Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Jungian archaeology and the Palaeolithic Venus: part two

Venus of Laussel, cave art, 23rd millenium BC
V. Honest to Goddess

Thomas gets to the crux of the matter when he says:

"Critics of Gimbutas’ archaeomythological approach suggested there was little hard evidence to justify her interpretive leaps about a pervasive Goddess culture. (The oldest European Palaeolithic art is now thought to be a red disk and outlines of human hands in Northern Spain, but thus far no one’s suggested Ice Age sun or hand-worshipping cults). In any case, despite a six decade career devoted to unravelling the mysteries of the past, Gimbutas received somewhat of a critical lambasting and, like many other successful but decidedly old school archaeologists before her, saw some of her less controversial ideas too easily written off, partly because of shelf-date and partly because of mean-spirited professional jealousy." [some spellings changed]

Yet we can delve further into these topics using a Jungian perspective: "hard evidence" signifies an extraverted materialistic viewpoint and its possessors are often drawn more to archaeology than to mythology and even history. These same people only talk about religion and mythology in archaeology by using the term "ritual" as a ritual is a real-world enactment, and not its underlying, non-material, philosophy. Both "goddess" and "worshipping" are open to multiple interpretations, not just in the quoted passage, but in their use by critics of Gimbatus and even by Gimbutas herself. It is too easy to take modern concepts and project them backward. The concept of "sacredness" could well omit deities and worship and be more akin, in Palaeolithic times, to the Polynesian concept "Mana".

Taking the female principle more generally, Jung has this to say:
"In the case of the son, the projection-making factor is identical with the mother-imago, and this is consequently taken to be the real mother. The projection can only be dissolved when the son sees that in the realm of his psyche there is an imago not only of the mother but of the daughter, the sister, the beloved, the heavenly goddess, and the chthonic Baubo. Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the carrier and embodiment of this omnipresent and ageless image, which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man. It belongs to him, this perilous image of Woman; she stands for the loyalty which in the interests of life he must sometimes forgo; she is the much needed compensation for the risks, struggles, sacrifices that all end in disappointment; she is the solace for all the bitterness of life. And, at the same time, she is the great illusionist, the seductress, who draws him into life with her Maya— and not only into life’s reasonable and useful aspects, but into its frightful paradoxes and ambivalences where good and evil, success and ruin, hope and despair, counterbalance one another. Because she is his greatest danger she demands from a man his greatest, and if he has it in him she will receive it.
"This image is “My Lady Soul,” as Spitteler called her. I have suggested instead the term “anima,” as indicating something specific, for which the expression “soul” is too general and too vague."
Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 2): Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self: paragraphs 24-5
Moving into the more recent mythosphere, Jung also says:

"To the men of antiquity the anima appeared as a goddess or a witch, while for medieval man the goddess was replaced by the Queen of Heaven and Mother Church." 
Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 1): Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious: paragraph 61

The "multi-breasted" Ephesian Diana
Photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Joseph Campbell, in The Power of Myth, p.44  reveals the syncretistic events that led to what Jung had to say about the Queen of Heaven and Mother Church:

"MOYERS: So when the Council of Ephesus met in the year 431 after the death of Christ, and proclaimed Mary to be the Mother of God, it wasn't the first time?

"CAMPBELL: No, in fact that argument had been going on in the Church for some time. But the place where this decision was made, at Ephesus, happened at that time to be the greatest temple city in the Roman Empire of the Goddess Artemis, or Diana. And there is a story that when the council was in session, arguing this point, the people of Ephesus formed picket lines and shouted in praise of Mary, "The Goddess, the Goddess, of course she's the Goddess.""

So why was syncretism not considered by the critics of Gimbutas' theories? There is much more to that than just "mean-spirited professional jealousy." Not only were the people of Ephesus clearly engaging in metaphor. Mary was, in reality, not Diana, Artemis, or the Great Mother Goddess. Even Diana and Artemis are not just Latin and Greek names for the same goddess, but different goddesses that had become syncretized through some shared characteristics. A materialistic mentality rejects metaphor and it also requires proofs linked as if a chain. The mind does not work in such a manner, but the extraverted materialist never looks inward and that sort of content remains unconscious.

Richard J. Bernstein's critical pragmatic fallibilism is a more realistic way that the mind works when it not being repressed by materialistic and linear thinking:
"The philosopher who most carefully and penetratingly distinguishes epistemological skepticism from human fallibilism is Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce criticizes the picture of scientific reasoning that represents it as a linear movement from premises to conclusions or from individual "facts" to generalizations. In its place he emphasizes the multiple strands and diverse types of evidence, data, hunches, and arguments used to support a scientific hypothesis or theory. Any one of these strands may be weak in itself and insufficient to support the proposed theory, but collectively they provide a stronger warrant for rational belief than any single line of argument -- like a strong cable that is made up of multiple weak strands. This shift in characterizing scientific argumentation is one of the reasons Peirce so emphasized the community of inquirers -- for it is only in and through such a critical community that one can adequately test the collective strength of such multiple argumentation." 
Beyond objectivism and relativism: science, hermeneutics, and praxis, Philadelphia, 1983, p.68.
 Any sort of community of community of enquirers is eliminated through "mean-spirited professional jealousy" because the profession has a tendency to form as a clique, in essence, acting as a single individual where inward-looking is repressed, and this can then manifest itself as a neurosis such as inflation (as I spoke of in part one). The best scientific researchers, however, always follow the cable method that Peirce spoke of. It is just that they then eliminate mention of all of that process in their reports by hiding it within their hypothesizing process. What is left, however, could rarely ever be accomplished without such cable reasoning. I think it was Konrad Lorenz who spoke of students wishing that if only they could come up with such hypotheses (as far as they are stated in the literature), then they, too, could make such great discoveries. Being unconscious, the hidden and most important contents of the true hypothesis then becomes "magic" to them.

I will cover the next two sections in Thomas' paper tomorrow.

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