Ken Wilber is a Transhumanist Borg

Before I encountered Integral philosophy, I was first a transhumanist. I think it does that to you if you’ve watched too much sci-fi movies growing up.

One thing that got me hooked on integral thinking is that it had room for transhumanism and
spirituality. I like that. Although most integral literature
(specifically by Ken Wilber) don’t dabble much in science and
technology (e.g. they mostly focus on psychological development,
subjectivity, intersubjectivity, worldviews, etc.), the AQAL model has a place for transhumanistic thought (e.g. the Right Quadrants). So I can easily plug in Kurzweil’s Singularity on the AQAL map and have a better sense of the bigger picture. See my previous post, “Holonic Epochs.”

For me, it doesn’t make sense to be “integral” without embracing some
form of transhumanism.  So I would dare say that most, if not all,
“integral” thinkers are transhumanist, or more precisely H++.

In fact, I think Ken Wilber is an uber-transhumanist himself.

Case in point: Check out this video
of Ken Wilber showing off how he can manipulate his brain waves at
will. Now that is geeky. Although Ken is still biased with meditation
when it comes to psychological/spiritual transformation, I think
brain/mind machines have a special place in his utopian vision. And
besides, for a long time, Ken had depended on advanced medication and
life-enhancing supplements to counter his rare form of sickness. So I don’t think he has a problem with longevity science.

Also, consider Ken’s answer when asked this question: “Please
describe, in a stream of consciousness, an unabashedly utopian vision
of a truly enlightened future … a world theocracy in which the nondual
God becomes the organizing principle. Picture the year 2316 …”

“Right,
but my imagination jams at the beginning on the word “theocracy”
because in the past that has meant mythic-theocracy, which is what we
don’t want now. Go to Iran if that is what you want. But a truly
enlightened future, in my opinion, would be one in which the center of
gravity of the culture is at violet or higher, and states of
consciousness are navigated at will, which would almost certainly be
accompanied by brain/computer interfacing. Virtually all material wants
will have been vanquished by nanotech (I’m with Ray Kurzweil on that),
and the environmental crisis is long ended. The main concern for such a
society is how to help individuals move up the great spiral of
development and spectrum of consciousness because all exterior goods
and needs have long ago been met. So what’s a poor culture to do?

“Interior growth alone will answer that call. And interior growth
demands structures and stages, which—unlike states—cannot be induced by
drugs, meditation, or brain/mind machines. Addressing this need for
interior growth will be the call of tomorrow’s integral culture.

“Once that challenge is met, and I believe it will be, the second major
problem will be the simple fact that, even in an ultraviolet culture,
everybody is still born at square one, at infrared, and must begin
their evolution and development from there. Even in today’s society,
whose center of gravity is orange/green, everybody is born at square
one, which is why we still have pockets of red culture (in street
gangs, for example) and amber culture (in all of Kansas, it seems). But
those types of problems will not disappear in any conceivable future,
so they will need to be addressed creatively.

“Then, the
extraordinary states and stages available today only to those who work
incredibly hard (via meditation, therapy, yoga, etc.) will be
commonplace to all. The very Ground of All Being will be as obvious as
one’s original face, as vast Emptiness announces both Freedom and
Fullness for all souls, an ecstatic release and quiet riot of spiritual
radiance drenching each and all, as eternity falls in love with the
productions of time all over again, so that looking deep within, one
can find only the entire Kosmos, with galaxies swirling where you
thought your heart was and supernovas exploding in the middle of what
used to be your mind, and spirit itself as simple and obvious as the
sound of the rainfall on what is left of the old and forlorn world,
long gone in time, never found in space, this simple and ever-present
feeling of Being, now and now and endlessly now.”

(NOTE: For those who have no idea what the hell are those colors Ken Wilber is talking about, see A Brief Explanation of Altitude).

And finally, Ken has been dabbling on sci-fi writing with his latest work in progress, The Many Faces of Terrorism. I don’t know why, maybe Michael Crichton had something to do with it. Whatever. Check out this excerpt from Chapter 11 (pdf).

“Code
Project AQAL began as the join effort of literally hundreds of social
scientists and researchers from around the world.  They also called it
“The Human Consciousness Project” (HCP).  Much like the Human Genome
Project, which had mapped all the genes of human DNA, the HCP was a
complete mapping of human consciousness—any and all of its levels,
lines, states, and types, as reported over the last  several
millennia.  This involved hundreds of cultural experts, spiritual
teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists—and a dozen
Cray supercomputers parallel processing this information from all over
the world, with enough meta-analyses to attempt to spot any recurring
patterns.  The result is said to be the entire spectrum of
consciousness fully mapped for the first time in history.”

Anyway, my point is, Ken’s latest book is more sci-fi and
transhumanistic to the core rather than academically philosophical like
his previous works.

So yes, I think Ken Wilber is a freakin’ Borg. Resistance is partial.

And the Transhumanist Week continues…

Comment (1)

  1. Turil wrote::

    Not sure about the Borg thing… 🙂

    But I did want to point out that I’m always surprised that Ken continues to refer to earlier stages of development as being negative (street gangs, Kansas, etc.), when they most definitely don’t have to be, and in fact are really quite good if the indivuals are healthy. Red doesn’t mean violence, it means bravery and independence, purple doesn’t mean delusional tribes, it means creating a safe and supportive social network, and amber/blue doesn’t mean Fundamental Christian dogma, it means having some sort of structure in which you can function as an important participant. So, I think he’s really wrong in his vision of an Integral future, in that the “problems” of earlier development levels will not necessarily still be with us. I think that that’s sort of the whole point of creating/evolving an Integral society, is that we will understand what people need for healthy development, and be able to avoid the problems that come from unhealthy development.

    On another, more Transhumanist note, I think Ken would do well to explore cutting edge science a bit more, so that he can really see what the possibilities are, as we understand them now. Being able to bring the knowledge of the right quadrants together with the knowledge of the left quadrants is really what Integral is all about. And I’m often disappointed that Ken so quickly dismisses the right quadrants when he talks about his theories.

    Have you read the recent Dalai Lama book, something about the “Universe in a Particle”? I started it, but then had to bring it back to the library before I really got into it. But now, after watching all those videos you posted recently, I’m thinking that I really should read it, to see what the left quadrants have to say about this M-Theory stuff.

    Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 12:20 pm #