex, conscious life forms there? That’s kind of like asking why don’t rocks speak English?

Back to Intent, we know that with humans intent can shape perception, can shape both what one perceives and how that is interpreted. So I don’t think it’s that Eros has preferences, rather, humans have preferences tucked within their intent. Some people have an intent, consciously or unconsciously held, to “see,” to experience directly “who am I” and others don’t. Or, aren’t willing to use the methods in a disciplined and long-enough fashion that would reveal more of “who am I” and this thing called Spirit.

I’m pretty sure my responses here are not going to satisfy; maybe someone else can pick it up. But as Annie Lennox would sing “these are the contents of my head.” And why don’t you come over to the S-I-A team? you know, give peace a chance because all we need is love and we can’t live with or without you.

I need to hear some music!
Thanks for the challenge and the fun.


It may be that some people in the integral community have experienced subtle phenomena that one might call “telepathic” or “synchronistic”. These experiences are part of the reality that they are looking for a comprehensive map of. They seem to suggest that the world that humans experience can be thought of productively as primarily a mental phenomena. Many believe that the results of quantum experiments are compatible with the world that we experience being a mental construct.

When you dream, you have dream eyes viewing dream objects and you accept that is a mental construct. Perhaps when you are awake you have waking eyes viewing waking objects and it is also primarily a mental construct.

What we can be certain of is that we experience patterns of sensations. Where do these patterns come from? Where does are awareness come from? We may not be able to answer these questions in an absolute way, but you would probably agree that awareness has to exist before empirical observations can occur. Why then jump to the conclusion that the mechanical interaction of those patterns you perceive produce your awareness, or that your awareness is less permanent than the observations? Even if we are primarily living in a mental construction science can benefit us by helping us to describe the tendencies in the patterns we perceive. It seems well proven that describing these tendencies helps us to deal with suffering and for at least that reason science is a very good thing.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to induce synchronicity or telepathy so it’s difficult to correlate our observations. Suffice it to say, I doubt that so many independent people committed to good ethnics that have described these experiences would be completely lying or part of a conspiracy.

Maybe someday you will have some of these experiences and you’ll be able to explain them to all of us in a way that is consistent with good science.


Sagan, of course, like Einstein, referred to being in awe of the physical cosmos, nothing else:

No speculations about Spirit having a hand in worldly affairs or natural processes.

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R> When you dream, you have dream eyes viewing dream objects and you accept that is a mental construct. Perhaps when you are awake you have waking eyes viewing waking objects and it is also primarily a mental construct.

That would amount to idealism. There is perception and there is imagination. Naive realism says the world we percieve exists. Naive idealism says the world we see is imagined. But of course this is not tenable: we have been to the moon and back, so where did we go then? This subjective idealism (linking the world to an individual subject - what about all others, are they imagined?) is therefore sometimes expanded to objective idealism, where the world we see is imagined by some Subject, Spirit or God.

Of course, that brings in a host of other questions: how can we then see a world? How did we arise out of this universal consciousness? Why did this happen and when? Bernardo Kastrup is teaching such a view, see his “A Universe in Consciousness”. I found it hard to believe and no improvement over naive realism. Of course, our brain filters and constructs most of the input we receive from outside, but the cosmos is still there, even if we don’t look at it.

References to quantum physics are spurious because even if it is true that some kind of observation (not construction this time??) is impacting the quantum world, this doesn’t mean everything in the world depends on being perceived. That would be quite an issue in the past with no living creature on earth to do so. What does depend on our consciousness and is largely (of not totally) constructed is our knowledge of the world, not the world itself.

This is the epistemistology/ontology discussion Wilber has recently contributed to as well. In his view, objects in the world don’t really exist until they are perceived (by us?). Until then they merely “sub-sist”. This seems to me quite contrived because even if we didn’t know about or looked at them, supernova’s and quasars had quite a lot of impact in the past universe. Again, knowledge is our construct, perception isn’t, at least not “primarily”.

Is this a sincere question? The answer is no, I don’t have infinite time to navigate a website that isn’t very user friendly. If you want to leave links to the essays you are talking about, I would be very grateful. That is what I was attempting to ask you for in my original reply to you: a request for links to the essays which describe your position more thoroughly.

Perhaps you should revisit the Community Road Rules thread, as you appear to be engaging in ad hominem.

I was not referring to any particular person. I was simply asking about an important philosophical distinction, which when ignored gives many people a reason to dismiss your valid concerns. It’s unfortunate that you appear to have chosen to ignore acknowledging the distinction and declined from offering an explanation as to why you appear to conflate the two. If you have done so elsewhere on the internet, a link would be very helpful.

You’ve really lost me here. I’m not even sure to what you are replying. It sounds like you’re arguing with someone or something that I cannot see. If you are referring to something other than what I posted, please provide a link to what you are referencing. That would be most helpful in continuing the discussion and assigning meaning to these sentences.

I didn’t assert anything of the sort. I understand the context of what Sagan said and I think it still applies to the question posed by @HawaiianRyan , unless I misunderstood the question. Thank you for providing a link, it’s much better than the ones I originally considered.

It appears that you are approaching everyone in this thread in a combative way (replying as if someone has asserted an argument rather than offered an explanation or asked a question). Are you operating under the assumption that everyone here agrees with or believes everything the Ken Wilber says or writes?

I agree with a lot of what you have said in your essays and I was simply asking for more links to help facilitate a real discussion. Are you not interested in conveying your ideas and critiques in a helpful or easy to understand way?

I can understand your plight, we all exist in a sea of information, within and without integral. I am not even sure if the security of this forum allows me to post links, but let’s give it a try:

Integral Overstretch, Some reflections on "Integral in Action with Ken Wilber"

"Equilibrium is Death", Energy, Entropy, Evolution and the Paradox of Life’s Complexity

Why Ken Wilber Doesn’t Get the Cosmic Energy Economy

"I Would Not Bet Against Eros…, Ken Wilber’s General Theory of Evolution: Cosmological, Biological and Cultural

Why Self-Organization is Not a Cosmic Drive, Ken Wilber Fails to Understand the Basics of Evolution

These essays argue that Wilber’s take on the Second Law is contentious at best, but most probably uninformed.

The distinction between methodological materialism and philosophical materialism is valid, but these essays promote the first, not the latter. They argue that when doing science, it is more valid to rely on observable phenomena instead of introducing invisible forces. But fine, if they are taken to be a defense of materialism as an ultimate philosophy, I would very much like to hear what spiritualism has to offer in the clarification of empirical phenomena. That remains the focus - and this area is strangely undocumented in the integral literature. I am not against spirituality but against mixing these two domains.

I am very much interested in providing material for a real discussion. The thing is, I haven’t experienced an openness to debate within integral culture over two decades now. So while it is seen as a valuable to be “integrally-informed”, it is much less so to be “critically-informed”. That is the change of culture I have been fighting for. If that comes across as combative, you might very well be correct - thanks for the feedback. This is what being ignored does to you.


I can empathize with how everything begins to feel like a battle when your attempts to be heard or understood are misconstrued or ignored.

Thank you so much to hearing my plea! I’m so grateful for these resources and for your clarification regarding science’s use of methodological materialism.


This is a deep rabbit hole.

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Am I correct in seeing that you argue for a different form of logic to explain awe, grace or even the creativity of imagination? Or are these to be accepted because there isn’t a different form of logic, but likely just a faith that they carry meaning and affect the mental play of energies? Can thermodynamics explain these mental forms/constructs/energies? And if not, what can be used to explain and understand this realm in a reproducable way? I see a frustration when one just uses the idea of “spirit” as the only explanation for the phenomenon in the “I” and “We” realm. Perhaps we have yet to develop the form of logic needed to predict and explain phenomenon in these realms?

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Frank, have you seen this article/summary? https://www.iiste.org/PDFshare/APTA-PAGENO-332792-336925.pdf About 3/4 of this 4000pg+ article is formulas with 1/4 having some fascinating discussion. For example, pg 122ff: " A Transcendental Argument Seeks To Elucidate The Conditions Under Which Certain Acknowledged Practices And Forms Of Cognition Are Possible. Kant, For Example, Asked What Must Be The Case For Mathematical Judgments To Be Possible. How Is It Both That We Are Able To Extend Our Knowledge, As If By Magic, Through Mathematical Judgments And, More Significantly, That These Judgments Are Able To Provide Genuine Knowledge Of The World Despite The Fact That These Forms Of Reasoning Are Not Based On Experience? Part Of Kant’s Argument Consisted In Claiming That Mind Imposes The Forms Of Space And Time On The Data Of Experience. In Other Words, Space And Time Are Not Attributes Of Being Itself But Rather Of The Mind That Regards Being. Insofar, Kant Argues, As Mathematics Is Ultimately A Rumination On The Nature Of Space And Time Taken In Their Most Abstract Form And Insofar As The Mind Imposes Space And Time On The Manifold Of Sensation, It Thus Follows That A Priori Judgments About The Nature Of Spatio-Temporal Relations Are Possible That Anticipate The Structure Of Actual-Space Times Without Directly Experiencing These Space-Times. Why? Because Any Manifold Of Sensation Must Necessarily Be Structured By These Forms Imposed By Intuition Onticology– A Manifesto For Object-Oriented Ontology Part I Posted By Larval Subjects Under Object-Oriented Philosophy. ………. it is necessary to distinguish the being of objects from the manifestation of objects…"
Hope you’ll take a look at this. It is largely about consciousness.


I, too, will probably never attend the pricey Integral gatherings, but as long as I can afford to be a member of Integral life and to purchase books, I have access to almost everything the people who attend the events have.
I’m a retired adult education teacher, and I would like to be involved in creating an affordable, interactive workshop to introduce people to the Integral perspective. I envision a workshop that would include small and large group sharing, practice using Integral materials, and watching videos.


Amazing La Wanna! Thank you for this post, so helpful. Warms my heart.

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Warm hearts are good :slightly_smiling_face: Thank you Mary.

Sorry but a PDF of 4.000 pages, most of which is formulas, and all words written in Title Cap?
I can’t take this seriously. It is a journal based in Pakistan, with impact factor 0.6 (in 0-10 range).

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Well your response causes me to ponder how people might have taken on Christopher Columbus’ findings and if some dismissed him for being Portuguese. Anyway, let’s continue the discussion. How do you take on this collection of scientists and their manifesto?
“The modern scientific worldview is predominantly predicated on assumptions that are closely associated with classical physics. Materialism—the idea that matter is the only reality—is one of these assumptions. A related assumption is reductionism, the notion that complex things can be understood by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things such as tiny material particles.” – Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
more at http://www.opensciences.org/about/manifesto-for-a-post-materialist-science

Some initial observations regarding this initiative:

  • We don’t understand mind better by blowing it up to cosmic proportions (Mind).
  • Having a different, quantum view of matter doesn’t make it spiritual. In fact, the quantum world is nuts, with dozens of unstable particles flying around.
  • Jumping from a not yet well understood mind to a “post-materialist” worldview is a huge ontological investment.
  • “Post-materialism” doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t specified (soul world?, spirit world?)
  • i am sympathetic to the inclusion of subjectivity and consciousness but don’t want to open the door to psi, spirits, etc. Been there too long.
  • the role of the observer is grossly exaggerated in quantum studies, i mean things exist even if we don’t look at them (and don’t tell me it is God looking at them that makes them exist).
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the role of the observer is grossly exaggerated in quantum studies, i mean things exist even if we don’t look at them (and don’t tell me it is God looking at them that makes them exist).

What if it’s something like a collective subconscious that’s keeping things in place?


Thanks so much for the link to this organization @pretiare !
I especially like and appreciate how they succinctly summarize scientific philosophy:

“6. Science is first and foremost a non-dogmatic, open-minded method of acquiring knowledge about nature through the observation, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Its methodology is not synonymous with materialism and should not be committed to any particular beliefs, dogmas, or ideologies.”

And follows it with their explanation of what they mean by post-materialist science (via 15 + 16):
“16. Post-materialist science does not reject the empirical observations and great value of scientific achievements realized up until now. It seeks to expand the human capacity to better understand the wonders of nature, and in the process rediscover the importance of mind and spirit as being part of the core fabric of the universe. Post-materialism is inclusive of matter, which is seen as a basic constituent of the universe.”

To me, 16 sounds like a specific statement regarding the integral nature of the post-materialist paradigm.

Here is a research paper describing one of the more rigorous experiments investigating psychological activity’s effects on water crystal formation at a distance:

Here is a similar experiment which measured a variety of properties of the water samples:

I found both to be very intriguing.


Your concern is my concern. Being an european (portuguese living in Belgium) I would say “it’s the american way”…It touches me to see you convey the same difficulty!

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