(Display Name not set)December 2003 Archives

I've been reading some Ken Wilber online, because a colleague of mine is really into him, and I wanted to see what he's all about. The guy's really odd in some ways (stuff that looks new agey but is really more like neo-Platonism), but he has some really provoking thoughts on political theory. It's hard to get much out of his stuff without spending a lot of time and doing a lot of backtracking to find the background to understand his terms, but I found some interesting thoughts on what's generally wrong with conservatism and liberalism, and as far as I can tell he's right.

Liberals tend to think the causes of social problems are external to those who experience those problems. For instance, they tend to blame problems in black communities on oppressive policies and attitudes of white people. Conservatives tend to do the reverse, blaming the problems within a group on their own internal state. The example here is the way some people blame problems in black communities on the lack of a desire to succeed.

What Wilber wants to say is that both kinds of problems do exist, and each side tends to ignore one in emphasizing the other. I think he's dead right. Where he seems to me to go wrong at times is in his analysis of particular people and particular views. He's probably a good big picture person, and he's probably just not as good at noticing the details, which of course I'm much better at than I am seeing the forest.



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