Professor Kahler, a retired sage at Princeton and a veteran of intellectual wars during the Europe of the Twenties and Thirties, is once again upholding the humanistic ""realm of consciousness evolving in history"" while the Black Death of novelty and cultural disintegration stalks our poor planet. ""The new Philosophy calls all in doubt....'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone;/All just supply, and all Relation."" The setting, then, is similar to Man the Measure and The Tower and the Abyss, which so stirred Kahler's readers a decade or so ago. And indeed in these selected ""essays in clarification,"" assorted attacks on the problems of change in a scientifically threatened universe, little is new, thematically speaking. But Kahler is a fastidious, impressive scholar, capable of placing an Hegelian paradox alongside the latest trinket from the avant garde, mixing passages of Teutonic eloquence in defense of just traditions while grandfatherly observing Allen Ginsberg, and, on the whole, stringing together a rich, engagingly earnest conspectus re History, Myth, Symbolic Forms, Art, ""varieties of the unconscious,"" and so forth. The underlying Goethean conservatism makes things a bit abstract, especially when compared to Frank Kermode's recent fine study of the apocalyptic temper.