Michel Bauwens (1958 - )

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Michel Bauwens


Michel Bauwens (21/03/58) is a Brussels native intellectual who is currently on sabbatical in Chiang Mai, Thailand until September 2004. He introduced me to Ken Wilber, the integral bibliography and keeps us abreast of the world situation

The Integral Bibliography [...]





The Integral Bibliography [...]

  1. Upper-Left Quadrant: The Subjective, The Evolution of the Self
    • 1.1 Introduction: the self / the individual
    • 1.2 aspects of the self
    • 1.3 organisation by mode of consciousness / historical epoch
    • 1.4 organisation by topic
    • 1.5 Subjective values: the quest for Truth, Beauty and the Good

  2. Upper-Right Quadrant: The Objective, The Body, and Technology
    • 2.1 The impact of technology and its criticism
    • 2.2 History of Technology: transforming matter
    • 2.3 History of technology: minds communicating
    • 2.4 Transhuman technologies
    • 2.5 Topics

  3. Bottom-Right Quadrant: The Inter-Objective Systems Governing matter, life, and society
    • 3.1 introduction: generalities on systems and their evolution
    • 3.2 The evolution of the world system (history of the world)
    • 3.3 The evolution of the political system
    • 3.4 The evolution of the state
    • 3.5 Political systems: topics
    • 3.6 Economic systems and their evolution (before capitalism)
    • 3.7 Capitalism and its evolution
    • 3.8 Beyond Capitalism?
    • 3.9 The Economic System: Topics

  4. Bottom-Left Quadrant: The Inter-Subjective, Shared Worldviews, Cultures, Philosophies and Religions
    • 4.1 the intersubjective foundations of society
    • 4.2 Types of intersubjective relationships
    • 4.3 Intercultural conflicts
    • 4.4 Human cultures per civilisational stage
    • 4.5 The evolution of philosophical culture: before the modern age
    • 4.6 philosophical culture and conceptions: the modern age and after
    • 4.7 The evolution of philosophical culture: the postmodern age
    • 4.8 philosophical cultures, by geography/civilisation
    • 4.9 philosophical topics and disciplines
    • 4.10 Religious and spiritual cultures: introduction
    • 4.11 Religion in the Western Meta-civilisation
    • 4.12 The Eastern Meta-Civilisation
    • 4.13 Other Spiritual traditions
    • 4.14 The development of an integral spiritual culture
    • 4.15 religious and spiritual cultures (by region)
    • 4.16 religious and spiritual topics
    • 4.17 The evolution of economic culture
    • 4.18 The evolution of political culture
    • 4.19 Political movements: left vs. right and beyond
    • 4.20 Political topics
    • 4.21 Key historical events and their interpretation
    • 4.21 Intersubjective cultural domains

World Situation [...]


  1. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea - Arthur Oncken Lovejoy [book, Amazon US]
    This is a classic work in the history of philosophy and the history of ideas, which was often cited by Ken Wilber in his various books, and hence, I always wanted to read it. Its subject matter is the ‘traditional conception of the universe’, which dominated the world until the advent of modernity. But the book is focused on its expression in Western civilisation, starting with the Pagan Greeks, especially Plato, but also the marvelous work of Plotinus, and his fascinating meditations and account of how the ‘One’ can give rise to the diversity of the world. Indeed this classic conception saw the cosmos as a hierarchical imbrication of ‘the One’, through a series of intermediate non-physical stages, through the physical world. This world functioned according to the metaphysical principles of plenitude and continuity, concepts which are explained in great detail in this book, in their long history of adaptation, until their overthrow. So after the Greeks, we go through the subtilities of Christian neoPlatonic theology, through the Aristotelian revolution of Aquinas, the challenges posed by the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment, up until the mid-nineteenth century. The concept was in fact still highly popular in the eigtheenth century, with many popular advocates such as Leibniz, but who started to integrate the notions of Time and evolution in the traditional concept. This is not the easiest book to read, but not unnecessarily completed by jargon either, it is just that it is a complex subject matter, whose thread has to be followed through the argumentation of thinkers for more than two thousand years. And the author has done a superb job with it. Probably one of the books that one has to read for a general culture of premodernity. --Michel Bauwens

  2. A Concise History of Byzantium - Warren T. Treadgold [book, Amazon US]
    This is another Negri-inspired lecture, since he often mentions the current turn of the US towards a ‘Byzantine’ strategy. I have no clue what this means, and still don’t, but it was the reason I purchased this book, which is a summary of the history of the Byzantine Empire.
    The book starts with a general refutation of the idea of the permanent decline of the Roman Empire, saying that Byzantium’s history had many different cycles in different geographical areas and that it lasted over a thousand years with a high degree of sophistication. To explain the weakinging of the Roman Empire of the fourth century, he points out that the Barbarian invasions were in fact greatly facilitated by two massive plagues with depopulated urban areas, and to which the invading nomads were much less vulnerable. But the East was more lucky since it had more reserves, and as neighbour the Persian empire which did not seek to destroy, only to conquer. Nevertheless, in continuing the history, the author describes many eras of steep civilisational decline, with at one point only a few thousand bureaucrats managing the empire, periods of permanent war and civil conflict, and christian eras without any writing of any significance, as compared to the previous pagan periods and the tradition of classical Greece, Hellenism but even the Roman Empire. With iconoclasm, the periods of destruction of christian orthodox imagery, came on top of it phases of massive cultural destruction. I would not say the book is not worth reading if you do not know anything about the topic, but nevertheless, it is not a great read, and a rather boring focus on the policies of the succeeding emperors, without much attention to the social structure, the general culture, etc.. So I found it somewhat disappointing, and as said, still no clue at to what is meant by a Byzantine imperial strategy. Anybody can help?
    (Nevertheless, if you know like me, hardly nothing about Byzantium, this is not a useless book for beginners)--Michel Bauwens

  3. The Empire of Disorder (Foreign Agents) - Alain Joxe [book, Amazon US]
    Do we live in a global decentralised or deterritorialised Empire, the thesis of Toni Negri discussed earlier, or do we live the beginning of a new American Empire, as the current world situation would lead us to believe. Another question related to the latter hypothesis is of course whether the latter attempt at Pax Americana will succeed or not.
    Alain Joxe is a proponent of the theme of the emerging of an American Empire, though he does not believe the attempt will ultimately succeed. The book is essentially an analysis of the new geostrategic world situation after 1989, dominated by ‘savage little wars’ that are not the result of centuries of nationalist and tribal hatred, as some would have us believe, but according to Joxe, they are a successful ‘spatialisation’ of violence, or if you like, a successful ‘export’ of the tensions of the Empire. Joxe charges that the American Empire is not benign at all. Earlier Empires assumed the responsibility of conquest and protection of its subordinates, something the US refused to do. It operates on a case by case basis, chooses the weakest possible opponents such as tribal Afghanistan and Somalia, and a demilitarised Iraq. Despite American promises regarding the latter, Joxe is very sceptical and points toward Afghanistan as an example of a refusal to fund any nation-building or betterment of the local situation. As a possible counterforce to this present and future disaster, Joxe posits the need for the tradition of the European ‘Social Republic’, the only possible counterforce on a world scale, as China is still decades away from real international power. And this is then where the book gets historically interesting because Joxe then summarises this tradition (summarising Macchiavelli, Hobbes, von Clausewitz) as well as offering a summary of the history of Western Empires so far, distinguishing logistical from predatory empires, with the US as an example of the latter.
    Stylistically, this is not a very good book, with often convoluted writing, but nevertheless, I found it stimulating enough to recommend it.--Michel Bauwens

  4. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life - Jacques Barzun [1 book, Amazon US]
    In the last half-millennium, as the noted cultural critic and historian Jacques Barzun observes, great revolutions have swept the Western world. Each has brought profound change--for instance, the remaking of the commercial and social worlds wrought by the rise of Protestantism and by the decline of hereditary monarchies. And each, Barzun hints, is too little studied or appreciated today, in a time he does not hesitate to label as decadent. --Gregory McNamee [...]

  5. Empire - Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri[1 book, Amazon US]
    [...] Hardt and Negri maintain that empire--traditionally understood as military or capitalist might--has embarked upon a new stage of historical development and is now better understood as a complex web of sociopolitical forces. They argue, with a neo-Marxist bent, that "the multitude" will transcend and defeat the new empire on its own terms. The authors address everything from the works of Deleuze to Jefferson's constitutional democracy to the Chiapas revolution in a far-ranging analysis of our contemporary situation. Unfortunately, their penchant for references and academese sometimes renders the prose unwieldy. But if Hardt and Negri's vision of the world materializes, they will undoubtedly be remembered as prophetic. --Eric de Place [...]

    [...] Although written in the abstract language of the graduate seminar, Empire has an ominously pragmatic aim: to undermine faith in the liberal institutions that inform American democracy. It is a poisonous book whose ultimate goal is not to understand but to destroy society. Harvard University Press should be ashamed of publishing it. Sensible citizens should be alarmed that it is glorified by trendy intellectuals and the press. It is sometimes suggested that America’s culture wars are over. The adulation showered upon Empire and its authors, together with the horrible events of September 11, show that the real battles have yet to be joined. -- Roger Kimball [...]

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