Kenneth Earl Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American philosopher and writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, a philosophy which suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience.
He became interested in Eastern literature, particularly the Tao Te Ching. He left Duke and enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but after a few years dropped out of university and began studying his own curriculum and writing.
In 1973 Wilber completed his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, in which he sought to integrate knowledge from disparate fields. After rejections by more than 20 publishers, it was accepted in 1977 by Quest Books, and he spent a year giving lectures and workshops before going back to writing. He also helped to launch the journal ReVision in 1978.
In 1982, New Science Library published his anthology The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes, a collection of essays and interviews, including one by David Bohm. The essays, including one of his own, looked at how holography and the holographic paradigm relate to the fields of consciousness, mysticism, and science.
In 1983, Wilber married Terry “Treya” Killam who was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. From 1984 until 1987, Wilber gave up most of his writing to care for her. Killam died in January 1989; their joint experience was recorded in the 1991 book Grace and Grit. [Learn more]
Integral theory is a meta-theory that attempts to integrate all human wisdom into a new, emergent worldview that is able to accommodate the perspectives of all previous worldviews, including those that may appear to be in contradiction to one another.
Ken Wilber’s “Integral Theory” started as early as the 1970s, with the publication of The Spectrum of Consciousness, which attempted to synthesize eastern religious traditions with western structural stage theory, models of psychological development that describe human development as following a set course of stages of development.
Wilber’s ideas have grown more and more inclusive over the years, incorporating ontology, epistemology, and methodology. Wilber, drawing on both Aurobindo‘s and Gebser‘s theories, as well as on the writings of many other authors, created a theory which he calls AQAL, “All Quadrants All Levels”.