The contemporary spiritual situation of western humanity extends back especially to the nineteenth century. Although our contemporary civilizational crises have deeper roots in the sixteenth and seventeenth and, ultimately, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, new and distinctive phases of our experience began to become evident from the nineteenth century forward and have continued apace in different forms into the present.3 From the present standpoint, the 1830s and ‘40s represent a particularly decisive breaking point with the past and a line of continuity with the present.4 Whether we characterize the situation as “modern” or “Post-modern” (or some combination of the two) is less important than our identification of the precise qualities of this new phase of experience and our comprehension of its historical roots.



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