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Herst, E.R. (1983). Obrist, W. Die Mutation des Bewusstseins (The Evolution of Consciousness). Bern, Peter Lang, 1980. Pp. 321.. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(2):193-196.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(2):193-196

Obrist, W. Die Mutation des Bewusstseins (The Evolution of Consciousness). Bern, Peter Lang, 1980. Pp. 321.

Review by:
E. R. Herst

Edited by:
Corinna Peterson

This is an important book, which makes stimulating and thought-provoking reading. The author was a practising physician until he began his studies in depth psychology at the age of 46, and he perceives his biological background as being of fundamental importance. The book owes its origin to discussions between interdisciplinary members of a team attempting to reach an understanding of modern man and his view of the world around him that would be acceptable to theologians, natural scientists and depth psychologists alike.

The attempt was unsuccessful because the participants all appeared to speak in foreign tongues when matters of crucial importance were tackled. The author attributes this failure to their different basic theoretical backgrounds, which could be understood in terms of levels of consciousness; the theologians' endeavours were based on what the author describes as archaic consciousness, all inner things being thought of in a concrete manner. This phase of development is envisaged as beginning with Stone Age man and finishing at the end of the European Middle Ages. The positivism of modern scientific endeavour is based on anything that can be perceived by the senses, everything else being relegated to the status of the metaphysical which, equally, does not satisfy modern thinking man. Even at the end of the nineteenth century the feelings of uneasiness with both positions were making themselves felt; distinguished physicists, for example, were writing books about God, the purpose of life, ethical norms and responsibility.

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