Review of the book by Steve McIntosh, subtitled ‘The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth and Goodness’.
This is in some ways a very theoretical and philosophical book about spirituality, a bit dry. In other ways it is frustratingly vague, in setting future directions for the evolution of spirituality but not being very specific.
Yet in other ways it is very practical, pointing a clear direction for the development of human consciousness, exploiting the fundamental attractors of truth, beauty and goodness (see Goodness, Truth and Beauty) as a direction, a sort of ‘gravitational attraction’ for consciousness. It is worth reading just for this, building on the work already published in Steve’s earlier book Evolution’s Purpose, reviewed here.Read More »
provides a model of evolution that applies to outer and inner – objective and subjective
thus reconciles science and religion/spirituality, showing how their historical differences came about, and how primitive materialism can be transcended
gives a context for the ‘culture wars’ in the US and elsewhere, and outlines how they can be transcended
explains why areas such as the middle east present such an intransigent problem
gives a story of development of human societies that is convincing and explains why such things as democracy are so difficult to transplant to other parts of the world
gives a philosophy of hope, with a vision of an emerging spirituality and a realistic approach to getting there
shows how the good, the beautiful and the true provide the attractive direction of human development
explains why the so-called, traditional, modern and postmodern elements of society find it so hard to get on, and what is the transcending evolutionary process that can pioneer the way forward
shows how the dialectic is a fundamental part of the evolutionary process
puts evolution at the centre of the story of life, the natural world, the universe and everything
gives the hope that we are on the threshold of a New Enlightenment.
Well there is such a book. It’s all laid out, and more, in Steve McIntosh‘s Evolution’s Purpose.
If you’re familiar with the work of Ken Wilber and Steve’s other books on ‘Integral Philosophy’ you may not need to read it. But this is really great philosophical stuff.
This sort of approach is a fundamental part of the New Renaissance, as I prefer to call it. This book gives an idea of how it could just come about through the conscious development and gradual transcendence of each person from their own starting point – despite those who are just not interested.
When he was (then) my age (now) my dad used to say that, over his working life of fifty years for the same firm, there was one constant. The company was in the process of either centralising or decentralising, and it swung between one and the other. I suspect he was observing a dialectical process.
The dialectic method dates back to ancient Greece and Socrates. Its modern formulation is attributed to Hegel, via the philosophical historian Chalybäus, although the concept has suffered to some degree by its relationship with the thinking of Marx and Engels.
The philosophical dialectic is summarised in the formula ‘thesis-antithesis-synthesis’, the synthesis representing some accomodation and transcending of the polarity between the thesis and antithesis. You might take as an example the Northern Ireland agreement where there is an accomodation between the concepts of United Ireland and Union of the north with Britain.
Evolutionary philosophers such as Ken Wilber and Steve McIntosh see the dialectic as a model of the evolutionary process itself – how life evolves. In the evolution of thesis to antithesis to synthesis, life moves on to higher forms that accomodate and incorporate earlier forms. Each synthesis is the start of a new turn of this spiral, and gradually more complex forms emerge.
Read some of their work if you want to know more about this, eg Evolution’s Purpose by Steve McIntosh.
Featured image is part of a tapestry ‘Dialectic’ by Brussels Manufactory
(Workshop of Jan Leyniers) 1660, via Google Art Project and Wikimedia Commons