Examining the New Polytheism:
A Critical Assessment of the Concepts
of Self and Gender in Archetypal Psychology


The hypothesis of this dissertation is that an alternative notion of selfhood is emerging in disparate areas of contemporary thought. This postmodern idea of selfhood may be seen as a reaction to traditional paradigms of human agency found in western mythology and theology, rationalist philosophy and psychology, and scientific positivism. It is not properly a new notion of selfhood insofar as many of the characteristics of self that are brought forward can be found in the history of ideas such as Romanticism and Neo-platonism.

This alternate notion of selfhood emerges in two distinct areas of postmodern thought: archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist scholarship in religion. A critical assessment of archetypal psychology as informed by contemporary feminist theory is a necessary outcome of this investigation into an emerging concept of self in contemporary thought. One conclusion reached is that archetypal psychology is weak in its means of accounting for the body in how it theorizes about selfhood. Nonetheless, archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist thought can be seen as characterizing contemporary ideas of selfhood as follows: it is not singular or monotheistic but diverse and polytheistic; it is more than merely rational--it is also based in the imagination; it demands the re-sacralization of both the body and the material world; it denies the belief that self is separated and autonomous, advocating the perspective that self communes with and is connected to the things and beings of the world; and, finally, it is not static, but is in the process of becoming what it will.


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Copyright 1995 Marc Fonda. All rights reserved
Last updated: April 22. 1995.
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