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A Brief History of Everything

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,129 ratings  ·  239 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
Kindle Edition, 579 pages
Published February 6th 2001 by Shambhala (first published 1996)
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,129 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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Todd Hansink
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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."
Dec 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Pamela Wells
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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?

William Strasse
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Val Delane
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book! I truly enjoyed it from cover to cover. Author might not be absolutely right in every detail he goes into (and he goes into LOTS of details), but I believe these are difficulties of interpretation from language of precise science into layman's dialect.

'A Brief History..' contains dozens of thrilling stories and puts a human face on dry science trivia. There are lots of anecdotes, facts that you most probably don't know, even thoughts on life and the Universe origin. We are eve
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilber was ambitious with his project, but I think he managed to write an easy-to-read and interesting book.

He exposes here old and modern theories about how the universe and the Earth were created, about how life came to be on this planet, about the stars, about dinosaurs, about evolution, about energy, about... about everything!

He also shows how similar the academic world is to a Venezuelan soap opera. Everybody steals ideas from everybody, creates a bad environment for those that are differen
Paul Bard
Nov 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Main marketing vehicle for the "everything is one" crowd to spend more money on auxilliary products, this intellectual tour de California presents a way to explain why everything is. And guess what: it is... because it is!

A far better read on the subject which actually situates things in their real context is "A Guide For the Perplexed" by Schumacher, which wisely explains how to develop consciousness along intelligible and realistic lines, as well as explaining the great chain of being without
Mar 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only read about a quarter of the book and was determined to read more, but I dreaded picking it up and no one should feel that way about a book. I didn't like the way the book was written (Q&A format), I didn't like Wilber's pompous attitude, and if this is supposed to be a book for everyone, he needs to work on his layman's terms.
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Atul Sabnis
Shelves: shelved
Though just started, this book is a relatively slow read. One needs to read, pause and 'chew the cud', so to speak. The ideas are obviously complex - an attempt to synthesize philosophies of the East and the West. Yet, the dialogue format not only makes it simple but vastly engaging as well.
Morabito Diego
Apr 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get myself to read the hole book. The writer is just so full of himself he just dismisses Darwin and the Big Bang theory in a couple of phrases. I mean, it's ok to challenge normally accepted views of everything, but It has to be done properly. This is one of the worst books ever.
Linda Thibodeau
I need a higher IQ or maybe I should read it again. Ken Wilbur delivers science, spirituality, psychology all in one, with an integral approach to consciousness development. Very interesting but again, I need more simple language.
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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
“The truth will not necessarily set you free, but truthfulness will.” 34 likes
“The whole game is undone, this nightmare of evolution, and you are exactly where you were prior to the beginning of the whole show. With a sudden shock of the utterly obvious, you recognize your own Original Face, the face you had prior to the Big Bang, the face of utter Emptiness that smiles as all creation and sings as the entire Kosmos—and it is all undone in that primal glance, and all that is left is the smile, and the reflection of the moon on a quiet pond, late on a crystal clear night.” 2 likes
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