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PCC Forum: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness: A Cultural Phenomenology of the Present


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I have the honor of presenting some of my research on Jean Gebser, cultural phenomenology, and kulturphilosophie at CIIS: PCC (Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness) Forum on Thursday, April 18th.

“Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness: A Cultural Phenomenology of the Present”

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Jean Gebser (1905-1973) was a poet, philosopher, and phenomenologist of consciousness who is best known in the English speaking world for his magisterial The Ever-Present Origin (1949). Writing in the midcentury during a period of intense cultural transformation and crisis in Europe, Gebser intuited a series of mutational leaps in the history of human consciousness, the latest of which emerging was the “integral” structure, marked by the presence of time-freedom and transparency. Gebser’s insights on the phenomenology of human consciousness has brought profound intellectual depth and spiritual transmission to the field of integral philosophy and consciousness studies, influencing the works of American historians such as William Irwin Thompson and the philosopher Ken Wilber. Further syncretic corroboration links Gebser’s integral age to those of the Indian revolutionary and yogi Sri Aurobindo’s “integral yoga” and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionary mysticism.

This presentation will briefly introduce Gebser’s structures of consciousness—the archaic, magic, mythic, mental and integral—through concrete examples in art and culture before moving into a discussion of our mediated present. The present, as read through Gebser’s methodology (Kulturphilosophie), aids us in our attempt to generate new, but latent, world-ings  amidst the planetary crisis of ecological devastation, late-capitalism and the Anthropocene. The integral-aperspectival world, as Gebser suggests, is not only about waring the past, but realizing the future. In some small way, this presentation hopes to convey to participants that revisiting Gebser’s insights into the phenomenology of presence (Ursprung) would offer great value to contemporary integral scholarship in our collective efforts to move from crisis to mutation, industrialization to planetization, and planetary collapse to planetary culture.