Daniel Gustav Anderson is a literary scholar, cultural critic and integral theorist currently teaching literature and cultural history in Washington D.C. Along with Mark Edwards, Steve McIntosh and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Anderson is one of the most innovative thinkers to emerge out of the integral movement.
This interview highlights the importance of evolving a much more radical approach to integral thinking, being and doing. Daniel and Erik challenge us to reconceptualize what it means to intentionally explore an ever expansive worldview. Enjoy.
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Nonviolence of Nonmetaphysics
An Interview with Daniel Gustav Anderson
Erik: How did you become interested in integral theory?
Daniel: How I came to be interested in integral theory and integral culture is a separate question from how I came to be committed to an integral project. I'll try to address both of them.
The first has to do with everyday life for me. I am an intellectual by trade and a practicing Buddhist. My politics have always been to the left as a matter of conscience. There are other factors but I don't think my life is interesting. I find memoirs rather dull and, as the great American sage Steveland Morris observes, I don't want to bore you with my troubles. The gist of it: my commitment to this project comes from an unwillingness to endure the sufferings of others when that suffering could be avoided. I don't want to see children who should be developing into responsible adults go hungry and not learn to read, for instance. There's something wrong with me that I can't tolerate it, like you can't just sit there and watch your grandmother trip and fall down a flight of stairs with a disinterested attitude. I can't do that, I'm not that cool, so I have to step in and do what I can. This has meant that I have spent most of my adult life learning how to do certain things, and learning what is possible for me to do well. I read a lot. I am slowly losing my hearing, so I will never be a revolutionary piano tuner, but I have found that I can write American English. So, I write American English.
How specifically did I become committed to integral theory? I was teaching English Literature surveys as a lecturer at the University of Idaho. My students were struck by some passages in Matthew Arnold that I had asked them to read, which reminded me of some materials I had been studying on my own in Aurobindo Ghose. I have long been an admirer of Aurobindo's poetic work, and had some notes on a paper regarding some problems in Aurobindo's poetry and also his theories of time and race. So I put all this together in a tidy package and submitted it on a lark to the Integral Review. The editors at that journal did a remarkable thing: they decided to publish it but more importantly they challenged me.
Also by Daniel Gustav Anderson: New Theses on Integral Micropolitics