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This needs to be addressed!

Last post 02-17-2007, 8:41 AM by ambosuno. 110 replies.
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  •  12-21-2006, 2:23 PM 16968

    • rholden is not online. Last active: 03-07-2007, 7:28 AM rholden
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    This needs to be addressed!

    I was shocked when I came across this book review about Wilber’s, “Up from Eden.” I didn’t realize that Ken had written certain things about the evolution of man, which is really, really wrong. He seems to have taken basic 19th century physical anthropology and used it to make an argument for this grand theory. When I say wrong, I mean it is obvious that he didn’t actually read or use any information from the second half of the 20th century and seemed to rely on authors that weren’t archaeologists/anthropologists themselves, but from philosophical theorists that were influenced by ideas of “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny.” This was a theory used for 70 years, and who’s only use was a way to prove the inferiority of the lower, non-western European, races. I’ll go into the history if anyone want’s me too, but a quick review of Gould’s, “A Mismeasure of Man,” would be the best place. As soon as the theory was completely disproven, Neotony, which is the opposite of ORP was used for a brief time, until all theories trying to find physical prove of the inferiority of the lower races was abandoned.


    The review is dated, so I should add something else. Australopithecus afarensis and robustus, are no longer assumed to be our ancestors. At the moment there’s a lot up in the air and researchers are trying to make sense of a lot of new finds.  


    The things Ken seems to claim in this book are ridiculous to even a 3rd year undergrad. studying these things.


    Here’s the review:




    Michael Winkelman

    Arizona State University

    Tempe, AZ 85387

    Determination of the stages of the evolution of human

    consciousness lies at the interface of many scientific disciplines,

    including anthropology, archaeology, paleontology, biology,

    psychology, cross-cultural psychology, philosophy and

    epistemology. One widely cited recent theory of the evolution

    ofhuman consciousness is Up From Eden by the transpersonal

    psychologist Ken Wilber, widely acclaimed as the leading

    theoretician in his field (Grof 1981). His works The Spectrum

    of Consciousness and The Atman Project provide widely

    recognized seminal integrations of Western and Eastern

    psychologies. His models of the evolution of human

    consciousness are further expounded in Transformations of

    Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives

    on Development (Wilber, Engler, and Brown 1986) (see

    Winkelman 1987 for review).

    Because of Wilber's success in uniting diverse

    psychological theories and perspectives within the field of

    transpersonal psychology (e.g., Wilber 1977,1980), his esteem

    within the field of transpersonal psychology appears unequaled

    and his works are widely considered as basic texts. These

    earlier outstanding achievements have created a context

    within which Up From Eden has been uncritically accepted.

    Without an extensive background in paleontology, archaeology,

    anthropology, and cross-cultural psychology, as well as other

    fields necessary for a critical evaluation of this work, one is

    likely to be mislead into accepting Wilber's perspectives. This

    is reinforced by the fact that widespread ethnocentrisms

    found among Westerners and within Western psychology

    itself are found in Wilber's perspectives on the evolution of

    human consciousness. Wilber's theories expound perspectives

    central to Euroamerican culture and Western psychology, and

    contain biases and assumptions which are at variance with

    contemporary anthropological findings and perspectives on

    the prehistorical, historical and contemporary cross-cultural

    conditions ofhuman consciousness and cognitive capacities.

    In Up From Eden, Wilber (1981) interprets mythological,

    anthropological, archaeological, and psychological data to

    construct a theory of the prehistorical and historical evolution

    of human consciousness. The theoretical framework is the

    model of ontogenetic evolution of human consciousness

    presented in The Atman Project (1980). Up From Eden argues

    that the consciousness of the human race as a whole began in

    an undifferentiated state similar to contemporary human

    infants and evolved through various specific stages of

    differentiation and intellectual development similar to

    contemporary psychological and cognitive development. It is

    suggested that the highest level achieved by broad segments

    of the human race so far is the stage typical of modern day

    Westerners at the solar ego/formal operations stage.

    Strikingly different reviews of Up From Eden are provided

    in a 1982 issue of Phoenixby John White and Phillip Staniford.

    While both reviewers recognize that Wilber has made outstanding

    contributions to transpersonal psychology, their

    assessments of Up From Eden differ. White's review extols the

    virtues of the general view of the evolution of consciousness

    proposed by Wil ber, and repeats the acclaims ofother reviewers

    which suggest that Up From Eden outranks other annals of

    the intellectual history ofWestern Civilization such as Darwin's

    Origin of Species and Freud's Interpretation of Dreams.

    However, Staniford points out that Wilber's view ofhuman

    evolution is simplistically unilineal and based on 19th century

    anthropology while ignoringcurrentanthropological research

    and points of view.

    Wilber's efforts to integrate Western and Eastern psychology

    have made major contributions to psychology, but Up

    From Eden has many problems with facticity and interpretation.

    This review was written to reconcile Wilber's theoretical

    perspectives on the evolution of human consciousness with

    current anthropological research and perspectives on early

    hominids and contemporary variation cross-culturally in

    cognitive processes. Initially there was no intention to call

    into question the adequacy of the ontogenetic model in explicating

    phylogenetic evolution. However, in the process of

    reviewing materials relevant to the nature of consciousness of

    hominids and early humans, I was forced to recognize that the

    ontogenetic model was incapable of accounting for the phylogenetic

    evolutionary data. During the last century biologists

    recognized that ontogenetic models were inadequate in

    accounting for phylogenetic development (Gould 1977).

    This review sets forth data which illustrate that

    phylogenetic evolution of human consciousness does not

    correspond to the ontogenetic patterns as Wilber argues. The

    following materials sketch Wilber's ontogenetically based

    phylogenetic theory of the different stages of evolution of

    human consciousness as presented in Up From Eden.

    Anthropological, ethological and cross-cultural cognitive

    research is reviewed to indicate the actual cognitive capacities

    and conditions of consciousness of pre-sapien hominids, early

    Homo sapiens, and contemporary non-Western peoples.

    Wilber's theoretical perspectives are revised in light of the

    evidence presented.


    The first stage of Wilber's theory of the evolution of

    human consciousness is called "Uroboric*. Uroboric refers to

    the mythical serpent eating it's own tail and forming or

    representing an undifferentiated mass, and is used as a

    characterization of consciousness at this period. Wilber groups

    at the Uroboric stage Australopithecus africanus,Homohabilis

    and Homo erectus, who lived from 3 million to 200,000 years

    ago. Wilber suggests that these hominids lived without

    consciousness, in a primitive narcissistic state of embeddedness

    with nature which was characterized by confusion of self

    and other, and of inner experiences and the external world.

    They are said to have been bound up in a participation

    mystique of unconscious identity: an undifferentiated dreamy

    autistic state in which they did not know themselves as

    separate entities, and did not have a self conscious life. He

    claims that these hominids lacked the capacity for true

    mental reflection and verbal representation and were ruled

    by instincts and biological drives.

    Wilber points out that his considerations devote little

    attention to the archaeological record, but instead rely upon

    discussions of others such as Arieti, Becker, Berdyaev, Cassier,

    Gebser, Neumann and Whyte. However, these individuals are

    not paleontologists, archaeologists, nor anthropologists, but

    other cross-disciplinary synthesizers who are presenting their

    own evolutionary or psychodynamic theories, derived from


    Western cultural assumptions. There is no review of

    anthropological research on the hominids of this era, and

    many assertions are in direct conflict with widely accepted

    anthropological research on such issues such as the appearance

    of language and cultural development.

    The primary argument substantiating Wilber's

    characterization of these early hominids is that serpent

    symbolism, associated with the early developmental stages

    within the Kundalini tradition, is also associated with

    historically ancient peopl es. Wilber makes reference to serpent

    motifs in Egypt, in bronze age Africa, the Coptic peoples, and

    in the Eden myth. These cultures have no relationship to the

    hominids that Wilber places in this stage, since these cultures

    occurred hundreds of thousands to millions of years after the

    hominids he is considering.

    Furthermore, there is no systematic consideration of the

    distribution of the serpent motif and its relationship to socioeconomic

    conditions, as would be necessary to link such

    symbolism to stages of sociocultural evolution or to the

    evolution of human consciousness. Although such symbolism

    may provide important clues about the cultural representations

    of consciousness, they must be studied in a systematic crosscultural

    fashion and in relationship to social conditions in a

    representative sample of human cultures. Without such

    systematic investigations, no causal relationships can be

    inferred, nor can we control for the worldwide diffusion of

    serpent worship and symbolism in ancient times (e.g., see Fox


    Instead of presenting evidence about these early hominids,

    Wilber calls upon what he refers to as circumstantial evidence:

    the belief that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. He then

    illustrates by reference to Pi aget and other psychologists that

    human infants have the characteristics that he attributes to

    these pre-sapien hominids. However, ontogenetic data do not

    provide evidence about phylogenetic evolution. If we wish to

    illustrate correspondences of phylogenetic evolution with

    ontogenetic patterns, we must have evidence about early

    phylogenetic stages, not theories. Wilber has presented us

    with no evidence about the hominids in this era and nothing

    to support the contentions except the discredited notion that

    ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Wilber states that there is

    no way to prove or disprove his assertions, but in fact

    archaeological and ethnological research clearly refutes his



    Tobias (1971a) reviews evidence arguing that even

    Australopithecus exploited a mental, manipulative, and

    cultural capacity upon which they depended for survival, and

    "...had a well-developed cultural life based primarily upon the

    use and modification ofbone for survival" (1971a: 132). Needless

    to say, this characterization would have also applied to later

    hominids such as Homo habilis, who showed a systematically

    progressive use of stone tools. Montague (1976) argues that

    tool use and transmission of such knowledge implies the

    presence of language among Australopithecus and Homo

    habilis. Anthropologists generally agree that it is likely that

    language beyond rudimentary signalling forms was present

    as long as 2-3 million years ago (e.g., see Jolly and Flog 1979

    and Holloway 1976). They argue that the complexity of their

    hunting activities would have required the use of language to

    coordinate activities. The paleobiological evidence is also

    consistent with the assumption that language was present

    (see section on The Fossil Record and Neural Organization"

    in Hamad, Steklins, and Lancaster 1976). Isaac (1976) points

    out that there was the imposition of arbitrary design rules in

    the construction of some tools during the Middle Pleistocene

    0-5 million years ago). This not only indicates symbolic

    activity in the transmission of knowledge, but suggests the

    differentiation between different groups on the basis of these

    arbitrary stylistic differences.

    Planning for future hunting activities and the creation

    and maintenance of a tool use tradition based in the cultural

    transmission of abstract ideas would have required object

    permanence, a notion of the future, long term memory, rational

    planning, and differentiation of self from the environment

    and others. The use of arbitrary stylistic differences in tools

    suggest the development of a self concept as a locus for

    organization of experience.

    In his comparative assessmentofAuafrafopif/tecua.Tobias

    suggests (1971a:l27) that anything chimpanzees and gorillas

    can do, Australopithecus and subsequent hominids could

    have donebetter since they hadlarger sized brains. Chevalier-

    Skolnikoff s (1976) studies show that the great apes complete

    all of Sensory-Motor Intelligence series in all modalities

    (tactile/kinesthetic, visual/body, visual/gestural, and visual/

    facial) except the verbal mode. "They are able to initiate and

    effect change in their environment, and can experimentally,

    or mentally invent new means to accomplish such changes

    (Chevelier-Skolnikoff 1976:179). Tanner and Zihlman

    (1976:470) review ethological studies of chimpanzees and

    suggest: " animal's selection among'conciliatory* gestures,

    such as presenting, bowing, bobbing, crouching, kissing and

    grinning as appropriate reaction to another's antagonistic

    behavior exemplifies an awareness and weighing of the

    intensity of another animals in tent....Their social interaction

    and communication appear to reflect an incipient concept of

    'other**. Their review of experimental studies suggests that a

    complementary concept of "self" also exists, as chimps display

    self recognition in mirrors, which monkeys do not exhibit.

    They suggest that research indicates that chimpanzees utilize

    cognitive mapping, least distance strategies, organization

    and selective use of environmental information, concealment

    of information, emotional cues and intentions, and crossmodality

    perception. Cross modality perception involves the

    ability to recognize a given object regardless of the sense

    modality employed to receive the information. This ability,

    considered uniquely human until the 1970's, is considered

    essential for symbolism and a necessary (but not sufficient)

    elementofhuman language (see Desmond 1979; Linden 1974;

    Rumbaugh 1977; Premack 1976; Sebeock and Umiker-Sebeock


    This research indicates that chimpanzees reach a mental

    development somewhere between the ages of 2 and 5 with

    respect to humans, with limitations primarily with respect to

    verbal, not symbolic abilities. Therefore, mature adult

    chimpanzees evolve beyond most of the characterizations of

    the uroboric stage and the subsequent typhonic stage. Early

    Australopithecus was at least as advanced as chimpanzees;

    the differences in brain size and the presence of tools make

    this incontrovertible. The development of chimpanzees make

    it clear that no normal adult pre-sapien hominids in the past

    3 million years were operating at the uroboric level as outlined

    in Up From Eden or as expanded in The Atman Project.



    Wilber's typhonic stage spans the period from 200,000-

    10,000 B.P., roughly corresponding to the era from the

    emergence ofHomo sapiens until the beginnings of civilization

    or history. The typhon is a mythological creature, half human

    and half animal, representing Wilber's characterization of

    humans at this stage. Wilber suggests that these early Homo

    sapiens lacked a body-self differentiation, language, a logical

    and conceptual mind, and the ability to differentiate the mind

    from the body (p.41-2). He suggests that they utilized protolinguistic

    structures, were characterized by subject/object

    and part/whole confusions, and were incapable of extensive

    temporal consciousness. The previous discussion on Australopithecus

    and the great apes directly refutes much of this


    Wilber discusses cave art and totemism to substantiate

    his characterizations. However, analysis of that material

    from an anthropological perspective illustrates the very

    abilities Wilber wants to deny. Wilber suggests that the cave

    art of the Sorcerer of Trois Freres (a combination of animals

    parts representing a shaman), was a "self portrait," by a

    sorcerer who "experienced himself and his world" (p.44) in

    that way, as a collection of animals. Although typhonic stage

    humans are characterized by difficulty in distinguishing

    symbol from reality and as incapable of differentiating self

    from body or psyche from environment, they are able to

    represent themselves symbolicallyby combining animal parts.

    The cognitive abilities attributed to the artist are not sufficient

    to account for the activities attributed. Mar shack (1972)

    further demonstrates that the Trois Freres drawings are

    lunar calendrical representations, placing the representations

    still further beyond the abilities attributed to these people by

    Wilber, since they would require not only the capacity for

    complex representation, but also an extended sense of time,

    which Wilber does not attribute to humans until the next


    Wilber s uggests that totemi sm is a belief"... which regards

    a certain animal as an ancestor, a friend or some kind of

    powerful and providential being" (p.48), and derives from a

    lack of differentiation or an only partial differentiation of the

    individual from the natural environment, in particular from

    animals. Levi-Strauss (1962) provides a widely accepted review

    and synthesis of the perspectives offered on totemism in the

    anthropological tradition. The essence of Levi-Strauss's

    argument (1962:1966) is that totemistic practices are a

    technique for differentiating human societies by means of

    analogy. Totemism involves a process of postulation of a

    homology between differential features existing between

    species and between human groups; as animal species differ

    among themselves, so dohuman groups differ. The differences

    between human groups become represented by the more

    obvious and collectively shared perceptions of differences

    between animal species. Levi-Strauss's demonstrates how

    totemic practices function as an analogic mode of thought,

    involving the same processes and level of mental functioning

    which underlies scientific thought. If early Homo sapiens had

    totemistic beliefs, Wilber has underestimated their cognitive

    abilities, since they would have required not only abstract

    thought but difTerentiationof self from environment, animals

    and others. Wilber's description of totemism appears to

    correspond more closely to the guardian spirit complex.

    However, even in such a case, ascription of confusion of

    identity is inappropriate. Any such characterization would

    alsobeapplicabletopresentday trance mediums, whocertainly

    don't evidence general confusion of identity in normal states.

    Jolly and nog's (1979) discussion of tool manufacturing

    among archaic Homo sapiens (100,000 B.P.) illustrate a

    cognitive capacity based in symbolic behavior. Archaic Homo

    sapiens tool builders used a "prepared core technique" involving

    three entirely separate processes, requiring that: "the whole held in the imagination and executed in the

    right order—nothing resembling the finished tool emerges

    until the final blow...[Like a person working all week for a

    Friday paycheck, [the tool maker gets] no results until the

    very end" (Jolly and Plog 1979:246-7). In the subsequent

    discussion of the Mousterian tradition (100,000-40,000 B.P.),

    they suggest that: "each tool type was made to a standard

    pattern in a way that is eloquent the ability of

    the Mousterian stone worker to hold a pattern in the 'mind's

    eye" (p. 253).

    Not only is symbolic activity and planning for the future

    clearly established in these early Homo sapiens, but religious

    activities are present as well. "Among the remains of archaic

    Homo sapiens...we repeatedly find relics that seem to have a

    symbolic rather than utilitarian value...religion was clearly

    established" (Jolly and Plog 1979;258). There is also strong

    evidence of a widespread bear cult as well as ritual human

    burials and associated evidence which "seems

    indisputabfly]...related to belief in the supernatural" (Jolly

    and Plog 1979;259). Isaac (1976) points out that burials, grave

    offerings and cults extend through the Late Acheulan,

    Mousterian and Middle Stone Age (200,000-45,000 B.P.).

    Thus, it appears that throughout the typhonic era as specified

    by Wilber, artifacts suggest that humans had a conception of

    the afterlife, human physical mortality, and human spiritual


    R. White (1982) reviews the archaeological evidence

    suggesting that regular social aggregations occurred during

    the Upper Paleolithic (beginning 40,000 B.P.). He points out

    the probable use of morphological differences in artifacts to

    symbolize territory or social boundaries (see also Wobst 1974),

    and the imposition of formal standards in the working of

    antler and bone to communicate individual and/or corporate

    (social) identity by means of purposeful stylistic variation (c.f.

    Conkey 1978). White also points out evidence suggesting the

    use of personal ornaments capable of communicating

    individual or corporate identity, as well as the presence of

    widespread material exchange based upon structured

    exchange or the approval of groups living in distant locales. In

    his review of cave art and other non-functional artifacts,

    Marshack (1972) suggests that we find the beginnings of

    science. As far back as 30,000 B.C., we find an evolved,

    complex and sophisticated tradition of astronomical observation

    and recording which Marshack characterizes as "a

    cognitive, time-factored and time-factoring technique....

    Apparently we have archaeological evidence for the use of the

    same basic cognitive processes that appear later in science and

    writing" (1972:57-58, emphasis in original).

    Given that the same physical brain capacity and the same

    basic cognitive processes were present in both archaic and

    modern Homo sapiens, we must ask the question of whether

    these temporarily separated peoples had the same structures

    of mind, or "deep structures" in Wilber's sense. Do the obvious

    differences involve transformations from one stage of cognitive


    development to a qualitatively different one, or are the

    differences merely translations—cognitively equivalent

    structures at the same level of development? Issac's (1976:283)

    conclusions drawn from the Upper Paleolithic archaeological

    evidence (40,000 years ago) suggests that the differences be

    seen as translations, not transformations:'Most archaeologists

    familiar with the field seem to be convinced that they are

    dealing with the products of human societies in possession of

    the full biological capabilities of our species as it exists today."

    Wilberinsists that these earlier humans have different mental

    structures from those of modern humans, but we see that his

    characterizations are unfounded. We are forced to recognize

    the existence of human societies some 40,000-100,000 years

    ago which were cogni ti vely equivalent to contemporary society

    in terms of cognitive capabilities, although not content or



    Wilber suggests that about 12,000 B.P. there was the

    development offarming consciousness" which was associated

    with the development of a new stage of consciousness, the

    mythic membership stage. Wilber asserts that at this time

    some humans developed an extended sense of time and that

    full-fledged language appeared. However, these people are

    still characterized by part/whole and subject/predicate

    confusions and lacking true ego development. Verbal membership,

    or language based conception of self is seen as crucial:

    Hanguage becomes the predominate vehicle of the separate

    self... with language, the verbal mind could differentiate itself

    out of the previous body-self (p. 92-3, emphasis in original).

    Wilber follows Jaynes (1976) in this discussion, but Jaynes'

    ideas have been rejected on several points by evidence provided

    by extant languages, archaeology, and the reconstruction of

    ancient languages (see Steklis 1976). There is indication of

    considerable social and economic change around 12,000 B.P.

    which may have involved an intensification of the use of

    language, but the other personal changes which Wilber

    suggests as indicative of this stage clearly occurred before the

    agriculture revolution.

    However, Wilber suggests that the majority of non-Western

    peoples have remained at the verbal-membership stages, and

    have not acquired fully developed egos or the development of

    logical-rational thought. If the majority of the people of the

    world lack fully developed egos, one wonders why the psychological

    anthropologists (e.g., see Spindler 1978) have failed to

    make this discovery. Using the conventional psychoanalytical

    definition of the ego as a reality principle responsible for

    keeping the id in check and aligning the individual's behavior

    with physical and social reality, it should be apparent without

    argument that all normal contemporary peoples have egos.

    The archaeological evidence reviewed by R. White (1982; see

    above) suggests that egoic structures as conventionally

    conceived existed at least as long as 40,000 years ago, and the

    comparative ethological evidence suggests that some form of

    ego structures have probably existed in hominids for millions

    of years. Wilber's insistence that the majority of non-Western

    peoples are dominated by instinctual responses to external

    stimuli and have not reached the solar-ego stage in his

    schema is untenable. Human societies, especially

    contemporary ones, are not dependent upon instinctual

    behavior for their maintenance. As Tobias (1971a, 1971b)

    pointsout, evenAustralopithecus depended more upon cultural

    adaptation than instinct for survival.


    Wilber suggests that a new stage of "Solar Ego" consciousness

    emerged in 2500 B.C., occurring during the era which

    Childe (1951) refers to as the Urban Revolution. Wilber

    suggests that during the solar ego stage we see the beginning

    of truly rational and logical thought, formal operational

    thinking, and the emergence of an exclusively egoic structure

    of consciousness (p. 180-2). Wilber (1980:31-2) suggests that

    the core of the mental-egoic stage, which provides the

    ontogenetic model for the solar-ego stage, involves: the

    development of a self concept; the emergence of an ego which

    is characterized by the final emergence of the super-ego

    proper; and the ability to take on abstract roles. Wilber states

    that the solar ego emerged in the "West (Europe and Near

    East)", and that the majority of non-Western peoples have

    remained at the verbal-membership stages instead of reaching

    the ego levels (footnote p. 187). The above discussions have

    provided evidence that these abilities were both acquired long

    ago, and are present cross-culturally.

    Wilber's discussion of the solar ego stage depends primarily

    upon Whyte (1951), who discusses what he calls the "European

    dissociation...the distinguishing mark of European and

    Western man" (p. 192). This mentality attained its most marked

    form in European and Western peoples from 6th century B.C.

    Greece to the present. This distinguishing mark is the result

    of the Western ego not merely differentiating from the Great

    Mother, or from nature, but of severing and dissociating from

    her. Wilber emphasizes that this is "not merely a

    differentiation, but a dissociation" (p. 192). "[TJhe emergence

    of the ego level... in the West... was not just a differentiation

    of the mind and body- which was a necessary and positive step

    in evolution- but a dissociation of the mind from the body"

    (p.191). In the development of the mental-ego, "the ego did not

    just transform up and out of the typhonic and membership

    stages, it violently repressed them" (p.181-182, emphasis in


    However, Wilber informs us in The Atman Project that

    "repression is not transformation. We might say that repression

    is one type of failure to clearly transform" (p.42-3). This

    indicates that the solar ego or mental ego stage as conceived

    by Wilber is not a transformation, but a degenerative

    translation which is characteristic of particular social and

    cultural traditions.

    The widespread transcendence to level five among

    shamans of typhonic cultures and transcendence to the highest

    levels by sages of cultures at the mythic membership level

    also suggests that the solar ego stage is a translation, not a

    transformation. Wilber gives no indication that the shaman

    must operate at the solar ego level (or even the membership

    level) in developing from the archaic levels (2) to the lower

    levels of superconsciousnes8 (level 5). Similarly, the shift from

    Earth Mother (stage 2) to the Great Goddess (stage 6) which

    occurred in eastern religions such as Buddhism apparently

    occurred without a transformation to the mental or solar ego

    level. If we do not allow for transformations which bypass the

    solar ego level, then shamanic and yogic sages needed to

    dissociate mind and body pathologically in the course of their

    development, since Wilber argues that this is characteristic of

    the solar ego stage.



    Wilber's relegation of non-Westerners to lower stages of

    cognitive evolution is exemplified in his use of material from

    extant or recently extant cultures (19th and early 20th century)

    as examples or reflections of lower stages of development. The

    belief that contemporary cultures with simple or technologically

    primitive social structures can be used as

    exemplifications of lower stages of human evolution is a

    widespread cultural ethnocentrism and a problem which

    vitiates Wilber's model and presentations. Several lines of

    research establish that people from all cultures have and

    utilize the same range of cognitive abilities.

    Wilber suggests that the bulk of contemporary peoples

    haven'tacquired formal operational thought. The 20thcentury

    anthropological tradition has generally agreed with Boas

    (1911), who argued that people in all cultures exhibit the same

    range of thought processes attributed to the more "civilized"

    peoples. Boas (1911) argued that valid inferences about thought

    processes cannot be based upon the content of traditional

    beliefs and customs. Thatis, mythic beliefs cannot be taken as

    evidence about or exemplification of normal thought processes

    any more than the false beliefs of scientists can be taken as

    evidence that they lack the cognitive processes to think


    Cross-cultural psychological researchers on cognitive

    development (Piagetian) have frequently stated that people

    in other cultures fail to develop to the same levels as

    Westerners, but such research is vitiated by biases in method

    and interpretation (See Cole and Scribner 1974). Culturally

    relevantcross-cultural research has demonstrated that people

    in all cultures go through all of Piaget's stages of mental

    development and reach formal operations stage, although

    people in some cultures show a lag in acquisition which is

    directly related to differences in school experiences and other

    learning experiences associated with urban environments

    (See Berry and Dasen 1974; Dasen 1977; Cole and Scribner


    Linguistic evidence establishes that all cognitive systems

    are equally complex. Linguists emphasize the complexity of

    all language systems and deny thatlanguages can be arranged

    on a scale from simple to complex. Cole and Scribner (1974:27)

    argue that Chomsky's theory of grammar establishes that

    "...thinking processes of an individual cannot be less complex

    or constructive than the rules required for speech production."

    Since language acquisition and use is the most complex

    human cognitive activity, and since there are no qualitative

    differences in the complexity oflanguage rules, it is impossible

    to conceive of "simple" or more "advanced" cognitive levels

    among different cultures with equally complex languages

    (Cole and Scribner 1974). Although it is possible that such

    admonitions may not apply to the development of cognitive

    skills at the higher levels of the evolution of consciousness,

    they certainly apply to all reasoning abilities as conventionally

    understood. If different groups of people possess equally

    complex languages, some can hardly be considered preverbal

    in their development, although the contexts in which they use

    language and the extent to which they use it may differ.

    The assertion of cognitive equality is based in the

    recognition that the same range of conventionally recognized

    cognitive abilities are used by people in all cultural groups,

    although perhaps manifested only with respect to culturally

    relevant materials. Thus, while abstract abilities among

    people in Western industrial societies may be fairly assessed

    with verbal syllogisms or other formal operations tests, such

    materials are not culturally free; people from other cultures

    may not be able to successfully demonstrate their capabilities

    with such test materials. However, the same abstract

    capabilities may be demonstrated with other materials, such

    as in the classification of culturally relevant materials, in

    making culturally relevant inferences, or in the diagnosis of

    culturally dependent illness syndromes (See Levi-Strauss

    1966, or Cole and Scribner 1974 for review of experimental

    literature.) The failure of people in any group to solve complex

    calculus or to order collections of electronic parts on the basis

    of functional or class principles does not demonstrate the lack

    of abstract thought abilities; the problems or materials may

    not be those to which relevant existing capabilities can be

    immediately generalized.

    The main problem with Wilber's scheme is the inappropriateness

    of an ontogenetic model for phylogenetic data. The

    recapitulationist position (ontogeny recapitulates phytogeny)

    was abandoned within biology during the last century under

    the overwhelming weight of contrary evidence (Gould 1977).

    Furthermore, Gould (1977) points out the mainstream

    recapitulationists at most argued that the stages of ontogeny

    repeat the adult forms of animals lower down on the scale of

    organization. Such a model is clearly not appropriate for

    humans. Although there apparently are stages in human

    evolution, they are not the ones outlined by Wilber.

    Pre-sapien hominids and perhaps Homo sapiens have

    functioned at levels of cognitive developmentbelow the average

    contemporary human. However, human societies cannot and

    have not functioned at the uroboric levels or the lower levels

    of the typhonic stage as outlined ontogenetically and phylogenetically

    by Wilber. Chimpanzee development and the

    presence oflanguage, social organization and self perception

    among Australopithecines indicate that even pre-sapien

    hominids have always functioned atalevel somewhere between

    Wilber's typhonic and membership levels.

    The increase in brain size from Australopithecus to Homo

    Neanderthalis is accompanied by an increase in cultural

    complexity. Given the direct relationship between relative

    brain size and intelligence in lower animals, and recognizing

    that selective pressures would have favored those hominids

    whose mental capacities were more adapted to acquiring

    culture, language and tool use, the increase in brain size must

    be a central factor in the evolution in human consciousness.

    The role of physical factors in the evolution of human

    consciousness from Australopithecus to Homo Neanderthalis

    makes Wilber's recourse to teleological explanation in terms

    of return to Spirit unnecessary.

    Although physical evolution can provide a basis for

    explaining the gradual evolution of consciousness and cultural

    tradition up until about 200,000-300,000 years ago, it seems

    unlikely that such a mechanism can explain subsequent

    evolution. During the past 100,000 years brain size has

    actually slightly decreased; the factors guiding evolution of

    human behavior and transcendence have been cultural

    adaptations. The biological potential has been constant during

    this time; social and cultural factors have been responsible for

    the different forms and tendencies to seek transcendence.

    The accumulated cultural evolution led to the development

    of peoples at least 40-100,000 years ago which had

    clearly developed egos, functionally comparable to that of the


    average Western person today, but without the extreme

    dissociation which Wilber attributes to moderns. At this point

    we must recognize the presence of the deep structures (Wilber's

    sense) or biological and socially learned capacities necessary

    for seeking transcendence. From this ego level we find many

    translations, some favoring the achievement of transcendence

    and transformation, such as the shamanic, yogic, and other

    mystical schools. Other translations fostered the dissociation

    between mind and body which blocked the path to

    transformation, as Wilber suggests in his discussion of the

    development of the solar ego.

    I suggest that throughout the evolution of Homo sapiens,

    particularly in the past 12,000 years, we find an increasing

    individual repression of oneself. As Wilber points out "the

    capacity for repression (defense mechanisms in general) exists

    to one degree or another at almost every level of the spectrum

    but it doesn't become really extensive until the verbal membership

    level, and doesn't become truly 'powerful' until the egoic

    level" (p. 262). The dates which Wilber assigns to the emergence

    of the mythic membership and solar ego levels correspond

    quite closely to the agriculture and urban revolutions,

    respectively. In these sedentary societies we would expect the

    need for greater individual self repression because of the

    greater intensity of interpersonal contact and the inability to

    escape conflict through fragmentation of the group, which

    occurs more regularly in hunting and gathering bands. As

    social interaction becomes more complex, we would also

    expect the development of additional aspects of the social self,

    required by diversification of the social world. This repression

    and the diversification of the self clearly has implications for

    understanding the development of the solar ego and its

    inhibition of transformation to the higher state of


    My point here is not to deny that there are important

    differences in the cognitive styles of people in different cultures,

    or to suggest that there are no systematic differences between

    Western and non-Western cultures. There certainly are

    considerable cross-cultural differences in personal awareness

    and typical modes of cognition. Levi-Strauss (1966) suggests

    differences in cultures which he characterizes as "hot" and

    "cold," and explores differences in approaches to problem

    solving which he labels bricoleur (jack-of-all-trades) and

    engineer. These roughly correspond to some differences

    between people in non-Western or traditional cultures versus

    modern cultures, and bear some resemblance to the distinctions

    which Wilber apparently wants to capture in distinguishing

    mythic-membership societies from solar ego societies. People

    in Western societies also tend to show greater field

    independence, which is defined as the habitual tendency to

    differentiate self from the environment; however, such

    tendencies are influenced not only by social and psychological

    factors, but environmental ones as well (e.g., see Witkin 1974;

    Berry 1974). People in non-Western cultures have a tendency

    to use proprioceptive modalities as opposed to verbal modalities

    in learning (see Parades and Hepburn 1976, and subsequent

    discussion). Scribner and Cole (1974) have pointed out that

    learning in Westernized school systems primarily involves

    learning in the verbal mode, in a system of abstract relations

    isolated from personal experience. Cohen (1969)has discussed

    the conflict of cognitive styles, contrasting traditional

    modalities with those fostered in schooling. Goody (1977) has

    argued that the development of literacy has profound effects

    upon the organization of experience (c.f. Alford 1979). However,

    the qualitative differences in capacities which Wilber suggests

    do not in fact exist. The suggestion of such differences is the

    result of the inability of investigators to overcome blocks to

    communication, understanding, and assessment created by

    the differencesbetween themselves and people of other cultures

    they have studied.

    Wilber's work is based upon the comparison of material

    from many cultures, but his data is not taken from a representative

    sample of human cultures. Arepresentative sample and

    clear criterion for evaluation of the material are necessary for

    assessing mythological materials, for establishing crosscultural

    generalities, and for assessing cross-cultural

    differences and similarities in stages of evolution of consciousness

    or perception or perennial truths. Without criteria which

    ensure that the materials used are representative of all

    human cultures, we have no basis for asserting that the

    conclusions we draw are generally valid for human societies.

    The lack of criteria to ensure a representative sample leads to

    a selective presentation of data; cases which confirm the

    theoretical perspective are presented, while the cases which

    contradict it are left out of the discussion. For instance,

    Wilber's assessment of creation myths islimited to the Judaeo-

    Christian tradition, without consideration of other traditions.

    If a representative sample of creation myths were considered,

    the similarities between them would provide a more reliable

    basis for interpreting conditions of early humans, while

    idiosyncrasies which might fortuitously support a particular

    theoretical perspective could be eliminated.

    Problems which result from the lack of clear criteria for

    evaluating cross-cultural materials is illustrated in the

    discussion of beliefs in primitive societies about the interconnectedness

    of nature. Wilber suggests that magical beliefs

    about this interconnectedness of nature is a result of the lack

    of full differentiation of the psyche and the world, and does not

    reflect the same interconnectedness as perceived by the

    Eastern consciousness disciplines. Although the basic

    conclusions are comparable if not essentially identical, Wilber

    wants to attribute veridical perceptions to those consciousness

    traditions which form the basis of his theoretical perspective

    and background, but disallow the apparent occurrence of

    comparable perceptions among those who are living in more

    primitive economies and under simpler social conditions and

    are therefore relegated to the lower levels of his evolutionary


    In spanning the many fields of inquiry necessary for a

    vast project such as Up From Eden, one expects unavoidable

    shortcomings, such as the reliance on selected authorities

    who may not be representative of fields or disciplines, brief

    presentations of complex positions, as well as omissions and

    ideological differences with predominate theoretical

    perspectives. However, Wilber's theory of evolution of human

    consciousness is found to be lacking not only for these reasons,

    but also because of the structure of his arguments, the

    accuracy or competency of his selected authorities, and the

    relevant evidence he fails to consider. If Wilber had proceeded

    with the intent of inferring the states and evolution of

    consciousness of early humans from the somewhat ambiguous

    and incomplete data, the conclusions drawn would likely have

    been different. However, the effort to force the phylogenetic

    facts to fit an ontogenetic model has biased the selection,

    assessment and interpretation of data. Furthermore, reliance


    upon 19th century anthropological perspectives (e.g., Tylor

    and Frazer) rather than contemporary anthropology further

    undermines the accuracy and relevance of the work.

    A highly critical review of anyone's work is scarcely a

    rewarding task for the criquer or the critiqued. However,this

    review is necessary given Wilber's status in the field and the

    fact that his work is so highly esteemed among

    transpersonalists. This review has dealt largely with the

    physical evidence, and has avoided consideration of the

    mythological information which provide the data Wilber uses

    in his discussion of the forms of and substitutes for

    transcendence. Wilber lacks a cross-culturally representative

    sample of mythological materials and clear criteria for

    assessing such materials. Furthermore, his errors in

    consideration of the physical record require that his assessments

    of the mood and mode of consciousness be critically

    assessed and revised.

    Acknowledgements. I thank David Jacobs, Roger Walsh and

    Craig MacAndrew for their encouragement, and Duane

    Metzger, Stanley Krippner, Bill Andrews and Chris Tbresdahl

    for helpful suggestions. This review was originally written in

    1982. It was rejected for publication for Re Vision andJournal

    of TVanspersonal Psychology, journals where Ken Wilber

    served in an editorial capacity. The paper was scheduled for

    publication in Phoenix, but the journal was discontinued

    before publication. The review here is not updated to include

    relevant literature in the intervening years. Yet it addresses

    fundamental issues in the interface of anthropology and

    psychology which remain unaltered by the passage of time.


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    World. Phoenix 3(l):31-42.

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    1967 The Intrapsychic Self. New York: Basic Books.

    Becker, Ernest

    1973 The Denial of Death. New York: Free Press.

    Berdyaev, N.

    1960 The Destiny of Man. New York: Harper.

    Boas, Franz

    1965 The Mind of Primitive Man. New York: Free Press.

    Originally published in 1911.

    Berry, John W.

    1974 Ecological and Cultural Factors in Spatial Perceptual

    Development. In J. Berry and P. R. Dasen, eds. Culture and

    Cognition. London: Methuen.

    Berry, John W., and P. R. Dasen, eds.

    1974 Culture and Cognition. London: Methuen and Co.

    Campbell, Joseph

    1959 The Masks of God. 4 vols. New York: Viking.

    C&ssier, Ernst

    1944 An Essay on Man. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    1953 The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. 3 vols. New Haven :Yale

    University Press.

    Chevalier-Skolnikoff, Suzanne

    1976 The Ontogeny of Primate Intelligence and its Implication

    for Communicative Potential: a Preliminary Report. In Origins

    and Evolution of Language and Speech. S. Hamad, H. Steklis

    and J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 173-211. New York: New York

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    1951 Man Makes Himself. New York: Men ton.

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    1969 Conceptual Styles, Cultural Conflict and Non-Verbal Tests

    of Intelligence. American Anthropologist. 71:828-856.

    Cole, Michael, and Sylvia Scribner

    1974 Culture and Thought. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

    Conkey, M.

    1978 Style and Information in Cultural Evolution: Towards a

    Predictive Model for the Paleolithic. In Social Archeology:

    Beyond Subsistence and Dating. C. Redman, et aL, eda. New

    York: Academic Press.

    Dasen, P. R., ed.

    1977 Piagetian Psychology: Cross-Cultural Contributions. New

    York: Gardener Press.

    Desmond, A.

    1979 The Ape's Reflection. London: Blond and Briggs.

    Fox, Hugh

    1976 Gods of the Cataclysm. New York: Dorset Press.

    Frazer, James G.

    1929 The Golden Bough., 3rd ed., Vol 1. New York: Book League

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    1966 Ursprung und Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Deutsch Verlags-


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    1977 The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge:

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    1977 Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press.

    Grof, Stanislav

    1981 Review of Up from Eden. Journal of Transpersonal

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    1979 Shamanic Voices. New York: Dutton.

    Hamad Stevan R., Horst D. Steklis and Jane Lancaster, eds.

    1976 Origins and Evolution of Langu age. New York: New York

    Academy of Sciences.

    Holloway, Ralph L.

    1976 Paleoneurological Evidence for Language Origins. In

    Origins and Evolution of Language. S. Hamad, H. Steklis and

    J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 330-348. New York: New York Academy

    of Sciences.

    Isaac, Glynn L.

    1976 Stages of Cultural Elaboration in the Pleistocene: Possible

    Archeological Indicators of the Development of Language

    Capabilities. In Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech.

    S. Hamad, H. Steklis and J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 275-288. New

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    1976 The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the

    Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifllin.

    Jolly, Clifford J., and Fred Plog.

    1979 Physical Anthropology and Archaeology. New York: Alfred


    Levi-Strauss. Claude

    1962 Totemism. Boston: Beacon Press.

    1966 The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Linden, E.

    1974 Apes, Men and Language. New York: Dutton.

    Marshack, Alexander

    1972 The Roots of Civilization. New York: McGraw Hill.

    Montagu, Ashley

    1976 Toolmaking, Hunting, and the Origin of Language. In

    Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech. S. Hamad, H.

    Steklis, and J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 226-274. New York: New

    York Academy of Sciences.

    Neumann, Erich

    1973 The Origins and History of Consciousness. Princeton:

    Princeton University Press.

    Parades, A., and M. Hepburn

    1976 The Split Brain and the Culture-and-Cognition Paradox.

    Current Anthropology 17:121-127.

    Premack, David

    1976 Intelligence in Ape and Man. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence

    Erlbaum Associates.


    Rumbaugh, Duane M.

    1977 Langu age Learning by a Chimpanzee. New York: Academic


    Scribner, Sylvia, and Michelle Cole.

    1973 Cognitive Consequences ofFormal and Informal Education.

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    1980 Speaking of Apes. New York: Plenum Press.

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    1978 The Making of Psychological Anthropology. Berkeley:

    University of California Press.

    Staniford, P.

    1982 Ken Wilber's Transpersonal View of Evolution. Phoenix


    Steliks, Horst D.

    1976 Discussion: Paleobiological Approaches. In Origins and

    Evolution of Language and Speech. S. Harnad, H. Steklis and

    J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 326-329. New York: New York Academy

    of Sciences.

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    1976 The Evolution of Human Communication: What Can

    Primates Tell Us? In Origins and Evolution of Language and

    Speech. S. Harnad, H. Steklis and J. Lancaster, eds. Pp. 467-

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    1971a Man's Past and Future. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand


    1971b The Brain in Hominid Evolution. New York: Columbia

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    Tylor, Edward Burnett

    1924 Primitive Culture. 7th ed. New York: Brentano.

    White, J.

    1982 Ken Wilber's Transpersonal View of Human Evolution.

    Phoenix 6:155-163.

    White, Randall

    1982 Rethinking the Middle/Upper Paleolithic Transition.

    Current Anthropology 23:169-192.

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    1950 The Next Development in Man. New York: Mentor Books.

    Wilber, Kenneth

    1977 The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, IL: Quest.

    1980 The Atman Project. Wheaton, IL: Quest.

    1981 Up from Eden. New York: Anchor Books.

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    1986 Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and

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    1987 Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and

    Contemplative Perspectives on Development by K. Wilber, J.

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    1974 CognitiveStylesAcrossCultures./n Culture and Cognition.

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    1974 Boundary Conditions for Paleolithic Social Systems: A

    Simulation Approach. American Antiquity 39:147-178.




    "The extreme complexity of man's emotional reactions to life finds necessarily its counterpart in his attitude to death." -Malinowski
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  •  12-21-2006, 8:09 PM 16976 in reply to 16968

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    rholden: have u read up from eden ?

    i haven't altho have wanted to and one day i will

    anyways, i thought i heard ken once say that it was a dream or a vision or something like that .. am wondering whether that is mentioned in the preface and that the critics are demanding too much "evidence" ??



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  •  12-21-2006, 9:03 PM 16979 in reply to 16976

    • rholden is not online. Last active: 03-07-2007, 7:28 AM rholden
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    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    No I haven`t read it. That`s why I was kind of thrown aback. I`ve read only, (I`m using my wife`s lap top and it`s Japanese so I don`t know how to get the quotations), `A Brief History,` and, `A Theory of Everything,` and some of SSE, along with the clips on the site and online stuff. Perhaps it isn`t ment to be taken seriously and has a caveat, but I doubt it. I mean that stuff is really wrong. I`m not saying that I think he did it purposefully, any more than I think that those 19th century scientists, who came up with the theories and miscalculated cranial measurement, or happened to measure selective skulls were complicit in any kind of fraud. Those scientist, like Ken, were surrounded with people that didn`t have the mental acuity to contradict them, and a lot of peole who supported their findings, because it confirmed what they wanted to believe. I haven`t come across a single anthropologist on this site, or in interviews, or mentioned in his books, and that always seemed strange. Who would have told him? But, it would be like me not quoting or researching psychology when working with UL data.

    It is an easy thing to do, I mean I`ve measured skulls and you can do a lot with the data. It seems that he trusted certain authors and didn`t feel the need to contradict evidence that would hurt this theory; who does? But in the last 26 years, I`m sure that this has been brought to his attention. Like the book review stated, he`s been so brilliant within his field, and I don`t doubt that work, but this in a whole quadrant the LR that not just in doubt, but it`s wrong.

    There is a really good, and famous book about this by the archaeologist, Adam Krupper, `The Invention of Primitive Society.`

















    "The extreme complexity of man's emotional reactions to life finds necessarily its counterpart in his attitude to death." -Malinowski
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  •  12-22-2006, 9:12 AM 17002 in reply to 16979

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    Hi, Rick,

    I read Up From Eden a number of years ago and remember enjoying it, but also being frustrated that a number of the claims in it couldn't be traced back to any references.  He does have an 18-page bibliography in it, but many of the titles he cites are spiritual and psychological works (including Adi Da, Carlos Castaneda, and Krishnamurti).  The story he tells is coherent and compelling, but I agree with you that it is important to take modern anthropological theories and findings into account -- at least to a greater extent than he appears to do in this book.

    One claim that Wilber makes in his recent works which has confused and concerned me is that it is not possible for individuals prior to an Orange level of development to be able to tell you what a second person thinks and feels about a third person, or what the third person thinks reciprocally.  I know four-year-old children who appear to be capable of making such determinations, and I don't expect most four-year-olds have reached "Orange" yet.  I also find it hard to believe that individuals in pre-Orange tribal cultures cannot tell you what a third person thinks or feels.  Wilber suggests that development hinges, at least in part, on the ability to take increasingly complex and abstract perspectives, and I agree with this in general, but at this point in my understanding and from my amateur observations of children, I am doubtful about this particular claim (or else I have misunderstood it).

    Best wishes,


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  12-22-2006, 9:30 AM 17004 in reply to 17002

    • edison is not online. Last active: 03-18-2007, 10:31 AM edison
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    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!


    Food for thought:  Is knowing what person X thinks about person Y and vice versa actually taking the perspective of person X?  A four year old may indeed be able to glean out the observation that Mommy is mad at Daddy, or that I think the president is and idiot, but do they understand the underlying values, circumstances and reasoning in fueling those feelings/judgements?  I would guess that most structure stages could figure out that somebody elses feelings are, but I don't think First tier stages are capable of putting themselves in that somebody else's shoes.



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  •  12-22-2006, 9:41 AM 17005 in reply to 17004

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    That's a good point.  I've been openly, informally experimenting with that, asking questions of my son and his friends every now and then.  Sometimes I've asked my son questions like this:  If Carlos took Yutin's toy, how would Yutin feel?  Or, What was that mother thinking when she couldn't find her son?  He seems to be able to answer these questions:  He would be madShe was worried.

    Maybe I need to refine my questions more, but so far he seems able to figure out where other people are coming from -- in the terms he understands, like mad, afraid, worried, etc.

    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  12-22-2006, 9:56 AM 17006 in reply to 17005

    • edison is not online. Last active: 03-18-2007, 10:31 AM edison
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    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    OK, I hear you.  But I wonder (and really don't know) if he is answering what he would feel if roles were exchanged (i.e. from his native perspective) or if he is "taking on" the perspective of another.  I know in my so-called-adult life I get really crazy when somebody gives me advice that starts with "If I were in your shoes I'd.....and then give their solution with their values, biases, blah, blah without trying to understand how I see/feel about it.

    So in your experiment you might inquire "why would Yutin or the mother feel that way" and see if he is using Yutin's or the mothers perspective or extrapolating his perspective onto those situations.

    Kids are such wonderful lab rats!  I have two teens and one 19 month and looking at their behavior through the developmental model eyes is quite a trip!



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  •  12-22-2006, 10:41 AM 17008 in reply to 17006

    • MichaelD is not online. Last active: 02-26-2007, 9:33 AM MichaelD
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    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    Re the original post:


    In the Kosmic Consciousness interview when asked the question “what are you really doing?” Ken replied that the best or most accurate job description was “Storyteller”.  As I recall, he favored that title over even “Mapmaker”.


    And in the preface to ABHOE, if I recall correctly, he says something like “Everything I say here is a lie”, or words to that effect.  Of course he was making the point that all representative knowledge is partial, or something like that, but still the statement is a strong one in connection with the storyteller reference.



    Re the perspectives/values question:


    Very interesting!  So can we make the distinction here of cognitively representing another’s perspective whilst not adopting their value system vs adopting another’s values to understand their perspective?


    In other words, valuing another value system.  Isn’t that trick supposed to be only available to yellow or higher?
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  •  12-22-2006, 10:59 AM 17009 in reply to 17002

    • rholden is not online. Last active: 03-07-2007, 7:28 AM rholden
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    Re: Not so shocked as needing to comply with reality

    "One claim that Wilber makes in his recent works which has confused and concerned me is that it is not possible for individuals prior to an Orange level of development to be able to tell you what a second person thinks and feels about a third person, or what the third person thinks reciprocally.  I know four-year-old children who appear to be capable of making such determinations, and I don't expect most four-year-olds have reached "Orange" yet.  I also find it hard to believe that individuals in pre-Orange tribal cultures cannot tell you what a third person thinks or feels.  Wilber suggests that development hinges, at least in part, on the ability to take increasingly complex and abstract perspectives, and I agree with this in general, but at this point in my understanding and from my amateur observations of children, I am doubtful about this particular claim (or else I have misunderstood it)."

    Right. The reason I was shocked, is because I understood Wilber’s theory as using the standard Buddhist understanding that as a person develops in consciousness, they integrate more of the universe, i.e., more sentient beings, into what it is to be equal to themselves, and thereby lessening their own ego. Eventually, there is no “I” here, observing a separate reality “out there;” duality ceases, and enlightenment is the result. Congruently, over the time of human evolution, we have incorporated more and more people into equal groups, with the idea of equal rights, and then standard, universal, human rights. The two seem to go hand in hand. But, the idea that Homo habilus or erectus even having such limited cognition is crazy let alone a fully modern human.

    Ken is falling into a similar trap those early Africanist ethnographers did in seeing tribal unites as having defined borders in synchronic space. This idea was Structuralist-Functionalism. The idea that there has been a group of people, who have not been in full contact with the rest of the world in the last few hundred years in a fallacy, as is the idea that even modern day horticulturalists aren’t aware of this, or even globalism. I promise you that poor, sustenance farmers are fully aware of the forces of encroachment, and are fully participant in these forces, albeit very unequal participants. It is also a mistake to assume any degree of homogeneity among any group of people, regardless of their sustenance strategy, or political categorization. This idea is very ethnocentric and rooted in a time before the 2nd half of the 20th century within anthropology.

    I still, very much agree with the idea that individuals develops along certain lines of universal integration, and that looks very much like human political development, but that doesn’t mean that people are still, literally living in similar worldviews of thousands of years ago, simply because of their current subsistence or political category, nor that any fully modern human has ever lived at the cognitive level below that of any other modern human, in reference to special reasoning; other than individuals retarded in development by a cruel and isolated environment, like Genie (A girl locked in a closet and not allowed to make any noise for 11 years or so, she never developed beyond a very young mental age).

    Another trap it seems that Ken has fallen into is to take certain folklore and folkways literally. People are often fully aware that their folklore is not reality, and their actual myths are no more irrational or prevalent than modern American Christianity, etc…

    Anthropologists, ethnographers and folklorists especially, are trained to be suspicious of people really believing certain things. They are fully aware of the cache that their folklore and ways have among westerners, and they often exploit our ethnocentrism and ignorance for their own benefit. The Balinese ketcha-ketcha dance is a good example. It is an old ritual, folkway group performance that is utilized for the entertainment of tourists, and children learn it as a means of economic survival. It is therefore no longer a real folkway, as there are no real variations.

    Another example, is a recent ethnography by a poli-anthro. doing studies of Mexican-American communities in South Texas. He interviewed a woman who told him that her husband was muy macho, and that he wouldn’t let her out of the house or to go back to school like she wanted to. Later, the anthro. talked to the husband who told him that he wished for his wife to get out more often, and make friends, and perhaps go back to school (his wife had more formal education than her husband already). The anthro. found out that the wife knew little English and had experienced a level of social bigotry from others, while the husband was fully bilingual and had no such experiences. What had happened, is that the wife, who was fully aware of gringo bias and ignorance, had used the language that she knew the researcher was looking for as a way to make the anthro. happy, to get her voice into a national journal, and to rationalize her isolation in a culturally, acceptable way.

    Native Americans do the same thing with adopting symbols of a constructed, pan-Indian identity in order to utilize government funding, by seeking formal status, and so do thousand of other marginalize group globally. The idea that people are literally locked into a worldview, other than the same ones we also go through, thousands of years old is a myth. We are just as subject to egocentrism as anyone else is.




    "The extreme complexity of man's emotional reactions to life finds necessarily its counterpart in his attitude to death." -Malinowski
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  •  12-22-2006, 11:09 AM 17010 in reply to 17008

    • rholden is not online. Last active: 03-07-2007, 7:28 AM rholden
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    Re: Not so shocked as needing to comply with reality

    Re to Micheal's re to my post: I just love cyber speak...Smile [:)]

    Anyway, that is interesting, but I think its really a matter of Ken knowing he didn't do his homework, or just telling us the what ifs. In that case is would be kind of like the Da Vinci Code, no?

    re to:

    "In other words, valuing another value system.  Isn’t that trick supposed to be only available to yellow or higher?"

    Yeah, I think that's right. Although, I think that even the greenist of green can appreciate flying on a private jet, smoking a hundred dollar cigar, drinking 100 year old scotch, with a very well paid, and very hot, private flight attendant. Even if they knew all the ecological/economic/political damage they were causing.

    If it is possible for a person to revert back or to glimse forward, even temorarily, then is is possible.



    "The extreme complexity of man's emotional reactions to life finds necessarily its counterpart in his attitude to death." -Malinowski
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  •  12-22-2006, 12:13 PM 17014 in reply to 17008

    • edison is not online. Last active: 03-18-2007, 10:31 AM edison
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    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    Hmmm, my brain hurts!

    OK, so letsee here, as I understand it we have the following "rules"


    1st tier levels only value/see their own values

    2nd tier (and higher) can recognize and appreciate other level values that are at or below thier own level.

    Orange is the first stage that can take 2nd person view.  (At least as Balder remembers (do you have the quote for that in case there may be a misinterpretation?))

    Balder has observed 4 yr olds (presumably not orange) having the ability to anticipate others reactions for situations that are familar to them.

    It seems to me that there is no logical inconsistency IF we assume the 4 year is "role playing" i.e. imagining what he would do/feel or see if he were put in the same circumstances as his friend, mother etc.  He would still be extrapolating a 1st person perspective to an imaginary situation.  And in those particular scenarios, his own reaction is likely to be similar to the second persons.  As I recall, the "acid" test is the box with opposing ends with different colors, letting the child examine the box and asking him/her what color do I (the person holding the box) see?  As I recall, the ability to take the others perspective (the "age or reason") is nominally about 7 years old.  I guess the point is that until one hits this level, it doesn't even occur to the person that the second person would have an experience different from his/her own. 


    Of course, if Balder's child can see the "other color" (Careful, after a couple trials, he may learn the rules from cues from you and wanting to please rather that really recognizing the 2nd person perspective.), then it all falls to pieces.

    So Dr. Balder, get a box and report, don't forget the statistics!




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  •  12-22-2006, 12:36 PM 17015 in reply to 17014

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    Hi, Edison,

    I don't have a Ph.D. yet, just an MA, so I'm not a Doctor.  But you can call me Master if you want!  Big Smile [:D]

    Seriously, I believe Wilber argues that, with Orange, we become capable of taking third-person perspectives.  Second-person perspectives are available before then.  He references this in one of his ISC conference calls (I'll have to hunt up which one), but I believe he also goes into this in Integral Spirituality.  I will see if I can find the reference.

    I think it's correct that, while my son can predict what one person would feel about a third person in a given scenario, he is not capable of actually "putting on" the full thought processes of that other person.  Well, he might be able to do it with his peers, but obviously he can't predict an adult's thought processes.

    It's an interesting subject, and I definitely feel there is something to it, but maybe it's more complex or nuanced than the way Wilber has framed it so far (in the few references he's made to it).

    Best wishes,


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  12-22-2006, 12:39 PM 17016 in reply to 17015

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    Oh, by the way, about the box experiment:  That's the very first thing I did with him, I believe when he was three and a half.  I held up a disk with different colors on either side and asked him what color he could see.  He told me red.  I then asked him what color I could see.  He told me green.
    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  12-22-2006, 6:03 PM 17026 in reply to 17016

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    While I am not exactly sure what Wilber's position is here, I'd like to address the issue at hand. 

    It seems to me that 2nd tier requires a constructivist or post constructivist worldview.  It requires that you hear the storyteller thru the story.  This is vastly different than what young children do.  They just don't have the capicity for the level of complexity.  They do not understand that you are filtering things through your experience because they do not yet have the capicity to realize that they are filtering things thru their own filter.  Any empathy or perspective taking that they 'seem' to do is only done in a self serving way.  A 3-4 year old has not yet developed much of an ego.  The pre-trans fallacy applies here.  The child is pre-rational. 2nd tier is post-rational.

    Either way, I fail to see how this relates to the intent of the thread. Perhaps this is a failure of my imagination.  Perhaps not.                  

    The power of the imagination is being realized. Being realized is the power of the imagination.
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  •  12-22-2006, 7:01 PM 17033 in reply to 17026

    Re: I'm shocked! This needs to be addressed!

    I have not been suggesting that a child can think at a second-tier level.  I have just been remarking that some children appear to be able to take perspectives in a way that Wilber has said emerges only with Orange cognition.  I had better find the Wilber quote soon, to see why this question has arisen at all. 

    I do agree that it is somewhat tangential to the topic of this thread, and I apologize for contributing to the derailing.  But it is not completely off topic, because it has to do with the overall question raised in the article: Whether some of the developmental scheme Wilber outlines in Up From Eden is inaccurate.  Particularly because any member from a pre-Orange culture is supposed to be similarly incapable of taking perspectives in this way.

    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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