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A Brief History of Everything

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,584 ratings  ·  280 reviews
A new edition of the best-selling work from one of the most forward-thinking and important philosophers of our time.
Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos--from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber's great ideas has been expanding minds
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Shambhala (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  4,584 ratings  ·  280 reviews

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Todd Hansink
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grand-narratives
(This review was an entry on my blog.)

I was first exposed to Ken Wilber when I found his book, A Brief History of Everything, on my Dad’s bookshelf. (I am always attracted to bookshelves.) My Dad didn’t have much to say about the book except that I could take it. He told me that it was a selection of the Mira Costa College book group that met monthly to discuss their selections and vote upon others.

The book sat on my shelf for a couple years while I attempted to start reading it four or five tim
Sep 19, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Here's how Ken Wilbur would write "Three Blind Mice"

Three decrepit rodents
Three decrepit rodents
Observe how they motivate
Observe how they motivate
They motivate after the agricultural spouse
Who severed their rears with the culinary shears
Have you ever witnessed such a deplorable condition
As Three decrepit rodents.

point being... way too complicated a way to express the simplest concepts.
He's just making himself feel smart or something. V weird.
Aug 24, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just accidently dropped this book in the toilet so it may be a while before I get around to picking it up again.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is hard to review, really the rating is the mean between a 5 and a 1. Wilber is basically a self-taught philosopher who tries to articulate a theory of everything. By working outside the limits of academia, he doesn't have to specialize as much as other intellectuals. In this sense, his broad focus is refreshing and intriguing. Writing about consciousness, I appreciated the case he made for being able to look both at an individual's interior experience as well as looking at an individu ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not kidding - this may be the best book I've ever read. It is the first book (of many, I hope) of Wilber's that I've read. It was recommended by someone I respect implicitly, and it did not disappoint. I wasn't predisposed to love it, mind you - his stance on Jung, his focus on Western Philosophers, his nearly constant criticism of ecophilosophers and ecofeminists to name a few things were all things that I don't particularly agree with, but I think his criticisms are valid and have place. T ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
The book begins with the premise that gender differences arose because women who participated in vigorous activities had a high rate of miscarriage. This is either: misogynous, naive, or stupid.

There needs to be a category for books "that I can't stand to finish."
Jan 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Crap. An astonishingly deluded or mendacious philosopher attempting to integrate science and mysticism into one coherent world view, with the rather predictable result of abject failure.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
It was weird. This month I read Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and it referenced Arthur Koestler's writings on evolution, so I decided it was high time to read Darkness at Noon, then I find out that Koestler is the one who coined the term Holon, so I dug out Wilber. I read a little Wilber in college, but never finished the book. So, I read it today and liked it in parts. My main complaint with Wilber is he tries to square the corners of the Kosmos too neatly. I find him simultaneously empty and s ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who fancy themselves philosophers
Dude is a genius (of the narcissistic variety - aren't they usually?). This book is sometimes hard to read, especially when he tries to reference everything under the sun. For those of us who don't know everything, the references become too much - looking every person and theory referenced would be like dissertation research. However, this relatively early (in Wilber's bio, that is) attempt at an umbrella theory of various aspects of life (psychology, spirituality, scientific discovery, etc.) is ...more
Pamela Wells
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
How does a Seeker of knowledge download 2,000 plus years of human history in a few days of reading? Easy. Read or listen to Ken Wilber's brilliant synopsis neatly packaged into an elegant model of everything. The "Integral Model" will change the way you view your own life challenges and the world's enormous geopolitical problems forever. I highly recommend this book and think every politician and college student in America should have this book in their collection. ...more
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A synopsis of his much more lengthy writing about why science, religion (and spirituality), sociology and psychology are not at odds with each other. If I could make everyone on earth read one book, this would be it.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book put all the conflicting theories of philosophy, psychology, and religion that I had studied and contemplated for fifteen or twenty years into a single usable context.
Solveig C.B.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
In addressing cosmic, biological, human and divine evolution, Ken Wilber impressively populates 500 pages worth of synthesis of Western and Non-Western spiritual tradition creating a thinking framework for everything in life. Wilber comprehensively dissects and re-assembles the parts and wholes of the ontology, epistemology and methodology for what he has coined as“integral theory”.

It feels like an impossible task to synthesize this reading into a meaningful review and make “A Brief History of E
Ted Child
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
More then anything else about this book, I appreciate what Wilber is attempting to do with his integration of Eastern and Western philosophies. I am doubtful of little and disagree with even less in this book. Most of my criticism of this book are stylistic. Foremost, is Wilber’s tone tends towards the pedantic, didactic, and patronising, which can be grating. Once I got past this I found this book more interesting and useful, specifically the second half (the first half deals more with developm ...more
Ken Wilber is an incredible intellectual and author. He is a great source for those of us who enjoy exploring the crossroads between philosophy, science, and spirituality.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most important book I've read this year. A part of me wishes I'd picked it up as suggested years ago - I have a friend who first introduced me to the term integral theory back in the 90s. But then I wouldn't have had the experience I just did - which is to see nearly everything I've studied in the past decade summarized here and placed in an overall framework. The thing is, Wilber is only sending us both out and in to everything we've always had available. Yes, all is a manifestation ...more
William Strasse
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Where to start with this one? It takes some time but it is worth it. I believe there was some sort of portal that quietly opened up in the collective unconscious in the 90s and books like this were written. Some of us were ready for a kind of pragmatic spirituality and I believe more of us are every day, if on a much more unconscious level. This book is as cerebral as it is mystical...that last word is a bit of a dirty one for most of us, myself included, but if we are totally honest with oursel ...more
May 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one I respect
How do you write sensibly about a book that makes no sense and, in fact, tries to make you question everything you've always thought was true?

Well, the title is correct. In this book, Wilber seems to give a history of everything! From the beginning on through to today, he builds a story of the universe. But it’s not a “history” as much as a philosophy/spirituality book. Overall, I found it a mix of good and bad.

The best was Wilber’s quadrant that truly does explain so much. On the upper left you have the interior individual, the usual “spiritual” stuff. Upper right is the exterior things like biology. Lower left are all the cultural f
Shishkebab Koegler
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Wilber's premise that reality is made of of holons (systems that are in themselves wholes, while simultaneously acting as a part of another system) is coherent and his four quadrant approach (Upperl Left: Interior - Individual(intentional), Bottom Left: Interior - Collective (Cultural -worldspace), Upper Right, Exterior - Individual (behavioural), Lower Right: Exterior - Collective (Social - system) ) to understanding the nature of holons as they emerge and evolve is compelling. He argues, convi ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Thinkers
Phew. No way to give this book a fair shake by virtue of a summary.

Wilber throws a hell of a lot at you, and I'd be lying if I tried to pretend a lot of it hasn't altered significant portions of my mental landscape.

There are drawbacks, the most significant being that Wilber's tone can tend toward the flippant and patronizing, particularly when discussing feminism and multiculturalism--subjects that, as a white male, he is perhaps obliged to be a bit more careful about in order to draw in the gr
Mack Hayden
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This book was a really thought-provoking time. The first half is really just something else—it's hard for me to imagine anyone disputing Wilber's take on the history of the world / cosmos / humanity up to the point we're at now. His thoughts on all that are super insightful and it really does crystallize how interdependent everything—beliefs, structures, individuals, collectives—is. Once it gets into the more speculative side of things, it started to go a little woo woo on me. I wouldn't call th ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Wilber at his pompous and condescending worst. The title and cover say it all. This book is pretty much and advertisement for all his other books. Some of which ARE worth reading, just not this one.
Harrison King
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fundamental book. This is one of the clearest books I’ve ever read that gets to the heart of reality and consciousness.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Evan Micheals
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I have read recommended to me by someone I have meet on Goodreads. Marco is a ?Psychologist from Brazil and we read a lot of the same genre. This is the beginners guide to the philosopher Ken Wilber. I struggled with this, the ideas kind of make sense but are esoteric enough to be just beyond my full comprehension. This is a deep contemplative work and Wilbers is knowledge high. I asked myself ‘how do i make it useful to someone as low and base as I?’ Just because what he ...more
Val Delane
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
I have never highlighted so much of a book as this one. It might well be the most important thing I have ever read! though it didn't seem that way at first; I found the maieutic format so contrived and annoying I almost didn't make it to section 2. And like almost every non-fiction book I initially wished it was boiled down to an essay. But, gradually, I realized what first struck me as repetition was more like an intentional "tap tap tap" from slightly different angles while adding new context, ...more
Romann Weber
A mélange of genuinely interesting ideas and utter nonsense, Wilber's "Brief History" should at least do you the favor of telling you whether it's worth diving into the magnum opus it ostensibly summarizes, namely "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution."

Wilber is famous (or infamous) for his wide-ranging, syncretic treatment of "integral philosophy," and his frequent name dropping of all the work he's reviewed will either impress you, intimidate you, or make you wonder how carefull
Krishna Bahirwani
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
Last year, I began a self-initiated radical transformation process after my life had begun to become a stagnant mess. I made the decision to live my life with more clarity, intention, wisdom and decisiveness. Ken Wilber's work has contributed significantly to that process.

Ken Wilber has created a map of the external and internal dimensions of life as we know it. Through this book, he introduces the map to us and makes us aware of its basic features. He shows us how we can use this map and why i
Lee Frankl
This book is essentially unreadable, although there may be some good ideas buried in the author's convoluted language, pretentious style (he is interviewing himself!), and preening self-regard. The stuff about 'holons' and the 'Kosmos', etc. is just so silly. There are ancient mystical traditions that can be studied on their own terms. Read the source materials and identify the universal aspects within each tradition on your own. This is too great a task to outsource. If you never accomplish the ...more
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Kenneth Earl Wilber II is an American philosopher and writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, a systematic philosophy which suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience.

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