Attending the Integral Theory Conference at Sonoma State

Banner 800 x 238 300dpi-H.jpgFor the next few days I’ll be at the Integral Theory Conference put on by the Metaintegral Foundation. On Friday July 17, I’ll be on a panel which will consider the problem of radical Islamism, wherein I’ll get a chance to present my work in this area for The Institute for Cultural Evolution think tank (“ICE”). Then on Saturday, Carter Phipps and I will be presenting our paper Depolarizing the American Mind, which serves as a foundation for the current work of the ICE think tank.

So in connection with this conference’s focus on “integral theory,” I want to explain how I distinguish between the ideas of integral theory, integral philosophy, and the larger idea of the next great phase of human history.

  1. Integral theory: By this I mean things like Ken Wilber’s work, Spiral Dynamics, and my 2007 book, Integral Consciousness—all of these are in the realm of “integral theory.” This kind of thinking does represent an expanded perspective that is an important tool, but not something worthy of dedicating my life to.
  1. Integral Philosophy: This broader category includes all the thinkers and writers who have tried to discern the spiritual implications of evolution overall. My 2012 book, Evolution’s Purpose, falls in this category and is much less connected to Wilber’s thinking or Spiral Dynamics. I believe Integral philosophy, broadly understood, will eventually make an important contribution to human knowledge in the 21st century.
  1. The Next Major Phase of Human History, or the 2nd Enlightenment: This category is much broader than the previous two. And I think the there will be a variety of sources that contribute to its emergence beyond Integral philosophy. But at the moment, integral philosophy does seem to be the most promising vehicle for helping this next great emergence get started. So “working to help bring about the 2nd Enlightenment” is probably the best way to describe what I have dedicated my life to and how I conceive of the mission of ICE.

Perhaps the term “integral” is no longer useful because of its baggage. But in the work of ICE we continue to use this term among ourselves as a kind of shorthand. Nevertheless, we are increasingly using the term “evolutionary” to refer to this new worldview, even though this term has its own limitations. Perhaps the most descriptive term is “post-postmodern,” but this rather ugly word will probably never catch on as a useful label.

Hope that helps …