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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Stargazing: Re-enchantment Through Language
by Farrar, Rebecca M., M.A., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2013, 73; 1545416
Abstract (Summary)

Modern, Western people often conceive the universe as a mindless void full of lifeless objects. This mistaken conception perpetuates a deep-seated loneliness and disconnection from the larger universe. German philosopher and sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920) used the term disenchantment to describe how modern humans experience the universe without any magical or mystical explanations for its or their own existence. Mythology, religion, philosophy, and science are all attempts to orient to myriad beings and the vast universe. Thus far, none of these endeavors has provided an adequate feeling of being at home in the universe.

Many scholars of language have attributed the disenchantment of the world with the invention of the alphabet and the formation of language. This thesis argues it was not language that separated humans from the universe, but instead a changing relationship to the stars. The works of philologist Owen Barfield (1898–1997) focus specifically on word etymology and offer insights into humanity's ever-evolving consciousness and correlating worldview orientations. His studies reveal meaningful correlations between the way humans think and their vocabularies.

Since the earliest recorded Proto-Indo-European language, Sanskrit, the word star has remained the same in its meaning and transliteration into English. Through a brief linguistic explanation of how the word star came into modern English, it is possible to appreciate not only its history, but the mystical power of the word itself. When correlated with humanity's most original worldview orientation, the word star brings back the language and consciousness of our early ancestors whose influence might otherwise be forgotten. Behind words and letters that seem to signify a lifeless, meaningless universe, is a worldview imbued with sacredness. This thesis argues for the revival and excavation of English etymologies (through Barfieldian philology) and an appreciation of language itself to move humanity towards a re-enchanted relationship with the stars and the larger universe.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McDermott, Robert
Commitee: Sherman, Jacob
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 52/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Philosophy, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Language, Linguistics, Barfield, Owen , Philology, Philosophy, Weber, Max
Publication Number: 1545416
ISBN: 978-1-303-39474-4
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