Sunday, June 06, 2004

Psychological polytheism

The Juggler links to a piece by a writer discovering the psychological polytheism of James Hillman.

"Hurray," I say. But I have to say too that Hillman's psychological writing takes some getting used to. The best introduction might be the collection A Blue Fire, introduced and edited by Thomas Moore.

And let me put in a plug for Ginette Paris' books Pagan Grace and Pagan Meditation too.

Psychological polytheism rejects the idea of a single, true "self," instead admitting that we all function as a collection of selves, Hillman seems to suggest too that "soul" (one of his favorite words, and used in his own way) is made over time rather than bestowed by a creator deity.

Hillman's thinking is often capital-A Archaic; in other words, more in line with the previous 30,000 years of human culture than with 20th-century psychology. But he also does what philosophers should do: tell you how to live. Here's a sample from the Scott London interview linked above:

Hillman: It's important to ask yourself, "How am I useful to others? What do people want from me?" That may very well reveal what you are here for.

London: You've written that "the great task of any culture is to keep the invisibles attached." What do you mean by that?

Hillman: It is a difficult idea to present without leaving psychology and getting into religion. I don't talk about who the invisibles are or where they live or what they want. There is no theology in it. But it's the only way we human beings can get out of being so human-centered: to remain attached to something other than humans.


Post a Comment

<< Home