In the following chapter, I sketch Catherine Keller's critique of what she calls the separated self. This will be complemented with the thought of other contemporary feminist theorists in order to help flesh out Keller's deconstruction of traditional western notions of selfhood. The basis of much of feminist criticism about self, or human agency, is centered around the separation of the mind and body in traditional western philosophy, theology, and psychology.
If the postmodern perspective can be characterized as subversive of all traditional paradigms1, we might easily presume that one battleground of such subversion can be found in how those of us in the West conceive of self. For if accepted paradigms about the world or the cosmos are being vigorously questioned, we must presume that a concurrent examination of the status of what constitutes the human is also taking place. There are many people who have written about selfhood in the last fifty years. This may be the result of the sense of fragmentation, anxiety, or alienation that has been found to be characteristic of our times. But there is more involved in any re-evaluation of accepted ideas about the world and self, than a sense of alienation characteristic of any era. Traditional paradigms about selfhood, as, for instance, the unified Self, are increasingly understood as being incapable of solving problems that have emerged as a result of this paradigm's inability to formulate an adequate explanation for the observed facts that have appeared subsequent to its inception.2
There are many different persons involved in addressing the inconsistencies that are appearing in how Western thought typically conceives of self. Such persons include psychologists, like James Hillman, who would re-vision psychology in such a way as to liberate it from its basis in Christian theology, western philosophy, and scientific materialism; others include feminists theorists, like Catherine Keller, who are very much involved in re-examining traditional expressions of selfhood, in order to find a means of self-expression not subjected to the masculine musing of traditional thought. This is a problematic that Hillman tends to neglect in his attempt to `re-vision psychology.' Hillman tends to ignore feminist concerns about the patriarchal nature of traditional thought. His lack of concern regarding gender issues betrays a certain inability to take into account the gender politics inherent to psychology and self.
One of the major areas of concern in the feminist critique of the traditional Cartesian-Newtonian expression of selfhood is found in the separation of the mind from the body and this is an issue that Hillman never approaches satisfactorily. A consequence of the western tradition's disposition to separate the mind from the body is the appearance of anomalies in traditional means of speaking about self. Nonetheless, many contemporary feminist thinkers about religion evidence similar critiques of such traditional paradigms of Self as are found in archetypal psychology. Keller's criticisms of the consequences that Enlightenment thought has brought to the western world's means of articulating selfhood are a good illustration of this kind of critique. Keller characterizes the western ethos as one that is rooted in the mind-body split and the subsequent disregard of the material world, that has been traditionally associated with women. Keller suggests that the roots of this split can be found in warrior-hero of myths reaching back as far as ancient Sumeria, Greece, and as recent as Jewish and Christian dogma.
Keller's analysis of the history of western philosophy indicates several instances in which the physical world and the human body are denigrated and vilified. Keller's discussion will be supplemented by examining Starhawk's (a feminist theorist, practising pagan, and psychotherapist) exegesis of the myths and rituals belonging to the Mesopotamian region during the late Bronze age. To Keller and Starhawk, the onset of the separation of the mind and the body and the associated vilification of women was accompanied by the beginnings of a patriarchal society based in warfare that swept over the mediterranean region during the Bronze age.
For Keller, traditional paradigms about the self reflect the notion that humanity is separated in nature. She relates such traditional ideas about humanity to the notion of the "separate self". The separate self, she informs us, is an understanding of self that is rooted in the radical separation of mind and body.3 This paradigm of self results in all kinds of separations or dualistic perspectives of the cosmos. For instance, we are all familiar with such dualistic categories as self and other, conscious and unconscious, male and female, East and West, us and them.
Keller suggests that the paradigm of the separated self is rooted in our very language. She notes that the Latin root of self, 'se', means "on one's own."4 More importantly, writes Keller, "separation and sexism have functioned together as the most fundamental self-shaping assumptions of our culture...." and that any subject is known only through its clear division from everything else. Furthermore, men by nature and by right "exercise the primary prerogatives of civilization...."5 In other words, Keller suggests that it seems to be the case that separation has become a primary aspect of western civilization--it permeates how we apprehend, conceive, and formulate our world.
From this point of view, it is reasonable to expect that the feminist agenda concerning self is postmodern insofar as it contests the traditional philosophical dissociation of mind and body. Furthermore, it also challenges the legitimacy of this separation and, hence, suggests a means to re-think the relation between the mind and the body. That is, much of contemporary feminist thought involves an attempt to articulate a notion of selfhood based in the body and our connection to others, rather than in the separation implied by western culture's ideal of autonomy. For this sense of self to emerge, claims Keller, it is necessary to turn to a perspective that allows us to think about the connection, rather than the separation, of the mind and body. Yet connection is something that is considered to be threatening to the politics of the traditional, male society based in separation.6 Because of the lack of consideration of the possibility of a connective notion of traditional patriarchal ideas of selfhood, women's self definition (which is considered `soluble') is "more or less equivalent to psychosocial bondage."7 A consequence of this deficiency may be that women are required to find a means of developing a sense of individuality that was previously only expected of and available to men. Yet this may not be the answer. It is not given that the separated self is in fact empowering for women, let alone for men.
What Keller calls the separative self is based upon the ideal of the warrior hero of the western world. It is this warrior hero that defines what it is to be a man.8 This view of the hero is a critique of Joseph Campbell's notion of the monomyth. In From a Broken Web, in fact, Keller takes Campbell to task for the ahistoricism and oversimplification of "his Jungian derived" monomyth as well as his categorization of all "religious and cultural history under his dramatic dialectic of two world orders, that of the original mother myths and that of the conquering heroes with their supreme father."9 Like Hillman, Keller recognizes that this perspective on selfhood and masculinity represented by the hero finds its heritage in Homer and has roots that reach into later antiquity.
Unlike Hillman, however, Keller posits the masculine ideal as constituting the basis of self in traditional western psychology, philosophy, and theology. The warrior hero, as she informs us, is also philosophically derived from "the separate, self-enclosed subject, remaining self identical throughout its exploits in time."10 The hero's essence is not affected by its relationships. Instead, the hero is ever attempting to free itself from such bonds. As Keller puts it "intimacy, emotion and the influence of the Other arouse its worst anxieties, for somehow it must keep relation external to its own being, its `self'."11 A result of this perspective is that the heroic, male self finds its identity in its separation from both the physical world and from the Other. In this way, suggests Keller, the separated self is based upon self denial or self doubt. The Cartesian ego, the separated self par excellence, is a concept that was also forged in the depths of self-doubt. That is, this ego is based in the West's self-doubt as to the importance of the physical as opposed to the metaphysical, of body as opposed to mind, of self as opposed to other.12
To Keller, the economy of the separated self is twofold: first, the separative self conceives of itself as its own property; and, second, man's self possession requires the possession of the other, i.e., that women be his property.13 This perspective draws one to the conclusion that a woman's self is "no self of her own, and thus a false, an owned, self, somehow not quite a self at all."14 For Keller, women who settle for such prefabricated self definitions, women who define themselves through a lack of self possession, collaborate in a form of self-deception typical of the separated male self. Such women, she claims, foster in the warrior hero a "covert dependency" upon them "by which he sustains his sense of independence."15 Such women have a sense of self that Keller characterizes as `soluble.' This soluble self of the `classical dyad,' Keller argues, complements and completes the separated self. The soluble self reflects women's "tendency to dissolve emotionally and devotionally into the other...." The soluble self represents the woman who waits for the male hero to come and bring her joy.
For Keller, the woman who complies with this dyadic relationship is coopted and becomes a "male identified" woman, because she "appends to her female emotional base the anxieties of the traditionally masculine-separative self."16 Such anxieties include a fear of dependency which appears as excessive individualism, autonomy, and refusal to take part in community.17 It is no wonder, Keller muses, that concepts of transcendence are so appealing to women.18 The belief in the possibility of escaping such psycho-social self bondage must appear liberating to women who lack a sense of self. Yet such expectations of escape are also illusory. Christian or transcendent channels of liberation, Keller writes, "have been shaped and controlled for millennia by males" and can thus only provide androcentric perspectives on transcendence.19 In other words, such masculine notions of transcendence not only separate the self from community and the mind from the body, they function to produce a co-dependent society in which men are dependent upon dependent women. The result is a situation in which women have neither possession nor control of themselves, both physically and socially.
According to Keller, it is only through the possession and the oppression of the Other that the separative self can truly feel in possession of himself. By projecting both the threats and comforts of connection onto women, men fill their lack of relation and interconnection with the world.20 In other words, the hero needs to posit a submissive other in order to make up for the lack and despair resulting from the fact that he may be no one. This implies that the "self-identity of the separative ego is in fact a self-delusion. It is philosophically `superfluous' because it is existentially a hoax."21 In other words, because the separative self is only related to the other in an external fashion, it can define what is good only in terms of what is separated from the whole.
Emphasis on the separation of the mind from the body is one of the presuppositions that we can find at the root of Christian concepts of good and evil. Like Hillman, Keller points out that Christian theology can cast light on our conceptions of self. She writes: "the traditional perfections of God read like a catalogue of the heroic ego's ideals for himself...."22 Keller emphasizes this point when she writes that
the politics of individualism is not accidentally sprung from a theology of sheer transcendence. Both express the power plays of patriarchal masculinity, a masculinity that we begin to suspect of a chronic separatism. The virtually uninterrupted maleness of the metaphors of God coalesces with the equally unbroken masculinity of the normative "human" subject. For they are created in each other's image....Man mirrors the immutable transcendence of his God.23
Hence, we might conclude that the separative self is at a double loss: it must project its sphere of immanence onto woman below him, and his sphere of transcendence onto God above him.24 Consequently the separative self separates from himself two of the most fundamental aspects of humanity--body and mind (soul).
Keller turns to the thoughts of Aristotle to further elucidate the separative self. Aristotle, she informs us, conceived of the male as normative and the female as an aberration of that norm.25 As a deviation from the male, women are considered monstrosities. This initiates a situation in which the hero is required to emancipate himself from the mother or the female other. Keller understands this to be a matricidal impulse in the heroic consciousness. She puts it this way: A pervasive fearfulness, a sense of threat, motivates the heroic psyche, resembling what existentialism universalizes as angst. Converting this ontological anxiety into particularized fears--such as fear of this monster--affords momentary relief by triumph over a specific cause....it is by "killing" the monster that the male establishes her monstrosity and his heroism. But as monster she is his symptom, his dread and his monstrosity. Yet she is also symbol of the lost selfhood of which her one time power was an outer sign.26
What this suggests is that consciousness is taken to be masculine in the sense that it is understood to be heroic, insofar as consciousness is matricidal and ego-centred. In other words, separative consciousness must in its self definition reject physicality and it must do this in an heroic, violent way. It is a characteristic of the monomyth, Keller observes, that order or "`harmony' is established at the cost of violence."27 Thus we can conclude with Keller that the separative self must perceive the Other "as an object, an opponent, in order to become itself; the transformation of women and other aliens into monsters illustrates all to well this process of oppositional transcendence."28
As we can see, that there is much at the roots of traditional western philosophy that is objectionable to contemporary feminist concerns is illustrated by Keller's criticisms of the West's tendency towards separation. To Keller, it is evident that the separation intrinsic to western philosophy has reached a point from which it is no longer possible to proceed to investigate self without denying or denigrating the physical world, while elevating the metaphysical. Still, a critique of a `separative' paradigm of self in philosophy is not enough to indicate that there is a shift in western conceptions of selfhood that are now emerging. For this reason I feel it is necessary also to consider the criticism of theological and psychological29 notions of the self from the feminist perspective.
Keller believes that the turn of events in Sumeria around the time that writing was invented would later help to constitute western consciousness and instill the notion of separation in our cultural practices. The story of the onset of separative styles of consciousness cogently and effectively, has been re-imagined from a number of perspectives, and Starhawk's examination of the Marriage of Innana, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Enuma Elish (which Keller also examines in a second example) are no exception. In her exegesis of these myths, Starhawk suggests that there was a shift in how self, sexuality, and society were perceived and administered.
In Dreaming the Dark, Starhawk suggests that there was a shift from one style of consciousness to another during the Bronze age.30 She believes that during this period, humanity shifted from matrilocal, earth-centred, goddess based religious cultures to the urban, patriarchal, and conquest oriented cultures we know today.31 To Starhawk, this was the onset of the `culture of estrangement'--a culture which removed value from things that were considered not essentially human, which led to the ultimate exploitation of specific groups of people and the physical world. Yet, as Starhawk says, there was a deeper consequence to this paradigm shift: "Inherent value," she writes, "humanness, is reserved for certain classes, races, for the male sex; [and] their power-over others is thus legitimated [even today]."32 Another contemporary feminist scholar about religion, Carol Christ, agrees with the assessment that it was during the bronze age that male Gods rose in prominence over female Goddesses. She also notes that this change in the status of such gendered divinities often occurred through murder or, as Keller sees it, matricide.33
Starhawk continues her argument in Truth or Dare34 by providing an exegesis of three myths from the Bronze Age. These three myths--the Marriage of Innana, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Enuma Elish--are presented as a means of demonstrating the postulated shift from matriarchal to patriarchal cultural systems in Sumerian society. Intrinsic to Starhawk's concerns is what she calls "an ontological shift" that describes how Sumerian culture allowed for and encouraged the appearance of the authoritarian mode of domination that is present in the modern West.
The Marriage of Innana is generally considered to be a description of the Sumerian year end festival. Consequently the Marriage of Innana is understood today as a ritual that was employed to insure the fertility of the regions surrounding Sumeria for the coming year. Starhawk's description of the Marriage of Innana, however, produces an alternate interpretation. To Starhawk, the Marriage of Innana reveals an ontology that provides us with a drastically different understanding of what it means to be a woman in particular and a person in general. First of all, a woman is understood as not deriving her sense of self worth via the man. Rather "it is she who celebrates her own being, who finds herself beautiful in her own eyes, and who lives in a world in which there is no conceivable reason why she should hesitate to express and rejoice in that beauty."35 It is women themselves who appreciate their appearance, not men who dictate it. Second, although the marriage described is heterosexual in nature, there is also a description of "woman's erotic celebration of each other."36 This implies, as Starhawk suggests, that in Sumerian society there may have been a more fluid concept of sexuality than there is in the modern west. It is an understanding of sexuality that celebrates its ability to give pleasure and to renew life. There is no suggestion of male erotic power as we understand it today--linked as it is with aggression, violence, and domination.37 Consequently, we might expect that there was no radical separation of the mind and the body in Sumerian culture that allows for the exploitation of the physical world and the human body as there is in contemporary western society.
The account of the marriage of Innana that is available to us, Starhawk believes, reveals a culture that believed the physical world was alive. Furthermore, this notion of immanence also pertained to humanity and the human body. Merlin Stone informs us that the marriage of Innana reveals that the estimation of the role of the goddess and of women "was certainly much higher in the early Sumerian city-state than it subsequently became...."38 Furthermore, there seems to be an understanding of the importance of the connection between self and other, between self and the world, and between self and the cosmos. Although the account of the activities of the marriage may appear to be an instance of what Frazer calls 'sympathetic magic,' there is no doubt that there is exposed in it a cultural situation which Starhawk considers to be radically different from the separative ethics of today.
"With [the Epic of] Gilgamesh," however, "we move out of the realm of myth, the stories that link us to the great rounds of birth, death, and renewal; and into the epic, tales that recount the deeds of the hero, the war leader, [and] the great man."39 Yet The Epic of Gilgamesh is an old enough story that we can find remnants of the older cultural order "and," as Starhawk puts it, "of the dissatisfactions and disruptions brought by the new dominion."40
The period referred to by the Epic of Gilgamesh, Starhawk believes, is the one in which the practice of kingship was initially institutionalized in the western world. That is, this is when the warrior hero became the norm of humanity and the domination of others a fact of life. It is in the Epic, she claims, that we find an altered perspective of the erotic, one that is already far removed from that represented in the Marriage of Innana. Sexuality is no longer considered to be the source of fertility, joy, and abundance. "Now it is linked in the same breath with war and conquest. Sex has become the prerogative of the ruler."41 Hence the major changes in the role of women reflected in the Epic of Gilgamesh centre around the limitation of women's ability to engage in economic activities and inheritance, in the notion of the lineage of children, and in the prevalent attitudes towards rape and abortion.42
It is through the seduction of Enkidu that we learn of this differing view of sexuality. Sexuality is now used to separate the "wildman," the natural man, from nature. Union with a woman is thus considered to be a means of robbing men of their power.43 But this is not all that is revealed by the Epic. We also find alongside the onset of kingship and the destruction of the natural man a "reshaping of the human psyche in a mold of obedience to authority."44
According to Starhawk, war became part of the male realm not because men are intrinsically better at warfare, but rather, in her own words, "because societies that adopted patriarchy, the social system based on the principle of hierarchal rule, proved most effective at maximizing power."45 From that perspective, one result of the onset of warfare was the reinforcement of class divisions--foot soldiers vs. charioteers, the mass vs. the nobility--and "as warfare became chronic, Sumerian society was restructured in the image of war. Myth, epic, religion, and customs changed to perpetuate a new ideology of control."46 According to this view, social emphasis was placed on the notion of the comradeship of warriors, which brings about a loss of self value insofar as individual action in war could lead to the ruin of all. The result is that patriarchy induces insecurity by etching into the psyche the need to live up to qualities such as unquestioning obedience which are better left to such idealized images as the warrior gods.47
To Starhawk, the ideology of war is based on contempt for women. Indeed, the denigration of women is still a common part of military training today;48 yet at the same time that women are vilified, they are also considered to be the prizes of war. The result of this denigration is the victimization of women.49 One consequence of such dehumanizing practices is the objectification of women's bodies.50 Furthermore, warfare in Sumeria "institutionalized slavery, which made all women vulnerable, for any woman could be captured in war, and women could also be sold as slaves by their husbands and fathers to pay debts."51 Along with war came rape. Rape helped to transform the erotic from the "source of life-renewing energy to the reward of violence and brutality."52
According to Starhawk, it is in Enuma Elish that we find a further demonization of women and a continuing disregard of the physical body. Starhawk believes that in this story woman, as represented by Tiamat, is "turned into something bearing no resemblance to our common being. War [thus] demands the creation of an "other" who is different, inhuman."53 Following a similar argument, for Keller the destruction of Tiamat is the destruction of the immanent and the destruction of the body. Her death through violence by one of her (great-grand)sons, Marduk, returns us to the leitmotif of matricide.54 As Starhawk puts it, in Tiamat's dismemberment the world is dismembered. That is: "the living body of the Goddess has been torn apart: the patriarchal world, the world of hierarchy, racism, and domination, the world in which we still live today, exists literally within the pulsating remains of her corpse."55
It is through the mutilation of Tiamat, Starhawk believes, that a new psychic reality was created. Society was shaped in terms of "power-over" and the self was thus reshaped to fit its institutions.56 But there is more to it than this. Starhawk suggests that Tiamat was executed for exercising free choice--the ability to choose her own lovers and consorts as well as the freedom to refuse the demands of her male counterparts. Thus, Starhawk concludes, "female will and autonomy has become a crime."57
In the Enuma Elish, Starhawk continues, we find the roots of a paradigm of self, as reflected by the divinities, that involves the domination of others. As suggested previously by Keller, the domination of one person or group by another is a result of the radical separation of self and other, which is informed by the radical separation of the mind and the body. This mind-body separation, as we will soon learn, has led to the denigration of the physical world, a world which has been traditionally considered to be represented by women, while men are relegated to the so-called purity of the metaphysical world.
When Keller discusses the implications of the Enuma Elish for women, selfhood, and the body, she claims that this text expresses a phobia of the mother that is turned into matricidal aggression. This ultimately results in the almost universal association of destruction preceding creation.58 Referring to Paul Ricoeur, Keller notes that through the Enuma Elish a cycle of myths that require the continual vanquishing of the enemy is born.59 This is a theology of war in which the primordial enemy is a woman and her destruction does not accidentally coincide with the onset of patriarchy.60 This suggests to Keller that the destruction of Tiamat represents the destruction of respect for women and the body as well as the usurpation of a tradition based in immanence by one which upholds transcendence as a model for divinity. Hence, every self that has emerged through the paradigm we are criticizing "posits the Other as an object, an opponent, in order to become itself; the transformation of women and other aliens into monsters illustrates all too well this process of oppositional transcendence."61 Keller concludes with the following suggestion: if the goddess precedes the primacy of the male deity, just as the mother precedes the development of consciousness in her child, then from the perspective of separation the patriarchal self can be understood to have been born through violence and isolation.62
The Marriage of Innana is taken by both Starhawk and Keller as the point in western history at which the separative paradigm of self emerged. This paradigm of self took from the warrior ideal a "separative-matricidal impulse" that "eliminates, decapitates and manipulates whatever it excludes from the tense panoply of its own limits."63
Supposing that there is a theological link between Sumerian cultures and the later biblical cultures which are the basis of contemporary western society,64 Keller notes that, in Christian creationism, the word takes the place of these things necessary for the creation of the world in the Enuma Elish--the warrior's weapons and the woman's womb.65
Another author, working from the perspective of a psychoanalyst and literary critic, provides an interesting bridge between Sumeria and both Judaic and Christian cultures. In Powers of Horror, Julia Kristeva examines the abjection of women's physicality found in both the Hebrew and the Christian Bibles. She begins by noting that "biblical impurity is permeated with the tradition of defilement; in that sense, it points to but does not signify an autonomous force that can be threatening for [the] divine agency."66 Kristeva argues that this `autonomous force' is historically rooted "in the cathexis of the maternal function--mother, women, reproduction."67 That is, the "biblical test" lies in subordinating maternal power to the symbolic order represented by divine Law, given by the Logos of God. True to her interests in semiotics, Kristeva suggests that biblical impurity always lies in the attempt to make logical that which departs from the order of things. The attempt to make order of things is a feat that results in the inscription of "the demonic in a more abstract and also more moral register as a potential for guilt and sin."68 In other words, the attempt, indeed, the need to render a rationale of the cosmos reifies the other and this reification vilifies that which is different. Consequently women are denigrated for their deviation from the spiritual (understood here as male) norm.
Beginning with the Hebrew Bible, Kristeva claims that there are three main categories of abomination in Judaism: "1) food taboos; 2) corporeal alteration and its climax, death; and, 3) the feminine body and incest."69 Each form of abomination is considered to be a state of being that is separated from the divine. Thus each form of abomination "in the last analysis relate[s...] to fusion with the mother. The pure/impure mechanism testifies to the harsh combat of Judaism, which in order to constitute itself, must wage against paganism and its maternal cults."70 The struggle for autonomy carries with it the brunt of the battle we all go through in our attempts to separate ourselves from our mothers and to enter into maturity or, in Kristeva's words, "to become a speaking subject and/or subject to the Law",71 i.e., society.
Kristeva refers to circumcision as an example of the pervasiveness of the need to separate the self from the maternal. Circumcision functions to separate one from what is considered the maternal, or "feminine impurity and defilement; it stands instead of sacrifice, meaning not only that it replaces it but is its equivalent--a sign of the alliance with God."72 That is, the male carves on his own sex the separation from "the other sex, [the] impure, [the] defiled."73 Such an overly determined repetition of the act of separation (initially symbolized by severing the umbilical cord) implies that circumcision duplicates and displaces the "preeminent separation, which is that from the mother."74
Kristeva takes this notion of matriphobic strife and the apparent need of separation from the mother further. She claims that such rituals as circumcision and the dietary laws of Leviticus 12 are a means of screening the Judaic need to separate itself not only from their physical mothers but also from the spiritual mother represented by the archaic Mother Goddess "who actually haunted the imagination of a nation at war with the surrounding polytheism."75 This attempt to separate oneself from the mother--both the physical and the spiritual mother--may be at the roots of later religious intolerance found in the West. That is, the denigration of the body as compared to the mind as found in the roots of western mythologies may constitute part of the model that has been used to justify the objectification and intolerance of perspectives native to women and other groups not considered part of the norm.
Confronted with such attitudes toward the feminine and the maternal, one cannot help recognizing the possibility of finding in Judaism a connection to Keller's observations of matricidal tendencies found in Sumerian theology. When a culture is so obsessed with its purity that it would physically mutilate its `privileged (male) members' in order to separate them from the `defilement that is woman', the matricidal tendencies in that culture become overwhelmingly obvious. In this way, abjection in Biblical cultures can be understood as being part of a system of meaning in which prohibitions, when they depart form the logic demanded by separation, blended "with the maternal [are thought of] as [an] unclean and improper coalescence, as undifferentiated power and threat, a defilement to be cut off."76
Kristeva claims that in the Christian Bible the maternal body is somewhat reconciled with the norm, but what is kept is the notion of sinning flesh. It is over this point that Christianity further elaborates this dichotomization of the self--the split between inside and outside, subject and object.77 This is a separation that becomes instrumental in later, more contemporary, perspectives on the self.
The split between subject and object appears in the form of an introjection of the spirit insofar as the physical world is rejected as `impure' and the spiritual as `pure.' The result is that the body is "jettisoned from the spirit; as a condition that is impossible [i.e., the impossibility of measuring up to the bodily perfection of Christ], irreconcilable, and, by that very token, real."78 The consequence of this is the domination of the spirit over the body, the pure over the impure.
This radical separation of body and spirit is also found in Christian asceticism in which sin or bodily evil "guides one along the straightest paths of superego spirituality,"79 or the spirituality of the father. Even if the sin of the flesh belongs to both sexes, Kristeva concludes, "its root and basic representation is nothing other than feminine temptation. That was already stated in Ecclesiasticus: `sin originated with woman and because of her we all perish'."80
Through the above considerations, Kristeva argues that in biblical traditions there is a "fantasy of an archaic force, on the near side of separation, unconscious, tempting us to the point of losing our differences, our speech, our life...."81 There is in such styles of thought, to use Keller's words, a culture of separation that is based on an unnatural fear of the body in general and the mother's body in particular. Hence we can find in biblical literature evidence of not only matriphobic tendencies but also matricidal ones. It seems evident that, given the political situation in which patriarchy and religion in the ancient Near East evolved, there was an unnatural fear of the power of the matriarchal religions indigenous to the era. The Judaic God is said to be a jealous one, yet, as Elaine Pagels points out, "of whom would he be jealous?"82
The vilification of woman and the body inherent to Christian theology is analyzed in Keller's reflections on Augustine and Aquinas. Augustine, Keller informs us, bases his conception of self on the Platonic tradition. We have already encountered that tradition's understanding of the physical nature of women in Aristotle's `monsters.' Consequently in Augustine's thought we find the western fear of self division and an obsessive need to find unity.83 This fear of self division, as we have learned, is a result of the ethics of separation. That is, because man has separated himself from his emotions, his body, and his community, he discovers the fear of incompleteness. This fear of incompleteness, Keller believes, is the root of the obsession to find wholeness that pervades the western psyche. As has been argued previously, it then falls upon women, who incarnate the soluble self, to provide the necessary support to alleviate the separative ego's anxieties.
The sense of wholeness that Augustine gave to the West, however, is bought at the price of dissociation from the past, the future, from the diversity of life, and from the community in which one lives. To Keller, Augustine "cannot distinguish between the fragmentation wrought by the separative ego and the complex plurality that is arguably the only real alternative to fragmentation."84 What we see in this description is a stance based in the anti-plurality that is characteristic of a monistic and monotheistic world view that Christianity embraces. Even if the post-biblical image of the trinity may be seen to be an attempt to compensate for the "momentum of monolithic thinking," it is not a description of the relationship between the son and his father, let alone of the interrelation of the three figures of Christian divinity. Keller believes that Augustine's perspective and the resulting Christian dogma of the trinity serve to repress something that might undermine the conceptual essence of patriarchy: i.e., the relational implications of the Trinity's personhood.85 This is a familiar theme echoed in archetypal psychology, which advocates a polytheistic paradigm for self as well as being critical of the reliance upon the problem of imagining oneself through the Heart of Augustine.
Keller observes that this repression of the relational implications of the trinity is augmented by certain theological notions which claim God is not complex but simple, not in process but in stasis. That is, the Christian idea of God is based upon the notion that nothing simple is changeable. Such ideas demonstrate, as Keller points out, that God can never have any real relations to the various manifestations of his self. To Keller this suggests that the Christian conception of the Godhead is reflective of the patriarchal conception of selfhood. That is, the trinity is based upon all male imagery.86 If it is the case that human selves are created in the images of their gods and goddesses, which are themselves created by these same selves, it is only natural to assume that the unity of the Christian self imitate the substantial oneness of the Christian God87--a God who is separate, controlling, transcendent, and male. Keller writes: We can see once again that the bad faith of androcentric imagery "works indivisibly" with the metaphysics of separate selfhood. Idols of control take the place of cosmic connectivity....The Father's absence results in the "death of God"--Nietzschean, Freudian, Marxian, or merely apathetic--for which the patriarchal dynamics operating within the matricidal infrastructure had long prepared. Echoing the absence of the preoedipal father, which gives rise to the psychology of separation, Western theology subsumed the possibility of multiple interrelation under the simplicity of separation.88
Although Augustine prepared the way for the western self, steeped as it is in individualism and individuality, it took the work of Thomas Aquinas to set the stage for the final theological and philosophical blow that led to the radical mind-body dichotomy we know today. Even though the Thomist description of the soul does in a sense presuppose connections among all creatures in the cosmos, it also "represents the triumph of substantialism."89 Keller informs us that in the Thomist scheme of things we find a further reference to Aristotelian metaphysics. Hence, all connections among differing "substances"90 are said to be the result of accidents--the same kind of accidents that made women "monsters" for Aristotle. What is meant by accidents, in this instance, is that the connection between different souls is something that has nothing to do with their essences. That is, connection to others is something that is external to the Thomist soul's natural condition--separation. Hence, Keller comes to this conclusion: "Separability, or independence--not being "in" something else in Aristotle's sense--[thus] quietly lodges itself in Christian metaphysics."91 It is at this point that we find the stage set for the most devastating philosophical twist to the plot to separate the mind from the body--Descartes' cogito.
It is Descartes, Keller notes, who ultimately separated the unity of the mind and body that was tenuously established by Augustine and Aquinas. Descartes separated the world into two substances: res extensa and res cogitans, the material body and the `thinking thing,' which is identified with the soul and considered to be essentially rational. Keller believes that through the identification of the thinking thing with the reflexive self "we now encounter for the first time in [western] conceptual history the fully substantial self--the self-objectified self, autonomous and so fundamentally separated from everything, beginning with his own body."92 Yet it became necessary to introduce God in order to connect the differing moments of existence belonging to the same ego. Hence God is conceived of as a third substance, the only one that truly can be absolutely independent. Consequently, it is God who eventually became the means of making the connection between mind and body.93 That is, it is only through a patriarchal, transcendent, and matricidal god that we are permitted to find this connection. The consequence of such a radical separation of the mind and the body, coupled with a over-valuation of the spiritual aspect, is that the body and those who represent it (women) are vilified and abjected. Not only is there an exclusion of women from the society of men, there also is a separation of the self (the spiritual) from the self (the physical).
This final blow to the theological conception of self struck by Descartes has since resulted in what can been considered the excessive rationalism of western society. When the mind is considered to be the only true, pure aspect of the human creature, the body is left at the wayside. It is this self-objectified self, this obsessively rational agent is the mind that ultimately influences the modern West's Weltanschauung and, in particular, finds its way into its psychology. Keller's argument demonstrates the depth and range of the feminist critique and implicates western psychology as being steeped in inadequate phraseology.
Western psychology has been greatly influenced by the Cartesian perspective of humanity. Descartes, however, is not the only influence on traditional western psychology. Psychology has, in fact, an intellectual lineage that reaches back into the depths of western thought; in part, it is the progeny of Christian theology.94 For this reason we can find in the so-called "fathers" of modern psychology the kinds of assumptions that are characteristic of the separative self. In the following section, I will summarize Keller's thoughts regarding how separatist ethics and perspectives have invaded Freudian and Jungian psychology. In both cases, we can find the assumption that psychological maturation requires the separation of the individual from his or her mother, a separation Keller believes to be rooted in the original mind-body separation of western thought. Keller's critique of Jungian psychology in particular will demonstrate how acute this problem is felt to be in contemporary society and, thus, may be the basis of a paradigm shift in how self is conceived.
It is Keller's contention that Freud's psychology, especially as it is revealed in the response to Romain Rolland's notion of the "oceanic feeling" in Civilization and its Discontents, is representative of the separatist perspective.95 Keller claims that Freud's response to the "oceanic feeling" indicates he had no real idea of the profundity of this kind of connection to others and to his own self. To Keller, Freud's belief that an infant's experience of primary narcissism is not only a result of the special relationship that only a child traditionally has with his or her mother but also is the cause of this `oceanic feeling.' This belief suggests that for Freud's representation of the separative self such "limitless narcissism" represents a primal threat to the integrity of the ego. In other words, it is the threat of regression into the mother or into the mother goddess and polytheism that signals an unholy or unhealthy dissolution of the separative ego.96
Freud, Keller admits, did not invent the separative ego, but he did provide it a new descriptive context and demonstrated that for the ego to exist at all it must first develop. Such ego development ostensibly requires the support of cultural practice. To Keller the result of Freud's insistence on ego development is that his thesis "undermines any static, Cartesian dualism" in which the ego is assumed "to presuppose...the substantial human subject."97 That is, the id is said to exist prior to the ego and continues to exist even after the ego's emergence is initiated by exposure to the external world.
Except when one is an infant or when one is in love, Keller continues, the Freudian ego is separated from the external world. It is only in these two circumstances that this feeling of interconnection, that this oceanic feeling is permitted to appear.98 Thus, it is not surprising that it is only through being in love that western society sanctions this exception to the "normal (manly) state of ego autonomy."99 To Keller such sanctions of heterosexual love assure male dominance and the further denigration of women.100
Freud's admitted inability to understand Rolland's oceanic feeling, Keller argues, is a result of the threat it posed for his psychology. This lack of understanding coupled with the problems caused by the perceived need of a sharp demarcation between the external and the internal worlds, constitute a contradiction in Freud's metapsychological thought. That is, Freud's psychology is confounded by the heroic warrior that must separate pleasure from unpleasure, inner from outer, reality from phantasy. Keller notes that it is exactly the immanent characteristics of the Self that are separated out of the ego. The result is that feelings of expansiveness are relegated to such realms of ecstasy as are found in creative endeavours and mysticism. This is said to be celebrated in Freudian explanations of religious experiences, which claim that they ultimately refer to the "nostalgia of infantile unconsciousness."101 Furthermore, Keller believes that Freud's concession that in the ego is found a small residue of a more inclusive feeling or intimate bond between the id and the world is a confession of a "massive loss, indeed loss of self, enforced by normalcy: we forfeit the intimate sense of interconnection with the world and a plentitude of vital feeling, only to gain an egocentered dualism of the self and other."102 Consequently, maturity for Freud is understood to appear only in conjunction with separation--separation from the mother and from the internal world. Thus connectivity is considered to be threatening to civilization. Paradoxically, however, the Freudian ego is a result of the internalization of those persons who represent its ego ideals--i.e., the introjection of images or imagos representing those important persons in one's life. Furthermore, Freud's comments on the mass psyche103 suggest that the egos of those persons in a group are indeed interconnected. Hence Keller concludes her critique of Freud by noting that the "clues point toward a dynamic of interconnection by cumulative incorporation, both individually and historically. They stand in tension with Freud's assumption of separate ego feeling, but especially with the ego ideals of the culture whose unconscious he seeks to describe."104
Keller's critique of Jungian psychology, in contrast, is considerably less generous. Although in Jung we find a psychology that is matrifocal in nature, as compared to Freud's patrifocal perspective, Jung's preoccupation with finding wholeness and achieving individuation also requires, Keller argues, a matricidal impulse.105 "His theory," she writes, "supports our suspicion that the matricidal symbolism not only expresses but provokes the Western development of a separate and andromorphic ego."106 That is, "the whole self at which individuation aims requires ultimate reconciliation...with the slaughtered mother",107 even if the individuation process presupposes an ego defined by separation from the mother.
Referring to Jung's Symbols of Transformation, Keller indicates how Jung came to the conclusion that the achievement of psychological maturity requires the dismemberment of the mother, symbolized by dragons or serpents. This, she notes, is reminiscent of the foul deed performed by Marduk in the Enuma Elish. It is only through the slaughter of the "monster," known as woman, that the hero established the world. In psychological parlance, symbols of dragons and serpents refer to the unconscious. Thus the maturation of the warrior-identified self requires that ego-consciousness be freed from the grip of the "deadly" unconscious. "Deadly," writes Keller, "presumably because it prevents the emergence of conscious individuality."108
Unfortunately, this destructive deed is ultimately ineffectual and thus must be performed again and again. But, as Keller informs us, "we might argue that there the deeper misfortune lies in the need for the mother to serve as a scapegoat for the hostility, opposition and disconnection by which the heroic ego develops. For this mythic drama inexorably plays itself out in the domain of literal relationships."109 Even if Jung manages to avoid considering the consequences of such actions, he demonstrates the force that images have in our daily activities. "In other words," Keller writes, "symbolic, psychic matricide conspires with interpersonal and social misogyny."110 It appears evident to Keller, therefore, that Jung helps to reveal the deep structures of "matriphobic strife" underlying western civilization and the West's conceptions of selfhood.
Keller also finds a parallel to the separate and soluble selves in Jungian theory. In Jung's description of the anima and animus we find a constellation of "oppositional dyads" which function to project onto the other the unrealized and disposed potentialities of the self. Keller writes:
projection of the man's anima onto a woman causes her to bear the burden of those traits he ought to develop in and for himself, but has repressed because of their "femininity". For example, though he is in fact every bit as dependent, vulnerable or sexual as a woman, if he does not "rescue" such Andromeda traits in himself, he will try to keep the actual woman in a captive state of dependency upon him, her femininity at his disposal. By projection he expels unwelcome, female-associated traits from his own ego.111
Projection, as such, operates as an mechanism of exclusion; it is a means of forcing the abjected or the undesirable outside of oneself. By placing undesirable characteristics on the shoulders of another, the separative ego objectifies the Other. Once objectified, there is little to keep from vilifying and exploiting the Other, while forcing it into obedience and dependency.
Like Freud, Jung characterizes the ego in terms that represent women's psyches in a negative way. Both render descriptive truths about the male psyche normative and both the Jungian and Freudian perspective are psychologically androcentric. Both Jung and Freud understand ego development as requiring emerging consciousness to radically separate itself from the mother. Both also claim that the development of woman's ego does not require such a high degree of separation from the mother. A result of this perspective is that women are denigrated and considered lacking in moral scruples, strength of will, and autonomy. Women are described by these two `fathers' of psychology as deficient and merely possessing such traits as emotionalism, connectivity, awareness of physicality, and so on. In a word, women are conceived as "monsters," who deviate from the masculine norm of selfhood.
Archetypal psychology could extend its critique of the institutionalization of self by examining such gender issues more closely. A psychology that is based in fantasy and images needs to take into account the means through which soul and self are constructed not only in regard to their psychological, religious, or philosophical basis but also in regard to how the masculine norm has been fantasized and elevated.
The feminist style of criticizing traditional ideas of self in western thought is alternate from but compatible with Hillman's archetypal psychology. Keller demonstrates that the tradition of separating the masculine from the feminine as well as mind from body is at the root of the separated self and its correlate, the soluble self. Moreover, Keller suggests that the tradition of separation reaches perhaps as far back as the late Bronze age, was evident in ancient Greece, entered both Jewish and Christian theology, and finally roosted in modern thought as cartesian-informed philosophy and depth psychology.
Although Keller successfully describes the problems inherent to an understanding of self that is conceived as separated, she suggests an alternative to separation: connection. Keller would have feminists reject models of self based in separation in preference for what can be called a romantic paradigm of a Self that understands the individual as interconnected to others and to the world. I have previously characterized this so-called `connective self' as an understanding of self that refuses the divisions found in the mind-body split, the division of self from other, and the separation of women from men.
Keller provides her readers with a possible corrective to some of the problems found in the separated self. She relies upon the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead to make the following point: if we would re-conceive self, we must debunk the traditional belief that self is a static entity, which is fully constituted at birth (Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas). Criticizing the separate self's need to find permanence, Keller contends that such mistaken needs cut the self off from the "instreaming universe." The Self thus exaggerates its connections to the past as a reference point for a sense of permanent self-identity. It is this need for a point of permanent identity, part of the crisis emerging from the Cartesian paradigm that claims that the only permanent thing in the cosmos is a static God, which dissolves the need for connection, spontaneity, and feeling. Such a perspective, she writes, "prepares the way for the self-encapsulated self" that is rigidly bound to its past and projects its future in order to posit a homogeneity of self over time.112 What this perspective demands is a domination of the self. Such domination is the "age-old alternative to connection."113 This is a denial of both relations and feelings and thus requires external manipulation114--presumable by the static, yet permanent God of Christianity.
From process philosophy Keller borrows the notion that all reality is interconnected and that every individual is present in every other individual. But the means of recognizing such connection depends upon another so-called weakness of women: feeling. In process thought, an individual is never static, he or she is always moving from one moment to another. In other words, individuals constantly become who they are. This implies, to Keller, that "actual entities are events, not substances."115 That is, each individual is in a process by which he or she `feels' the world or intuits his or her connection to the surrounding world. In this way, argues Keller, "Process philosophy...is an entire metaphor for feeling."116 `Feeling' in this case does not refer to the emotions or affective states, rather it alludes to a means of "direct connections between actual experiences."117
Such an "empathic continuum" or sense of feeling, Keller notes, helps us achieve the experience of radical relatedness. This radical relatedness is something that we have already seen in Hillman's thoughts about the physiognomic role of the heart and in what Keller refers to as the "doctrine of internal relations." This doctrine, Keller informs us, originated within the monist context of absolute idealism, according to which all relations refer to an Absolute. Yet, as Keller notes, Whitehead refuses any notion of a monistic absolute, because he understands the universe to be essentially pluralistic. Any one individual is situated among the many other individuals, who together constitute "the complex compositions of feeling that are the actual entities."118 Thus, internal relatedness, in this instance, means that all things are part of the experiencing individual. Keller quotes Whitehead as saying the following: "Every actual entity is present in every other actual entity."119 From this perspective we see that any self can not possibly exist without participating with every other self in some way.
To Keller, a description of a "connected, permeable ego ascribed to female children" fits what Whitehead calls the "actual entity" much more closely than does "the rigid and clearly delineated male ego",120 as it is traditionally conceived. Yet Keller points out that it is not only women whose integrity must be connective. That is, connectivity is something that reaches beyond any "specifically feminine mode of relation."121 Keller continues to argue this with the following statement: "The relational self is bound up with the `female' in only one important way: women are less likely under the conditions of patriarchy to have repressed the fluidity and connectivity of which all persons consist."122 Indeed, it is the case that the patriarchal need for control disallows the ability to distinguish connection from conformity and it is because of this that any consideration of self cannot be considered to be apolitical.123 For Keller, the separative self politicizes Self against what it most fears: "a collective sameness, a proscription of difference, a prohibition against wandering. It projects this fear onto women. Matriphobia, we recall, is the fear of a conformist collectivity."124 Hence, Keller concludes, it is necessary to dissolve such notions of an enduring, permanent Self in order to move beyond "the static status of self-enclosed subjects and their metaphysical sexism."125
Like Hillman, Keller argues that the heroic ego, or the separative self, cannot tolerate multiple images within itself. The image of a separative divinity, she says, collaborates with the metaphysics of "the independent substance" to bring about the modern, divided individual.126 Because the monotheist world view attempts to overcome fragmentation and division and because it conveys itself as competitive exclusion, it could only turn against any prior mother. That is, it had to do away with the competition that is the feminine. As Keller writes: "Quite naturally, the human imitates its image of the divine. But quite unnaturally, antinaturally--with heroic artifice--the divine became the male alone."127 The oneness of the heroic ego is "exclusivity in excess." It recapitulates, as Keller puts it, "the separative-matricidal impulse of the hero: it eliminates, decapitates and manipulates whatever it excludes from the tense panoply of its own limits."128 It is the individual without content. Yet when we demythologize the transcendent presuppositions that are the basis of this heroic perspective, "we are already reclaiming the values of immanence...."129 To Keller, as with Hillman, an appreciation of plurality may break the deadlock of the heroic ego ideal, forcing us to come to the realization that we are not simply one, not simply autonomous. Because the heroic ego conquers and denies the many in the name of transcendental oneness, because this ego is in the image of men, and because women tend to have a more complex and pluralistic psyche, the splintering of the one into the many may seem less desirable for women than the accomplishment of integrity. Yet, as Keller argues, "integrity is the project of a pluralistic personality."130 Polymorphic integrity, she believes, has to do with a relation to our own emotions: "It is through emotions that the primal feelings for the preceding selves and worlds flow into my awareness...."131
Keller outlines two "intertwining dimensions of multiplicity," which are as follows: there are many selves that are made up of the fabric of many persons, places, animals, (that which we introject) and that one's many selves make up "the necklace of experiences that make up my personal history from birth to now."132 If we acknowledge the presence and influence of our experiences of many selves, "they become part of the community of my psyche" working together "to produce the integration of a greater complexity of feeling."133 In this way we can understand integrity to mean "an integrity of radical inclusion." I am not simply one, not simply monodimensional, I am many ones and each moment integrates the many ones of the cosmos surrounding me. "Integrity," Keller writes, "unbreaks the brokenness by weaving the fragments into a new--if provisional--whole. Not multiplicity, but the refusal of multiplicity, fragments."134 For these reasons Keller advocates that we turn to "post-patriarchal religion." Like Hillman, Keller believes that spiritual systems that have removed themselves from the politics and ideologies of the separative, patriarchal (monotheistic) perspective allow for a multifocal, or polytheistic, vision. "Reconnection," she writes, "requires polyscopic discernment. We can no more mobilize the divine element in the universe in the form of a single name, a single sex, a single code, creed or cult, than we can freeze the fluid transformations of the universe."135 Keller concludes that a sense of connection, a sense of community, can be found in diversity or polytheism and an `empathic continuum' or, as Hillman puts it, the thought of the heart.
Although Keller's appropriation of process thought is an important consideration for the emergence of an alternate notion of self in postmodern thought, I do not believe that it comprises a sufficient or effective basis for theorizing about a connective notion of selfhood. A consideration of the self in process can make a difference in how we conceive of self as something that is constantly being formed, instead of being destined to remain the same throughout one's life. Furthermore, Keller's understanding of self in process is open to questions regarding multiplicity. How, for instance, are we to infer that a self in process necessarily implies a self with many different faces? How are we to account for the way that feelings make up the epistemological practice and ontological status of a self in process? And, what are the implications of process as it is depicted: does Keller use process to suggest growth and maturation?
In her 1989 article, "Feminist Ethics of Inseparability",136 Keller advocates the need to develop an "intuition of interconnection." This is an issue first brought to light in From a Broken Web. Because we cannot experience everything at once, Keller suggests, we must rely upon intuition to allow us "to glimpse the unseen interrelatedness of all things."137 Like Hillman, Keller suggests that it is through feeling that we are enabled to directly experience the world and our connections to it. Such an intuition would permit individuals to gain the experience that "I am the complex unity of feeling that rises up at this moment in response to my feelings of the plural [nature of the] world."138 Such an "empathic continuum," Keller notes, helps people to come to an experience of the radical relatedness, already seen in the "doctrine of internal relations." This doctrine, as Keller informs us, originated within the monist context of absolute idealism, according to which all relations refer to an absolute. Yet, Keller refuses any notion of a monistic absolute, because she (in following Whitehead) understands the universe as being essentially plural. Any one person is situated among many other people, and this intimation is reinforced through "the complex compositions of feeling" that make up actual persons.139 This is to say that it is the experiences conveyed by our ability to feel things that connect, or will re-connect us to others. Thus, internal relatedness means, here, that everything experienced either subjectively or objectively is part of the interrelated individual. That is, if we surmise that there is no real distinction between subject and object, mind and body, then we can come to an understanding of self as something that is not separated from the world and from others.
The problem with Keller's presentation of an intuition of interconnection is the absence of any concrete examples of such interconnection. In her review of Weaving the Visions, Carol LeMasters takes Keller to task over this very issue. LeMasters, in fact, finds Keller's article, "Feminism and the Ethic of Inseparability," the most disturbing in the entire anthology,140 partly because of the importance of Keller's article in regard to the possibility that "connectedness" has become an indisputable tenet of feminist theological faith as expounded in Weaving the Visions.
Keller's notion of connectedness is based predominantly upon the psychological thought of Nancy Chodorow and Carol Gilligan, who are not, however, without their critics. In agreement with Keller, Lemasters notes that the psychological inability "to separate presents a serious problem for many women, feminists and nonfeminists alike. There may be an inherent problem in talking about the virtues of elusive boundaries with people who are still learning how to claim boundaries at all."141 Furthermore, LeMasters concludes that it may be "`connectedness' that makes it difficult for women to accept diversity within community. Keller acknowledges the possible dangers, but gives no specific examples as to what form such an "`ethic of inseparability' might take or what struggles will be required."142
It may be that when women are socialized to be soluble, as opposed to separative, they find it difficult to see past the connections and accept diversity. In fact LeMasters has this to say about the ideal of diversity in feminist considerations of self: "The call to accept diversity is never really tested because the writers [of Weaving the Visions] never really clash. It is easy to affirm difference if the conflicts are never too carefully delineated, if the minorities are carefully selected, and if the authors ultimately all agree."143
In the above discussion of the shortcomings of Keller's `ethic of inseparability,' we find a critical assessment of the call for a paradigm of self that is rooted in connection, as opposed to separation. LeMasters, however, is not only critical of Keller's approach to self. She points out that the uncritical acceptance of such notions as interconnection, nurturance, and relationality is problematic for feminist theorizations about self in general. In fact, she notes that when interconnection, nurturance, and relationality "begin to be accepted uncritically as spiritual values, feminist theology runs the risk of becoming as formulaic and abstract as the patriarchal theological writings it vehemently opposes."144
Although the ethic of relationality differs from traditional Christian morality in significant ways,145 LeMasters finds the images and the terminology in Weaving the Visions to be so repetitive as to become predictable, causing them to lose their transformative power. "Words like `connectedness' and `nurturance'," she writes, "tend to lose their meaning on the fiftieth or sixtieth occurrence. And while the writers declare they are not looking for a single truth, the reader senses in them a need for coherence and an avoidance of blatant contradiction."146
If the kinds of feminist theorizations about self as found in Weaving the Visions are, indeed, as wanting as LeMasters suggests, then feminists must continue to think about and write about self in such a way as to ameliorate the shortcomings of the contemporary state of feminist thought regarding selfhood. In such a situation, it may become necessary for feminists to look again at self in order to articulate a more comprehensive notion of the status of the human being as interconnected, diverse, and embodied.
Feminists have often appropriated the thoughts of male theorists (Keller's usages of Whitehead's process philosophy, for instance) to make their arguments. Although many feminists are primarily interested in articulating a notion of selfhood that escapes the prison of patriarchal thought and categories, there are men who have made similar criticisms about self. James Hillman may be one thinker to whom those feminists concerned with the articulation of an alternate notion of self can turn to find a means to help enrichen their thought about self as called for by LeMasters. However, contemporary feminist insight into religion, self, and culture can also help to expose and flesh out some of the weak areas of Hillman's thought.
The next chapter will investigate the possibility that feminist insight into selfhood can help archetypal psychology articulate a more comprehensive view of self as well as more effective criticisms of traditional psychotherapy. Hillman, as we know, has produced a substantial amount of thought about self or, as he would say about soul, which takes into account the intrinsic diversity feminists attribute to humanity. He advocates a polytheistic paradigm for psychological investigation of the soul, as opposed to a monotheistic one. This polytheistic paradigm taken in tandem with the primacy of the imaginal field permits us to place all ideologies on a level ground. This means that we must equally value contemporary feminist thought as has been the case for traditional patriarchal perspectives.
To Hillman, polytheism represents a more accurate model of humanity than does the narrow, singular, and literal perspective of monotheism that permeates traditional notions of the world and selfhood. Polytheism as a paradigm for psychology provides a critique of a traditional psychology that has its roots in such totalizing fantasies as materialism, oppositionalism, and Christianism. Furthermore, polytheism articulates an alternate notion of human being that not only allows but also encourages an understanding of self based in diversity, multiplicity, and relatedness. But the polytheistic paradigm for psychology is not all that Hillman provides. He is also interested in the role that feelings, community, religion, and aesthetics play in the construction of self. These are all issues he has in common with much of contemporary feminist thought about religion. We find that Hillman's target of attack, monotheism as found in Christian and Jewish sources, to be the same as that of the feminist theorists considered herein. Furthermore, Keller, et al, argue for a perspective that values our multiplicity and feelings.
Keller's critique of the roots of the separate Self and Hillman's criticisms of psychology are indeed compatible. Both find problems with the singular or monotheistic model of selfhood that has evolved from Christian theology, western philosophy, and traditional psychology. Both suggest as an alternative to such radical separation a paradigm of self that can be characterized as being polytheistic, located in community, that finds its relations to the world through feeling or the aesthetic response, and is based in an understanding of the psyche as something that is grounded in the imaginal.
1 Richard Tarnas. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that have Shaped our World View. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991), 398.
2 I refer, of course, to Thomas Kuhn's thoughts about paradigm shifts as found in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962). Kuhn suggests that a successful paradigm shift requires that an alternate idea must be present and seem to be able to solve some "outstanding and generally recognized problem" and must "promise to preserve a relatively large part of the concrete problem-solving ability" that the previous paradigm accrued to the field of study. (168) There are five further characteristics to paradigm shifts: 1) a community of thinkers must reject its `time-honoured theory' in favour of another approach incompatible with it; 2) this produces a consequent shift in the problems available to that community and the standards by which the community determines whether or not a problem is valid; 3) the alternate theory must be sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group away from the competition; 4) the theory must be sufficiently open-ended so as to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve; and, 5) ideational revolutions must transform the intellectual imagination in ways that need be described as a `transformation of the world within which the scientific work was done.' (5-10).
3 Catherine Keller. From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism, and Self. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), 1. For example, Keller writes this of the west's traditional understanding of self: "for our culture it is separation which prepares the way for selfhood."
6 This need not be the case as Keller points out when she writes: "The unique integrity of a focused individuality, traditionally linked to the independence of a clearly demarcated ego, represents an irrefutable value, indeed a touchstone for any liberating theory of interrelation." (Ibid., 2.)
7 Ibid., 3.
8 Ibid., 8.
9 Ibid., 54.
12 Ibid., 9-11.
13 Ibid., 9.
14 Ibid., 11.
16 Ibid., 13-16.
18 Ibid., 17. What I understand Keller to mean by this is that the escapism inherent in transcendental imaginations must appeal to women who are bound to men in such a co-dependent manner as characterized by the maiden who anxiously awaits the return of her warrior-hero to bring her riches and joy ever after.
20 Ibid., 27.
21 Ibid., 31.
22 Ibid., 38.
23 Ibid., 43f.
24 Ibid. That is, that a man, in relation to his God, is forced to position himself in the role of a woman under a man.
25 Keller points out that Aristotle believed a child receives soul from his father, which is the formal cause that engenders humanity, and from his mother comes the body. To Aristotle, Keller informs us, the soul is active and the body passive, inert matter. In the case of a female fetus, the girl receives no soul from the father and only the body from the mother. Thus, because women lack this "soul material," they are considered to be a deviation from the norm represented by men and are thus thought to be "monsters". (Ibid., 48-50).
26 Ibid., 61f.
27 Ibid., 82.
28 Ibid., 79.
29 In the following pages I will use the terms theological and psychological in their broadest and most generalized sense. Theology alludes to the dogmatic logos referring to a Divine nature of the cosmos, while psychology refers to a logos of the soul or psyche.
30 Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988), 5.
33 Carol Christ. Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987), 88.
34 Starhawk. Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987).
35 Ibid., 44.
38 Merlin Stone. When God was a Woman. (New York: The Dial Press, 1976), p. 39. 39 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, 49.
41 Ibid., 49.
42 Stone, When God was a Woman, 59.
43 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, 50.
44 Ibid., 51.
45 Ibid., 52.
46 Ibid., 53.
48 James McBride in "War, Battering and Other Sports: The Gulf Between American Men and Women" (unpublished paper presented at the 1991 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Kansas City) takes up this issue. He says that the practice of demonizing or feminizing the `enemy' is still used today as a means of separating out the enemy. By turning the enemy into a demonized object, it is no longer necessary to treat this object as a human being. McBride's phenomenology of this activity is as follows: initially a division is made between what is considered to be the `ingroup' and the `outgroup;' consequently the former attributes stereotypic and homogeneous characteristics to the latter, which are usually described as racially hereditary. Through this process the `ingroup' assures itself of its racial purity by projecting its "own weaknesses onto the outgroup" and seeks its destruction. Furthermore, the `outgroup' is also considered to be "mythically guilty" and this requires what McBride calls "ritual purification." (9-10)
49 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, 54.
50 This is reminiscent Keller's discussion of Aristotle's conceptions of women as monster, i.e., women no longer belong to the social order, they are now objects to be possessed and used by men as the gods would use and possess man.
51 Ibid., 55.
53 Ibid., 62.
54 Keller, From a Broken Web, 73.
55 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, 63.
56 Ibid., 65.
57 Ibid., 62.
58 Keller, From a Broken Web, 75f.
59 Ibid., 76.
60 Ibid., 77.
61 Ibid., 79.
63 Ibid., 88.
64 Merlin Stone notes that Goddess religion and female kinship systems were closely related in the Ancient Near East. (When God was a Woman, 58).
65 Keller, From a Broken Web, 81.
66 Julia Kristeva. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. (Translated by Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 90.
67 Ibid., 91.
69 Ibid., 93.
70 Ibid., 94.
72 Ibid., 99.
73 Ibid., 95.
76 Ibid., 106.
77 Ibid., 117.
78 Ibid., 120.
79 Ibid., 122.
80 Ibid., 126. The passage can be found in Ecclesiasticus 25:24.
81 Ibid., 107.
82 Elaine H. Pagels. "What Became of God the Mother?" in Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion. Edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), 113. 83 Keller, From a Broken Web, 164.
84 Ibid., 165.
85 Ibid., 166f.
86 Ibid., 167f. Compare this comment to Mary Daly's statement suggesting that "the three divine persons" of the trinity is the West's paradigmatic model of the pseudoterm person. This basis of western personhood, claims Daly, excludes all notion of a female presence. Therefore, she concludes, the Christian godhead functions to de-sacralize or reify women as persons. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978), 37f.
87 Keller, From a Broken Web, 172.
88 Ibid., 171-172.
89 Ibid., 172.
90 Keller notes that "substance" as used by Aristotle and Aquinas have two basic characteristics: 1) it is capable of separate existence, and 2) that "substance is a determinate particular thing." (Ibid., 173.)
92 Ibid., 174.
93 Ibid., 174.
94 See James Hillman's The Myth of Analysis, (New York: Harper and Row, 1978).
95 Keller, From a Broken Web, 96.
96 Ibid., 94. I want to point out the problematic nature of Keller's understanding of Freud's treatment of the `oceanic feeling.' First of all, Freud, in Civilization and its Discontents, does admit that he cannot find this feeling of an "indissoluble bond, of being one with the external world as a whole" in himself, but does not deny that this feeling, which is of a `primary nature,' may be present in others. What Freud is concerned with is merely whether this feeling can be rightly considered "the fons et origo of the whole need for religion." Freud points out that such a feeling may, in fact, be the result of the ego fooling itself into perceiving that it is indeed separated from the external world as well as the unconscious. Freud then points out that "the boundaries of the ego are not constant." Furthermore, as the ego develops it does not necessarily lose that primary feeling of its connection to the world (5) and can be brought to light once more since what is learned once can never be wholly forgotten. Furthermore, he never makes the connection between the `oceanic feeling' and the mother, but rather claims that it is the desire for the father that brings about this feeling of connection, a feeling which is permanently sustained by "a fear of the superior power of Fate" and the "need for a father's protection." Sigmund Freud. Civilization and its Discontents. Translated by Joan Riviere. Revised and edited by James Strachey. (London: The Hogarth Press, 1982) 2-9.
97 Keller, From a Broken Web, 96.
98 Ibid., 97. Here we can find a divergence between Keller and Hillman. Keller misses the point regarding Hillman's criticism that romantic love operates more as a mechanism of separation than connection. While it is true that people in love make strong connections with one another, Keller does not see that such situations, as they are idealized in the West, tend to function to separate the couple from the rest of the community in which they live.
101 Ibid., 98.
102 Ibid., 99f.
103 See: Sigmund Freud's Group Psychology (The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 18. Translated by James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press, 1968), and Totem and Taboo. (The Standard Edition.... Vol. 13. Translated by James Strachey. London: the Hogarth Press, 1953).
104 Keller, From a Broken Web, 101.
105 Keller writes: "Whereas the matricide is itself repressed in the Freudian scheme, it takes center stage in Jung's thought." (Ibid., 106).
106 Ibid., 107.
107 Ibid., 106.
108 Ibid., 108.
111 Ibid., 110.
112 Ibid., 196-199.
113 Ibid., 200.
115 Ibid., 182.
117 Ibid., 183.
118 Ibid., 184.
119 Quoted from Whitehead's Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Edited by D.R. Griffin and D.W. Sheiburne. (New York: Free Press, 1978), 50. Found in Keller, From a Broken Web, 184.
120 Ibid., 189.
121 Ibid., 202.
123 Ibid., 199.
124 Ibid., 204.
125 Ibid., 207.
126 Keller, From a Broken Web, 86.
127 Ibid., 88.
130 Ibid., 226.
132 Ibid., 227.
134 Ibid., 228.
135 Ibid., 250.
136 Catherine Keller. "Feminist Ethics of Inseparability." Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality. Edited by Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow. (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989), 256-266. 137 Keller, From a Broken Web, 158.
138 Ibid., 184.
140 Carol LeMasters. "Unhealthy Uniformities." Women's Review of Books. 1989, 7(1):15-16.
144 Ibid., 15.
145 The ways that the ethic of relationality differ from Christian morality is threefold: "first, ethics are seen as contextual rather than absolute....Second, ethics arise from love of life, not abnegation of it....[And] Third, feminist theologians seek to incorporate into their spirituality those aspects of humanity which are most taboo to women and which religions have generally ignored: sexuality and rage." (ibid.)
146 Ibid., 16.