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Mythic Consciousness and Matriarchal Theories

Informacje ogólne

Kod przedmiotu: 3501-MCMT-S Kod Erasmus / ISCED: 08.1 / (0223) Filozofia i etyka
Nazwa przedmiotu: Mythic Consciousness and Matriarchal Theories
Jednostka: Instytut Filozofii
Punkty ECTS i inne: (brak)
zobacz reguły punktacji
Język prowadzenia: angielski
Rodzaj przedmiotu:


Założenia (opisowo):

A good ability with English.

Tryb prowadzenia:

w sali

Skrócony opis:

Human consciousness and human culture develop together. The activities of human beings create alterations in the objective living conditions, and human consciousness then „lives its way into” the newly formed reality and builds upon it. The “master key” to this process is imagination. Given what we have created, it is evident that human beings find ways to reach forward into the possible, into the future, and to give structure and meaning to possibilities that are not yet actual, and then to act in ways that bring the imagined possibilities into concrete being. How do human beings imagine what is not present to them, what might be, but is not?

Seminar will by conducted by PROF. RANDALL AUXIER, between 21st March and 18th May (Tuesdays, 15.00-18.00, room 102; Thursdays, 17.00-20.00, room 108 – Institute of Philosophy).

Pełny opis:

Human consciousness and human culture develop together. The activities of human beings create alterations in the objective living conditions, and human consciousness then „lives its way into” the newly formed reality and builds upon it. The “master key” to this process is imagination. Given what we have created, it is evident that human beings find ways to reach forward into the possible, into the future, and to give structure and meaning to possibilities that are not yet actual, and then to act in ways that bring the imagined possibilities into concrete being. How do human beings imagine what is not present to them, what might be, but is not? At what point did human reflection become powerful enough to break the barrier of the duration limits of present experience? At what point did active imagination become capable of projecting images not in the senses such that they could be used as repeated points of reference i.e., when did memory break the bonds of sensuous experience?

We will study this process, its structure, its genesis, and its importance, with special focus upon the pivotal role played by myth-making. The origins of human consciousness in myth are notoriously difficult to study and must confront the contention, argued by many, that the form of human consciousness that creates civilization is predominantly feminine, or based on mother-love, or even matriarchal (the theory was first worked out and defended by Johann Jakob Bachofen, the Swiss jurist and classicist, in the 1860s, and has been taken up variously by subsequent scholars in a number of fields – the theory discredited by many modern scholars mainly due to inappropriate methods applied to it). The mystery surrounds the origin of reflection and the reversal of reflection and expression in the decline of pre-historic (perhaps matriarchal) civilization, and the emergence, over thousands of years, of the form of civilization dominated by reflection that is now called „patriarchal” by some. It is my contention that all the cultural functions of imagination have a basis in mythic consciousness (although I don’t say they are reducible to it, nor do I claim that imagination is the sole cognitive power in modern humans). Mythic consciousness projects imagination into the possible. I argue that reason itself is a highly refined imaginative function, as is memory. Understanding and judgment appear to be independent of imagination per se, in modern humans, and to arise in connection with the power of reflection. Thus, an ontology of the power of reflection is crucial to grasping mythic consciousness. Reflection and mythic expression appear to exist in a creative tension.


- March 21: The Origins of the Philosophy of Myth and the „Science” of Imagination. Required reading: Vico, The New Science, pp. 3-26, “Idea of the Work.” Suggested reading: Verene, Vico’s Science of Imagination, pp. 17-35.

- March 23: Imaginative Universals and Mythic Consciousness Vico. Required reading: Vico pp. 60-95, 109-178. Suggested reading: Verene pp. 65-95;; and Auxier, “Imagination and Historical Knowledge,” pp. 26-49.

- March 28: The Art. Of Memory and Poetic Wisdom. Required reading: Vico pp. 257-297; Suggested reading: Verene pp. 96-126; and Auxier, “The River: A Vichian Dialogue,” pp. 85-97.

- March 30: Schema and Symbol: Kant’s Theory of Imagination. Required reading: Critique of Pure Reason, A95-A110; and Critique of Judgment, §§20 (pp. 89-90), §26 (pp. 107-114), §§39-41 (pp. 157-165), §49, in part (181-185), §57 Comment, in part (pp. 216-217), §59 (pp. 225-230), §85 (pp. 324-330), §88 Comment, in part (pp. 349-350).

- April 4: Schelling’s Philosophy of Mythology. Required reading: Historical-critical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mythology, Lectures 1-3 (pp. 7-50), 5 (pp. 69-84); suggested reading, Lecture 8 (pp. 123-138).

- April 6: Bachofen’s Theory of Mother Right. Required reading: Myth, Religion, and Mother Right,; “Symbol and Myth” pp. 48-50 and pp. 69-207. Suggested reading: Intro. by Joseph Campbell.

- April 11: Nietzsche. The Birth of Tragedy as a Critique of Matriarchy. Required reading: Nietzsche „Attempt at Self-criticism,” and sections 1-3, 5, 7, 11-12, 16-17, 21-22, 24-25; and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, „Of Old and Young Women”; „Of the Adder’s Bite”; „Of Marriage and Children”; „Of Poets”; and „Of Old and New Law Tables.”

- April 20: Harrison. The Hymn of the Kouretes and the Omphalos. Required reading: Themis, Introduction, chs. 1 (pp. 1-29), 9-11 (pp. 364-535). Suggested reading: Harrison, Prolegomena, ch. 6.

- April 25: Briffault. An Anthropological Story about Matriarchy and Patriarchy. Required reading: The Mothers (1931 abridgement), chs. 4-9 (pp. 99-256); and chs. 11-12, (pp. 273-314). This is easy reading.

- April 27: Cassirer. Symbolic Forms, Language, and Myth. Required reading: PSF1, pp. 73-197. Suggested reading: Cassirer, “Descartes, Leibniz and Vico,” pp. 95-107.

- May 4: Cassirer. Mythic Consciousness. Required reading: PSF2, pp. xiii-261.

- May 9: Jung. Archetypes, The Mother, and the Collective Unconscious.” Required reading: from Collected Works, vol. 9, Part 1: „Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” „Concerning the Archetypes, with Special Reference to the Anima Concept,” “Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype” (vol. 9:1, pp. 3-41, 54-110); “The Psychological Aspects of the Kore” (182-203). Suggested reading: „Aion: The Phenomenology of the Self” and “Marriage as a Psychological Relationship” (The Portable Jung, 139-177).

- May 11: Neumann. The Mother Archetype, Transformational Mysteries, and Feminine Polarity. Required reading: The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype, Parts 1 and 2, in part (pp. 3-119); suggested reading, pp. 120-208). There are many illustrations and much of this writing is descriptive. This is not a great amount of reading.

- May 16: Langer. Ritual, Myth, and Music. Required reading: Philosophy in a New Key, chs. 1-4, 6-7 (pp. 3-102; 144-203); suggested reading, chs. 5 (pp. 103-143) and 8 (pp. 204-245). This is not difficult reading.

- May 18: Hadot, Irigaray, Sloterdijk, and Auxier. The Idea of Nature, Sex, and The Critique of Culture. Required reading: Hadot, The Veil of Isis, Parts IV-VII, chs. 9-19 (pp. 91-243); Irigaray, je, tu, nous, chs. 1-5, 16 (pp. 15-50, 133-136). Suggested reading: Sloterdijk, Spheres, volume 1: Bubbles, „The Retreat within the Mother” (pp. 269-290) and „Excursis 10: Matris in gremio” (pp. 619-624) ; Auxier, „The Death of Masculine Desire: A Supplement to Irigaray.”


All figures except one have articles at Read their Wikipedia pages. Where an on-line text is available, the link is included. Texts not available on-line will be provided. Students are not required to read English translations where they have the ability to read the authors in their original German, French, and Italian. Polish translations, where available, of any of these materials will also suffice.

Auxier, Randall. “Imagination and Historical Knowledge in Vico: A Critique of Leon Pompa's Recent Work¬,” Humanitas, 10:1 (1997), 26-49.

------------. „The Death of Maculine Desire,” unpublished article, supplied by instructor.

------------. „In the Merry Old Matriarchy of Oz,” in The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy: Wicked Wisdom of the West, eds. R.E. Auxier, and P. Seng (Chicago: Open Court, 2008), pp. 331-350.

------------. “The River: A Vichian Dialogue on Humanistic Education,” in Humanitas, vol. 15:2 (fall 2002), 85-97.

Bachofen, Johann Jakob. Myth, Religion, and Mother Right. Trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967).

Briffault, Robert. The Mothers: A Study of the Origins of Sentiments and Institutions (New York: Macmillan, 1931).

Cassirer, Ernst. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, 3 vols. Trans. Ralph Mannheim. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955-59, 1996.

Vol. 1:

Vol. 2:

Vol. 3:

Gimbutas, Marija. The Civilization of the Goddess (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991).

Hadot, Pierre. The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History and Idea of Nature. Trans. Michael Chase (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).

Harrison, Jane Ellen. Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion. 2nd ed. (London: Merlin Press, 1963 [1927]).

Harrison, Jane Ellen. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. 3rd ed. (New York: Meridian Books, 1955 [1922]).

Irigaray, Luce. je, tu, nous: Toward a Culture of Difference. Trans. Alison Martin (London: Routledge, 1993).

Jung, Carl Gustav. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Collected Works, 9.1 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1959).

Jung, Carl Gustav. The Portable Jung. ed. Joseph Campbell (New York: Penguin, 1976).

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgment. Trans. Werner Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987).

---------. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Werner Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996). A95-A110. The Pluhar translation is preferred but the whole is not available on-line. Most of whatI am assigning (pp. 150-160), is here, but some pages are missing:

Here is the Guyer and Wood translation (pp. 226-234), which is not as good, but acceptable. Kemp Smith is also acceptable. Do not read the Mueller or Meiklejohn translations.

Langer, Suzanne. Philosophy in a New Key. 3rd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957).,%20Suzanne%20K.%20Langer_djvu.txt

Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of an Archetype. Trans. Ralph Manheim. 2nd Ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music. Trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1967).

----------. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale (New York: Penguin Books, 1961).

Schelling, F.W.J. Historical-critical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mythology, trans. Mason Richey and Markus Zisselberger (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2007).

Sloterdijk, Peter. Spheres, Volume 1, Microspherology: Bubbles. Trans. Wieland Hoban (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011).

Verene, Donald Phillip. Vico’s Science of Imagination. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983.

Vico, Giambattista. The New Science (1744). Trans. T.G. Bergin and M.H. Fisch. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1968.

All suggested readings will either be available on-line or will be provided by the instructor.

Efekty kształcenia:

By the end of the course, students will have analyzed and learned thoroughly the structures associated with mythic consciousness, and the ways in which they have been analyzed by numerous thinkers. Students will be aware of the differences between theorists who adopt mainstream („patriarchal”) methods and those who adopt less popular theories. The course will familiarize students with the philosophy, phenomenology, and theory of imagination as related to the origins of civilization. Students will be able to describe intelligently, in writing and verbally, the relationships between and among the various time periods and sub-cultures, and will be able to show the relationship of imaginative intentions and consequences of action to human cultural development. The course will improve the writing of students in English and prepare them to express themselves in dialogue. Each student will also have specialized knowledge of Giambattista Vico, F.W.J. Schelling, Ernst Cassirer, J.J. Bachofen, Jane Ellen Harrison, Susanne Langer, and other influential voices in the development of the philosophy of mythic consciousness.

Metody i kryteria oceniania:

1. Final Paper: Each student will prepare a final research paper of not less than 12 pp. (double-spaced, 12 point) on a topic approved by the instructor. Students should meet with the instructor during office hours to discuss the topic for the final paper early in the course. All papers are to use Chicago style documentation.

2. Class Activity based on written questions. A fuller description is given below.

The class will be in a seminar format, with lectures and discussion in the usual fashion. Each class will be divided into two halves. Each half will consist of a lecture, a call for questions specific to the lecture, and then a guided discussion in which students will contribute their thoughts on the assigned texts for discussion by the full group. The prepared assignment for each class will follow this format:

To facilitate discussion, students will be responsible for formulating written questions from one of the readings for each class meeting. Students should send me their questions for each class meeting no later than 12 hours prior to the meeting. This is not difficult to do once you get used to it. The address is Students should also bring a printed copy of their questions to the class meeting, and be prepared to read the question if called upon. It may not be possible to address every question in every class meeting, so students will turn in their printed copies at the end of class and each new class will begin with a summary from the instructor of the important questions that were not handled during the previous class. This assignment begins with the first meeting.

Questions must be formulated according to the following guidelines:

All questions must begin with a context summary of two or three sentences (including explicit reference to the relevant pages), and must be formulated as one of the following four types of questions: internal, external, practical or comparative. Internal questions aim at simply understanding the theory we are studying. External questions analyze and criticize the bases, assumptions, and philosophical implications of that theory. Practical questions deal with the consequences, theoretical and practical, of proceeding upon the assumed truth of a given theory. Examples of these three types are provided below:

I. Internal Questions:

1. What is “poetic” according to Vico in this reading?

2. What is the symbol according to Cassirer in this reading?

3. What is Harrison’s method in this reading?

4. How does a claim made in one part of Bachofen’s text relate to a claim made in another place?

II. External Questions:

1. Is Cassirer’s method self-consistent and does he always employ in his own thinking and reasoning the method he advocates?

2. According to what principles and assumptions is Vico’s method justified as “knowledge”?

3. What is assumed to be real and unreal in Schelling’s worldview as presented in this reading?

4. What criteria can we use to determine the truth or falsity of the central assertions in this reading?

5. Does Neumann employ his technical terminology consistently in this reading?

III. Practical Questions:

1. If Vico’s view is correct, then how would we explain a phenomenon like communication of moral ideals?

2. How would culture and politics be different if Cassirer’s view of the mythic world came to be accepted as true?

IV. Comparative questions bring together two or more views by comparing the answers to internal, external, or practical questions in two different readings. For example: “What is the relationship between the method in “The Idea of the Work and “Poetic Wisdom” in Vico’s New Science?” is a comparative internal question. Or, “Is Cassirer’s account of form in PSF1 consistent with his account of form in PSF2?” is a comparative external question. Or, “Does Vico’s New Science lead more readily to self-knowledge Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms?” Do Jung and Neumann agree on the nature of archetypes?” This is a comparative practical question.

A fuller explanation of how to carry out this assignment will be provided during the first class meeting.

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