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A Brief History of Everything Paperback – 1 Feb 1996

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Feb 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Newleaf; Underlining and Notations edition (Feb. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0717124290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0717124299
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"In the ambitiously titled "A Brief History of Everything", Wilber continues his search for the primary patterns that manifest in all realms of existence. Like Hegel in the West and Aurobindo in the East, Wilber is a thinker in the grand systematic tradition, an intellectual adventurer concerned with nothing less than the whole course of evolution, life's ultimate trajectory--in a word, everything. . . . Combining spiritual sensitivity with enormous intellectual understanding and a style of elegance and clarity, "A Brief History of Everything "is a clarion call for seeing the world as a whole, much at odds with the depressing reductionism of trendy Foucault-derivative academic philosophy."--"San Francisco Chronicle" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ken Wilber is one of the most widely read and influential American philosophers of our time. He is the author of over a dozen books including 'Grace and Grit', 'The Marriage of sense and Soul', and 'A Theory of Everything'. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Every few years I find myself reading a book that enables me to breath a huge sigh of relief: this is one such book. The relief is twofold: the knowing that the painful truth about life that's been dawning on me is shared by a respected philosopher and second, that the hard work I've been doing to help me move forward in life IS the way forward . . . indeed, the only way forward for each of us . . . and for humanity and our planet.

Like The Celestine Prophecy and The Power of Now, this book is one that those of us who are ready just HAVE to read . . . and in doing so find we're being reminded of deep truths and profound wisdom that we actually know already: it's just been buried by what Ken calls Flatland - the current and all prevailing world-view: objective, scientific, industrial . . . denying all else.

Ken charts the rise and fall of different philosophical eras and shows how these relate to evolution of life . . . to the unfolding of Spirit in life itself. All life. Without exception. In describing the problem we have within humanity Ken also offers hope and advise: a clear guide as to what's necessary for each of us to rise above the Flatland mentality and find our own higher consciousness: not an easy path, but if we want a life with heart, soul, depth and spirit, it's something we just have to get on with!
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Format: Paperback
Ken Wilber's book is separated into three parts, with the last chapter of the third part being an epilogue of sorts. I was riveted in the first two parts, partly bored in the third, and enjoyed the ending.

The book is written in Q & A style, which I thought worked quite well with the subject matter. Although the questions were, of course, leading the reader to a certain path, it did help me think through the points the author was trying to make.

The first part ("Spirit in Action") I thought of as "world evolution". This section lays the foundation of Wilber's thinking, how systems evolve, and proposes a four-quadrant approach for thinking about that evolution in a holistic fashion. The four quadrants encompass the inside and outside of the self ("I" and "it", the conscious and the physical) and the inside and outside of groups, or cultures ("we" and "its"). This leads to an discussion about world evolution, describing how the world has evolved from archaic to magic to mythic to rational and on.

The second part ("The Further Reaches of Spirit-in-Action") I thought of as personal evolution. Using the same framework and providing background from psychology and philosophy studies, Wilber shows a personal evolution through "fulcrums" or steps (eureka moments?) as a person moves up the spiritual/thought evolution. Parallels are drawn between the world evolution and personal evolution, and it is reinforced constantly that this must be an integral approach, i.e., it cannot just be logical ("it") and it cannot just be consicousness ("I") but must be a non-dualistic approach.

The third part ("Beyond Flatland") was a much too-long treatise on Wilber's opinion on why and how we have gotten off of the path of these two evolutions, personal and world.
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Format: Paperback
When you pick up a book like this which purports to provide a view of everything - EVERYTHING - you wonder at the ambition of the author. After all a great mind like Steven Hawking restricted himself to Time - which seemed a big enough subject to me. What is amazing is that Ken Wilbur does an absolutely brilliant job! Everything really does mean EVERYTHING - as far as I can tell (and I was never really good at not knowing what I don't know).
The content covers science, systems theory, philosophy, community, psychology, religion, spirituality, and mysticism. And not just superficially - to some depth.
What comes across is not Ken Wilbur's knowing about these subjects, but his UNDERSTANDING - two very different things.
Chapter 13 is possiby the most profound passage I have read in any book - it took me about 6 weeks to read and re read it. The only slight criticism I have (which seems churlish indeed) is the Question / Answer format used to discuss these things - this detracted from the flow - and for a book which blows apart the dualistic world view, this is strange indeed.
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"A brief history of everything" is a good introduction to the thinking of Ken Wilber. I haven't read his magnum opus "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality", but this book seems to be a condensed version of it.

Wilber's message or project is known as Integral Theory. It's a bold attempt at a grand synthesis of science, metaphysics and spirituality. The sources of inspiration are varied. With some difficulty, I could make out humanistic psychology, Hegel, Tibetan Buddhism and Plotinus. Admirer Michael Zimmerman has called Wilber neo-Hegelian, but Wilber is more appreciative of Hegel's rival Schelling. Apparently, Sri Aurobindo (whose works I never read) is another important source of inspiration. Critics have accused Wilber of interpreting these and others thinkers in somewhat idiosyncratic fashion, but that may be inevitable since the author attempts to integrate their perspectives. Poor Charles Darwin has been decisively left out of the new synthesis, however.

In a very broad sense, I suppose Wilber could be called "New Age". However, there seem to be important differences between Integral Theory and what usually passes for New Age. One is Wilber's positive view of modernity and sharp criticism of eco-spirituality, Gaia theory, and the like. In his view, this is pre-personal rather than transpersonal spirituality. Wilber attacks political correctness and criticizes multi-culturalism, which in the context of American politics is usually considered conservative. His call for a World Federation sounds more new agey, however, but will rub the more conspiracist subcultures within the New Age milieu the wrong way. Wilber never mentions channelling, angels, demons or space aliens, which presumably mean that he doesn't believe in such.
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