Well, here's the obligatory criticism post, or as sometimes happens, series of posts.. I must say, I'm in something of a mild state of bemusement and shock, as if someone had king hit me with a big rubber mallet. Still, better to get stuck in and pull no punches instead of responding with WTF!? written in size 72 font. Here we go.
I've tried to be even handed and fair when it comes to criticizing Wilber. I think I've done an ok job - readers can decide for themselves - when it has come to the various controversies and theoritical problems that occasionally pop up on the Integral radar: Gafni, Cohen, issues of tone, issues of substance, use of sources and footnotes, Wilber's personality etc. Moreover, I think that, generally speaking, that is a good reflection of the overall tone of criticism in the blogosphere and elsewhere; concerned questions from people who want to see this stuff work, and applied in the world, in some sense. Of course, when someone is as prolific as Wilber, there are bound to be misrepresentations, and doubtless they are incredibly annoying. But that's no excuse to act in such a dismissive, conceited manner, high cognitive 'altitutde' or otherwise.
The fact of the matter is, criticism is not just coming from a dedicated, snark infested, anti-Wilber coterie. It exists across the board, from fervent anti-Wilberians, ex-associates, long time Wilber readers and followers, former members of I-I, current employees of I-I, the Integral blogosphere, writers at Integral World, IN subscribers, ex-IN subscribers, and those who couldn't pick Wilber out of a police line up. People inside the I-I circle, people outside the I-I circle, and those who've been both. Forgive me for belabouring the point, but quite simply, we're not all banditos taking potshots at Wilber's ass. Allow me to mix wild west metaphors just a tad: some of us are Tonto, riding alongside trying to point out that you're bleeding from gunshot wounds elsewhere. Some of us are the lowly villagers, no doubt of little importance, but if you don't drink water Mister, then you're going to die of thirst.
Cowan is not the problem. Plenty of Wilber critics don't like Cowan. I don't like Cowan. His humergence blog is boring, and I think SD generally speaking is akin to an unwelcome parasite, whether SD or SDi. DeQuincey and whoever else are not the problem. No one is doubting Wilber's clout or intellect within the field normally known as transpersonal studies, or that he has more to offer than ex-transpersonalists dabbling in Integral.
Frank Visser is definitely not the problem, and to see him treated with such callous disregard in a public forum, when Ken doesn't even name most of the other critics in his rant, is saddening and a little bit infuriating. For the record, I have never seen Visser try to hide his appreciation for Wilber's work, as Wilber claims. Calling someone 'brilliant but wrong [about certain things]' still necessitates them being brilliant, and the man wrote 'Ken Wilber: Though as Passion' for fuck's sake. Yes, Wilber and Visser disagree about Wilber-V, and yes, as Wilber points out, most of the criticism of Wilber that Visser hosts is doubly poisonous to theosophy. But none of that means that Visser has stopped being a fan. He is simply a conduit for Wilberian criticism, a conduit without conditions, save Frank's own judgement. Apparently that doesn't sit well with Wilber. Fine. But the kind of boilerplate psychoanalysis at a distance that he offers as a response (Frank feels left out! And that's why he's deliberately being mean!) is exactly the same kind of bullshit (if slightly more qualified) that Meyerhoff offers up (Wilber is trying to unite the Kosmos because he had a hard childhood. For fuck's sake, grow up, in both cases).
I will make a bold suggestion here: The reason why integralworld and assorted other places attract so much attention is that there's no Wilberian debate occuring in academia, it's all happening behind closed doors. No intellectual shit fights, no tooth and nail academic bare knucle brawling, just the insistence that lots of cogent criticism is happening behind closed doors, which we are not privy to. Incidentally, IN sure as fuck does not count as critical discourse (save for a few exceptions: Edwards, Branden, Harris) for the same reason that mini-golf is not considered part of the PGA tour. Critical debate can be discursive, but it can also be adversarial, horribly, gloriously adversarial. If that debate were happening in academia, there wouldn't be as much activity at places like IntegralWorld, nor would there be any need for Wilber to respond to every angry young man with a copy of SES. Do you think Chomsky gives a shit that some furious looking teenage reaganite called him a traitor on his myspace page? No, he's doing battle with Oliver Kamm. Now, it's not entirely Wilber's fault that he hasn't been peer reviewed to death in academia. There's something to be said for the boldness and directness of autodidactism. It doesn't mean that his work is worthless, or anything short of brilliant (on occasion), just that there are more question marks, because the criticism isn't on the public record. Instead, it's in a vault, with a perpetual Autumn 20xx release date.
But on to the substantive matter of Wilber's complaint... in part 2.