John David Ebert on William Irwin Thompson

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Books by Irwin William Thompson:

At the Edge of History

Thompson W. I. (1971). At the Edge of History, 180 pp. New York: Harper and Row. [Critical of the rationality of planning, of attempts that try to consciously plan the future. Thompson revokes myth and the unconscious. Unites macrohistory, mythology, and visions of the future. Examines the structure of four stages in Plato, Vico, Blake, Marx, Yeats, Jung, and McLuhan

The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light

In his acclaimed 1981 work The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, Thompson criticized what he considers the hubristic pretensions of E. O. Wilson's sociobiology, which attempted to subsume the humanities to evolutionary biology.[7] Thompson then reviewed and critiqued the scholarship on the emergence of civilization from the Paleolithic to the historical period. He analyzed the assumptions and prejudices of the various anthropologists and historians who have written on the subject, and attempted to paint a more balanced picture.


Coming Into Being

In his 1996 work Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness, Thompson applied an approach that was similar to his 1981 book to many other artifacts, cultures and historical periods. A notable difference, however, is that the 1996 work was influenced by the work of cultural phenomenologist Jean Gebser. Works and authors analyzed include the Enuma Elish, Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, the Book of Judges, the Rig Veda, Ramayana, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Tao Te Ching. Thompson analyzed these works using the vocabulary of contemporary cognitive theory and chaos theory, as well as theories of history. An expanded paperback version was released in 1998. The phrase "Coming into being" is a translation of the Greek term gignesthai, from which the word genesis is derived.


Self and Society

In his 2004 book Self and Society: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness, and in collaboration with the mathematician Ralph Abraham, Thompson related Gebser's structures to periods in the development of mathematics (arithmetic, geometric, algebraic, dynamical, chaotic) and in the history of music.



See also:

  • Evolution of the Sense of the Sacred
  • Beyond Religion: The Culture Evolution of the Sense of the Sacred from Shamanism to Post-Religious spirituality. Lindisfarne Books