Gebser’s Five Structural Mutations of Consciousness and the Role of Dark Ages

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William Irwing Thompson:

“It is a paradox of complex dynamical systems that every shift to a higher level of organization, also energizes the lower level to return in compressed and novel variations of the older form. … (p. 6) … Thus the representational government of the traditional literate nation-state undergoes an electronic meltdown in which archaic forms surface in new formations.” (p. 7)

“In any transition to a new level of organization, there is loss … ‘Entities that were capable of independent replication before the transition can only replicate as parts of a larger unit after it.’ (John Maynard Smith , cited p. 12 … “Evolution is no longer taking place at the level of the singular organism.” (p. 12)

  • Archaic (Mesolithic Dark Age, 9500 BCE
  • Magical (Kurgan Invasions, 4500 BCE
  • Mythical (Aegean Dark Age, 1400-800 BCE)
  • Mental (European Dark Age, 476-800 BCE)
  • Integral (Contemporary Dark Age)

“A dark age is characteristic of the transition from one structure of consciousness to another.

  • “Before agriculture, there was a loss of culture in the Mesolithic; gone was the high culture of the Paleolithic Lascaux, but not yet come was the high culture of the Neolithic
  • Agricultural society stabilized itself from 9500 to 4500 BCE, and then came the Kurgan invasions and the destruction of the undefended agricultural villages of the great goddess
  • By 2500 BCE, civilization had stabilized .. in the new forms found along the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates
  • There is an Aegean dark age of 1400 to 800 BCE, which expresses Gebser’s mythical to mental epoch
  • Before Western European Civilization there was the dark age of 476 to 800 CE
  • And now, before the shift to integral, we seem be be experiencing our own dark age in which our civilization is disintegrating.” (p. 14-15)

“In our transition from industrialization to planetization, it is the accumulation of noise that is pulling our civilization apart. The new phase-space .. is the catastrophe that brings us together in a condition that now defines all our human transactions.”


Reading notes from Michel Bauwens, 2021, from chapter 1 of William Irwin Thompson, Coming Into Being