The Ever-Present Origin — 1986

By Jean Gebser
Translated by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas

"Gebser’s noetic analysis, of Teilhardian scope, is only partially equaled by such works as Erich Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness or Gaston Bachelard’s The Philosophy of No. A profound and sagaciously polemic work, remarkably relevant to discussions of holism and postmodern consciousness."

Guy Burneko, Library Journal

"Jean Gebser’s magnum opus is at long last available in a fine English rendering … I expect no less an interest in the English translation, and hope that Gebser’s work will now begin to receive the worldwide recognition it deserves."

Georg Feuerstein, Emergent Pardigm Bulletin

"(The book) impressed me as a very important, indeed in some respects pioneering, piece of work. It treads new paths, opens new vistas, and in so doing it is vastly, solidly, and subtly documented by a wealth of anthropological, mythological, linguistic, artistic, philosophical, and scientific material which is fruitfully brought into play and shown in its multifold and striking interrelationships. The book is brilliantly written and introduces many valuable new terms and distinctions. (It shows) that scholarly precision and faithfulness to given data are fully compatible with a broad, imaginative, and spiritual outlook; and (it exposes) the utter sterility of the prevailing positivistic, mechanistic, and wrongfully scientistic methods."

Erich Kahler (Princeton), author of — Man the Measure, The Tower and the Abyss, The Orbit of Thomas Mann

Part One: Foundations of the Aperspectival World: A Contribution to the History of the Awakening of Counsciousness.

Part Two: Manifestations of the Aperspectival World: An Attempt at the Concretion of the Spiritual.


Born in Posen in 1905, Jean Gebser came from an old Franconian family domiciled in Thuringia since 1236. A nephew of German chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, he was a descendant on his mother's side of Luther's friend Melanchthon. He was educated in Breslau, Königsberg, Rossleben, and at the University of Berlin.

In 1929 Gebser emigrated to Italy and subsequently lived in Spain where he was attached to the Ministry of Education of the Spanish Republic. From 1937-1939 he lived in Paris in the circle which included Picasso, André Malraux, Paul Eluard, and Louis Aragon. In 1939 he made his permanent home in Switzerland where he became a citizen in 1951. For many years Gebser was Lecturer at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Zürich and was later appointed honorary Professor of Comparative Studies of Civilization at the University of Salzburg, Austria.

For his many publications, including books on Rilke, his friend Federico García Lorca, recent developments in the sciences, East-West relations, evolution, and twentieth century civilization and its antecedents, Gebser received several prizes, including a share of the German Schiller prize, the literary award of the Esslingen Artist's Guild, the Koggen prize of the City of Minden, and the literary award of the City of Berne. He died in Berne on May 14, 1973.


Noel Barstad is associate professor of modern languages at Ohio University.


Algis Mickunas is associate professor of philosophy at Ohio University.

Cover of 'The Ever-Present Origin'

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