The main focus of my dissertation is to examine the emerging articulation of two disparate expressions of selfhood in the postmodern west: archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist theorists. The examination of this alternative idea of self involves: first of all, a tentative analysis of a "postmodern" idea of self that can be found in the thought of both James Hillman (therapist, writer, one time Director of Studies at the Zürich Jung Institute, and creator of archetypal psychology) and the feminists to whom shall I refer; which allows for, second, a critical assessment of archetypal psychology informed by contemporary feminist theory and thought about religion.
The latter case, a critical dialogue between archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist thought about religion, can not only help to demonstrate some of the shortcomings found in archetypal psychology, it also points to some colourful ideas with which archetypal psychology as well as contemporary feminist thought about religion might deepen and enrich their respective palates. This is to say that, a critical look at archetypal psychology informed by contemporary feminist theory can reveal some difficulties overlooked by Hillman. Yet, for all the difficulties a feminist-informed eye can reveal of archetypal psychology, I have found a profound confluence of ideas between archetypal psychology and certain contemporary feminist scholars. For this reason, it is possible to conclude that the insights one may gain from either archetypal psychology or contemporary feminist thought about religion, respectively, can be of use to both parties in expanding their particular visions.
In the former case, the attempt to map out an idea of an emerging "postmodern" idea of self provides further insights into the attitudes held by archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist thought about religion when regarding self, religion, and gender. The comparison of ideas of self found in archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist thought about religion not only demonstrates a context for their concerns--i.e., what I call the postmodern genre--it also allows for deeper insight into some of the difficulties found in Hillman's theories. Because both Hillman and the feminists I refer to herein are involved at some level in the articulation of an alternative concept of self, they necessarily must be at odds at least with certain parts of the modern concept of the Self.
There are three concepts that Hillman uses that need some introduction, they include: soul, the aesthetic response, and polytheism. Each of these ideas are central to Hillman's psychology and each is closely related to the another. Consequently, it is necessary to not only characterize them, but also to map out their relations to one another. For Hillman, soul is, without doubt, the most pivotal aspect of archetypal psychology. Soul is a mediating principle functioning between mind and body, subjective and objective, imaginal and rational, to name a few instances. Soul is the means through which the relationship between such dichotomies are funnelled, experienced, and felt. In this sense, soul provides meaning to the tangible world and to the metaphysical world; soul animates things by mythologizing them, by conferring meaning.
For Hillman, soul functions through images and feelings. It is the images, myths, and stories of individuals and societies that constitute the soul's language. But there is more to soul. Soul functions not only to mediate experience, or to speak with a language to images and impressions, it also operates through an aesthetic response of what it perceives. Because Hillman locates soul physiognomically in the metaphorical heart, it is also understood to function through the language of the heart: our feelings. The soul's aesthetic function is one of feeling--it responds to the things that affect it. By feeling the world, so to speak, both inside and outside of oneself, the soul's aesthetic response confers meaning, value, and more to the many things it encounters. Hence, soul refers to the religious, more so than the mere word play "soul" makes on the psychological term "psyche."
This theistic aspect of soul is also reflected in Hillman's other notion: polytheism. Polytheism is inherently a religious term. It is for this reason that Hillman adopts it in an effort to re-vision psychology's approach to soul, or self. Consequently, polytheism has a political function insofar as it subverts what Hillman generally characterizes as monotheistic psychology. A monotheistic psychology is one that finds part of its intellectual heritage ultimately in Christian theology, which claims that, that just as god is monotheistic, so must humanity by nature be singular. (It must be noted, however, that the depiction of Christianity throughout this dissertation reflects, on the one hand, Hillman's attitude towards Christianity and, on the other hand, this colouring is also characteristic of much feminist theorization about Christianity.) This is a perspective that has eventually found its way into medical and scientific approaches to the psyche. Such approaches neglect the possibility that which is deviant from the norm--the monotheistic ideal--may have any value. To be glib, it is a perspective that claims there is only one position from which we might properly live.
For Hillman, a monotheistic paradigm for psychology is less a statement about the phenomenology of soul than it is a reflection of a specific ideology. To Hillman, the soul is more than what can be represented by a monotheistic model of the psyche. There are many faces to soul; and, there is no demonstrated reason to assume that those visages which do not fit the norm are all pathological and require cure. Thus, by impressing upon us the polyvalent aspects of the soul, Hillman opens space for the re-examination and re-valuation of many aspects to human cognition, whether or not they are categorized as abnormal, pathological, mythological, scientific, or rational. Polytheism, taken in tandem with the imaginal capacities of the soul, places all ideas, ideologies, mythologies, and sciences on a level playing-field: they are all products of the human imagination.
A polytheistic soul is given space to allow free reign for the aesthetic response. Opening up our understandings of the soul allows us to realize that the rationalist attitude is not necessarily all there is of value and meaning in our lives. There are so many things that we may experience in so many different ways that it would be absurd to claim, therefore, that we are monotheistic in nature. Furthermore, the call for a polytheistic psychology suggests, as already noted, a political statement. A polytheistic psychology calls for the re-examination of psychological paradigms for their negative modernist and Christian influences. It is a suggestion to move beyond the Modern view, to open ourselves up to new vistas of perception and expression. Finally, the reemergence of the idea of polytheism can be seen as a timely event in the contemporary West. In a world that is rapidly becoming more and more multicultural, in a world in which the multidisciplinary approach is becoming more and more prevalent, the idea of polytheism becomes all the more meaningful and relevant.
The pages following serve to provide the reader with a sample of the concerns that appear in the body of the text. They function, first, to presage the polytheistic perspective that I examine when I analyze archetypal psychology and, second, to familiarize the reader with the concerns said to characterize the postmodern critique of the modern idea of the Self. I turn now to a characterization of David Miller's `new' polytheism to provide a more detailed representation of polytheistic expressions in contemporary Western thought.
The `new' polytheism is no longer new. Written twenty years ago, David L. Miller's The New Polytheism: Rebirth of the Gods and Goddesses described a growing tendency in Western individuals to reject the traditional singular, or monotheistic perspective that structures their world and, I expect, their ideas of selfhood. Miller suggested that a paradigm shift is emerging in regard to how we perceive our relationship to the world, ourselves, and each other. To Miller, the abandonment of traditional paradigms based in the single-mindedness characteristic of Enlightenment philosophy, science, and theology was being met with a radical expression of diversity reflecting an emerging ethos characteristic of the latter half of the twentieth century.1
According to Miller, when we attend to the rebirth of the Gods and Goddesses, when we begin to see polytheistically, we are free to validate "the radical plurality of the self."2 What Miller suggests is that polytheism is a social reality and a philosophical condition. The social reality and the philosophical condition to which he refers is one that is experienced by humans when we recognize that truth cannot be articulated or thought about through a "single grammar."3 Psychologically, polytheism is described as a radical experience of equally real but mutually exclusive aspects of the self. In such experiences, suggests Miller, "personal identity cannot seem to be fixed."4 Hence we begin to understand what Miller means by polytheism: it refers to "social, philosophical, and psychological manifestations of plurality in everyday life because behind them is a religious situation."5
In religions, polytheism refers to a practice and a form of behaviour. In theology, however, the term `polytheism' is a model used to explain a religious system based upon certain practices and behaviours. For this reason Miller considers polytheism a social philosophy and a psychological perspective.6 To Miller, the notion that the philosophical and the psychological are religious suggests that the goddesses and gods are the names of powers or forces that have some form of autonomy and are not necessarily conditioned or affected by society. If they were so conditioned, Miller believes, the paradigms and symbols that allow us to account for, express, and celebrate these multiple aspects of our reality would otherwise seem fragmented and anarchic.7 That is, if such symbols and images were not open to interpretation, they would, then, be subject to manipulation.
In contrast to monotheistic thinking, Miller describes polytheistic thinking as a feeling for the deep, abiding, urgent, and exciting tension that arises when, through a radical experience of the plurality of both social and psychological life, one discovers that a monotheistic, or singular, outlook is not adequate in helping to understand the nature of real meaning.8 What Miller suggests is that monotheistic thinking "fails a people in a time when experience becomes self-consciously pluralistic, radically both/and."9 A monotheistic style of thought, then, is one that operates according to fixed principles and is controlled by an either/or logic. It supports a "sort of fanaticism about rationalism...which forcibly suppresses feelings and institutions expressed in concrete images and symbolized in the telling of stories."10
Monotheism, for Miller, is the result of a specific evolution in consciousness that came to perceive itself in a certain way: abstracted, speculative, formalized, literal, and linear.11 Monotheistic thinking can be characterized as a style of thought that searches for essences, literal representations, and rationalism as opposed to being satisfied with feelings, intuitions, and images. Thus, Miller suggests that the Nietzschean death of God refers to the demise of monotheistic ways of thinking and speaking about God as well as about being human in the Western world.
This death of God, claims Miller, is the death of the single-minded, one-dimensional norm of a civilization that is predominantly monotheistic. To Miller, the release followed by the death of such a god offers humanity the chance to re-discover dimensions out of our past history.12 But the death of God is accompanied by a frightening sense of a `loss of centre.' Psychologically, the loss of centre experienced in the contemporary west makes us feel lost and uncertain. The resulting backlash is such that it makes one grasp for any external "centre of value" no matter how superficial. The intensity of the feeling one receives from such objects of value can be heightened and may lend a superficially religious air to society's new moralities and rituals.13
What Miller observes in The New Polytheism is twofold. First, there is a spirit of subversion that is actively confronting the monotheistic world view--i.e., one that is based in modern paradigms and Christian theology. This subversion of the monotheistic world includes, according to Miller, the modern tendency to dichotomize science and religion as two distinct arenas of experience, and forms of thought. Second, Miller suggests that there is an emergence of a social movement that advocates an alternate paradigm regarding human agency based in insights Modernity ascribed to both the religious and psychological realms. Yet, it is a paradigm that is not constantly at war with monotheism but includes it. A polytheistic perspective gains its strength from the ability to consider all angles of our imaginations.
The paradigm that Miller sees emerging is a polytheistic one14 and he considers the ultimate expression of polytheism in Western culture to be the Greek pantheon. Miller thinks this is the case because much of Western musings has roots in Greek thought, which was a philosophy based on ideas, categories, and concepts in polytheism.15 Furthermore, these Greek ideas, concepts, and categories were originally imagined as Gods and Goddesses as well as its formal structures of thought, which emerged from the narrative process in mythic tales. To Miller, this "implies that polytheism lurks in a thinking that thinks itself monotheistic--that is, thinks itself governed by a single principle of being and by a univocal logic that will lead to Truth in the singular."16 In fact, Miller finds it surprising that no one has made the connection that, because Greek philosophy is based in a polytheistic religion, and since Christian theology is rooted in Greek philosophy, then it must be the case that the roots of Christian theology are polytheistic. That is, Christian theology is a way of "thinking and speaking about Jesus which uses categories, ideas, concepts, structures of thought, and logic which are ultimately stories of the Gods and Goddesses."17 In this sense, we might conclude that the Christian expression of divinity is polytheistic at root, having its roots in pre-socratic thought, Plato, and Plotinus.
What Miller implies is that as long as long as Greek thinking has as much influence on contemporary Western thought, imagination, logic, and phantasy as it does, then the contemporary world is necessarily polytheistic.18 Still, modern thought is comparatively dead and Miller believes that this is due to the fact that it lacks the excitement and compulsion to move one's heart (a loss of the appreciation of a sense of the aesthetic and narrative resulting from the over-reification characteristic of the scientific paradigm).19 Science and rationalism has removed from us any compulsion and lack the earthiness of the old polytheisms. "Thus," writes Miller, "our new polytheism is without a language, a mode of articulation by which it can understand itself."20 By "banishing the vague", we have leached from life and language "the feeling in the thinking that makes life lively."21
In the above, we find one expression of disappointment with the traditional means through which we understand humanity and the world. Miller notes a crisis in terms of the legacy of Enlightenment world views insofar as empiricism and scientific rationalism have removed from human society a great deal of its imagination, fantasy, intuition, and feelings. This crisis also speaks to one consequence of embracing a polytheistic view point: there can no longer be any grand narratives per se. These characteristics of the west's contemporary epistemological crisis are important aspects of my argument. It is the subversion of such grand narratives, metaphors, or cosmologies that make the necessary space available for a polytheistic viewpoint. Furthermore, a polytheistic perspective must take into account and value equally all the faces presented by the psyche--both the normative and the marginalized.
Polytheism is, as we have seen, one of the chief metaphors employed by Hillman when re-visioning psychology. This understanding of polytheism can be seen as a postmodern response to the modern, or monotheistic perspective that I shall demonstrate has a number of consequence for the idea of self emerging in both contemporary feminist thought about religion and archetypal psychology. The polytheistic self and the post-patriarchal, connective self, are two expressions of the postmodern sensibility.
Most people agree that the postmodern debate involves what is known as deconstruction. Deconstruction is a postmodern exercise insofar as its objects of criticism include the metanarratives and categories of modern thought and Christian theology. Deconstruction, for Jean-François Lyotard, amounts to the de-legitimation of all knowledge. He writes:
postmodernism as it is generally understood involves a radical break, both with dominant culture and aesthetic, and with a rather different moment of socioeconomic organization against which its structural novelties and innovations are measured: a new social and economic moment (or even system), which has previously been called media society, the `society of the spectacle' (Guy Debord), consumer society (or the `société de consommation'), the `bureaucratic society of controlled consumption' (Henri Lefebvre), or `postindustrial society' (Daniel Bell).22
For Lyotard, postmodernity designates the state of western culture following the transformations of the nineteenth century which have drastically altered the precepts of science, literature, and the arts.23 The Modern world view, in contrast, designates "any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse," which makes some kind of appeal to a grand narrative such as the `dialectics of the Spirit,' the `hermeneutic of meaning,' `the emancipation of the rational subject.'24
Thus a nutshell definition of postmodernity, according to Lyotard, is "incredulity toward metanarratives."25 As Lyotard puts it, metanarratives are models which have been posited as grand cosmological theories through which the entire universe is understood as explainable based in a specific ideology characterized by such metaphors as the Christian god, scientific methodology, logical positivism, and patriarchy, to name a few. It is not the disappearance of these metanarratives that is of critical interest. On the contrary, what is of interest is the recognition that such metanarratives have gone underground, as it were, functioning unconsciously as the basis of our thoughts about as well as our means of acting in the world.26
Scott Lash, in comparison, characterizes the deconstructive enterprise as one that de-differentiates between categories of thought and fields of inquiry. Lasch characterizes modernization as "a process of the differentiation and autonomization of the `de-limited fields' (champs restreints) - i.e. the legal, political, intellectual, artistic, academic, cultural, and religious fields - from the more general `field of power'."27 He argues that modernization can only take place through struggle between orthodox and the non-orthodox forms of knowledge. "The battles of heterodoxy against orthodoxy are not just for changes," he writes, "but for the autonomization of a given field from the field of power."28 This is to say that modernization is characterizable as a period in which there was a struggle to differentiate a variety of fields of speculation as well as to grant them the authority of autonomy.29 For him, post-modernization, in contrast to Lyotard, refers to "a process of de-differentiation and a reversal of autonomization."30 Rather than continue to divide the world into more categories of thought, postmodernity represents a collapse of the boundaries of meaning--by challenging the legitimacy of various fields of knowledge, it is possible to challenge their claims to autonomy."31 This collapse of such differentiated fields involves all areas of thought, including the struggle for change in ideas about human agency that originated in modernity.32
Both Lyotard and Lasch suggest, then, that the collapse of the master-narratives of modernist thought finds its roots in a style of ideation belonging to specific aspects of christian theology: monotheism (as identified by archetypal psychology) and patriarchy (as associated with feminist critiques). Richard Tarnas notes just this in The Passion of the Western Mind. In this book, Tarnas not only provides a synopsis of major trends in western thought, he also provides an excellent characterization of what he calls the postmodern mind--including such deconstructive concerns as Lyotard's `de-legitimation' and Lasch's `de-differentiation.' Furthermore, Tarnas recognizes the romantic characteristic of many postmodern thinkers, including feminist thought in general and Hillman's archetypal psychology in specific.
As Tarnas puts it, it is a characteristic of postmodernity that there is "the lack of firm ground for a world view. Both inner and outer realities have become unfathomably ramified, multidimensional, malleable, and unbounded--bringing a spur to courage and creativity, yet also a potentially debilitating anxiety in the face of unending relativism, and existential finitude."33 In a strict sense, then, there is no "postmodern world view" per se or even the possibility of one. For Tarnas, the postmodern paradigm is "by its nature fundamentally subversive of all paradigms" because at its core there is the realization that reality is "at once multiple, local and temporal, and without demonstrable foundation."34 Consequently, postmodernity makes the claim that any monistic perspective or any grand cosmological theory cannot be sustained without producing "empirical falsification and intellectual authoritarianism."35
Like Miller, Lasch, Lyotard, and Tarnas seem to indicate that postmodernity represents a social movement which has come to question the universal legitimacy of knowledge. This challenge to the authority of the traditional narratives of science, rationalism, and aesthetics to name a few instances, is brought about as a consequence of the psychological age. We have come to realize that both science and myth "are composed sets of statements; the statements are `moves' made by the players within the framework of generally applicable rules; these rules are specific to each particular kind of knowledge, and the `moves' judged to be `good' in one cannot be of the same type as those judged `good' in another, unless it happens that way by chance."36 This is to say that, contemporary thought has come to recognize `scientific progress' does not necessarily proceed in a rational manner with any inherent logic (Kuhn).
The recognition of the fundamentally imaginal nature of all discourses, whether they be scientific or theological in nature, results in not only a challenge to the authority of such narratives, but also places all knowledge on a level playing-field. All thought is, in this sense, radically relativized. This state of affairs, however, is not necessarily nihilistic. Tarnas notes one aspect of postmodernity that attests to this assertion: a spirit of reintegration, or the re-emergence of Romanticism in western thought.
A further result of postmodernity appears in how we understand aesthetics. Lasch claims that postmodernity began with the onset of the end of an aesthetics of representation and formalism.37 Postmodernity embodies an understanding of aesthetics that emerges from a Freudian unconscious space which "(i) permits condensation and other contradictions; (ii) permits the mobility of cathectic energies and hence displacement; and which (iii) severs temporality from rule-boundedness."38 Postmodern aesthetics is called figural. It is considered to be a "doctrine which opposes the subordination of the image to the dictates of narrative meaning or representation; to language like rule-bound formalisms... [or] to the dictates of capitalism and the law of value."39 Postmodern aesthetic sensibility draws on the "uncoded and semicoded libido in the unconscious to produce a literature and fine arts that breaks with the formalism of modernity."40 It reaches past such abstractions as language "to the real, the material, to sensation...."41 Postmodern aesthetics is thus thought to be based in the libido and "operates from a position of sensation."42 The further postmodern art is from representation, the higher its affective appeal.43
We might say, then, that Lasch's characterization of postmodern aesthetics is one that challenges the tradition of differentiating between the conscious and the unconscious, between language and image, between cool rationality and passionate feeling. By referring to the Freudian unconscious, the postmodern aesthetic suggests that modernity's style of representation is something that is based in rules that restrict the flow of ideas and affects. Postmodernity's metaphorical emphasis on the unconscious helps to provide space for contemplating our imaginative natures as well as providing an unprecedented potential for legitimating the imagination. Hence, postmodern aesthetics, insofar as its approach is influenced by the unconscious, is based in a cultural paradigm of de-differentiation.44 This paradigm challenges the autonomy and primacy of the rational mind; it suggests that there is no strict differentiation per se between rationality and fantasy or, by extension, self and other.
To Tarnas, if the task of the modern world view was to move towards human freedom, autonomy from nature, toward individuation from the collective, then it may well be the task of the postmodern mind to find a means of reconciling the separated, autonomous individual with what Tarnas calls the "universal matrix." That is, "the universal and the individual are reconciled. The suffering, alienation, and death are now comprehended as necessary for birth, for creation of the self: O Felix Culpa."45
The creation of self that Tarnas speaks of is to be found in a "participatory conception" of the cosmos which suggests that "nature's unfolding truth emerges only with the active participation of the human mind. Nature's reality is not merely phenomenal, nor is it independent and objective; rather, it is something that comes into being through the very act of human cognition."46 From this point of view, nature impregnates everything and the human mind is an "expression of nature's essential being."47
The recourse to nature, to a participatory relationship with the world, is something that is indicative of the Romanticism found in some areas of postmodern thought. Tarnas notes that the old spirit of Romanticism has "reemerged with new vigor."48 In contrast to the deconstructive impulse, Tarnas claims that as much as postmodernity implies unmasking it also engenders a tendency towards "radical integration and reconciliation."49 For Tarnas, because thoughtful postmodern individuals are faced with a differentiated and problematic intellectual situation, they are engaged in the "task of evolving a flexible set of premises and perspectives that would not reduce or suppress the complexity and multiplicity of human realities, yet could also serve to mediate, integrate, and clarify."50
As can be imagined, the disintegrative and integrative characteristics of postmodern thought demand the re-evaluation of selfhood as it has been conceived in the western world. Rather than continue to understand self as separated from nature, postmodern models of self are based in a notion of our connectedness or participation with the world.51 Rather than continue to divide the world and self into the conceptual categories formed by Enlightenment thought, postmodernity brings about the collapse of such categories as the rational and the nonrational, consciousness and unconsciousness, imagination and language. Furthermore, the challenge to the means of legitimating knowledge has brought about tremendous challenges to such traditional cultural edifices such as the church, the state, the university.
Postmodern thought may also be characterized as being in the process of realizing that self can be considered a religious category. That self can constitute a religious category is evident when one considers the fact that nearly all religious systems have some concept about what constitutes a human being, both physically and metaphysically, whether that system employs the terms soul, anima, psyche, atman, or spirit, to name a few instances. Moreover, Tarnas points out that the cultural and intellectual role of religion has also been radically altered by postmodern thought. Religion, he claims, has been "drastically affected by the secularizing and pluralistic developments of the modern age, but while in most respects the influence of institutionalized religion has continued to decline, the religious sensibility itself seems to have been revitalized by the newly ambitious intellectual circumstances of the postmodern era."52 He claims that there has been an increase in spiritual autonomy as well as the development of new forms of religions orientation as a result of the deinstutionalization of traditional spirituality.53
According to Tarnas, the postmodern thinker recognizes religion "as a fundamental human activity in which every society and every individual symbolically engages the ultimate nature of being."54 Like Miller's comments in The New Polytheism, to Tarnas the Nietzschean death of God represents the attempt to re-conceive self "as permitting the emergence of a more authentic experience of the numinous, a larger sense of deity."55 Rather than continue to repress the feminine, the natural, the anima mundi, the postmodern west is developing a theory of participation mystique with nature, with the soul of the world, "of the community of being, of the all-pervading, of mystery and ambiguity, of imagination, emotion, instinct, body, nature, woman."56 This is the Romantic thrust of postmodernity.57
For postmodern thinkers, it is the things we learn from the stories of various religious systems in our musings on the activities of the gods and goddesses that "requires of us that we seek to take into account their pertinence to our involvements with one another and to our relation to the natural world, and not only to our inner lives."58 It is through our many various experiences of self and through reflection upon such experiences that we learn to re-connect (as suggested by the Latin religio) to the communities around and within us. This, I believe, is a means of bringing the sacred back to the human being. This is also why self must be considered a religious category.
Following the characterizations of the postmodern genre as provided by Lyotard, Lasch, and Tarnas, we may conclude that Hillman belongs to the postmodern genre. He not only challenges the legitimation of such traditional areas of thought such as psychology and implicitly self, he also advocates the collapse of such rigidly dualistic boundaries as self and other, or what is conscious and unconscious. Furthermore, we can find in archetypal psychology aspects of Tarnas's romantic impulse: emphasis on the role of imagination, on the sacred, on community, and on participation in the world.
The postmodernity of Hillman's work has already been remarked upon by several authors: Bernie Neville, in "The Charms of Hermes: Hillman, Lyotard, and the Postmodern Condition," notes that any one familiar with Hillman is familiar with the postmodern condition.59 Neville claims postmodernity is characterized as that "which challenges the supremacy of reason and the logic of materialism, [and] points to the paradoxes and ambiguities which are characteristic of post-rationalist thought...."60 Neville finds Hillman's focus on images, relativism, multi-perspectivism, as well as "complexification and constant self deconstruction" to belong to postmodern thought. He writes: "the postmodern mind's mode of dealing with reality is inclined to be aesthetic rather than rational, more comfortable dealing with images than with ideas, inclined also to give direct subjective (even mystical) experience a validity that it seems to have lost some time ago."61
What Neville brings to our attention is the aesthetic challenges of postmodernity, as noted by Lasch, which is a decisive aspect to Hillman's psychology. Archetypal psychology is a psychology of the soul, which resides in the heart. As noted, Hillman believes that it is the soul's spontaneous response to the images presented to it that moves the heart, that brings aesthetic and affective value to the world. Neville's comments recall Tarnas' observation about the integrative or Romantic tendencies of postmodernity. Neville writes: "Hillman avoids such nihilism (of postmodernity) by insisting that all perspectives are to be fully valued."62
Richard Tarnas also notes that Hillman's thought is postmodern in nature. He writes that the work of James Hillman articulates a "postmodern" perspective in regard to the recognition of "the primacy of the psyche and the imagination, and the irreducible psychic reality and potency of the archetypes, but, unlike Jung, largely avoiding metaphysical or theological statements in favour of a full measure of psyche in all its endless and rich ambiguity."63 For Tarnas, it had to be the "fate and burden of depth psychology" to mediate "the modern mind's access to archetypal forces and realities that reconnect the individual self with the world, dissolving the dualistic world view."64 This, as I shall demonstrate, is what Hillman attempts to do.
Feminist thought, too, is considered by most scholars to be postmodern. Tarnas writes: "postmodern critical thought has encouraged a vigorous rejection of the entire Western intellectual "canon" as long defined and privileged by a more or less exclusively male, white, European elite."65 Tarnas believes contemporary feminist thought to be postmodern insofar as it is not only subversive of all paradigms, but demonstrates the aforementioned romantic impulse. He, in fact, suggests that "Nowhere is this dynamic tension between the deconstructive and the integrative is more dramatically in evidence than in the rapidly expanding body of work produced by women informed by feminism."66 Tarnas believes that when feminism is considered as a whole, we will find that its particular perspective has "brought forth perhaps the most vigorous, subtle and radically critical analysis of conventional intellectual and cultural assumptions in all of contemporary scholarship."67
One consequence of such feminist scholarship has been the deconstruction and the re-conception of traditional oppositions and dualisms, thus allowing "the contemporary mind to consider less-dichotomized perspectives that could not have been envisioned within previous interpretative frameworks."68 Here we have the suggestion that some aspects of feminist scholarship is romantic in nature. Rosemary Radford Ruether also notes that there is a romantic movement in contemporary feminist thought about religion. In Sexism and God-Talk, Ruether offers a typology of feminist thought about religion. In this typology she characterizes romantic feminism as finding its definition of femaleness (of self) in what she calls "spiritual femininity, that is, intuitive spirituality, altruism, emotional sensitivity...."69 What Ruether notes is that a romantic impulse can be found in some areas of contemporary feminist scholarship about religion.
Because both archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist thought can be characterized as postmodern (they both evidence the deconstructive and the reconstructive impulses), I believe it is appropriate that they converse over the issue of self. This is so because not only is Hillman interested in re-defining how we approach the human psyche and self, many contemporary feminists are also seriously concerned with achieving a vision of selfhood that escapes the bindings of traditional, patriarchal categories of thought.
Several key points have emerged from this characterization of the postmodern genre: first, in contrast with modern epistemologies which are characterized as pertaining to autonomous, grand-narratives based in realism and representation, in rationalism and positivism, all representing the style of grand-narrative found in Christian, or monotheistic, discourse; it is an enterprise that emphasizes the individual and social construction of self through imaginative process. Hillman differentiates himself from these epistemologies: the metanarratives he contests are those that belong to the monotheistic consciousness; for the feminist scholars, to whom I refer, the metanarratives being contested are those that lead to a sense of self as separated--christianity and patriarchy.
Second, there is a romantic impulse in postmodern thought (this is an idea confirmed by Tarnas). After all is said and done, the deconstructive approach leaves much to be desired. It is the re-emergence of romantic sensibilities that brings to the ruins left by deconstruction the mortar with which a new structure may be built. This romantic impulse is evident, furthermore, in the postmodern aesthetic sensibility. For Lasch, postmodern aesthetics refers to an appreciation of the Freudian dream space. A reinvigorated aesthetic appreciation of the realm of imagination brings with it a break from the formalism of Modernity, it refers to the unknown, that which has yet to be discovered.
Even though all these characteristics will become apparent over the course of the text, it is not necessary to constantly point out their specific postmodern character--this might prove too distracting. Furthermore, it might take something away from the style of thought represented by the various persons to whom I refer. I leave the discovery of the postmodern characteristics of Hillman and the various feminist scholars of religion to the readers and to the conclusion, where I will revisit the idea of a postmodern self in a tentative exercise of identifying its primary characteristics. What I offer is a description of two separate, yet confluent, expressions of postmodern thought about selfhood. In characterizing the postmodern idea of self, I assess archetypal psychology with a critical eye informed by feminist thought.
In order to explore the development of contemporary ideas of selfhood, it is necessary to outline archetypal psychology's critique of traditional psychology as suffering from such biases as enlightenment theology, philosophy, and science (Chapters One and Two). Hillman is a good guide in this enterprise. This leads to a critique of the Self in contemporary feminist thought about religion (Chapter Three). Catherine Keller's From a Broken Web, is a good example of a feminist analysis of selfhood which is critical of the same areas of thought as is Hillman: theology, philosophy, and psychology. Chapter Four looks at Hillman's position on the mind-body separation in the light of contemporary feminist insight. Chapter Five serves to tie together the common critiques and perspectives found in both archetypal psychology and contemporary feminist scholarship, as representative of the postmodern genre.
Finally, a definition of the term self in the context of this dissertation is in order. When I write `Self' or `the Self' I am referring to the reified, singular, separated, and static self that emerged as a result of modern paradigms and Enlightenment thought. In comparison, I also employ the word `self.' Self, with the small `s', refers to that sense of self that I argue is emerging in contemporary western society. Furthermore, this spelling of self is often used in place of Hillman's preferred word when referring to human agency: soul. For Hillman, soul implies many more things than the objectified Self of Modernity. Soul includes the mysterious and the religious. For Hillman, soul suggests that there is much more to the psyche than the purely rational agent of ego-based psychologies.
For Hillman, the modern idea of Self he contests is one that he often characterizes as monotheistic. For feminist theorists, the contested idea of self is characterized as one based in patriarchy and, for certain individuals, Christianity. In response to the respective critiques of the monotheistic and the Christian idea of self, we find Hillman speaking about human agency as inherently polytheistic and feminists speaking about human agency in post-patriarchal or post-christian terms. The titles of these alternate ideas of self may differ, the techniques may diverge, but the two images of this post-modern self are compatible.
1 David Miller. The New Polytheism: The Rebirth of the Gods and Goddesses. (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 2.
2 Ibid., ix.
4 Ibid., 5. Miller is quick to point out, however, that this polytheistic state of being is not pathological in nature but rather bestows some sort of survival value to an individual.
6 Ibid., 6.
7 Ibid., 5f. I must disagree with Miller about these two points. In regard to the former, to state that the powers and forces can affect society but cannot be affected by society is absurd. This attitude is one that is characteristic of Jungian metaphysics, which, in its attempt to bestow transcendence to archetypes, ignores the fact that humans influence one another and the world about us. Naomi Goldenberg, in Returning Words to Flesh: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Resurrection of the Body (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.), notes that classical Jungian theory asks us to settle for mystification rather than seriously considering that "archetypes are facts of the mind, not of a transcendent reality. They are soft facts, conditioned facts. They change when minds change." (103) Thus Jungian metaphysics "hampers our ability to think clearly and effectively about psychological and social problems." (97) In regard to Miller's latter point, I argue that if society can and does affect our perception of the powers or aspects of our personalities that we metaphorically call the gods and goddesses, then it must follow that, as society changes, the means of expressing these metaphors must also change to some degree. Now, whether or not fragmentation and anarchism necessarily follows is another question--a question of continuity. If, on the one hand, we were to perceive any change in the metaphorical expression of these aspects as a threat to the continuity of the status quo, we may assume that Miller is correct. Whereas, if we choose to see such alterations in the means of metaphorically representing these powers as an inevitable part of the continuous development of a society, then they must function for that society in some way and hence they are not necessarily fragmented or anarchic. Rather, the most we can say is that they have been altered from their original manifestation.
8 Ibid., 11.
9 Ibid., 7.
10 Ibid., 26.
11 Ibid., 27.
12 Ibid., 3.
13 Ibid., 16-24.
14 Miller notes that although we may only be gripped by the story of one god or goddess at a time, we must be polytheistic in order to speak about that god or goddess "since the story may involve marriages with other Gods, parentage by still others, offspring of Godlings and maiden Goddesses." Ibid., 33.
15 Ibid., ix.
16 Ibid., 40. My emphasis.
17 Ibid., 42.
18 Ibid., 35.
19 Ibid., 37.
20 Ibid., 37.
22 Jean-François Lyotard. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translated by Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984 ), vii.
23 Ibid., xxiii.
25 Ibid., xxiv.
26 Ibid., xii.
27 Scott Lasch. Sociology of Postmodernism. (New York: Routledge, 1989), 262.
29 Lasch writes this: "Full modernity or complete modernism presupposes the absolute autonomy of fields. This never in fact takes place, in that the fields are always sites of struggle for the stake of more or less autonomization." (Ibid., 263.)
31 Lasch, in fact, writes this: "If modernization means the differentiation of fields, postmodernization means at least the partial collapse of some fields into other fields. Ibid., 252.
33 Richard Tarnas. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped our World View. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991), 398.
34 Ibid., 401.
36 Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, 27.
37 Lasch, Sociology of Postmodernism, 118.
40 Ibid., 99.
44 Ibid., 179.
45 Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, 433.
46 Ibid., 343.
48 Ibid., 407.
50 Ibid., 409.
51 Ibid., 434.
52 Ibid., 403.
54 Ibid., 404.
56 Ibid., 442.
57 Richard Tarnas characterizes postmodern Romanticism as follows: "In contrast to the scientist's quest for general laws defining a single objective reality, the Romantic gloried in the unbounded multiplicity of realities pressing in on his subjective awareness, and in the complex uniqueness of each object, event, and experience presented to his soul. Truth discovered in divergent perspectives was valued above the monolithic and univocal ideal of empirical science." (Ibid., 368.)
58 Christine Downing, Gods in our Midst. (New York: Crossroads, 1993), 22.
59 Bernie Neville. "The Charms of Hermes: Hillman, Lyotard, and the Postmodern Condition." Journal of Analytical Psychology 37(2):337.
60 Ibid., 339.
61 Ibid., 39.
62 Ibid., 352.
63 Tarnas, Passion of the Western Mind, 425.
64 Ibid., 432.
65 Ibid., 400.
66 Ibid., 407.
67 Ibid., 408.
68 Ibid. Naomi Goldenberg inadvertently agrees with Tarnas over this point. She thinks that postmodern thought has much to contribute to the de-mystification of traditional categories of thought. She notes that deconstruction, rather than further devastating the postmodern condition, will serve to continually remind us of "the human lives and human limits behind all the theories that have ever been thought." (24) To continue to mystify western philosophy, she continues, will not provide us the contact with one another that we need. "We must see these theories as man-made in order to assess them properly and to give us practice in looking at one another." (24) Once we can see through our theories, she implies, it may become possible to re-imagine the world in such a way as to ameliorate many of the problems that beset us today. Naomi Goldenberg, Returning Words to Flesh: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Resurrection of the Body. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990).
69 Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1983) 104.