Ken Wilber's Eye to Eye

Reviewer: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: FATE Magazine
Publication date: mid-1980s

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Book Review: Eye to Eye

by Ken Wilber, Anchor Press, Garden City, N.Y., 1983, 326 pages, $9.95, paperback.

When Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics was published in 1975, physicists and mystics were surprised to learn that they had come to apparently similar conclusions about the nature of reality. The resulting dialogue owes a great deal to Ken Wilber, the favorite son of transpersonal psychology, who has contributed a number of provocative books and articles on the evolution of consciousness.

Doubleday has released a collection of Wilber's essays under the title Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm, one of the finest works on comparative science and religion ever to be published.

Wilber's argument is simple. He believes that man is not merely a physical creature, limited to a decaying moral existence ("the eye of flesh"), or just a mental self, defined by his thoughts and ideas ("the eye of reason"), but a spiritual being capable of absolute freedom ("the eye of the soul"). But since man is in a state of gradual evolution, he cannot fully envision his vast potential. Thus, since he is guided by the myopic eye of the flesh, man drags everything that transcends him (including saints and their mystical insights) down to his own mundane level.

We can see this disastrous form of empirical reductionism in the attempts of authority figures such as Ronald Siegel and Carl Sagan to explain away the near-death experience. Siegel argues that NDEs are nothing more than hallucinations similar in content to drug- induced highs. Sagan claims that out-of-body experiences may be due to a "miswiring in the human neuroanatomy" and that visions of God or beings of light are just vague birth memories of one's obstetrician. Wilber, with exquisite scholarship, rips into this kind of thinking and in the course of several remarkable essays sets out to define the boundaries of empirical investigation.

The future paradigm of mankind, Wilber theorizes, will not be one that overthrows all other models but one that accurately integrates the relative truths of each academic discipline. Eye to Eye serves to remind us that true knowledge is not the province of any one field but both the ground from which science arises and the horizon that religion ultimately seeks.

--David Christopher Lane

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