Psyche=spiritgreenspun.com : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread
I am looking into the Psyche-Eros story. I would like to know if the Greeks thought of the butterfly as representing the spirit or soul. I'm trying to find out "Why did Greeks equate Psyche with what we now think of as a spirit,self or soul in mortal people?"Thank-you for your help and I'll keep looking for the perfect answer on my end!
-- carol carver (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 20, 2003
I think you will find that "soul" and "spirit" are only very approximate translations of the ancient Greek term psyche (better transliterated "psuche"). "Self" is even worse, especially early on. The term changes meaning fairly drastically several times between the time of Homer to the time of the Hellenistic philosophers. Some of the best philosophical sources on this topic are Jan Bremmer's _The Early Greek Concept of the Soul_ (Princeton, 1983), Steven Everson's (Ed.)_Companions to Ancient Thought 2: Psychology_ (Cambridge, 1991), Thomas Robinson's _Plato's Psychology_ (Toronto, 1970/1995), Micahel Durrant's (Ed.) _Aristotle's De Anima in Focus_ (Routledge, 1993), and Julia Annas'_Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind_ (U. California, 1992). Bruno Snell's _The Discovery of Mind in Greek Philosophy and Literature_ (1953/Dover, 1952) is now quite dated but can still be useful for getting one started. It never hurts to go look at the original sources as well. First, see Homer's _Iliad_. Then, McKirihan's collection of presocratic sources, with commentary, is quite good. The second half of Book IV of Plato's _Republic_. Aristotle's _De Anima_ (originally _Peri Psyches_).
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), January 21, 2003.
There is some good background material on various views of the soul in my article, Vande Kemp, H. (2000). Psyche and soul. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology. (Volume 6, pp. 334-337) Washington, DC: American Psychological.
You should probably look at some literary criticism on the Eros/Psyche myth. James Hillman has a book on it. There is also C. S. Lewis's wonderful novel, 'Til We Have Faces, that is a retelling of the myth, along with a summary of it.
You may also find that an encyclopedia of religion is a better place to look than is a psychology source. There are long articles on the soul in the Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade.
-- Hendrika Vande Kemp (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 21, 2003.