“Human beings are quite perverse aren’t they? ” So remarked an acquaitance quite casually — out of the blue — as we were riding together in his automobile. The remark took me by surprise for it was quite out of the context of the conversation we had been having up until that moment. I had to ask him if this sudden, unexpected observation and conclusion about humanity was confessional and autobiographical since “human beings are quite perverse” would necessarily have to include him and me also. But with that, he dropped the issue completely.
What is perversity?
Jean Gebser’s taxonomy of civilisations as being realisations or expressions of different “structures of consciousness” is a very fruitful way of approaching human history. Gebser identified four main types or species of such consciousness structures which he called archaic, magical, mythological, and the mental-rational. He also anticipated, and provided evidence for, the contemporary emergence of a new fifth structure, appropriate to the new Global Era, which he called “the integral consciousness”.
These consciousness structures (or architectures) must not be thought of in terms of “stages” or evolutionary successions or “progressions”. It is merely an affectation and bias of the Modern structure of consciousness — the mental-rational with its own characteristic linear time-sense — to think in terms of sequential, evolutionary, developmental stages, advancements, or progressions. In the Planetary Era presently emerging, the evident co-existence of this multiplicity, of these various “species of consciousness,” (as Seth uses) is a fact. To speak of a “clash of civilisations” or contest of historical traditions as a unique problem of the new era is superficial, fallacious, and ignorant. This “clash” is an unnecessary conflict between consciousness architectures or species of consciousness which rightfully form an ecology of consciousness. In the Planetary Era, all “eras” or “times”, considered in terms of consciousness structures, now exist simultaneously. Only in that sense is it permissible at all to speak of an “end of history”.
I was looking online for the short first chapter of Jean Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin and found it. Entitled “Fundamental Considerations“, it is worth a read for those who are not yet familiar with Gebser’s work. As you may have already observed here, I have a lot of time for Gebser.
While I was searching it out, I also came across this YouTube presentation by John David Ebert on Gebser’s work. Ebert has prepared a 20 part audio-visual series on Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin but only the first 3 are public, while the remainder are apparently behind a pay-wall (but which even for pay isn’t available from my location — or so Google tells me).