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While science has given humans the methods for discovering truth, religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Yet the two are seen as mutually exclusive. 'In The Marriage of Sense and Soul' Ken Wilber brilliantly shows how we can begin to think about science and religion in ways that allow for their reconciliation and union, on terms acceptable to bo While science has given humans the methods for discovering truth, religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Yet the two are seen as mutually exclusive. 'In The Marriage of Sense and Soul' Ken Wilber brilliantly shows how we can begin to think about science and religion in ways that allow for their reconciliation and union, on terms acceptable to both camps. He proves that science is compatible with the world's religions, and explains why integration is essential for a balanced life. One of the foremost thinkers in the realm of spirituality and mind, Wilber is uniquely qualified to write such a thesis. 'The author's ongoing quest is to unite science and spirituality. Deeply philosophical but with Wilber's staggering talent for making the profound sound perfectly plain.' Spirit Magazine '...rigorous, profound, original and visionary, a landmark in the science-religion debate.' Network Other books by Ken Wilber Grace and Grit A Theory of Everything A Brief History of Everything.


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While science has given humans the methods for discovering truth, religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Yet the two are seen as mutually exclusive. 'In The Marriage of Sense and Soul' Ken Wilber brilliantly shows how we can begin to think about science and religion in ways that allow for their reconciliation and union, on terms acceptable to bo While science has given humans the methods for discovering truth, religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Yet the two are seen as mutually exclusive. 'In The Marriage of Sense and Soul' Ken Wilber brilliantly shows how we can begin to think about science and religion in ways that allow for their reconciliation and union, on terms acceptable to both camps. He proves that science is compatible with the world's religions, and explains why integration is essential for a balanced life. One of the foremost thinkers in the realm of spirituality and mind, Wilber is uniquely qualified to write such a thesis. 'The author's ongoing quest is to unite science and spirituality. Deeply philosophical but with Wilber's staggering talent for making the profound sound perfectly plain.' Spirit Magazine '...rigorous, profound, original and visionary, a landmark in the science-religion debate.' Network Other books by Ken Wilber Grace and Grit A Theory of Everything A Brief History of Everything.

30 review for The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Davis

    I recommend this, especially if you haven't read Wilber before then it's a great introduction to integrative thinking. The first few chapters are especially helpful to understand the ways that people erroneously (and harmfully) talk about "revolutions" and "paradigm shifts" in narcissistic ways. It's worth picking up for the first three chapters alone. At times he gets a bit more detailed in the argument than I need, but I understand that he needs to prove his point in detail for those who are le I recommend this, especially if you haven't read Wilber before then it's a great introduction to integrative thinking. The first few chapters are especially helpful to understand the ways that people erroneously (and harmfully) talk about "revolutions" and "paradigm shifts" in narcissistic ways. It's worth picking up for the first three chapters alone. At times he gets a bit more detailed in the argument than I need, but I understand that he needs to prove his point in detail for those who are less willing to make intellectual leaps or who want to argue against him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This book explores the common foundations of scientific and religious world views. People of a philosophic bent will appreciate the book's attempt find harmony where there appears to be none. The book also encourages both sides to lighten up a little and be open to new ways of spiritual knowledge and validation. This book explores the common foundations of scientific and religious world views. People of a philosophic bent will appreciate the book's attempt find harmony where there appears to be none. The book also encourages both sides to lighten up a little and be open to new ways of spiritual knowledge and validation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jrobertus

    stimulated a lot of discussion in our uu book group. wilber is smart and well read. his attempt to unite religion and science is doomed though, because he wants each to back off on its core believes. a lit of irritating new age language was annoying.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Ken Wilber wants to bridge the rift between science and spirituality, and uses an ingenious two-pronged strategy. First, he establishes that both science and spirituality rely on a model of nested hierarchies--The Great Chain of Being--to describe their respective realities. This shared hierarchical model, Wilber argues, gives the two apparently dissociated realms a common theoretical ground. Second, and more problematic, Wilber tries to reestablish the validity of interior modes of knowing withi Ken Wilber wants to bridge the rift between science and spirituality, and uses an ingenious two-pronged strategy. First, he establishes that both science and spirituality rely on a model of nested hierarchies--The Great Chain of Being--to describe their respective realities. This shared hierarchical model, Wilber argues, gives the two apparently dissociated realms a common theoretical ground. Second, and more problematic, Wilber tries to reestablish the validity of interior modes of knowing within the framework of scientific observation. By concentrating on interior modes of knowing, Wilber highlights that modern science deals in surfaces: things that can be seen and counted, with no regard for whether and how such things are qualitatively connected to our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual interiors as manifestations of, for example, Goodness and Truth. With respect to interiors, Wilber makes a very convincing case that science cannot wholesale reject interior modes of knowing without subverting science itself. After all, doesn't science make use of such interior modes of knowing when it uses unobservable concepts like imaginary numbers and notions of probability? Are these no less “interior” than concepts of beauty and justice? They are not, and so Wilber shows that that radical materialists have no leg to stand on when they try across the board to reject interior modes of knowing as invalid. After all, no person ever observed an imaginary number, but that hasn't stopped the effective use of imaginary numbers in the quest for scientific knowledge. There is, however, a second aspect to interior modes of knowing, and this is where Wilber fails to carry his argument to its conclusion. Wilber arrives at three common elements of the scientific method: following strict rules for observing things, making those observations according to those rules, and then submitting the observations to peer review. Wilber would like to say this method is perfectly applicable to the interior realm of the spirit, and so can “integrate” science and spirituality within the Great Chain of Being. Wilber's argument is flawed. Yes, we can apply this observational method to things like quantum phenomena, and even Hamlet. We can all read Hamlet, we can make observations, and we can submit our observations for review. If we observe that Hamlet is a play about hunting rhino in Africa, then peer review will show that to be an invalid observation. Go back and read Hamlet again. The problem is that individual spiritual experiences are not contained in a play--or in any context--that a third person can observe and then submit to peer review. Spiritual experiences are, by definition, cut off from all other observers but for the experiencing subject. What we observe of spiritual experiences is not the experience, i.e., the play of Hamlet. What we observe of spiritual experiences are hearsay accounts of the experiences by those who underwent them. Wilber's Hamlet analogy doesn't work, unless you imagine discussing with your peers a play that only you have ever seen or read. In which case, we are now in the realm of discussing what can be experienced but never observed. The scientific method does not neatly cross over to the realm of spirit. In spite of its shortcoming, Wilber's book is a brilliant attempt at synthesis, and should be read if for no other reason than his very clear and cogent analysis of the West's journey from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism. Although Wilber's argument ultimately fails, in my opinion there are so many important and profound insights along the way that one shouldn't mind if Wilber doesn't reach his ultimate goal.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Corrie Campbell

    Wilber's book is inspirational and graceful (albeit in a rather academic prose) in it's ability to point out the integration of science and religion. The "truce" between the two is a hard sell for doubters and with good reason - the majority of the population (of religious and scientific believers) will reject their respective duties to acknowledge each other -- and their own beliefs -- as true, but partial. Traditional religious believers will have to drop the strict dogma that contradicts prov Wilber's book is inspirational and graceful (albeit in a rather academic prose) in it's ability to point out the integration of science and religion. The "truce" between the two is a hard sell for doubters and with good reason - the majority of the population (of religious and scientific believers) will reject their respective duties to acknowledge each other -- and their own beliefs -- as true, but partial. Traditional religious believers will have to drop the strict dogma that contradicts proven scientific theories and scientific materialists must acknowledge the interior (spiritual) domains by broadening their narrow (sensory experience only) empiricism to include a direct experience in general (through the slow and tedious method of years of meditation to produce altered states) or acknowledge that they're doing it anyway with it's own conceptual operations from math to logic. After all, is the actual human experience of love, honor, morals any less real than a tree, a rock or a bird? Nevertheless, those that doubt Wilber's premise will likely condemn it's ability to realistically change and unite the people of these contrarian worldviews, but I think those people miss an important point. The point is that the cultural creatives and intellectuals first see the truth and wisdom that science and religion are not at odds with each other and after a tipping point occurs, they lead the rest of the world to slowly embrace the same. This point makes me hopeful and inspired -- his podcasts have implied this tipping point even though it's not mentioned in the book. I love Wilber's wisdom and sincerity and if one reads it with an open mind and can recognize Wilber's sincerity they will likely enjoy the book as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    PRINCESS

    The book starts the following phrase: There is nothing that will cure the senses but the soul, and nothing that will cure the soul but the senses. #Oscar_Wilde Mr. Wilber said it very nicely: “There is arguably no more important and pressing topic than the relation of science and religion in the modern world.” He explains that science has given methods for discovering the truth, while the religion is the force that generates meaning. “The aim of this book is to suggest how we might begin to think a The book starts the following phrase: There is nothing that will cure the senses but the soul, and nothing that will cure the soul but the senses. #Oscar_Wilde Mr. Wilber said it very nicely: “There is arguably no more important and pressing topic than the relation of science and religion in the modern world.” He explains that science has given methods for discovering the truth, while the religion is the force that generates meaning. “The aim of this book is to suggest how we might begin to think about both science and religion in ways that allow their reconciliation and eventual integration, on terms acceptable to both parties.” Two great forces in the world: Science and Religion. You might have encountered some people even in our recent world, so educated but still they are very weak in their belief. A simple question as “how the universe was build up?” can be answered by most people “ Atom, the smallest constituent unit”, yes that’s correct but that Atom from where came? If you are a believer and follow a religion you would end up collaborating between that small element and its Creator. To reunite these two powers we need to understand what Science and Religion are! so not only our lives, also cultures will shape up and unity will shadow our world. It might be a very boring but very formative and positive book. Enjoy your reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mardel Fehrenbach

    Fascinating book that has really helped me pull together many threads of thought and understanding that were mulling about in my brain. I can see how Wilber may be controversial, and I can see how some of his points will offend some as well. But reading this book changes everything. Working through this book helps me bring coherence and consistency to ideas that were just beginning to coalesce.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    I like the worldview/system he lays out, and buy the argument in general, but I found him rather repetitive in his argument, in that this could have been a much shorter book, as he restates the same thing several times, often in a row. Or, conversely, it could have been less general, with more examples. As it was, it seems to lay a framework but not flesh it out too much, perhaps in later books he does.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chip Hunter

    Ken Wilbur has got to be one of the smartest authors that I've come across. While a good portion of this book was a bit over my head, I did come away with a good understanding of his major point. It is important for modern society and science to accept the reality of spirituality and this will not happen if science continues to categorize anything without hard evidence to support it as nonsence. Ken Wilbur has got to be one of the smartest authors that I've come across. While a good portion of this book was a bit over my head, I did come away with a good understanding of his major point. It is important for modern society and science to accept the reality of spirituality and this will not happen if science continues to categorize anything without hard evidence to support it as nonsence.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Miles

    Strawman after ridiculous, unrealistic strawman fall before Wilbur's dull, self-referential blabbering. Science says there's no such thing as love (Kindle location 1024)? I suspect that no scientist has ever said that. Strawman after ridiculous, unrealistic strawman fall before Wilbur's dull, self-referential blabbering. Science says there's no such thing as love (Kindle location 1024)? I suspect that no scientist has ever said that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kriszi

    My first book by Ken Wilber, it was refreshing to see that other people have similar experiences to mine. Ken Wilber is an author with an amazingly complex view on the topic - and probably many topics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This book was nothing but Wilber's mental masturbation. There is nothing I hate more than a self-righteous writer that never has a point, or an end, and just floats around in their own juices. This book was nothing but Wilber's mental masturbation. There is nothing I hate more than a self-righteous writer that never has a point, or an end, and just floats around in their own juices.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vera

    Excellent discussion of changing views of life. How can science and religion get together? The historical background he gives was very enlightening.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I am not even close to smart enough for this stuff. Let me get back to you after I read it five more times or possibly find the right drugs.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gudjon Bergmann

    Wilber offers the only viable solution to heal the divide between science and religion. This book is a must read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Now one of my favorite books. Going to look to see what others of his I can try now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    M.

    If unvalidated concepts can be sufficiently embedded in an impressively systematic conceptual edifice, many people (including the authors) can be stunned, charmed, or otherwise impressed to suspend disbelief. I've read and enjoyed many of Wilber's books. He presents numerous thought-provoking ideas, rigorously (obsessively?) systematized. In the end, his arguments fail to validate the magical elements of his systematic philosophy. In reading Wilber, I am wary of the intrusions of an unsubstantia If unvalidated concepts can be sufficiently embedded in an impressively systematic conceptual edifice, many people (including the authors) can be stunned, charmed, or otherwise impressed to suspend disbelief. I've read and enjoyed many of Wilber's books. He presents numerous thought-provoking ideas, rigorously (obsessively?) systematized. In the end, his arguments fail to validate the magical elements of his systematic philosophy. In reading Wilber, I am wary of the intrusions of an unsubstantiated presumption of fundamental consciousness in the 'universe,' i.e., that conscious is ontologically prior to the material universe. I'm deeply skeptical regarding claims of any non-material essence or source, or of any effect in any real system, that is not dependent upon and mediated by physical structures and processes. His 'kosmos' concept fails to overcome the self-referential quagmire of magical thinking. That said, I do recommend the skeptic read Wilber's works for both their many shards of meaningful insights and to appreciate how the inescapable gravity well of magical thinking (and associated cognitive biases) plays out in the hands (mind) of a brilliant intellect and incisive systematizer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    kevin kvalvik

    OK, he's a nut, but like all of these guys who are a little smarter than their peers who have spent a little too much time alone he's gotta well developed world view that is actually sort of compelling. I liked a number of his ideas, but damn he likes the far more than he should. Not much humility of qualifying anything. He is closer to starting a religion than giving advice. OK, he's a nut, but like all of these guys who are a little smarter than their peers who have spent a little too much time alone he's gotta well developed world view that is actually sort of compelling. I liked a number of his ideas, but damn he likes the far more than he should. Not much humility of qualifying anything. He is closer to starting a religion than giving advice.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Johnny Danell

    This is one of Ken Wilber's most effective books. It is both a good introduction to Wilber's work (while still adding something unique), and very coherent and well argued throughout. The subject it discusses and how it is related to different philosophical developments (containing great discriptions of modernism and post modernism etc.) is done in a great way. Highly recommended. This is one of Ken Wilber's most effective books. It is both a good introduction to Wilber's work (while still adding something unique), and very coherent and well argued throughout. The subject it discusses and how it is related to different philosophical developments (containing great discriptions of modernism and post modernism etc.) is done in a great way. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Seekers of Unity

    So much hatin on ‘postmodernism'. If you like books like this you'll love my project: http://youtube.com/c/seekersofunity?s... So much hatin on ‘postmodernism'. If you like books like this you'll love my project: http://youtube.com/c/seekersofunity?s...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anton Zlatev

    Exceptional read! Ken Wilber is extremely well-read, critical and open-minded! Highly, highly recommended book and author!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gerardo

    (In Spanish below) So I'm giving 5 stars to this book for three reasons: 1) for the mind-bending arguments presenting here for integrating science and religion (which made me highlight lines and lines and lines of text, along with scribbling summaries, contradictions and "omg" on quite a number of pages), 2) because of its readability, for the book unfolds almost as a novel: you get the problem, then the presentation of the plausible solutions and then, finally, grandly, the solution and, 3) becaus (In Spanish below) So I'm giving 5 stars to this book for three reasons: 1) for the mind-bending arguments presenting here for integrating science and religion (which made me highlight lines and lines and lines of text, along with scribbling summaries, contradictions and "omg" on quite a number of pages), 2) because of its readability, for the book unfolds almost as a novel: you get the problem, then the presentation of the plausible solutions and then, finally, grandly, the solution and, 3) because I would actually give it 4,5 stars for how repetitive KW gets beyond the second half of the book, reminding the reader on every ocasion of what the 4 quadrants are, the 4 levels of the Great Chain of Being, the 3 Differentiations of Modernity and so forth, aswell as how slightly dogmatic he sounds at certain points when solemnly decreeing what religions must forsake in order to be accepted into modernity. The former reason, the repetitiveness does have the good side of making you remember the main topics of the book, but the second, the "this shall be like this" I cannot find any good reason to support. Granted, the arguments he presents here are very convincing, but to raise them as the way seems to me somewhat excessive. But, points 1) and 2) outweight point 3) (and also because ".5" should be rounded to the highest, nearest integral - get it? - number), so it keeps the 5 stars. In any case, I strongly recommend reading "The marriage of sense and soul" to anyone curious about how science and religion/spirituality/mysticism could be combined in a satisfactory fashion, aswell as to all those who enjoyed reading "Embracing Mind" and "The Taboo fo Subjectivity" by Alan Wallace. Le estoy dando 5 estrellas a este libro por tres razones: 1) Por los tremendos argumentos que aquí se presentan por la integración de la ciencia y la religión (que me han hecho subrayar líneas y líneas y líneas de texto, junto con garabatear resúmenes, contradicciones y "omg" en número bastante razonable de páginas", 2) por lo legible que es, ya que el libro se desarrolla casi como una novela: se te presenta el problema, después la presentación de las posibles soluciones y, finalmente, grandiosamente, la solución y 3) porque me gustaría darle 4,5 estrellas por lo repetitivo que KW se vuelve a partir de la segunda mitad del libro, recordando al lector en cada ocasión cuáles son los 4 cuadrantes, los 4 niveles de la Gran Cadena del Ser, las 3 Diferenciaciones de la Modernidad y demás, además por lo ligeramente dogmático que suena en ciertos puntos cuando decreta solemnemente que las religiones deben abandonar para poder ser aceptadas en la modernidad. La primera razón, lo repetitivo, tiene el lado bueno de que hace que recuerdes los puntos importantes del libro, pero al segundo, el "esto debe ser así", no le puedo encontrar ningún aspecto positivo. Por supuesto, los argumentos que KW presenta aquí son muy convincentes, pero proponerlos como la verdad me parece un tanto excesivo. Pero los puntos 1) y 2) pesan más que el punto 3) (y también porque ".5" debe ser redondeado hacia el número entero más próximo), así que se queda con sus 5 estrellas. En cualquier caso, recomiendo enfáticamente leer "Ciencia y Religión. El matrimonio entre el alma y los sentidos" a cualquier persona con curiosidad sobre cómo la ciencia y la religión/espiritualidad/misticismo podrían ser combinados de manera satisfactoria, así como para todos aquellos que disfrutaron leyendo "La ciencia de la mente" y "The Taboo of Subjectivity"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dean C. Moore

    Integrating science and mysticism into an integral world view is no small undertaking. Intellectual lightweights need not apply. In fact, this is perhaps the first attempt to reconcile the two venues I've read that really works. I would say that is in no small part due to the author's phenomenal grasp of history, science, numerous branches of mysticism, and much more. Wilber is perhaps the greatest living proponent to date of his own methods in fact, and remains one of the most sublime integral Integrating science and mysticism into an integral world view is no small undertaking. Intellectual lightweights need not apply. In fact, this is perhaps the first attempt to reconcile the two venues I've read that really works. I would say that is in no small part due to the author's phenomenal grasp of history, science, numerous branches of mysticism, and much more. Wilber is perhaps the greatest living proponent to date of his own methods in fact, and remains one of the most sublime integral thinkers I've yet to stumble across. I consider him the premier philosopher and deep thinker of our times. I've read all of his books and recommend them all highly. I was hoping to tone down the review a bit from "gushing fan" in hopes of coming across as more unbiased, but that wouldn't be a review that was from the heart. And I imagine part of how he works his intellectual magic lies in his ability to integrate heart and mind better than most. So I would be ill-advised to follow any other path.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Avrel Seale

    Ken Wilber is an "integral philosopher" who does an amazing job of synthesizing and reconciling the seen and unseen worlds in a conversational style. He has been a huge influence on both my thinking and my writing. This book is devastating to materialists, and opened up huge vistas of new thought to me. Though Wilber is a Zen Buddhist, in fact, I believe this book helped pave the way for my eventual embrace of the Baha'i Faith. Deep integration is the common denominator. Ken Wilber is an "integral philosopher" who does an amazing job of synthesizing and reconciling the seen and unseen worlds in a conversational style. He has been a huge influence on both my thinking and my writing. This book is devastating to materialists, and opened up huge vistas of new thought to me. Though Wilber is a Zen Buddhist, in fact, I believe this book helped pave the way for my eventual embrace of the Baha'i Faith. Deep integration is the common denominator.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Holliday

    I think this book can help scientific people understand religious people and vice–versa. Wilber shows where we have common ground. Both sides can benefit. Science can gain a better grasp of things it lacks: groundings for the Good and the Beautiful based on the “Great nest of being.” Religion can gain more confidence in its own values by using the “three strands of all valid knowing.” I appreciate Wilber’s clear thinking on these difficult issues.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    A very clear explanation, in my opinion, of why we can believe in God, why science doesn't negate it. I would imagine that a scientist could read this book and be swayed or at least consider Wilber's perspective, he's such a rigorous scientist himself. Anyway, I'm a big fan of his and, I have to admit, I'm the kind of person who periodically has to reprove God to myself. A very clear explanation, in my opinion, of why we can believe in God, why science doesn't negate it. I would imagine that a scientist could read this book and be swayed or at least consider Wilber's perspective, he's such a rigorous scientist himself. Anyway, I'm a big fan of his and, I have to admit, I'm the kind of person who periodically has to reprove God to myself.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    I like the way Ken Wilber just breaks it all down for the reader. You cannot pick up this book and read it in installements, it must be taken in large doses, which is really hard to do because it's pretty complex. I have tried three times to finish it, and still haven't. But I beleive him. I like the way Ken Wilber just breaks it all down for the reader. You cannot pick up this book and read it in installements, it must be taken in large doses, which is really hard to do because it's pretty complex. I have tried three times to finish it, and still haven't. But I beleive him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A good review of Wilber if its been a while. I'd say a little droll for an introduction, though. A good introduction to post-modernism, scientism, and the great chain of being. Its also short for KW, which is another plus. A good review of Wilber if its been a while. I'd say a little droll for an introduction, though. A good introduction to post-modernism, scientism, and the great chain of being. Its also short for KW, which is another plus.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This book takes a pretty broad definition on what religion is. Most westerners won't agree with the religion aspects of this book. Very good historical philosophy. This book takes a pretty broad definition on what religion is. Most westerners won't agree with the religion aspects of this book. Very good historical philosophy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Ken Wilber is an incredible intellectual and author. He is a great source for those of us who enjoy exploring the crossroads between philosophy, science, and spirituality.

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