It is both amazing and fitting that this huge, jargon-laden (this book really needs a glossary!), heavily academic work has become a best seller in the world of the educated. One has to be dedicated to learn the jargon and then plow through 551 pages of text and 238 pages of notes. Meanwhile, we are told time and again that this is just an outline of what is to come!
Though he severely criticizes the excesses of the three movements, this is a deconstructive and New Age Mystical and postmodern interpretation of religion, philosophy and the behavioral sciences from a very liberal,spiritual point of view—i.e., without the worst of decon, pm and NAM jargon, rabid egalitarianism and anti-scientific anti-intellectualism.
He analyzes in some detail the various world views of philosophy, psychology, sociology and religion, exposing their fatal reductionistic flaws with (mostly) care and brilliance, but most of the sources he analyzes are of almost no relevance today. They use terminology and concepts that were already outdated when he was researching and writing 20 years ago. One has to slog thru endless pages of jargon -laden discussion of Habermas, Kant, Emerson, Jung et.al. to get to the pearls.
You get a terrific sampling of bad writing, confused and outdated ideas and obsolete jargon.
If one has a good current education, it is doubly painful to read this book (and most writing on human behavior). Painful because it´s so tortured and confusing and then again when you realized how simple it is with modern psychology and philosophy. The terminology and ideas are horrifically confused and dated (but less so in Wilber´s own analysis than in his sources).
This book and most of its sources are would-be psychology texts, though most of the authors did not realize it. It is about human behavior and reasoning-about why we think and act the way we do and how we might change in the future. But (like all such discussion until recently) none of the explanations are really explanations, and so they give no insight into human behavior. Nobody discusses the mental mechanisms involved. It is like describing how a car works by discussing the steering wheel and metal and paint without any knowledge of the engine, fuel or drive train. In fact, like most older ´explanations` of behavior, the texts quoted here and the comments by Wilber are often more interesting for what kinds of things they accept (and omit!) as explanations, and the kind of reasoning they use, than for the actual content.
If one is up on philosophy and cognitive and evolutionary psychology, most of this is archaic. Like nearly everyone (scholars and public alike--eg, see my review of Dennett´s Freedom Evolves and other books), he does not understand that the basics of religion and ethics-- in fact all human behavior, are programmed into our genes. A revolution in understanding ourselves was taking place while he was writing his many books and it passed him by.
Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my article The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language as Revealed in Wittgenstein and Searle 59p(2016). For all my articles on Wittgenstein and Searle see my e-book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Wittgenstein and Searle 367p (2016). Those interested in all my writings in their most recent versions may consult my e-book Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 662p (2016).
All of my papers and books have now been published in revised versions both in ebooks and in printed books.
Talking Monkeys: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071HVC7YP.
The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle--Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071P1RP1B.
Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711R5LGX