Philosophy vs Teaching
I would propose the distinction between Integral philosophies and Integral teachings. I see that in the Integral community the two are not enough delineated while I think it helps to do so.
I found this little explanation of the difference between teachings and philosophies by a professor of the university of Virginia in an article on consciousness: http://www.faculty.virginia.edu/consciousness/“A metaphysical philosophy is a purely conceptual structure that is presumed to be a logically self-consistent description of some aspect of reality. It does not necessarily include techniques for experiencing this reality. A philosophy is different from what we shall call a teaching. The purpose of a teaching is to help a student to know a reality, no matter whether it is phenomenal or noumenal. Since the emphasis is on knowledge rather than on logic, a teaching may use whatever concepts and techniques work in bringing the student to the desired knowledge. A teaching often will have a philosophical basis, but there is no particular equirement to adhere rigidly to it.”
I see Wilber etc. as creating an integral philosophy, meaning their purpose is to describe in a logical self-consistent way as many aspects of reality as possible.
Aurobindo, Almaas etc. have integral teachings, meaning their purpose is to help their students know (by experience) as many aspects of reality as possible.
Now I am not saying that one is better then the other, I find both of them interesting although I am more interested in the second. But I do see a confusion in the Integral community between the two that would help the discussions if there was more clarity.
And also I see Integral philosophers use concepts from teachings (like for instance Advaita) that are not meant to be used in the philosophical way, but in the teaching way, that is only as pointers for students to find the knowledge themselves through jnana or gnosis. I think you
can use these concepts for a philosophical system, but if you then afterwards refer back to the teaching you should not treat it like a philosophy but as a teaching.
Obviously, this is also where I differ from the Wilberian / Post Wilberian movement. Their intellectual and philosophical discussions are about taking authentic teachings out of their original very pragmatic spiritual and soteriological milieu, making them into something dry and mentally abstract. But while it is useful in adding to the store of human knowledge, and indeed serves an absolutely necessary purpose, in the end no amount of mental theorising can confer enlightenment. For me therefore what is interesting and useful is the Teaching, not the Philosophy!