Friday, October 28, 2011

Wilber's Aurobindianism

For The Turnstiles by DGA on Oct 27, 2011 8:10 PM

To draw some threads together: Suppose it is true that the argument of Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality is predicated on positions taken by Nagarjuna, Plotinus, Schelling (and by extension Hegel), and Aurobindo. Also suppose that it is this argument that predicates most of the theoretical work in integral studies that follows after it. Problems accumulate.

There are problems in the way Wilber advances his claims on Nagarjuna. Specifically, Nagarjuna's description of emptiness in no way coincided with Wilber's, where Emptiness is reified into Spirit and made to equate with the metaphysics of Meister Eckhardt. Raphael Foshay's essay "Tension on the Left" in a recent JITP addresses this in part as well, as do my essays in The Integral Review. At a minimum, this warrants a detailed and uncompromising comparative analysis of Wilber's appropriation and deployment of Nagarjuna's methodology.

There are problems in the way Wilber describes Plotinus' philosophy. Brian Hines' essay "What Wilber Gets Wrong about Plotinus" is convincing enough, to my mind, that a similar detailed and uncompromising reconsideration of Wilber's use of Plotinus in the context of the rest of his work is warranted.

There are problems with the way Wilber deploys German Idealist historicism. This is the topic of all three of my contributions to The Integral Review. My point is not that Wilber misunderstands Schelling or Hegel (he may or may not, I do not have a pony in that race). My point is that this kind of idealist historicism is untenable logically and reproduces the social relations that produced it (e.g., it is a cipher for imperial capitalism). I think this warrants a similar reconsideration of Wilberian natural history and cultural history.

Charles I. Flores' essay on Aurobindo demonstrates related problems with Wilber's appropriation and use of that writer, strong enough in my opinion to open an investigation into the validity of Wilber's Aurobindianism.

In all four cases, care must be taken to consider how these doctrines are used in the broader context of Wilber's argument. This is a genealogical analysis I am proposing: what are the consequences of disproving this or that premise? What happens to subsequent claims that, before, had followed from that premise?

This is separate from the broader question of the reason behind Wilber's arguments, which are also very suspicious to my mind and to others. My point is that if Wilber's premises are faulty, then his broader systematic claims are definitely subject to critique as described above (and should have been since Jeff Meyerhoff's book or before).