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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellant source for transpersonal view of mankind., 17 Jun 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Up from Eden: Transpersonal View of Human Evolution (Paperback)
This is an excellant text to give one an overview of the development and evolution of humanity from the transpersonal point of view. Wilber draws heavily on existentialist Becker as well as the master of myth, J. Campbell. He presents his thesis in a comprehensive and far reaching flavor, bringing some sense into the evolution of the mystical as well as the concrete. I highly recommend this text for anyone interested in placing life in an inclusive theory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Wilber minus AQAL, 15 Jan 2012
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"Up from Eden" is a book by Ken Wilber, first published in 1981. The current edition was published in 2004 by a Theosophical group in India, and carries the following statement: "For sale in the Indian subcontinent only". So how come I own a copy? How large is the Indian subcontinent, exactly? ;-)

It's not clear how much of the Indian version is original, and how much is re-written. It seems to be based on a "New Edition" from 1996. Some of the footnotes seem to be new. Still, I must say that I prefer this (perhaps slightly edited) "early Wilber" to the scholasticism of his middle period, with all the quadrants, levels, lines and what not. As for Ken's post-metaphysical turn...please come on.

Although I tend to disagree with Wilber's Advaita-Mahayana metaphysics, "Up from Eden" is very interesting and illuminating. Of special interest is the section entitled "The Context", where Wilber discusses the two falls, the theological fall and the scientific fall. Interestingly, he doesn't claim that creation is *necessarily* fallen, and even holds out the prospect of a "non-dual realization" that doesn't negate the material world or the lower spiritual realms, but somehow purges them of their sinfulness and limitations. Is this taken from Aurobindo, who came close to seeing the realization of the Supermind on Earth as a kind of "millennium" in which matter would be divinized? Nor does Wilber believe that Heaven is just around the corner. Instead, the next step in evolution is a "normal", material humanity that somehow manages to integrate spirituality in its day-to-day existence. Wilber's distinction between pre-personal and trans-personal is also very interesting, as is the idea that the personal stage (which includes the development of an ego) is a neccesary precondition for the transpersonal.

I admit that I prefer this perspective to the usual teachings of people inspired by Advaita or Vajrayana, which sounds more nihilistic.

Wilber seems to have changed his main philosophical heroes several times - in "Up from Eden" it's Hegel, in SES it's Plotinus and Schelling, and in both SES and the post-metaphysical works it's Jürgen Habermas (!). On this point, SES seems more logical than "Up from Eden", but its nevertheless fascinating how Wilber uses Hegel to bolster his spiritual case. My guess is that he was deeply moved by Copleston's description of Hegel's philosophy in "History of Philosophy". So was I. Copleston somehow manages to make Hegel sound interesting, relevant and even somewhat spiritual. More problematic are Wilber's references to Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj), the leader of a Tantric sex cult in California, with which Wilber had some kind of association at the time of writing this book.

Weirdly, "Up from Eden" in many ways resemble my own subconscious thinking on metaphysics and the human predicament. And no, I won't and I can't vouch for every detail in Wilber's mythological interpretations. However, the last three chapters did articulate some of my own speculative thoughts concerning the meaning of evolution and existence. But yes, there are some differences between me and Mr. Wilber as well, which lay outside the scope of this review.

It's also intriguing that the Theosophists still reprint this particular work by Wilber (who never was a Theosophist, although Adyar published some of his early works), while paying no particular attention to the author's later AQAL scholasticism. Perhaps Adyar see "Up from Eden" as, in some sense, Theosophical?

Be that as it may, I give this work five stars. I somehow like Wilbie without the quadrant/post-quadrant mumbo-jumbo-jimbo.

SES = "Sex,Ecology,Spirituality", Ken Wilber's main work.
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Up from Eden: Transpersonal View of Human Evolution
Up from Eden: Transpersonal View of Human Evolution by Ken Wilber (Paperback - 1 April 1996)
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