Preeminence of Myth and the Decline of Instrumental Reason


Žilvinas Svigaris (Editor)
Vilnius University, Lithuania

Pat Arneson (Editor)
Professor, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, US

Series: Contemporary Cultural Studies
BISAC: PHI000000

Jean Gebser (1905-1973) was a philosopher who examined how cultures are generated, situated and oriented in the world. He explored meaningful interconnections between cultures, seeking to provide a fuller account of their nature and workings. Gebser was a man of science, the arts and mysticism, who was interested in the direct human experience of unity with the divine. He perceived the fullness of humankind to occur in the coalescence of spirituality and consciousness. This essay provides an intellectual biography of Gebser’s two-volume work, The Ever-Present Origin, Part I: Foundations of the Aperspectival World and Part II: Manifestations of the Aperspectival World. An overview of the chapters in this volume, emphasizing the preeminence of myth and the decline of instrumental reason, is then presented. Gebser’s writing offers a valuable contribution to understanding how humans are situated in the all-of-life with respect to our contemporary spatiotemporal condition of chaos.
The collection of essays represents the Gebserian way to explicate the limits of modern Western deficient mental structure, in the form of “instrumental reason”. The work of Gebser is well known in various parts of the world and has now appeared in Lithuania where it is received with great interest, specifically in light of questions of national identities, mythological backgrounds, and questions of globalization. The essays represent research from scholars of diverse disciplines and civilizations; their contributions to Gebser’s scholarship and the understanding of the current turmoil form a framework on how any local culture can benefit from Gebser’s work.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction: Jean Gebser and Unfolding Origin
(Pat Arneson, PhD, Professor, Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Duquesne University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, and others)

Part I: Mythos in All Awareness

Chapter 2. Before Time Began
(Algis Mickunas, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, US)

Part II: Disclosure of the Mythic

Chapter 3. Tuning In: Tai Chi as Mythotherapeutic Practice
(Joe Pilotta, PhD, Visiting professor Vilnius Gedimino University, Former professor at the Ohio State University School of Communication, Columbus, Ohio, US)

Chapter 4. Is Lithuanian Identity Compatible with a European One? Some Considerations from the Perspective of Lithuanian and Classical Greek Thinking
(Naglis Kardelis, Associate Professor, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Chapter 5. Revealing Lithuanian Cultural Heritage: Integrality
(Žilvinas Svigaris, PhD, Research Fellow, Department of the History of Philosophy and Analytic Philosophy, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Part III: Skewing Myth: Deficient Mentality

Chapter 6. The Mythification of Maternal Presence
(Rekha Menon, PhD, Professor of Art History, Liberal Arts Department, Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts, US)

Chapter 7. The Grand Nihilism: The Fatalistic Absolutism of Infinite Relativism: Subtending Husserl’s Positivism and Nietzsche’s Negativism
(Eric Mark Kramer, PhD, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, US)

Chapter 8. Myth, Rhetoric and Division
(David Worth, PhD, and Jason Barton, Senior Lecturer and Director of Forensics, Rice University, Houston, Texas, US, and others)

Part IV: Thinking Otherwise Than Gebser

Chapter 9. The Aperspectival Mayan World and Its Spiritual Approach
(Bienvenido Argueta Hernández, PhD, Researcher and Professor in Philosophy and Social Sciences, San Carlos University of Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Chapter 10. Capturing Indeterminacy: Non-Linear Temporal Models in 20th Century Logic and Metaphysics
(Živilė Pabijutaitė, Assistant Lecturer, Institute of Philosophy, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Chapter 11. Integrity and Judgment: Some Gebserian Reflections on Schelling and Hegel
(Brigita Gelžinytė, Department of the History of Philosophy and Analytic Philosophy, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Part V: Responding to Civilizational Challenges

Chapter 12. The Paradox of Liquid (Post)Modernity: Perspectives on Kavolis and Eco, Gebser and Mickūnas
(Marius Povilas Šaulauskas, Professor, Department of the History of Philosophy and Analytic Philosophy, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania)



“No reader will be bored by this text. Myth is made worldly and relevant, as the authors address everyday concerns, particularly the fragmentation that is now experienced practically everywhere. The chapters are united by the work of Jean Gebser and particularly the emerging “integral” reality. Most important, like Gebser, the authors go beyond current calls for holism to reveal a more dynamic, inclusionary moment—a place, as some Latin American scholars say, where everyone fits with dignity.” -John W. Murphy, Professor of Sociology, University of Miami, Florida, USA

“Pandemic and political chaos are the dramatic image that Culture sees when it looks in the mirror today. Jean Gebser explicates that mirror for us as the enduring contest (agon) between Myth and Reason in the forgetfulness (mermera) of the human mind. The mind’s “inner voice” (mythos) envelopes the embodied “outer voice” (lógos) as the search for the awareness of, for the compassionate fairness of, reasonableness (eulógos). These collected essays are the “must have” insightful guidebook for using Gebser’s mirror of Culture.” -Richard L. Lanigan, Director and Laureate Fellow, International Communicology Institute, Washington, D.C., Fellow, Polish Academy of Science

“This collection of essays, each rigorously attuned to the work of Jean Gebser, attend to a fractured and fragmented world in crisis. Gebser’s philosophical thought offers hope for a future that invites inclusion, empathy, and social justice—where communities enjoin human worth. Gebser reveals regions of human awareness that naturally disclose the co-presence of mythos in all experiences. Each chapter opens the mythic in instructive ways. An integral consciousness counters instrumental reason and opens opportunities for the integral to illuminate and guide human action.” -Annette M. Holba, Professor of Rhetoric, Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, USA

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