When I read Ken Wilber's massive tome Sex, Ecology and Spirituality the first time, I was knocked over. I was so fascinated and uplifted by what I read that I stayed up drinking tea until I almost passed out. Of course, I was only eighteen, and thus was easily impressed.
There have been many critiques of Wilber's work, some justified, some not, and I am not particularly inclined to either add to or debate them. Ken Wilber may be wrong, but he is wrong in such a way that he must be understood to be disagreed with. Even though I no longer agree with much of his thinking, I still find myself often using his concepts. He is, if nothing else, a well read synthesizer, who fairly accuratly integrates the worldviews of Plotinus, the Vedanta and the Kaballah with the modern research of Erik Erikson, Maslow and Jean Piaget.
There are actually sixteen steps (approximatly) in Ken Wilber's entire view of the kosmos, but I will focus on the middle five that apply to most human beings and human societies. The ones below this concern either the spiritual state of being of either animals or angels.
In addition, each state manifests itself in different ways.
Stage Four, rationality, manifests itself as as the individual Cartesian ego on a personal level, and as the belief in universal rights on a social level.
Also, I don't know if Ken Wilber ever came up with a cool name for his map of consciousness. I use stage because it is the most descriptive, but then stage wouldn't be a very good name for a ambiguosly gay green eyed villain .
the levels are:
- Archaic Stage: A level of simple thoughts and images, and the most basic level of social organization. Supposedly found only in prehistoric tribes, and modern people with serious mental or psychological problems.
- Magic Stage: This stage shows the basic developments of conceptual understandings about self, others and nature. However, there is no logical connection between the three, and the ability to think doesn't include what is not easily grasped by the senses. This is the level of impulsive people, small children and pre-literate societies.
- Mythic Stage : Is where an integrated understanding of society and nature comes in, bounded by written rules, often very rigid. However, this understanding is not achieved through logical means, but through belief in a creator deity, and it almost always excludes people outside of the society.
- Rational Stage : Like the preceeding stage, laws and principles are important to this stage, but now these laws and principles are developed through thought (as with Descartes, experimental science and democratic process. This is the great stage of modernism.
- Pluralistic Stage Is the world view that has been developing in the world for the past 50 years. This view emcompasses multiple value systems, diversity, social justice and a refusal of scientific and logical reductionism.