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The Ever-Present Origin, Part One: Foundations of the Aperspectival World and Part Two: Manifestations of the Aperspectival World [Paperback]

by Jean Gebser, Noel Barstad, Algis Mickunas
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 31, 1986 0821407694 978-0821407691 1st
The Ever-Present Origin is a translation of _Ursprung und Gegenwart_, a book which was published in German in two parts around 1949 and 1953. The central contribution of this book is Gebser's analysis of the history of culture -- mainly but not exclusively Western culture -- in terms of the predominance of different modes of consciousness. Gebser details five structures of consciousness: the archaic, the magical, the mythical, the mental, and the integral (or aperspectival). His theory seems to be that these structures unfold in a sequential but non-linear fashion (i.e. in quantum increases in the self-transparency of consciousness), and have different kinds of characteristic ways of experiencing self, other, and world. With each leap, the previous structures of consciousness are superceded and yet retained in a subordinate fashion. Meanwhile, the other structures lie largely latent and untapped. VERY briefly, the archaic is instinctual and primitive. The magical is tribal and involves participation mystique. The mythical is imaginative and often involves seeing through complementary polarities (darkness and light, good and evil). The mental is analytical, dualistic, and skeptical of the other structures of consciousness. And the integral structure allows for a re-membering of all of the structures of consciousness without the problematic reification of their respective "worlds". The integral or aperspectival structure additionally involves going beyond the previous four structures in something akin to Buddhist or Christian (a la Meister Eckhart) enlightenment as understood in terms of the perennial philosophy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 646 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press; 1st edition (August 31, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821407694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821407691
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gebser's Magnum Opus August 26, 2001
This book is not a light read. However it is a fascinating read penned by one of Europe's hidden philosophical treasures: Jean Gebser. The Ever-Present Origin is a translation of _Ursprung und Gegenwart_, a book which was published in German in two parts around 1949 and 1953. The central contribution of this book is Gebser's analysis of the history of culture -- mainly but not exclusively Western culture -- in terms of the predominance of different modes of consciousness. Gebser details five structures of consciousness: the archaic, the magical, the mythical, the mental, and the integral (or aperspectival). His theory seems to be that these structures unfold in a sequential but non-linear fashion (i.e. in quantum increases in the self-transparency of consciousness), and have different kinds of characteristic ways of experiencing self, other, and world. With each leap, the previous structures of consciousness are superceded and yet retained in a subordinate fashion. Meanwhile, the other structures lie largely latent and untapped. VERY briefly, the archaic is instinctual and primitive. The magical is tribal and involves participation mystique. The mythical is imaginative and often involves seeing through complementary polarities (darkness and light, good and evil). The mental is analytical, dualistic, and skeptical of the other structures of consciousness. And the integral structure allows for a re-membering of all of the structures of consciousness without the problematic reification of their respective "worlds". The integral or aperspectival structure additionally involves going beyond the previous four structures in something akin to Buddhist or Christian (a la Meister Eckhart) enlightenment as understood in terms of the perennial philosophy. Read more ›
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addendum to Gruenig review March 9, 2002
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Hans Gruenig has given an excellent overview of Gebser's monumental work. My review offers a sort of color commentary to augment Gruenig's words. The Ever-Present Origin, which has a generic-looking cover, is an extraordinarily rich survey of art, science, culture, and symbolism from an author who achieved more than scholarly excellence. In a letter written to Georg Feuerstein, Gebser acknowledged achieving satori (see the Feuerstein book cited by Gruenig). A transcendent consciousness shines through this book. One of its highlights is Gebser's scholarly survey of the evolution of soul. Gebser's vision was formed in part through his friendship and acquaintence with many of the leading people of his time, including Einstein, Picasso, and Jung. Although he taught for awhile at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, he asserts an independent vision. An essential Gebserian contribution is his subsuming of the scientific worldview. That worldview crystallized with the linear perspective geometry of the Italian Renaissance, a drawing technique that artificially separated subject and object. Gebser convincingly demonstrates the emergence of an integral consciousness where the time and space of "objectivity" no longer offer an adequate description of our world or personal experience. This book is a masterpiece, written in simple, somewhat repetitive language. It is quite readable, though a bit awkward in translation.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Neglected Masterpiece of Western Philosophy April 9, 2007
Jean Gebser does not get the same kind of exposure as Heidegger or Jung, but his thinking belongs to, and organically evolves out of, the tradition of German thinking that began with Goethe and Kant and continues right down through Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Rudolf Steiner, Oswald Spengler and others. And what this tradition of thought has common to it is the notion that there is no such thing as an object that is not conditioned by the phenomenological faculties of the subject. Kant, Schopenhauer, Husserl and Heidegger resolve this problem in various ways, but with each of them, it is the subject, not the object, that is of overriding philosophical importance in our experience of the world around us.

What Gebser tried to do in this book was to give a kind of phenomenological grounding to the human being's experience of the world not in terms of Kantian categories, but in terms of various evolutionarily derived structures of conscious which the human bears within itself. That is to say, earlier consciousness structures, such as those of tribal man or literate man of the high Bronze Age civilizations, do not just disappear, but sleep latently within the psyche as valid experiential modes unto themselves. Certain life experiences will activate and call forth these modalities, and once the consciousness structure has been activated, it actually changes the very physics of the experiences which the subject has. In the Magical consciousness structure, for example, space and time are a point-like unity in which there are no dimensions, since the world is intricately interconnected through magical pathways like the songlines of aboriginal Australia. Magic actually, really does work when this consciousness is activated (hence the reality of synchronicities and the like).
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