Transcending and Including Integral Theory

I have one major rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of the truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.

Introduction, Collected Works of Ken Wilber, vol. VIII (2000)

Ken Wilber recently commented on Jordan Peterson for 1 hour and 20 minutes in this interview. You can probably gain about 80% of the value in the video by watching the first 20 minutes. Using ribbonfarm‘s signature concept handle “refactoring perception”*, we could say that Ken Wilber refactors Jordan Peterson in Integral Theoretic frameworks. His affinity for Peterson is the result of interpreting his actions as those of someone who sees the world through Integral lenses, in the sense that he acknowledges the partial truths of each level up to and including Teal.

Is the Integral Theory meme-plex capable of absorbing Jordan Peterson’s sphere of influence? Probably not, because as Ken Wilber might put it, Peterson followers are a mixture of Teal (Integral), Orange (Modern), and Amber (Traditional) people all pulling together against the memetic totalitarianism of the Green (Post-Modern) developmental stage. That said, we could perhaps anticipate a degree of memetic revival of Integral Theory thanks to its compatibility with Petersonism.


What do I personally think of the Integral meme-plex? I see it as an upgrade relative to current mainstream worldviews. Alas, in my experience interacting with people who really dig that worldview (of which there are plenty in the Bay Area consciousness development/hacking space), I’ve encountered strong resistance against some of the core values and perspectives that QRI‘s Qualia/Valence meme-plex brings:

Integral Theorists tend to dismiss concerns about wild animal suffering, the genetic roots of suffering, and the possibility of identifying the physico-mathematical signature of bliss– which they might dismiss as a Modernist fantasy(!).

To upgrade the Integral Theory meme-plex, I’d emphasize the following:

  1. The Tyranny of the Intentional Object (which has material bearings on how we interpret the nature of “mystical” states, e.g. Jhanas are not so much ‘spiritual’ as glorified high-valence states with long-term mental health benefits thanks to neural annealing).
  2. That Open Individualism is consistent with (and indeed even implied by) monistic physicalism.
  3. And that the goals of transhumanism (superhappiness, superintelligence, and superlongevity) are indeed a direct implication of systematizing ethics (rather than being driven by egoic structures, as swiftly assumed by most).

*As of March of 2019 they seem to have moved on to “constructions in magical thinking.”


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  4. Anthony Garner · April 15, 2019

    My own worldview seems to accord mostly with your own. Of course I have no scientific basis for my own worldview, merely intuition and disconnected theorizing. Nonetheless for what it is worth my conclusion is that everything we conscious entities feel, suffer or enjoy is, at bottom, a quale. Spirituality is, for example, the quale we “enjoy” when certain external factors put our mind into a certain state.
    By way of example ritual (church music, incense, incantation, intonation of the psalms) can put me at least into a state where I feel at one with the world and seem to be connected to some sense of the numinous. And I am an atheist or at best agnostic.
    How does this come about? And does it suggest that there is a deity out there or perhaps at least some pantheistic or Jungian uber consciousness?
    My belief is that it comes about through elctro mechanical and chemical reactions in my brain which smells and rhythm cause. Call this reductionist if you will. Hence I do not believe that a deity is “out there”. Nonetheless like Pascal, I believe we should act as it there were a deity – for ethical and moral purposes.
    I believe in a sense that we make our own deity and certainly our own meaning. But at heart we do so through the basic laws of physics. To use your own terminology through “harmony”, by creating certain states of rhythm and harmony in our brains which cause us to feel in a certain way. To experience certain qualia.
    And we should feel those qualia for the world to evolve in a better and kinder way. We need to fee those qualia. To manufacture, bring about and encourage those qualia. Hence I firmly believe in the sort of project you are aiming at: to alter our qualia for the better, to raise our hedonic set point.
    I believe that to do so makes for a better world. I believe that the application of science through the methods you have suggested (genetic engineering for instance) will enable us to create what the religious has never been able to create – a heaven on earth.
    Is that spirituality? Or is it reductionist and bare, feeling-less science? I do not believe you should separate the two. If “god is within” as so many of the world’s religions postulate, then surely we should use science to amend and adjust the “within” to achieve the bliss, beauty and love we so sadly lack. We created “god” in our own image. It is we who have the chance to become godlike – perhaps in the way that Frank Tipler envisaged. Or in a slightly more traditional and religious way Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

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