Wilber and Bhaskar Begin an Important Debate

By: sean@metaintegral.com

When I first wrote “An Ontology of Climate Change” and began drawing on Roy Bhaskar’s work, in the back of my mind I was saying to myself: “Wouldn’t it be cool if Roy and Ken were in dialogue and debate around the status of ontology in Integral Theory?” Fast-forward two years later and voila - this has finally come to pass. In the most recent issue of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice (Vol. 7 No. 4) we published a number of articles that together signal an exciting new chapter in the growth and development of Integral Theory (and Critical Realism).

This collection of four articles is significant for a number of reasons:

  • It builds on and reflects several years of dialogue between the scholar-practitioners associated with each metatheory. See my previous blog for details.
  • Due to his health Wilber hasn’t been able to write for many years – the fact that he is writing again is cause for celebration. He is currently putting final touches on volume 2 of the Kosmos trilogy. His most recent piece (below) contains some really exciting new distinctions and clarifications around Integral Theory and ontology.
  • I believe Roy Bhaskar represents the ideal debate partner and interlocutor for Ken Wilber. Roy is deeply sympathetic to Integral Theory and is working to include its insights into his own work; he is a professional philosopher who has thought long and hard about many of the issues important to integral theorists; and he is an expert in ontology, an area that I feel Integral Theory needs to address more fully.
  • There are an emerging number of people associated with Integral Theory and Critical Realism becoming familiar with the other metatheory and this exchange will do much to further expose interested people to the conversation and hopefully inspire them to be part of it.

In summary, this rich exchange exemplifies the kind of debate and exploration we feel is essential to the growth and development of Integral Theory and we are excited that the 2013 Integral Theory Conference is creating a space for this conversation to continue and deepen. So come join us and be part of this historic conversation between Integral Theory and Critical Realism (and Complex Thought). In a few weeks we will send out an email about Complex Thought. Stay tuned.

Here are the articles from the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice (Vol. 7 No. 4). For an overview of the context and relationship between each piece read my Editorial.

Note: In neither piece below authored by Wilber, had he read Bhaskar’s response, so he doesn’t directly address that. Instead he is engaging some general issues regarding the relationship between Critical Realism and Integral Theory.

And here is a “hot off the presses” piece from Ken Wilber with some additional comments on the Critical Realism – Integral Theory debate.

Together these six articles will keep your mind (as well as your Overmind and Supermind) engaged with some great material that I believe ushers in a new phase in Integral Theory where it is in deep engagement with other important metatheories.