The Wisdom Page 


The Integral Vision
A brief introduction by Copthorne Macdonald

In several of his books, Ken Wilber discusses the positive and negative effects of modernity. He identifies one of the negative effects as the disassociation of the three great value spheres, variously called:

  • morals, science, and art

  • the WE, the IT, and the I

  • the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
Modernism led to cultural dominance by science and its exclusive focus on the IT realm, with truths from the subjective (I) and intersubjective (WE) realms being ignored and devalued. Postmodernism has had its own agenda, one that in many respects has not brought about correction and healing. Sadly, in their present forms, neither modernism nor postmodernism represent the cultural foundation which the world desparately needs if humanity is going to thrive in a long-term sustainable way. Wilber and others are calling for corrective measures that will set right some of the imbalances caused by science's domination of our culture. He has used the term "integral vision," and one of his key meanings of integration is the integration of truths from whatever sphere of human knowledge they come — from science of course, but also central truths from anthropology, art and literary theory, feminism, philosophy, psychology, psychotherapy, theories of consciousness, and spiritual practice.

There are, of course, various interpretations and spins on the terms integration, integral culture, and integral vision. Paul Ray, sociologist and researcher, has referred to the integral culture as the "spiritualization of modernism," and his studies indicate that one fourth of the U.S. adult population would identify with at least his definition of it. (Paul Ray, "The Rise of Integral Culture," Noetic Sciences Review, Spring 1996.) Find our more about his work in creating an integral culture by visiting his Cultural Creatives web site.