What is the ‘Integral Approach?’


‘Integral’, as used in this Blog refers to the vision, or map, of reality developed by American philosopher Ken Wilber over many years and many books.

Ken Wilber starts from the premise that ‘everybody is  right’:

‘In this Theory of Everything, I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically; everybody – including me – has some important piece of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honoured, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace, a genuine theory of everything…..

To Freudians I say have you looked at Buddhism? to Buddhists I say, Have you studied Freud? To liberals I say, Have you thought about how important some conservative ideas are? To conservatives I say, Can you perhaps include a more liberal perspective? And so on and so on…..’ 

Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything

The challenge becomes then: How and in what way can all these important truths about the world be put together in a conceptual framework that demonstrates how they all fit together. If we can do this we can start to untangle and resolve some of the intractable disputes, conflicts and disagreements that so plague our current intellectual discourse.

The core concept that is used to start to build such a comprehensive map is that of natural hierarchy. It is the misunderstanding of this idea that, in my experience, is the main barrier to building acceptance and understanding of the integral approach. The next post will lay out the precise way that the notion of hierarchy is to be understood.

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