A Wise Old Owl -or- The Philosophy of the Unconscious

"Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult." Hippocrates 

Mandy, 29

Me and my youngest daughter are walking my older daughter (age 7) to school and a brown owl landed inside my older daughter's back pack. 

The Philosopher's Path -or- Know Thyself: In Search of Wisdom 

Philosophy means the search and love of wisdom. The traditional Western symbolic meaning of an owl, is wisdom. Many young children including your daughter may have heard the English nursery rhyme "A Wise Old Owl", which provides the anthropomorphic background for the philosophical sentiment of fables

"The Philosophy of the Unconscious", by Eduard von Hartmann believed that there were three philosophical layers to the unconscious. The third layer is related directly to our conscious experiences, a second layer to our evolution and development, and the first layer constitutes our primal unconscious relation to the universe. We can see these three philosophical layers operating in the dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website. 

Many dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website speak of what Freud called the "Philosophers path" which follows the philosophical process of our personal conscious experiences. The ancient Greek aphorism "Know Thyself" philosophically implies as much. Plato, believed that "philosopher kings" because of their political knowledge and wisdom, were the only pilots fit to command and steer the philosopher-king's political ship of the city-state

In Greek mythology the "Owl of Mineva" was a anthropomorphic symbol of wisdom, of an animal who could see in the dark. From a Jungian perspective, the collective unconscious archetype of the "wise old woman", provides the philosophical foundation and path for the individuation process. If the third layer of the philosophical unconscious is Freudian, then the first and second are Jungian. Freud begrudgingly admitted that these philosophical layers of the primal "oceanic feeling" experience  existed. The elation of cosmic narcissistic limitless is experienced in the philosophical beatific vision of Plato, Dante's "Divine Comedy" and the Judeo-Christian dream vision of Jacob's Ladder and his stairway to heaven.

Today, the captains of government and industry politically steer their corporations. When change takes place, the public is informed that the corporation is "going in a different direction". While Plato has been blamed for the political rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century, I believe that it is fair to say, that he (Plato) clearly understood the philosophically fabled problem that Hermann Melville's "Moby Dick" and his psychologically unfit captain Ahab presents. Especially since 2008, We the Public, live in a ship of state era of "corporatocracy". I could say more, however I will leave the rest of this paragraph about the fit-ness of today's corporate ships of state, to the philosophical imagination of you the reader. 

From a literary perspective the aphoristic genre of "wisdom literature" is expressed in a variety of philosophical forms. From a Biblical Judeo-Christian perspective Job 28:12 reads; "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" The modern secular literary form least talked about as a philosophical mode of wisdom literature, is "dream vision". Wisdom can be found in dream vision, which allows the philosophical imagination to take flight and provides the philosopher's path of individuation on the royal road to enlightenment. In your dream, we can see the philosophical beginnings of your child, on her road to wisdom. If as Jung said, that the child lives in the (philosophical) unconscious of the parent, then it is your parental role to provide help and ontological guidance on her lifelong philosophical journey of dream vision.

Further Reading:

  • Henri Ellenberger,, "The Discovery of the Unconscious".
  • Harold Bloom, "Where Shall Wisdom Be Found".
  • Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (eds), "The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women".
  • Stuart Ewen, "Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture".




All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.