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Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  843 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In this tour de force of scholarship and vision, Ken Wilber traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind and describes the common patterns that evolution takes in all three of these domains. From the emergence of mind, he traces the evolution of human consciousness through its major stages of growth and development. He particularly focuses on modernity and po ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 851 pages
Published January 2nd 2001 by Shambhala (first published 1995)
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4.35  · 
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 ·  843 ratings  ·  56 reviews


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Travis
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Travis by: Malek
Ken Wilber is a self-promoting, pompous ass, but this book is great. Weaves it (existence, psychology, sociology, life) all together in a highly derivative but brilliant work.
Willa
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I know this book is intimidating in its size, but I can really recommend it to everyone who has a basic understanding of Wilber. If you read it in little chunks and don't get ambitious about getting to the end of it, it is delightful bedtime reading to go very deeply into Integral Theory. I love the detailed, slow way he takes you through subjects like Holonic Structures or Postmodernity, and manages to open up new pathways in your brain. Once you surrender, it is like taking a hot bath in a dee ...more
Kurt Bruder
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Simply the single most comprehensive, plausible, and useful synthesis of human efforts at accounting for reality available. It harmonizes a dizzyingly diverse array of high-quality thought and practice, from ancient to contemporary, East and West, and all branches of knowledge (the sciences, humanities, folk wisdom, occult/esoteric traditions). While reading this work, I came to the conclusion that I'd spent the previous 7-8 years preparing myself to grapple successfully with the ideas presented ...more
Beth Haynes
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very thought provoking. Wilber attempts to integrate an enormous amount of information and historical analyses into one overarching theory of how the universe is constructed. His basic premise is one based on the primacy of consciousness (as opposed to the primacy of material existence.) This is the most scholarly attempt to argue this point of view that I have come across which makes it so interesting and worthwhile for me to try and really understand.
I am most of the way through a second read
...more
Brian
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introduction to integral theory through the eyes of Ken Wilber. Wilber is a master at weaving together and finding a place for many ideologies and world-views within his theory of interconnection and knowledge. Weighed down with more than 200 pages of footnotes this is a very heady book whose author is very well read and has spent a lot of time developing his ethos. Interesting on many levels; this book will challenge your notions of the rational, hierarchies that we live in and ...more
Andrew Field
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was very into Ken Wilber in my twenties, and was happy to return to this book recently, and remember why I had been so into his writings. Wilber is a transpersonal psychologist, who believes that human development does not stop at rationality, or what the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget called formal operational reasoning, but through spiritual practices and meditation, one can experience and become centered/established in higher levels of consciousness. This might sound out there ...more
Andrew
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
No one belabors a point like Ken Wilber.

I can only imagine the editing process of this tome, the world's longest philosophy 201 term paper:

"Ken, we can tighten up this argument..."
"Ken, this is repetitive..."

"Dammit, no, editor, clearly you haven't reached my level transcendent development to understand the subtle uniqueness and necessity of repeating the same arguments and 750 word block quotes over and over again!"

Putting aside the facts that this should have been a 300 page book at most,
...more
John Huizar
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a serious interest in philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc.
While I don't agree with every single thing Ken Wilber says in this book, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality completely rocked my world. A unifying theory without an authoritarian agenda, and contexts for truth that had been so sadly lacking in our contentious, fragmented times. I think Wilber gets some of the minor details wrong from time to time (particularly when he tries to get too specific), but the beauty of his system is not in the details but in the framework: a completely adaptable, self-correc ...more
Tommy Powell
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-knowledge
I have been working on this book for several years. Recently began again, at Book Two; the Way Up is the Way Down -because I'm currently between jobs and reading Wilber always helps me shift into a larger perspective.

Ken Wilber writes in a very thorough and comprehensive fashion; I like this a lot. Although I grew up hearing about, and occasionally reading about, ideas such as the ego and the id, or the Godhead my education was never sufficient to allow me to compare and collocate such ideas.

I
...more
Andrew Nixon
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wilber is the most important philosopher of the 20th century, perhaps the greatest synthesizer in history, and this is his current magnum opus. I am convinced his integral framework will revolutionize all human disciplines and plant the way for a genuine marriage of science and spirituality. It's a fat book, with 500 pages in footnotes alone, so for an introduction to his work see A Brief History of Everything or The Eye of Spirit. :)
Andrew
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
in his most scholarly work, wilber discusses such pressing topics as the great chain of being (from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit and back again), the relation of diversity to unity, holons, feminism, and evolution among countless others. a better introduction to wilber may be "the spectrum of consciousness", a more brief overview of his studies could be found in "a brief history of everything", but his significant book is right here.
Ron
Mar 14, 2007 rated it did not like it
Ken Wilbur has an incredibly weak grasp of science and science history. I found his arguments against other philosophers to be poorly argued. This book has the underpinnings of many a religion. Paraphrasing: "Once you have achieved the next level of consciousness, the people below you can no more understand you than a child can understand the mind of an adult." Uuugggh!!!
Dmitri Wolf
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The most influential book to my world view in that it helped me bring together many different influences that seemed to contradict each other.
In Wilber's words, the flawed views aren't wrong, they're partial.
Josh Hirsch
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Single handedly, this is one of the most profound books I have read. Wilbur's genius is unparalleled on modem philosophy.
Charlotte
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I only read this book because it is on the optional reading list for a course I'm taking. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have touched it. It was interesting as far as the subject of wholes/parts (holons, etc.), and it is clear that overwhelming (literally) scholarship went into it. I have several problems with books like this, including that they say quite long-windedly what might be said more simply and with more understandable terms, which would likely result in greater understanding, and great ...more
James G Landis
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My heart and head explode beautifully, and permanently, all the while still scraping to understand, and to know.


See above the sometimes awesome moments when I really had a bodily sense that joined with a cognitive reality, and I went wow!
Stephen M. Theriault
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! The explanation of "holarchies" (holistic hierarchies of spiritual growth) and higher states of consciousness and their relation to our essential humanity.
Ietrio
Apr 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Is it good? Than Wilber promises and you will get it.
Paul
Wilber is an interesting case. I think that his SES, in particular, can serve as a helpful introduction to the philosophy of religion, and as a system I think it's flawed in a lot of ways but is certainly original. The "four quadrants" model is a clever approach to systematicity, and I think many individual ideas in SES, such as the pre/trans fallacy and the Basic Moral Intuition, are genuinely helpful.

With that said, Wilber's focus on "orienting generalizations" is the fatal shortcoming of this
...more
Lorin
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ken Wilber has many themes about gender that are similar to my arguments about diversity supporting Dynamic Markets Leadership, which I noted in a footnote to this statement I made:

Excerpt from my book, Dynamic Markets Leadership, all rights reserved:

The new factor accelerating the directionality in change in our era is that a lot of pieces of a vast puzzle have fallen into place: identity, the unconsciousness, the theory of psychological trauma, historical research, cultural anthropology, socio
...more
Juan Pablo
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is tough to criticize this book if one has not had the same reading program as the author. However, the ideas I think I grasped correctly seem to be sound.
Erik Graff
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wilber fans
Recommended to Erik by: Mike Miley
Shelves: philosophy
The last time I seriously entertained teleological notions, except in the limited domain of human behavior, was in studying Hegel over a period of several years. The initial infatuation didn't last. I fell back on Kant and his epistemological conservatism.

Wilber, recommended to me by someone I very much respect, was very much in the spirit of Hegel, but, once burned, I was unable to get excited. Perhaps if I hadn't gone through the process as regards Continental Philosophy, if I had been exposed
...more
Vinicius Miranda
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it
A blur between fiction and non-fiction, Wilber revolves around much of the history of the world to selectively revere those he agrees with and admonish everyone else. Interesting in its scope, he fails to deliver succintly what one wonders that could be his arguments. Also, Wilber scapes any rigour in his writing to simply teach the greatest philosophers of history what they should have done instead. A prominent example of how wishful thinking and pattern-seeking can harm the mind of a philosoph ...more
Jim
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ken Wilber is the most important philosopher of our time, this is his magnum opus. With this work Wilber attempts to, and I believe succeeds, at synthesizing the areas of both the interiors and exteriors of the individual and culture into one overall "theory of everything". This "theory of everything" points out that all interior and exterior aspects of the individual have interior and exterior correlates to culture and vice versa. Recommended for anyone trying to expand and push their philosoph ...more
Doug Allen
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
this book was nothing short of amazing. the most coherent, well presented work of philosophy/psychology that i've ever read (though that list is not huge). wilber unifies the theories of all of the major thinkers into one cohesive whole, and draws lessons for the battle of the sexes, the pending ecological crisis, and a multitude of other things. i absolutely recommend this book to everyone, despite the fact that it is one of the densest books i've ever come across. powering through it was total ...more
Todd Mertz
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Anyone used to applying research or philosophy should be able to easily move past the many facile critical reviews of this book along with all of Wilber's generalizations, polemics, and mistakes. As any great thinker, Wilber has continued to update and improve his thinking and presentation--with some interesting and eccentric behavior thrown in along the way. This is one of the most provoking and substantial books I've ever read. Revolutionary for my thinking.
Adam Lauver
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An important and comprehensive work. Wilber provides vital insight into the development of Western thought--where it's opened up and where it's gone wrong. Understanding this history means understanding our roots as a culture and where we want to go as a species. Similarly, much insight is to be had into personal psychology and the development of world-views over time. Ultimately, Wilber presents an integral framework for reality that warrants serious consideration.
Jeremy Jones
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this beast of a book in college. It helped shape my worldview in my early 20s. Although I don't agree with 100% of Ken Wilber's vast & deep perspective of the world today, I think he's one of the greatest American thinkers of our time. This book will introduce you to schools of thought that you never knew existed & will likely send you on a journey to read many of the writers & researchers he references.
Kevin
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I need to find intellectual humility, I pick-up Wilber's SES. It's scope and depth would be over-whelming if it wasn't so reader-friendly; he has a way of explaining his ideas with such clarity. I get the feeling that he is on to something so authentic its like the Kosmos is expressing itself (if that makes any sense). I cite it often. I still haven't read all the notes (they make-up half the volume's volume!) A must for those interested in the nature of reality.
W A
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very very briefly, a wonderful overview of Wilber's work and what is implied by an evolving consciousness. There are already many excellent reviews on Goodreads so I will leave it there for now. Essentially if Wilber and the school of integral philosophy interests you this is one of the books you must read.
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Ken Wilber is the most widely translated academic writer in America, with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages, and is the first philosopher-psychologist to have his Collected Works published while still alive. Wilber is an internationally acknowledged leader and the preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development, which continues to gather momentum around the world. So ...more
“If the soul wants to know God, it cannot do so in time. For so long as the soul is conscious of time or space or any other [object], it cannot know God.” 5 likes
“the Many returning to and embracing the One is Good, and is known as wisdom; the One returning to and embracing the Many is Goodness, and is known as compassion.” 2 likes
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