Observations on Gebser’s Essay “The Integral Consciousness”, IV

Jean Gebser’s essay on “The Integral Consciousness”, posted previously, is a summary of his views expressed in the lengthier book The Ever-Present Origin. The essay relies for its fuller meaning and interpretation on the material presented in the book. Yet it is possible to provide a context for this fuller meaning of the essay, and of Gebser’s sense of urgency in writing it, by reference to just a couple of passages from the opening pages of his book.

The threat of death and dissolution — of imminent catastrophe — is the context for emergence of the integral consciousness. It is not the luxury of the idle with too much time on their hands, but a necessity for the survival of all life in the Planetary Era.

There are two significant passages which provide the mood for the book as well as greater context for interpreting the essay. It accounts for why Gebser feels that the integral consciousness structure is the only sane and healing response to the multiplying crises of Late Modernity which Gebser also understands as being equally “an essential restructuration”.

The first passage I will quote at length from The Preface, since it provides the basis for Gebser’s sense of urgency. The second passage that follows will perhaps provide insight into many of the unfolding events of the day — such as the “Occupy Earth” movement —  as they relate to the “irruption” of the integral consciousness as historical response to the crisis of Late Modernity — which crisis is essentially a crossroads or crucible (crux or crucis) — a crucial situation.

From The Preface (1949) to The Ever-Present Origin,

“The crisis we are experiencing today is not just a European crisis, not a crisis of morals, economics, ideologies, politics or religion. It is not only prevalent in Europe and America but in Russia and the Far East as well. It is a crisis of the world and mankind such as has occurred previously only during pivotal junctures – junctures of decisive finality for life on earth and for the humanity subjected to them. The crisis of our times and our world is in process – at the moment autonomously – of complete transformation, and appears headed toward an event which, in our view, can only be described as a ‘global catastrophe’. This event, understood in any but anthropocentric terms, will necessarily come about as a new constellation of planetary extent.

We must soberly face the fact that only a few decades separate us from that event. This span of time is determined by an increase in technological feasibility inversely proportional to man’s sense of responsibility — that is, unless a new factor were to emerge which would effectively overcome this menacing correlation.

It is the task of the present work to point out and give an account of this new factor, this new possibility. For if we are not successful — if we should not or cannot successfully survive this crisis by our own insight and assure the continuity of our earth and mankind in the short or the long run by a transformation (or a mutation) — then the crisis will outlive us.

Stated differently, if we do not overcome the crisis it will overcome us; and only someone who has overcome himself is truly able to overcome. Either we will be disintegrated and dispersed, or we must resolve and effect integrality. In other words, either time is fulfilled in us — and that would mean the end and death for our present earth and (its) mankind — or we succeed in fulfilling time: and this means integrality and the present, the realization and the reality of origin and presence. And it means, consequently, a transformed continuity where mankind and not man, the spiritual and not the spirit, origin and not the beginning, the present and not time, the whole and not the part become awareness and reality. It is the whole that is present in origin and originative in the present.”  (pp. xxvii – xxviii).

The second passage I wish to highlight here occurs in Chapter 1, “Fundamental Considerations” and focusses in on one of the essential aspects of the contemporary crisis,

“The current situation manifests on the one hand an egocentric individualism exaggerated to extremes and desirous of possessing everything, while on the other it manifests an equally extreme collectivism that promises the total fulfillment of man’s being. In the latter instance we find the utter abnegation of the individual valued merely as an object in the human aggregate; in the former a hyper-valuation of the individual who, despite his limitations, is permitted everything. This deficient, that is destructive, antithesis divides the world into two warring camps, not just politically and ideologically, but in all areas of human endeavor.

Since these two ideologies are now pressing toward their limits we can assume that neither can prevail in the long run. When any movement tends to the extremes it leads away from the center or nucleus toward eventual destruction at the outer limits where the connections to the life-giving center finally are severed. It would seem that today the connections are already broken, for it is increasingly evident that the individual is being driven into isolation while the collective degenerates into mere aggregation. These two conditions, isolation and aggregation, are in fact clear indications that individualism and collectivism have now become deficient” (p. 3).

One pole of this destructive negative antithesis has already collapsed and self-destructed. The other pole of “egocentric individualism exaggerated to extremes” is well on its way and will also self-destruct. It is the essential thrust of the nihilism of our time, and many contemporary books have been written about this problem. It is also essentially what underlies the Occupy Wall Street movement and the global protests with which it is associated, unique in their character of being today coordinated and synchronised through the global internet. The protest against greed is really an attempt to draw attention to the disintegrating and degenerative effects of this exaggerated egocentric individualism as identified by Gebser. The trend described by Gebser has been observed by others equally, whether this is David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd or Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, or the various critiques of consumerism. Dame Margaret Thatcher’s pronouncement that “there is no such thing as society” — which always reminds me of Nietzsche’s announcement of “the death of God” too and its implications for nihilism — also highlights Gebser’s earlier concerns about disintegration and dispersal.

And, indeed, Thatcher was somewhat right in rather unintended ways. The social crisis in Britain is so extreme that it may be wondered whether such an entity as “society” exists in the UK. The current UK prime minister David Cameron’s policies for constituting “The Big Society” strike me as a desperate — and ill-conceived — attempt to reconstitute society after Thatcher’s neo-liberal policies effectively dismantled or enfeebled it. This concept of “The Big Society”, as apparent corrective to the corrosive and atomising effects of an exaggerated neo-liberalism, was also earlier called “The Great Society” by US president Lyndon Johnson, as also a ill-conceived response to the growing fragmentation of American society, now presently coming to a head as “culture war” and in other ways. In Canada, the current (reactionary) conservative government of Stephen Harper also pursues a radical “Law & Order” and military agenda even as it deregulates the market and introduces a radical neo-liberal agenda in economics in place of Canada’s traditional emphasis on “social justice”. That is, the “Law & Order” agenda overthrows the social justice framework by, first, dissolving the social ties that bind through a divisive politics, and then artificially replacing them with a coercive legal and ideological framework instead.

All these trends are very similar. Many of these policies designed to preserve or conserve  society have both an overt meaning but also a covert significance that is very often overlooked. It is this covert factor that results in double-bind policies that end in “perverse outcome”, “unintended consequence”, “revenge effect”, or “blowback”. The covert factor in neo-liberalism is a hidden authoritarianism. Ever action becomes its own reaction, which is the collapse of the dialectic of thesis and anti-thesis, or otherwise called “coincidentia oppositorum” (coincidence of ostensible opposites). This collapse of dialectical reason in which the thesis and the anti-thesis become identical (neo-liberalism and authoritarianism) is what Gebser refers to as “deficient rationality” — the breakdown of the mental-rational structure of consciousness in dialectical confusion of thesis and anti-thesis, or action and reaction. Tower of Babel. (Others call it “the Absurd“).

Perversely, the end result of any thorough-going programme of neo-liberalism will be a new authoritarianism. What Gebser has really described above is what Buddhism knows as the karmic law of action and reaction, which is the ruling law of “samsara” (that is, what we call “the secular”, which has the meaning “time” as procreation or generational succession — “secular” is related to the word “sex”). Basically, when the action and the reaction become identical (which they do at the extremity or limit), or thesis and anti-thesis become identical, this has the same significance as Nietzsche’s short formula for nihilism: “all higher values devalue themselves”. They self-destruct. This is the same “menacing correlation” to which Gebser refers above.  This menacing correlation is quite similar to Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, who likewise self-destruct. This underscores what Gebser means by “imminent catastrophe”.

But it is also an “apocalypse” in the sense of an unveiling or disclosure (Gebser uses the term “irruption” for this). This is the context for the emergence of Gebser’s “integral consciousness” as a “transformed continuity”. As a transformed continuity, it has much the same meaning as Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of values” (or, “all that is old is made new again”). Although new developments in science over the last century (ecology, relativity theory, quantum theory, chaos theory, complexity theory) coincident with the emergence of the Planetary Era have pointed towards the “irruption” of this integral consciousness, it is only now starting to make itself manifest in broader areas of social life.

In Gebser’s essay, he describes this “evolution” of the new consciousness structure (by which he means, as an unfolding or irruption, not a progression) as corresponding to an “involution”. That is to say, it is like a dialogue or conversation between the Planet-as-a-whole and the already latent potentiality of the human consciousness to achieve or realise integrality, wholeness, or fulfillment. This “involution”, in other words, presents itself to our human consciousness in the form of an imperative: “Change, or perish!” For Gebser, the integral consciousness is the appropriate response or answer to that imperative. (For some it is even experienced or felt as the very voice of God) and the failure of the response must result in the undesired outcome.

These are very similar themes as one discovers in the sociological work of Eugen Rosesntock-Huessy. Both men died in the same year, 1973. Although they approached the same issues from somewhat different angles, they arrived at much the same destination (or destiny) — the integral consciousness. And for Gebser, certainly, the integral consciousness was our human destiny — the irruption of the future within the present. The imperative “change or perish!” appears in the sociological work of Rosenstock-Huessy as the formula he also gives for a re-newed social science appropriate to the Planetary Era: respondeo, etsi mutabor — “I respond, although I will be changed”. The formula, by its very structure, excludes the merely reactionary from the new era in process of formation.

There’s no doubt that there are occasional “flares” shooting forth from the depths that herald this irruption, and if one studies the present “occupy” movement it is there also. An old consciousness demands to see demands or a clear programme. It would be good if the protesters do not succumb to such seductions. They would be wise not to do so. If you read between the lines of many of their missives, for example, you see a struggle against an older political idiom that does not correspond to their actual mood and sensibilities. They are working out a new idiom, one less ideologically laden (or leaden) and less compromising than the “conventional wisdom” provides. “Nothing less than a transformed civilization”. The reason they have no programme is because they are, for the most part, eschewing ideology as being inauthentic, if not hypocritical. This they call “direct democracy” instead, which is dialogical not ideological. Where you sometimes here the word “socialism” used it really doesn’t have the same meaning as in the recent past. It means “fellowship”. If you hear the word “solidarity”, it actually means conviviality. This is a transvaluation of values — a transformed continuity. It is the ongoing search for a new idiom that provides adequate healing correctives to the serious social problem of an “egocentric individualism exaggerated to extremes and desirous of possessing everything” — cupidity, greed, narcissism, avarice, etc.

I read the statement of a war veteran — a Sargeant Shamar Thomas — in New York who was participating in the occupation (there are a notable number of veterans amongst the occupiers). He described the experience as the most “exhilarating thing” he had ever done in his life. He was re-inspired, and to be re-inspired — to be exhilarated — is to be revivified and exhumed from the dead. It is to experience real, authentic life again. That’s why they are there. Because outside this microcosm they experience only “the Lonely Crowd”, or the bleak social landscape of T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland; or the relentless war of all against all of the competitive market society; or the lifeless, inauthentic, and meaningless activities of routine consumerism. Those who are exhilarated by it are also the resilient core of the movement. The merely disgruntled or disaffected eventually fall away.

When they eventually break camp, which they must, the occupiers will take away something that no “demands” could ever succeed in delivering — the seed germ of a new consciousness, a new sense of purpose, and a new sense of the possibilities of common life. Don’t be mislead if, for the time being, many continue to pour new wine into old wineskins by using terms like “left”, or “socialist” or “solidarity” and so on. These are transitional.

But anything truly new or unique must eventually discover and disclose its uniqueness also in a unique idiom and vocabulary. It’s those novelties or anomalous usages that often arise spontaneously that one should look for as emergent manifestations of the new consciousness.

(Few articles in the mainstream press seem to actually “get it”. One of the rare ones that does is The Toronto Star‘s Christopher Hume, “Why we’re preoccupied with being occupied“).

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22 responses to “Observations on Gebser’s Essay “The Integral Consciousness”, IV”

  1. Scott says :

    A remarkable article from The Guardian about executive pay increases, given the austerity programme that the UK government has inflicted on the rest of the population in response to the recession and the market meltdown of 2008.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/28/ftse-100-directors-earnings-rose-by-almost-half

    I think when disparity reaches these kinds of levels, “society” may not even exist in any real and coherent way. These kinds of disparities are pretty typical, though, with the vast majority being left to pick at the crumbs that fall from the masters’ table. Such great inequalities in wealth, though, aren’t the real issue. The real issue is dispossession — the increasing sense that one doesn’t have a stake in the social order any longer — no seat at the banquet.

    • Scott says :

      Posted a bit too soon, as I should have added that “dispossesion” leads to a sense of homelessness. There is both an objective sense of this dispossession, but also another, social sense of this. Rapidly declining rates of electoral participation may also be an indicator of “homelessness” as the sense of alienation and dispossession.

      I read an article lately in some reactionary rag (can’t remember which) mocking the OWS because New York’s homeless were showing up and camping out with the protesters. Duh? Eh? Who better to be there? That attitude… that’s the problem. What kind of lunacy is that?

  2. misterdirk says :

    I’m acutely attuned to spotting those anomalous innovations and emergent consciousness, but I’m not finding it in my day-to-day life, in the society in which I operate. I’d like to discover it in myself, as an artist, and perform that new idiom and vocabulary. It feels like a gestational period that’s gone on for too long! I should probably move.

    But thank goodness for your conscientious insight. Every time I return to Gebser I increase my understanding.

    • Scott says :

      I don’t find much of it either in my locale, misterdirk. But then, I live in the country and keep pretty much to myself. It never occurs to me to delve into the consciousness of my familiars (unless I’m back in Vancouver, which is sometimes like travelling to a different planet).

      The “signs” may be quite subtle. I do find them in some contemporary poetry and film, as much as in some more self-consciousness works today in the specific fields that Gebser mentions. It could be something as slight as an unusual use of the word “before”, for example. Gebser plays with the atemporal and temporal significance of meanings like “before” as they pertain to “origin”, on the one hand (ie, what actually is not “fore” — as the foreground — but be-fore, but is present or covertly present) while the temporal aspect signifies “before” as “past” — the “before” today. In one, before still has the atemporal meaning “present” but latent, covert, or hidden (occulted), while in the other temporal sense, “before” means gone. In some ways, the word bears two quite contradictory meanings — “coincidence of opposites” in a nutshell. The atemporal coincident with the temporal meaning in “before” corresponds much to Blake’s own “eternity in the hour”, where eternity is “time-free”.

      In order to appreciate the simultaneity or coincidence of the atemporal and the temporal in a meaning like “before”, you have to surrender or forego mere intellection and basically intuit or feel it as having this “sacred” atemporal quality along with its “profane” (or secular) temporal meaning. This is where the Zen koan “show me your face before you were born” takes on its subtlety. It’s actually referring to the “before” that Gebser calls “ever-present origin”, not a “before” as a beginning or a event in the past. In the Zen koan, actually, the “before” is what is eventing now, not then.

      • Scott says :

        Might add something here which maybe I should leave for another “observation” on Gebser’s essay, but which seems appropriate to raise in the context of the above. This coincidence of the atemporal and temporal has much the same meaning as Gebser’s reference to the “newly-unfolding, truly awake consciousness, free both from attachment to “egoness” and “egolessness” — a consciousness that deliberately integrates the two states”. This “egoness” pertains to the temporal self, for the ego is time-bound as the mortal self in time. It is the ego-nature that interprets in terms of “before” and “after” or “beginnings” and “endings”. The “egolessness” is the atemporality which is what you sense or intuit in the coincidence of the atemporal and temporal aspects of a word like “before”. While egoness is the time-bound, therefore mortal (or what is called the profane or secular or samsaric), egolessness is the time-binding factor. You find this in the description of the Buddha who is depicted as both turning the wheel of time (chakravartin), as well as stopping the wheel of time.

  3. misterdirk says :

    Yes, I understand what you’re saying. No doubt I’m a bit gross as I fumble around for signs, but feeling the subtle predicate of the atemporal is also a part of my experience. My assumption is that it is an intuitive skill which can be cultivated and communicated.

    • Scott says :

      “Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall
      Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall,
      All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,
      Couldn’t put Humpty together again”

      Grow in the cracks.

      • Scott says :

        Ah… speaking of “cracks”…. the Occupy London/St. Paul’s protest has already produced some quite startling cracks… unintended, perhaps. Two senior clerics have resigned as matters of conscience because the occupation has inadvertently revealed the surprisingly cozy relations between the institutional Church of England and the Corporation of London. It’s produced what you might call “a crisis of conscience” amongst senior clergy

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/01/st-pauls-cathedral-suspends-legal-action?newsfeed=true

        The other surprising development is the furious establishment response to the Greek referendum proposal — as if the Greeks had absolutely no right or say at all in the matter of their future. Remarkable exposure of the actual institutional limits that are imposed on the exercise of “democracy” (ie, it’s supposed to be mere window dressing, don’t ya know?) in the name of globalisation. That the Greek citizen should actually have a say yea or nay in their own future and destiny? Unheard of!! Preposterous!! Really… the truth is, human beings can’t be trusted with something as dangerous as democracy!! Democracy? It’s a “necessary illusion”.

        • tony says :

          I’m glad you brought that up – it’s astounding, the final nail in the coffin of any pretence of democracy in Europe. The mind boggles as to how we reached the stage whereby all values and principles are completely subdued to the political and banking interests. The general cynicism that has dominated the last few decades is slowly turning to anger and disgust, and it is spreading out to include many who were once supportive of the status quo. But I’m not sure yet if this growing reaction has anything to offer other than an outpouring of frustration. It’s impossible to tell, everything changes so rapidly in these times.
          And yet on another plane there is a definite shift in consciousness – it’s tangible.

        • Scott says :

          I guess the Greek public will have to decide now whether they’ve been dispossessed of their democracy, assuming they actually had something that resembled that name and functioned accordingly. But it certainly demonstrated what has been called the growing “democratic deficit” in the “advanced” democracies (like an “advanced” state of Alzheimer’s, perhaps). I have a better name for this term “democratic deficit” — Zombie Democracy. It looks like its alive and vital, but it’s not. It’s merely animated — a caricature of aliveness – a genuine imitation democracy.

          I was thinking about this all day today, and thought about doing a full post on “Zombie Democracy” but this is just as good a place to lay it out, I guess. Some official quarters have expressed a subdued surprise or mild perplexity at the furious reaction to the proposal put by the Greek PM that Greeks might really have a democratic right to a referendum on a question that so deeply affects their future and well-being. But the real outrage should be that they are being prevented and pre-empted from doing so. Even the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, thought the referendum was appropriate. It just, finally, demonstrates how much constraint (and delusion also) there is about how much “freedom” the popular will is actually allowed. And it’s really not very much at all (even though we’ve covered this enslavement of the will and of democracy-in-chains in earlier posts, too, along with the role of propaganda in subduing and shaping that will). Do we live in a democracy? Nope. But what it actually is has become a matter of controversy — the quest for the right name of the Beast: technocracy, corporatocracy, plutocracy… 666.

          But, I guess we’ll see what the Greek citizenry has to say about this imposed blockade on the expression of democracy and the will of the populace. Maybe they’ll even be relieved that a decision has even now been taken out of their hands? I don’t know. I hope not. It’s a tough decision whatever they might decide. But they’ve got to take ownership of it themselves. It’s also their responsibility to assume as well as their right to decide after due discussion and argument, yea or nay.

          I heard all sorts of stuff on the radio today that the Greeks (and the Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Irish) have basically brought this upon themselves (and Europe or the globe as a whole) by living well beyond their means, basically suggesting that the Greeks were parasites (or free-riding) on the host “Europe”. I don’t know if that’s true or not, since I’ve never studied the situation. Maybe that’s just propaganda too, designed to rationalise and excuse why the Greeks (and others) should not be permitted a plebiscite. No plebiscite for the plebs and the parasites!

          But you’re right, Tony, it does make mock of the whole notion of “democracy”. The only thing surprising to me about the reaction was how brutally frank and open it was about the real threat of democracy as perceived by the power elites. Like the Wizard of Oz story… somebody threw back the curtain (wasn’t it Toto?) and exposed the chicanery, and the pip-squeak behind the curtain pulling the levers.

        • Scott says :

          Oops… I should add to that last sentence… segue from The Wizard of Oz into The Emperor Has No Clothes. A lot of people didn’t even notice what a pre-emption of democracy it really was. They either tried to divert attention away from that, or simply declined to see it for what it was. “Nothing to see here folks, just move along”. Ironic it is that this should happen to the birthplace of democracy, just as it’s ironic that the abomination called “The Iraq War” should have occurred in the birthplace of present civilisation. Two ironies that, to me, speak volumes about our times.

          Well… I guess we’ll see how the birthplace of democracy responds to this insult against its spirit and history, (or maybe the illicit slanders too). I’m already hearing of strange tidings from out of Greece.

        • Scott says :

          Oh… let me inform you of one argument that has been made against allowing the Greeks a referendum… that argument is that the countries in crisis are all Catholic (or orthodox) countries (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland) and that they are parasitically feeding off the “host” … the Protestant countries still respectful of “the Protestant work ethic”. The implication being, that all this has its roots and ongoing struggle, still, of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation — a 500 year struggle.

        • Scott says :

          Wow. By very strange coincidence, after I wrote about “Zombie Democracy” above, a republished article appeared the day after on The Guardian website addressing “the Zombie of neoliberalism”. It was first published there a few months ago, but was re-issued, I guess. Interesting article,

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/04/neoliberalism-zombie-action-phone-hacking

          Kind of unnerving (in a nice, delightful way) to have all these odd coincidences.

        • Scott says :

          Yes, Virginia, there truly is a “global brain”.

  4. amothman33 says :

    As the war in the cradle of civilisation ignited the process of transformation in the region , a process that will not stop until the truthful correction rules. So will be the creek and all other corrective changes in the west continue until honest transformation reins.It is the irruption! Health must return. Farewell to all types of social diseases. specially the four riders you always refer to.

  5. amothman33 says :

    I may add that those who guide the wasp wagon are behind the catastrophe of the world. in all its regions and countries. The truth must be disclosed.

  6. amothman33 says :

    That is the chicanery, and the pip-squeak behind the current pulling the levers must be exposed.Exposure is a very strong tool for correction, let us not forget what Assnge did.

  7. tony says :

    The Catholic countries parasitically feeding off the host Protestant countries respectful of the work ethic? Well, that is a bizarre argument – It’s primarily the Franco-German alliance which aims to save the skin of French and German banks which have pushed for the suicidal austerity measures in Greece. Last time I checked France was Catholic and half the population of Germany was Catholic.
    And if there is one country which symbolises the work ethic in Europe (and is also home to the banking mafia), it is predominantly Catholic Switzerland…
    So much for that theory. The causes are complex, but it’s difficult to dispute that much of the problem lies in the fact that you cannot introduce a single currency in an economically and politically disparate region. It was a massive bet conducted by the European politicians intent on creating a new super power to rival the US and it failed miserably. And now the EU chooses to ignore any solution other than bleeding the indebted countries dry despite the fact that this will eventually bring the standards of living down to third world levels, instead of accepting that debt repayment has to be linked with economic growth.
    In normal circumstances the indebted countries would devalue their currency in order to stimulate exports, but that’s impossible because they no longer have their own currency. But the alternative of stimulating domestic consumption is also impossible because of the austerity measures which are squeezing the working and middle classes. There is no hope, and where I live there is a real fear for the future among the general population which is verging on panic.

    • Scott says :

      The interview was with someone called John Curtain (spelling?) who was with the G20 Research group. I found myself feeling irritated by the smug self-assurance of his thesis. I’m sure he is mistaken about some essential things. But his unstated (maybe unconscious) “paradigm” appears to be that the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that really initially sets the tone and direction for what we call “the Modern Era” was never really resolved or overcome, and continues to shape and influence the course of events. In that sense, he was a partisan of Protestantism and of Weber’s “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”. This also, it seems, marks the divide between the “Northern Renaissance” and the Southern Renaissance (and perhaps also the Celtic Church from the Roman Church, which never had an easy relationship. I see that Ireland pulled its ambassador from the Vatican today!). “How the Irish Saved Civilisation” (the book for example) very much contrasts with the usual history — that it was a mediterranean development. But, probably, the Celtic church had more sway in the North than in the South.

      It was really the Protestant Reformation (or Lutheran Revolution) and the Counter-Reformation that set the tone, mood, and direction for what we now call “The Modern Era” — it’s founding act. It continues, indeed, in the form of our secular ideologies which (as we’ve noted earlier) are secularised versions of theological controversies and schisms dating from that earlier period. This is something that Rosenstock-Huessy attempted to examine in his book Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man which explores, basically, how our attitudes, conduct, social organisation that we call “modern” is still heavily indebted to the Reformation/Counter-Reformation. To be “modern” is to be implicated and entangled in that.

      The man has a point (even if he’s not fully conscious of it). The irritating thing to me was his smug self-assurance that the Protestant ethic (capitalism) was morally superior to the “mediterranean way of thinking” (as Gebser described it and his own preferred approach). It seems to me that Gebser’s approach is principally “catholic” in that sense, while this other fellow’s is “protestant” (small c and small p). The deep structure of our culture owes much to this founding controversy and what it means to be “modern”, for it continues to shape and impress our attitudes and conduct.

      This is something I have to explore further. It seems Gebser might have missed something that Rosenstock-Huessy did not. I’ll have to try and bring these two minds into association.

  8. amothman33 says :

    It is a struggle between worshippers, those who worship a material god and those who worship a nonmaterial god.Worshipers of money are strangling the world,no wonder the nonmaterial god forebids usury the bankers idol.It is dishonesty vs honesty, it is lie against truth.Let us be simple and call things by their names.

    • Scott says :

      We can call things by their simple names, like “greed” (and entire forests have probably been cut down to make paper to justify it, rationalise it, excuse it, turn it into ideology, the “common sense”, “human nature” etc) and yet it still remains “greed”. The question then is, what is greed? Why does it arise? Is it actually an expression of something called “human nature”? or, is it a perverse, distorted, and deformed manifestation of something else? I suspect that the negative aspects of what is called “human nature” — greed, malice, delusion — really arise from one root — fear. Fear is interesting. While it has a natural pragmatic value, in human beings it takes on something more — as egoic fear (Angst) — also, the ego’s fear not just of mortality, but of being diminished, dishonoured, disapproval, or “dissed” generally — leading to the defended, armoured ego nature. Greed may have other roots than “human nature”.

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