From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Kenneth Earl "Ken" Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American neoplatonic writer and public speaker. He has written and lectured about mysticism, philosophy, ecology, and developmental psychology. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998 he founded the Integral Institute.
Wilber's AQAL, pronounced "ah-qwul", is the basic framework of Integral Theory. It suggests that all human knowledge and experience can be placed in a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of "interior-exterior" and "individual-collective". According to Wilber, it is one of the most comprehensive approaches to reality, a metatheory that attempts to explain how academic disciplines and every form of knowledge and experience fit together coherently.
AQAL is based on four fundamental concepts and a rest-category: four quadrants, several levels and lines of development, several states of consciousness, and "types", topics which do not fit into these four concepts. "Levels" are the stages of development, from pre-personal through personal to transpersonal. "Lines" are lines of development, the several domains of development, which may process uneven, with several stages of development in place at the various domains. "States" are states of consciousness; according to Wilber persons may have a terminal experience of a higher developmental stage. "Types" is a rest-category, for phenomena which do not fit in the other four concepts. In order for an account of the Kosmos to be complete, Wilber believes that it must include each of these five categories. For Wilber, only such an account can be accurately called "integral". In the essay, "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are in This Together", Wilber describes AQAL as "one suggested architecture of the Kosmos".
The model is topped with formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being", which is equated with a range of "ultimates" from a variety of eastern traditions. This formless awareness transcends the phenomenal world, which is ultimately only an appearance of some transcendental reality. According to Wilber, the AQAL categories — quadrants, lines, levels, states, and types – describe the relative truth of the two truths doctrine of Buddhism. According to Wilber, none of them are true in an absolute sense: only formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being", exists absolutely