August 05, 2008

Wilber’s theoretical practices are imperialist, hegemonic, and even predatory

Rich Carlson Rich Carlson’s essay

Wilber’s method of colonializing cultural alterity is by its very nature hegemonic, and even predatory. He does this with a number of Eastern thinkers and mystics. As an instance this practice, I will provide an example of how he treats the Indian revolutionary and founder of Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo came to prominence as one of the first leaders of the Indian independence movement that sought to overthrow the colonialist empire of Great Britain on the subcontinent. His first writings which came to public scrutiny were those advocating resistance to the colonialist rule of the Raj. Apart from these political writings he also wrote several major treatises on culture and social and political history, including The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, War and Self Determination.

In his appropriation of Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber collapses the entirety of his work into a single quadrant (upper left) of his AQALS model, totally ignoring his cultural and socio-political texts or his life as a revolutionary leader of an independence struggle. Wilber’s exclusive emphasis of Sri Aurobindo the yogi, fails to contextualize him also as an important cultural figure in India who has written extensively on society and history.

Wilber overlooks the genealogy of Sri Aurobindo’s works are rooted in the Indic Darshan discourses. Rarely, if ever does Wilber ever highlight Sri Aurobindo’s meditations on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita which background his writing and provide important interpretive keys which contextualize his voice against the history of the subcontinent.

An integral theory which valorizes its own epistemology by denying other traditions, theories, practices their own voice, or by simply reducing them to mere coordinates on a quartenary grid segregates rather than integrates.

Any theory which asserts itself ideologically by cannibalizing other traditions and appropriating the voice of alterity as a function of its integral model while discarding the ten thousand nuances, subtleties, traces of culture which are essential to indigenous identity, fails at the level of integration itself. These theoretical practices are not integral but imperialist, such discourses do not achieve cultural hybridity but rather cultural hegemony. Such an integral theory is colonialist at its worst and patronizing at its best. ”
Source material: Beck Don (2001) Bipartisan versus Tripartisan
Beck and Cowan (2005) Spiral Dynamics New York: Wiley-Blackwell
Wilber Ken (2003)
Wilber Ken:
Wilber, Ken (2002) Boomeritis, Boulder CO: Shamballa Press
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2008 at 1:53 pm

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