Consciousness and Culture: An Introduction to the Thought of Jean Gebser

Consciousness and Culture: An Introduction to the Thought of Jean Gebser

Consciousness and Culture: An Introduction to the Thought of Jean Gebser

Consciousness and Culture: An Introduction to the Thought of Jean Gebser

Synopsis

Jean Gebser was one of the most original and influential thinkers of the 20th century, though this work is the first collection of essays on Gebser to appear in English. The work begins with an analysis of Gebser's mode of inquiry and notes the distinguishing features of his theory of culture. The chapters that follow, each written by experts in a range of fields, explore Gebser's impact on the physical sciences, fine arts, popular culture, politics, philosophy, and other aspects of civilization. The volume convincingly demonstrates that Gebser is among the first postmodernist theorists.

Excerpt

Jean Gebser was born in Posen, Prussia, in 1905. He was educated in Königsberg and later attended the renowned preparatory school in Rosseleben on the Unstrut. In 1931, Gebser encountered the Brown Shirts in Munich and promptly left Germany for Spain, free but impoverished. In August 1939, just hours before the Spanish frontier closed, he fled to Switzerland. He survived the Second World War to travel widely, including several trips to the Orient. Late in his life, he was offered a chair in the study of comparative civilizations at the University of Salzburg, but illness prevented him from maintaining the position. After several years of suffering from severe asthma, Gebser succumbed to the ailment and died May 4, 1973, in Berne, Switzerland.

During his life, Gebser work, especially his Transformation of the Occident (1943), gained a large scholarly audience in the German reading community. Between the publication of the first (1949) and second (1951) parts of his book The Ever-Present Origin, eighteen specialists in the arts and sciences at the Academy of Commerce in St. Gallen, Switzerland gave two cycles of lectures that presented evidence for Gebser's contention that Western culture is currently undergoing a fundamental restructuration. Jean Keckeis has remarked that "a surprising unanimity of basic conception [about the contemporary restructuration of consciousness/world] emerged from these lectures: an openness toward questions dealing with transcendence; a scepticism about a self-satisfied rationalism; and a courageous humility vis-à-vis insights into man's limitations of knowledge and perception."

In 1965 Gebser was honored with Festschrifts: Wege zum integralen Bewusstsein (Ways to Integral Consciousness) and Welt Transparente (Transparent World) . . .

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