Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Re-thinking mythological interpretation: A dialectical reading of Cupid and Psyche
by Ryder, Paul H., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2008, 255; 3746296
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation applies what David Miller has called “the third wave of Jungian thought” to a favorite depth psychological story: “Cupid and Psyche.” Through close examination of previous efforts to interpret Apuleius’ text, the dissertation displays the essential syntax and assumptions of textual interpretation practiced by “first” and “second” wave Jungians. Mythological interpretation from a Depth Psychological perspective has long relied on two assumptions to justify its efforts: first, myths can be interpreted as “collective dreams” in which character and plot can be searched for clues to the meaning of the composite dream-myth and secondly, that there is a deep link between the “meanings” discovered in such examinations and the everyday world in which we live. In this view, myths are archetypal lessons. The leading proponent of the third wave, Wolfgang Giegerich, explicitly challenges both of these assumptions. With respect to character and plot, Giegerich believes we need to see through not only to the archetype that guides a character or action but rather “all the way” through to the structure or syntax of the entire tale as the positions displayed by the characters move along their trajectories. He applies Hegel’s dialectical logic of position-negation-sublation-restoration to the logical structure of a tale under examination. This move results in interpretations that are less about theories, morals, or advice on psychological issues and more about aesthetics and the artistic expression of a truth. The final section of this dissertation is a performance of a “third-wave” interpretation that views the “Cupid and Psyche” tale as a portrait of beauty in which Venus, Psyche, and Proserpina’s box of beauty represent positions in a dialectic displaying the notion of Beauty refining and developing itself. Rather than seeking a tidy conclusion or supporting a specific theory, this reading attempts to satisfy on aesthetic grounds. It is a tale, after all, about Beauty. In the way that the development and display of art refines both the artist and its viewer, this style of mythological interpretation, by avoiding the concretizing reduction common to imagistic readings, deepens the subtlety of thinking in both performer and audience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee: Heller, Sophia, Mogenson, Greg
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Classical studies, Philosophy
Keywords: Cupid, Dialectics, Mythology, Psyche, Wolfgang giegerich
Publication Number: 3746296
ISBN: 978-1-339-39588-3
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