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Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  898 ratings  ·  66 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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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.
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
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
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These principles stand out to me:
1. Spirit's movement through form is one of evolution which transcends and includes previous forms (holons). This is true in every quadrant and every area (I, We, It). This is not always consistently "forward" or "linear" but will involve regressions and indirect paths at times.
2. This movement is consistent everywhere. Therefore, development must include all areas of existence and not be limited to one at the expense of the others. All is a reflection of Spirit
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
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,
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
Every page in this book cries out for five more explanatory pages!!! and every note seems to want three more notes to fully flesh out its points. Thus the promised two sequels for which we are still waiting, though some of Wilber’s future works and online publications do take up the promised threats a bit.

I read this book for the first time as a 23 year old and it had a Huge impact on my interests onward. I just read it for the third time 14 years later and this review is a few of the many thou
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
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: Daniel
Incredibly good despite how badly written it is.
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.

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. :) ...more
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. ...more
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!!! ...more
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. ...more
This is a general response to Wilber's integral philosophy, which this book exhaustively presents. I applied the following review to some of Wilber's other books. If you want an overview of integral (religious) philosophy, this is a good place to start, as would be Wilber's A Brief History of Everything.

If unvalidated concepts can be sufficiently embedded in an impressively systematic conceptual edifice, many people (including the authors) can be stunned, charmed, or otherwise impressed to suspe
Jun 13, 2021 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Maurya by: PEX
I only finished this book because it was part of a class. This book was extremely painful for me to read. And the countless hours I spend reading it are hours I will not get back to my life. To the reviewer who said this 551 pages could have been reduced to 80... AMEN to that.

I get it - the guy is smart, he thinks differently, and he has interesting ideas that bear pondering...but it's so dry, it took me til about page 250 to even kind of appreciate some of what he was trying to say. His good i
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
Amrit Minhas
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t need to say much about Ken Wilber since he has proved himself before I was even born.

This book opened new perspectives for me. My consciousness expanded. It could be a difficult read in the beginning for a person with no scientific background but if you understand some philosophy you will get through it. The best thing about Wilber is that he keeps giving you hints what is about to come on the next page which kept me hooked. Another best thing - he has an explanation to everything. This
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!
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in total: all 524 pages of book 1 and book 2, as well as all 238 pages of Notes, and checked-out a good number of the references. Won't attempt to read it all again, but back then it made 100% sense! ...more
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. ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Is it good? Than Wilber promises and you will get it.
Tobias McGowan
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sets the foundation for all of Ken's work. During my reading experience, I had several spiritual shifts in my life. Simply amazing. ...more
Kevin Barrera
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
50% is repetitive and pompous writing, as Wilber does love to show off his intellect.
But in Lana Wachowski’s words it is “a beast of a book”.

5 stars if it weren’t for the unnecessary length.
Apr 25, 2020 added it
a stuning work of genius
Dario Zukić
May 15, 2020 marked it as to-read
Although I saw very good comments and terrific ratings on this book, the book and it's writings just wasn't for me, so I will not rate it with stars. ...more
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
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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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“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.” 6 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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