Peer reviewing Ken Wilber’s integral theory

Frank Visser reviews Ken Wilber’s antagonistic stance against his critics and his refusal to submit himself to academic peer review.

He ends his chronological overview of Wilber’s isolationist policy with an appeal for true peer review. (or even ‘open peer review‘?)

Frank Visser:

The trouble with Ken Wilber, if you ask me, is that, for all his academic phraseology, he is not embedded in a corrective academic community. Instead, he has created a community of admirers of his own, in which he rules supreme. As King in his Integral Castle, his stance is isolationist, aloof, authoritarian – integral ideology is then just around the corner. And I don’t mean by “embedded in academia” loading your books with academic endnotes, or teaching integral ideas to the younger generation, or offering accredited courses in some universities such as JFK, let alone starting a university of your own (Integral University). I mean opening up your own views to specialists in the various fields (postmodernism, evolutionary biology, political science) who can reflect and respond to your proposals. When it comes to the evaluation of Wilber’s work, Wilber himself obviously cannot be the one in charge. A strong urge to promote a certain view of life doesn’t go very well with objectivity.

For that, a different type of discourse is needed – based on quiet reflection and an open mind that is eager to learn and not only to justify its own beliefs, a mind that listens to critics (e.g. Meyerhoff), and even to sceptics (e.g. Falk). Yes, especially to those who disagree. A mind which can acknowledge mistakes and can backup confident assertions with solid arguments. All set within a free communication and discussion of ideas, in the public sphere. But that – obviously and unfortunately – is still an integral bridge too far.

It is not difficult to initially be impressed by Wilber’s writings. Even his strongest critics, including Falk, have gone through that phase. It is much more difficult, but eventually more rewarding, to give Wilber a second reading – a more critical, close reading – in which “every sentence has to be earned”. That has been the aim of Integral World over the past decade. “

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