Thoughts on Archetypes

I read recently in a very bright thinker that every morality is as a whole oriented toward some particular type of person as highest, whether that be the priest or the fighter or the merchant, etc.

Something about that account appeals to me. And when I try to think it through, it is not hard to see how it would fit for different things. The Christian faith glorifies the hermit or the person in religious community. Our present political system implicitly glorifies either the business owner or the worker, depending which side of the partisan line you’re on.

I feel the attraction for all those types. At times I may have felt drawn to one or another of those above all others. Thus, I think different moralities or moral models can probably overlap in a single person, even if one model always has to be the primary one, at least for a given moment.

Overall, I think I’m less drawn to those I’ve mentioned, but there are three or four that I feel more strongly drawn toward. These are the farmer, the soldier, and the scholar, and perhaps the rhetor/politician. I am most drawn to the scholar role for myself at this moment, and that’s probably the one I esteem most highly, most often, in general. The other two or three seem very central and compelling to me as well though. Perhaps a morality can have both a primary type and also some secondary types to give it a bit of distinctiveness.

The farmer transforms the natural world into the cultivated world, a wild beauty into a structured beauty. The farmer has food for self and family and community. The farmer is rooted in the earth, and those roots have the tendency to stretch across generations.

The soldier is a perpetual need in a world of fallible humanity. The soldier keeps the community safe, and constantly strives to perfect bodily capacities and a certain kind of social structure in ways that the rest of the community can learn from and benefit from.

The scholar is the guard of the sum of human knowledge and discovery. The scholar sifts through masses of information to discern what is most important, what is most urgent, what is most useful. The scholar finds joy in contemplation of truth.

And the good politician binds the community together, learning from the scholar and setting a direction, healing social wounds as they appear.

These are the types that make my heart sing to think of.

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