Critical Realism 101


ITC 2008 Plants a Seed

I first learned of Critical Realism from Mark Edwards during his 2008 ITC presentation, where he said something to the effect that to not know Roy Bhaskar’s work was to risk not being integral. Well, that was all it took for me to order about 10 books from Thank you Mark for introducing me to Critical Realism!

Mark’s comments led me to begin to study and draw on Critical Realism, which I found quite stimulating, and this led me to write the article “An Ontology of Climate Change." This was my first attempt to augment Integral Theory with the philosophical insights of Critical Realism.

I first met Roy Bhaskar at the International Symposium “Research Across Boundaries” at the University of Luxembourg in June 2010. This important four-day gathering was hosted by Markus Molz. Roy had recently read my ontology article, and upon seeing me at the registration line for the conference he congratulated me on a job well done and thus began a series of conversations. It wasn’t long before Roy and I were planning a Critical Realism and Integral Theory Symposium, which was hosted by the Integral Research Center and took place September 15-18, 2011 at JFK University. Thank you Markus for introducing me to Roy!

Since the JFKU symposium a number of exchanges have been occurring between critical realists and integral theorists. Some of these are documented in the materials below. I’m pleased that the Integral Research Center will be hosting an invitation only ITC 2013 pre-conference symposium on Wednesday July 17th entitled Metatheory in the 21st Century. This symposium will be the basis for a book we have contracted with Routledge to be published July 2014.


Your Critical Realism 101 Packet

For an audio clip of Roy introducing Critical Realism at the opening of the JFKU symposium, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Below are two PDFs to support you getting acquainted with Critical Realism and the engagement between CR and IT. In a future blog post we will provide additional materials that have emerged in the context of a lively debate between Ken Wilber and Roy Bhaskar. But for now these materials should provide a good introduction to Roy and Critical Realism.

A Resource Paper from MetaIntegral Foundation:

From the Journal of Critical Realism:



Submitted by Matthew Kalman Mezey on

Hi Sean,
I like to think I helped to plant some seeds in 2002 for this current Integral-Critical Realism cross-fertilisation when I talked with Roy about how relevant I thought the Integral approach might turn out to be for his work. I also sent an explanatory e-mail with various Wilber-related attachments to try to support what I was saying to him. I can’t find that old e-mail but here’s the nice response that Roy sent:
Dear Matthew,
Happy New Year !  I hope this email finds you well and flourishing.
First, many apologies for not getting back to you before now.  I have been out of London.  Thanks for your email of 22 December and the attached document, which I have just received.  It, along with the further explanatory notes in your email, seems very useful indeed.  I'll read it fully within the next few days; and get back to you then.
It was very nice to see you again at the SOAS meeting.  After I've digested the material you sent me, I'll let you know what books of mine I think Ken Wilber should read; though obviously the three published books on meta-Reality, namely Reflections on Meta-Reality, From Science to Emancipation and meta-Reality [the philosophy of meta-Reality Volume 1]: Creativity, Love and Freedom, which represent my latest thinking, would be a good place for him to start.  It would probably also be very good then to arrange a one-on-one meeting, where you could tell me more about Wilber's Integral Institute (particularly in view of the fact that I will be spending quite a bit of time in the USA this year) and we can resume the discussions we've already started, particularly concerning how, to the shared ground that Ken and I have, there needs to be added a socially transformative approach.  It would also be nice for me to be able to tell you more about our new Meta-Reality Foundation and my plans for the coming year.
 I'll be in touch again very shortly.
In the meantime, with warmest best wishes,
Yours ever,