Ariadne's Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind

Ariadne's Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind

by Anthony Stevens
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691086613

ISBN-13: 9780691086613

Pub. Date: 04/02/2001

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Symbolism is the most powerful and ancient means of communication available to humankind. For centuries people have expressed their preoccupations and concerns through symbolism in the form of myths, stories, religions, and dreams. The meaning of symbols has long been debated among philosophers, antiquarians, theologians, and, more recently, anthropologists and

Overview

Symbolism is the most powerful and ancient means of communication available to humankind. For centuries people have expressed their preoccupations and concerns through symbolism in the form of myths, stories, religions, and dreams. The meaning of symbols has long been debated among philosophers, antiquarians, theologians, and, more recently, anthropologists and psychologists. In Ariadne's Clue, distinguished analyst and psychiatrist Anthony Stevens explores the nature of symbols and explains how and why we create the symbols we do.

The book is divided into two parts: an interpretive section that concerns symbols in general and a "dictionary" that lists hundreds of symbols and explains their origins, their resemblances to other symbols, and the belief systems behind them. In the first section, Stevens takes the ideas of C. G. Jung a stage further, asserting not only that we possess an innate symbol-forming propensity that exists as a creative and integral part of our psychic make-up, but also that the human mind evolved this capacity as a result of selection pressures encountered by our species in the course of its evolutionary history. Stevens argues that symbol formation has an adaptive function: it promotes our grasp on reality and in dreams often corrects deficient modes of psychological functioning. In the second section, Stevens examines symbols under four headings: "The Physical Environment," "Culture and Psyche," "People, Animals, and Plants," and "The Body." Many of the symbols are illustrated in the book's rich variety of woodcuts. From the ancient symbol of the serpent to the archetypal masculine and feminine, from the earth to the stars, from the primordial landscape of the savannah to the mysterious depths of the sea, Stevens traces a host of common symbols back through time to reveal their psychodynamic functioning and looks at their deep-rooted effects on the lives of modern men, women, and children.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691086613
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
04/02/2001
Series:
Mythos: The Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology Series
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
1,172,311
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.13(d)

Table of Contents

Contents
Acknowledgements vii
About This Book ix
PART I SYMBOLISM, EVOLUTION, AND PSYCHOLOGY
1 Ariadne's Clue 3
2 What is a Symbol? 12
3 The Evolution of Meaning 22
4 How Do SymbolsWork? 36
5 Basic Symbolic Themes 45
6 The Conjunction of Heaven and Earth 62
7 Living the Symbolic Life 77
PART II
THE EXPLANATORY THESAURUS
1 The Physical Environment 97
i Landscape 99
ii The psychic Compass 116
iii The Four Elements 123
iv alchemy 132
v Celestial Bodies 134
vi Colours 146
vii Buildings 150
viii Migration 1154
2 Culture and Psyche 161
i Religion and the Sacred 1170
ii Gods, Goddesses, and Demons 173
iii Creation Myths 195
iv Paradise and the Fall 200
v Heroes and Heroines 208
vi Initiation, Male and Female 2. 16
vii Eros and Psyche 220
viii Individuation and Transcendence 235
ix Death and Rebirth 256
x Morality 262
xi Sickness and Healing Z74
xii Tools, Weapons, Utensils, and Musical Instruments 280
xiii Transport 2911
xiv Performance and Ritual 298
3 People, Animals, and Plants 305
i Sex, Gender, Bonding, and Childrearing 306
ii Power: Dominance and Submission 323
iii Animals 332-
iv Monsters and Fabulous Beasts 367
v Plants, Fruits, and Trees 379
4 The Body 395
i Adornment, Clothes, and Nudity 396
ii Parts of the Body 401
iii Physical Activities 415
Bibliography 423
Glossary 433
General Index 439
Symbol Index

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