One Taste, a kind of journal, was probably a strange way to approach the work of Ken Wilber, prolific integral philosopher. Instead of one of his door-stop size dissections of religion, culture, spirituality, and science, One Taste offers a scattershot sampling of Wilber’s ideas (or the ideas of Wilber-4, the fourth phase of his development, which has recently been subsumed by Wilber-5, from what I understand.)

There are more fresh insights here per page than I remember seeing in a good long while. Wilber’s approach is very methodical. Everything comes in lists, numbered quadrants, levels, lines, waves, and he likes to capitalize his Concepts–such as One Taste, the awareness of non-dual spiritual reality he posits behind the Gross Realm of the physical. His project, as far as I can tell, is to integrate most of the world’s knowledge into one functioning system. “Nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time,” and therefore every discipline has something to contribute: transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, Gaia theory, Buddhism, magic, sociology, and so forth. By stepping back far enough from each of these disciplines, he abstracts an essence, which is heavily influenced by what Huxley calls “the Perennial Philosophy,” the theory of the Great Nest of Being in which ascending levels of realization and awareness enclose each other, from the Physical to the Rational and beyond.

The aesthetic and political implications of his work are as interesting as the spiritual self-realization. From what he posits as the “pre/trans fallacy” (a confusion of pre-rational impulses with post-rational growth), he mounts a strong attack on extreme Postmodernism and the way in which Liberalism undermines itself by “embracing diversity” without fostering the growth of a world-centric view. He also has very little love for garden-variety New Age philosophy, which he considers merely regressive.

I’m probably not doing a good job of explaining or even summarizing any of this; it’s a complex system that’s doing a fine job of teasing out some of the more dumbfounding contradictions of the usual dualities we’ve come to live with (liberal-conservative, religion-science, body-mind, etc.), and in One Taste, it’s revealed in little glimpses, interspersed with private bits about the weather in Boulder, conferences he’s invited to, and his love affair with a grad student. It’s highly recommended reading, although there might be better places to start. I’m looking into The Eye of Spirit and A Brief History of Everything next, and save Sex, Ecology, Spirituality for some other time.

Wilber at Wikipedia
Wilber links on del.icio.us
Wilber on the Iraq War