Beyond absolutism and relativism in transpersonal evolutionary theory

World Futures 52 (3):239-280 (1998)
Abstract
This paper critically examines Ken Wilber's transpersonal evolutionary theory in the context of the philosophical discourse of postmodernity. The critique focuses on Wilber's refutation of non?absolutist and non?universalist approaches to rationality, truth, and morality?such as cultural relativism, pluralism, constructivism or perspectivism?under the charges of being epistemologically self?refuting and morally pernicious. First, it is suggested that Wilber offers a faulty dichotomy between his absolutist?universalist metanarrative and a self?contradictory and pernicious vulgar relativism. Second, it is shown that Wilber's arguments for the self?refuting and pernicious nature of other non?absolutist approaches are both fallacious and distorting. Finally, the problematic consequences of absolutist discourse for academic and cross?cultural dialogue are pinpointed. Taking Wilber's treatment of Nagarjuna's thinking as a paradigmatic example, it is suggested that absolutist thinking both usually leads to ?bad? hermeneutics, and potentially hinders genuine dialogue among people and traditions holding different world views
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